reasons why your church sucks
by john o'keefe
a month ago I was sitting at my favorite Starbucks with a friend
who just recently came back to the church after a long absence.
He is not the most disciplined believer, but his heart is
set for Christ and his ideas on church are well grounded.
He left the church because of “church abuse.”
You know, when Pastors and members think they are better
then you and strive to beat you – spiritually and emotionally
– to think like them; church abuse. Anyway, we were talking about the then upcoming possibility
of the Tyson fight that would be coming to Las Vegas if the
commission approved his application (which did not happen).
As we were “talking,” (my friend gets heated when he talks Tyson and
fighting), an “older” gentleman came over and
joined us at our table. He
started a conversation with my friend, (ignoring me totally),
about nothing really. Soon
the conversation turned to his reason for coming over (and not
smoothly I might add), and that reason? Church.
this man was a local church leader (I never figured out if he
was the Pastor or not, and my friend was not talking).
He was wondering why he had not seen my friend in church
for a while. My
friend smiled and politely told the person that he fell away
from the church for a sometime, but was now attending another
church in town. He
thanked the man for asking, then tried to move back to our
gentlemen asked why he had not returned to “his” church.
My friend, again trying to be very polite, tried to tap
dance around the question and not give this man both barrels of
his emotional sawed-off shotgun.
I could tell it was disturbing him, and I could see he
was getting a bit uncomfortable.
I tried to say something, but the gentleman would cut me
off. I tried to
move the conversation along when the man looked at me and said,
“Would you please stay out of this?
This is between “Jack” (not his real name) and I.”
I guess the man pushed too far with that one and my
friend snapped, “Alright.
Do you really want to tell you why?” my friend snapped.
“Yes.” The gentlemen said demandingly.
My friend looked at him and tried to explain, but every
time he got one word out the man countered with some obscure
reason that had nothing to do with what he was saying.
He was trying to invalidate my friend’s point of view,
and doing a poor job of it along the way.
Finally, as the frustration level for my friend seemed to
get hotter then the steam used to make the foam on our café
mocha’s, he looked the man straight in the face, and as loud
as he could said, “Here are the top ten reasons why I think
your church sucks.” As
he started his list he looked at me and he could tell my shock
– I had never heard him speak that way before.
He reached over and touched my arm as to assure me he was
all right and he had been thinking of this for a while and it
was not time to get it off his chest.
he said, “Your church is totally irrelevant to the community.
You all talk a good game, but you do not see the dynamic
of the community changing around you.
Second, your church is filled with poor leaders and over
bearing bullies who believe the best way to get anything done is
to frighten people. All
you have are people who will tell you what to do, and not lead
us in doing it. Third,
your church has no vision.
You guys are just dead in the water.
Fourth, your church is old.
Your church is filled with old people who have no reason
to move ahead. They
have more life behind them then they do ahead of them. Fifth, your church is inbred. The people my age in your church are all related to the older
people so change is impossible.
People who are part of the outside don’t feel welcomed
into the inside and voice an opinion; it’s filled with
mama’s boys. Sixth,
your church is more concerned about image them reality.
You all seem to be more concerned with the condition with
building then with building the condition of your people.
The carpet looks great, because no food is allowed near
it. The stain glass
is wonderful; because you spend more money on cleaning and
maintaining it then you do on mission work.
Seventh, your church sees no need for change.
You are all happy in your fortress and are not interested
in opening your doors to the outside.
Evangelism is a dead concept, and community is only those
inside the building. Eighth, your church doesn’t share a relevant message for a
relevant time. You’re
so concerned with doctrine, you are not allowing me to explore
the faith and question the unquestionable.
Ninth, your church doesn’t care about me as a person,
only as a checkbook. Over
the time I was with the church I heard more sermons on how much
I should be giving and not one on how much you were willing to
give up. The only
time I had anyone from your church visit me was when “pledge
time” came around and you needed me to increase my giving.
It got to the point were I felt no matter what I gave it
would never be enough. Tenth, your church is all politics and
only get done if you can muster enough political support form
others to get your point to be heard, press your issues and
lobby for approval. You
have to wheel and deal to get anything done.”
Needless to say I was impressed, and a bit confused.
(Granted, this is not a word for word, but when I read it
to my friend he agreed that it was pretty much what he said.) The man looked at my friend and said, “Well, we understand
Satan has gotten a hold of you and these are not your words, but
his. We will be
praying for you and keeping in touch to help you return to
‘God’s church.” My
friend just looked at him confused – he had just sent a half
hour giving a point-by-point reasoning as to why he left
“his” church and the man did not hear a word.
In fact, he did what most people in his position do, he
put it back on my friend – as if to say, ‘we’re not wrong,
you are. And one day you will see that.’
The attitude is, if you question us it is because you
don’t understand God and you are not mature in Christ and you
need others to pray for you.
and The Big Ten
chaos theory there is this very cool thing called
turbulence is pure destruction.
It can best be defined as “destruction inside
you were to take a snapshot of turbulence and magnify it over
and over again what you would find would be an infinite number
or little turbulences inside.
Turbulence is turbulence inside turbulence inside
turbulence – to an infinite depth.
As Gleick writes in Chaos, Making a New Science, “It is
a mess of disorder at all scales, small eddies within large
ones. It is
unstable. It is highly dissipative, meaning that turbulences drains
energy and creates drag.”
When you are dealing with turbulence is as if all known
rules simply breakdown and have no meaning.
Turbulence will destroy, and will damage, and will
question is just how much?
air, water or any object, reached certain velocity turbulence
will occur – guaranteed.
Interestingly, the velocity has nothing to do with
increased speed; turbulence can be caused on a decrease of speed.
It has to do with “critical velocity.”
Ever notice a person who smokes?
Take a look at the cigarette that is lit and in the
ashtray. Notice the
smooth line of smoke climbing from the cigarette?
Watch it for a few seconds and notice that all of a
sudden the smooth line of smoke starts to go a little wacky at
the top? That is
turbulence, a host of eddies forming and causing a mess.
we look at the church, and not just the one mentioned earlier
but all churches, we could get a picture of the turbulence that
can cause a church to feed upon itself and die.
Here are the top ten reason given by my friend in his
“conversation” with the older gentlemen:
It does not understand the community at large
It has poor leadership
It has no solid vision
It is graying, quickly
It’s concerned with look and not action
It’s comfortable in its misery, and is looking for
It’s out of touch with the 21st century
It’s all about money
It’s all politics
are the turbulences of the church, the eddies that form the
destruction of the church on earth.
Like so much of turbulence in chaos theory, these eddies
are small and seldom noticed.
Another interesting thing that comes from turbulence is
the reality that turbulence is always present.
When things are running smooth, the eddies that form are
small and quickly breakdown.
But if the eddies are ignored they multiply and become
O'Keefe is the founder of ginkworld, and is the lead
pastor at 247connetion [www.247connection.net].
he is a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend,
skeptic, searcher and wonderer.
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