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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

Worship Wednesday: Where the Church Gets It Wrong

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Worship Wednesday

These days you can walk up to just about anyone in America and ask them what their experience of church has been like, and chances are they will tell you a story that either embarrasses you as a christian or makes you cringe in horror.

I know because I do this from time to time.

As an Experience Architect and story-teller, I love hearing these sorts of stories. They fuel my mission and my purpose, and if the old adage is true that you can’t improve on anything that you don’t measure, then these stories become just as important and necessary for the church to hear than any other powerful testimony of transformation.

Where the Church Gets It Wrong

Photo Credit: James Jordan via Compfight cc

Just the other day I was talking to a Pastor about the church he planted. He had some really positive things to say but when I asked him about any challenges or if anything has surprised him in his journey, his tone began to shift.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that shocked by his answer, but you may be.

He said, “I never thought I would have faced this much rejection from other Pastors in the area.”

He went on to tell me that local Pastors were refusing to even meet with him all because of… wait for it… the translation of the Bible he preaches from.

And while I’m quite aware of the complexity and depth that the issue of Bible translation has had over the years, what this story really points to is the current state of the church in America.

Unfortunately, the church has created places where some people don’t fit and some people aren’t welcomed. It’s almost as if the church is now saying, well if you fit into any one of these categories or boxes, then the gospel isn’t for you, please go elsewhere.

Now when I was younger, I would well up with rage and anger against such church cultural statements, but these days my response is much softer and more gracious. 

I understand something better today than I used to – I’m broken, and I tend to mess up. A lot.

Stories and situations like this present a mirror for me, and that mirror reveals my own heart and my own words of alienation and exclusion.

They should for you too.

Consider these words:

“I can anticipate the response that is coming: ‘I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?’ Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” Romans 7:14-25 MSG

At the end of the day, part of why I love the church so much and why I partner with her to create awesome experiences engaging culture is because I understand that they are led by men and women just like me. They are wounded, abandoned, selfish, prideful, and yet full of the same Awesome Truth that I am.

And because we are created to worship and because we are most satisfied when Christ is most glorified in our lives, then this is the reason why I worship today. This is the reason why I choose to submit and confess and sing songs declaring I am not my own.

You may read this and have your own story of abandonment or alienation from the church.

Welcome! You’re in some really good company!

I ask your forgiveness, because I’ve been on both sides and my heart’s desire is to move closer to the securely attached places, where I’m free to love and speak words of truth in love.

Perhaps you have one of these stories, perhaps not, but no matter where you’re coming from today, can I just say one final thing to you. The Gospel is for you. It’s big enough and awesome enough for you no matter what you’re going through.

Here’s a question for you today:

What messages or stories do you have that tell you the gospel isn’t for you?

I’d love to hear, so leave a comment below!

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Josh Collins

Josh Collins is a Communicator and Experience Architect who lives in Franklin, Tn. His passion is to create awesome experiences that change the way we engage audiences and help you do the same.
  • Tammy Schaefer

    Well said, Josh. We’ve all been wounded and all caused wounds. Thanks for the share.

  • Terrie Coleman

    Great post, Josh. After walking with Jesus (as an adult) for over thirty years I have learned to walk with Him, let Him heal my hurt and my disillusionment, and stay the course. I’ve been through several bouts of hurt, betrayal, church abuse, where I subsequently left the fellowships involved. I’ve made some mistakes at times by breaking fellowship with all of “the church” and I’ve learned some hard lessons from that.

    Jesus Himself went through betrayal, hurt, rejection from the “church” of His day, so why would we think we’re any better? The humans are still messed up (self included) and God is still good.

    Someday, when we stand before the Lord and give an account for our life, and He says to us, “You separated yourself from My Body and because of that, you couldn’t really fulfill all that I wanted for you during your earth walk. Why did you do that?”

    “Uh…. they hurt my feelings.”

    No. Let’s not do that. Let’s stick with Jesus; let Him heal our hearts and give us His grace to forgive and release the humans that hurt us. He will. He does. He knows what it’s like. His Love overcomes everything.

    Blessings to you, Josh. Thanks for posting this. It was brave and honest and kind and healing. Bless you.

    • Josh Collins

      “Let’s stick with Jesus…” I like that. Yes, indeed, let’s do that!

  • Pablo Ellsworth

    There is a lot that I don’t agree with in the church….and then I realize that i have generalized, and judged and complained against the very organization that brought me to Jesus… Great post Josh! And I agree. We need to be gracious to the church, because we also are broken.

    • Josh Collins

      Pablo, I would contend that the moment we begin to consider the church an organization with the trappings of committees, revenue reports, etc. we’ve diluted a living and mystical thing down to our level, where it can never thrive. It’s almost become trite and pithy, but I am the church, you are the church, we are the church and we are both beautifully awesome and dangerous and destructive. Thank God for his grace!

      • Pablo Ellsworth

        Yeah, I didn’t really want to use the word organization (I thought it was better than the word “institution” which is what I originally put), but you said it nicely!

Posted on: July 24, 2013

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