Why I love Church

I was a pastor for several years – helping lead a growing church in Colorado Springs.  Then we moved to Beirut.  I fell in love with Jesus. In love with Arabs.  In love with Muslims.  In love with my wife and kids. But…out of love with churches. I saw so much pain. So much confusion. We started “The Olive Grove.”  Never called it “church.”

When we moved back to the states, we started going to a church here in Denver – it was close to our house. Had people. Talked about God. Seemed nice enough.  But then they had a nasty church split. And we were mostly friends with those who left. They all wanted us to leave too. We stayed.  We were committed.

Chris got involved. I travel a lot, so, I didn’t.  Chris liked it. I didn’t so much.  But we stayed.  We were committed.

Now I’ve always believed that there is a People of God. A community of Believers. The “Church Universal.” The Bride of Christ. The Family.  And that they do meet regularly in specific locales. But I don’t like the word “Church” like I don’t like the word “Christian.”  But soon I found myself actually not liking church. Or at least not “mine.”

I wasn’t against it. The pastors and wives are good friends.  The people are great. I dunno – I think it may have been me. Okay…it was me.  Last Sunday our pastor spoke on bitterness. As I searched my heart – good news – not bitter at anyone.  Oh, wait. What was that? This church?  I have a bad attitude towards “my church?”   Hmmm….could be. Not saying, but maybe…..

Okay, I was busted by God on Sunday.  I confessed it and immediately felt better. Funny thing how that confession thing works. So this is my confession to the world. I love my church!

Is it perfect? Of course not. Am I perfect?    🙂


  1. mikesoderstrom says:

    I can’t remember the last time I left a church building and thought, “Wow. I can’t wait until I can come back!”

    I think I have a loooong ways to go before I can feel good about Sunday-morning-church-building church again.

    1. Stephen says:

      Mike, if you live anywhere near Iowa City, Iowa, consider coming to the Vineyard Community Church: http://icvineyard.org/. It’s the first, and so far only, faith community that I’ve ever encountered that really puts love of Christ, of service and of one another above “making the trains run on time.” It’s sloppy, and sometimes inelegant, and really wonderful.

      Carl, thanks for your wonderful post!

      1. mikesoderstrom says:


        Thanks for the recommendation. I actually used to live in Grinnell a couple years ago which is just an hour away from Iowa City. But now I live all the way down Midland TX.

        We were a part of a home church in Grinnell that met on Saturday nights. While none of us were perfect, it’s been my favorite form of church so far. I think whatever decreases the “structure” of church is good because relationships can grow and you can actually be the church. Sounds like the Vineyard is moving that way.

    2. Kevin says:

      I remember having that feeling of “Wow, I can’t wait until I come back.” The church was Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon. Then I moved away, back to California. Four months later and I am still looking for that feeling again. Carl’s blog on church really got me thinking that I need to be more accepting of church and all the baggage that goes with it.

  2. Des Clark says:

    As we all know that word “church” that Jesus is interpreted as saying in Matt 16 is pregnant with meaning. As as don’t know the original Aramaic word Jesus used we can only go on what Matthew wrote – ekklesia. So in the west it’s church. In other parts it might mean a group of Jesus followers in a mosque – contentious to some readers as that may be, that is the reality.

    Freedom of choice to pick and choose a “church” depending on theological / worship style / whatever, is a concept that the west can avail of but is a “luxury” that just accentuates the whole concept of the individual – something that you picked up on Carl in your “squirrel” (!) book.

    New church planting or new Jesus followers is often where our fault lines occur.

    And we’re called to love those people as well – come on Jesus you can’t be serious!

    Good word Carl,

  3. Patrick Caneday says:

    Great piece, Carl. I always feel better about my own conflicted faith when I read the thoughts of other believers who seem to wrestle with the conventional stereotypes of our belief too. Thanks.

  4. EllieAnn says:

    The word church is all wrong in the first place. People talk about it as if it were a place. Instead of a family, where God is our papa and Jesus is our brother and we’re all just eating and laughing and learning and bickering and making peace and doing chores and having friends over and stuff.

  5. randdmiller says:

    I’m not much for church – but give me a kanisa — and I’m fine.

  6. Andres P says:

    Is it even possible to really love Jesus without also loving the Bride he cherishes so dearly (regardless of her many faults)? –He sacrificed his life for her and asks us to join him in doing the same (1Jn.3:16)…

    1. mikesoderstrom says:

      I would say the Bride is different than the system Christians have created on Sunday mornings. I love the people, (well, but I don’t like all of them), but the system sometimes gets in the way of us getting to know each other better. I don’t like that “church.”

  7. ericknac says:

    Excellent word Carl…am dealing with similar feelings…will work on the confession thing!!