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8.6.12

Confession of a Pastor

Dear Church,

My heart is breaking because I am hearing regular reports of how much you Christians dislike church.  Did you know that Jesus died for His church.  Jesus' love for the church is made abundantly clear in Ephesians 5:25-32.  You cannot love Jesus and not love His church - to love Jesus is to love His church.  Jesus is the head of the church and we are the body of the church.  To not love the body is like saying to me that you only love my face and not the rest of me.  It's totally ridiculous, my face is me and my body is me, it is all me.

A common debate that I hear is that the church is not the gathering of believers but it is simply individuals that love Jesus.  People say that they can serve God at home on their own and don't need to meet with other believers.  Once again I cannot stress how ridiculous this theory is.  Is my physical body merely the individual pieces of my body or is it the individual pieces of my body living together and depending upon each other to keep me alive?  I can assure you that if you dismembered me I would no longer be me, I would be dead.   It is my observation that sadly the church is also dead due to dismemberment.  

Thankfully, Jesus can raise the dead and I believe that it is His desire to bring together His beautiful bride, the church.  I cannot and will not go into a deep theological debate about these things, you simply must ask God for your own revelation of the truth and stop making excuses not to go to church.  The word "church" comes from the Greek "ekklesia" which means "gathering" or "assembly." Therefore, the church is the gathering of the believers who come together to participate in fellowship with one another as they worship God and hear from His Word, the Bible.

My husband, Eric, and I lead a small church in Gloucestershire, UK.  We are struggling, it is hard ground to break, hearts are hard, money is short.  Almost each week I meet new and wonderful people only to learn that they are Christians who don't go to church any more.  They were hurt by the pastor or disagreed with something that was going on in the church.  I have been hurt by pastors and leaders too.  I have hurt people in my congregation and will still do so in the years ahead.  I don't do it intentionally and really wish I could avoid ever hurting another precious person.  But, I am just a girl on a journey trying her best to do what God has called her to do.  I make mistakes.  I have to deal with my sinful nature.  I still have much to learn.  I am selfish at heart just like you.  For all pastors out there, church please cut them some slack, it is one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.  I wish I could undo all the mistakes I made as a church leader, I wish I could win back everyone I have lost but I can't.  What we can do is move on, learn from our mistakes and try to love again even though we know it will hurt. 

I once overheard a woman say that she sees committing to a church like a marriage.  I chuckled inside as I disagreed with her 'silly' idea.  I have repented several times over since then as I think her views are pure and beautiful and if more people took their relationship with their church seriously then the church wouldn't be as sick and dead as it is today.  I say sick and dead because some parts are just sick while other parts have already died.  I wholeheartedly agree with this woman's sweet sentiment.  If more people would commit to their church 'for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part' then I think we could finally start building this thing called the kingdom.  If more people would take the time to speak to their leaders and work our problems then we might get somewhere.  If people understood the concept of submission to husbands, leaders and government then we could finally get on with reaching out to the lost.

My heart breaks for you church and if I, a sinful human, feels this way then I cannot imagine the pain in Jesus heart.  Please can we stop our childish bickering and begin to work together for a greater good.  Let all of us come together and truly love each other, accepting that we are all hopelessly flawed and saved by grace.  Let us, the glorious bride of Christ start acting our part so that we can finally be in a healthy position to reach out to those that don't yet know Jesus.

Come to church this Sunday, let's forgive each other and start over.  Let's show the world that we are His disciples by our love for one another.  On behalf of all church leaders, please forgive us for hurting you, you didn't deserve that.  Please understand that we are only human.  Come to church this Sunday, let's work it out.

Love

Angela
A hopelessly flawed, saved by grace, still on a journey, pastor.

xxx

8 comments:

  1. Angela8.6.12

    For the other side of the story, from a congregation member who was hurt and rightfully had to leave church, read here When Church Hurts

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  2. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. xo P.S. the new giveaway was posted today.

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    1. Angela18.6.12

      Thanks Katherine x

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  3. Hello lovely.
    We need. To find a church .we do it's a fact.we have not been to church in three years...
    Before we went to kings.over an hour away from home,for more than ten years and latterly we would serve on the door ,which meant arriving and hour earlier.so we would be getting up even earlier...we loved church from the point of view of the praise and worship and the sermon
    We did not enjoy the follow ship.99.9% of the people we met up with at church we did not have any thing in common with...we found the gossip ,lack of faith and downer attitude in such a faith filled place hard.the selfishness and worldly attitude frustrating..church is important for all the reasons you site...all of them ,seriously.i agree...but here's the truth ...I do not miss it one bit.
    I love god,I serve him and seek him every day.

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    1. Angela18.6.12

      Hi Jane,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I am so sorry you have been hurt and disappointed by church, I truly am. We would very much like to learn from your experiences to try and make our church less likely to hurt too many people. I know there is no perfect church and I know we will make mistakes but we want to do the best we can in taking care of God’s precious people. Let us know your thoughts on what we can practically implement to make church a safe place for all.

      Love
      Angela
      xx

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  4. CONFESSIONS OF A NON-CHURCH GOER Part I

    That was an interesting article, Angela, I was fascinated reading it.

    As I said to you when we met on Monday, I'm one of those Christians who don't go to a 'church'.... however, I don't 'dislike' church... I am the church - well, a little part of it, at any rate. I also don't feel that just because I don't belong to a specific group or institution, that I am no longer part of the church, or that the church is 'dismembered' by me not attending one.

    I enjoy meeting and fellowshipping with others, but I don't believe that what you are saying regarding attending a church, is Gospel! How do we account for those living in places where they can't go to church or don't have churches. Does this mean they're dismembered? And what about someone who has been hurt in the church, that just needs time out... are they any less saved or 'right' in their actions? No, absolutely not. The fact that you go to church, cannot be the deciding factor for whether or not you're walking correctly as His Bride... I cannot agree.

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  5. CONFESSIONS OF A NON-CHURCH GOER Part II

    I don't make excuses for not going to church... I actually thoroughly enjoy being free of the bondages that came with being totally committed (like a marriage) and having to make the institution work! Yes, there are times that I miss being in the worship, or leading the cell group, or running the church office, or heading up the children's work, or organising church events or organising ladies days outs, or ... or... or... but, it was endless. My kids suffered because we were 'married' to the institution... they came second place and were dragged everywhere with us - and I don't believe that was right! I don't believe that God would or does expect that from any one. How many pastor's kids grow up and rebel against everything they were taught. I know! I've grown up surrounded by a family of pastors and leaders - I've seen it all my life! And I don't believe it's right.

    When we left the church we belonged to - 3 years ago now, it did feel like a divorce..... it was painful, it was sad, it was hurtful how the pastor spoke derogatively and falsely about us, and told everyone not to have contact with us (we weren't the first that had been left who were treated in this way, and apparently it is not unique to that church either)... and it took us ages to get over... years! It would come up again and again in conversations... but not once did we feel that we'd been divorced from God our Father. NEVER! If anything, we were finally able to focus on HIM, on our relationships with Him, as a family and as individuals... we felt His love and guidance and we knew that the step we were taking, was the right one to make!

    You said that the 'church' comes from the Greek meaning gather/assembly... indeed, that is what we do.... the Word says that where two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them. We are a family of four! We gather... we fellowship... we meet with friends and fellowship - how is that wrong or any different to what God is instructing with regards to gathering as a church? We ARE the church... each person, no matter whether or not they attend a specific group or not. The difference is that we enjoy fellowship, without strings attached.... we don't have to listen to one person who believes that they are the ONE that has the vision for that particular church.... we don't have to be told by a man/woman what God is saying to us. We have a direct and personal relationship with our Dad... our Father in Heaven.. .made possible through Jesus Christ! We have the guidance - same as any other member of a church - of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I have been able to impact more people with the love of Christ since leaving, because there was no 'church' to sell to them... only relationship with Christ! That love, that relationship, is more appealing and real than inviting them to any institution where they get preached at.

    Sorry, my comment has turned into a full article itself, but lots of things you said, were typical arguments made by those trying to fill the church, rather than by those realising that no matter whether or not you attend a specific 'church'... you still ARE the church. We're not floating and lost, we're not dismembered or in sin... we don't need to get over any childish bickering! This is who we are. This is where we're at in our long journey with God, and until He decidedly points us in another direction, I don't feel that we are 'at fault' by not attending a church.

    Don't let your heart break... rather rejoice that in SPITE of the past and the experiences, people like us still follow God, still love sharing Him with those we meet, still embrace His Truth in our lives... still endeavour to share that Grace with all we meet!

    Praise God, that He is always gracious in spite of circumstances - and that His love is constant no matter what choices we make with regards to attending or not attending church!

    'Nuff Said! ;-)

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    1. Angela29.6.12

      Hi Gail,

      Thank you so much for sharing your heart with me and allowing me to understand your point of view. I pray that God reveals His truth about this matter to both of us so that we can live a life that is pleasing to Him. You are very precious. I am so glad that I have met you and I look forward to all that God has planned for us.

      Lots of Love
      Angela
      xxx

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