I’ve been around the church my whole life.

My dad is a Minister, and so I grew up going to church on Sunday and youth on Wednesday nights. You could say that church is kind of ‘in my blood’.

I love the church. I know that Jesus does. He gave Himself for her. Over the years I’ve seen so many lives wonderfully changed, because when the church is at it’s best there’s nothing like it.

And yet, I’ve also seen wonderful people really hurt in the church. Abused, manipulated, controlled, and used. I’ve seen amazing people in various places burned out by the church.

It really bugs me.

It makes me angry.

Why can the church be such a force for good on one hand, and yet hurt so many people on the other? As a leader in a local church myself, I’ve pondered this many times. My conclusion is really simple: If it’s not love, it’s not Jesus. I don’t care how gifted a leader is, if he doesn’t love the people he leads, something’s wrong. No matter how openly someone might be telling you things ‘you need to hear’, if they’re not speaking the truth from a place of love, It’s not helping. No matter how gifted and useful you might be to the local church vision, if it’s not accompanied by love, you’re just being used. Church without love is a worthless shell.(1 Corinthians 13)

Of course, this is a two-way street. We shouldn’t only assess whether others are loving us appropriately. We also need to assess whether we ourselves are truly loving others. If you lead a team, serve on a team, or simply attend a church regularly, you need to know that love is your motivation.

Now the problem is that some people will always accuse you of not loving them enough. “There’s no love in this church” is an accusation levelled against many a leader who has gone out of their way to love somone, but has now tried to add some real leadership to that love. Unfortunately that just goes with the job.

Nobody said that love was easy. But it is oh-so-necessary. Jesus said that everything boils down to loving God and loving others.(Matt 22:37-40) Without love, he’s nowhere to be seen.