Every week a group of guys who call themselves “Real Men of Genius” (in obvious jest) meet together to chat about life, faith and struggles they are having. These guys are in different places in their life and spiritual journey. Some are Pastors, some are laborers, some are administrators, some are married, some are fathers… but all are there to connect with one another and to honestly share life’s ups and downs – in a safe place.
I am thrilled to be a part of that group. It’s the first time in a while where I have experienced a place where it was safe to share, and it was safe for others to share. And everyone is open… from the leaders of the church to those not even a part of our church community. It’s been cool.
So I give that side story to lead into a question that came from it…
“If the church is not the place where you can come and share your life, be real, get help and become connected to the people there and to God, no matter where you are currently coming from in your life – then what is it for?” (paraphrase)
I think for Pastors, the desire is usually there to see broken and hurting people know and experience Jesus whenever we gather together. I think we expect the messiness to be a part of those who “don’t know Christ yet”, but it starts to fall apart when things are messy with those who do or claim to follow Jesus – or most of all, those leading (Pastors, Leaders, Staff, etc…) others who do or don’t know Jesus. We don’t know what to do when followers of Jesus have, and share their stuff with us – or if others Pastors/Staff/Leaders are living in a way that is contrary to God’s best for us as followers of Christ.
The normal response is to either ignore it or cast him/her out – that is if anyone is even willing and comfortable enough to share (church discipline is Biblical and necessary at times, but is too often used as a way to not have to deal with something, than to help restore someone). Most of the time though, we all struggle in silence – afraid for our jobs, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what God thinks – or so sure that nothing is really wrong with how we are living.
So is that a piece of what the church is for?
Are we only a safe place, a place of healing and help for those who don’t follow Jesus right now?
I usually get nailed now for seemingly promoting that it’s ok to live sinfully – that we should just accept anything and everything despite how people are living. I am not now and will never promote the idea of just excusing sin – or that there are not consequences for our choices (including losing a job, our families, life dreams, etc…).
My point and question is… are we “Good News” to those inside and outside of our churches/communities. Do we promote and live as a community of true love, grace, help, and kindness to those inside and out? Are we a safe place to walk with the person who is struggling – whether it is a person who isn’t so excited about Jesus, or a long time Christian, or a Leader/Pastor (I realize there are differing opinions on what to do with leaders/pastors who are struggling with something). Is our church/community a place where honesty, transparency,
brokenness and healing can happen for all?
If it is –that’s so awesome!! Let’s keep seeing lives truly cared for and allowed the room to grow and change.
And if not, let’s try and find what I believe is the heart of Christ again with all our people…
… the heart that would sit at a well and talk to an outcast woman who then was so changed by her encounter with Jesus, that she ran and told her whole village to come and see the man who knew everything about her…
… the heart that would leave the flock of ninety-nine to go a find the one that was missing…
… the heart that would run out to greet his son from far, far away who left his father and blew his entire inheritance on a lot of fun that didn’t last, so he threw him a party when he returned – so glad that his son had come home… his son was dead but now is alive!