Monday, April 19, 2010

MIsfit Church Basher?

Hi Misfits!
I've been worried over the last few days that my blog will be taken as a "church-bashing" blog. I want to say, right now, up front, that this is not my intention at all! The Church is made up of all believers in Christ and is very important, no, may I say, VITAL to our entire belief system? The metaphor of the Church being the Bride of Christ is possibly one of the deepest spiritual images that exists. So if I mention things that have happened to me in churches, please don't think that I am against the Church OR even physical churches. I just know that many, many people have been hurt in physical churches, and there is a reason for that. We, as Christians, need to be ever mindful that we represent Christ to the world, yeah, but also that we represent Christ to the person sitting next to us in the pew. Or folding chair.

Sometimes things happen in churches that boggle the mind. And somehow people seem to look past it because, well, because it happened in church. Nowhere else is it more apparent that people are just imperfect beings than within physical church bodies. That's where our true fallen natures so often seem to rear their ugly heads. I don't know why. I just know it's true.

As a misfit, this blog has started out kind of all over the place. I've blogged about being a Misfit Christian. I've blogged a little about my beginnings as a Christian. Now about the church. I think in my heart there are certain things that I truly want to talk about to other Christians, and also to non-Christians.

One, is that not everyone who is a Christian feels comfortable in the physical body of church (hence part of the whole Misfit Christian thing). This doesn't mean I don't think we need a physical church body. In fact, I do. But neither do I think God forsakes us if we aren't "going to" church regularly.

Two, I want to talk to Christians about how we chase others away from God, either by our actions or our words or our well-meant evangelistic endeavors. Why do people cringe when you say the word, "Christian" ? Because Christians have made it a bad word, equating it with other words like Pious, Judgmental, Condemning, Holier-than-Thou (okay more than a word), Superior, and even words like Hateful, Mean, Spiteful, and Republican. (Now don't hate me, but I would truly like to urge people who are combining their politics with Christianity to please stop!! I can back this up with scripture, and will on another blog.)

So for awhile, this blog may be all over the place, but mostly, I hope it will become a site that people can come to and express their own experiences, thoughts, views, even questions they have about Christ or the way Christians act. I certainly don't have all the answers, but we can sure all talk about it together!

hugs from Misfit Tess

Today's question: Have you ever been hurt by a church body or a Christian? I want to hear your story. 


  1. Since this is for misfits...I'm not sure this comment will apply to your question but I was raised Catholic...even attended 8 years of parochial school. That being said, there was this one day I went to confession and being an 8th grader back in bad could I be? I told the priest I fought with my brother (silly arguments) and he had me in the confessional for an hour!!! Yes he did...lecturing me and I was so mortified when I came out with others staring at me...with my red knees because we weren't allowed pants back the. Since then, I do NOT believe in confession and I do not attend Church. My children received all of their sacraments and went to 8 years of catechism...but no masses. And now look at how the priests are behaving. Tess, it sure did do a number on me. But I believe I am a better Christian than those who go to Church and basically are hypocrites. I pray every day and live a good Christian life.
    Is that kind of what you're looking for?
    <3 Patty

  2. Hi Patty!
    Thanks for sharing your story! Wow, an hour in confession! I can see how that would affect you and embarrass you at that age. Eighth grade is hard enough without that kind of experience. I'm sorry that it drove you away from church, although being a Christian certainly doesn't mean you have to go to church.

    It's nice, though, when you can find a church where you can meet people you can relate to! It's not always easy, but I do believe there are churches out there that are trying to be different.

    Also, I think most Christians are hypocrites sooner or later, at some time or another. I think the problem is that many of us feel like we have to pretend to be perfect. We're scared to reveal who we really are in church, out of fear we'll be judged. The truth is, we all mess up.

    I think the key, if we can't find a church where we feel accepted, is to find friends that are Christians that accept us for who we are, who will give us support and love. The Bible says that where two or more are gathered together, God will be there! I hope this blog, at least, can be a place for people to gather and give support to each other.

    Thanks again for your story, Patty, and I hope you'll come back again. By the way, Misfit Christians can be from any denomination or no denomination at all. :))


  3. Tess if this comment is not wanted just remove it. I just wanted to say to Anonymous that Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus. Not about sacraments or religious schools. It is about asking God for forgiveness. I am a Christian, and I align my beliefs with a southern Baptist Church. A lot of other denominations do put too much emphasis on rules and regulations. Jesus the Creator of the world came to earth as a man to die once for our sins. Not multiple times. Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace through faith and not of works lest any man should boast." I know that may be Christian Speak but that verse is very plain. It is not about what we do or have done but about what God did for us. He sent his son who is also God to die for us so that if we believe and ask God for forgiveness then he will save us. Now I have nothing against any other denominations as long as they do change the bible or just take the parts of the bible they choose to believe. Forgive me I am a little ADD and tend to ramble and my thoughts roam all over the place. I do not believe that anything other than asking God to save us will help us to get to heaven. I detest the fact that certain denominations feel that someone else has to take our sins to the Father to ask for forgivness for us. Or that if you do not speak in tongues you are not saved or if you are not baptized in this Church or that Church you are not saved. When Jesus said "It is Finished" the veil that seperated the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle was torn and we no longer had to have a human high priest to go before us to God. Jesus became that High priest and he only will have to go before our Father once on Judgement day to say that my name is written in the "Lambs Book of Life." Every sin I have committed. Even the ones since I have been saved are covered under the Blood of Christ. Now when I do sin post salvation(which is human nature), I do have to ask God to forgive those sins just to restore my relationship with him but not for him to save me again. Sorry for rambling. Tess I will say that there are a lot of churches today that do hang on to old customs and traditions and I do like some of those traditions. but I also know that a Church should never turn away anyone based on the color of their skin, length of their hair or the clothes they wear. If my head didn't get so hot in the summer I would be a long haired hippy too. I am also a scifi geek. I don't believe too much of it but I love to read and watch it. once again I strayed from my thought. I also don't mind if someone questions why a church does the things they do so long as they are not trying to change what the bible says. anyway sorry for the long winded comment.


  4. Hi Allen,
    I can tell that you have a passion for telling others about Jesus and that is a wonderful thing. Here is my request--

    I feel strongly that this should be a place where Christians and non-Christians alike can come and tell their stories without fear. Everyone is welcome to post their beliefs and thoughts and feelings. What I do ask is for everyone to be treated with respect by everyone who posts, no matter what either person believes.

    With that in mind, I hope that people of any denomination and in fact, any religion, can post here and feel safe in doing so. I'm basically asking that whatever posts are made, that they are made in love, and in a way that doesn't make others feel rebuked or slammed for their beliefs.

    The point of this site is to bring people together so that we can all understand each other a little better, and also to show people who have been hurt by Christians, that not all Christians are going to hurt them.

    And you are right--Christianity is about Christ, not about our work, not about us poor fallen people trying to follow Him, but about Him, and most particularly, His love. And that's what I hope will be seen and shown here. The love of Christ. Does that make sense? I hope so.

  5. Hi.
    I would like to also stay anonymous because, honestly, I don't want to be judged as "judgmental". I become really frustrated with the Church. But as I've tried to turn my frustration to Christ & His Word, I can't deny His love for His Bride- the Church.

    Jesus told us to love one another as He loved us- and gave us the most challenging lab to test out our obedience- the Church.

    Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, not single people.

    Paul lived and breathed for the Church (Colossians 1, Ephesians 1; 4).

    The writer of Hebrews admonished its recipients to "not stop meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing..." as a means to encourage one another, especially in the face of persecution.

    1 Corinthians 12 relays the importance of using one another's giftedness for God's glory.

    And on and on throughout His Word, God highlights Community. God Himself is Community- with the Father, Son and Spirit. It's not good for man to be alone.

    I wanted to grow stronger w/just His Word but it became a trend- God meant not only to have a personal relationship w/me (a term not found in the Bible) but w/me as part of His kingdom (multiple group of people) and His bride (Church).

    Jesus said "if you love me, you will obey my commands". Love shows itself in obedience: Jesus modeled it by being obedient to the Father. Jesus' last prayer was for the unity of the believers (John 17). I found that I don't think we can claim love and reject the people we were called to love, no matter how unbelievably ridiculous and difficult it may be- because, the truth is, sometimes WE'RE ridiculous and difficult.

    So I gave Church a chance. Again and again. Because that's how Christ loved us and commands us to do the same. Jesus said that our love would make it known that we were His- well, nothing screams love more than faithfulness, even when we're being boneheaded hypocrites, which is an unavoidable reality.

    Being on the inside now, I'd say that being left behind is just as painful as leaving. Everyone is needed, even misfits.

  6. Hi Anonymous!
    No judgment from me! I agree with you that the gathering of the church body is really necessary to our growth and spiritual wholeness. Jesus admonished us not to forsake meeting together.But he also said, "Where two meet together, there I will be."

    What I think people have problems with is what I call the "physical church", not the spiritual body of Christ. I have wondered recently if instead of big buildings and stage bands and board meetings and etc. etc., that what Jesus really wanted was for us to simply to gather together--wherever, however many--to learn and to worship Him.

    Not that meeting in a designated church building is bad. It just brings so much with it fraught with possible conflict -- decisions, rent, who's-in-charge questions, etc. which lead to disputes, squabbles, etc that are hard to avoid.

    The church body needs to meet, I totally agree. I'm just in flux about how Jesus intended for that to take place. And I agree, living outside of a regular group of Christians is isolating at best and miserable at worst. But sometimes people who have been hurt would rather protect themselves than take a chance again.

    Like I said in my blog, I'm not a church basher. I just think it may be time for Christians to take a look at how the church needs to change, or grow in a new direction, to be what Jesus meant it to be. Exactly what that is, I'm not sure. I'm the first to admit it! But I think that's what we need to figure out.

    In the meantime, finding a physical church where you feel comfortable is (pardon the seemingly frivolous comparison) sort of like finding the right pair of shoes. Sometimes you have to try a lot of them on before you find the right fit. And sometimes Misfits have bunions, so that makes it harder to find a good fit. But not impossible. I encourage all Misfits to keep praying and keep trying! :)

    In every church there are blessings to be found. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder for them, and most of all, try very, very hard not to look at each other.

    Thank you, Anonymous, and everyone else, for your opinions and comments. They are appreciated!

  7. I would agree w/the "frivolous" example- find a good one because you'll definitely be working them out!

    And I'd agree with the fact that giant church buildings, sophisticated bands and technology is not always the way to go. Believe me, as a non-Bible Belt Christian, the "mega-church" is not an option!

    But I do believe that the physical church assembly is what is emphasized throughout Scripture, complete with all the issues and drama you've correctly and insightfully included. The beginning of the book of Acts highlights these meetings, and includes the inevitable drama that ensued-- people dying over lying about their giving, theological disagreements, being hated by their modern-day media and political parties, etc.

    May I respectfully disagree with your use of the passage "where two or more are gathered, there I will be". (The discussion has been nothing but cordial and respectful, please do not take my disagreement as argumentativeness). This passage, while quoted by many, is not about regular (church) assembly at all, but about Jesus being present while 2 people have a disagreement (which is often what happens in church, but still). Jesus was speaking of being present as an approval of unity among brethren, not as a replacement of regular assembly. He was saying, when 2 or 3 people can work out their differences without the need of some special arbitration, I am there-- his presence is almost like him saying "rest assured, you are doing the right thing by working things out and not ignoring them".
    In fact, in the verses before that famous quote, Jesus encouraged them that if a matter could not be resolved one-on-one, or among a small group of witnesses, then take it to the church. I don't think he was saying, "church is anything you want it to be as long as you're together" (and I'm not saying you're saying that either, please don't misunderstand as an attack).

    Church is supposed to have loving elders that teach and model. Church is supposed to have servers who are filled with love and God's spirit, even if just to "attend tables" as they did in Acts. I would agree that we have notably lowered our standards or changed them completely to suit our, not our needs, but our realities as broken human beings, unwilling to be transformed by the God who does just that.

    Luke 4:16 highlights, "As was his custom, Jesus went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath day..." Jesus physically worshiped with the brethren regularly, and I'd kindly argue that we are to follow his lead, no matter how difficult. After all, if we follow him long enough he'll lead us to the cross before he leads us to his glorious resurrection. For many us, his church is part of our "calvary road" but a vital part of our journey with Christ.

  8. Hi Anonymous!
    Thank you very much for your wonderful post! I am always willing and ready to be taught--believe me I don't think I have all the answers. I am very interested in what you said about the "two or more gathered together" verse. I admit I did not go back and look that up before I posted it. It may be one of those "that's what I always thought it said" kind of verses. If that's not what it meant, I sure want to know!

    You have spurred me to go and look it up and see what it said. I promise in the future to do that first before I use a scripture! Always a good idea! ;)

    I guess my hope is that the physical church can have a kind of "quiet revolution" and get back to the basics of what Jesus really meant for it to be. Your post has helped me have a broader view of exactly what that might be!

    Thanks for coming by and I hope you will come again!

  9. Thank YOU, Misfit Tess, for the forum to dialogue! Amen to the quiet revolution of the church!
    Rock on!

  10. Thanks Anonymous -- I really, really appreciate the rock on!! :)

  11. I was raised Baptist and I attended church until I was 12. At that age we got a new preacher, and I believe the message changed. It became more about fire and brimstone for one, and I do not believe in a wrathful God, so that's when I started getting confused. How could they tell me that God was all-loving when they were telling me he picked favorites and took his anger out on people. After that, it kept getting harder and harder to believe in what the preacher was saying and I felt myself become disassociated with my faith. It also didn't help that the preacher became more about how many people he could get to fill the pews, like it was some kind of contest, or like he was saying to God, "look at me, look at how many people I can get in here." I felt shut out, and that hurt. I stopped going then and that's when I really began to lose faith in the church as a physical place to worship.

  12. Hi, Tess! It's been a while since I've read your blog and I've missed so many great posts!

    You asked for personal stories so I'll give you one of mine.

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and was a member of that church until my family moved into a non-denominational church. I really felt like the people of this church were family. I'd known them all my life. Anytime I felt left out was like a physical pain in my heart. And this happened more often than one might believe. Because we were not from the community where we attended church, we were 'different' and because my mother was not born in that general area, that made us even more 'different'. I think I always felt that from the time I was old enough to recognize the fact of being left out. I never really felt like I belonged until I was an older youth and friends with the pastor's daughter. And I only felt like I really 'belonged' because of the fact that I was friends with the pastor's daughter. Like if I lost that, I'd lose my state of belonging. My church underwent a great revival movement and my dad led music at my church from time before I was born through this time of revival. My family and several other families, through reading Scripture and prayer and much discussion, were open to the leading of the Holy Spirit within the church service. And if that meant the service ran a few extra minutes or we sang some songs that weren't in the 'Holy Baptist Hymnal' that was OK with us. But it wasn't OK with the elder 'dyed-in-the-wool' Baptists who felt they were in charge of that church and everything that occured there. In essence, I felt like they ostracized my dad. I saw him cry and fight inner battles and wonder why these people who he loved and who he would haven given the shirt off his back to, would even want to hurt him like this. Or at least that was the perception of a teenaged soul. I guess this was the initial start to my 'loosing faith in people who claim to be Christian.' Now I try to do as the Scripture says and check the fruit they are bearing in their lives. It is my humble opinion that one can have a church service in any place, whether it be a physical building or not. I've learned that there are different interpretations of Scripture and that one must judge for oneself based on many things. I refuse to argue my position with anyone because I've also learned in the most embarassing ways possible that you cannot /make/ someone change their mind. Now I think I'm rambling! Back on track-my husband and I have decided to basically 'settle' on a church that teaches our basic beliefs and we are doing what we can to attend and teach our children. We still feel much out of place in the church we've chosen. It is my firm belief that God wants people to live an abundant life and have joy in that life. I cling to that hope and choose joy. But I still hold on to my beliefs, too, regardless of hearing sometimes total opposites being taught in the church we've chosen. OK, my novel is done. I'm such a word hog!

  13. Thank you Alicia
    I so appreciate you sharing your church experience. I can understand how hard that was for you. I don't believe in a wrathful God either. What I found was that once I left a certain denomination and moved to another one, I found a much better fit for myself and my family. I hope that you won't stop searching for a church, because even though I do talk a lot about the "invisible church" that we are all a part of, the truth is, I'm finding more and more that I need that personal, every week connection with other Christians. I still haven't found a church where I feel totally perfect, but I'm going to keep looking. I hope you will too. :))


  14. Dear Muddled,
    How hard that must have been as a child to see your father put in that kind of position. He must have been a very strong and kind person to endure that kind of treatment. Churches can turn into a place of cliques, especially with teens--but also with adults! I wonder sometimes if Christ came into some of our churches, what he would think. God will reward your father, you can be sure of that!

    I agree with you that it serves no purpose to argue with people over any aspect of Scripture. You can only share what you believe and pray that God speaks to them through your words. Thanks so much for sharing your experience here. I do appreciate your openness and contribution very much.