I Love The Church

11 06 2013

Every year at our Annual Conference (a gathering of representatives from nearly 900 United Methodist Churches in the southern 2/3rds of Illinois), we have the unfortunate responsibility to vote to close one or more churches. Although couched in language of “having fulfilled its mission,” and “leaving a legacy” through the sale or donation of church property, I can never help my heart from breaking. This year we voted to close two churches whose ministry had slowly dwindled and died out over the years. The vote is always a formality and the moment could easily be missed, but I always find myself grieving. I love the Church.

As a pastor of a church, I oftentimes hear about people’s previous encounters with the church. Most of the time, I hear painful stories of conflict leading to disillusionment or irrelevancy leading to apathy. It’s been my experience that every congregation is filled with people who have felt wounded by another congregation. Of course, many people who have been hurt simply leave the church altogether. This too breaks my heart because I love the Church.

• I love the Church as God envisioned it because all people are welcome.
• I love the Church because it’s made up of messed up people who have witnessed the miraculous.
• I love the Church because it’s a community that does life together – the highs and the lows.
• I love the Church because despite our differences we’re united in Christ.
(In fact, Quest is experiencing this first hand through the graciousness and hospitality of Grace United Methodist Church who is now sharing their home with us. We’re stronger together!)
• I love the Church because we’re all equal at the foot of the cross.
• I love the Church because Jesus loved the Church enough to lay down his life for her.
• I love the Church because even the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

But more than any other reason, I love the Church because the Church is the body of Jesus entrusted with the mission of proclaiming and living out the hope of the gospel. As Christ’s body, the Church is called to be broken for one another and the world, but in turn will be resurrected to new life both now and eternally. You see, in the end, no matter what way you slice it, The Church is ALL about Jesus. That’s why I love The Church.

Yes, I love the Church, but truth be told, I also love my church, Quest. I love the welcoming nature of our church. I love the commitment to sacrifice in order that people will encounter Jesus. I love that we’re united around the purpose of sharing the extravagant love of God with all people – in our community and around the world. I love that we have fun together, but we also challenge one another daily to become more like Jesus. I love that even when there is conflict, we honor and respect one another. Oh there are countless reasons why I love Quest, but most of all I love that YOU are a part of Quest. The Church after all is people, and you make my church special.

I flat out love the church and my church. Throughout this month, it’s my prayer that you will fall more and more in love with your church, the Church of Jesus Christ, too.

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