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Week Six: In Love With the Church or With Jesus?
Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom S. Rainer

At the House of Bishops (HOB) meeting this year one of our speakers asked us if we thought the Church was in love with the Church or with Jesus. This question made me sit up and pay attention. The speaker articulated what I have felt but hadn’t put into words. Are we more in love with the Church than we are with Jesus?

The Great Commission calls us to go into the world and to tell the story of Jesus. Yet we would rather tell the story of our church building, marveling over its 150 years of standing or its prominence in the community. For some strange reason, we believe if we can tell a story about one of our former members who was in Congress or a parishioner who is extremely wealthy, that others will want to become part of us. My belief is that people might think knowing these things are interesting, but that is not what draws others to worship with us.

People are drawn to relationships. We want to know we are accepted, and we want to learn how to be in a relationship that matters more than life itself. That relationship is with God as we know through Jesus. When we make the connection that Jesus does in fact love us, it envelops us in a love we have not yet known. In community is where we learn and live this love. As previously stated, we are called to give the love of Jesus away and the church is where we learn how to do this.

It may be interesting that a former president sat in a particular pew, but that knowing won’t teach us anything about the present and how God is calling us to be in love with Jesus.

Ask yourself, am I in love with the Church or am I in love with Jesus? If you’re in love with Jesus what does that look like in your context?

Brave journey,
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of Louisiana

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