I found a church. It is a place that makes sense for my family–a place at which I can be involved and give back. It is a church that is focused on community engagement and not just the Sunday gathering, and yet, the Sunday gatherings are beautiful and holy and needed.
It’s not that we have not been going to church. We have, but we have not been fully committed to serving a local body since we have moved back to Raleigh.
We tried, but nothing felt natural or long term.
It is led by a young, humble, and talented up-and-coming leader, and some of our close family friends are on staff. The church is a 250 year old, but they are planting a new church in the heart of downtown Raleigh, where I live, work and play!
I resonate with the theology of the church; women are empowered to preach and lead in all facets of ministry. That was very important to me as I raise my daughters. And, speaking of my daughters, the church has a thriving youth ministry.
But this is not truly about that. Those are all “good” things and I’m happy to finally have found a church I want to serve. It’s not a perfect church. There will be struggles, but I can sense the hope and see the possibility!
The Necessity of the Local Church
God’s mission is wrapped in an imperfect group of men and women called the church, which is a local expression of a global community who all believe that Jesus is the lead pastor. The rest of us are called to be engaged and to use our gifts and resources within the framework of the local body for the benefit of the globally body to love and serve our world. When I study theology, I see that loving and serving the local church is just a non-option for me.
Solve A Problem by Setting an Example!
I don’t want to be a hypocrite as I ask the church to serve the global poor, seek justice, care for orphans, and to be more generous. I want the church to empower their people to live on mission, locally and globally, which means I will need to say some tough words out of love and conviction. I want to be an example of one who is fighting to make the local church better, not one who tosses shots, criticizes and flames the local church without trying to actually solve a problem.
The only way for the local church to be more kingdom minded is for God’s people to serve, give back, and try to live out this audacious calling that we have on our lives. The church is filled with people like me–imperfect, opinionated, moody, frustrated, hopeful, broken, angry–and yet, we all know, deep down in our hearts, that the church is a sacred place, a place that no non-profit, conference, or social innovation company could ever fill.
The local church is eternal. The calling echoes through generations, for the need for the church to thrive and be on mission is absolutely critical for the world as evil tries desperately to destroy the world and cause pure chaos and hell. But, that evil can and is being overcome by good.
The Local Church Is Good but Broken
The local church is good; it is good for the soul, good for the mission. It’s not perfect, but it’s good. We pray together, we cry together, we hope for a better world together, we hope that our friends will hear the Jesus story and be dumbfounded that God’s love can overcome all of their sin, that his grace is so amazing that they will experience what I’ve personally experienced – love, joy, meaning, purpose, beautify and community.
I know many of you are reading this, and you don’t want to believe it. You’re angry at the church, you’ve been hurt and that hurt is painful. Or maybe you’re like me and the church is boring…attending another Sunday service makes you want to go numb, or going to another small group makes you nervous.
I get it; I’m that guy. But discipleship and obedience was never meant to be easy, and the local church will never be perfect in this lifetime. I would ask you not to give up, but to believe again that being committed to a local body can be good, even as it might be hard!
Maybe this Sunday, you will go back and see and risk and hope. Will you give the church another chance? You could even help solve some of the problems, be a beacon of light, and set an example so others can follow.
This is my hope…