I have a confession to make. I have not always been very fair with the church, and for that I apologize.
In an effort to share my love and passion for my faith, I have picked and poked and criticized the church, and maybe that is a bit unfair. I have been a minister going on six years, and during that time, I have been the best and the worst that the church can offer.
I have a certain understanding of the way a church should operate, and when I do not see that being played out in the communities around me, it makes me upset: upset about the way God is presented, upset about the droves of people who will miss out on a life-changing relationship with God, and upset that I cannot change everything.
It's difficult for me as a young minister to slow down and be reflective in the face of impending decline and danger of closures for many of our congregations.
It's not easy being a minister today, and I guess it’s easier to take out my frustrations on the church instead looking for that 'silver lining.'
But I have a come to the conclusion that maybe all is not lost.
The church is that place where people can come with all of their faults, insecurities, and even doubts about the world, themselves, Jesus, the Bible, and God, and find a place of acceptance, warmth, welcoming, and peace.
Every day, the church serves countless people around the world through hospitals, hospices, medical missions, homeless shelters, food pantries, and so much more.
These fly under the radar of popular culture, but they are vitally important. I was wrong to look over these things.
The church today is at a crossroads, and there is no denying that. We have a long way to go in a lot of different areas, but for right now the gospel is being preached, the love of God is being shared, and the grace of Jesus the Christ is being given.
The sky is not falling, the boat is not sinking, the end is not near. If we go looking for the bad things, we will find them. If we focus on what we are doing for the Kingdom, then we will see the movement of God in our midst.
Let's focus on what we do right not what we do wrong. This does not mean that we allow atrocities and injustices slip past us in an effort to be more positive, but it does mean that we slow down, be a bit more reflective and intentional about the ways the church is still here with us even after 2,000+ years of human intervention.
The church's core foundation of love, joy, hope, peace, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation are still there and they will never go away. The ministries that we promote, the gospel that is proclaimed, and the mission of the church must not change. We can change its transmission or function, but the core ideals and tenets are still in place.
Let's hold on to these foundational tenets as we venture out into this world that is in desperate need of a Savior. We might not agree on theology, doctrine, or even ways to have communion, but at our core the church is still trying to serve the same God and the same Christ.
There is so much work to be done, and its time to do it.
I'll do my best to continue showcasing the good and as well as the not so good in the days and years to come. It's only right that we, as the body of Christ, become one in the Spirit of justice and trust and come around our commonalities not those which drive us apart.
Until then, I will strive to do better in my own ministry and my own walk with God.
I'll keep the faith.
I'll share the faith.
I'll love the faith.
I'll serve the risen Christ.
I'm not going to wave a white flag yet; there is too much to do.
Rev. Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He currently serves in Beaumont, Texas. He is currently writing a book to be published by The Pilgrim Press (publishing house of the United Church of Christ). For more information about Evan visit www.evandolive.com . Follow him on social media at @RevEvanDolive and fb.com/evandoliveauthor.
Image: Basilica of the National Vow in Ecuador, Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com