destroyed church1

Why the church gets no respect

You probably remember the favorite line of funny man Rodney Daingerfield: “I get no respect.” Sometimes, it seems to me, the church gets no respect.

As writer John Stott once observed, “The unchurched are hostile to the church, friendly to Jesus Christ.” Often we hear someone say, “I don’t like organized religion.” One wonders, does that mean he likes his church disorganized? As Will Rogers once quipped, “I am a member of no organized political party; I’m a democrat.”

Why is the church so often dismissed? This is a phenomenon as old as the church itself: “But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28:22). Some point to the presence of hypocrites in the church. This is an old saw. Why, of course, there are hypocrites in the church. If they avoided the church they would not be hypocrites, they would be pagans!

Modern people seem to suffer under the misunderstanding that one can serve God without stooping to serve God’s people. Yet we are reminded that we cannot claim love for a God we cannot see if we fail to love a brother we can see (1 John 4:20,21). Working with people in a church context is messy, complicated, and, make no mistake, what Christians do!

Of course, Jesus is perfect and the church is not. Jesus’ sweet perfection is pretty tough competition for the church to meet!

Yet we need the church: When we walk in the light, as Christ is in the light, John reminds us, “we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). Early Christians “devoted themselves” to “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship and the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

There is no such thing as an “Island Christian.” The church was organized for this purpose – the social needs of its members. God could have gotten along very well without a church, but could we? Mentoring of mature members, forming fast friendships, the encouragement that comes from the observation that we are not alone, all of these things exhibit that we need the church. I think we yearn for these relationships. The love we receive in the church, though not always perfect, is far better and far more healing than that which outsiders feel.

And the church needs us, too: She needs our talents. These are God given, and there for a purpose (Romans 12:4-8). God “arranged” the members of the church body, “each one of them, as he chose” (1 Corinthians 12:18).

To slightly misquote John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.”

The church should be a place where talents and opportunities are pooled together. From those who can frame and sheetrock to school teachers, from those who are adept at writing cards, to those who preach, we are all here to contribute to the welfare of others and the glory of God.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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One thought on “Why the church gets no respect

  1. Listening to people making remarks about the church one can soon come to the conclusion that there exists a number of misconceptions as to the nature of the church. This particular article could be used as a foundation for introducing a deep study of the church.

    Too often we hear the church spoken of in such a way that emphasis is upon its organization, thus the church is viewed as an organized entity. While tis true that the church has organization, what Scripture emphasizes is its being an organism. Just read 1 Corinthians 12:12ff. Relationships are emphasized. Scripture teaches that because of ones relationship with God his/her life is being fashioned in accordance with God’s will.

    May I share two quotations with you? One from a psychologist, the other from a gospel preacher.

    “The more I understand people and their needs, the more I am persuaded
    that God has uniquely designed the church to respond to those needs. And
    as my conviction grows, so does my frustration.” (Larry Crabb)

    ” It is impossible to carry out most of the Lord’s commandments to His people
    except in the context of relationships in a local church.” (Larry Deason)

    Giving consideration to the Scripture setting forth the mission and role of the church in the world, we all should put forth every endeavor to serve one another within the context of a community of saints seeking to save the souls of our fellow man.

    B. Abney

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