When Church Disappoints

The church will disappoint you.

Maybe not if you stay on the fringes, resist real community, and avoid investing yourself in the lives of others. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time.

I increasingly talk about the reality of disappointment with people who are joining the church. Sooner or later, in one way or another, someone will let you down or something will disappoint you. What will you do then?

I came across this solid advice by Jonathan Storment about three things to say to people who are facing disappointment with the church:

1. Sometimes your complaint is a calling. Maybe the reason it bothered you so much that no one came to visit you in the hospital is because you know that’s not who the church is supposed to be. And you are the church. It is easy to blame leaders/members/systems. But maybe the reason this is gnawing at you so much is because God is tapping you on the shoulder to minister to others out of the disappointment you have.

2. When you are disappointed with a church is the worst time to leave your church, especially to go to another church. I have seen the other side of this. People will come to Highland (the church I serve) and for a month or two they think it is the best thing since God made the blueberry pop-tart, but over time, the same disappointment creeps in. It turns out that humans are in this community too, and we don’t always do things right, we don’t always sing the songs that are on your iPod, or say just the right things, or respond in just the right ways. And if you change churches enough you will never learn to love the actual God, the same way you might never learn to love actual people.

3. Disappointment isn’t always bad. In fact, that is often when people grow the most. It is when we learn that we were leaning too hard on certain things, good things, but things that can’t bear the weight of our ultimate love. It is when we have to realize that God isn’t synonymous with what causes us to have goosebumps or an “aha” moment. God actually has bigger things in mind for our lives than a perpetual state of individual bliss. That was true for Jesus, and servants are not greater than their master.

Yes, the church will disappoint because it is made up of broken, sinful people. But if you leave, you will miss the way that God’s grace wants to teach and transform you.