Friday, February 19, 2016

Celebrate what's right with the church

It is so easy to be negative towards the church. Both those inside and outside the church can find many things wrong with the church. No doubt, it is not a perfect institution, but we sometimes forget that there is much good that we can say about the church. There are many things the church is doing right to celebrate.

A few years ago Elmer Towns wrote a book called What's Right with the Church: A Manifesto of Hope. I don't know, but I imagine it did not sell as well as many of his books. For some reason, people don't seem to enjoy the good and positive as much as they do the negative. I found the book to be a positive reminder that churches are doing many things right.

Every Sunday across our nation, and world, churches are faithfully proclaiming the Word of God. Yes, I know some churches have strayed from the Gospel, but we are focusing on the positive today. Pastors stand behind pulpits every Sunday preaching the Gospel, inviting unsaved people to a relationship with Christ, and challenging people to align their lives with the Scriptures. As a result of their faithful preaching people are finding new life in Christ. Marriages are being restored. Addicts are finding healing. People are growing as disciples of Jesus Christ. People who have lost hope are finding renewed hope in Christ.

A few years ago I joined with a group of Christians from various churches to spend a day in eastern Kentucky helping to winterize houses. Each of these churches were from the same association and each of them were small, bivocational churches. Alone, they were rather limited in what they could do, but when a few people from each church came together they could accomplish a lot. Five truck load of workers went down to this community, bought the materials, and helped prepare several homes for the winter. These churches have returned to that area many times since to minister to the people there. They do so not expecting anything in return. It's not like they think these people will start attending their church (they live four hours away) or that they can pay for what these churches doing. They do so because some of the folks had a burden to minister to this community. Such unselfish service happens in thousands of churches every week.

Churches are working together on justice issues. Whether it was the civil rights issues of the 1960s to poverty and other issues today, churches often lead the way to addressing injustice. When one thinks of prison reform one can't help but think of Chuck Colson, a person who became a Christian after going to prison for his role in Watergate. Upon his release he dedicated his life to prison reform and rallied many churches to work with him in that effort. Who is feeding the hungry in America today? It is often the churches and other faith-based groups. Christian organizations started many of the hospitals to serve the poor and sick. Churches and Christian organizations founded many universities, colleges, orphanages, and homes for unwed mothers to give people opportunities they may not have had otherwise.

In recent years the education system in America has experienced problems. Test scores continue to go down in some school systems, and numerous schools are racked with violence, drugs, and a system that is broken. This is not to say that there are not other school systems doing an excellent job with excellent teachers and administrators. Numerous churches are stepping in to provide a quality education to children who might not otherwise receive it. Their teachers are often way underpaid compared to the public schools, but they view their work as a ministry and are willing to accept less pay for the opportunity to serve. I understand that some are critical of these church-based schools and feel they take money from the public schools, but instead of getting into a fight over who deserves what money let's celebrate the fact that many of the children in these church-run schools are getting a quality education in a safe environment.

There's not space to list all the positive things occurring in churches today, but these should be enough to remind ourselves that there are many good things happening in the church today. Let's celebrate what is right with the church.

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