There are people that seem to love hating on the current corporate practice of Christianity, and there are those who seem to want to hear no critiques on the subject at all, as Michael DeFazio seems to here. Many of us, though, are probably somewhere in between: seeing much in American congregational Christianity that needs to change, but also wanting to not tear down without also building up.
So what to do? Should we bash the current practice of Christianity, or not? Should we refuse to hear anything negative, plugging our ears and hiding our eyes from the many flawed practices we participate in, or should we listen to critique and make appropriate changes?
I propose there are three ways to critique the "Church" and stay positive:
1) Identify Exactly What You Are Critiquing
When you critique the "Church," are you referring to the people or the practice? Most people I've encountered use the word Church to define both the people who practice congregational Christianity and the institutional practices themselves (add in the use of the word "Church" as the building, and the confusion multiplies...alas, I digress). This leads critics of the practice of Christianity to hostility toward the practitioners of Christianity, and defenders of the people to also defend the practices by default. But the practice of Christianity and the people who practice are not the same, and defense or critique of one does not necessitate defense or criticism of the other.
2) If You Are Critiquing the Practice of Christianity, Get Specific and Offer New Practices
What practice needs to change? Perhaps it is a perpetual attitude of exclusion toward a group of people. Perhaps it's the use of money to make the rich richer instead of the hungry fed or the sick well. Perhaps it's the same people doing all the work and others never serving. These are all practices that can change, but it's difficult to stop a practice without putting something else in its place.
Maybe instead of excluding the Baptists or the Lutherans or the Catholics, offer to hold a joint service, sharing your practices and learning about theirs. Or maybe a dinner during which you serve those "others." If you want to change your own attitude of misunderstanding or disagreement, nothing does the trick quite as well as serving the other in love. Perhaps that's why Jesus said we're to love our enemies.
If it's the use of money that needs to change, suggestions must be appropriate to your congregation. Maybe there's room for a new donation box to feeding the hungry and helping the poor. One congregation I recently heard about donates all non-designated funds to various missions. Only designated funds go to the facility and paid staff. How well would that idea go over in a leadership meeting? Maybe none of these would work in your congregation. Relocation to a different group of believers then becomes the best option.
Some doing all the work and others none at all? Here's a radical idea: stop all of the services you can't get people to volunteer for. Sure, you won't have a nursery, children's ministry, or food pantry for a few weeks (or maybe forever), but the point would be made: ministry is for everyone, not for a few.
3) If You Are Critiquing the People Who Practice Christianity, Be Cautious and Gracious
It's easy to see flaws in people, especially people who are supposed to know better. But alas, people live their lives in selfishness, attachment to things, and ill-content, even when they call themselves Christians.
If we're looking for flawless people to hang out with, we'll be pretty lonely. But if we're already in a local congregation, is an important division to keep in mind. In our congregations, we will run into (1) people we disagree with, or are irritating, or don't meet our expectations, and then we will run into (2) abusive people, and people who harm our spiritual lives, and people who violently malign the name of the one they claim to follow.
If the people in your congregation are predominantly group one, stick with them. Love them. Listen to them. Serve them. Change your expectations. People are people, and there's no good reason we can't learn to get along. However, if the people in your congregation are predominantly group two, it's time to find a new congregation. Our job is to love everyone we can, not to allow abuse in the name of Jesus.
Critiquing the Church can lead to misunderstanding and pain, but it can also lead to a healthy spirituality, great friendships, and a corporate practice that benefits you and others.
Don't give up critiquing the Church; what is good and loving and true will stand, and what is not needs to change.