How do you act when you are disappointed with church?

I’d be lying if I said I have not, at times, been seriously disappointed with church. People do not become what I had hoped or they do not act as I hoped. Sometimes people have expressed their disappointment in me.

But what do we do with that disappointment? Bonhoeffer says that often, “a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream.” Other people do not meet our expectations, and we allow the disappointment to cause division. Bonhoeffer says, “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

Years ago, I was talking to a friend who mentioned her mother-in-law did not have a good grasp of their family. “She thinks we are like the Waltons, but we are actually like the Simpsons.” The mother-in-law could not die to the dream of the perfect family. As a result, she never could love, embrace, and transform her real family.

This is our problem when we will not wake up to the reality of our church. We have to die to our vision of the perfect church. If we don’t we will either completely disconnect or we will set up our own standards and judge others by those standards.

Once we wake up to the real church, we can thank God for what it is rather than criticize and complain about what it is not. As Bonhoeffer says, “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”


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