Who are the people who voice the most complaints about your church? Do criticisms about your congregation come from inside or outside your faith community? Who are your church’s accusers? Is one of them you?
I was visiting with a young brother in Christ this morning about the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We were specifically talking about “The Cost of Discipleship” and “Life Together,” arguably his two greatest books. I’m re-reading a bunch of “The Cost of Discipleship” right now in preparation for the Fresno Spiritual Growth Workshop later this month. And skimming “Life Together” three or four times a year is just a smart thing to do if you’re a preacher or some other church leader.
I want to share with you this from “Life Together.” This is especially intended for us preachers and elders and deacons and ministry leaders in our Father’s Church. I was just casually glancing through it today when these underlined words screamed at me.
“If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even when there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.
This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself.
Let him guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.”
Who are your church’s accusers? Don’t let it be you.
A better question, perhaps: Who are your church’s defenders?
The failure that is the Red Ribbon Review is drawing to a close. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s not. Nevertheless, I won’t be deterred. We’ll keep counting down the days until Cowboys season by recognizing the second-best players in team history according to jersey number until they kick off the against the Bucs at high noon on Sunday September 13.
Today’s pickings are so slim, we’re having to actually name two players to equal anything worth mentioning. Even then, it’s a huge stretch. There are ten days left until the Cowboys season begins. And there are half a dozen backup quarterbacks and backup punters and backup kickers who’ve worn that number. And nobody else. Not one starter in the bunch.
So, let’s go with two backup punters. Let’s honor Duane Carrell: seven games in 1974 (a non-playoff year), 40 total punts, an average of 39.8 yards per punt. And let’s also mention Barry Cantrell who punted in two games during the 2000 season (another non-playoff year), racking up an average of 36.7 yards per kick on 10 total punts.