I have picked up and lost a couple of nicknames in my time. On my first ship they called me Road Runner because of the speed with which I moved about the ship. I didn’t mind being called Road Runner, but was glad to lose the nickname when I joined my next ship. The one nickname I would not have wanted was Broken Brains. Broken Brains was a steward with a reputation for stupidity. I can’t remember many of the daft things he said and did, just that the frequency of such events was such that you could often hear his name being shouted in frustration from the galley and pantry.
Does the name of my church reflect its spiritual state? Does it need a nickname just like the steward to describe how it operates? Sadly at the moment I would have to use the nickname Broken Church. Why? Because the church I attend has been through the most difficult nine months I can ever remember in a church. I don’t want to go into detail in a blog post other than to say that the church has recently voted to dismiss a minister we appointed less than one year ago. Along with the other leaders of the church I feel exhausted, damaged, and broken. Many of our members are hurting too. Some believed the leaders, some believed the new minister, and some didn’t know what to believe. While we know that a process of healing is now needed, certain voices are still speaking words that are likely to delay rather than promote healing.
Is a broken church a bad church, a church where most of us would rather not be? Has God washed His hands of us? I would answer no to all of these questions. I don’t understand why God would allow the events of recent months to take place, but I do know that coming to God in our brokenness is the only way to approach Him at this time. Actually, coming to God in our brokenness is the only way to approach Him at any time. When we accept our brokenness we are blessed with recognition of our need. When we know we are broken we can fall on our knees before God in true humility, with all pride cast aside. And there should be tears: Tears of repentance, tears of relief in our salvation, tears of joy in realising God’s love for us, tears in worship, tears in prayer. There should be lots of tears. God notices tears.
I believe that God can work with broken people and a broken church. Regarding the church I belong to I have to ask whether the distractions of the last few months resulted in us taking our eyes off God to some extent? The next challenge is how we define the healing that most of us desire. The danger is that as individuals we become selfish and make that healing all about us, when really it is about everyone but us. The more I think about it the more I believe that a broken church that has truly surrendered to God might just be a good place to be.
I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.
Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them. What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:5-9 NLT)
With thanks to Mr T, my friend and fellow leader, who proofread and contributed to this post.