He had just moved here from out of town, so I probably should have been expecting the question. But I wasn’t. And it caught me off guard.
What do I think of my church? That’s not always an easy question to answer. I like my church. But I’m enough of a critical thinker to notice the many areas of weakness it has as well. (Or, at least, the areas that I think are weaknesses.) So my first instinct is to say something like “It has problems like any other church, but we like it.” Not a terribly rousing endorsement.
Why do I feel the need to qualify my answer like that? Surely everyone knows that churches aren’t perfect. Why lead with it? Why not just jump right in with what I love about my church?
Suppose we met for the first time and you asked about my wife. And, without batting an eye, I responded with something like “Well she’s not perfect, but I like her anyway.” What would you think of that response? I don’t know about you, but I can guarantee what my wife would be thinking if she heard. And it would not bode well for me.
I don’t introduce my wife, my children, or my friends that way. But my church? For some reason, that’s different.
Maybe I’m the only one who does that. Regardless, it’s time to stop. Since that conversation, I’ve been thinking about how I should respond when people ask about my church. And I’d like to narrow it down to no more than five words. We can talk more after, maybe even getting to some of the imperfections after a while. But here’s what I think I’ll lead with from now on. (And, by the way, I have no idea what five words my pastors would use. That would be interesting to find out.)
My church is:
Each of those needs further explanation, but they’ll do for starters. I thought about including “big” in the list – especially since size is one of the first things that most people want to know. But I decided not to. Why should the size of my church be one of the five most important things that I say about it? I can understand why people would be interested in size, and the conversation will get there. But I’m not going to lead with that.
What about you? Do you ever describe your church in negative or qualified terms? Why is that? And, if you were going to describe your church in 5 words or less, how would you do it?