It was one of the most interesting criticisms I have ever received. A man brought his small house church to join the new church I was leading. We had been meeting for about four years at the time, and things were starting to go well.
One day this man contacted me and said he wanted to talk. We met, and he told me that one of my recent blogs was troubling him. I inquired as to what was bothering him so much. He proceeded to show me a blog post and said something like, “read through this and see how many times you write ‘my church.’”
Unsure of what point he was trying to make I read through the article and answered his question. Then he said, “That is the problem, you think this is your church.”
I paused in shock and then questioned him more specifically. He said something like, “This is not your church, it is the Lord’s church.” I responded, “Okay.” He then proceeded to question my leadership and my pride as a leader.
Honestly, this was the first and only time I have ever heard someone complain that I thought it was “my church.” I responded in two ways to home. First, I explained that I had moved my family to Iowa to start the church, raised the money to make it happen and spent countless hours making things grow from my family to over 100 people meeting each week. As a result, I did feel a sense of ownership. I apologized if that came off as arrogance, but this was my baby, and I was happy with what God had done through me.
Second, I offered a sense of personal reflection. This is my church. Not in the sense that I own or control, rather, in the way that the woman I married and the kids she bore are my family. I do not possess them, but I am connected to them in a deep and meaningful way. My heart is given to them, and they are family to me. So, I said emphatically, “It is ‘my church,’ and I am proud to be a part of it. I hope you would come to consider it as your church too.”
One of my goals in ministry is to see people find a place to call home with people they see as family. The church is not just a place of which you are a part or attend worship regularly. It is a collection of people united in Christ and committed to one another. These are my people, and I hope they are yours too.