Absolute perfection only exists in God alone. We can all accept this theological fact.
But why do some people hold the local church to some unrealistic expectations?
In the manufacturing world, I learned to define perfection as having zero defects. However, I’ve never witnessed, observed, or been a part of a local church with no defects. As active participants in our local church, you and I have not measured up to that zero-defect definition.
Even when perfection is described as completeness or wholeness in spiritual maturity, you and I still have room to grow. Speaking on behalf of pastors, staff, and all church leadership (from the local church to the denominational offices), we’re all still growing. Each of us has some strengths and a few weaknesses as well. But we cannot allow our weaknesses to become blind spots.
Experience has taught me that every person I know has their own definition and understanding of what makes a local church perfect. We humans have created a moving target.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 explains the perspective we need. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
No one Christian is perfect with all of the gifts of the Spirit at work through them. That means we need one another. Christians need each other.
Similarly, no one local church has perfection with every gift, strength, and manifestation of the Spirit. Instead, each local church is as different as every human personality. Every ministry has different strengths, weaknesses, and gifts in operation. That means we need one another. Local churches need each other.
It saddens me to see unfair comparisons between different churches, pastors, and such. We’re called to be different. As a God-called lead pastor of a local church with a helpful voice to a larger segment of the Body of Christ, I’m not trying to be like any other individual servant of God. I want to be the sanctified servant my Master has called me to be. I can’t measure up to any other servant because we’re gifted differently, and we have a different set of educational experiences.
Consider this imperfect illustration.
I think local churches are kind of like Snickers candy bars. You know they come in a variety of sizes, from mini to king-sized. Regardless of the size, they all look great from the outside. But within one or two bites, you realize they have more than a few nuts. Since I like chocolate, nougat, and caramel, I enjoy them in every size. I refuse to let the nuts keep me from enjoying their sweet goodness.
Actually, in their own crunchy way, the nuts add to the flavor of this treat. Even my favorite butter is made from nuts.
Maybe God does have a plan to use every single ingredient in the body of Christ.
Even your local church that looks great from the outside has a few nuts. My goal is to make sure I’m not the biggest nut in my church.
Seriously though, don’t float around looking for the perfect local church. You’ll never find one on this side of Heaven with zero defects. On this side of Heaven we all have room for greater maturity.
Instead, be encouraged to know that there is a perfect local church for you. That’s the one that you’re called to be a committed member of and working to build the Kingdom of God.
“God has set the members in the body, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1 Corinthians 12:18). The Spirit of God has arranged all the parts according to His design.
As imperfect as you are, you’ve been called by God to be a member of the Body of Christ at large. He also wants you to be a set member in your local church, established by grace and committed to great commission fulfillment.
Don’t give up on the local church. God is on her side.