As a pastor and a lifelong church-goer, I’m in love with the Church. Even though the Church has a thousand problems (and every week it seems another book is coming out extolling those), the Church is still Christ’s beloved bride (Ephesians 5:25-27). And every week, pastors of big and small churches labor to deliver the Word of God. And paid staff, part time staff, and volunteers give of their time and energy to make their church best express the gospel in the community.
So in a sea of angry anti-church blog posts, Twitter rants, and angst-filled books, I want to give five simple ways you can push against the culture and love your church this week:
1) Extend your church the same grace you give yourself. I find it amazing that we are so good at finding all the flaws in our churches while simultaneously getting peeved because that same church is “judgmental” towards me. The truth is that the church, your church that you go to on Sundays, has flaws. Some are rather obvious. Some might be embarrassing. But if they are preaching the gospel, sharing the Word, and have a genuine sense of community, then why not give your church the same grace you want to receive?
2) Be intentional and dependable. Churches depend on volunteer effort. Without active members regularly giving their time and energy, the church simply can’t function. In fact, I would argue that every Christian should have active ministry in a local, Bible-believing church. In fact, the Bible says that it’s the pastor’s job to equip the lay people who actually do the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). Here is what can make your church function at optimum levels–you’re faithfulness and dependability. Be on time every week for services. If you sign up for a job, take it as seriously as you would your other obligations. And do it well. You have no idea how precious you’re gift of faithfulness is to a church.
3) Speak well of your church in the community. How do you speak of your church in the community? Do you regularly rag on it’s faults? I’m not saying to “spin” things that are wrong.Don’t do that. It’s inauthentic. But leave those things “in the family.” When you’re out and about, speak well of your church and the people there. Invite folks to the functions. Post positive things on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. You might even blog about it. If Jesus is the groom and the Church is the bride, then Jesus must love when we say nice things about the Church.
4) Build intentional relationships in your church. How many deep, satisfying relationships do you have with folks in your church? Maybe there is nobody like you, you’re age, you’re station of life so you shy away from deep relationships. Why not try to move out of your comfort zone and engage someone that widow or that teenager. Have that family over for dinner. Do coffee with the retired schoolteacher. You’re pastor is busy trying to make this happen, but he can’t do it all. You’re intentional efforts at fostering community will help your church move forward in a big way.
5) Give regularly to your church. Yes, you should give out of the love in your heart toward God. And no, you shouldn’t give simply because the church needs money. But, let’s be honest, the church needs money. It takes money to keep the lights on, have that cool new Sunday School curriculum, and to host that missionary from Ecuador. So, be biblical, and commit to sustained, regular giving that the church can count on. This demonstrates the commitment to the local expression of Christ’s body in your community.
What are some other ways you can love on your local church? Feel free to comment below.