Years ago I attended a lecture for worship leaders about “How to Implement Change”. Our lecturer was a hip, middle-aged Detroit youth pastor with kids adopted from every continent (like Angelina Jolie, but with smaller lips and more facial hair). The thing that I remember most clearly from that lecture is the intense feeling of frustration that sat with me for days because of something the lecturer kept saying : “We’re not called to change them; we’re called to love and serve them”. Even when they are wrong and stubborn and silly. Serve and love.

Then, my frustration was at ridiculously unimportant issues like “Why can’t I have a tattoo just cos I’m a worship leader? Charlie Hall has a tattoo!” That I allowed myself to be so worried about so tiny a thing is sad. It wasn’t worth getting frustrated.

But some things are…

The Church seems always to be in desperate need of reform. Everyone knows it. Very few have any idea how to do it in a loving way and with a servant’s heart.

Take the way we worship. As a worship leader, I am constantly faced with frustration at the way the congregation come to be entertained instead of to participate with their gifts. And yet, it is precisely the way that I lead worship that conditions them to be that way! Everything from the sing-song formula to the architecture of the sanctuary encourages people to sit back and enjoy the show.

Take the way we interpret the Bible. The One I Love was all about love and inclusion and redemption. Yet we use His Word to exclude the homosexuals from our memberships, we use them to exclude each other from our denominations, we use them to instil fear into people to make them believe what we believe about everything from baptism to creation. As if the Bible were a club given to us to bludgeon the world into submission, instead of the revelation of God’s love for us in Christ.

Take the way we spend our money. Mega-churches pay people to guard expensive cars outside their services and put down vast amounts of money on building decor, stationary, sound equipment, and the next massive building. What for? This money could fund indiginous missionaries in China and India, or feed AIDS orphans in Swaziland. And yet, by putting these mega-churches up on the pedastal of our definition of success we propogate exactly this disgusting greed and waste.

We are doing it. Not “them”. When we think of the history of the Church and worry about her future, it’s so easy to try to distance ourselves from her. We want to say “I hate the Church! She’s so full of hypocritical tradition!” But how can we say this?

We are the church. Makes you crazy doesn’t it? Makes you want to start a revolution.

The problem with revolutions is that they are very seldom loving. To love and serve, remember? Change has to come according to God’s gradual but unrelenting program for the Church. Under the radar these little reformations slip into Her consciousness and conscience. As frustrated as we get struggling against both complacency on the one hand, and bitter hopelessness on the other, we should never assume that Christ feels the same. He has a plan for His bride. It’s a long term plan – but it’s perfect.

And it ends in our perfection.