The scriptures encourage us to “examine ourselves.” Critiquing would be a synonym for examining. We need to examine our lives, and events in our lives, in order to get their fullest meaning. If our lives were examined in the biblical sense, we would end up with fewer divorces, more sustained marriages, a richer quality of fellowship, and more significant and effective service for the Lord. There is an examining that is godly. Something of an expansive kind happens in critiquing ourselves, or a fellowship, that enlarges our spirits, and we do not fall back again to where we were before. There is a disposition that comes into us because we now see life through new lenses.
How then should we be examining our church life? We should be asking ourselves: What is the condition of our church life? What is the fellowship’s deepest need? On hearing a sermon from the pulpit, to what degree was that need touched or addressed? What do we know about God that we did not know before? What better sense do we have of Him? To what degree was there an anointing on the speaker? To what degree was the preaching of the Cross expressed or represented? How do we feel about the format and the conduct of our services? What about its leadership or elders? Are the people responsive to the word spoken? Does the format of the fellowship hinder the full expression of God’s life? What about the children, and the necessity of programs for them? How were the public expressions from the leaders of the fellowship? Were they supportive and flowing with what was taking place? Could they have been more assertive, and call their flock to attention to that word and the requirement of it? Was there harmony and agreement among the elders? What was the reaction of the people after the sermon? Was it contrary to the spirit of the message? How much is lost in the word after the sermon? Does the preacher want people to go home happy? Can the church not bear the tensions of the faith and go home pondering? This raises the issue of the Cross. There needs to be a greater tolerance for suffering of an unresolved thing that is not going to take place in one meeting. Do we want convenience? Do we want the word of God, and how badly?