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

Pass The Offering Plate!

Who can deny the scandalous free-for-all shamelessly paraded by so-called “wealth and prosperity” preachers? From mansions to jets, greedy and dishonest pastors have fleeced the sheep beyond imagination. And they show no signs of slowing down, even after being exposed time and again for their reckless misappropriation of charitable funds. These religious charlatans prey on hurting souls with the perfection of a highly skilled predator. They mingle just enough “truth” from the Bible to validate their scheme, walking off the stage nightly with their treasure safely transferred to their fat bank accounts.

The lesser-known reality is that the average pastor struggles to make ends meet, just like many in his congregation. Historically, churches have been stingy with their ministers, leaving them to strain under the weight of increasing debt. Balancing the call of God with the carelessness of the average church is a daily burden for lots of pastors. As the popular old saying goes, “God, You keep him humble, and we will keep him poor.” 

One of the reasons that I love the Bible is that it doesn’t hesitate to hit the hard topics straight on. This Sunday, we will dive into Paul’s argument that those who proclaim the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel. He asks three simple questions as he broaches this sometimes touchy subject: Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Then he goes even further in teaching the need for the church to properly care for God’s servants among them. He claims divine authority. In 1 Corinthians 9, he says, “Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”

Clearly, the Bible teaches that compensation for our spiritual leaders is not debatable. The question that a church needs to ask is: Are they doing their best to take care of God’s servant? The church should also be the ones who expose and oppose those few covetous frauds among us. It’s a legitimate gripe from many critical observers that the church appears too often greedy for money rather than caring for the poor. But it’s also safe to say that “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1). Caring for the poor and taking care of spiritual needs in the souls of men requires us to regularly “pass the offering plate.” 

So join us on Sunday at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. as we dive into 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, where these issues and others are addressed. I look forward to seeing you. 

Your servant, for Jesus’ sake,

Pastor Deric