Four Suggestions Before You Criticize The Church

I think it’s not only reasonable but extremely helpful to ask oneself, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” I’m not talking about being overly introspective, because in the end, we commit our intentions and motives to the Lord for review on “judgment day.” But I am talking about making sure that you are motivated to do what you do for the sake of the Lord and His work. There are more days than I care to admit that the only thing that keeps me going is the reality that I am attempting to live my life “for the sake of the Gospel.” That’s why Paul confessed to the Corinthians that, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:23).

It’s a weekly experience for me, as a pastor, to hear people offer overt or veiled criticism of the church. There are days that I get my back up. And well, I should. For me, it’s a matter of principle. If anyone insults my bride, I’m going to get my back up. And I think it’s honourable to get one’s back up when you hear someone else’s bride being maligned. That describes how I often feel when professing Christians take weak shots at the church. Especially those believers who have “no skin in the game,” to use a sports analogy.

I’m not talking about ignoring the real faults of the church. One of the refreshing things about the Bible is the transparent way that it reveals the harsh realities about people and local churches. But it always does so to change the course of the church. It does so to build up the Body of Christ. 

If you must criticize the church, do it in a manner that reinforces your support for God’s family. Let me offer four simple suggestions to think about before you criticize the church:

1. Don’t criticize the church until you have joined a local church and can demonstrate that you have the best interests of the church at heart. There are far too many who are enjoying the blessings of the local church without making any significant contributions to the church. AND NO!!, I’m not talking about financial contributions only.

2. Don’t criticize the church until you own the responsibility for the church. It’s odd that so many who go to church seem oblivious to the fact that they are spiritual members of the very church they are maligning. How does it strike you when you hear a mother criticize her daughter? A dad disapproving of his son? A sibling maligning their counterpart? It’s distasteful and off-putting.

3. Don’t criticize the church until you are part of the solution. There is room for proper judgment and corrective criticism, but it needs to be done in the right manner and in the appropriate context. Notice carefully how Paul framed his statement in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, “That I may share in its blessings.” Building up the Body of Christ is a personal reward. You are blessed when you bless others. I suppose the opposite is true. When you tear others down, you tear yourself down.

4. Don’t criticize the church until you check your motives. Ask yourself, “Have I become cynical? Am I being judgmental toward the church of which I am a member?”

Now that I’ve played my hand, let me go one step further. When you carelessly criticize God’s church, you are really pointing a finger at God. This whole idea of a communion of saints and a spiritual household is God’s idea. As I have examined my heart before Him, I have had to admit at times that I was unconsciously angry at God. As I have resolved any issues of frustration with His plan, I also find that my criticism of the church has disappeared. There may be something deeper at work in your criticism than you initially realize. 

Before I offer a criticism of a local church, I try to remember the high view that Paul reinforced toward the church in Ephesians Chapter 5, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” 

Do you love what God loves? 

Humbly and Respectfully,

Pastor Deric