I ran into a former church member a while back. (Maybe I should be honest and say “disgruntled former church member.”) They recited a litany of things they had “heard” about our church. It was almost humorous because everything they stated, while factually true, was stated in such a way as to emphasize the worst.
They latched on to the few things that supported their narrative. Yes, the church is numerically smaller than it was (and it was shrinking before I came here, just saying) but not only have the people here grown spiritually by leaps and bounds, we’re starting to see numerical growth as well. Yes, we’ve had some financial troubles but our doors are still open and we pay all the bills every month when many churches in our area are now closed for good. Not only that, but we’re still able to support a pastor full-time, we support missions at home and abroad, and we’re still doing the work of ministry week in and week out.
But they didn’t want to hear the good things that God is doing. In fact, they almost seemed disappointed that God is still working here.
It’s sad, really. How does one get so twisted that they rejoice over bad news in Christ’s church? I think the answer is in what led them to leave in the first place: Pride. When you leave a church because you can’t get your way, you’ve revealed that you think this is all about you. But it’s not.
One of my mentors who retired after twenty-plus years in pastoral ministry said it best. He said, “Everyone who leaves unhappy expects the church doors to close for good behind them, but Christ’s church is bigger than that. Oh sure, you might have to scramble around to get this covered or that covered but the Lord always raises someone up to do what needs to be done so that the work can continue.”
I’ve found that to be right in every respect. And I thank God this is true.
The only Person the Church can’t do without is Christ because the Church is His, not mine or yours.
And if Christ is still here and still working, that’s something to celebrate.