“The condition of our communities is the scorecard on how well the church is doing at being the people of God.”
A friend posted this on Facebook earlier and it entered my mind often today. At first it seems a wake up call to the body of Christ. If our community is broken, it is because of the lack of action from people who refer to themselves as Christians. It is because we do not do our part to improve our communities. To me this seems like a logical statement. I have also often heard that if the church did its job there would be no need for debating government handouts, as they would not be needed.
To be honest, I am tired of criticizing the church. This is mainly because I have come to realize more and more lately, that it is not a productive use of my time. I am afraid that it could be time to stop expecting such a divided institution such as “the church” to ever be capable of contributing a unified effort towards the betterment of our neighborhoods and communities. Perhaps by focusing on the church, we are missing out on the opportunity to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. How many of us church goers spend hours in prayer, in worship, in meetings, in bible studies only to miss out on the simple observation that our very own neighbors are lonely, tired, depressed, hungry, struggling somehow. How often do we get wrapped up in our “church lives” so much that we are missing out on reality?
As of late, I have been enjoying going to church. I am among some amazing people there. But, I know if I want to be an advocate in my community, if I want to bring social change, if I want to seek reconciliation, I cannot do it while hiding behind those walls. A representation of my community will not come to me; anymore then it will come to you or your pastor. Behind church walls is where you often find piousness, religious rules, division, doctrine, and sometimes bigotry.
Is it so hard to believe that churches are often the barriers contributing to the demise of communities? If you step out and get involved in your community, I have a feeling that you might discover this observation is true. If you love church, that is fine with me, but don’t make it out to be something that it is not. It is not a savior to communities no matter how much you pretend its mission is to “serve.” It will never carry the power of an organized effort from people who love and care about their neighborhoods and communities, from people who seek reconciliation with those different from themselves, or from those who seek inclusive and empowering solutions to injustice and societal problems.