Some days, my heart aches so much for the church that tears sting the corners of my eyes. Today is one of those days.
It seems to me that the church should be a place that—more than anywhere else—helps people flourish, freeing them to be the people that God created them to be. Can you imagine the church helping people find their identity, purpose, and mission and setting them free to live in radical, kingdom ways?
When I catch a glimpse of that vision, my heart leaps with joy. And to be clear, there are churches that are doing that. I hear stories all the time of church done well, and I praise God for that.
But to be honest with you, I hear more stories of churches, ministries, and organizations holding people back. Today has been filled with those stories. And it makes my heart ache and my fingers tremble. Because I know these leaders love God. They want to follow him and lead others to follow, too. They have good intentions. And yet rather than empower people, they shut them down.
In the last week, I’ve heard a pastor talk condescendingly to the introverts in his congregation for not welcoming people at the front door enough, read part of a book about “the proper roles” of Christian men and women, and seen social media posts from Christians who openly explain that they will not associate with people who are different from them—especially with people who are gay.
It tears me up inside. This version of Christianity displayed in countless ways is incredibly stifling. And it looks nothing like Jesus.