You know, writing about the perfect church is tiresome.
First of all, you get sort of sad realizing that the perfect church will never happen this side of heaven.
Then, you feel sort of worn out when you get convicted that you gotta stop complaining and get in there and help fix things.
Therefore, in order not to tire myself too much, this will be my last installment in The Perfect Church series. For those new readers, this series sprang (sprung? springed?) from a posting entitled Why Should I Go to Church?
I decided from the huge response to that post to talk about what I’d like in the Perfect Church. Therefore, I posted The Perfect Church, Part 1: the Sermon and The Perfect Church, Part 2: Community. This last Perfect Church installment will be the catch-all for everything else I want in a church, well mostly everything else.
Since what I’d like in the perfect church are things spread across a broad spectrum. I will simply list them. By the way, if you know any pastors, please send them here. If you’d like, I’ll send an anonymous email invitation to your pastor.
Worship. Do not limit music to one genre. Do not play songs that repeat the same chorus line 37 times (while I go catatonic). Do not attempt to engage the spirit by maudlin displays of emotion. No banners. No handbell choirs (sorry, kids). Here’s what I want: good music and good lyrics. I want to sing 500 and 1 year old songs that exalt God and reflect truth. We are throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we fail to sing A Mighty Fortress and Crown Him with Many Crowns. And I love some of the newer praise songs, too. But don’t change the song selection so often that I don’t get a chance to learn the tunes, much less, the words. I want classical music and instruments. I want praise bands (with decent musicians) and praise leaders. I even want the occasional good organ (not the kind that sound like they belong in a carnival). I don’t want tacky. Please, no tacky. That’s all. Next.
Pastors. Rule 1: every pastor should spend at least 1 year before seminary, preferably 2, working in the “real world” to understand what it means to be a lay person. I mean, come on, we have lives. We aren’t robot volunteers. Hey, have you ever wondered what the heck pastors do with their time? IMHO, they could use the discipline of the market before they serve in the sanctuary of the soul. Rule 2: every pastoral staff has to have at least one pastor with the gift of pastoring (a.k.a. shepherding). You’d think that would be the case, but we’ve got staffs full of preachers, administrators, leaders, etc., etc. But do we have pastors on staff who are really good at making us feel cared for? Not often enough. Rule 3: every pastor must realize that the real ministers are the people. The pastor’s job is to equip the people to do the work of ministry. People are not there to serve the pastors or to be part of their programs. Pastors are there to serve the people so that they can in turn use their spiritual gifts to advance the Kingdom. Rule 4: the people will remember that pastors (and their wives) are sinful human beings with feelings who need encouragement and support, too.
Leaders. People would be chosen to lead – not based on their secular success – but based on their spiritual maturity. Which means, I am tired of seeing elders who are hardly capable of conducting spiritual discipline, much less of keeping doctrine pure.
Discipleship. Hello? Hello? My husband (a between-callings pastor) says that American Christians are Biblically illiterate. And I am inclined to agree. Now, why am I (a mere layperson) – and many of you, dear readers – not Biblically illiterate? I credit God and His tools: people (mostly other laypeople) in my life who took the call to disciple others seriously. And para-church ministries that make sure those they ministered to got the basics. I realize it’s much easier to corral and teach those who want to be teached (and those are the people that para-church ministries run with), but the church has GOT to find some inticing way to impart the basics — and then the more advanced stuff — to everyone in the church. Don’t get me started on bad theology, either…
I’m sure there’s more that I can say. But, then I’d get really tired. And worn out.
Dear Lord: What do you want me to do with all this stuff? It gets wearisome carrying around things I can do nothing about. I guess I should pray more. Show me, show our family, where you want us to end up church-wise and how you want us to serve. Maybe in some teeny way we can help the church move ever so slightly towards your vision of what she should be. Amen.