Perturbing Thoughts From A Church Provocateur

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Since writing my last post, I can’t get church out of my mind. 

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Three thoughts about church trouble me and create dissonance: 

  1. Church is supposed to be a way of life not limited by what takes place at “church.” Today, for the most part, there is little connection between what people experience in church and what they experience the rest of the hours of the week. 
  2. Almost all discussions about the church begin with “me.” Any discussion of church that includes a large dose of “me, myself and I” results in frustration, futility, and faultfinding. If the gates of hell can’t prevail against the church, why do I beat upon her with opinion? I need to give it up. If my thoughts of what church should be come from myself, I am starting at the wrong place. The church matters. My thoughts about the church don’t matter. Solution? Get serious about what God thinks. Explore the church Jesus and the Apostles established. Honestly trace the church in history. It matters. 
  3. Those rejecting church – a-ecclesiests – are really rejecting an idea of church a) made up in their own mind, b) forced on them by bad church experiences, or c) passed on in the writings of others. The church being rejected may exist but that doesn’t mean it is the real thing. Maybe they were duped into thinking it was real. Perhaps they are angry with themselves and others at being manipulated or deceived. There’s a good chance they are not rejecting the true church which they have yet to experience. 

Now add to the dissonance a church teaching such as Ephesians 1.22-23:

And he (Father) put all things under his (Son) feet and gave him (Son) as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. 

The fullness all of us long for and need is found in Christ and his church. In the church lies the fullness of Christ. The church is where the fullness of Christ manifests itself and is found. The fullness of the faith is found in Christ and his church. I may be missing something, but it seems to me that to reject the church is to reject Christ and to live a less than full life. 

That church, described by Paul, is different than what most churches are today. Label it whatever you want. If your “church” lacks “the fullness of Christ who fills all in all,” then it comes up short. Spin it anyway you want, evangelicals struggle with a robust understanding and experience of this kind of church. They can talk, write, philosophize, theologize, debate, sing, interpret scripture, and try to make sense of this thing they call church. But the bottom line is, you cannot truly know what you have not known as true. 

It’s a huge dilemma. I know. I’ve experienced it. 

I’m not advocating that you reject “church” just because it falls short of the ideal. I’m urging you to live as honorably and fully as you are able in church as you know it while simultaneously seeking out the fullness of the church. Never give up. Don’t settle. There is more than you realize in the church. Don’t give up on it. 

Thanks for reading the rantings of a church provocateur. 

To you on the journey with the church, stay hungry, my friend. 

Dr. K.