Fed up. Tired. Burnt out. These and countless other phrases have become the norm for describing the vast majority of today’s churchgoers. Some are unable to find a sense of belonging and are thus content to hop from one community of believers to the next. Others have been burned. They are the victims. They have suffered undue emotional pain and judgment at the hands of fellow congregants and have shunned the very notion of church altogether.
So by now you are likely asking yourself, “What’s the point of corporate church attendance? If every church is as dysfunctional as these, I want no part of it.”
As is the case with so many of life’s conundrums, the answer is not as simple as many would prefer it to be. However, healthy church functionality is not only possible, but can leave lasting results on a community of believers.
Remember Justin Nguyen from last week (see Plastic Church Part 2); the once-angry teen who had been burned by a church? Fortunately, Justin’s story ends on a positive note.
Justin spoke of the church he attends now by saying, “It’s amazing to be able to walk into a church and know that everyone’s got problems and you’ve got problems and nobody cares other than the fact that they want each other together as a collective to get better and stronger and then go out and help those that are dealing with the same thing. You’ve got drug addicts and sex addicts and all these different things and everybody knows it.”
Justin’s words reflect one of the several essential elements of a healthy church: transparency. A healthy church is open, honest and transparent about their brokenness, their struggles and their weaknesses, both as individuals and as a collective. This not only applies to church attendees, but to pastoral leaders, volunteers, ministry staff, etc. as well.
Secondly, a healthy church should exhibit a genuine realism in their affection toward newcomers and each other. Pat Howell (see Plastic Church Part 1) agrees.
“It’s all about being genuine. And there are several genuine people here at this church [I attend now] and in this community of believers. I know that I have personal issues inside of me. I am 60 years old. I’ve been through a lot of stuff. I have things going on in here. But I’m not so stupid as to say that there is nothing wrong with me or that I am the same as everyone else. I’m not. I see these things in other people [too].”
Finally, a healthy church should earnestly desire to reach the lost and raise up a Biblically functioning community. This was and is the Great Commission Christ gave to His disciples before leaving Earth and ascending into Heaven:
“And Jesus spoke to them [the disciples], saying ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NASU, emphases added).
When it comes to church function and dysfunction, these few elements are just the tip of the iceberg.
Stay tuned for all subsequent pieces and spinoff series of Plastic Church, which will address many issues facing today’s modern churchgoers.
©2009 Joshua D. Givens & the Underground Christian E-Magazine
For more news, feature articles and commentary on pop culture from a Christian perspective, visit the Underground at: www.theundergroundsite.com.
This article was originally published here: http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2009/10/plastic-church-part-3-elements-of-a-healthy-relevant-church/