I’m a pastor’s kid, a pastor’s spouse, and a pastor, and I’m here to tell you that the church will break your heart.
I came into seminary a little disillusioned, swearing that I would never be a pastor. I told them that I was a PK and that I had seen it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that it wasn’t for me. I was going to be a chaplain or a child psychologist (who happened to go to seminary? Don’t ask). And then I stumbled upon a church plant that reminded me all that there was to love about church again. That same church plant later broke my heart. And now I’m a pastor in a church in many ways so different from that church plant and in many ways more like the churches I’d grown up in, and I am in love with the church again. But some days it breaks my heart.
Once, while in seminary, my now husband asked me, for all your apparent disillusionment with the church, why did you never stop going? I told him, because I love the church (sometimes it’s just church people who are difficult). And here’s the thing — I can tell you things I’ve loved about every church I’ve been in. I love the church. I love the church in all her messy glory. I never once stopped going. But I think someone should tell people, “Welcome to our church, we’ll break your heart.”
Welcome to our church, we will break your heart occasionally by unkindness or carelessness, and for that we are truly sorry. Welcome to our church, I am your pastor, and while it keeps me up at night in fear and prayer — there is a pretty good chance at some point I will let you down, I will disappoint you majorly. Please know that coming in the door.
Welcome to our church, your heart may be broken not by meanness but by misunderstanding or by too high of expectations. But please, don’t let that scare you away. And please don’t keep silent when I or we do something that does because that is how we grow in forgiveness and grace.
Because we don’t worship the church. The church is not our savior. It is a glorious and messy manifestation of the Body of Christ, but it is not Christ. Has a church broken your heart? If so I am so sorry, it has broken mine too on occasions. But I can’t stay away, and I hope you don’t either because my heart keeps being mended. Frequently mended through the love and grace present in the same places where it was hurt because Christ redeems His church. Sometimes mended through the care and prayers of other churches I have been blessed to be a part of because Christ works through all these groupings that meet and work in His name.
The church has broken my heart and the church has helped me put it back together through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and the love and kindness of my many church families. So come join us, it may be messy, it may be hard, we will need to forgive and pray and love more than we ever thought possible, but this is the best place to learn how to do it. Welcome to our church.