I currently attend St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fleetwood, PA. I have come to love this church and believe my family has found a place to meet God every Sunday. My comments and views in no way reflect St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, but deal with the angst of several friends now suffering pain as a result of what seems to be churches who have lost focus.
I’m a little steamed today as I try to keep things in perspective. What has worked me up you ask; an institution known as “church”. I have several friends at the moment who are struggling with the condemnation, lack of love and acceptance in times of need, and the ongoing plight of an attitude of “business as usual” instead of “love one another” from pastors and leaders of congregations.
One thing that has bothered me most has been the politics that play into the church setting. I wish I could say it isn’t so, but it is and does happen. It’s sad to see strong leaders become weak because of judgmental attitudes towards others and lack of grace. Did they forget the mercy which the good Lord granted unto them?
It is despairing to witness the change in mentality of the church being run like a business and that bigger is better. What gets lost in all of this? Love, fellowship, and hospitality…simple gestures of care and concern go missing amongst the shuffle of the next meeting or building to construct. As a result, the shepherd of the flock looses focus on relationships and instead becomes consumed with their week running smoothly.
What happened to hugs, handshakes, and hellos and the days of not having to ask if there is a new person attending, but actually notice a new God seeker when they walk in the front doors for the first time? I’ve heard many stand at the pulpit including pastors and ask,
"Are there any visitors today."
Take it from me (a person who has been the new one walking in for the first time on many occasions) you don’t want to be pointed out! You want to see the care between the parishioners, you want to feel the love amongst the flock, and you want to experience love first hand with a warm greeting.
I wring my hands together, take a deep inhale and exhale, and realize one word jumps out at me in all I have written thus far…relationships…the church has gotten away from relationships. There needs to be a revival of sorts in which the church gets back to the basics…building relationships. Now, not just with one another, but a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost! How can Christ’s love shine in and through us as children of God, if we do not fuel our fire with quiet moments in fellowship with our Abba?
A fire ceases existence without oxygen. The flame goes dead and burns no more. So also have I seen this trend inside the walls of a church…the fire of Christ ceases without the existence of fellowship with Him. The flame of the fire to extend outside the church walls is dead as well because we have forgotten we need our Abba and His Holy Spirit to guide us. In seeking Christ, our flame will burn bright for others to see causing our blaze to dance in jubilation and reach to warm the hearts of others…including our own brothers and sisters in Christ who may be in need or want. We will not be ignorant of another’s poverty or pain because His flame brings awareness to the soul in need.