Apr 14, 2008

Dear Church

I got an email a few days ago that took me back about a year ago, when I was Pastoring a group of young adults at Crosspointe Church in Ada. I had read a book called Dear Church by Sarah Cunningham that really hit home with me. Since then I have given the book to a friend who was struggling with the whole "church" thing so my details of the book are a little sketchy. But I'll try to do my best. The premise of the book is that it is written as a group of letters from Sarah to the Church to explain why so many of us in this generation have become disillusioned with the way church is done. Many of us have been hurt and burned so many times by the church (body of believers) that it can make it very hard for us to trust the church anymore.

After reading the book I visited Sarah's site: www.dearchurch.com and was compelled to write my own letter for the website. If you visit the site, click on the link for "letters" as of this time my letter is the first one that you see. I would like to think that it is because of how great it is, but alas, it is because it is the oldest one that is posted there.

The email that I received was from a fellow minister who asked if he could use my letter for his church, to help them rediscover their purpose. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I hadn't even thought that my letter would make it on the site much less be used to help someone.

So, I thought I would post my letter below and hopefully it will let you see that you are not alone in your hurt and that there is a great hope that we have in Jesus. My favorite line from the book goes something like this:

The Church is not the hope of the world, Jesus is the hope of the world. When we realize that, we can take heart that Jesus knows what He is doing, and will always be there for us.

My letter:Dear Church,

It seems strange when I think about it that I've grown up around and in you from before I was even born. I've seen the good times, when the Spirit of God is so thick it feels almost tangible. When people come to know Christ in a new, fresh, revolutionary way. I've seen lives changed by You, touched by You, literally saved by You. And yet, I've seen the dark underside of You. The part that casts people out who don't conform to your idea of how you should look. I've seen you categorize and put people into cliques because it's easier than getting to know them and actually getting your hands dirty while helping them clean up their lives. I've seen lives torn apart because of the style of music, a misunderstood message, the types of chairs you have in your buildings, and even the color of carpet. I've seen how petty differences can cause even the most stoic to call for arms.

And yet, in all of this, I still see, glimmering over the horizon a bright light of hope. You are the method by which Christ has decided to spread His message. You are the hands that are called to bind up the broken hearted. You are the feet that are to be used to bring the hope of Christ to the world. Talk about a great challenge! Don’t back down, but embrace it knowing that God would not cal you to do this stupendous thing if He did not believe You could accomplish it. Be encouraged, be renewed, and be invigorated. Bring in fresh blood and give yourself a new life as you change the lives of the lost and hurting. Know that in all things that the One who stared this good work in you some 2000 years ago is faithful to complete it.

There will be times of growing pains, disease, and broken bones, but we know that we can always run back home to our Father who cares for us much more than we could ever imagine. Return to Him, Church, and let Him guide you in all you do.

Your friend and biggest advocate,

Pastor James Jackson

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