John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

The Two-Faced Church

Most of the time we use the phrase "two-faced" in a negative fashion. It means a person is one way when they're with one group of people and another way when they're with a different group of people. It can mean hypocritical or inconsistent. And there are lots of people in lots of churches who fit that description.

But that's not what I'm talking about here. I think there is a sense in which a healthy church must have two faces, two sides, two identities.

On the one hand, the church is supposed to be holy, made up of a holy people committed to living holy lives, called out from the world and set apart for a special purpose. It's supposed to be special and peculiar and different. Outsiders could look at us and think, "Those folks are odd -- just plain weird."

On the other hand, the church is supposed to be worldly, constantly going throughout the world, rolling up its sleeves and getting involved in the pain and mess of others. It's supposed to be made up of regular people with regular struggles. Outsiders could look at us and think, "They're just like me -- they have the same problems."

This is what Bonhoeffer (I think) called "holy worldliness".

But pendulums are tricky things, aren't they? It's nearly impossible to keep them from swinging wildly from side-to-side.

Which side of the pendulum do you think your church is right now? Is it more concentrated on being holy and set apart? Or is it more concerned with being connected to the world?

Follow Up Question: In your opinion, is one side of the pendulum better than the other?