I had asked a good friend of mine to share part of his story in my Sunday School class. He is a leader in the church, so everyone in the class knows him, but few know his real story. I told him that we would structure the interview as a a conversation in front of the class so that it wouldn’t feel like it was all on his shoulders. We focused the interview around those deep core beliefs that formed his identity in life.
He talked with both candor and passion about his early years, the sadness he endured, where it took him as a man, and how God is changing his sense of identity in Christ. At one point, the tears began to flow down his face. The feedback from the class was just as beautiful. The connection everyone felt, the sense of respect, the empathy. The whole thing was stunning…beautiful. But it was more. It was holy.
I have come to believe that if we just obeyed this one verse in Scripture, it would turn our churches into seedbeds of life and renewal. And it would draw in the interested, the curious, the skeptical perhaps more than anything else. What is the verse? James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
It is not better programs that will give us better churches. Nor is it necessarily better preaching, or better vision statements, or more money. It is honesty. When we simply tell the truth and quit hiding, something happens that can only be described as holy. God loves to come and nuzzle up to the one who is honest before others. There is a radiance, an aura, a wonder…and a power.
It is the one thing the church may need more than anything. But it is also the one thing we can be afraid of more than anything. And there is the rub. There is the cost. But it’s so worth it. And when a few take the leap and do it, others will be drawn in and follow.