Church Life

The Oxymoron Church: Series Introduction

Oxymoron. It’s one of my favorite words. No, it isn’t a cleaning a solution, nor a personal insult. The term describes the appearance of two words in one thought, but those words are typically understood as opposites.

Cold that burns. A dark light. Deafening silence. These are examples of an oxymoron. Each of these can be true, as well.

Church is another favorite word of mine. It holds so much promise, power, and potential. But it can also fit into the category of an oxymoron. This series of posts are meant to shine a light on the way our churches contradict all the power and promise they should deliver.

Though you might be tempted to think only unknowing, unchurched people see church life like this, the mixed message is felt amongst churchgoers, too.

The word church evokes less than positive emotions and thoughts for many. For those who have experienced a healthy church, or read about what the Bible has to say about the church, the contradiction is painfully obvious.

I am writing from the perspective of a pastor, and as someone who was raised in the church. Life has led me through amazing churches and scary ones.

Bill Hybels says, “The local church is the hope of the world.” Such a simple phrase, but my heart jumps every time I hear or read it.

At the same time, my heart breaks to think of how many people would pen a sentence blaming the church of personal pain. They go on to miss all of the good, the hope, that the church is meant to deliver.

To move towards acting as the biblical church, we have to reveal the oxymoron church. The disconnect has to be exposed, not to point fingers or assign blame, but to renew the connection.

If you have a broken pipe behind the wall of your shower, you don’t keep turning the water on and hope to get some water. You have to open the wall and repair the pipe so the water will flow properly, and not make a giant mess. (Sounds like some churches to me.)

God does not shine a light on our faults and shortcomings to beat us down or shame us. His goal is always Redemption, the repair and renewal of what is marred or broken.

The same is true of this examination of our church life. We should be honest about our failures so we can lay them at the feet of Jesus, find forgiveness, and allow Him to lead and empower us to be the Church He longs for.

Of course, honest examinations tend to get touchy. We get defensive, point at others, joke, and agree in principle. But we rarely look at the facts and say, “That’s me.”

If you can’t open your gates and be vulnerable about you and your church’s relationship to the truth about who we be versus who we are, don’t read these posts. Better for you not to pretend, and for me to avoid your comments.

My prayer is that you also want the church to be the hope of the world, and the hope for the lives you touch. That you might open your eyes and heart to see so many hearts and lives, individuals and families, who can find the hope of Jesus and so much more.

With Jesus sitting beside the Father in Heaven, it is the role of the church to point people out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. The oxymoron church can’t do it effectively.

Let’s take the leap. Compare the call of Scripture to church life as we know it. We don’t want people to groan when they hear the word church. It’s time to give the word its power and promise again.


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