This article will be a bit barbed, but I do this when defending a woman that is being mistreated.
Over the last several days the article “Dear Church, Here Is Why People Are REALLY Leaving You” has repeatedly cycled through my sprawling array of social media feeds (Oh Ryan Howard where is WUPHF.com when I need it most?). I have seen people I love “Like” it and people I like “LOVE” it, but I have contemplated it. Now if I were simply mining the article for anecdotal nuggets I would say there is much to be mined, but taken on the whole I feel like it’s giving me the shaft without any real gold in the mine – and yes, the double entendre is implied.
In the big picture the thrust of the article appears to be saying – as far as I can surmise – “Yes Church I’m leaving you. And yes it’s me, but it’s more you because you don’t accept me for me like you should.” Now I’m not going to argue for a minute that this doesn’t happen (though I actually think a whole lot less, or a whole lot less dramatically than articles like this make it should). However, my bigger concern is that the article itself is an exercise in the very thing criticized, and brazenly so. For as much as some churches out there may not take people where they are at, there are far more people who don’t take churches where they are at. Every week people leave a church for innumerable reasons, but the commonality is some element of “this church isn’t doing it for us.” It’s a break-up with that particular church because it lacks or does something that causes them to “find another” a bit more worthy. However, in the case of this article it appears the rejection is so deep it’s “The Church” that is left, not just a church. And at the core of that issue is far more than merely calling the kettle black, it’s sinners calling sinners sinners for sinfully not loving sinners, sinfully. Yes, read it five times and it will fall together.
So then the innate question, the “what would Jesus ask?” question is, “Who is prepared to love first, to love selfless and to love someone or a group of some ones right where they are at?” The low truth is that there is no red-letter high ground in saying, “I’m rejecting you because you are more broken than me and don’t see it.” Those who think they can love better, judge less and care more should actually model the solution for a broken church in the church. This is particularly true in light of the reality that at the deepest level, people who reject church for rejecting people are inherently rejecting people themselves. Churches are not computers run by algorithms and automation. When people leave churches they are leaving swaths of individuals. Every time people have left our church because they were hurt, I deal with others whom are hurt by the hurt people leaving. And no wonder, people who leave are not just leaving an organization. It’s people who design the programs you deem shallow, it’s people who have the attitudes you consider hypocritical, it’s people who set the priorities you reckon as greedy, it’s people who get bogged down in the biases you hold as judgmental, judgmentally and yes, might I actually say it’s people who struggle with same problems of sin as you, the more enlightened sinner, who advances the broad brushed intolerant narrative that the real problem with “The Church” is that it isn’t as tolerant as you.
- You, the self admitted sinner who fights for the worth of other sinners you deem worthy, by condemning sinners you find to be undeserving.
- You, who restrict your illuminated grace because you believe they express only institutional grace.
- You, the one who has exchanged an eye for an eye, hurt for hurt and rejection for rejection by feeling slapped, slapping back and then accusing The Church of not turning the other cheek.
- You, who stand in an ebony tower of judgment, condemning those in their ivory towers for being judgmental.
Perhaps most problematic is that the only one who is truly grieved in all of this is probably Jesus. He is working with eternal grace to present His Church – His Girl – without spot or blemish, but you keep pointing out all her flaws and inadequacy. You breed her insecurity through your criticism. She chases after new, flashy and shallow because you remind her she isn’t beautiful. Don’t keep telling her she is shallow, broken, unattractive and bitchy. Stop shamming her for not being the perfect 10. Woo her, esteem her, meet her where she is at and respect her for the sole reason that Jesus loves her and rescued her as His most treasured possession.
Yes, the Church is a Gomer, but she is Jesus’ Gomer. So start treating her like the lady Jesus endures with, not as an establishment you rate on a five star system and then tack on a review.
8 thoughts on “Dear Church, We’re REALLY REALLY Leaving You Because You’re Too Sinful And Not Worthy Of Our Grace.”
The meme and response remind me of a divorced couple that can’t let go of the pain and so can’t let go of each other. I think the world stands by and watches with a sort of painful fascination until it just looks insane.
I am weary of the broken telling the Fellowship of Cracked Pots that they are too broken for them to share in their brokenness any longer only to go off to the Done with Church folks and break in loneliness or slide in the abyss of cultural relativity.
Thanks for saying out loud what I think and yet I pray that I will love those who depart and wait like Luke 15 for the prodigal return. I want to be watching, not judging. Ready to run towards not away from those who are ready to walk in the Light.
Well said Pastor Matt – We are broken people trying to minister to broken people.
I am not endorsing everything in the article in question. Nor am I endorsing everyone who has ever left a church. Nor am I advocating the abandonment of The Church. But, having said that, of all the responses I’ve seen from those who are in the church (all of which have been written by those who make their living in the church), none say anything like, “you have some valid points that we really need to think about and address.” Instead, all that I’ve seen follow the line I heard from quite a few abusive pastors over the years. (No, not all pastors or churches are abusive!) It goes something like this. “We, of course, are sinful like you, and it is unfair and ungodly for you to expect us to be otherwise. But, you’re approach to confronting our sin is itself sinful, and, in fact, a much bigger issue than anything you have pointed out. It is actually the only real issue on the table. And, until you correct it, we are unwilling to do anything whatsoever to address your concerns.” So, while I appreciate the extremely high value of the church and do agree that there are many leaving in the wrong way, or for wrong reasons, I’m saddened that the only (public) response I’ve seen to any of the concerns raised by some who are leaving is that of counter-confrontation. If I had a friend that always responded to confrontation with confrontation I would likely not regard her as a friend for very long.
read the first article and struggled with it but for different reasons…
struggle with this one too… I agree we are to honor the Bride of Christ, but this does not include failing to point out errors and where we are amiss… Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom does this in the letters to the 7 churches in the Revelation… “nevertheless, I have this against you…”
We honor the Bride by helping her to live up to the potential and destiny God gave her… not by ignoring where we as the Bride are falling short… He is worthy of a Bride, free from spot and wrinkle, a Bride that is holy and pure… and the Revelation says… and the Bride has made herself ready… so Church, let’s get to work getting the Bride ready, with the help of the Holy Spirit..
This article reminded me of my Evangelical background. The “Church” is used as an abstract concept of vaguely defined Protestant groups; groups that when they are rejected, choose to shame the person rejecting them instead of taking a hard look at themselves. They invoke the name of “God” and express His judgment though that may not be how God is feeling. And how many of these imaginary condemnations might be cleared up if we chose to assess our own hearts and take the plank out of our own eye instead of trying to stone everyone who rejects us?