Spend enough time in a church and you will hear and observe stark contradictions. In the span of three days last week people told me both that the church had let them down so that they would never return and that the church had sparked a conversion in their life.
The challenge for leaders in churches is to hear both of these accounts, and to hear them both critically. Things far outside the church’s control are operating in these moments, and if we take all the blame or all the praise we misunderstand who we are–what we are–and what our role is in peoples’ lives. The church hasn’t the power of itself to ruin or save peoples’ lives.
The church is neither all hero or all goat. At its best the church is an accompanist in moments like these, supporting a melody we’re not writing through major and minor chords, nudging it toward resolution, even transformation.