I received the following note from a youth pastor when I requested programming suggestions in preparation for The Pastor’s Gathering ‘11 Advisory Council meeting:
Hey Pastor Buddy,
The only thing that I can think of is how the church is under attack right now. You know the situation going on with us; but there are so many churches in the district, around our community, and around the world that Satan is just doing whatever he can to move in and tear it apart. I am so frustrated right now to hear about all of the arguing and fighting going on inside of the church. We are so worried about how our government and our nation is falling away from God, but maybe it’s because our churches are being tore apart from the inside. How do we expect to reach a dying world with a dying church? If a kingdom at war within itself is sure to fall, where does that put the Bride of Christ?
Are we setting up God’s kingdom to fall with the wars we are allowing to go on inside of the church? We have become so selfish! The people of this world see the church as something they can possess. It’s their own country club, their means of control to meet their desires. Not just the people of the congregation but the pastors as well. Who has more control and influence in a church than the pastor? Who else can stand in front of the entire congregation and speak for an hour to either torture the people or bring about the love of Christ? I’m sure there are plenty of pastors who feel that the church is theirs to own and control as well.
We desperately need something to spark a fire inside the hearts of the pastors and congregations that will break us to see the love of Christ poured out no matter what the cost. What ever happened to the believers that were of one heart and one mind? Where are the ones that felt that what they owned was not their own? Where are the ones who shared everything and gave everything away? Even their very lives.
I can’t think of a single church like that, and it breaks my heart. Maybe the event could offer something for pastors that want their congregations to be the pure and loving Bride of Christ that it is supposed to be.
Here is my response:
What an awesome letter!!! I hear your heart and feel your pain and disappointment with the church as you are seeing it and experiencing it. I know it springs from you personally being hurt and under attack in your situation and experiencing things that a young pastor should never experience. I encourage you to keeping forgiving and to not allow bittnerness any place in your heart.
Please do not give up on the church, Christ hasn’t. You do not sit where I sit and see the signs of renewal and revival in some places. Since you are a part of this coming generation, you cannot fully appreciate the difference I see in you and in my generation that provides hope that indeed the church can begin to reach its full Kingdom potential. The passion that I have sensed in your lives and that comes through in this letter is what the church desperately needs. May God help us to hear your heart, listen to your ideas and include you in our discussions and decision making processes. You and your buddies represent our best opportunity to see the church become truly missional. It is my opinion that if church renewal does not happen with your generation, the North American church is going to resemble European church in the next generation. I challenge you to let your experiences serve as motivation to do all you can and rally your friends to make the difference that you desire to make.
May I have permission to use your letter as a challenge to our SC (and other) churches?
Please know that I love you, respect you and believe in you!!! More than ever!!!