There is a fine line between loving your church and worshiping your church. Worshiping your church hurts people. It will hurt you and people around you. So how do you know if you are worshiping your church? You might be worshiping your church if…
1. You expect too much from your church.
There is no place for sin in your church. It is valid to be saddened by sin; but you are crushed and disillusioned by it. You want your church to be sinless. You do not see the righteousness of Jesus covering your sinful church. Sinners (i.e., everybody) feel judged by you. You are unwilling to forgive people or show them grace. You punish people with messy lives. Sadly, where there is no room for sin there is also no room for Jesus. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous but for sinners (Matt 9:13).
2. You expect too little from your church.
You are too comfortable with sin in your church. You understand the importance of God’s grace; but you don’t believe in its power. You don’t expect yourself to change. You don’t expect people to change. You don’t expect your church to make much of a difference in the world. You are regularly bored at church and people feel like they can’t depend on you. You ignore the messiness in people’s lives. Sadly, where there is no room for holiness, there is also no room for Jesus. Jesus cannot be powerful enough to forgive us unless he is also powerful enough to change us (Rom 6:1-4).
3. You treat visitors like they have the cooties.
You don’t come to church to meet visitors, you come to see your friends. You might occasionally say hello or make polite conversation with a visitor, but you don’t try very hard to get to know them. You are not looking for new friends. Visitors often feel like they are eavesdropping on your conversation. It doesn’t bother you too much when visitors don’t come back. You get how God loves you and your friends, but you have trouble getting how much God loves other people. Sadly, we deny God’s impartial love for us when we fail to show impartial love to others (James 2:8-9).
4. You treat visitors like they are “the only single girl in a room full of ready-to-marry bachelors.”
Your face lights up when you see a new visitor at church. Your mission is to convince them to come back next Sunday. You want the visitor to get to know your church more than you want to get to know the visitor. You are warm and friendly, but visitors feel used and smothered. When you find out that they are visiting from out of town or that they are not really looking for a church, you lose interest. You are crushed when visitors don’t come back. You get how God loves other people, but you have trouble getting how much God loves you. The more you try to “get love” from visitors (by convincing them to come back) the less you love them. You will never be satisfied in the security of God’s grace until you stop trying to find security in the validation of other people (Gal 6:9-10).
What are some of the ways you have seen people hurt by the church?
What are some of the ways you have hurt people by worshiping your church?
[Note: This post was originally conceived as the first of two parts, but I just haven’t gotten around to writing it. It may appear in the future as a separate post, but for now I am going to move on to other things.]