• Joseph Durso

The Search for a Healthy Church - Part 1

Not I But Christ

It is not easy for me to write about the church for two reasons. First, ordinary people are no better at rising above the temptations that take others off the path of overcoming misdirection. Second, it is easy to err and divine to forgive. Forgiveness is the hallmark of a Christian. If anything in this blog appears to be unforgiving, please forgive me.

In the seventies, attending an assembly of believers was one of my most joyful experiences. By the eighties looking at the indifferent began to crush my soul. The nineties brought seeker sensitivity and the rise of entertainment as my soul began to sink lower and lower.

As an assistant pastor in a local church where many people had previously been addicts, it seemed a waste not to use their testimonies to speak to others. I shared my ideas with a group of people and asked them to set out in the deep water and believe God with me to do something special. Over forty people and many couples agreed to volunteer their time should the school system agree.

I Attended a parent-teacher meeting and shared my ideas, not hiding the fact that we were part of a church. Sitting across from a teacher, she looked directly at me and said, "This will never happen." I had no reply but thought, "You don't know who I know." Six months later, sitting before the head of all Baltimore and Anne Arundel public schools, I was given full access to all Middle and High schools, Magnets included.

I leaned in at one point and said to her, "Did you hear that we are part of a church?" She said, "I don't care where you are from, you don't understand how great is the need." I spoke and shared a video about the deception of getting away with drug use and immorality, followed by the real-life stories from men and women, some of which were even on the street for decades.

Toward the end of my stay at that church, I held another meeting and suggested pairing up as accountability partners. A young woman wanted to pair up with me but I did not believe that to be prudent so I said no. However, sitting in the chapel, she shared her story of giving in to temptation after being pressured by someone for a couple of years while in AA. As always, I suggested complete separation, repentance, and that she seek cleansing from the blood of Christ. The following week under the counsel of other leaders in the church, the man made a profession of faith, and they were quickly married.

A couple of years after leaving the church, my wife met her at a woman's conference. Already divorced, she said, "Tell your husband I am so sorry I did not take his counsel, it would have saved me so much pain and grief." It is not pleasant or easy to serve in an unhealthy church.