Dave Goetz writes:
For all of its foibles – lousy preaching, political infighting, self-centered focus, stagnation, a gaggle of special interest groups – the pokey local church…is still the most fertile environment for spiritual development. In fact, there can be no genuine spiritual progress without a long-term attachment to a pokey local church….
Disillusionment with one’s church, then, is not a reason to leave but a reason to stay and see what God will create in one’s life and in the pokey local church. What I perceive to be my needs – “I need a church with a more biblical preacher who uses specific examples from real life” – may not correspond to my true spiritual needs. Often, in fact, I am not attuned to my true spiritual needs.
Thinking that I know my true spiritual needs is arrogant, narcissistic, and so American. Staying put as a life practice allows God’s grace to work on the unsanded surfaces of my inner life. Seventeenth-century French Catholic mystic Francois Fenelon wrote, “Slowly you will learn that all the troubles in your life-your job, your health, your inward failings-are really cures to the poison of your old nature.” (“Suburban Spirituality,” Christianity Today July 2003)