Saturday, January 12, 2008


"The church is a whore, but she's my mother." - St. Augustine

I think I know how Augie felt when he wrote that. I've spent the last few years feeling pretty disgusted at the church; at least the church as I've experienced it. I spent many years at churches which, in retrospect, seemed more concerned with maintaining and perpetuating an organization than with being the body of Christ. I saw man-made hierarchies which severely limited people's ability to realize the dreams that God had put into their hearts. I saw (not always, but often) people using leadership positions for ego-gratification rather than to serve. I saw exclusion of those who, for whatever reason, didn't measure up. I saw an overemphasis on form and an underemphasis on function. I saw teaching without discipleship. Oftentimes even the teaching wasn't very good.

I went through a process of deconstructing my understanding of what church is. It was a messy process, as deconstructions tend to be. I sought to strip away the forms and rituals and layers of cultural veneer and get to the intrinsic core. I discovered that to be church one doesn't need buildings and clergy and rituals and sermons and worship teams. I also discovered that even when church is in its simplest and purest form, human sin can still spoil it.

And yet...And yet.

As a follower of Jesus there is a tidal pull which draws me to meet with other followers of Jesus and worship Him in gathered community. Dysfunctional, conditional, manipulative and hurtful, but community nonetheless. And sometimes, when we forget ourselves and our agendas, the love of God and the image of Christ appear in our midst; though only in a flash and a glimpse; and it all seems worthwhile.


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