Matthew 16:18 (ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
I confess that I love the church and the people of God, how can I not? They are my Lord and Saviors children. I also confess that I do not always like the church or what is going on in it. My heart, however, when it is said and done is pro-church and therefore pro-people of God.
I am concerned about what is going on today throughout the world of the church. Statistically, there seems to be a very real departure or exodus of people from what has been frequently referred to as the Institutional (IC) or Organized Church (OC). Now what I can surmise from this term as it is being used over the web is that we are speaking of any church that has its own church building, which is dedicated to the purpose of being, doing and having church with those who enter within. It can refer to denominational churches, regardless of the denomination. It can also refer to those who belong to or are a part of these churches. This seems too broad for me and evades the complexity of what it is that truly is the Body of Christ.
Now I may not be exactly accurate on this, but as I read what has been said around the web, this is where I end up. There seems to be little differentiating between churches or kinds of churches; leadership issues bad and good, church forms bad and good, etc. There just seems to be these broad sweeping generalizations in regards to the Institutional Church and those within them. These broad strokes of the brush, paint pictures of sameness with very little effort given to identifying what it is that is seen as the specific issues or problems, where they exist (except in the broad sweep of the Institutional Church or Organizational Church), why they exist, where they don’t exist (except outside of IC/OC), and how best to overcome these issues, except to throw out everything and start over. In other words, if you are a part of the “Institutional Church or Organized Church”, then you are a part of the problem no matter what.
I truly believe the church, the Body of Christ Jesus, where it is genuinely needed to be saved, is indeed worth saving. As a result of this conviction, I have given my life to working with churches, ministries and leadership in crisis, transition, and those in plain need of change, etc. I have heard these broad sweeping generalizations for a long time from within existing churches and outside. Admittedly they often come from hurt, disillusionment, bitterness, resentment, frustration, etc. but this does not diminish them or their need to be heard. I readily agree that there are some very real problems generally within many and various churches, and church organizations, etc. throughout the world. After all of these years of working with the church frequently at its worst and all too frequently becoming the target of this very hurt, anger and pain, I still believe that these issues are all resolvable, redeemable, reformable, fixable and I am not convinced that we need to throw out the baby with the dirty bath water. I do believe that we have a lot of work to do. The question is, are we willing to do the work that is needed, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ? There seems to be all too few who truly are, genuinely.
My concern regarding the church is at least threefold: 1) We do have serious issues that we need to come to grips with; 2) There remain those within the church at large who are still out of touch with this; 3) It has become too easy for many to just quit and walk away, and all too often, taking the problems with them.
In part, the walking away, I think is a reflection of our culture. The New Testament word for “church” is ekkleesia, which means “the called out ones.” So, when we come to the New Testament, we discover that ekkleesia is used of the community of God’s people some 109 times (out of 114 occurrences of the term). Although the word only occurs in two Gospel passages (Matt 16:18; 18:17), it is of special importance in Acts (23 times) and the Pauline writings (46 times). It is found twenty times in Revelation and only in isolated instances in James and Hebrews. We may broach the subject of the biblical teaching on the church by drawing three general conclusions from the data so far. First, is that ekkleesia predominantly (both in the singular and plural) applies to a local assembly of those who profess faith in and allegiance to Christ Jesus. Second, ekkleesia designates the universal church (Acts 8:3; 9:31; 1 Cor 12:28; 15:9; especially in the later Pauline letters, Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:18). Third, the ekkleesia is God’s congregation (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; etc. and not ours).
So as we consider the whole idea of church you will discover that the church is plural in that it is made up of community. You cannot be the church as an individual. The Church is the assembly (plural) of the called out ones. It is not the person, who is called out as the church. It is the individuals called out together as a community from the world and unto the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the whole concept of the ekkleesia is built upon the idea of community or relationships. Our culture has become that which reflects the idea of, “if you don’t like what is going on in a relationship, go find another one”. Just look at the divorce or abandonment statistics within and without the church. People rarely are willing to fight for their marriage, friendships, families, to the point of restoration and reconciliation, etc. I find that they are willing to fight, with each other or others, but not truly for the reconciliation of those relationships and this is all too clear in the Church as well.
2 Cor 5:18-21 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation ; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation . 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
NT:2644 Reconciliation: to reestablish proper friendly interpersonal relations after these have been disrupted or broken (the componential features of this series of meanings involve (1) disruption of friendly relations because of (2) presumed or real provocation, (3) overt behavior designed to remove hostility, and (4) restoration of original friendly relations) – ‘to reconcile, to make things right with one another, reconciliation.’ 
I am not some idealist. I have been fighting this battle for the church and the people of God in the trenches for a very long time. I too have wanted to quit and give up, especially after the last church we worked with and after 35 plus years of fighting these battles, across this country. However, when is all said and done I simply cannot quit. The Lord Jesus saved me out of my deep-seated hatred for the church, its people and its leadership (a whole other story) and placed me within His Body that I might, by the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, see His health and healing come to His Church and His people (Jer 33:6 ESV), that His witness might truly be seen in and before the world. Hatred, anger, frustration and resentment is all too easy; criticism, negativity and just plain quitting is all too easy. Reconciliation isn’t always easy. In fact it is often just plain hard and requires a lot of grace, faith, hope, love and lots of hard work.
However, Reconciliation is the ministry of the Kingdom. This is who we are in the Lord Jesus Christ and to this each and every believer has been called. Yes, we have all been given the ministry of reconciliation; all of us who are called by the name of the Lord Jesus. I know that this text in Corinthians above is speaking of reconciling the world to the Lord, however if we are not walking out genuine reconciliation with each other, then our witness before the world if not the witness of Christ Jesus and the purpose for which he came, which was and is to reconcile the world to himself, and it is thus compromised through us. If we are not being reconciled to each other, living out the Kingdom reality of His reconciliation on a daily basis, are we then truly reconciled to the Lord Jesus? There is not enough room here to cover everything that needs to said, but there is enough room to try to stir up our hearts to the job that truly needs to done.
There is just too much yet to do and if I become like those who are bailing or jumping ship, standing in judgment, criticism and negativity towards and concerning the church, Institutional or otherwise, then I simply become a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. The world needs to see Jesus. We are His Body in the world; this means the world can only see Jesus where, his body is genuinely reflecting him. We cannot reflect him where we are moving in an opposite spirit than that which is his, as revealed in our tearing each other apart, breaking fellowship with each other, opposing one another, constantly jumping ship just because things are seemingly too hard and no longer functioning as we want or demand that they function.
Talk can be very helpful as a step in the healing and restoration process, but if talk is all there is, if there isn’t the very hard and sometimes very painful work of overcoming the problems in Christ Jesus within the church and the people of God, then all of the talk is just that, talk. If our faith isn’t genuinely moving out of a love for the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Body, in all of its diversity, in sickness and health, in good times and bad, in poverty and wealth, then at best we’re just seeking to serve ourselves and not one another. We have problems in the Body of Christ to be sure. Some of these issues are difficult to deal with and comprehend. Regardless, there is a lot we can in Christ Jesus do to see these needed changes come to pass. If only we together, are willing to lay down our lives, for one another, that Christ Jesus, in spirit and in truth, might be seen in, to and through us all, before a lost and dying world!
Is the church truly worth saving? Absolutely! You were, even at your absolute worst. How more so is that which is called to reflect Him in and before a dying world.