Have You Been Hurt and Disappointed by The Church?

I heard of a man who was rescued after being stranded on a remote island for 23 years. When the captain and crew finally reached the shore, the guy was excited beyond words. He laughed. He cried. Behind him were three buildings. The captain asked, “What’s the first one for?” “That’s my house,” he said. “What’s the second one for?” “That’s my church.” “And the third hut?” “Oh, that?” said the castaway, “That’s the church I used to go to.”

Well, perhaps you’ve been disappointed with church life too. You’re not alone. I’ve been a churchgoer since I was knee-high to a lima bean, and I’ve found that churches would be perfect places if they didn’t open up the doors and let the humans in. Churches have split over trivial things like the color of the carpet, the length of the sermon, or the length of the worship leader’s beard. My son Steve, who led worship music for years, was berated by an unhappy congregant for allowing a drummer on the platform. Steve asked where the Bible says that God disapproves of percussion instruments. Last I heard, the poor man is still looking for that passage. And for a church where everything is just right.

Sadly, congregations have been conflicted about issues like which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer. Members of one church left when a stronger blend of coffee was introduced. Maybe they started the First Church Decaffeinated. I hope not. The great potluck war took place in 1983 when parishioners asked that the term “potluck” be abandoned in favor of “pot blessing.” Reminds me of the time we sang a song, “Takin’ a trip that leads to heaven.” Someone believed it was an obvious drug reference, so the word “trip” was changed to “journey.”

Please know that such disputes are not the norm. Yet some of my close friends have been wounded at church and have given up altogether. Over and over, the Bible urges us to unite. Jesus said the world will know we are His followers because of our love. If you haven’t experienced that love, I’m so sorry. It might be a lot to ask, but would you give us another chance? Church isn’t a museum; it’s a hospital where broken people like myself go. We’d love for you to join us. We Christians will disappoint one another, but let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, the only sinless One.

And if someone scolds you for bringing deviled eggs to a church potluck, just smile and tell them you brought a dessert that will make up for it. It’s called angel food cake.

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