I know I'm ultrasensitive. The term is uttered and I take it personally. I automatically bristle whenever I hear someone say, "The church should. . ." or "This is a real problem in the church" or "What the church really needs is. . ." Talking in these mass generalizations always makes me nervous. Being married to a music pastor has taught me when phrases like this come up it usually means either my husband or some member of the pastoral staff will be have to be gone ANOTHER night from home.
Forgive me for being a little defensive, but I wonder, exactly WHO are we expecting to solve the problem when we say, "the church should. . ."? If we think the "church body" needs to work on more effective discipleship, who SPECIFICALLY, should be working on that? Aren't ALL believers part of "the church"? Does that mean YOU need to work on more effective discipleship? If you hear, "the body of Christ needs to meet the needs of the elderly better", could it mean YOU need to meet the needs of the elderly better? If someone says, "the church is not sensitive enough to single parents", does that mean YOU are not sensitive enough to single parents? "The church has to reach out to troubled youths" translates to YOU have to reach out to troubled youths. Ouch, huh?
Lumping issues under the umbrella of "the church" leaves the responsibilities vague and open-ended. It doesn't require much of us individually then, does it? It's a way to get ourselves off the hook. I challenge you to start taking references to "the church" personally. We,"the church body", could accomplish so much more if we did.