Sunday, November 27, 2022
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We Must Improve Our Criticism

We need to get better at criticism. Much better. That is my criticism of the church.

I agree with secular best-selling management consultant and author Patrick Lencioni when he offers this critique in his book The Advantage:

Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind.

Substitute the word “loving” for “kind” and I think he has it exactly right. Perhaps being loving is the church’s reaction to a culture of cynicism, but what Lencioni sees missing is direct constructive criticism.

Typically, we let our criticism swirl unchecked in our thoughts, brewing poison which often spills over into conversation with confidants and at some point boils into confrontation that can no longer be loving. That was not Paul’s intent when he told the Ephesians to be “speaking the truth in love,” resulting in a body of Christ that “builds itself up in love as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:15-16).

We are to love each other enough to tell each other the sorts of things everyone needs to hear so as not to go on hurting ourselves and others. We need to do this readily, directly and measured by the standard of truth we hold in common – God’s Word. To do that we must have previously established personal loving relationships with one another so the other person knows where we’re coming from and that we welcome the same sort of critique from them.

We need to constantly remind each other who we really are.

Scripture clearly tells us we have zero right or reason to deserve membership in God’s family. Underneath the façade, we are all sinners … failures at life. As we admit that, we gain God’s grace and the fellowship of other equally unworthy members worshiping together in our local churches. Is it not, then, absurd that we ever take offense when someone points to any of our shortcomings? How can we be so sensitive to criticism? Having gained entrance to this community of totally unworthy souls, we somehow feel the need to build a case for our own righteousness and worth to God and God’s people. It is as if we somehow decide we have no continuing, absolute need of God’s grace.

Yes, the church needs to get better at criticism – giving and receiving it – in love.

David Goodman
David Goodmanhttp://www.entrust4.org/about/staff/goodman
David was born on the mission field in Cameroon, Africa, spending his childhood in the Central African Republic, so he understands missionary life by personal experience. He and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 41 years and have three adult children. He has served in a variety of pastoral positions in local churches, and was for thirteen years the senior pastor of Winnetka Bible Church in Winnetka, Illinois. Not only has he worked in local churches, he has also been the International Vice President of T-Net International where he equipped and mobilized U.S. pastors to train pastor trainers in countries throughout the world. David also served as Senior Associate: Strategic Enterprise for TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition) just before coming to Entrust. In September 2009, David assumed the role of President at Entrust, headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO. He is called to Entrust to serve a creative, collaborative ministry team that glorifies God in producing pastors and church leaders who lead others to fullness of life in Christ. David and Nancy enjoy the adventure of exploring new places, new ideas and other cultures. Entrust has been equipping servant-leaders for over 30 years by building training systems that are locally sustainable from the start. These systems are built with transferability in mind so that the training multiplies (2 Tim. 2:2)—taking seriously the fact that the church in parts of the world is growing faster than the leadership. Entrust reaches out to church leaders where the need is greatest. We currently serve in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and are pursuing opportunities in East Asia, India and Latin America.

2 COMMENTS

  1. If you are open to some feedback… One of the most upbuilding ways to ‘critique’ another is to simply ask them if they are open to feedback. If they say yes, you have enabled them to open the way to their improvement. If they say no, they are not open to it anyway and it will most likely fall on deaf ears. All this of course functions best in humility and ongoing relationships.

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