American church participation has plummeted in recent decades. Abuse scandals and hypocrisy hang in the air. Weekly, I talk to friends and neighbors who have left church, even as many still identify as Christians. I get what they're saying. When I consider the pain that so many have experienced in church life, the body of Christ sure seems broken. It's no wonder many don't find church to be worth it. But maybe there's more to the story. As a child, my family experienced deep crisis. I felt alone and vulnerable. Into that void, the church stepped in. I discovered a family, a people that have my back and forever changed my life. Even now, I see tangible ways the church works for the common good. The church possesses a resilient beauty that continually pushes through the brokenness. If we love Jesus, we have to eventually ask what Jesus loves. Surprising to me at times, Jesus loves the church, despite her brokenness. If we learn to see what Jesus sees, we'll discover a powerful, often untapped means towards human flourishing. No other social group offers what the church offers. Yes, the church is broken, but there's more. She's beautiful.
Joseph P. Conway ministers with the Acklen Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition, he teaches in the College of Bible and Ministry at Lipscomb University. He studied at Abilene Christian University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. With a cup of coffee in one hand, he and his wife, Beth, like to go on neighborhood walks with their three daughters.