25 Possibly Unpopular Opinions about Church

people on concert
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The following are some of my opinions, held with varying levels of intensity, about church/churches.

Note: These are geared toward Christian churches in the USA. Some would obviously also apply to churches elsewhere. But I haven’t nuanced this entire list for all global church contexts.

Many churches in the USA are too “busy.” They are trying to do too many different things and should instead refocus on the church’s proper priorities (Word and Sacraments).

Churches should focus on preaching and teaching the Word of God, administering the Sacraments (Holy Communion and Baptism), and serving the welfare of their local communities.

When you walk into a church sanctuary (or whatever else you want to call the place where the worship service takes place), the setting should (as much as possible) clearly indicate the importance of the Word of God and the Sacraments.

So, if possible, have a cross, pulpit, altar/table (for Holy Communion), etc. front-and-center.

Your country’s flag should not be in the sanctuary.

Concerts and TED talks are both great. But a Christian worship service is not a concert with a TED talk thrown in.

Don’t try to mimic a concert. Don’t put the musicians front-and-center, if possible.

Use a mixture of sacred music (old and new) that is fitting for a Christian worship service. We don’t need covers of Coldplay, Taylor Swift, U2, etc. in a worship service.

The quality of the musicians and vocalists should be as good as possible, given the musical gifts that God has provided your congregation with. Doesn’t have to be world-class. Just don’t be distracting. Simple and good is better than showy or off-key.

Don’t have the same volume levels as a concert. The congregation should be able to hear itself sing (and think).

At least one passage of Scripture should be clearly read aloud during each worship service. Ideally more than one!

A sermon is for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s not a standup comedy act, a motivational speech, TED talk, etc.

A sermon doesn’t need to be longer than 30 minutes.

“We don’t do Holy Communion that often because we want it to be special” is a bad argument.

Churches should provide Holy Communion as often/regularly as logistically possible. Communion should be treated and taken with reverence, but it is not made special by our attitudes, feelings, etc. It is a work of God, by which He makes himself present to His people.

At minimum, the “Words of Institution” should be a part of every single Communion liturgy:

that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, โ€œThis is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.โ€ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, โ€œThis cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. (1 Cor. 11:23-25)

Holy Communion should be offered to all baptized followers of Jesus Christ. It should not be restricted to your denomination, congregation, branch of the church, etc.

Positions (and titles) of pastoral leadership should be open to both men and women. As they are gifted, called, and trained to do so, women should be able to preach, teach, pastor, etc.–using the full breadth of their spiritual gifts.

Each church should have clear policies around the prevention of and response to various forms of abuse. A child safety policy, abuse/harassment policy, etc. These policies should be regularly reviewed and enforced.

Accusations of abuse should be taken seriously, treated confidentially, and reported to the local authorities. Clergy should act as mandatory reporters, even if they are not required to do so by local law.

Church leaders who are caught up in abuse, scandal, etc. should be removed (or remove themselves) from office. Sure, there’s forgiveness for everyone at the Cross, but they need to find another line of work. “Abusive pastor” should be an oxymoron. No matter how charismatic or gifted they are, the church doesn’t “need” any one person to be in a position of power and authority, if they have shown they cannot be trusted with power and authority.

Poor people should feel welcomed, loved, and respected at your church.

People from all countries, cultures, etc. should feel welcomed, loved, and respected at your church, regardless of their immigration status..

LGBTQ people should feel welcomed, loved, and respected at your church.

If the church speaks out in the public square, it should be on behalf of “others,” instead of out of self-interest.

Less: “We’re being persecuted! We demand and defend our rights!”

More: “The poor and powerless are being persecuted! We demand and defend their rights, even if it costs us to do so!”

To be continued…possibly.

By joshuapsteele

The Rev. Dev. I solve problems with a pastor's heart for people and a programmer's eye for detail. Learn more at https://steele.omg.lol/

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