Many years ago a London newspaper ran a series of essays that addressed the question of what is wrong with the world. They invited well known journalists and authors to submit essays which the paper would run in its series.
G. K. Chesterton
I wonder if the church today would be well served if its critics had a healthy dose of Chestertonian humility? For very few of them are responding with an answer like his to the question:
What is Wrong With the Church Today?
Instead, their answers point to everything but themselves. The problems are always external to them. Out there in the others, in the system, in the situation!!! In this tactical approach and missing the key ingredient, they fall into bad spirituality, questionable emotional intelligence, weak psychology, terrible theology and then the inevitable miss on ecclesiology.
Here are a few thoughts that are congruent with Chesterton's "essay." I use these to launch leaders (and hopefully critics) into a deeper self-assessment, discernment, discovery (Awareness). For these things are true in the life of every critic and Christian love and humility requires that we address these inner realities well.
Who can discern his (or her) errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Psalm 19:12
If things go wrong in this world (or in the church) this is because something is wrong with the individual, because something is wrong with me. Therefore, if I am sensible, I shall put myself right first. For this I need a knowledge of the innermost foundations of my being... The true leaders of mankind are always those who are capable of self-reflection. Jung
If our goal is to so reshape our organizations (and our churches) that they will survive and flourish in the new century, our most immediate need is to shape ourselves. C. Michael Thompson
Our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves. T.S. Elliot
Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. Wittgenstein
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind . . . Jeremiah 17:9,10
So I ask and answer . . .
What is wrong with my church (which I inadequately love)?
This is not the final answer, but it must be the starting point in the conversation. At least it must be for anyone who wants to make a meaningful contribution.
I'll return to this theme of the church in a few days. Tomorrow, "A Brief History of Spirituality..."
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International