Our Imperfect Church

The Houghton Wesleyan Church is not perfect.

I know that this statement might come as a great shock to some of you, but probably not to anyone who has been around us very long. We are not perfect because we are a group of people who are not perfect. Putting together flawed people who struggle with all kinds of sin isn’t going to produce a gathering of people who are no longer flawed and no longer sin. It just doesn’t work that way. We all know it, but something inside of us wants to believe that it just might be possible.

We believe that it’s possible for flawed, sinful people to come together as a group and be perfect when we are shocked to discover that we don’t always do what is right, that we don’t always represent Christ as we are commanded, that we hurt each other, that we are apathetic to the needs around us, that we are self-centered—as individuals and as a corporate body. It’s clear that something in us believes that the church should be perfect when we are surprised that it’s not.

This mindset of expecting perfection causes us to feel discouraged about the church (some even reject the church) and to wonder about God’s presence in the church.

It’s important to note that the church’s imperfection is not because God is absent or because God has abandoned the church; it’s because human beings don’t trust God enough to follow Him. That human beings have a difficult time trusting God isn’t a mystery; the mystery is that we trust and follow Christ as much as we do! God has promised that He would always be faithful to His Church—this is our hope and our life. If we have such a difficult time reflecting Christ when we know that God is with us, imagine what the church would be like if God ever abandoned us?!

The Bible clearly tells us that God desires the Church to be complete, to live so close to Christ that we exude the Spirit of Christ. This is the Church’s calling and goal and we ought to give ourselves together to seeing this calling become reality. God knows, however, that realizing this calling is a journey of our lives together. God changes us. God heals us. God restores us. God empowers us. And God knows that it’s a process—a process that is possible only because of God’s grace in us. We don’t work hard enough to be a holy people; we submit ourselves to God (and to each other) so that God can make us a holy people.

The question is not: are we perfect? The question is: are we allowing the Holy Spirit to make us better than we were? Or perhaps an even more vital question is: are we better at allowing the Holy Spirit to make us holy people? This question implies that our only chance of being a Church that looks anything like Christ is when we become a church of humility, servanthood, compassion, grace, mercy, truth and love. If you’ve been around us you know that we have come a long way; you also know that we have a long way to go. And maybe, just maybe, as God keeps working in us, we will find that there is joy in the journey.