In my last post, The Anti-Church Movement, I gave some observations on what I perceive to be an “Anti-Church” movement within the Church. I won’t go into all the details here – you can read them in the other post.
Prompted by a comment (thanks, David!) I’m writing this post in hopes to come propose some solutions to this issue. I certainly don’t claim to have them all, but I want to get us thinking about what we might do about all of those affected by the ACM.
So, here we go.
God commands us to love Him, to love ourselves, and to love others. In my opinion, if we did those things better, we’d probably see less instance of the ACM. Not completely, but it would lessen. Scripture states that we will be known as Christians by our love. Our sacrificial love, one for another. This love would make an impact on people, those in the Church and outside the Church.
Just look at 1 Corinthians 13, which is so often read at wedding ceremonies. If we were to take all of the attributes of what love looks like as described in this chapter and applied it to our lives, through God’s grace, do you think things would look differently in our lives and in our churches? I do.
Scripture also tells us to speak the truth in love. Here is where the rubber often meets the road. Many times truth is either not spoken with love, or there is love with no truth. We need both. It seems to be a trend, of late, where we want “love” to mean an excuse to do whatever we want, because we are supposed to just love people and not “judge them”.
If someone were walking toward the edge of a cliff wouldn’t you tell them, “Hey! Quit walking towards that cliff – I don’t want you to fall!”, or would you “not judge them” and continue to let them go? I would imagine you would lovingly tell them the truth.
So should it be in the Church. We need to speak the truth in love to people. It’s my belief that people who genuinely felt God’s love, lived out through His people, would be less likely to be part of the ACM.
“Freedom” is an awfully broad term that means many different things to many different people. Let me define its use in this instance.There should be freedom for members of the Church that attend a church to ask questions.
I’ve seen that input from several people on my first post, and I believe it to be true. We shouldn’t just sit idly by when wrongs are occurring or when things don’t make sense. Many a heartache in churches most likely could have been prevented if someone was given the freedom to ask honest questions.
I think it’s healthy to have a good leadership team where there is accountability for the Pastor and the members of the church, where power is not so consolidated that its authority cannot be questioned. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Members should be able to address their concerns, in a loving way, with the appropriate people to work on resolutions to issues.
On the flip side, perhaps we assume that this freedom doesn’t exist at times. That there isn’t the ability to question the status quo. That by somehow voicing our opinions there will be retribution, when in reality that’s not the case.
Freedom should be used in a way that draws the Church closer together, instead of pushing people to the fringes.
This point dovetails from number 2. We all, as members of the Church, would be better served if we tried, as best we can, to understand each other. What if we assumed the best about people instead of instinctively assuming the worst?
In The Message translation of 1 Corinthians 13 it states that love, “Always looks for the best”. Something, sadly, that we’re not always great at doing.
What if we did a better job of understanding those who have legitimate questions? Listening to them to get to the heart of the matter. What if we did a better job of understanding those with various hurts? Trying to empathize with where they’re at and help bring about the best solution possible, through God’s grace.
It is my belief that God is in the healing business. Sometimes that healing happens on a one-on-one connection with God, but I believe He’s also in the business of using His people as conduits of His healing grace.
What if those with hurts and/or questions tried to understand those who might be “on the opposite side”, as it were? What if they were able to show more grace to those people as well and looked at where they are coming from?
Might things be different if we all tried to understand each other better than we do now? Things wouldn’t be perfect, but I believe we’d be moving in a direction The Father would be proud of.
So, there are three (of the many) solutions to the ACM – Love, Freedom, and Understanding.