I believe in the church. The church catholic like the Catechism says.
I believe the church is important both in existence and in execution. The church provides community, theology, and accountability. The church provides weekday potlucks to warm the soul, backyard bible clubs to cheer the neighborhood, and gospel news to equip the broken heart. I grew up in those small groups and bible studies, and under that mentorship.
I believe it would be silly and ignorant to dismiss the hurt and confusion that people see the church responsible for. Yet, I believe the church provides its members with opportunities to criticize as well as opportunities to applaud.
In critique, I admired the charisma of the church until my childhood pastor Jeff forgot my mom’s name. He was speechless. I was disappointed. I found myself reevaluating what it meant for the church to shepherd and to share.
In critique, I admired the passion of the church until my youth pastor Brett was caught molesting my high school friend. His embarrassment was deep. My tears were difficult. I found myself recalculating what it meant for the church to have arms open and hold someone close.
I believe in the church despite the examples of irresponsibility and inconsistency, corruption and perversity. I believe temporal circumstances cannot represent the history or negate the future. I believe I would be wrong to reduce the whole to the part.
In applause, I believe in the benevolence of the church when my college pastor Tryg says “to grow world Christians in the soil of hope.” He is courageous. I am inspired. I find myself wondering what it could mean to cultivate everyday orthodoxy.
In applause, I believe in the involvement of the church when my current pastor Mike implores me to forgiveness. He is certain. I am assured. I find myself wondering what Jesus had in mind that love covers a multitude of sins.
I believe in the church as an institution. The church as a governing body provides rigidity and structure in a flimsy and ever-changing world; the church provides hierarchy and discipline in an individualistic and hedonistic world. The church as a teaching body provides stances and summaries to a world full of seductive temptation and massive content; the church provides lessons and applications for the yearning and discerning self.
I believe in the church for multiple reasons none more powerful than because I believe that to not believe would be the gravest despondence. I believe to not believe would be to misinterpret the transcending story. To not believe would be to terrorize our humanity by deism and to threaten our sanity by pessimism.
I believe I am called to believe in the church. This I believe.
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