THE CHURCH IN CRISIS
IT SEEMS THAT THE WORDS "CHURCH" AND "CRISIS" GO HAND-IN-HAND. Sometimes the crisis comes from inside the walls of the church, and sometimes it comes from outside. How the church deals with these crisis (or church-fights as they sometimes come to be) can determine whether the church, be it local or denominational or national moves forward or backwards.
My sermon text for this week is Acts 6:1-15. (#10 in my series: "Acting Out: Becoming the Church God Desires Us to Be") In this portion of the story of the beginning days of the church we find two crisis looming. One is from the inside. The Hellenistic Jews were complaining that the Judaic Jews were not being fair in the distribution of food to the widows. Fortunately, cool heads presided and the outcome of this looming crisis actually gave cause for the church to continue to grow.
The other crisis comes from outside the walls of the church. This time, once again two different groups are complaining about the proclamation of the Gospel by Stephen. Some might say that this confrontation did not end as well (See Acts 7:1-60 & Acts 8:1-8). Yet, even there is a tragic ending to Stephen life, the persecution that followed allowed for the expansion of the church and the good news of the Kingdom of God.
When the church is faced with a crisis, how it responds should always be in a way that helps to progress the Gospel, not hinder it. Rather than going to battle over budgets and buildings, or over people and programs, the church must always keep at its forefront the growth of the Kingdom of God. Our given task is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and battles over the color of carpet or the choruses of the choir (a choir, really?) will only go to hinder the forward progress of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Truly, I have been blessed to be a part of churches that never really had a knock-down drag-down fight (though it got close over the "orange" carpet). I have been blessed to see brothers and sisters work through the issues and come away stronger for it, and more determined to be a light in our community.
How about you? Have you ever seen your church, or another church, work through a crisis and come out stronger for it, and the Gospel more forcefully proclaimed. Or maybe you have been part of a church that was attacked from the outside, and remained still filled with God's grace, love and forgiveness and through a perseverance fueled by Holy Spirit provided love saw more people drawn to the Love of God.
I would love to hear your story.