A Good Church is Hard to Find
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
A good church is hard to find nowadays. (I don’t say that to make my own church look good. We have our problems too). Most Christians who have seen the plight of abuse victims in the church will agree. Somehow, it seems to me, the suffering of believers who have been through the fire of abuse eliminates their tolerance for nonsense and show in the name of Christ. As flowery as many churches might seem, the ones with all the bells and whistles, the ones that “do worship” perfectly – people who are being oppressed will tell you that those places don’t seem to be real big on standing in a victim’s shoes. There is just too much glitter and glamour at stake to stand for justice.
Have you ever contrasted the Apostle Paul’s description of his ministry style with the typical job description you will find posted when a church is seeking a new pastor? Think about it. “Proven track record of growth and vision. Dynamic leadership style shown to energize the flock.” I don’t really know what energized sheep would look like. It’s the cows in movies that stampede, but I don’t remember seeing a bunch of panicked cowboys trying to head off a crazed mass of sheep as they plow through the chuck wagon. Cowboy songs get sung to cows, not to the woolies.
Think carefully about this. Most all of the Christians I know who had to leave their church when they left their abuser, really want to find a good church. I suggest to you that the kind of ministry you want to look for will be characterized by leaders who share Paul’s style. Consider the main points –
- No lofty, erudite, impressive oratory style
- No philosophic, academic vocabulary designed to impress the masses with one’s intellect
- No sermons designed to entertain – Paul’s subject was always Christ, and a crucified Christ at that
- Weakness, fear, and much trembling. Hmmm. I don’t think Paul stepped into the pulpit and said “I have got it all figured out! Here’s what we are going to do.”
In other words, God’s church – in the world’s eyes – looks like a bunch of fools. Because that is what the wisdom of God is to the world. Foolishness.
So if you doubt that the evangelical church is really as bad off as we keep saying it is, sometime do a search and go to some headhunter website like pastorfinder.com and start reading through some of the job descriptions they post there. Start out with the section called “This Week’s Hottest Ministry Positions.” Hot. What is that? The most hellish? Ok, I admit to some ridicule here. I repent – a little.
A good church, if it were looking for a pastor, would look for a man who, well – who nobody else wants. And such a pastor would look for a flock that no one else wants.
That is what makes a real church, and that is what you must look for in your search. Oh – and that will also be a church where evildoers can’t hide, where they are exposed, and where their victims are rescued and protected. That is what happens where Christ is truly present.