Church Sucks!

Church Sucks Mr. BeanNot too long ago, a family entered our church lobby looking fairly stressed. Having had a few fights on my way to church over the years, I understand the potential for family tension on the way to worship. It also seems that Murphy’s Law is extremely active when people are on their way to something that’s good for them.

As I smiled and said, “Hello” to this family, one of their kids (a junior high boy) said under his breath, “Church sucks!” From the look his mother gave him, I suspect he was grounded for a long time following that comment. Unfortunately, the dad almost winked at him as if to say, “I understand how you feel son; I don’t want to be here either!”

As you can imagine, this is not a great confidence booster for pastors.

You see, for pastors, church is like the Super Bowl, except it happens every Sunday. We love it! We’re excited to connect with our community of faith. We look forward to investing in the lives of people we love. So when they don’t show up, or worse yet, they show up with an attitude, it’s hard for us to understand.

Sure, at times I’ve left after a service and thought, that sucked, but that feeling is reserved for those times when I felt like I’d bombed. Generally, however, church refreshes my soul, and I leave thankful for what God did in our midst.

Guitarist on stage for background, soft and blur concept

So what’s going on? Why the growing attitude by some (many?) about Church?

  • Perhaps some have developed a consumerism mentality. For them, church is about being entertained or having their needs met. So if they don’t like the songs, the volume, the message, the room temperature, or whatever, they get irritated.

  • Perhaps some are too busy, and other things matter more. They’ll show up only if their kids don’t have a soccer game, they’re not up too late on Saturday night, their favorite sports team isn’t playing, it’s not too cold or snowy (you wouldn’t want to die on your way to church!), or it’s not too nice and sunny (why waste a gorgeous day inside?).

  • Perhaps some have convinced themselves that they don’t have to go to church to be a part of the Church. They think: I’ll watch it later online, or I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.

  • Perhaps their church really does suck and is a waste of time.

(Congratulations if you’re still reading this blog! Hopefully, that means you care about this thing called the Church of Christ.)

Leaving Me Church

Can I suggest a few things for your consideration?

1.    It’s not just about you.

Of course, every pastor hopes you will be blessed and personally encouraged at church, but what if that song you dislike is a favorite of someone else and just what they needed? The message on any given Sunday may be “old news” to you, but what if it’s just what Dr. Jesus ordered for someone else?

By the way, when a church tries to be everything for everybody it rarely is anything good for anybody.

Here’s a radical idea: What if you went to church praying, “Jesus, what can I say or do today in church to demonstrate what You have done for me, and how can I be a blessing to others today?” What if you went with a serving attitude rather than worrying about what you’ll get out of it? Isn’t it more blessed to give than to receive?

old man looking scared or crazy

2.    Church should involve sacrifice.

For hundreds and hundreds of years, the Jews understood coming to the tabernacle or temple as an act of sacrifice. It cost them time, energy and money to participate in worship. Sometimes they traveled great distances. And they always brought the best of the best to offer in grateful sacrifice to God. King David once said in 1 Chronicles 21:24 (NIV), “I will not . . . sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 (VOICE), “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Some might argue that Jesus was talking about the kingdom, not the church. Uh . . . He created the Church and without a doubt He and His followers would absolutely include the community of faith in God’s kingdom.

Frankly, when we place other things, other activities (like choosing sports over church) or even more sleep above gathering together as His bride, we are simply not putting His kingdom first. People make time for the things and activities they value most.

I Believe Baseball Kid

3.    Being a Christian involves being in community.

Yes, church is more than just an hour on Sunday. And yes, I suppose you can be a Christian without going to a church service. But going to church matters. You truly can’t and shouldn’t do your faith alone.

We need each other. We need to sit next to others who are very different from us yet have the same Spirit inside. We need to join our voices together in song and praise. We need to be refreshed and refueled by the teaching of the Word through the pastor God has placed in our lives. We need to serve others. We need to understand that God never condones isolation. We need to prioritize in our lives the gathering of the saints. We need to make church not about our convenience but all about a sacrifice of love for the One who sacrificed His all for us.

I don’t care if you meet in a home, a garage, a tent, a stain-glassed cathedral or a former K-Mart! But if all of the above is not happening in your life on a regular basis and in whatever church you’re a part of, then you’re missing it.

C

By the way, if your church actually does suck, then find one where you can whole-heartedly engage, and stop making excuses for staying in bed on Sunday.

For the first century Christians, and even in most of the 20th century, church was at the center of community for believers. Instead of attending 2-3 times a month, the first church worshiped daily (Acts 2:46-47). I, and maybe many of you, grew up attending church 2-3 times a week.

Sure, the culture has changed, but I humbly suggest that we still need the influence and encouragement that best comes through a community of like-minded believers. Frankly, we need each other now more than ever.

Let us consider how to inspire each other

to greater love and to righteous deeds,

 not forgetting to gather as a community,

as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other,

especially as the day of His return approaches.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (VOICE)

PIAD Front Panel Epic Grace Cover High ResIf you like this blog about the church, you may find either of these two books of interest. Click here to order or here to find out more about them on Amazon.

21 Responses to Church Sucks!

  1. Hey Cousin,
    Can you hear my loud amen from clear down here in Salem?! You so expressed what I believe is God’s heart for us.
    Really enjoying your “Mr & Mrs” book. I bought for us and each of our kids for Valentines. With 8 kids that’s saying something! Appreciate your wise and honest words.
    Love you and believe in you!
    Cindy

  2. So, so true! I know when I start feeling grumbly on Sundays because something isn’t “my” way, I need to check myself. Church isn’t about me, though it benefits me. It’s about God. When we go with that in mind, it’s amazing how He meets us right where we are! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to share this with my readers.

    • Very true, Mel, LOVE how God meets us where we’re at…it’s His heart for us…all we have to do is let Him embrace us…and that embrace often comes through His body. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I used to have that attitude for many reasons in past years about Church. But now coming back to my faith one thing I have noticed with all the churches I have attended is that people are beyond broken a lot of them with burnt bridges within life alone. Most people want to feel that LOVE and if not, why not go spend time and money other than at Church. I once was this way but all it took was that one time to really be embraced by His LOVE. East Point and Kurt you guys are in a very tender place in my heart because that LOVE happened in that very building. Kayla and I are now striving forward with our Lords Will and I want you guys to know that your very much loved in our hearts. We where so broken then and through you and the Church by love we started to heal. Thank you! And in these times may we focus on love and Love alone for He is all we will ever need. May the Lord Bless you and the Church in these times of need.

  4. Good article. I have to say that a lot of this is due to the perception that the church has gained over the last probably 40 years or so. Mega churches have popped up and more and more we tend to think that the size of the church is directly related to the “successfulness” of it. But in Matt 18 Jesus says where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name there I am in the mist of them. So obviously Jesus makes it clear that size is not the key. But in John 13 Jesus says “they will know by the love you have for one another.”
    It seems in today’s 30 second society, “churches” have forgotten what “to love” truly requires. It’s a commitment to one another, through hard times and easy times. Today changing churches is like changing relationships. If it doesn’t work, find a new one.
    But if we can show the world who we are by the love we have for each other, then longing, empty hearts will be drawn to it like moths to light. And when someone wants to be part of something, it changes their attitude towards it. Church no longer “sucks”, it’s where you truly want to be. The perception of church totally changes.

  5. Kurt, your post will give insights to other communicators for Christ and also Christian poets and writers who want their poems and writings to draw people back to Christ and the church. To encourage other members of our Facebook group to read this, I’ll highlight your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog http://www.christianpoetsandwriters.com. May God continue to bless you and your ministry in Jesus’ Name.

  6. Hey Kurt! I know I haven’t been attending Eastpoint for a while, but I still love to read your blogs and hear from you. This is a great word, especially since hearing our pastor at Cheney Faith Center talk about church being the body of Christ and when we talk about it sucking we’re kind of telling God what He has for us just isn’t good enough, and we want more. Maybe that’s not what God has planned. It made me think about actually hurting God when I’m focusing more on being pleased with the service, when that’s not what the service is about anyway, it’s about praising God. So, thank you for sharing! You rock, Kurt!

    Sarah Hoaglan (Peyron)

  7. Church is a gift from God for the family of God. It is the church that Jesus is building and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.It is the place for us to go and have the chance to worship with other like minded folks and hear from Gods word. If we make a habit of doing this say 48 times in a year we will look back and see how this discipline has nourished us and changed our hearts and lives. We have given ourselves a chance to be around a group of people that are also trying to have a better life so we discover we aren’t alone in the challenges of life. We look back and discover through our connection to the church our needs are being met and we have the blessing of being able to give some of the goodness away because we now have plenty. I have never went to church and not come away better for it even when I didn’t feel like getting up the day.

  8. Thanks, Kurt! You hit the nail on the head!! (I can say that because my thick skull deserves to be hammered every now and then.)

    Jesus served, taught & worshiped in community … following our leader’s faithful example is (at least) as important now as it was 2,000 years ago.

    Blake

  9. Dear Sir,
    You might actually be one of the good ones. They come so few and far between these days, however I have actively kept my children from church after a few bad experiences and when they were in their teens allowed them to go with friends as they wished.
    Unfortunately we have ministers who only want the money. They make it very uncomfortable for parishioners who do not give what the deem their time is worth even though factories in the area closed ect. leading to a slow economy and then there are the ones who use it to hunt children for their own unchristian vises. I suppose I do not have to mention here what those could be.
    And then there are those who wish to tell me how to raise my children while allowing their own to run wild which I do not appreciate. None of this has anything to do with the congregation or the lessons in Sunday school. Church isn’t like it was when I was a kid. We were a community and it was fun to go to church. Now it has become a chore.
    Thanks for your time
    S.Cozad

    • Hi Suzette, Thank you so much for your candid comment. I literally ache for those who have suffered abuse (of any kind) from the Church. My hope and prayer for you is that you will find a place of grace that will accept and embrace you as Jesus does. You are loved…

    • Suzette, as another pastor reading this blog page, I want to encourage you to ask the LORD to help you find a true, bible-based church. I agree there are many that are missing the mark, but also many that aren’t. A good pastor will be more concerned about your discipleship and your relationship with God than about your money or robotic submission to church activities. You see, we know that if a person is a healthy disciple and they are being drawn closer to Christ through our ministries, He will always lead us to give, pray, worship and serve without having to be pushed, manipulated or guilt-tripped into it. I think that’s the kind of pastor Kurt is, and I know its the desire of my heart as well. Don’t give up. God has a place for you to be nurtured and grow. And when you find it, you’ll love it. Will it be perfect? No, because it will have sinners as members and as leaders. But it will grow you, and you’ll see it as a gift from God. May God help you find a place like that.

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1,001 ~ A Grace Reflection

Praying

A thousand times I’ve come to Him

A thousand times undone.

A thousand times He’s rescued me

And now a thousand one.

What is this love

That holds me close

Regardless of my sin?

What is this hope

A grace defined

Completely found in Him?

A thousand times He’s come to me

A thousand times redone.

A thousand times I’m found in Him

And now a thousand one.

Gratitude

One of the many traits we humans have in common is our tendency to fail. We can deny this reality, but it’s better to own it and run to God’s throne of mercy and grace. My path to His presence has few weeds. It is an often-traveled trail that leads me to His forgiveness.

Man walking on Bible

 May I pray for you?

Father, lead us to the cross, not just once but over and over again. Remind us of your grace and mercy. Draw us with your lovingkindness. Thank you that when we look into your eyes we see love. We are humbled by your faithfulness and goodness. Because of Jesus . . . amen.

Since we have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God

who has passed through the heavens

 from death into new life with God, 

let us hold tightly to our faith. For Jesus is not some high priest

who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws.

He has already been tested in every way that we are tested;

but He emerged victorious, without failing God. 

So let us step boldly to the throne of grace,

where we can find mercy and grace

to help when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (VOICE)

 

 

PIAD Front PanelWant to read more about God’s grace? Check out my latest book: Perfectly Imperfect: A Devotional for Grace-Filled Living! Click here to order it today! Or go to Amazon to find out more about this book.

8 Responses to 1,001 ~ A Grace Reflection

  1. My thoughts written in your words! Reaches a responsive chord in my heart. It has that ‘lofty’ feel yet in words one can relate to. I enjoyed it a lot.

  2. The poem you wrote here is so beautiful. I sent it to my kids and a few other friends and family. :) Gods grace is hard to get my head around, and I’m ok with that. I am overwhelmed by His desire to heal brokenness and pour His relentless love over us. I’m so grateful to be under the leadership of pastors who live by this same grace. When we see you, we see Jesus. Thank you for that reflection. Praying for you, and Bless you!!

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Twenty Truths to Consider about Fifty Shades of Grey

50-shades-of-greyI’ll admit it: Sometimes we Christians are known more for what we’re against than what we are for in this world. Sometimes we make a big deal about things that may not be that important and forget to focus on the things that really do matter most. Sometimes we get all high-and-mighty and act as if we’re better than others.

I know.

But sometimes we do need to take a stand and speak the truth in love. William Wilberforce was a devout believer who fought against slavery in England. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a believer who stood against racial inequity. In fact, throughout history, Christians have often been at the center of the battle for truth and justice.

Typically, I loathe jumping on trendy bandwagons. I’m well aware that many Christian bloggers are sounding off about the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. However, I am terribly disturbed by our culture that continues to normalize the abnormal. Inch by inch, we are marched to the edge of immorality and degradation and told, “It’s okay, this is normal, and if you challenge me on that then you’re just intolerant!”

50 Shades Bandwagon

Well, sometimes it’s good to be intolerant, especially when we are standing with Jesus who loved all but hated sin. For the record, He hates sin because of what it does to the people He loves.

So here are some good reasons to avoid this bad movie like the plague:

  1. It breaks Jesus’ heart.

  2. Jesus would never treat another human created in the image of God this way. As Christ-followers, neither should we.

  3. This kind of “love” is harmful and destructive rather than selfless and wholesome.

  4. The Bible describes love as “kind . . . it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking . . . it does not delight in evil . . . it always protects.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

  5. It’s not just BDSM (which sounds harmless); it’s bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism.

  6. Emotional, physical, and spiritual bondage is always bad.

  7. Dominance is the exact opposite of supportive, selfless love.

  8. Sadism is defined as a desire to inflict pain on others, especially for sexual gratification, or is defined as getting pleasure from being extremely cruel. Seriously? This is okay?

  9. The definition of masochism is getting sexual or emotional pleasure from being mistreated or mentally or physically abused.

  10. Anything that promotes abuse of any kind should be offensive to us.

  11. We won’t tolerate a football player knocking his girlfriend out in an elevator, but as long as it’s consensual and erotic, it’s okay. Are you kidding me? It’s still abuse.

  12. It promotes lust.

  13. Lust is never satisfied.

  14. We don’t need anything else filling our minds with garbage (there’s enough of that on TV).

  15. When it comes to pornography or sexual abuse, the “law of depreciating returns” means that the more one participates, the more graphic or intense our experience needs to become to get the same erotic response. Simply put: we become emotionally calloused and need weirder, wackier stuff to arouse us.

  16. Consenting adults (married or not) who claim BDSM enhances their relationship are broken. Something, somewhere in their past has created a fracture in their soul, and they need healing, not abuse.

  17. This movie (from what I’ve read in reviews and seen in trailers and posters) appeals to our human nature that tends to drift out of curiosity to what can kill us (think Adam and Eve in the garden). Unholy curiosity (i.e. unwise experimentation) can kill more than a cat.

  18. As a parent and grandparent, I would never want my daughter or son treated this way.

  19. In an interview on NBC the female star, Dakota Johnson, said, “I don’t want my parents to see this movie.”

  20. Everything we do should honor and glorify the One who gave His everything for us (1 Cor. 10:31). Can anyone truly make a reasonable argument that BDSM honors Jesus?

50 Shades Collar

I realize I’m swimming upstream on this one. Over 100 million people have read this book, and the movie grossed over $250 million on the opening weekend (a new record). However, my challenge is simple: Would you sit next to Jesus and watch this film? I think not.

As James Emery White recently wrote, “Celebrate sex this Valentine’s Day. Every day, for that matter. But not the fallen kind. Not the Fifty Shades of Grey distortion.”

So guard your heart, protect your mind, and honor Jesus. He died to set people free.

50 Shades Fish

 

For you know that we dealt with each of you

as a father deals with his own children,

encouraging, comforting and urging you

to live lives worthy of God,

who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NIV)

 

Mr Mrs Front PanelMr. & Mrs. is a great Valentine’s Gift! Read what Kurt has to say about marital sex and other important topics! Order it today here.

 

31 Responses to Twenty Truths to Consider about Fifty Shades of Grey

  1. Thank you Kurt for swimming upstream. I couldn’t have said it better! If we don’t stand for something do we really stand at all and are we just then settling for something.

      • I totally agree with Lisa. The upstream mode is increasingly rare. Christians seem more inclined to blend in rather than stand out. ISIS, for all its radical savagery, makes every effort to gain a high profile. “Shall I be carried to the cross on flowery beds of ease, while others fight to win the Cause, and sail thru bloody seas?”
        Absolutely not! With right motives and pure hearts.we must stand unashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the powerful means by which God brings people to salvation when they believe.
        Thank you, Kurt.

    • Thank you, Pati. Always appreciate a kind word. Hope this post reaches and challenges many who have no idea how far we humans have fallen and yet how much God loves us.

  2. I’m about as curious to read this book and see the movie as I am to discover what poop tastes like. But if I’d been on the fence at all, this post would have convinced me. Good reminders– thanks!

    • Funny, some have already challenged me with, “Did you even read the book?! How do you know it’s bad?” My new response (in light of your comment), “I don’t need to taste poop to know that it’s bad . . . just the look and stench of it is enough to convince me.” Enough said.

    • Yes . . . even though sometimes those who are the most vocal about the “intolerance of Christians” are often terribly intolerant of Christians. Grace AND truth must stand.
      Love ya, Joe! Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  3. As always a wonderful article Kurt and gets straight to the point. I’d like to say though that a great teacher told me once it is neither right nor wrong it just is. When saying this I am not saying that I condone the behavior of the acts in any means but I will not crucify others for their choices and make them wrong about them and I know that if they like myself are to get out of such behavior they need not feel that they are wrong or they will push back hard. Yes Jesus would be sad, yes I agree that this type of behavior shouldn’t be mainstream norm, yes it goes against the teachings of the Lord. But, my question is what exactly can we do about it? It will be main stream regardless to watching the movie or not one because the books are already out there people have read them, BDSM also has been around for a long time and the big thing is that the book pales in comparison to the real deal out there which I am grateful. Again no argument here it is what it is just wanted to get your opinion. Please understand I ask this as someone who lived in that world once. Again thank you for your article very moving.

    • Hi Kolae, my hope is, as Christ-followers, that we can and will be “salt and light” in this world. We can’t just give up on this culture and walk away in disgust. Instead, with a tender heart, grace AND truth, we must speak the truth in love. As I stated in the beginning, I make no pretense of perfection, but as people who love Jesus, we must challenge and encourage one another to glorify Him in all that we do. Most of the negative “push back” has come from those outside of faith in Christ. My primary goal was to speak to believers about making good and holy choices, regardless of what’s considered “normal” or okay in our culture. Thank you for your insight. I hope my response helps.

  4. I’m a Christian. I’ve read the books all three. I’m planning to watch the movie tonight. I’m not broken. I’d sit in that theater with Jesus by my side and watch that movie. Here are my reasons why. Jesus loves me no matter what I see. His love for me will never stop. This series of books is about two consensual adults who have sex before marriage. If anything that should be your concern. That can be found in the bible. These two individuals end up falling in love. Just like pretty woman, dirty dancing, the divinci code, and many other movies there will always be something that someone else deems in appropriate in any movie on tv or in theaters. Nearly every Disney cartoon ever made has witch craft of some sort in it. And yet no judgement has been made about movies like Snow White and frozen. Are those any better in your eyes? According to some of your theories they should be. Do you watch shows on tv? Half of the sitcoms and dramas are inundated with homosexual couples or references. That bother anyone? Does anyone blog about that or turn their televisions off? This post won’t be popular on here I’m sure. Before you blast me let me add a few more thoughts. Jesus associated with sinners. Prostitutes and tax collectors were his friends. While many (not just those on this blog) are passing judgement on this movie, I can’t help but wonder what are you doing to spread the love of Christ? How about passing out tracks to the people in line at the theater to watch this. Or better yet get them a cup of coffee while they wait in the cold. Or maybe offer to buy them a ticket to the next courageous type movie that comes out so they can see what Christian love looks like? Showing His love trumps passing judgement anyway.

    • Thank you for you comment. I value the opinions of everyone, even when I disagree, and I appreciate your contribution to the “conversation”.

      I wrote what I wrote to express my concerns and opinion as someone who loves Jesus, and as a pastor.

      As I stated, fiction or not, I am deeply bothered by something that normalizes the abnormal, and by a way of “love” that is far from the path of godly love described in 1 Corinthians 13.

      So let me humbly add a few words from Jesus and others for your consideration:

      “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8

      “I tell you, anyone who even looks at a woman (lustfully) with a sinful desire of wanting her has already sinned in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 (NLV)

      {Speaking to the spiritually abusive Pharisees, but using a principle that applies to all who rationalize their sin Jesus said…} “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:15 (NIV)

      “If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 (VOICE)

      19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
      Galatians 5:19-24 (NIV)

      “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16 (NIV)

      Thank you for reading my blog. May you know God’s mercy and grace in your life for you are loved.

    • You’re right. There’s a lot of crap out there that we don’t write blog posts about or encourage people to avoid. Yes, that may point out a level of hypocrisy. But that doesn’t make the truth of Kurt’s post Any. Less. Valid. It’s just another attempt to rationalize.

      To add to the verses in Kurt’s response … Romans 6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

  5. Thank you Kurt for reminding us that we should always take a stand in Love and Respect. Any behavior that would make Jesus sad is something we followers should avoid. And, if asked, be a light unto the darkness. I have challenged commenters in the past for not reading/seeing what they are commenting about. In this case, however, your comment on the “poop” question was brilliant and pointed!!!

  6. Hey Kurt, Steve Jones here… I agree with this blog 200% – The enemy is sure battling for the hearts and minds of, well… everyone it seems.

    Even though Cathy and I are attending services elsewhere, both you and Eastpoint are in our prayers and I wanted to take time to “chime in” with resounding affirmation to your wonderful blog.

    God Bless!! :o)

  7. It seems only fitting that the biggest financiers of pornography would want this book and movie out there. Gateway drug? Also, these flicks tend to be consistently panned by the critics (such as the equally horrid “Striptease” of several years ago) yet they do so well at the box office. That great businessman Al Capone once explained that he was just giving people what they wanted. Thanks for the good word. I will pass this on.

  8. I’ve always been anti 50 shades for many reasons but what troubled me was that – no matter how difficult, no matter how out of our comfort zone it is – I somehow realised that the Christian response to it couldn’t be to just ignore it or simply dismiss it as porn.
    I think Jesus would have gone head to head with it – as He had that knack of doing in all difficult situations – and engage with it on some level that glorified God’s love over the ‘love’ portrayed in the series. I had no idea how to do this though and I like that Christian blogs and writers have tried to do so. The problem was always that – non believers – had no interest in this standpoint and I didn’t have the skill to get over that wall.
    I tweeted a lot about my opposition to it and someone sent me a link to a Christian fiction response that takes the original format of the book and then ‘mirrors’ it with a story about God’s love taking in concepts like ‘doulos’ and salvation along the way. I’ve given it to some friends – the same ones that had no interest in Christian blog posts – and they’ve really been engaged and informed by it and have gone on to engage in real talks about faith underpinned by it. One is (tentatively) attending church. I think it works by simply being a good fiction read in it’s own right but by maintaining a definate focus on God’s awesome love. It certainly doesn’t duck issues like sin etc
    For me that underpins that the key in the debate is – not to preach to one another about it – but to use it as a chance to outreach. The link – should anyone be interested is
    amzn.to/1Ac2x9c

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Three More Things You May Not Know About Pastors (Part 2)

emoticon angryIsn’t it funny (sad really) how ruthless and mean some people are in an email? They will emotionally vomit into a keyboard in ways they would never actually speak to someone. They will use emoticons, CAPS, and an over-abundance of exclamation marks to make their point!!!!!

I’ve had people use language in an email that would make a trucker blush.

There’s something about sitting alone in front of a computer rather than looking someone in the eye that often brings the worst out in us.

For some reason, Part One of this post, stirred up some passionate and negative reactions. Thankfully, there were also some very kind responses. But I have more to say, so being a glutton for punishment, let’s dive into three more things some folks don’t know about pastors.

pastor priest reading holy bible isolated over white

1.    Your pastor thinks and cares about you more than you probably realize.

Regardless of the size of the church, pastors are shepherds. We take our responsibility seriously to protect and care for the sheep. Your pastor probably notices when you are gone. He knows where you typically sit. Even if he calls you “Bob” and your name is Barry (some of us are old), your face is still embedded in his heart.

Every Saturday, I invest time walking through our auditorium praying. I lay hands on the chairs, and I ask the Father to work in the hearts of His people. Every Monday, I get the prayer requests from our congregation, and I often weep over their needs. Why? Because most pastors put people over programs. We know that only people are eternal, and we deeply understand that Jesus died for people. Trust me, you matter to us more than you know.

lamb with shepherd

2.    Your pastor has probably developed a thick skin, but he still has a tender heart.

Every Sunday we are evaluated. Every Sunday people decide to stay or leave based on what they hear or experience. Every week we work hard to proclaim grace and truth. But just about every Monday somebody complains about something. “The music was too loud.” “I don’t like the way we took communion.” “You talk about money too much.” “I disagree with your position on that issue.”

The fact of the matter is, though we value constructive criticism, long ago most of us stopped trying to keep everybody happy (check out Galatians 1:10). We’ve accepted the reality that some will love us and what we do, and some will not. We’ve also learned that sometimes our greatest fans shift and become our greatest critics. Strong leaders are often polarizing, but we believe strong yet humble leadership is necessary (for a good example, see Jesus).

Years ago, my pastor, a thriving mega-church leader was asked, “What do you consider to be your greatest success in ministry?” Without hesitation, he replied, “That I haven’t grown cynical.” In other words, despite the fact that sheep sometimes bite, his heart was still tender. Mine too.

South African Rhinoceros

3.    Your pastor is perfectly imperfect (just like you).

Most pastors have no desire to be placed on a pedestal. We are intentionally transparent about our struggles because we want you to relate to us, not worship us. We understand our perfection in Christ and yet our imperfection in practice. Like you, we are a work in progress.

Practically speaking, that means we will occasionally say something stupid or maybe even theologically incorrect. Gasp! Sometimes we will react to a situation rather than respond like Jesus. Sometimes our thoughts are anything but the mind of Christ. This is not an excuse for sin, but an explanation of our humanity. So we need grace and mercy (just like you). Maybe you could forgive your pastor as God has forgiven you?

On a regular basis I remind our people: I am not the perfect pastor, and we are not the perfect church because there is no such person or church.

broken chair b/w

A final thought . . .

I love the Church. As a preacher’s kid and pastor for the past thirty-five years, I have a profound love and appreciation for pastors and the Bride of Christ. If anything I’ve written here or in part one of this post has offended you, forgive me. That being said, perhaps you would be wise to consider why I’ve pushed your buttons. Is there a church or pastor you need to forgive?

Remember, forgiveness is His way.

Cross on top of bear island in  Ireland

 

“Bear with each other and forgive one another

if any of you has a grievance against someone.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

 

 

12 Responses to Three More Things You May Not Know About Pastors (Part 2)

  1. Kurt, thanks for sharing. As a PK (and ex head deacon myself)I am very familiar with the points you made. I can vouch for you and say that pastors are normal (well I guess that term is debatable

  2. Kurt,I hear your heart! I have been a pastor’s daughter and then a pastor’s wife for over 50 years. I have heard many complaints and even falsehoods during these years…..usually directed at my husband or the church. People forget that we are called to be Peacemakers, not trouble makers. The scriptures tell us to go directly to a person if we have differences, and talk face to face, definitely not via paper or behind their back. If I am looking for perfection in church or pastor, I definitely shouldn’t go there, because as soon as I get there, it won’t be perfect. Shouldn’t we be surprised that God loves us at all?
    Gratefully,
    Aunt Dee

  3. If someone can take offense to the things you have posted here in your last two articles, one thought comes to mind. Self centered, opinionated, SOF (son of a flea). I was told there was a question, I gave an answer, and then discussed face to face the issues that “in the grand scheme of things, had very little meaning” and cleared the air and brought the parties closer together. That is the way it should be. You are the focus of our attention when you speak, and all of us have minds and opinions. We need to share them in Love and Respect, and try to understand just how tough a job it is to be that center of attraction. I for one, Love you Kurt. I mean that. You and the Staff of Eastpoint make a great and pleasant place to Worship God and hear His teachings in a pleasant and pointed manner. Thank you so MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Really enjoyed the article, Kurt. Don’t remember when or how I first encountered your writings, but they always seem to bless me. I’m a 36+ year veteran of serving as a pastor, and probably about the same age as you. I definitely feel a kindred spirit in the writings you post, so I just wanted to affirm you. You seem to be a guy I’d enjoy hanging out, or fishing with. Thanks for being real. I’m trying to do that myself.

    • Yup…sounds like we have a lot in common! Your encouragement is both timely and deeply appreciated. May Jesus continue to bless you and your ministry. You are loved…

  5. I’m just impressed that you take the time to reply to most comments/emails/voices both positive and negatively focused.

    Don’t worry Kurt, you aren’t normal…just like the rest of us?

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