Churches are more fragile than we often realize. Leaders stumble and struggle. Pastors get sick. Natural disasters strike. Relationships go awry. Communities rapidly change.
Local church fragility is not limited to struggling churches. Even healthy churches are fragile. Even churches that are built on the Word and not a personality or program are more delicate than we often admit.
The fragility of a local church is intentional because God does not need any of us, or a collection of any of us, to accomplish His purposes. In His grace, He invites us to join Him—but He does not need us. His plan is bigger than any of us. As Matt Chandler reminds us, “The man goes in the ground, and the message goes on.”
The apostle Paul wrote of our fragility:
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
We are mere jars of clay honored to carry the treasure—the good news of Jesus. But the power is in the news, not in us. We are really frail.
At the same time, the Church is not fragile at all. Christ will keep Her till the end. She will continue to advance as God rescues more and more people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. She is unstoppable and the gates of Hades will not be able to overcome her (Matthew 16:18). Local churches will come and go, but the Church will stand.
Church leaders, we should embrace our fragility, realizing that it is only His grace and His message that allow a church to serve a community well.