Ever been to a perfect church? Ever heard a perfect sermon? Ever been in a perfect time of worship? Ever received a perfect offering? Ever had a perfect leader’s meeting?
I doubt it.
Nothing done on earth is perfect. You might as well admit it as the evidence is totally in your face screaming at you. However, many Christians are looking for a perfect church or a perfect service or perfect sermon. The problem is that the search is futile. It is absolutely futile. And because you are always looking at the ideal you will never engage with the real.
I know so many Christians who don’t go to church because it’s not the perfect church, they don’t go to a mid-week group because it isn’t perfect, they won’t teach a certain study because it is not perfect, they won’t serve in a particular department because it is not perfect.
Pastors can be the same. They never delegate their leadership because the other person won’t do it as well as them (what a guy preaching the first week ever isn’t a good as someone with 10 years experience and 5 years training?! Duh!) even though they know they need to start delegating and raising leaders. They get upset about a time of worship because it wasn’t swinging off the chandeliers.
There are three main problems with idealism:
1. You ignore the real. You are waiting for the perfect guitarist to join your worship group, you will miss the guy who is practising really hard, full of life and full of energy and wants to serve and honour you and the church. Now, I’m not saying appoint the guy who doesn’t turn up at practice, turns up late, runs down the church but loves their ministry, and generally isn’t a team player and lacks the character of Christ. That’s just bad leadership! But don’t let the perfect blind you to the good and improving right in front of your nose.
Remember when doing this that gifting and ability is always easier to develop than character. Put character first when choosing leaders. There are 16 qualifications for leaders in 1 Tim. 3, and only one of them is about gifting and ability. Loyalty to the church and to you, a passion for Christ, a heart for evangelism and discipleship – you cannot beat those in any volunteer!
2. Idealism paralyses you. If you are waiting for the best time to do something, YOU WILL NEVER DO IT. I know so many people called to plant churches waiting for the right circumstances. It will never come, just start. Don’t strike when the iron is hot, keep striking until the iron IS hot. Then strike some more. Do it, do it, do it. That’s how you start a church. Right now, Tree of Life Network is starting a food bank. We don’t have a building, things are going on right now, it’s not the perfect time, but if I wait for a perfect time I will be waiting forever. Don’t wait for the ideal time, wait for a good time and do it. Even do it in a bad time – God is bigger than the times!
3. Idealism causes you to become negative. You hear a sermon with 99 good points but all you think about is the 1 point you don’t agree with. You go to a church with 99 things you agree with but all you can focus on is the 1 thing you don’t like. Idealism means you can never sweat the small stuff.
Now I know everything should be Biblical but the truth is that no two of us agree 100% on anything. Some things are no negotiable but other things are really not a big deal, even with the non-negotiables, we can endure a lot of give and take if we know someone is real and we know their hearts and we know they are for us. People come to me after church sometimes and tell me what I said wrong, and what I said they didn’t agree with. Other people get healed, get their marriages restored, get filled with the Spirit and get lifted and encouraged. They chose to focus on the bits that lifted them.
Beware the dangers of idealism. Sometimes it can take you away from interacting with and engaging with reality.