I was invited to a back to school celebration this week. The keynote speaker, Dr Draper (not that Dr. Draper) shared with us that we need to be positive when we talk about schools. . . other schools. He made the comment that most people in the US think that their schools are good, but every other school in the US is bad. They say that the schools in general in this country are failing, but their school is doing better.
Wow, he could have been talking about the church. We say how broken the American church is, but our church is different. Ours is ok and doing the right things, but in general the church stinks. This is an issue because people outside the church hear us talk about it. They hear us talk about how bad churches are, that they stink and don’t get things right.
Dr. Draper shared with us that schools have an image problem and people don’t support the public school. I don’t want this blog to turn into the public school vs private Christian school vs home school debate. Save that for another blog. The point I want to discuss is that we have an image problem in the church. Much of our problem is because of the way we talk about the church.
We bash other churches. We bash them from the pulpit, in public, in blogs and on social media. We blast each other, and I admit I have been guilty of it. Do many churches in America have problems? Every single church has a problem someplace. We all make mistakes, so why can’t we show grace to other churches? I want to offer some suggestions today to help us improve our image in the community.
1. Celebrate the wins in your church. People need to hear the good things that are happening in your church. People want to know God is at work and God helping people in your church. Share how God is touching lives.
2. Celebrate the wins in OTHER churches. People in the community hear us bash churches, why would they want to attend any church? They don’t. Much of the lack of growth in the American church is because we say how awful the American church is. God is moving in many churches in the US, let’s celebrate it. Talk about how other churches in your community are doing the work of God. There is bound to be something good you can say about someone else.
3. Show grace for other churches. Sometimes churches fail, pastors blow it and things go wrong. Show grace, and pray for the churches that are falling apart. Don’t bash them from the pulpit or in public. Pray for them, encourage them, help them however you can and love them. We have grace for the sinner, but none for the American church. We need to support our brothers and sisters.
4. Encourage one another. Send a note to another pastor in town, tell him you are praying for him. Partner with another church, do a mission project together. Celebrate together in public, let people see that Christians actually love each other. Do a concert or an event together, people need to see our churches working together. Stop the division, cut out the competition. STOP BASHING OTHER PASTORS, they have the same stress and problems, hurts and burdens, they hurt just like you. Pray for them and encourage them and help them up when they fall.
I truly believe if we can turn the tide from critical to positive and grace filled, maybe we can change the negative attitude from those outside the church. Maybe they will think the church is a nice place to be again. Maybe they will begin to visit. Maybe, just maybe it will calm down some of the angry atheists (ok, probably not). If nothing else, we can sleep at night knowing that we are being obedient to Christ. He did after all tell us to love one another. I am not sure we are living that out by verbally trashing other churches.