Dear disenchanted church member,
I know. It’s really weighing on you that you don’t feel a part of the church community you’ve been with for awhile. I know that just getting to Sunday morning worship is a struggle. I know that Wednesday nights and Sunday evenings seem irrelevant and you could make better use of your time getting things done. I know you feel like if you have to teach the children’s class one more time you’re going to scream. I know that you dread the month you signed up for nursery duty. I know you wonder why it feels like you and a few other people are the only ones actually doing anything. I know you feel like giving up. I mean, why subject yourself to the punishment? Why be a part of a place that doesn’t seem to value you any way?
I know because I am you. This may sound funny coming from a minister, but I fight this battle every single day. I love the church. I love Jesus. I love you. But sometimes…some days…after some meetings…after being criticized or called out…I just want to throw in the towel and walk.
But the thing is this. We need you. We need your family. We need you to be there for us – we need you to know we are there for you. See, church isn’t this thing that you sign up for and go along for the ride. No. It’s greater than that. It’s the redeemed, walking-wounded people of Jesus struggling to learn to move from selfish to selfless. To learn what it means to be “light of the world” or “a city on a hill” or a “refuge.” We’re all right there with you…even though maybe we cheese it up and make it look like we’ve got this whole following Jesus thing figured out. Truth be told – we’re just as disenchanted as you. But we need you.
We need to see you and your family work it out, make sacrifices, and show us that all this is worth it. We need to see you struggle to stay connected…be connected…to be the church. We need to see you going through the time crunches, deadlines, and family conflicts that we’re all going through but are afraid to talk about. We desperately need you. We need to see you in the nursery, at VBS dressed like a cow, or at Wednesday night ladies class.
Even bigger than that: God needs you.
See, we’re this rag-tag band of brothers and sisters who have been freed from sin and death to live the resurrection NOW, not just wait for it one day. We have been brought from death to life, freed from Satan’s tyranny, and made alive in Christ. We are the Church. God created us; created this whole thing…and He knows how disappointing it can be…to be unappreciated, overworked, and burnt out. He knows exactly what its like to wonder when others are going to chip in and pull their own weight. He knows what it’s like to be lonely in a crowd…and he knows how tiring; how taxing it can be on your soul.
But…He still needs you.
See, we’ve been called to take the message of Jesus everywhere – God left it up to us! I know that seems daunting, but God didn’t leave us as orphans. He fills every baptized Christians with the Holy Spirit and equips them for anything through Jesus Christ. The Father has unequivocally left us here in His creation to reach out, to pick up the fallen, to bind up the broken, and to lift up the sick and dying with His love through His Son in His Church.
Seems a bit different than signing up for service projects, youth retreats, or whatever modern contextualized event you want to thrown in there…but the thing is this: You’re STILL needed. Not only needed – WANTED by God and by us…your often disappointing, selfish, sometimes-sinful, rude, unappreciative church family. We desperately need you because, the truth is, you need us too…we need each other. Yeah, I know, we’re not going to get a lot of things right…but even past the grumpy members, the snide remarks, the boring sermons, and the seemingly irrelevant class subjects…that we’re still family by blood…not your blood or my blood…but His blood…and we’re in this together.
I know. I am you. I get it. But the crazy thing is this: I’m not giving up on God’s dream of a family that reaches out, a family that shares the love of Christ, an imperfect yet perfect through Christ motley group of broken sinners being saved by grace and loving every bit of it. That’s God’s dream…this is God’s family…and you’re our family…
And I KNOW that that is something we can work towards together. So don’t give up. Don’t let discouragement or bitterness ruin what God is doing at your church. Don’t let church polity or flawed people distract you from seeing the beauty that is the Church of Jesus Christ.
This is God’s dream. This is our need. This is our family. We need you.