A pastor is soooooo grateful for the partner that unites with, loves, and serves the church…just the way it is. And likewise, the body loves a pastor who does the same. The same is true with a marriage. A spouse is soooo grateful for the spouse that loves and serves them…just the way they are.
There is always room for improvement in the church…because it’s the sum total of its human partners. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same is true with the local church. The church is only as selfless, as holy, and as compassionate as its weakest participants. As followers become more and more in every way like Him, so does His church.
There are people and pastors whose only contributions are, “You should do this…”, “I wish the church did this…”, “I hate that the church does this…”, “we left our last church because they did this…”, “we left our last church because they wouldn’t do this…”, etc. If it is in line with the Word of God, BE that change. Influence with love, sacrifice and service…not with demands, expectations and lines drawn in the sand around your preferences.
No marriage will ever survive those types of attitudes and contributions nor will any church partnership. I cannot go into a relationship wanting to change the other person for my self-centered preferences nor should I leave a relationship because the other will not change to meet my standards or expectations. I’ve observed many a divorce in young marriages because one thought they could force change in the other, once they were married and found out that it did not happen that way.
That’s not to say that there aren’t a couple reasons that you should leave a church partnership or a marriage…but not before first confronting it. Doctrinal error and immorality in a church MUST be confronted and escaped if the body will not heed sound doctrine. Infidelity and abuse in a marriage…the same.
That’s also not to say that every bride of Christ cannot better mirror the majesty of the Bridegroom, doing GOOD works as His workmanship created in Christ Jesus. We can most certainly better reflect His glory by doing some things better, adding some things, and eliminating some things. But according to Ephesians 5, Christ does this by loving and serving His body, giving Himself up for her, and cleansing her with the Word. It’s not about his preferences…it’s about His love and her wholeness.
What would our churches look like if we took the approach of Jesus?