Reflections on church life
I had one of the more brutal weeks of church life this week. It was supposed to be a light week, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. We had a great Easter service (besides complaints that the 9 baptisms weren’t sombre enough – what’s that about? God is most glorified when we’re most glum?), but it’s not unusual to get hammered the week after a high. I’ll spare you the details, but this one was tough, involving a confrontation between two good people that created some strange dynamics. Sometimes even good people have a spat, but the repercussions can be deadly. It looks like things have been resolved now. I can also step back into a more sane schedule as well. On top of the relational crisis, I also lost a few day’s worth of data from my hard drive, plus burried a friend’s mother and conducted a wedding rehearsal. My light week became a very heavy one. One e-mail Charlene received this week:
Yes there will be difficult people and situations to deal with that will be discouraging but God told us to be part of a church (group of believers) and I believe the difficulties although they are unpleasant are an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves and hopefully grow more like Christ. That’s the canned preachy response-believe me I am not telling you to look on the bright side, I just heard about it and I can feel your pain. More importantly we are joining a church where things are happening. Nine baptisms on Sunday. Charlene, you and Darryl are personally affecting peoples lives. People are being converted and people are growing spiritually. That’s exciting. That’s why we should join this church…that’s why you should ignore the difficult people and problems and focus on the people who are serious about growing personally and want to see the same growth in their brothers and sisters. I think it might be possible (not easy) to be involved and at the same time ignore the church politics…Spend your time and energy with the situations where good things are going on and do your best to ignore the rest.
God is at work. We had Urban Promise in today to talk about their ministry. They were amazing, and it’s great to be able to partner with them. We’re changing, gradually coming closer to God’s heart. At the same time that Sundays are becoming less important – not the only event in church life – they’re becoming better, more real. We’re seeing new people come in, and God’s presence is real. It’s exciting. Just got this comment posted. It’s too good to leave in the comments section.
I’ve posted here once before. I preach at a newly planted church in Mississauga. The truth is (and I hate to sound elitist) there are unique pressures and challenges facing those in the ministry. When disappointment happens, personal failure or conflict in the church, it’s about as tough a thing to deal with as anyone can imagine. Sometimes we question our calling – “Am I really up to this?”; “Will I ever see a truly healthy model of church?”; “Is it time to pack it in?”. For what it’s worth, I like to think about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15: “Therefore, my brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” Hang in there!
It’s nice to come to the end of a brutal week. As Hebrews says, it’s not like my struggles have caused me to shed any blood. I’m still standing, God’s still at work, and his grace is still enough. If all goes well, I’ll watch a little TV tonight, read my paper, get a good sleep, go to Starbucks tomorrow, and do some inner work that will get me a little more centered. I will hang in there.