June 6, 2020

Riffs: A Meme On What You Can’t Say Around Christians

(Thanks to all of you who are already supporting Jesus Shaped Spirituality, or JSS.)

We probably need a new category around here: “Words As I Ride Into The Sunset.”

Catholic blogger extraordinaire Amy Welborn has been studying me for a couple of years now, and she knows what’s red meat to my post evangelical soul.

So this morning, she sent me two examples (1, 2) of a “meme” we’ll call “What Is Something You Feel You Can’t Say Around Other Christians (or in Church?)”

For the kind of response IM readers have been used to in this space, check out young Luke Sky…..Alex Arnold at “I Am Not A BIV.

Sorry to disappoint, but I suppose the 8 year career of the Internet Monk has been full of the kind of things I couldn’t say around Christians or in church, but felt I could say to thousands of readers on the same journey via the blogosphere. Mistake? Depends on whom you ask, and when, and where they were in the journey. But in 1200 posts, I tossed a few good pitches and I hit a few batters. I’d take some things back (and have,) but other things will be there for those on the same journey I’ve been on for as long as I can find the space.

There are some places that Christians will allow you to stand up and say “the sermon is pop psych” or “I’m not a young earth creationist” or “why do we act like we just invented Christianity this year?” What a gift it is to be able to speak truth and be supported by a community of the one who IS the truth.

In the church I grew up in I always heard that we believed in freedom of conscience, the right of private interpretation, the priesthood of the believer, soul competency and the sacred right to differ from the majority.

I heard about all of that, and I heard that it was other denominations, with their bishops and their hierarchies, that were hung up on conformity all the way down the line.

Well….let’s just say that it’s a good thing they don’t give awards for “Ironic Reversals of Reality” anywhere. Someone would need to build a shelf. A long one.

I’ve discovered there’s a good reason you can’t speak your own convictions among many church and denominational Christians. And I’m not just talking about a crabby email or comment.

My own denomination has a population of leaders who have been openly condemning bloggers like Wade Burleson and Tom Ascol for several years now, as for the first time, the usual regime of assumed power-preachers and denominational power-brokers discovered there was actual, real, thoughtful, articulate dissent being published out there. And that dissent was treated as a threat to the denomination’s unity and mission of evangelism, to the point that bloggers were publicly ridiculed in many denominational speeches in the past 2-3 years.

Be clear on this: I have no problem disapproving of the blogger who uses his/her power of personal publishing to lie, insinuate, gossip and undermine. But I am stunned and saddened to see how legitimate dissent, honest questioning, personal struggle, authenticate analysis and necessary discussion or consequences have been called sinful and destructive. It’s a tragic error.

Some bloggers have been irresponsible. I may have been too honest, too vulnerable, too transparent in my blogging at times. But when we mistake the silence of pre-programmed, enforced conformity with Christian unity, we’re already the victims of our own delusions.

There are still doors in Christendom where the truth needs to be nailed, and some of them aren’t far away from where you are.

We need to talk about what is and is not happening among real Christians living real lives.

We need to hear the truth about the Christian experience, not just the scrubbed and glowing testimonials.

We need to have the assumed wisdom and answers of denominational leaders scrutinized, just like every pastor has to face his critics in every healthy church anywhere.

We need a vibrant discussion of the “whys” and the “what fors” in the things we require of one another in church, denomination and ministry.

We need courageous writers who will tell the stories that can’t be spoken among Christians who are determined to create a culture of secrecy and religious conformity.

There may be a price for honesty, asking questions and telling our stories. But there will never cease to be a need for someone who has the courage to ask tough questions and tell honest experiences in the midst of organized religion. We won’t ever get the truth of our human and Christian journeys from the official spokespersons or the press releases. We have to speak it to one another and support one another in the consequences.

We can’t speak falsehood to ourselves, one another and our children. Even if the truth is clumsy, painful, inconvenient or unwelcome, it is still the truth and we should love it for Jesus sake.

So Amy, I’d love to answer that meme, but right now….I’ve probably said enough. (Love you and what you do.)

But now we have a comment thread: What Can You NOT Say Around Other Christians (or In Church?)


  1. MerryKate says

    Mine will probably go against the general consensus here, but they’re deeply felt nonethless…

    1. Having a worship band that plays a wicked guitar solo is not more spiritual/relevant than playing the organ and having a choir. It will also not make the gospel more relevant to the youth; if they’re interested in God, the music won’t make them less interested, and if they’re not, it won’t make them more interested. That’s especially true of most modern worship choruses – they’re boring the first time around, and by the 4th repeat my eyes have glazed over.

    2. Providing spiritual support and encouragement to older Christians is equally important – don’t act like old people are irrelevant because they’re already saved.

    3. Why can there not be a place in the evangelical church for single adults? At one church I visited, I had 4 people in a row ask me where my husband was; the last one actually argued with me that I must have a husband – she’d seen me talking to a man earlier that day. It was enough to make me consider joining a convent.

    4. I know a lot of churches hold that only men should be pastors, but where did this idiocy come up that women have nothing to contribute to theological discussions? If God gave me a theological mind, who are you to limit its expression to discussions of marriage and family life?

    And last…for all the scathing comments directed at evangelicals, I’ve found traditional churches have their own shibboleths. At my evangelical church, I can’t talk about my appreciation for the choir, hymns or liturgy, but at the lutheran church I keep my mouth shut about my beliefs about communion and infant baptism, or they won’t let me take part in the communion. The catholics are equally emphatic about women toeing the line in terms of hierarchy. So bear in mind, there is no perfect denomination.

  2. SD Jones says

    Didn’t Janie look hot in that dress today during worship?
    Wow, did you see Tom’s body in those jeans and t-shirt at Bible Study today?
    Why would you think poetic truth and metaphor is less valid as a vehicle for truth than scientific proof and journalistic proof? Why is creationism such a big deal for you?
    When Paul says “all” he means every single person on earth, whether they profess Christ or not.
    What does it mean that the word “Hell” didn’t really exist until about the 3rd century?
    And as another person said, Why can’t we discuss anything and everything in church? What part of “in freedom Christ made us free” did we miss out on?

  3. I guess I took the simplistic approach. Stand by to cue the boos…..If you don’t actually GO to church, then you don’t have to think about what you can or can’t say. While on the staff of a church, I said the things I thought. That went over well. I clearly realize that leaving “the church” is not really an answer. But in these ten years of non-attendance I still don’t miss putting up with all the BS to get to the good stuff.

  4. I’ve worked for years in the ministry and I now enjoy working at Wal-Mart better

    I don’t like the way we do altar calls

    Can we just skip church on Sunday nights? No one comes anyway

    Can we just read and memorize Scripture on Wednesday nights and then go out for Pizza? Do we have to make some sort of “lesson” out of it?

    Why can’t we read more Scripture in church?

    Why do we do so many announcements?

    Why don’t we preach on gluttony as a sin even though 1/3 of the congregation is overweight?

    Why does our worship sound depressing?

    Why do we do all topical/3rd grade level sermons, can’t we talk about hard stuff?

    Why do we have deacons that act like elders when they’re not even qualified to do either one?

    …..I have a lot more…..this was a good idea Michael.

  5. I think I like the Jesus-shaped thing better. It really is a step toward making things better, rather than cursing the darkness.

    Thesis 28 of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation always challenges me: “The love of God does not first discover but creates what is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through attraction to what pleases it.” Luther expounded on this: “Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive. For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons.” Finally, Gerhard Forde adds the following: “God is not, as in the theology of glory, one who waits to approve those who have improved themselves, made themselves acceptable, or merited approval, but one who bestows good on the bad and needy.” – “On Being a Theologian of the Cross, p.113).

    New life in Christ changes us from being merely consumers and critics to becoming creators and lovers. Rather than seeking out what is pleasing to us and becoming disappointed when we don’t find it, the Holy Spirit in us transforms us to be able to pour God’s love, meaning and value into where there was none in the first place. Jesus didn’t come seeking out perfect followers, perfect churches, perfect music or youth programs, etc. Instead, He chose a bunch of poor fisherman – whom many believed to be have been mostly teenagers. From those humble beginnings he laid the foundation of his church, against which the gates of hell still cannot prevail.

    I don’t mean to be a downer. Trust me, I have my own list of things I wish I could say. I truly can empathize with those who have been deeply hurt by the failures of the church. Those who have failed us have probably also experienced failure from still others. I think iMonk said it before and it bears repeating: We all need to move on, pick up a brick, and start building. In his mercy.

  6. “I struggle with depression so much that most days I that feel suicide, for me, is inevitable”

    “The only thing that keeps me from killing myself sometimes is the fear that I’ll disappoint Jesus”

    “I’ve been on antidepressants for seven years”

    “I’ve been more helped by 1 1/2 year of ‘secular’ therapy than four years of Bible college”

  7. Hmm… the top two..

    You all are so full of yourselves.

    Harry Potter has some very profound spiritual truths in it.

  8. From another angle, can anyone suggest how we might create a culture in our churches that encourages people to say the uncomfortable truths that need to be said? Suggestions that are as concrete and specific as possible would help.

  9. Reformant says

    Some for church, some for blogs:

    -If I choose not to drink alcohol, it does not mean that I am not free.

    -To the worship leader: You are not the next American Idol, get over it, just lead the song.

    -I am pretty sure that God is not a Republican, but I am dead certain that Satan is a liberal Democrat.

    -We haven’t grown in years, so we are still doing it this way why? Explain that to me again please…

    -Who did the Catholics and bloggers whine about before there were Evangelicals?

    -Do you think Jesus is cool with the way we ignore the poor?

    -If the Bible is not accurate then exactly what is your guide? Your opinion? Your friends opinion? General consensus? How do you know? Is it going to be lonely being the only one who made it to Heaven?

    -Yes, I will pray that your cousin finds a job, but it might help if he actually looks for one also.

    -Could we have just one fellowship dinner without onions?

  10. What can I NOT say? “I think MacArthur is full of crap on the alcohol issue.”

  11. If God is Love, is God really going to keep someone out of Heaven for all eternity just because they didn’t “get it right”, “profess Jesus as their God and Savior” or “have a personal relationship with Jesus” or whatever other catch phrase a church requires during the short 50, 60 or 70 plus years here on Earth?

    When are we going to quite setting “requirements” for salvation and just love each other?

  12. This isn’t so much something I couldn’t say among my co-religionists, but rather something I struggle to say to other twenty-somethings:

    ‘People do not have to become or remain “fully convinced” of every aspect of the Christian faith in order begin discipleship to Jesus and to be healed and changed by God.’

  13. Ass. Pastor says

    Our church is full of itself.

    I can want the best for my kids and still send them to public schools.

    I sing the songs while wondering if Jesus has left the building.

    The pastor really doesn’t like kids, especially in his church service.

    When I’m depressed I listen to Bruce Springsteen’s Badlands. It helps.

    We treat our church staff like this is a business but we pay them like this is a church.

    Our mission statement is to make disciple but the bottom line is to get people to attend church and give money. Really, the pastor made this crystal clear.

  14. Some more:

    “Can the music minister lay off the whooping and shouting a little? This isn’t a pep rally.”

    “Along those lines, no more telling the congregation to look at their neighbor and say any cute phrases the reinforce your sermon bullet points.”

    “We spent $X million on beige warehouse with concrete floors and a stage?”

    “What if Jeremiah Wright had a point?”

    “Christian television is embarrassing.”

  15. More:

    “Calvin and Luther disagreed bitterly on this point. I happen to think they were both wrong.”

    “I notice that the Great Commission doesn’t even mention preaching the gospel”

    “I don’t see the command for a personal quiet time in the bible.”

    “Catholics are Christians, too.”

    “Why are you using a prayer meeting to reveal all the sins of your non-Christian co-worker? Did he/she give you permission?”

    “I don’t want to turn and greet somebody for only thirty seconds.”

  16. I missed Sunday School because I overslept. I overslept because the ball game went into extra innings.

    Do you realize that Jesus said it is hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God and most of us are among the richest 5% of the world?

    What if Jesus meant what He said would happen if we don’t forgive one another?

    I’ve never seen the altar call in the Bible, much less playing music while it’s given.

    Did the early church have the flag (or any other symbol) of the Roman Empire in their worship services?

    I think Oscar Romero was more like Jesus than most of us are.

  17. Steve-

    I literally laughed myself silly when I read your last one, “I don’t want to turn and greet somebody for only thirty seconds”…..

  18. Bror Erickson says

    J Michael Jones,
    I do understand where you are coming from. But consider 1) your value as a Christian comes from Christ. He knows you better than you know yourself.
    2) A friend you can’t be honest with is not a friend.
    I find a lot of people are burdened with the pretenses of the “Christian” life. Non-Christians are put off by it, they see through it. Actually the Christians themselves see through it more often than not too. They just don’t know what to do about it. Often times being honest is a breath of fresh air to everyone involved.

  19. Things you can’t say around Christians? Here’s one: Sometimes I don’t like being a Christian. That’s the lastest Mike Frizzell post, and he begs the question if it’s okay to ask this type of question. http://mikefrizzell.net/2008/05/27/sometimes-i-dont-like-being-a-christian/

  20. Well, I agree with “dumb ox” that it’s better to light a candle, but (and here’s what I probably shouldn’t say in church) cursing the darkness is a lot less work and a lot more fun. What can I say?

    Here’s what I *don’t* say to my fundamentalist/ evangelical friends inside and outside of my Episcopal Church:

    The Left Behind books should be.

    Jews are God’s chosen people, but only if they become Christians; otherwise they’ll all burn in hell? Okaaaay.

    The Creation Museum’s “science” is so bad it makes my head explode.

    Q: What’s the difference between modern Christian music and machine gun fire? A: A machine gun has only 100 rounds. (This one courtesy of Tony Campolo.)

    Thanks for the opportunity to chuckle, and for the memories, iMonk. I’ll miss you.


  21. Lord, I’m the so-called pastor of this church and much of the time I really have no idea what to do or say.

    I’m sure not a CEO-type leader.

    Do I even have much of a vision, other than to invite people to follow Jesus and grow more like him? That doesn’t sound profound or compelling or “sexy.”

    I get tired of people raving about so-called teachers and authors who say and write what I would consider to be “pabulum” at best.

  22. Jeremiah Lawson says

    Every music pastor should watch the South Park episode “Christian Rock Hard”.

    Dispensationalism is the fig leaf of choice for Christians who want to rationalize their own ethnic, political, religious, and racial paranoia or ambition, except when post-millenialism gets the job done better.

    Can we get more preaching from the youth pastor? His exegesis is better than the senior pastor’s.

    If that sermon was really about the biblical text and not about the pastor’s wish-list, stories about himself, his wife, or people he wants to make his church grow then it might have been a good sermon. Too bad it wasn’t really about the biblical text.

    It’s not that I don’t trust God, I just don’t trust you, that’s all.

    “Pray about it” doesn’t mean I’ll agree with you. It just means I’ll pray about it if I feel like it.

  23. Bob Sacamento says

    In the right wing evangelical church I go to right now I couldn’t say:
    I really admire my wife’s professional ambition.
    In the left wing church I went to several years back:
    We’re thinking of letting my wife home school the kids.

    Right wing:
    I’m not so sure that Genesis is meant to be read literally.
    Left wing:
    I’m not so sure the ten commandments are meant to be read symbolically.

    Reagan wasn’t perfect.
    Reagan wasn’t evil.

    I don’t see a problem with the youth pastor being a woman.
    I don’t like the idea of a woman being the senior pastor.

    Actually, I have learned a few things from reading in other religions.
    If Christianity isn’t better than other religions, what exactly are we doing here?

    The Republican Party wasn’t founded by Peter.
    The Democrat Party wasn’t founded by Peter.

  24. Katherine Gunn,
    I am a bit full of myself. I’m prideful and selfish. I acknowledge this, although I didn’t have to for you to pick up on it, obviously. The paradox is that my honesty was exactly what you didn’t want to hear and proved why I don’t feel like I can say those things in church. I am sinful just like everyone else in church, and I recognize it.. it’s just that not many people want to hear about that in church until I’ve overcome it and am ready to spill all the juicy details in a “praise report”.

  25. I have been reading your blog for a few months now. Keep coming back because you are so open and honest. I’m passionate about God, just not all that we have come to accept as “church”.

    I’m a truck driving, former youth/young adult pastor who is learning more about my faith hanging out with truckers, than I have ever learned in church!

    I have a “hobby” ministry that I’ve started and have no intentions of earning a living from it. I’m only wanting to explore what it really means to follow God in our day.

    Your blog is a daily “must read” as will your new one! Thank You for your transperancy, I resonate with your thoughts!

  26. “There may be a price for honesty, asking questions and telling our stories. But there will never cease to be a need for someone who has the courage to ask tough questions and tell honest experiences in the midst of organized religion.”

    Well said – and the great news is that the price we pay for honesty, asking questions and telling out stories is “freedom in Christ”.

    About 6 years ago, after 15 years of marriage – my husband and I hit a rough spot and spent 18 months in counseling. About 6 months of those were spent under separate roofs – and we received quite a bit of criticism from some “godly people” in our church after deciding (under the guidance of a Christian counselor) that we needed some time apart to work through our own personal issues. This decision was probably the biggest part of our healing – not only in our marriage – but, our personal walks with God.

    After our season of healing, God provided opportunities for us to share our story – and we were amazed at the number of people who were struggling in their marriage – but, did not feel like they could share it with anyone they were in Christian fellowship with…for fear that they would be judged and criticized. It’s sad.

    Marriages and families are falling apart – at an alarming rate – and yet, the church is the one place that people will least likely share their heartaches. This needs to change – and quickly!

  27. H. Lee:

    Agreed. There’s a place for venting. I’ve done my own share of emotional dumping on this blog. iMonk’s pretty cool to make room for it.

  28. Reflecting on this article and comments, I must say 77 and counting . . . something has hit a cord.

    I really think that the Adlai Stevenson statement (referring to Eleanor Roosevelt) “She would rather light candles than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world,” doesn’t apply to this situation, nor should be posters feel any shame for venting.

    It is more like this: There is this darkness that inundates Evangelicalism . . . yet the Evangelicals sees it as light. Scattered far and wide, are a handful of pilgrims who have come to recognize the darkness (not because they are so smart or spiritual . . . but because they are broken). Yet, they feel entirely alone. Because they are so alone, they must constantly ask themselves, “Is it really light and I don’t see it because I’m blind . . . or am I insane?”

    Then they hear a few other voices scattered in the wilderness saying, “Hey, I see the darkness too! You’re not insane . . . or alone.”

    Now that’s a healing process in my perspective. You can’t light a candle until you know that the darkness is there. You can’t know the darkness is really there until others agree with you that indeed, the emperor is naked as a jaybird.

  29. I sometimes like to read the apocrypha. Some of it might be inspired. Sirach 28:2 sounds remarkably similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15.

    Why are there so many sermons on homosexuality and alcoholism, when the prevalent sins in our midst seem to be gluttony and greed?

    It’s possible that we are wasting money sending the youth to another conference. Come on, do they really need to go to 2 of them every year, one in winter and one in summer?

    It’s probably also a waste of money for the choir to buy new Christmas music this year. They’ve done a different musical for ten straight years now. If they just started doing the same ones over again I don’t think very many people would notice and fewer would care.

    If a Christian decides not to vote in the election, he’s not committing a sin.

  30. “My non-Christian friends are more real and honest than my Christian ones.”

    “Christian radio is not ‘reaching the lost.’ Neither is 99% of Christian music in general.”

    “I think Catholics might be on to something with confessing one’s sins to a priest.”

    “It’s possible homosexuality is mostly genetic.”

    “I think the decision to go to war in Iraq was immoral and unjustified.”

  31. Too many “young, hip” evangelicals voting Democrat mainly because it is what their parents WOULDN’T do.

    Worship leaders performing FOR us, instead of trying to LEAD us into worship.

    Having a “contemporary, relevant” service is no longer groundbreaking. Hasn’t been in years.

    Joel Osteen may be unbalanced in his teaching. That does not make him a heretic. Two different things.

    Couples who are more into each other during the service than they are the worship of God, or fellowship of other believers. Go home if you’re that horny.

    Constantly trying to convert other Christians to your church/denomination instead of going after the truly unsaved/unchurched.

    Asking what Christian authors people read, and getting the same five responses every time. Read outside the box for once in your life.

    I too do not like to greet somebody in 30 seconds. It sometimes takes me that long to get up the courage to say anything.

  32. I work in a Christian ministry, and I’d be a little nervous to say:

    – I think Job is highly likely a tale told to describe God and suffering.

    – Almost all modern worship music is embarrassing, and “worship leaders” are overpaid to entertain in even the best of situations.

    – Defending Young Earth creationism is usually futile.

    – Catholic and Calvinist converts are two sides of the same coin.

    – We have a serious problem with celebrity worship, and have set unobtainable standards for ourselves and our idols.

    – I don’t give a crap about the latest cultural war crisis.

    – I have never had a “quiet time,” and I do not think I need to have one.

    – I do not have daily devotions.

    – I haven’t read, and don’t plan to read, the latest hit Christian Book (exception: if the latest hit book is from NT Wright, there’s a chance)

    – Referring to a funeral as a “homecoming” is trite and cheapens the curse of death, Christ’s redemption, and the promises of resurrection.

    To the “hipster” Christians I hang out with once in a while (and whose forums I frequent and blogs I read), I doubt I could say:

    – The Religious Right was annoying, but the new Christian Left is getting insufferably smug in only a fraction of the time.

    – I listen to Christian Radio. They’re covering the situations in Burma, Darfur, and China better than the MSM — and they will keep on those stories long after the other guys scramble over to the latest crisis.

    – You couldn’t tell me the difference between a Fundamentalist, an Evangelical, and a Protestant if you tried — so stop trying to lump all of us together.

    – The answer to the question “Are you a Christian?” needn’t be accompanied by a long explanation of how you are not like “those” Christians.

    – I don’t buy that the word “Christian” has somehow been rendered useless by the people who abuse it.

    – Stop worrying so much about how others see you.

  33. some guy says

    how about “I really resent being told that giving 10% is the standard and not the goal considering our church paid you 80 grand last year and I’m supporting my family on less than 30K right now.”

    “I’m tired of feeling guilty for not tithing”

    “you only come here because its cheaper than joining the country club and we have music”

    “you only enjoy singing repetitive lyrics and banging a tambourine because you lost touch with the spiritual content contained in the hymns and growing up with New Wave music ultimately gave you bad taste in music”

    “dispensationalism is ridiculous, and John Calvin would personally beat you down in this sunday school room for what you just said and kick you out of the PCA to force you to rethink you position.”

  34. I find excuses not to go to church
    I’d rather hang out in the “cry-room” with my wife and daughter than pay attention to the pastor.
    I don’t want to hear another sermon on the 4 steps to or how to take the next step or the “BE-Attitudes”.
    You are the pastor for crying out loud, feed us.
    How can I self feed when I don’t know what the good stuff is?
    Christians in third world countries put me to shame
    I am worse today than I was when I started
    Please turn down the sound system, my ears are bleeding.
    I guess Tatoos are required to be on the worship team.
    Our adult services are lookig more and more like the youth services I used to lead.

  35. A few more, now that I’m wide awake:

    Just because John Piper said it, does not make it so. He is not the final authority on all things spiritual.

    If we believe in the gifts of the Spirit, why do we never practice them? Are we that afraid of the cessanionist crowd?

    I’m tired of Christians apologizing for the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc. I have enough sin on my own to deal with, without taking on the sins of those who died hundreds of years ago.

    Why is there always church discipline for sexual sins, but never for legalism, materialism, etc.?

    Blue Like Jazz was just OK. “Oh, I’m such a stupid Christian and all these secular people are so much smarter than me.”

    I get tired of feeling guilty for not wanting to talk about my sexual struggles in a small group setting.

    I hate the fact that even in typing all this, I fear I’m coming off as whiny and ungrateful towards people I do care about.

    That’s it for now.

  36. Larry KY says

    These are the best

    Patrick Kyle’s:
    I don’t have daily devotions.
    I’m pulling my kid out of Sunday School because it sucks and will damage his faith. (One of the top 5, the QUICKEST and most sure fire way to make an atheist. – ldh)
    Our Sunday School curricula is barely even Christian. (One of the top 5, ditto. – ldh)
    I don’t think our church should support that Missionary because he acts like an ass.
    What does Mother’s day/Father’s Day/Flag Day/Fourth of July have to do with worshipping Christ?
    I hate “personal testimonies” and any time devoted to them during services. (One of the top 5, it’s like a prostitute showing some leg! – ldh)

    Steve Martin’s:
    “Your decision for Christ was a sham.”
    “We do nothing at all to become Christians.”
    “What’s with the lifting your hands to the sky, baloney?”
    “We love to baptise babies because we believe it is pleasing to God.”
    “Roman Catholic and Non-Denominational theologies are virtually the same.” (One of the top 5, a rose is a rose by any other name, ex opera operato – symbolic, six one way – half a dozen another. – ldh)
    “You have a pope, it’s just printed on paper and has ‘Holy Bible’ printed on the cover.” (One of the top 5 – ldh)

    That was like a drink of fine WINE?


  37. quote: “Couples who are more into each other during the service than they are the worship of God, or fellowship of other believers. Go home if you’re that horny.”

    YES!!! Thank you for this. As a single person, this is the NO. 1 REASON I struggle with going to church on a regular basis. It’s just too painful to watch all the PDA and withstand another sermon about marriage while I sit there alone and hurting.

  38. Interesting that someone would bring this up.

    I work with the most conservative, rules-oriented, truly narrow and proud of it Baptists anywhere.

    But several of the married couples do things in worship that just blow my mind.

    For example, one couple will stand to sing, and the husband will put his arm all the way around his wife’s waist while they are singing.

    I’ve seen this with more than one couple. They see it as completely appropriate.

    Just goes to show, one persons “reverence” is another persons PDA.

  39. Jeremiah Lawson says

    Bill, I like to tell cessationists that they’re closet deists who only believe in miracles if they are mentioned in the Bible. If Jesus or an apostle healed someone and it didn’t get mentioned in Scripture does the cessationist think it still happened?

  40. At least in this part of the world we don’t get politics in church (that would have me out the door before you could start counting), nor does anyone round here care too much about the creation/evolution thingy (thank heavens! I don’t care either) but that still leaves quite a few things. How about:

    I don’t do quiet times, haven’t done them for years, and I think it’s just legalism!

    I think some of these guys who are into “headship” are actually abusing their wives

    I hate “women’s ministry”. It’s the same Jesus and the same truth, why does it have to be dumbed down for women?

    Just because I’m female doesn’t mean I have the slightest interest in crafts or kids’ ministry. I’d rather revise my Greek and Hebrew (how CAN I say that without sounding like an intellectual snob?)

    I don’t like most of my extended family (some of whom have been VERY abusive) and I’d rather maintain careful boundaries with them than play “Christian” games.

    I had 2 kids because I only wanted to have 2 kids. I love my kids, but they’re not the whole reason for my existence. Likewise, I hated being pregnant — it wasn’t this wonderful mystic experience, it was 9 months of feeling sick and scared!

    My husband isn’t my best friend. Things happen. So what? We’ve still been married more than 30 years and have no intention of infidelity or divorce. Sometimes keeping your commitments is a goal in itself, regardless of feelings.

    Why do leaders have to be CEOs? And what’s with this vision thingy? Shouldn’t the “vision” be simply to follow Jesus wherever He leads?

    Just because you blurted a sentence about God to someone doesn’t mean you “witnessed”. Actually in that context you were rude and inappropriate!

  41. I may be the preacher (deacon, sunday school teacher, youth minister, worship leader, discipleship group leader, etc.) but I don’t have all the answers and I struggle just like every one else does.

    I’m asking the church to cut my salary because economic conditions are tough right now and the church can spend the money better elsewhere.

  42. God doesn’t actually have a favorite Mass.

    If the Church is two thousand years old, almost, and there’s been some sort of music all that time, why are 80% of the songs in the missal post 1970?
    Don’t even get me started on their quality.

    I don’t come to Mass to sing about myself, nor do I like to pose as if I were God the Father/Jesus.
    I am not the Bread of Life, nor will I raise anyone up on the last day, so it’s a little grandiose to sound like I am.

  43. “No, I’m not going to pray for your Great Aunt Fanny’s blister on her big toe.”

    “Pastor, I think Steve Brown’s pretty cool, and thanks to him, I’m now a grace-man, rather than a rule-keeper (like you.)

    “Yes, I think Jesus probably did have long hair.”

    “Did you know that Sex and the City comes out on Friday?”

    “If Jesus walked into our church today, we probably wouldn’t let him in. The dirt on His sandals might stain the carpet.”

    “I think blogging on the IM site is theraputic.”

  44. I could only read about the first 1/3 of the comments, then it got repetitive. I’m going to star by saying that I’m sorry that so many people get turned off by church. I have the cheerleaders in my church that don’t take no for an answer and it bugs me too, but I don’t let that stop me from praying that they find their true relationship with God and stop being to “religious”.

    The other thing that got me was the comments “what does Father’s Day/4th of July/etc have to do with the gospel?” My answer is “what does a mustard seed have to do with God’s love?” It’s a parable and an engaging – I didn’t say GOOD, but engaging – pastor will be able to use the 4th of July or even Halloween as a teaching example of how God moves and what he does for us on a daily basis. That is a pastor that can use a metaphor or an example from his life this week to tie it all together. Last year, my pastor talked of how he got a gardening set for Father’s day and tied that in with weeding and pruning then tied that into John 15 – He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
    Just as God has His hands in everything, everything is a opportunity to talk about God.

  45. -I like beer too, but that’s your last one tonight; you’ve had too much already (I wish people would have told me that at times).

    -I like raising my hands in worship. You don’t have to do it, but I’ll continue, thanks.

    -Sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out for ministry because I know the extent of my sinfulness.

    -Your interpretation of Jeremiah 29:11 is laughable at best.

    -I sometimes envy simple people who have a profound love for Christ.

    -I sometimes get frustrated by simple people who don’t care about the finer points of doctrine.

    -Let’s dispense with this “I’m not a Christian; I’m a Christ-follower” business. Stop shying away from the word “Christian” because you want to be trendy.

    -Sometimes I struggle with how gracious God is, and how in the world he can forgive me.

    -I’m not ready to give up on Calvinist theology because most people I know who are former Calvinists only were so because it was cool, and they gave up just because they were bitter and cynical in the first place.

    -I fail to see how cynicism reflects Jesus Christ at all; that’s why I hate my own cynicism so much.

    -I thought that movie was great.

    -I thought that movie was filth.

    -I like reading both John Piper and Ben Witherington III.

    -I don’t care much for Rob Bell.

    -I think every Christian should read Slaughterhouse Five.

    -I like worshiping to a more rocked-out sort of praise band. I enjoy a more liturgical style of worship on occasion as well.

    -There’s an overplayed inspirational Christian song or two that I enjoy.

    -I’m 24, and I’m a virgin. That makes me the oldest virgin in most of my circles of friends. Sometimes I get really frustrated about that.

    -Most of the time non-Christian girls make more sense to me.

    -I find most Christian dating practices either so romantic that it’s no wonder the girl winds up pregnant, or so practical that if the couple gets married I wonder if they’re robots.

  46. I have read my way through this list of comments(mostly complaints) and come to a conclusion. Most Christians really struggle with the ability to handle(give or receive) constructive criticism. There are a lot of comments here that should be aired and dealt with in the situations where they take place. I say this as a minister who has worked under the cloud of crippling criticism(which was never voiced to me). I am an oddball who has openly asked for critical comments in ministry that will make me a better minister. Some churches and some people have been kind enough to take me at my word and offer these comments, which then help me to see blind spots in my ministry or thinking. But there are others, who prefer to leave their thoughts unsaid(except to their closest friends) which helped no one at all and instead did great harm. I would like to suggest, that we as believers need to find a way to tell people the truth in love. If you have a complaint about something, suggest a way to make it better. If you can’t think of a way to make it better, then the criticism won’t be constructive, it will just be venting.
    If I may in this spirit offer a comment to those who wrote about not having a quiet time or not needing a quiet time or something similar. Christ is the one who gave the example of getting alone with God and spending “quiet time” with Him. If you don’t like calling it that or whatever, then don’t. But it is arrogant to think that we don’t need alone time with God when Christ did.
    Jeff M

  47. * Singing the same lyric over and over doesn’t make the song interesting

    * We need a little more room between the chairs – we keep banging into each other with these huge planks sticking out of our eyes

    * Communion should be at least offered

    * Pastor’s wives should be involved in service and outreach

    * There is no one-way to worship

    * Why is it again we never mention Satan in the sermon?

    * Cleavage does make a brother stumble, so are you sure that’s an appropriate outfit?

    * Where is the cross at this church again?

    * A side-hug is much more appropriate

    * The stage performance can actually distract us away from Jesus, it’s not all about you

    * How exactly am I supposed to transfer this message to my every-day life?

    * Reading from your notes the entire time doesn’t make the sermon very believable

    * Don’t say you’ll pray for me when you really won’t

    * Remember the Great Commission?

    * Memorizing Bible verses is not going to make me a better person

    * Recycling the sermons IS noticeable

    * You don’t seem to practice what you preach

    * Put the cell phone down. All I want to do is read what you are texting, so I can’t concentrate!

    * We all have a past, let’s stop acting like we were born perfect

  48. * Singing the same lyric over and over doesn’t make the song interesting

    * We need a little more room between the chairs – we keep banging into each other with these huge planks sticking out of our eyes

    * Communion should be at least offered

    * Pastor’s wives should be involved in service and outreach

    * There is no one-way to worship

    * Why is it again we never mention Satan in the sermon?

    * Cleavage does make a brother stumble, so are you sure that’s an appropriate outfit?

    * Where is the cross at this church again?

    * A side-hug is much more appropriate

    * The stage performance can actually distract us away from Jesus, it’s not all about you

    * How exactly am I supposed to transfer this message to my every-day life?

    * Reading from your notes the entire time doesn’t make the sermon very believable

    * Don’t say you’ll pray for me when you really won’t

    * Remember the Great Commission?

    * Memorizing Bible verses is not going to make me a better person

    * Recycling the sermons IS noticeable

    * You don’t seem to practice what you preach

    * Put the cell phone down. All I want to do is read what you are texting, and I can’t concentrate!

    * We ALL have a past, let’s stop acting like we were born perfect

  49. another:

    “Transparency? You couldn’t deal with transparency.”

  50. Bob Sacamento says

    j. Michael Jones, thanks for yoour comment. You hit the nail on the head.

    Jeff M.,

    I have … come to a conclusion. Most Christians really struggle with the ability to handle(give or receive) constructive criticism. There are a lot of comments here that should be aired and dealt with in the situations where they take place. I say this as a minister who has worked under the cloud of crippling criticism (which was never voiced to me). I am an oddball who has openly asked for critical comments in ministry that will make me a better minister.

    Two things: 1) You sound like the kind of minister whose church I would like to join. But I have had to deal with too many ministers who just absolutely do not want to hear the things that are being voiced in these comments. 2) I think Michael was asking for things we can’t say in church, not things we can’t say to our pastors. Even in churches with great pastors, there is almost always the question of what one can say in the larger congregation without raising the wrong set of eyebrows.