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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Church...Why Bother???


Good morning friends. This coming Sunday I will be sharing a message entitled “The Church…Why Bother?” I have wrestled with this question quite often. There are several things that cause me to ask about the church, “why bother?” But somehow I keep coming back because, despite all of the flaws, failures and foibles of life together in Christian community, I have discovered that I need the church. In other words, when it comes to the church, I feel as though I can’t live with her and I can’t live without her. Maybe you feel the same.

I’ll save my reasons for why I sometimes can’t live with the church and why I can’t live without her until this coming Sunday. But I would like to hear from you. Tell me why you have sometimes felt “I can’t live with the church” and/or why you may feel “I can’t live without the church.”

Looking forward to getting some sermon fodder from you,

Pastor Lenny

14 comments:

agaphseis said...

Why I sometimes feel like I can't live with the church: because people in the church can sometimes be the most judgmental, uncaring people in the world. The church is full of hypocritical sinners.

Why I feel like I can't live without the church: the relationships that God has given us in the church are the testing grounds where God allows his Holy Spirit to mold us into the people he wants us to be. In other words, God intends the saving and renewing relationship that he has with us to be experienced in the midst of other really crummy people who are at various stages of experiencing the benefits of relationship with him. If I can't humble myself and love my brothers and sisters in the face of judgmental attitudes within the church, how can I follow Christ's command to love my enemies outside the church?

I often reflect on marriage in the same way. The marriage bond is the closest of human relationships, and it is the place where the furnace can burn hottest to destroy the impurities in our own hearts, but it is also the place where we receive the greatest support and encouragement to go on. And that's what the church is, the bride of Christ. And it's within the community called 'church' where the Spirit of Christ purifies us like fire, but also motivates, equips and encourages us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Those two greatest of commands are inseparable. We can't love God if we aren't loving our brothers and sisters in the church. And a sign that we are loving God is that we are putting the needs of our brothers and sisters before our own.

So the church--as ugly as it can sometimes appear with all it's fallen sinful humanity--is beautiful in God's sight because Jesus is redeeming his people for himself. I could despise the church for all the ugliness of sinful humanity, but to do so would be to ignore my own faults and need for a Savior. Thus, to reject the church is to reject the only one who is able to save that church and me.

esallo said...

In Some past church experiences I have felt like I couldn't live with the church because it seemed like nothing more than a lifeless institution with rules and regulations about how you could serve or if you could serve . There were times when I felt like I couldn't live with the church because there was too much pettiness and it wasn't a place where people were real, they just had their happy church faces on.
In the past 10 months at SWC I have felt like I can't live without the church because God is using it to grow me and get me out of my comfort zone in some ways. And because of the joy of having endless opportunities to serve and be God's hands in feet in the community without having to jump through so many regulatory hoops to do it!

brad said...

I totally agree with agaphseis, who said...“because people in the church can sometimes be the most judgmental, uncaring people in the world. The church is full of hypocritical sinners.”

The church I previously attended has some of the most judgemental, unforgiving people and has been totally divided for over 15 years and is still nowhere near reconciled. There was no attach on me, but hearing them trash others caused me to leave. Fortunately, I found SWC after many years of separating myself from Jesus and his bride.

Some may argue that they don’t need the church, since they are capable of praying and studying the Bible on their own. The problem is there is no accountability in doing life alone. The Bible clearly states that believers must gather with each other. Hebrews 10:24-25 states "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

I find that there is something very intangible and unexplainable about attending church. Now when I miss Sunday worship, my entire week is off. Since taking off my mask and holding myself accountable to other believers and reaching out to the community and the world, my life is so much more complete and fulfilled.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks Ben, Erica and Brad. Your profound thoughts and honest reflections are very helpful to our discussion.

Ben, I agree with you that God grows us in the context of relationship with other human beings- especially human beings we may not like or relate to very well.

Erica, I am so pleased that you have found our church family (SWC) to be a healthy community that fosters spiritual growth. I can say with all sincerity that SWC is among the most genuine and authentic communities of faith that I have ever been a part of. Broken people are not afraid to seek out and find wholeness through Christ and the church. I really am so ecstatic to be a part of a church that is real and striving to become even more so.

Brad, it breaks my heart that churches, like the one you describe, exist. It is impossible for a church family that doesn't know how to reconcile with each other to reconcile a lost world to Jesus Christ. Why do we in the church waiste so much time in petty conflicts that have little temporal value and absoltuely no eternal value??!!

livingproof said...

I have to agree with a little bit of the comments here. I also fear being judged by fellow members. Opening up to someone can be very hard to do. I am not a "people person" but am trying to overcome that to better serve God.
I used to feel that I could pray or bible study outside of the church. I have had a better life with it than without, no doubt.
I don't know about hypocritical sinners though. Aren't we all sinners trying to have a better relationship with God? If we give up on each other and depart the church, the body of Christ, we fail Gods test by not believing in our fellow man, therefor failing him. I walk into church asking for forgiveness, knowing that I have sinned and unfortunately, will again. Trying to do the right thing through Christ and totally ignoring him, expecting forgiveness, two different things. I could be wrong.
Regardless, attending wins hands down and I am thankful for God leading me to the SWC.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks "Livingproof." Yes, we are all sinners and should not expect too much perfection from sinners like us. However, we should encounter something close to gracious perfection in the church more than we do outside of the church. The problem is that although the church should be the safest place in the world for us to take off the mask, it is, sadly, the last place where people feel free to "let their hair down." Thankfuly, SWC, though not perfect,is a place where broken people can come with all their junk and find a redemptive, Christ-following community through which to be made whole.

maria said...

To me church is a place I go to worship the Lord to renew my spirit, to seek his will. Its also a place I receive spiritual healing. Its very important to me. SWC has shown me that it is a place where people go who love God with all there heart and soul. Im very grateful to worship with my brothers and sisters at SWC both new ones and old familiar ones.

Lenny Luchetti said...

Thanks Maria. We are a healing community. The church is a hospital where sick people should be embraced and helped toward healing and wholeness through Christ. You said it well.

TSKPat13 said...

Hey Lenny, Its Pat Monahan From Church I Read Your Blog On Occasions and i had to comment you on somthing other then your post.... Me and the family went down to Philly and we saw all the awesome stuff from the zoo, to some great statues, and even the ever famous rocky stairs! It was a lot of fun, But how else could we had ended the day without a philly cheese steak and i here to say that The were DELICIOUS! Haha, However we had a Gino's and we all loved them and i was wondering as you were growing up what was your favorite place to eat? Pat's, Or Gino's?!....

Lenny Luchetti said...

Hey Pat. I miss you and your family- get back to church!!! Regarding the cheese steak...I'd have to say i prefer Gino's more, but Pat's has great cherry soda!

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