As we prepare for our church weekend I was touched by this account in 'Practice resurrection: A conversation on growing up in Christ' about church. Eugene Peterson quotes a pastor friend who wrote a letter to a man who was ticked off with the church and had decided not to participate in worship:
'In his letter my friend confronted the man first by agreeing with him: 'I agree. It's very hard to participate in church over time and retain your humanity. You correctly deplore what you criticize.' Then he followed up with a blunt question, 'Yet do you worship with a congregation, scrub its floors, change its babies, face its crises, humble yourself to its relational intricacies? The Jesus you admire did. He honored and observed worship and community. He formed a new communion while honoring the old. He lived as a participant. It was not from without but from within the "people of God" that he confronted sin. And it was not from without but from within that he was censored and killed. It's the church that he came to build that killed him, not a network of autonomous idealists'
Then he zeroed in : 'The church is woefully sinful, distorted, and inadequate. In its seasons and centuries it is often in bed with commerce, the military, and the political establishment.. or just as bad, opportunistically leeching superficial life out of them by reactionism. But it's still in the bowels of the church to be worshipers, that God has chosen to work, live, and sometimes be crucified. It's the church, that Jesus says he will build, and that hell will not prevail against'