More and more I find my personal issues to be one of the biggest hindrances for me finding a church home.
I’ve served in leadership positions in a number of churches, dating way back to when I was a teenager. I’ve seen behind the curtain, and it (typically) ain’t very pretty.
To be clear, with one notable exception*, I haven’t served in churches where the pastor had anything but noble intentions. I really believe that. But I’ve also been part of smaller churches that grew and grew until they maybe got a little too big for their britches and started building projects or added layers of leadership or lots of EXCITING! programming.
When these churches reached that point, effective and efficient ministry tended to become more important than the people actually doing that ministry, and that’s a top-down thing. I really feel for pastors, because they have a very hard job, and I think many don’t get the care they need, or they have to find it on their own, outside of their own church body.
The other part of having been in leadership positions, particularly in worship, is that I tend to be hyper-critical. This is a HUGE problem, and I am working on it. The music and presentation of it needs to sound good, but not too good. Ambiance is good, rock concert is not. Misspelled words, distracting musicians, too loud, too soft, I am really good at finding a problem with music in churches.
Ultimately, this leads to me judging peoples’ hearts, and that is just so wrong. I know it’s wrong. It’s a hurdle I need to face, and I’m not certain how to do that except to just keep trying. And having these types of thoughts about the music easily transitions to unkind thoughts about pretty much every other aspect of a church.
I want to find a balance of being a critical thinker about what I need from a church and recognizing what it’s not while appreciating that many people who are part of churches that are wholly not for me also love God and are benefiting from that environment.
It’s a process I feel blind in. Thank God he’s in the business of restoring sight.
*The notable exception was a pastor in my childhood/teenage years who eventually left that church after years of promises about the Lord’s blessings upon those who give generously. He took thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars with him when he left.