The Church Project, Part II
We all have different experiences with Church. The Church Project is a way to look at some of those experiences to consider one another within the Church and think more deeply about our own experiences.
Let’s welcome Anita as she tells parts of her story growing up in the church and working in a variety of capacities. She brings up some thoughtful concerns and reminds us of the beautifully simple truth of the Church.
What role does the Church play in your faith?
I grew up in the pews. My father is the eldest child of Baptist missionary parents, and I am his eldest child. Church is in my blood, my DNA, and I made my very personal decision for Jesus before the age of five.
I have spent my whole adult life living and working within the Christian social service sector, straddling the line between the world, congregational structures, politics, Christian social services, secular social services, chaplaincy, education and my own relationship with Jesus.
We as believers and followers of Christ, those who have an intimate relationship with All Of God, are the church. The church as it is described in the New Testament. The church which Jesus talked about. I love the church, (the Bride of Christ), and my whole life is centered around her. I love to see people coming into wholeness, out of brokenness, being equipped in their relationship with Jesus, being set free, and understanding the important part in the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, they have.I love to see people coming into wholeness, out of brokenness, being equipped in their relationship with… Click To Tweet
Have you ever struggled with church? Why or why not?
Having worked in so many different areas in Christian service, both watching and being involved in the way denominational and congregational structures operate has led me to be concerned about the system we currently describe as ‘church’.
Leadership (pastors etc) are often expected to carry the entire weight of a congregation. They are expected to be responsible for the health and well-being of all the people, finances, staff, church groups, outreach and missions, numerical growth, spiritual growth, social perceptions, as well as their own health, well-being and spiritual health, their own family, their relationship with their husband or wife, their family’s spiritual, physical and emotional health, their social engagements and it goes on and on and on.
There are some responsibilities for congregants to participate in, but ultimately, responsibility for any actions or decisions on behalf of any congregation member falls on the pastor or pastoral team.
The people at the top carry too much weight; people at the bottom too little – and neither have space to change this. Sometimes neither want to change this and cultures of control and irresponsibility grow.
Is it any wonder Pastors become distant from their congregations and people within the congregations go ‘missing’? These structures and the people confined within them are not equipped to meet the real needs of real people.Is it any wonder Pastors become distant from their congregations and people within the congregations go… Click To Tweet
What would you tell someone who is uncertain about the Church?
There are several important things to remember. First, the buildings we meet in, or structures we meet around are not the “Church”, we are the church. This is the reason Jesus came to die and rise again. To give us individual access to All Of Who God Is, with no earthly intercessor between.
Also, each individual member of the Bride is a vital part of the body of Christ, and has the same Resurrected Life of Christ within them. We are all equal under Him and we are each responsible for our own relationship with God.
Therefore, no matter what kind of fellowship structure we are currently comfortable being (or called to be) accountable in, whether congregational (denominational), house church or small prayer group; our real priority should be teaching and modelling for each other how to have a deeper relationship with God.
Our relationship with Jesus must be continually developing. It should be growing, strengthening, deepening and the distinction between where He ends and we begin less obvious.
It is the most important relationship we will have in our lives. It takes work, but it is this relationship which carries us as we work through all the other questions we have about how the world around us works and how we as Christ-followers need to be in amongst it all.
What a challenge! The balance of being part of a body while holding first and foremost to Jesus may be the very thing that heals and strengthens so many!
You can find more of Anita’s work at Deep River & Fire where she explores deeper and stronger relationship with God in the ordinary places of our lives.
Sharing words at #raralinkup and with these great writers today!
About Becky Hastings
I am emotional and logical. I am strong and dependent. I am a juxtaposition of head and heart exploring it all through writing. And in all my mixed-up ways I am loved. I'm here to tell you that you are, too. Just the way you are.