Evolving Ecclesiology

The problem with the church, any church, is not the church. It’s the expectations that people bring to the church…. In other words , the ecclesiology of individuals, or what they believe about the church.

I worked through my personal ecclesiology in the 90’s as I experienced individuals’ hypocrisy (including my own), a church’s rejection of a pastor and his family, another church’s process of self evaluation and change and the extraordinary blessings of God that resulted, and my own evolving expectations (or attempts at reducing them) of people and institutions directed by people.

I have counseled more than a few people who were in the midst of disillusionment with a church , church members, or a pastor.

A large church in Chicago did a self study in 2007, published in a slim book entitled “Reveal”, that summarized much of what I had worked through in my own ecclesiological development.

There were a number of conclusions in that study. Church member segments were identified – those who are exploring the Christian faith, those growing in Christ, those close to Christ,those whose lives are Christ centered, and the dissatisfied. Within any of those segments one can become stalled. Studies across thousands of churches since then have shown that the number of dissatisfied in any church number about 10 %. Those who are stalled in their spiritual growth can number another 10% or more. These two groups generally look to the church to resolve their lack of joy and satisfaction. But answers lie elsewhere ……. Within one’s own heart and mind. Spiritual conversations with a spiritual director, trusted small group friends, or a godly mentor can bring clarity to one’s spiritual “struck” place and ecclesiology that can restore spiritual growth, healthy expectations and satisfaction with one’s personal faith journey.

The past four years have been another significant period of God adjusting my ecclesiology…. With each adjustment I am drawn closer to Him and closer to a smaller number of really heart-friends, though many others may continue a part of my life…. Authentic spiritual relationship is more and more desired.