I think we all know someone who has lost hope in the way the church functions. Many have left to try greener pastures, and then there are others who simply gave up, never intending to return.
I once was the latter.
The church felt fake, ugly, and it didn’t really appear all that interested in being more than a local civic club. Don’t get me wrong, there were some awesome people there, but when everyone gathered in the same room, it seemed like the sense of family was drowned out by all the religious rituals.
My journey of rediscovering beauty in the church, despite her brokenness, was one that taught me a lot along the way. Today, I share a few of those lessons from the perspective of those who struggle with the church.
10 things Christians Want to See from the Church
- They Want Authenticity: They want to know they are cared for as more than a number, volunteer, or seat warmer. They want interaction and to be loved and to give love.
- They Want to Know “Messing Up” is Okay: The church has to be a place where they can “mess up” and still be loved. The Gospel is a message of grace and mercy for all who are willing to accept it. The church often falls into this trap of being the sin police. They rank sins from the least to worst and fit people into those categories. Christians inside and outside the organized church don’t want to fit into a mold to be loved. Jesus loved the adulterous woman even while she was gathering water to go back to her sin. He loved Judas even though he knew he would be betrayed by him, and he loves people in their sin as a means to rescue them from it. Not the other way around.
- They Want a Place They Feel Safe: This has to be a place where they feel safe to disagree and work through this whole “Christianity thing.” A place that it’s safe not to have all the answers, without feeling like they must put on a mask like they see others do. They want a place that welcomes brokenness and embraces the poor, and that has vision outside of these four walls. They certainly don’t expect they will always be right, but they want a group of people that will help guide one another as a family as they discover the answers.
- They Desire to Know God through Interaction with Other Christians: They don’t just want to find God through music or teaching, but they want to see God in the eyes of the broken, in the dirt of those in poverty, and in the words of the silent and oppressed.
- They Want a Mission: No spectators here. They want to put their hand to the plow and rev it up to 11. They want to be doers of the word and not seers.
- They Want You to Want Them: This sounds odd but they want to know they are needed and loved. They want to have that feeling of family and home and desire community more than ritual.
- They Aren’t Afraid to Hurt for the Right Cause: They don’t shy away from the difficult, but, in fact, embrace it and want to take on causes that seem bigger than themselves.
- They Desire to Walk with God and Not Just Idle By Through Ritual: They want an active relationship with God and his church. They seek the adventure of the unknown but the safety of knowing they have a family that will walk with them on this journey.
- They Don’t Care About Your Building or Programs: People are at the top of the list for these trail blazers. Finding Christ through serving the broken is more important to them than your new building campaign. If they see your building taking the lead story, then you can count them out.
- They Desire to Learn More About God: But not just through the same old rusty Sunday rituals. They see a relationship with God as fresh and new—an adventure that writes the stories of their lives. They want to be small strokes on the pages of eternity, but can’t feel like ritual wins over reaching out and loving people.
What do you think Christians want to see from the church?
Photo by Moreno Berti via Flickr