Have you ever been dissatisfied with your church? Have you, pastor, ever wished your church was more…awesome? Are you astounded by how far your church falls short in the “obeying the Bible” category? Do members of your congregation let you down–over and over and over again?
Meet Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He’s about to take you to the gym of hard-knocks:
How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.
As a church member, those words were like a one-two combo, and I was down for the count. But like a UFC match gone bad, Bonhoeffer disregards the ref’s whistle, and keeps coming with a heavy barrage of fists:
This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors…about their congregations. A pastor should never complain about his congregation…a congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament…Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief.
We have dreams about what our fellowship at church should look like (myself included). The problem is that we still see through a mirror dimly, and we let our grandiose dreams breed discontentment in our hearts. The best way for our churches to grow in our fellowship is to give thanks for the fellowship that we already share. If you are up for the bloody lip and black eye, Life Together by the humble German youth pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a great read. May we all be reminded: “What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God!”