Does your church have a few broken windows? Is the paint fading? The wood becoming worn and splintered? Does your church need repair?
I’m not speaking of Christ’s Church (capital ‘C’), His Church made holy and spotless in the blood of the lamb. I’m speaking of the local gathering of God’s sinful people. Is that church, that you attend, in need of repair?
Is there controversy among the people? Are the Sermons or Bible studies not in line with God’s Word? Do you find the worship to be void of substance? Are there people there who have wronged you? In this sense, does your church need repair?
Now to be certain, every church is full of sinners, every church has struggles with the sins of its members. This should not be reason to leave! Although it’s easier to go shopping for another church, that one too will be full of sinners. Although it’s tempting to seek after the most interesting sermons, the most lively worship, the church not so far in the red, such is not a Christian’s calling. Church is not a club of people who like each other. It is the place where we receive the very Word of God preached to us and the Sacraments administered rightly. If that is going on at your church, don’t leave!
Unfortunately, there are church who have more serious problems, problems with their Word and Sacrament ministry, with their foundation. Churches who confess to be in accord with the Apostolic Confessional Doctrine of the Lutheran Church, and yet, in practice they leave the confessions behind bending to be appealing, and to attract the modern man. BUT, this too should not be reason to leave! Don’t leave!
Walther once wrote a letter to a student in Bavaria, Johann Fackler. Fackler was a member of a church whose confession was orthodox, but whose practice was not, and so he had written to Walther asking advice.
“The basis of this, my counsel is that in God’s Word, orthodox Christians are not commanded to forsake the corrupt church, for example, in Corinth or Galatia. Instead, they are to reform it. They are toy seek absolutely everything possible to this end and only to separate when the corrupt church is revealed to be an irreformable sect, such that practicing fellowship with it is inseparable from participation in its errors and sins.”
Yes it is sad that so many churches have abandoned their confessional heritage to become more “seeker-driven.” But what would happen if we stayed put? What would happen if instead of leaving at the first sign of trouble, we helped reform? What if we pointed to God’s Word, encouraged our Pastors and church leaders to seek the Scriptures and the Confessions, to turn from errors, to change their practice so that it’s in line with their confessions… in a word... to repent… for, as Jesus says, “the reign of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17