What is wrong with the church?

 What is wrong with the church?

I’ve been asking some friends this question. What are you most concerned about with the church? If you think the church has gone off track what is the main reason why it is off track? I’ve heard some very interesting answers.

I’d like to hear what you think? It seems there is a vast majority of people I never hear from that read this blog. If you’ve never commented I encourage you try on this post. Post anonymously if you would like.

  1. #1 by Janine on October 27, 2005 - 10:35 pm

    What concerns me is the “focus” on the finer points of theology. Theology and its interpretation, points and counterpoints, the banter, the subjective nature of who is interpreting what from what era correctly, etc, etc. I find it too often turns into a “who is more right” scenerio or a “debating for the sake of debating” scenerio and can often end up in the unfair judgement of others. It gets tiresome, and I find that it is rarely uplifting in nature.

    I am certainly not saying exploring the depths of theology is unimportant, it obviously has its place in the “church.” However I get concerned that it overshadows the human relationships, the emotions and the “coming together” of what a church should (ideally in my mind) encompass.

    I think it would be far more productive to find what we have in common with others from different walks than to be always pointing out (debating, arguing, asserting, judging others for) our differences. Thats where I think “church” is off the track.

  2. #2 by Beck on October 27, 2005 - 11:42 pm

    In my experience… too much looking like you have it all together and not enough honestly and openly sharing our lives and our faith. I know it’s not a deep theological answer, but I’ve never been in a church where it is safe to really be yourself, warts and all.

  3. #3 by Marc on October 27, 2005 - 11:52 pm

    Can I give a list?:

    1. “Us vs. Them” attitudes: “we’re not like those sinners”

    2. Insincerity.

    3. Poor or nonexistent communication.

  4. #4 by becky on October 28, 2005 - 2:50 am

    I think our problem stems from the fact that our pews are entirely too comfortable.

  5. #5 by Paul Johnston on October 28, 2005 - 6:42 am

    For me, absolutely nothing. Okay, there are times when I do not still myself to the reality of the presence of Christ but that’s my issue, not the churches.

    As a Catholic, Mass is a sharing in the body, blood, soul and divintiy of Jesus. It is an opportunity to leave the natural and share in the supernatural. It is not so much a place to go and talk about God, as it is a place to go and be with God.

    If all church can be for us is a place for people to share there own perspectives on God, agreeing or not, then perhaps it is just as well to do it at home or blog it on line, or even stay away from, if all it does is make you feel worse about yourself.

    But if it can be a place to encounter the living spirit of God, irrespective of it’s human failings, well that would be a church worth going to.

  6. #6 by Dave King on October 28, 2005 - 8:43 am

    All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

    The chuch is in decline because we don’t do this.

    – Peace

  7. #7 by Marc on October 28, 2005 - 10:47 am

    Amen to that, Dave!

  8. #8 by Jeff on October 28, 2005 - 12:42 pm

    Me. Seems that if I should ever find the perfect church (that is, “local” church – I guess I sometimes wonder why we are so generic. Truth is local, and to lump all congregations into “church” and answer what is wrong with it is asking the wrong question?) … anyways, if I should ever find the perfect church, and join, I would be the problem, I would be the concern. The church takes a bad rap because it is a bunch of people trying to figure it out together and humanity is not good at this. It’s messy.

    This is by no means a defense – I realize the intentions of this post – but I wonder how our attitudes contribute to the problem sometimes…I know that mine do.

    And so I’ll continue to see ME as my biggest concern for “the church.”

  9. #9 by Jerry on October 29, 2005 - 2:22 am

    In the past, I could make a long list of what’s wrong with us, the church. However, I’ll just mention what is my present concern.

    Among the invisible goodness we “see” in others (like God), through faith, we choose to “see” invisible evils, demons, or sins, also through faith.

    The consequences of “spiritually discerning” a specific presence of evil/sin in others horrifies me.

  10. #10 by Steven on October 29, 2005 - 12:12 pm

    Will we be seeing an opportunity to talk about what is great about the church?

  11. #11 by scotty on October 29, 2005 - 12:27 pm

    The church and its leaders have forgotten how to interpret Scripture and apply it with discernment. Shallow spirituality is one result. I realize that there is more to spirituality than this, but I see the results of a church that sees spirituality as little more than getting blessings from God for being dutiful.

    Also, in my experience is a paid church leader (and I know that not all places are like this), too many people wanted to “control” everything that went on in church. I know people in general want to be in control, but could it be that we are frightened of what God would do or what would be expected of us if GOD took over? It might not fit our understanding of “righteousness” or whatever, but we need to open our eyes beyond traditional standards that just might not be that “Christian” after all.

    But on the other hand, I must agree with Dave that we just don’t follow the LOVE command enough.

  12. #12 by Lani on October 29, 2005 - 11:21 pm

    Perhaps what’s wrong is that we keep trying to figure out what’s wrong and don’t look for what’s right – our society tends toward negativity. If we were, as another commentor stated, loving (God, one another and the world) – carrying out the making of disciples we wouldn’t have time to figure out what’s wrong and we’d be making it right.

  13. #13 by Jadon on October 30, 2005 - 12:40 pm


    I agree that just focusing on the negative can be a problem. I think part of the difficulty is that it can difficult to laugh at ourselves. I know that reading The Wittenburg Door keeps me going to church sometimes.

    It’s all in perspective…that’s what we need a lot.

  14. #14 by Linea on October 30, 2005 - 2:06 pm

    You asked what we were most “concerned about” which isn’t quite the same as “what is wrong with” although it is close. I guess I am most concerned that the church has become a place of judgement and keeping up appearances so that we do not dare to be honest with each other. When we have to keep appearing good to the world we automatically exclude the non-good. The people on whom Jesus would have had compassion do not dare to come to our gatherings. We need to become places of compassion, places where reconciliation is top priority, where love is evident by the way we treat each other and by the way we treat our communities and world.

  15. #15 by Keith on October 30, 2005 - 2:06 pm

    Are we really working for God or ourselves? Are we laying down or lives at the feet of the cross? I’ll be honest and say I’m not, I look around and I see lost brothers and sisters who are on fire for an hour and a half…I have seen communities (church) on fire and seen them dead and I wonder what is going on what makes one church community full of gossip, hate and decit and another full of love, forgiveness and truth. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom right, we sing that in church sometimes but I think we don’t understand the spirit and we want to take control of it tame it but God is not a tame God (credit goes to C.S. Lewis for that last comment)Christianity is about love like Dave said. I think back a couple weeks to all sorts of circumstances that I have come across and I can see that my love is focused around me when I read God’s word it is often focused around me when I talk to people it is often about me but I know there was a time when I acted differently when it wans’t all me. In our bodies we can get infected with viruses and injuries and maybe in some bodies of the church there are evil viruses at work, the cure is so obvious yet constantly we choose more of the same and less of God for our lives. I don’t really know what is wrong with the church but I do know what is wrong with me and maybe that’s where it starts. I love you all…no strings attatched. Col.3

  16. #16 by Beck on October 30, 2005 - 2:54 pm

    Linea: That’s exactly what I meant to say, only you said it exactly how I meant to say it. I agree with you 110%. Thanks!

  17. #17 by Anonymous on October 31, 2005 - 1:33 pm

    Out of all the Responses, the one that most struck me was Linea’s. Basically this was what I was thinking but this was the best succinctly put, much better than I could of. I think this is bang on. -Moose

    Linea-“You asked what we were most “concerned about” which isn’t quite the same as “what is wrong with” although it is close. I guess I am most concerned that the church has become a place of judgement and keeping up appearances so that we do not dare to be honest with each other. When we have to keep appearing good to the world we automatically exclude the non-good. The people on whom Jesus would have had compassion do not dare to come to our gatherings. We need to become places of compassion, places where reconciliation is top priority, where love is evident by the way we treat each other and by the way we treat our communities and world.” -Linea

  18. #18 by Paul Morgun on November 1, 2005 - 12:10 pm

    Is it me, or is it that all our concerns about the church, is how OTHERS are ignorant, or OTHERS are judgemental, or OTHERS just dont get it…seems to me this is the biggest rift…the question i think we need to ask is HOW am I edifying the body, How am I serving those around me, how am I washing people’s feet?

  19. #19 by Jadon on November 1, 2005 - 1:52 pm


    I think part of the situation is that OTHERS effect how we see ourselves. OTHERS can discourage and discount even the most noble and good intentions. So that’s why we tend to focus on it.

    Of course, it’s easier to focus on others to make ourselves look good, but I don’t think that’s the only reason.

  20. #20 by Paul Morgun on November 1, 2005 - 2:49 pm

    It’s not the only reason, you are right. But lets begin washing feet, and stop poking…

  21. #21 by becky on November 1, 2005 - 3:14 pm

    OTHERS are ignorant, or OTHERS are judgemental, or OTHERS just dont get it…

    The whole tone of that comment above is about “poking” others, despite a fleeting reference to “footwashing.” It’s picking apart the comments of everyone up to this point (save a few), and then sneering about their petty concerns.

    I’m not nearly as confident in the church to not include myself among the “OTHERS” — which means I’m not afraid to see concerns/problems within the church, or to realize that sometimes I am the one lumped in with them.

    Sometimes self-examination within the church is a necessary thing. I don’t think the conversation above is meant as a general “bitch” session — but more of a way of trying to find some common ground, and then going from there.

    Attitudes that shut down (or discredit) this type of honest dialogue don’t build up the church, but tear it down another level — which actually goes against edifying the body.

    I’m not trying to preach, or to project some self-righteousness disguised as piety — I’m just as broken as the next person. But I think we, as the church, need to be real enough to discuss issues that are important to each other, without succumbing to false placates.

  22. #22 by Leighton Tebay on November 2, 2005 - 7:24 am

    I asked this question because at the time I was involved in a book project about the church. I was attempting to get some feedback on some issues to tackle.

    I kind of hoped this thread was going to be more of a brainstorming session rather than a place for people to debate the worthiness of the comments. I never made that clear though so I lay no blame on anyone.

    Because some people have questioned the validity of the process I should probably respond to them.

    Right now I kinda see the church as a ship. It is taking on water and more and more it is sinking. Right now I am very involved in pumping the water out and from what I can tell I’m doing what I set out to do, but in the big picture it isn’t very much. Despite the efforts of a lot of honest people we just keep on sinking. Sometimes you just need to stand back and ask why.

    I think there is a lot to agree with in this thread. My challenge to you would be to probe further and ask why.

    Why don’t we love?

    Why do we care more about doctrinal precision than love?

    Why is the problem “me?”

    Why don’t we lay down our lives?

    There will always be the problem of sin but at times in the past the church had the same problem and didn’t take on so much water.

  23. #23 by Paul Johnston on November 2, 2005 - 7:48 am

    I think that the priority concern for each of us ought to be the individual relationship we have with Jesus. As that goes, so goes the relationships we have with one another.

    As for wrongs and concerns, let us first pray for discernment. Perhaps God’s understandinging of issues is different then ours. 🙂

    Let us also, through prayer, seek a right response to injustice. Maybe God is calling you to act; maybe He isn’t….Oye! want to say more but I see by the clock on the screen that it is time for Mr. work monkey to climb aboard.

    Hey Leighton, how about a what’s wrong with work post. At the very least it ought to keep us all on the same side of the fence…….DOWN WITH THE MAN!!!……..Whoever he is…….

  24. #24 by Jadon on November 2, 2005 - 2:10 pm

    I think part of the problem is we see our fellow Christians as our worst enemies and our best friends. To me, it partly stems from our uneasy relationship with modernity and its effects. We divided into various traditions during this time and so we feel more powerless and betrayed than ever before. We try to get beyond this, but we seem to see the trees instead of the forest and want something we think we can handle.

    That’s why I think there is so much infighting and division: we’re trying to rise above it all but somehow we prefer staying in place. I suspect we’re more conflicted than confident.

  25. #25 by Paul Johnston on November 2, 2005 - 10:11 pm

    While most active Christians are pretty good at the externals of faith. Praise, worship, fellowship, etc, I tend to think most of us suffer from the lack of a mature interior relationship with God.

    Loving, as best as I can sense it from God’s perspective, is first something you share intimately and alone, with Him. It may sound childish but I believe that just spending time with God because I love him, is the most important thing I can do. In return he gives me the neccessary graces to effect the people and circumstances of my life in a positive and loving way.

    I believe that the people and communities that have been most successful in “kingdom” living on earth have monastic tendencies coupled with a fervrent commitment to a contemplative and prayer filled personal relationship with God.

  26. #26 by frank on November 4, 2005 - 9:01 am

    where does one begin…. how about O’Connor’s assessment

    We never have expected to hit upon that final stable structure. This is important for a church to understand, for when it starts to be the church it will be constantly be adventuring out into places where there are no tried and tested ways. If the church in our day has FEW PROPHETIC VOICES above the noise of the street, perhaps in large part it is because the pioneering spirit has become foreign to it. It shows little willingness to EXPLORE NEW WAYS. Where it does it has often been called an experiment. We would say the church of Christ is never an experiment, but where that church is true to it’s mission it will be experimenting, pioneering, blazing new paths, seeking how to speak the reconciling words of God to it’s own age.” It cannot do this if it is held captive by the structures of another day. (Elizabeth O’Connor….Call to Commitment)

    Closely related is found in Jesus’ words “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” We could easily say “The meeting was made for man and not man for the meeting.” It is my opinion that the church sees the sunday morning service as something we were created to serve. As a result the sunday morning thing is mandatory while everything else is optional and that includes loving your neighbor, helping the poor, the one anothers… and so on…. “As long as you are GOING to a bible believing church you’re ok….. and that is hardly the point….

  27. #27 by hamo on November 5, 2005 - 2:38 am

    GK Chesterton “What’s wrong with the church? I am”

    I reckon its as simple as that!

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