Don’t worry it’s my confession time, not yours. BUT if you know me or are a regular reader you already know this…. sorry nothing new.
I have a slight man crush on Lecrae.
That is important because I was stuck on a plane this weekend, so naturally, I was bumping some beats that matched the beat of the kid kicking my seat – talk about some bass. While listening to Lecrae’s song Church Clothes which I’ve listened to thousands of times something struck me in a new way.
I’m assuming most people aren’t fanboys like me. In this song, Lecrae starts the song by talking in third person about why people might be upset with churches.
Church tryna rob my paycheck,
Pastor manipulatin, hurtin women,
I wonder what he’s gonna’ say next
Bookstores pimpin them hope books, Like God don’t know how broke looks
They tellin me that I’m gonna’ reap a meal
If I sew into these low crooks
Plus I know homegirl a freak
Now how she singing a solo?
Churches stealing money, pastors manipulating and hurting people, glorifying people who outside of Sunday are bad people, then if you wear the wrong clothes everyone freaks out? Plus you add in all the hypocrites?!?
Then there is the super annoying fact that Christians always think their right. Right? They talk about life being a One Way Street. Believe what they believe. Their way or the highway.
That is probably just the start of how some people view the church. If you surveyed millennial non-Christians and non-church goers you’d find something quite shocking. Their trust in most American institutions is higher than previous generations except for
…. drum roll, please….
Churches and religious institutions. *
I want to share my thoughts about this with 2 different groups of people.
My simple question is this: Are we learning from the people we ‘care’ about?
What if we took the time to listen to the people who are not happy with the Church? What if we had community dialogues where Churches listened instead of preached? What if we apologized for things we or our community did wrong? What message would that send people?
Too often I see people more concerned with being right or growing church numbers. We get so focused on church programs and forget the Gospel or the message of Jesus. Somehow in all our busyness and church activities the message of Jesus tends to get lost on people.
Now I know that most of us have the right heart and we are simply trying to share good news with people. The problem comes when the people we are trying to communicate with aren’t receiving the care we think we’re giving. That responsibility lies on us – we have to do a better job of showing love to people who think, act, and believe differently than us. That probably starts with listening more and preaching less.
I’m sorry if the Church in the name of God ever hurt you. Pushed you away. Didn’t communicate love and grace. Tried to force you to believe something you think is crazy. Tried to force you to live according to something you don’t believe.
In my life, I see this so much. I hear stories, read blogs, of people saying because of a Christian, a Pastor, or a Church that hurt them they are done with God. Many people think IF Christians act that way why would I ever want to be one?
I’m sorry. That breaks my heart it really does.
I’m sure if I was you and saw the world the way you do I’d probably come to the same conclusion.
I don’t want to preach to you I just mainly want to say sorry. And that you are right to be hurt, angry, and annoyed. If we hurt you – that’s on us. That’s our fault. We communicated poorly. I’m sorry.
The one thing I’d want you to know is this. Even when we act perfect (as you know) we are nowhere close. We believe that the story of Jesus is important and best for everyone so sometimes we rush into telling people and forget to demonstrate love and care. Again our bad. Just know this – whoever hurt you is not the same as God.
I know you probably don’t want to hear that and I really don’t want to preach to you (you’ve had enough of that). I just want you to know even if you don’t care – God still loves you and a relationship with Him is different than a relationship with the people that hurt you.
I’m sure you have great reasons for giving up on Christianity – truthfully there are probably some things that need to be given up – but God and his message are separate from Christianity.
I know why a lot of people don’t like church and Christianity. The majority of that responsibility falls on Christians. I don’t know all the answers but I know it’s on us to make sure people feel loved and cared for.
People’s perception of you is your reality.
That includes the Church. You can love people but if they don’t feel it – that love does no good.
Imagine if people had the perception, “I’m not sure I believe all that weird stuff Christians believe, but wow they are awesome people! They are so helpful, joyful, and loving. Whenever I meet a Christian, I know they are going to love and care for me well”.
Isn’t that how Jesus wanted us to live? Maybe it starts with us taking responsibility and learning from the people around us.
If you think this was interesting, I’m writing a whole book on this topic! To help me write, I’d love to hear from you! I really need stories about people’s Christian experience (Bad and Good). So please email me or share in the comments below.