I have been pondering the role of the church in today’s contexts a lot as of late. America has become a post-Christian nation despite the fact that the majority of American’s claiming to be Christian. Many are questioning the role and purpose of being a part of a local church body. After all, with technology we can now “do church” from our living room in our PJ’s right?
I think the local church is necessary, important, and relevant even for today. I think it’s important enough that I hope to write at least one blog on why we still need the church. But before I can write that, I have to acknowledge that one of the biggest reasons that people are questioning the church is a valid reason to question the church; it’s broken.
The church is full of broken hurting people, seeking to fulfill an eternally important mission with other broken and hurting people and are in turn creating messes. That’s just the reality of what the church has been doing since it was created. Beyond that, in an article summarizing a study done by the Barna Group on discipleship from 2015, 6 in 10 pastors indicated they believe that the church is discipling “not too well”. That’s 60% of pastors indicating that we’re not fulfilling our mission well. And further in the article it states that less than 20% of Christians are involved in any sort of discipleship activity.1
The main calling of the church is to go and make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28), and yet, we’re self-evaluating as “not (discipling) too well”. In another study done with Barna and Pepperdine, only 24% of people view pastors in a very positive light while 28% of people indicate that they have a somewhat or negative view of pastors and another 23% have little regard for a pastor.2 This means that 51% of the population are at best apathetic towards pastors, those leading, teaching, and training Christians in the mission of making disciples. One can only wonder what this means for the church for the future of our leaders are not viewed positively by the majority of our culture.
In addition to struggling with our mission, our leaders not being viewed in a positive light by the majority of our culture, the church is filled with hurting people who are trying to help people while struggling with their own struggles with sin, hurts, and loving well. The church, every church, is a broken church. But a broken church is not something that we need to hide from. It’s actually a reason to hope. Because within a broken church, there is opportunity after opportunity for God’s redemption to be seen. There are multiple passages in Scripture of individuals who struggle with brokenness and in that weakness God’s power being “made perfect” (2 Cor 12:9).3 So yes, the church is a broken church. But stay tuned, because I hope to share why you shouldn’t be quick in running away from a broken church.
- Exodus 3:11, 12; 4:10-15; Jeremiah 1:6-9; 1 Cor 2:3, 5; 2 Cor 3:5, 6.