Your Church Is Perfect….

…..Perfectly positioned to achieve what it is currently achieving.
This is normal church process. Congregations are groups of people who develop norms, patterns, and culture complete with reinforcing belief systems about how they should be groups together. There is nothing wrong or unfaithful about this reality. This is natural and normal; congregations become the combination of all the pushes and pulls in their relational web over time.

So, your church is perfect. It is a perfect expression of the interaction between God, people, place, and community. Whatever your church is doing, sharing, accomplishing, and being….all is the outcome of the combined efforts and interactions of all involved. Your church is perfectly functioning in the way it is designed (consciously and unconsciously) by every person engaged at any level with your church.

This simple description of how churches function rests on a foundation of really good news: We are responsible for who and what our church currently is. “Good news,” you say? Some would rather not see church this way; rather not believing that we are responsible for whatever our expression of church has come to be. Though we all share some level of disappointment with church, these disciples blame others in the congregation, the pastor and staff, the lay leaders, and/or culture at large. “If all these people and the culture around us would just get their stuff together and get on board, then our church would be wonderful.” It’s so convenient to blame others, acting as if we are non-participants in shaping our churches to become what they are. These people see themselves as victims of what others in the congregation or the culture around us are doing to the church. Seeing ourselves as victims is the perfect way to make ourselves helpless and powerless. Blame is all these people have left.

But here is the really good news regarding church….We ARE responsible! Since we are in control of ourselves as responsible entities, this means we can choose to change. This means we are capable and able. This means we are not victims. This means we believe and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ which includes transformational power for every individual, group, system….and even for every church.

So, let’s claim our agency (capacity to change our lives). Let’s believe the gospel. For those who are thrilled with the mission-congruent activity of their churches, do more of whatever you are doing to achieve those outcomes. For those who are experiencing life-giving, faith-based interactions with other disciples, do more of whatever you are doing which influences this to happen. For those who are disappointed with their churches, here is a starting place. Recognize and accept that you have helped create whatever is currently happening. Then recognize and accept that you can change your way of relating to and participating in your church anytime. Resist the temptation to blame others while instead taking responsibility and changing yourself. Believe the good news of the gospel, remembering God specializes in transformation. Open yourself to change, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your steps. Pastors, church staff, lay leaders, and every disciple in a congregation maintain the church as it is by doing what they are collectively doing. Any one of these can initiate change by changing themselves. When all of them change themselves, then widespread mission-congruent change can occur. Let’s believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, accepting our part in God’s transformation project in our congregations and on planet earth.

Mark Tidsworth
President, PLA