A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A Good Church is Hard to Find

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.

11 Comments

  1. Good job, Jeff, right on!

  2. Now Free After 42 Years

    Yesterday I read in our paper that a local church had their Easter service at our world-class auditorium. The photo showed a set-up a rock star would envy…stage lights galore, a stage full of rock-style musicians. An almost full house. I know the Lord will eventually lead
    me to a real church.

  3. joepote01

    Jeff, when our current pastor first came to our church, I was not terribly impressed. He came across as a nice and sincere guy, but did not have either a charismatic personality or a motivational speaking style.

    Over time, I have come to realize that he is actually both very knowledgable and very graceful. His humility tends to downplay his knowledge and ability. His unassuming speaking style has been specifically cultivated to present the biblical message in a style everyone can understand, rather than in a style everyone will be impressed by.

    Today, I am very thankful for a good church led by a godly pastor!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Joe – I am reminded of what Paul told the Corinthians. His comment shows what his critics were saying about him. “2 Corinthians 10:10 ESV (10) For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”
      Today’s “church” for the most part would reject the Apostle Paul were he candidating for a pastoral position, and embrace one of Satan’s angels of “light.”

      • joepote01

        Exactly!

        It’s been interesting, too, watching our church change the last few years of being led by our current pastor. Overall, it has not grown, but has shrunk in attendance. However, there is a much more peacful spirit, with less gossip and less controversy. We have fewer members with high income levels and more members in humble situations. And we have begun more outreach programs geared toward ministering to people living in the low-income area near our church location.

        I’ve had several people around town ask me, “What’s going on at Calvary Baptist Church? We hear everyone is leaving and they’re having financial issues.” I just smile and reply that God is using our church to reach the people He wants us to reach.

        I suppose it doesn’t look too successful in a lot of people’s eyes. God sees things differently…

  4. Another point: The *other* style of church– the kind that loves people more than power– is usually broke. They’re busy helping the oppressed financially. Can’t afford that huge building and light show every Sunday if you’re helping the single moms pay their rent until they get on their feet or paying someone’s tuition so they can retrain for another job.

    Which means the money doesn’t go to fancy buildings. Offerings go in the front door and right back out. And those folks who are comfortable only where sin is never mentioned and the poor are ignored will never darken the door or put their ten percent protection money in the offering plate.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Protection money. I like that. It nails it. Membership dues that protect a person from any possibility of being held accountable. Is it possible that we are having trouble finding a good church because we are looking in all the wrong places (there’s a song about that, right?). Suffering. Look
      for people who have, and who are – suffering for Christ. The world hates Christ and His people – John 15:18-19 ESV
      (18) “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
      (19) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

  5. paulspassingthoughts

    Reblogged this on Paul's Passing Thoughts.

  6. Totally agree. And thanks Joe for your at-the-coal-face observations about your own pastor and church. An anecdote like tells a thousand words.

  7. Finding Answers

    Perhaps an additional way of defining a good church is whether or not one needs to wear a mask – leadership or flock.

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