I believe in God, but not the church…

During a recent lunch time around-the-table discussion in which the topic of conversation became belief in God one of my coworkers voiced his belief in God but quickly and adamantly expressed negative feelings toward the church, or organized religion as he referred to it.   His negative feelings toward the church didn’t surprise me; in fact, over the past several years I have heard the same basic negative feelings of disappointment and frustration expressed by a number of different people who have declared themselves as being spiritual people who want nothing to do with the church.

 

The more I think about the frustration and disappointment expressed by many toward the modern version of the church with all of its man-made baggage and theological pollution, the more I understand their cry and identify with their feelings.  Shouldn’t one of our goals as Christians be to help people set aside their negative ideas about the church long enough so that they can clearly see and experience the pure, living water offered by and through Jesus?

 

In all honesty, the church is guilty of polluting the pure water of Jesus.   We’ve been so focused on being correct in our doctrine and pointing out the interpretational errors of others that we’ve failed to inspire hope and offer a vision of the beauty that exists in living the Christian life.   Statements such as the one expressed by my coworker should encourage those of us who are Christians to look within and question whether or not our lives are truly reflective of the Lord we claim to love and serve.  These statements should lead to a renewed determination within us to be no less or more than simply Christians – cleansed of man-made baggage and theological pollution.

 

At the same time, statements such as the one mentioned earlier should also motivate us because such statements indicate a desire within modern man to know and experience relationship with God.  These types of statements reveal that there are people who are thirsty for truth and discovering meaning to life; and indicate the importance of our returning to and refreshing our own souls in the source of the pure, living water so that we may be more able to lead them to Jesus, the pure, unpolluted source of life for all who trust in him.

 

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

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12 thoughts on “I believe in God, but not the church…

  1. Hey,

    I mostly agree with you. I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve heard people make statements similar to what your coworker made. Sometimes the church has been way off. Some “Christians” are completely unChristlike. I think we can be open and honest about our shortcomings.

    But, there are many of people who make statements like these because they simply have no idea what they’re talking about. I am in church three times a week, and I have lots of Christian friends who are not hypocrites, who are not obsessed with “being right” as much as they care about being righteous, and who largely embody what Christ wanted the Church to be. Yes, the church isn’t perfect, but that isn’t what we claim to be. We need to show the love of Christ to help people get past their negative presuppositions, but I believe many people make these statements because it’s trendy, and not because it’s absolutely true. This kind of statement is often used as an easy way to avoid having to really investigate the church to see who we are.

    I don’t disagree with your goals of sharing Christ with these people and correcting their view of the church, but I don’t believe we have to also hold a negative view of the church. Based on my 28 years of experience growing up and remaining in the church, the positives far, far, far outweigh the negatives. Hopefully in the upcoming years we can make some progress in getting people to see past the stereotypes.

    Thanks for your post,

    Mark <

    • Mark, if you don’t have a negative view of ‘the church’ then you must have your head in the sand. There’s a reason people feel negatively towards religion.

  2. Mark,

    I really appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts regarding this post. I also appreciate the spirit in which you present your thoughts, even if you both agree and somewhat disagree with me.

    First, I want to correct any potential misunderstand regarding my thoughts, especially if those thoughts cause you to believe I am suggesting that we should see the church in a negative light because of statements like the one addressed in this post. My primary thought in this post is that whenever I honestly consider the possible validity of the frustration and disappointment expressed by many toward the modern version of the church with its man-made baggage and theological pollution that I have to admit that the church is guilty of polluting the pureness of Jesus and his church. I could be wrong, but I don’t think we can deny the truthfulness of this point.

    Yet, I do believe, as you remind us, that there are people who are not obsessed with being right as much as they care about being righteous. Those are the people who, in my opinion, are seeking to inspire hope and offer a vision of the beauty that exists in living the Christian life. Those people should be commended, or applauded if you will.

    Second, you are correct when you imply there are a number of reasons people make statements like the one referred to in my post. However, regardless of the number of possible reasons – valid or not – the church can benefit from honestly questioning whether or not we have become burdened by man-made baggage and theological pollution. If so, we need to be honest enough to change and seek the pure, unpolluted life that is in Christ.

    In actuality, I don’t think we even somewhat disagree; I think both of us agree we need to be more Christ-like.

    Again, thanks for your comments.

  3. We are working through Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church in our 20s-30s class. It is very insightful in how to dialog with a generation that has the view you talk about above. I highly recommend it.

  4. Matt,

    I have not heard of the book of which you speak. It sounds like it would be a good read, and will probably find its way onto my bookshelf in the near future. If you were to give one key thought from the book that might shed light on this discussion, what would that thought be?

  5. I enjoyed the book as well as your thoughts on the book. I strongly believe that as believers we need to stress the importance of corperate worship. We need to stress that Church is not just Church but the “Family of God” that God desire all believers to be a vital part of in life. Wonderful thoughts about this topic. I believe it is definatly something that we should stress. The importance of become the important part of the body of Christ.

    I strongly believe that the church has had a bad reputation for such a long time that has turned people off to attending worship and become a vital part of the community of believers. We need eachother. Christ knew that we needed each other. I believe over this next century this will change and that the church and Christians will display more and more the virtue of Christ and the necessity of Church. I believe in the future more and more believers will become apart of the Lords Church.

    I want to thank you so very much in dealing with this topic that has been neglected for many years.

    I have been impressed by your blog and will be visiting it as much as I can. God bless you and all you do in life. Keep up the great work you do with your blog.

  6. Preacherman and joejames, thanks for visiting the site and leaving your comments. It is good to hear that people appreciate the thoughts I am sharing with the world…

    Joe, it is good to see that you are back as a part of the blog world once again. I am trying to be more active than I have been. I will visit your site and welcome you back.

  7. i have been in church since i was old enough to know i was in church. i have seen so many changes. it seems like a lot maybe not all but a lot of the churches now is about; money, materials things and politics. A lot of stuff in the churches are man made and no where in the bible. I have never heard of a ATM machine in the church. so i think a lot of people are turned off with pastors who can’t seem to just have 1 wife and not 5 and 6 girlfriends. anyway i love the lord and i love church, but just like God he loves the sinner but he hates the sin.

  8. Linda,

    I wanted to thank you for your comments yesterday. If you spent very much time at my blog you probably noticed that I have not posted in several months, perhaps even more than a year. It is funny, sometimes (if not sad), how good intentions can be and are often interrupted by our busy schedules; such has certainly been the case with my blog. But, your comment was a pleasant reminder that people still come across my blog and I need to spend more time writing.

    Like you, I have been in the church for many years (28 to be exact) and have seen a few changes in that time. I agree that many congregations seem to be more interested in things that don’t matter; such as the items you mention: money, material things, politics, etc. I also agree that many of things in the church are man made, some of which are not addressed by the Bible and other which are counter to the Bible. We have to be wise enough to discern between the important and the unimportant, and loving enough not to make an issue of those things that are unimportant.

    I also agree that our conduct of life is an important part of our witness to the world. Unfortunately, temptations exist and we often give in to its empty promises; ALL of us. Ministers/Pastors/Etc need to be aware that being leaders carries a greater responsibility to be examples of faith in action — but lest we forget, it also makes them a larger target for Satan’s attacks. You are right, we need to love the sinner and oppose the sin.

    Again, thank you for your comment. I would love the opportunity to discuss whatever thoughts you may have concerning any of the articles at “Rediscovering Faith.”

  9. HI

    I actually Googled this topic and found your post because I was heavly involed in the ” Church” for years In the last few months after let down over let down on what we are suppose to be as ” Christians”. I now no longer go to church nor do I plan on attending. I find pride is a growing trend and my last church as it grew it also became typical. I now just spend my time with God and twice a month go to my moms bible study because we share struggles. I know I need to work on it but I am sad to admit but I have grown bitter towards the church. My last church pastor started his own church from a larger church and was against the way of that church but turns out they are now the same.

    We will be let down by people because we are all sinners. But being frustrated by Christians ( manly those in leadership ) drove me off. My exboyfriend was a Pastor and to be honest, had the biggest front Ive ever seen. He was one way around me and another around the church staff. That fakeness made me step back, and he later told false statements about me.My focus is being an example to my two kids and those by showing love and being humble.I think we use ” what we think the bible verse is saying” as a reason to make it ok when we want. I myself dont think everything in the Bible really happened. I also don’t think a ” gay person will got to…. We judge more than God does. I have a great loving heart and that is all God. And we know God will and can do all things, but we need to make a changes too.

    Thank you so much for your post I could truly go on and on.Also, my faith God is unchanging but my faith in ” the church” is gone. Not that I think the church is evil, I just think people get so caught up in the ” show” they forget the “reason”.

    P.s the Pope comment made me nod my head!

    CJ

  10. Wow, many years after you made that article, still …people come to it, as i did tonight.
    See, this issue here, is what stops me from knowing what’s my religion.
    I know one thing: I believe in God, the Almighty, our Savior, heavenly father, gardener of our souls.
    But the church?
    ….
    The church represents nothing but deception, contradiction and rigidity to me.
    Love the sinner, but hate the sin.
    God is all Love, but let’s hate in the name of God.
    We are all God’s creation, except gays who will go to hell. ( even if they are also His children )

    Since i cannot embrace a faith that doesn’t embrace all of God’s children, i will remain alone, with my Love and acceptance, and trust in God to watch over those who judge although it’s never been mentioned clearly in the Bible, that gays were doomed. Man, made it this way. Man interpreted it as such.
    If the heart of men evolves, so should the church. The Bible is a very very ancient book that was already interpreted in different ways by several people, and again and again. And still is.

    So, like i said, alone i will be honouring my Lord, i will be gay because that’s my sexual orientation. I am since i am a child. I don’t believe God would have put me to the test at 12 years old when i had no clue what was straight or gay. It was natural, it was me, it was not bad. No matter how hard i’d fight and pray i’d still be a lesbian. No matter the man i’d be with, i’d still be a lesbian. God wants me happy because a happy person also make others happy, and can serve God with a clear mind. I’ve seen Christians that were much more impure than i am, as a lesbian. Backstabbing their family and friends, unable to open their door to a stranger, unkind to the core. And yet, they were the ones, shouting in anger that gays, meant to burn in hell.

    Thank God for loving me like i am, i feel your Love, i feel your blessings and acceptance, and thanks for putting the Light in the hearts of my family and friends too, during all these years.

    If i can find a church that let me enter, with all my ” sins” , i will embrace it.
    If not, i’ll be lonely and that’s ok too.
    Thank you.

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