The one phrase I’ve been told over and over and over again throughout my time in the church world is: “There is no perfect church.” I hate this statement; passionately hate it when people say this to me. Why? Because it makes us sound lazy. It allows us to make excuses. And it’s wrong. There is a perfect church…The one that Jesus established. Jesus didn’t become one of us, die for us and then say, “Hey, I think I’ll start the ‘no perfect church’ to help redeem the world.” Jesus didn’t leave us with a broken system that doesn’t work for us to spread the Gospel all over the world.
“Broken people/broken world…” Yes the church is made up of people who are broken, but Jesus knew that when he started this whole thing. It wasn’t like Jesus had this idea that everyone was going to be perfect and that everything was always going to work the way he wanted it to. But, what he did do was tell the early believers how to live as a body, how to treat one another, how to pray, how to preach, how to share the message that he had come to save the world and it worked perfectly as he had intended…He even told them how to handle things when they messed up. (1 John 1:9/James 5:16/Proverbs 28:13) — John makes it really clear in his first letter to the Johannine community when he said,
“I am writing you my dear children so that you might not sin, but when you do — know that you have an advocate, one that stands between you and the father, the righteous one…” 1 John 2:1
Jesus made it clear to John that his desire was for his followers to not sin, and his desire for his followers was for when they did: to confess it and trust Him for forgiveness.
We’ve defined “perfection” wrong. We define it as: I like the music, I get fed from the preaching, my kids really like the youth ministry, we have a big budget, — and done… And then as soon as one of those gets off track, as soon as we find ourselves in a broken relationship and unable to resolve the conflict, as soon as we don’t like where the money goes, as soon as “I’m just not getting fed…”, etc… We decide to begin to look for another place to worship — and while “sharing our hearts” with our friends we justify leaving the/that church with: “I know there’s no perfect church, but…”
I like the music:
Scripture is clear that we are to sing hymns and praises together. We are even going to do this in heaven as seen by John in the book of Rev. However, here we think we must have the right style, volume, songs, etc…for us to “connect with the Lord”. Sure there are some guys who lead that I literally get more into the music with. Those guys are typically better artists, more talented with their voice and instruments and either are or could be making a lot more money in the music industry than a Sunday am worship set. My inability to engage during worship is much more about my lack of depth than it is about the guy on stage.
I learn from the preaching/teaching:
I have always loved the quote: “If you’re not feeding, it’s because you’re not eating.” Do you have a daily time when you read your Bible and spend time studying and memorizing it on your own? If you answer yes, then you may be missing some things during your time with the Lord. You may not be hearing some things correctly from Him. — I’m just saying, I’ve yet to see in the scriptures where Jesus tells us to grade our church experiences the way we do — but yet we do.
My kids really like the youth group:
You as a dad, mom, parent are charged with the shepherding of your own home. Deut. 6, Eph. 5 & 6 — the greatest place of influence for your kids’ perspective on Jesus is going to be: 1. Jesus and 2. You. That does not negate the need for a gospel community. Your kids need community. You need community as you raise your kids in a crazy time in our world. Here’s what you are looking for in a student ministry. 1. They actually communicate the Gospel clearly with consistency. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 8:9&13, Eph. 2:8, Titus 3:5) 2. They practice and teach the art of confession within “Biblical Community”. If they do these 2 things well, there’s not much else you need. All the games, flare, and fun are cool to get a bunch of kids in the room to have fun, but the student ministry that puts the Gospel and dealing with your sin as the top priorities will change the world. Go back if you’d like to read What I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Student Pastor for some deeper thoughts on student ministry specifically. I am expanding that article into a 7 part series to give some more practical application over the next couple of months.
We have a big budget:
Money/resources are a major player. It should be normative for a believer to give their time and their money to spread the Gospel. Like a lot of it. I mean, you should on a daily basis be looking to see who you can share the Gospel with today. Every day when you get in your car, you should start your drive by saying, “Jesus, please give me an opportunity today to tell someone about you.” And then actually do it when it comes up. We should regularly be looking for opportunities to give money away to someone in need, a ministry that is on the edges of the earth sharing the Gospel and feeding people who are dying of hunger. Those things should be normative. If the pastor of a church is not doing those 2 things and making that the norm for his church, then yeah it’s not perfect and it’s not even trying.
“I know there’s no perfect church, but…”.
A few questions you may be asking:
Q: Case, have you ever left a church?
Q: Did you read the first paragraph?
A: Yes, I wrote it actually.
Q: Help me understand…
A: Glad to: You are right in saying that you are unlikely to find that place that in every way meets the needs you think you have the way you think they should be met. You may even think that you have a solid Biblical argument for why the church you attend is not perfect and why you should begin to look somewhere else. What I’m saying is that most of the time our reasons are wrong and we may have missed the whole point in scripture. So the statement, “There is no perfect church” is actually… all about you. However, the church that Jesus established is perfect — because he made it. He ordained it. He commissioned it to do what it’s supposed to do…The problem is, we quit doing it. Yes, I’ve left a church before because I did not like something…and that was about me. That was my imperfection projecting upon something else so I didn’t have to look at me. So I didn’t have to deal with my issues. So that others didn’t know that I was not right… But I’ve also left a church not because it wasn’t perfect, but because it had no desire to even make an effort to be the church God designed it to be.
There are two points I really want to hammer home here:
Yes we are not perfect. But with the weight of responsibility that Jesus has placed on us, in light of the fact that he died for us — we probably ought to try…
The perfect church is the one that does what Jesus told us to do — over and over and over and over and over and over again…
What the Perfect Church Does…
- We Deal with Our Sin
- We Love Each Other Really Well
- We tell people about Jesus every time we get the chance
- We give our money whenever there is a need that we can meet
- We serve the church body with our gifts and/or where there is a need
- We know the scriptures and give wise council based solely on it
- We Pray A Lot
The Perfect Church is the one Jesus is at
When the Church does what Jesus made the Church to do, then it is the perfect Church. It just is. When we decide as followers of Jesus to live fully devoted to the Word of God and the basic normative things Jesus has said a believer does as a part of the church…we will begin to see God move in our lives, in our homes, in our marriages, our relationships, in our work places, in our churches in ways He is not now. (I know I cannot speak for the Lord, but these things seem to be what’s consistent in the places where God is moving in crazy ways right now.)
What I’m saying is, we know when we are with someone who has been with Jesus. We know when Jesus has radically changed someone’s heart…because they are radically different than everyone else. As soon as we allow Jesus to make us that, things will be different.
I am praying that Jesus saves everyone in this city. Praying Jesus saves everyone in this nation. Praying Jesus saves everyone in the world…and He lets us watch Him do it.
If you have a thought, a question, an argument, a whatever — I’m more than happy to engage in a conversation with you. You can reach me at [email protected] (Use subject line “Casey I’d like to talk to you about ____________.”)
My name is Casey Hubbart – (“Case”). I am a former pastor living in Texas. I own a business with my wife, coach high school football & pole vault, and I write about: Faith, Family, Fashion and Fitness. I believe those of us who say we know Jesus are in desperate need of a change in the way we do things. I’ve spent my entire life as part of the church in some capacity. I met Jesus when I was 18 and have spent the last 20 years serving in the church in some capacity. 13+ years of that was as a paid staff member or “professional Christian” — The last 4 years of my life I’ve been trying to process what it means to not be on a church staff and still hold that as such a vital part of mine and my family’s life. It’s been educational to say the least having lived on this side of the table now for a few years, giving me a better understanding of what I was truly asking the people who sat in the churches I served in. Trying to find a way to appropriately handle all that I’ve experienced in the church I decided to begin to write.
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