Regular Doses of Common Sense™

If Church Criticism is Wrong, How Can We Fix What’s Broken?

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If Church Criticism is Wrong, How Can We Fix What’s Broken?

I recently saw an interesting — and quite disturbing — comment designed to warn a blogger who ventured into the area of church criticism.

Church criticism seems to carry a somewhat irrational fear among some Christians. A recent blog comment I saw elsewhere served as a good reminder of this fact.

I’m not going to share the link to the blog because I don’t want to create “undue attention” for the commenter himself. But I’ll say this about the blog post: it seems to be the start of a real conversation about what the blogger has seen from the inside of a particular denomination as he served his church.

This is to say, it’s an honest look at potential issues with the way a church operates and where it places its focus from someone who may have a slightly better perspective on what’s going on than a parishioner who only sees the “customer” side of things would have.

The spirit of the comment was to warn the blogger to “bang the drum gently” and to be aware of the potential attention it could bring.

On one level, that’s perfectly good advice that more bloggers should always keep in mind: our words can actually be seen by people, after all. When it comes to addressing controversial topics, particularly when they happen to involve an organization or industry in which we’re working (or even volunteering), our take on things has the potential to bring negative attention.

There could be fallout.

At the same time, once a blogger analyzes, to the best of his or her ability, such a threat and decides to press on, it should be time to at least listen to what the blogger has to say.

I’ve seen the “warning” before — one or two have even suggested a version of it to me — as if God is ready to send a lightning bolt to anyone willing to complain about something about the church. Jesus, after all, considered the church his “bride,” and, as such, we should watch what we say.

But here’s the thing those who warn about church criticism seem to miss.

If the church is truly that important, those of us who see faults — particularly those that seem to go against Christ’s teachings or threaten to do damage to the church body — should have an even stronger obligation to speak up and question what’s going on.

Their concerns may be unfounded.

There will always be those, unfortunately, who will dismiss any church criticism as heresy. Those people, in my book, are a threat to the church because they seem oblivious to the fact that as a human institution, the church can be subject to the same foibles its human administrators are.

But what if the concerns of those who raise them are correct?

Who is God going to appreciate more: those who raise the alarm to try to set something back on track, or those who refuse to even hear the concern and thereby allow the problem to continue?

As a Christian, I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of that argument. For that matter, I don’t know why anyone else would, either.

Have you ever faced fallout for criticising something about the church? How did you respond?

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