don’t believe in God, because I want to piss him off
once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less, I gather
with a small group of people who are “wounded by
are people of differing ages, differing experiences,
different life styles, differing points of reference and
yet one very important core experience – they are
pissed at God. I
got connected to their little group by “accident”
(as if God works anything by accident). One day, while drinking a café mocha (venti) at my fav local
starbucks waiting for a friend, I over heard a
conversation between two people about “God and being
did not want to “get involved” so I picked-up a news
paper and started to read, pretending not to listen but
straining my ears to hear every word. Soon, others joined the conversation and a small group of
people, all strangers to each other, formed and God
became the center of topic.
After about a half hour, I jumped in; to quote
one of my fav theologians of my youth (Popeye) “I had
all I can take, I can takes no more.”
introduced myself and apologized for listening to the
conversation, but I was very interested in what they
were talking about.
I asked if I could join in the discussion.
One (Raymond) invited me to join, and I did.
I was honest, and told them up front that I was a
Lead Pastor with a church (most could not believe it)
and that I did not want to join to “give the party
truly wanted to hear what they had to say.
So I listened, only answering questions when they
were directed at me by name, and never once making an
excuse for what another pastor said or did and I never
questioned what they were saying and feeling.
This first night we sat for a few hours, and just
talked – it was defiantly an eye-opening experience.
When we left that night, we shared phone numbers
and suggested we gather again in a month. With that being said, I figured the meeting would be over,
and we would not gather together again.
But I was wrong; about a month later I got a call
and an invite to meet again, “same bat time, same bat
time I got to know this little group pretty well, and
they got to trust me.
Let me share with you a little about each member
of the group (not all, but the few that did not mind me
sharing – within limits) and what they have to say.
By doing so, I am certain you will see what some
people think about God, the church and Christians.
a 33-year-old male, who after what seemed to be a
lifetime of loneliness found his soul mate, married her
and started a family.
Raymond is a Real Estate Agent who walked out on
God after a drunk driver in a head-on collision killed
his wife and daughter.
He has a hard time seeing a God of love allowing
such pain and taking the only thing he lived for from
caught me about Raymond was his statement, “I don’t
believe in God, because I want to piss him off.”
a 25-year-old male, who is a crap dealer in a large
Strip Casino and is a practicing homosexual.
He left the church after being confronted by a
small group of people who demanded he change his life
the closing to the deal was when he tried to make an
appointment with the Senior Pastor to talk about his
homosexuality and he could not get one, but did get a
letter from the Pastor stating he had been removed from
the church and was not welcomed back.
His statement about God that stuck with me was,
“Why should I believe in God, God doesn’t believe in
a 36-year-old divorced mother of three.
Her ex-husband was on the Board of the church and
when she filed for divorce, the church asked her to
her husband stayed, is still on the board and is engaged
to be married. When
the church found out that she filed for divorce she was
confronted by a group of the elders wives who explained
to her that God did not allow for divorce for something
as “trivial as physical abuse.”
Her statement about God is, “I want nothing to
do with a God that tells me I have to stay in an abusive
a 23-year-old male construction worker who was
new to the faith when he turned away from God.
After joining the church Michael was stoked and
decided to get a “I Love Jesus” tattoo – to add it
his growing collection.
Michael was asked to help with the youth group,
and he wanted to join the worship band and play bass.
Soon after the tattoo the Senior Pastor
approached him and told him that he would not be able to
work with the youth, and the Worship Pastor had concerns
about his wanting to join the band.
The Senior Pastor explained that tattooing was
against all of God’s teachings and that by his getting
a tattoo he was showing that he truly did not accept
Jesus as his savior.
The Pastor added, “What you see as an act of
love, God sees as an act of sin.
God does not accept tattooing, piercing or rock
music.” Michael left the church and what he said was most
enlightening, “How can God be relevant to life, when
he is so irrelevant to life?”
I got to know the people in this group, and got to love
each and every one of them, I was impressed in their
desire to share with me their stories.
I was honored to be part of their inner circle.
As I listened to their stories I found common
treads, common elements that spoke volumes to me, and
how I saw my ministry; and how I saw the church and what
it needs to do to change.
I never told anyone in the group they were wrong,
nor did I try to “fix” the problem.
I felt it was my place to listen, and to let them
know that someone in the church cared enough to list
without making excuses.
I would like to share with you my observations
over my time with this group and hopefully Christians
will know how to act:
and I cannot stress this enough, their pain is real –
do not discount that pain; do not try to trivialize that
pain; do not try to “correct” that pain.
Too many times we Christians try to trivialize
the pain of others as “immature” or “simplistic”
and that must not be the case.
What I have found is that all the members of my
little group have a deep passion for their point of
to tell them that their point of view is wrong will only
cause them to dig-in deeper and see you as “one of
those church people.”
Over time I have experienced that passion, and I
have been the blunt end of that passion.
By them knowing I am a Pastor, and I am willing
to listen and no fix, I am fair game for all the pain
and all the emotion that drives the passion of their
was sharing one of the stories with a Pastor friend of
mine, and his first reaction was, “God did not do
this, people in the church did this.”
While he may be “true” it is not right, which
brings me to my second point.
For most people you cannot separate the God from
his followers, they are intertwined.
If a follower treats a person poorly, that person
associates that action with God.
If a follower is judgmental, God is judgmental;
if a follower is cruel, God is cruel; if a follower is
closed, God is closed; if a follower is relevant, then
God is irrelevant.
The logic follows that a follower follows the
teachings of their God, so how they act is how God acts
– it’s very logical – no matter how “wrong”
you may think it is, it’s a fact.
We, over time, have anthropomorphize God to the
point of giving the deity unrealistic human emotions.
To take what Raymond says about “pissing off
knows that’s not possible, but it is possible to piss
off his followers.
You see, what those outside the church believe is
that the way you act is the way your God teaches you –
act badly, your God is bad.
do we do?
the question becomes, what do we do about this as
listen – shut-up and listen.
Be open to hearing what people say.
When I say listen I do not mean just hear them, I
mean listen to them, know their hearts and allow them to
scream and do not try to “solve” the problem – and
never “try to help them see the churches point of
will come to that in God’s time, not yours.
Second, don’t try to take the blame off God and
put it on the people – God can handle the pressure.
Third, and to me the most important, stop trying
to find excuses why you cannot act like Christ, and act
like Christ. Saying
things like “we are human and humans make mistakes”
has no value to those outside the church; they see it as
an excuse to abuse.
I was speaking with a Pastor friend (the
one who puts it on “imperfect humans.”) who said
that Paul and others in Scripture were constantly
telling the church to ‘get it together’ but they
never do, proving that man’s imperfections drive us
– how poor an excuse.
While I agree Paul does tell churches to get it
together, he never says, “but it’s ok your only
are told to change, and it is not optional.
If cultural forces drive us, and we are driven by
human desires and wants then exactly what are we
transformed from and into?
We need to see that our walk is one that gets us
deeper into being Christ-like and not less anything