The Mosaic

Back to Articles

Volume 33, No. 7

4/3/19 | Newsletter

An Imperfect Church

Those who know me well (and not so well) recognize that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t hide it. It is a blessing and a curse. Perfectionism drives me to give my best, but it also feels like I’m dragging a fifty-ton weight on my ankles as I try to move forward. Although I’m a perfectionist, I am far from perfect. I continue to learn how to lean into grace as I stumble through this imperfect life.Churches are the same. Most congregations try hard to contact every sick person, perform every wedding and funeral, bring their best to worship, make the right decisions, and give energy and hope to the places where hurt occurs in the world. But I’ll let you in on a little secret – churches still mess up. Churches flail and fumble as they seek to greet new people, point people to a mysterious God, and care for the lonely. Churches will never be perfect.

Adam Copeland wrote a reflection about the local church for the Christian Century magazine recently. He said, “I also have in mind a comment by Tim Brown, a Lutheran pastor in North Carolina: congregations will always fall short. ‘You’re going to join the wrong church, or have the wrong pastor.’ he writes on his blog, ‘because our ideas of what makes ‘a right one’ are romantic.’ Your church will one day be a place of disappointment, difficult change, and dissatisfaction. But even in the midst of these certain challenges, Brown holds up the value of congregations: they are ‘about loving each other into a different way of being’ in the presence of God.’”

In this Lenten Season, it is my hope that you will let go of your perfectionism and embrace your beautiful blemishes because that is how a perfect and loving God made you. And as we, as imperfect people, lean more into grace, may we be convicted to give grace to all of our holy institutions that seek to lead us into the presence of God despite their missteps and mistakes. Because in the end, to achieve more and be better, we must love each other into a different way of being. Royal Lane Baptist Church isn’t perfect, but we will love you, albeit imperfectly, as you become more of who God created you to be.

 Perfection, Perfection 
by Fr. Kilian McDonnell

 I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my bags,
I am out of here. 
Gone.

 As certain as rain
will make you wet,
perfection will do you
in.

 It droppeth not as dew
upon the summer grass
to give liberty and green
joy. 

Perfection straineth out
the quality of mercy,
withers rapture at its
birth. 

Before the battle is half begun,
cold probity thinks
it can't be won, concedes the
war. 

I've handed in my notice,
given back my keys,
signed my severance check, I
quit. 

Hints I could have taken:
Even the perfect chiseled form of 
Michelangelo's radiant David
squints,

 the Venus de Milo
has no arms,
the Liberty Bell is
cracked.

Pastor Mike