Church Is Fragile and Other Things I Wished I Had Known

By Shauna Pilgreen

November 06, 2013 by Shauna Pilgreen

I wish I had known how fragile church can be.

We’ve been on staff for years when there has always been a senior staff or lead pastor who felt this more than us. But in starting a church, in being married to the lead pastor, I wish I had a clue into how fragile the church can be.

How sensitive. How precious. How delicate

Not that His Church can break. For even the gates of hell can’t prevail that! I’m thinking more along the lines of circumstances of the people. The very lives of those who come.

Heartbreak. Loneliness. Depression. Guilt. Shame. 

People who have been hurt by the church and people within hurting others within. Unhealthy relationships that need to end and you’re the one who’s called to speak into the situation.
The church is fragile and must be handled with care. I love the picture of holding a rare, one-of-a-kind porcelain teacup and saucer in the palm of your hand. There’s not another one like it. It’s intricately hand painted. I believe that’s a picture of His Church that we as pastor’s wives are privileged to delicately hold. To lavishly love. To generously pour into. To relentlessly pray and live grace before them.

It’s not really the little song done with all ten fingers. Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the door and there are all the people. Had I known, I would have loved the people more delicately and prayed for our senior leadership more fervently.

I wish I had known that taking risks would be fun.

I like instruction books. It starts with the picture of all the tools and materials included and then begins to list in methodical order what needs to happen next. I like that you can take a good look at the last page knowing what the outcome of your project will be. However, this is boring! It’s comfortable and certain, but boring. If I had known that taking a risk would be this exhilarating, I would have lived quite differently in my teens and twenties. It was far more manageable to watch someone else take the risk and then decide if I’d follow suit, than to step out in faith first or solo. Truth be told, it’s in the risk taking, where faith is exhibited. Faith is a risk. It’s trusting God in the unseen. And that’s the abundant life we’re called to enjoy!

I wish I had known that learning wasn’t tied to a thick college textbook.

I thought all intelligent answers were found on a page in a textbook. And the spiritual me thought all good answers were found in the Bible. I was the pastor’s kid who wasn’t the rebel. I know…surprise. But I was that other pastor’s kid who was looked to for the right answers and eventually, the youth leadership, and then the missionary badge. I could give the right answers with the best of them, but, I wish I had known that far more learning takes place outside the classroom, outside the walls of the church. I wish I had known that ministry wasn’t in studying those that lived on the other side of the train tracks, but in going to them. It’s the application where learning takes shape. It’s in the doing and the applying. It’s in the failing and the getting back up. It’s in the small victories and the beautiful successes. It’s in the bottom of the pit and the top of the mountain.     

Published November 6, 2013

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Shauna Pilgreen

Shauna is married to Ben Pilgreen, pastor of Epic Church in San Francisco, CA. They have busy 3 boys and are in process of adopting a precious girl from India. Shauna loves exploring her city, engaging in her community, and encouraging women. Join her on her blog at where she shares how their family lives out the Gospel in the place they call home.