It happened again. A good friend contacted me recently to share his decision to begin his faith journey with a different church. No- not another Church of Christ in his town- but another faith family altogether. He explained his reasons and I empathized. He is devout man whom I love and respect deeply, but still I felt my heart sink.
Too often his story is repeated.
Many who leave are victims of the damage we have done to ourselves. They have been swept away by the tide of dissension and splintering. Others feel suffocated by inflexible tradition with no outlet to freely express themselves without condemnation. Others feel betrayed because this tradition is no longer honored. Some are just sick of the distracting issues and are simply seeking peace.
While I understand this- it doesn’t lessen the loss. This talent drain only weakens us. With all of my heart I wish there was another way.
I wish there was open dialog among us- from all perspectives- to build bridges and not dead-end roads. I wish we would all lay our differences at the foot of the cross to see how insignificant they often are. I wish the Greatest Commandments truly governed our churches. I wish our pride was swallowed up in humility. I wish our fears would be erased in faith. I wish the church was what it should be to everyone.
But I know it isn’t and I know it can’t be. I know it will disappoint me. I know it will frustrate me. I know it may even hurt me. I know it because I contribute to it. The church is made up of the imperfect, flawed and fallen.
But I love it anyway. I so much want to see it flourish and grow. I want to see the Bride in full adornment shining brightly! I want to see the body healthy and fully functioning. I want to see it a belonging place nurturing and encouraging to everyone.
In no way am I passing judgment on anyone who has left us. Nor do I believe that in order to embrace heaven one must worship in a building with a sign that says, “Church of Christ”. To believe that is to be arrogant and uniformed.
But I have to wonder. Is the grass greener elsewhere?
I have given my life to ministry within the Church of Christ and still even believe in the validity of our early restoration roots. It is the pasture that has nourished me. Is the grass really that much sweeter across the fence?