Friday, May 8, 2009

The Perfect Church, No Kidding, You're It!

Every time I press for things that I believe are important in church, I hear, "There is no perfect church." Personally, I think that is an excuse for bad behavior. Here's why. I will certainly agree that there are no perfect people, and the church has plenty of those. A true logistician would say that the argument for a perfect church fails -- and without God's grace, it does. The point is this. We can use imperfection as an excuse for doing nothing, or at the very least, doing it poorly. We can end up leaving excellence up to someone else.

Perfection (the pursuit of excellence) in church, like everything else, begins with a single person making a single decision. When a group of folks (2 or more) do this, we start to see church as something that can be changed for the better. Most established churches have a blend of employees and volunteers. But the Bible doesn't make a distinction between the two in terms of excellence of service. Here are a couple of examples.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might."

Psalm 33:3 "[Regarding music] Play skilfully with a loud noise."

The pursuit of perfection is called excellence. Excellence is a spiritual value that we must uphold. We don't get to say, "That is good enough for me." We need to ask ourselves if it is good enough for God? Some years ago there was a story circulating the Internet. It was about a man that had worked as a carpenter for many years. The owner of the company knew that he was about to retire, and told him that he could split the profits of the last home he was going to build. The carpenter, knowing that every cut corner would put money in his pocket, did everything that he could to save money. He bought the cheapest of materials, fixtures and hired the least expensive sub-contractors. When it was finally completed; his last day of work, the owner handed him a check for half the profits and congratulated him for being so frugal. Shaking the carpenter's hand, he also gave him the keys to the house, and said, "enjoy your new house and have a fruitful retirement."

It's a good illustration. Amen? I am sorry if I stepped on a few toes. If we think that there is a different standard because we are a volunteer, or low-paid worker, there isn't. We are bound to the principal of excellence, and if we commit to something, our "yes" and our back-side better be there.

The following verse takes excellence in our day-to-day Christianity to the next level.

2 Corinthians 8:7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you—make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. (NET)

As a wannabe blogger, I am pounding the relationship drum again. As Christians, I just want to know where we get off, showing up and going home on Sundays, after passing out a few handshakes, maybe a couple of hugs and few smiles before we go home to light the BBQ? Has is occurred to you that folks at church are there because they need something, and might get it from you? or are you there just to get your needs met? And I might ask, is that happening? I have found that in trying to meet the needs of others, we need to know what they re are!

Paul recognized this problem in the church.

Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound [excel] still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (NET)

He encouraged those in the church to persevere in the excellence of relationship, called love. There are many more examples of excellence in the Bible, maybe take a few minutes to meditate on these.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound (excel) in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 3:13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. (NASB)

1 Thessalonians 4:10 for indeed you do practice it (love) toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more (NASB)

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (NET)

Matthew 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 23:37-38 Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things


eaglegirl said...

I have to say that I believe the church has failed in the area of relationships, except those whose relationships mostly exist in cliques. They are happy with their relationships.
At this point in my 30yrs of being a Christian, I am just about ready to give up on church.
I am so disgusted in so many ways about so many things.
Of course there is no perfect church, but why be so far from perfection ?
I am frustrated with many of the things you have also indicated frustration with in churches in many of your recent blogs.
And if I may be allowed to wonder out loud. I wonder just what God thinks about mega and super mega churches ?(I attend a mega)
Is it really His plan to have such huge churches who develop certain 'church models' that many non-super-mega churches follow; maybe so they grow up to be a mega or super mega church ?
I sometimes feel like I am in a crowded movie theater instead of a church. And at least there people show more enthusiasm at times.
Yea, yea, small groups. That is said to be the answer. Been there, done that. It's often not done correctly and I've been hurt once too often.
Yes, I've been to the standard size Spirit filled church too.
Gosh, I do try to look at the good and see the positive things going on.
And yes, I have tried to do my part of the 'program' such as it is. But after a while it just becomes too wearing.
For the most part, the majority of churches are not following the Bible's five fold ministry plan, the one God designed.
If any one knows where such a place is let me know.

photogr said...

I really don't think there is really a perfect congregation but the church is. Some are better than others. It is a given where two or two thousand people gather to work, worship, or be a part of an establishment you are going to get two or two thousand different ideals of which way to go.

I was taught from an early age by my Dad to give an honest day of work for an honest pay. Never sluff off but remain loyal to your employer. I would think that applies to worshiping God too.

It is up to the minister to lead the way and pray that the members will follow a planned course.It is a given that if you are not getting the answers or encouragement from the small groups, then it is time to talk to the top leader ( minister).

I am new to the current church that I attend (VCC in Cincinnati)and I immediately signed up as a greeter. However, I was put in one of the lessser traveled areas of entry. That is fine. I do have time to do more than greet.

Sadly I haven't found any one new comming through my area yet and I did a lot of asking to day but I did meet a lot of regulars. Some day I will and I hope I can help them by the grace of God using your suggestions.

When I first came to this church, the wife and I would stand down in the atriun looking around watching all the people gathering and talking to each other. No one ever came up to me to ask if I was new. I noticed there was others doing that too.

That really did not bother me but what if some one was there looking desperately for help and afraid to ask? Did God show me this missed opportunity in this church? That is my next project to pursue as a greeter.

Joyce Lighari said...

I was poking around with some things - and stumbled across this.. you can take this or leave it but several years ago the Lord spoke to me about Diamonds... that there would be a coming of diamonds. A group of people who were warrior worshipers. I was thinking about that diamond picture... maybe there will be a coming of diamonds. A church with clarity -- we are praying it will come.
It's late, hope this makes sense.

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