Church Relationships

I’ve thinking recently about relationships, especially the relationship within the church. You see, I am a new believer but a long-term church goer. I’ve gone to many different denominations and now attend a non-denominational church, so I want to highlight the differences I’ve seen and the relationships we should have in the church.

I am guilty of going to church to be a “good” Christian, chitchatting with acquaintances and skipping out the door to go back to “normal”. Most of the church sermons I heard made me feel good and happy; there were a few that brushed a nerve but none that really shed any negative light on my actions. These messages are good; We should know about God’s love for us, and how we’re saved by grace but it’s like you’re only  dessert. It’s  delicious but is best in moderation.

I’ve also been to church where all they preach is brimstone and hell and I leave terrified and with a list of things I better do or God will judge me and condemn me. Again, these messages can be good but again they shouldn’t be 100% of what you hear.

I attend a church now that focuses on scripture as the “theme” and we’re currently reading through Romans.   The first few times I attended, this was a bit new to me because it seemed like a Bible study and I didn’t realize that a pastor could preach for 45 minutes on one verse. I was used to a more topical approach – anger, love, grace, etc.

I find that the approach my current church uses is very beneficial because it has more of a balance. We talk about the good but we also talk about the tough things too. There are days where I am bursting with love from the message and other days where I am squirming in the hot seat, knowing that God is using this message to grab my attention and redirect me.

Since I am a foreigner and most of my church is, we are all very close and see each other outside of church and our life groups. This adds an additional layer of accountability and sincerity that can sometimes be easy to fake back home. It’s easy to be “Super Christian” for a few hours Sunday and for life group but seeing these men and women constantly will reveal inconsistencies.

It’s against my nature to share my vulnerability and weaknesses but it’s in these moments I show God’s strength and see His love. This public (life group usually) confession shows that I’m not a hypocrite but that I am simply a sinner. My relationships within the church allow and encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to approach me privately and hold me accountable to what I believe in and I am expected to do the same.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” – James 5:16

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you an him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” – Matthew 18:15-16

It’s hard to hold people accountable or to be accountable if you’re not sincere. If we only share the good and never the bad, we’re hurting ourselves. God expected us to encourage and build each other up because He knew that we would experience low times.

The relationships in the church shouldn’t be insincere and fake but should be transparent and authentic. We need our leaders to set the example and to share their struggles as well their victories. While I might admire someone for their strengths, I am more likely to relate and respect someone for their weaknesses. It’s in our vulnerability that we become friends and truly form a bond. It is in our weaknesses that God’s strength is seen.

grace

What do you think about church relationships? Do you think the church would be different if the leaders and members were more transparent with their struggles? What about the messages the church preach – do you think they should be more balanced or is there a reason to preach one over the other? I’d love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Church Relationships

  1. I think it’s both ways. In some respects it’s easier to understand and relate when the leaders in the church are transparent about current or past struggles, so that the laity understand, hey I’m not the only one struggling with this. In other respects, we don’t need to dwell on sin, and instead should see a leader moving forward not backward (Ephesians 5:12) The Body of Christ should be one where we can all be safely vulnerable with each other. It doesn’t always work out like that, but I think that’s how God intended it. (John 17) As far as content, I am hungry for the Word. All the time. My church’s messages are topical and watered down from what the pure passage is saying. And I prefer 45 minutes on one verse, because I want to be fed meat from the Word, not ancillary materials that tangentially touch a verse. But I’m also into hard core theology and read the old testament in the original Hebrew.

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    • Thanks for the feedback. I can also see both sides but I think if we were all more honest with each other, the church could grow and impact more people in an authentic manner. I also wasn’t saying that only the church leaders should share their struggles but that they should set an example and create an atmosphere conducive to sharing. Too often, I meet church leaders who make me feel judged and condemned for weaknesses instead of welcoming.
      To clarify – I enjoy that my pastor can preach for 45 minutes on one verse but it’s very different from other churches I attended. I also love that we’re encouraged to go check scripture anytime he preaches.
      I’m impressed that you’re reading the OT in original Hebrew. Some days I struggle to read it in plain English.

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      • I completely agree with the honesty. I’ve had several friendships with pastors and I have always gotten that “bulletproof” front from several of them. We would have a more real, unified and close church if we had leadership that showed their struggles. We are taught to rejoice when weak, because Christ is made strong, but I don’t feel like typical church leadership typifies this.
        I highly endorse checking scripture against anything anyone teaches. Too often the Bride is spoon fed theology without reading the word for themselves. That makes for a very slippery slope.

        Thank you! I love Hebrew! Love it. I could study it all day. Don’t worry, you will grow fast in the Spirit and reading it will be easy. God loves someone hungry for his Word!

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  2. I agree that too often the Bible is watered down and unfortunately a lot of people simply trust their pastor and don’t go back to validate or check scripture. Thanks for the encouragement – I just take it one chapter at a time and I am learning so much by focusing on the quality of my studying instead of quantity.

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