What Breaks Your Heart?
I was watching this video by Pastor Andy Stanley from the 2014 Catalyst conference.
In his opening statements he challenges leaders to know who they are... and asks them what breaks their hearts.
As a pastor in the local church I know exactly what breaks my heart. It's what keeps me up late at night. It's what drives me crazy when I'm not able to articulate it in such a way as to get others on board. It's become my reason for all that I do in the church.
What breaks my heart is Christians who live like non-Christians and give non-Christians a bad image of Christ.
Let me try to explain why this breaks my heart.
I didn't grow up in church. I know most people would assume that since I'm a Pastor that I come from this very religious home. My family is great but church life wasn't really a part of my upbringing. In fact, by grade 8 I didn't believe that God was real and I thought that the church was a scam to get people's money.
It wasn't until many years later that I would give God even a tiny thought. I was reading a Bible during my commute to work in order to DISPROVE something I heard about God on the internet... Reading that Bible changed my life. One day on my commute I asked God to forgive me for my sins... for trying to be the god of my own life... and I asked Jesus to do with me whatever, whenever and wherever He wanted.
I got plugged into a great church in the west end of the island of Montreal. I experience the love and welcoming spirit that I read about in the Bible from so many amazing men and women who attended that church. They taught us, loved us, included us, guided us and completely accepted us though we had NO CLUE as to their Christian rules, traditions or customs.
As a new Christian my experience with church was great. And it built in me a foundation that I still depend on today 15 years later!
But sadly in these past 15 years I've learned that this is not everybody's experience. Some people come to the church looking for this love and acceptance and find judgment, condemnation and rejection because these outside people don't look, act or believe like the people already in the inside of the building... and instead of finding the love that Jesus Christ has for them... they conclude that they want nothing to do with Christ because of the image that these Christians give them.
Like Andy Stanley says in the video, THIS HAS TO CHANGE!
We need to stop trying to get outsiders to act like insiders while insiders are acting like outsiders! We need churches to be filled with men and women, boys and girls, married people, single people, old people, young people, people from every ethnic background, hurt people, struggling people, lost and confused people... we need all those people to be sold out on the greatest commandment in the entire Bible - Love God with your whole being, and love the people around you as yourself. We need more and more Christians who look like Christ! And who are sold out on being Christ everywhere that they go.
When the church is full of people like that it will be an explosion of love and caring and support and encouragement and seeing the Good News shared all over the place.
It breaks my heart that everyone's experience with the church hasn't been like mine. And I'll do whatever it takes to see that changed in my lifetime. At least in the church that I serve in :)