Saturday, April 7, 2012
I might go back to church if....
I read recently where lapsed Roman Catholics were given an opportunity voice (maybe vent would be a better term) against their church about why they left and what it might take to get them back. We saw all the usual excuses. Complaints about clergy (who doesn't), about church and politics, about politics in the church, about doctrine, about practice, about past issues involving the Church but not necessarily them personally... In response the RCC thought about those things it would not or could not change but could explain better and those things which could be and, perhaps, should be changed.
To be completely honest, I have never heard someone say "I might go back to church if....." I just never have. In nearly every case, the lapsed has left this one unanswered -- perhaps because they did not know the answer themselves or perhaps because there was no real conceivable circumstance in which they thought they would return.
In nearly every case, these lapsed have considered themselves fully Christian and still "Catholic" (or "Lutheran" or whatever...). That seems to be the greater issue. The whole idea that you are still a member or still in good standing even though you have abandoned the sacramental life of the Church is the culprit here. We have made faith so very individualistic and our standing before God separate from our life together around His means of grace, that it seems an uphill battle to restore those who have wandered, fallen away, or become disenchanted with the Church (whatever the reason).
Yet, if you are like me, you continue to seek them out and address them with the Word of the Lord that one day you may find them restored to their place within the communion. More often than not, the problem is internal rather than external. Only the Spirit will change them. The Spirit works through the Word. So as long as you address them with the Word (truth spoken in love), there is always a chance... and hope against hope... But, if you are like me, you probably wish for a silver bullet or an instantaneous fix. Alas, God's Word does what it says and accomplishes His purpose but seldom on our timetable...
Still and all, Easter seems to bring some of them back -- if only for a Sunday -- to hear the sound of God's voice. So make sure that you speak the Word to them so that God can do His bidding.