Have you ever had a really negative experience in church? One that left a bad taste in your mouth and caused you to run away, never to look back? I have. Many times. In fact, as I’ve been doing research on this topic, I’m finding many resources that suggest as much as 74% of the population currently doesn’t find church a satisfying or necessary use of their time. That’s 3/4 of our population. What is happening, folks?
Speaking from personal experience, there have been several churches and at least 5 major denominations that I’ve closed the door on in the last ten years. I’ve simply not found the Pastor’s sermons to contain the Truth or shed Light on any darkness in the world. In fact, many times, the behaviors and preaching of the Pastor, elders and deacons have perpetuated it, leading me off the path that Jesus intended me to be on.
If we’re speaking the name of Jesus and the Word of God, we’re bringing Light into the world, as God intended us to do.
For more than 23 years, I attended what is now openly touted “liberal and accepting churches where all of God’s people are welcome.” Except that you’re not really welcome unless you’re willing and able to denounce any portion of the Word of God that causes any member of society to feel uncomfortable. What you’re left with is just a few vague ideas that Jesus is a nice man, in a group of other nice men who did nice things for many people as often as they were able to. And oh, by the way, the name “Jesus” is now expected to be interchangeable with Buddha, Allah, and any other god that someone might want to worship. We can’t allow anyone to feel left out, can we?
In many churches, calling anything other than murder and adultery a sin is a serious offense. You may be asked to leave the church entirely. I was asked to leave a church last year because I called homosexuality a sin during a Bible study. I’d explained that we are called to love sinners, but hate sin. This was a major no-no in their eyes. (I’m glad I left, and I wish I would have done so sooner. I’m in a great church now.)
In a few churches I’ve attended, it’s openly believed (and preached!) that there are “in fact” at least 18 genders, which “explains” the varying degrees of homosexuality. When I’ve asked for an explanation from the Bible in regards to this belief, no one has ever been to offer one. There is no explanation for this belief. It’s an outright lie.
I’ve heard it preached many times that all religions come from God, converging neatly “somewhere in the middle”, though it’s never been clearly explained where or how. The services in churches who preach this idea consist of a meshing of practices from Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. Christianity and preaching the Word of God is lost in this tangled mess of “one world religion.” The idea of one world religion is preached often in liberal churches as a means to bring about unity and peace amongst the community, but turning from God’s Word can never bring true and lasting peace. Jesus made it clear that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Light. All other gods are false.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34 (NIV)
In other churches that I’ve attended, weekly sermons consist of openly discussing the trials and tribulations of local law enforcement, clergy from neighboring churches, and community members with whom the preacher is acquainted. You need not wonder whether or not the preacher is talking about someone you know. He or she will be glad to give names, and freely does during his/her sermons. You may be persuaded to stand against certain people or to take action against a particular political stance “in the name of God.” Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, Brothers and Sisters. You’re being deceived.
Brothers and sisters, this type of behavior is deplorable and it has got to stop! I’ve personally experienced this type of behavior from Pastors and Priests in more than ten different churches in three different states and have heard stories from more than a dozen people who have had similar experiences. Many more testimonies are readily available online that corroborate what I’ve laid out here today. What I want to know is why are we still burdened with this inappropriate and offensive style of preaching? Can we even refer to it as preaching?
The first time I heard a sermon that shook me to repentance, I was in Lake Stevens, Washington. The moment I stepped out of my car and onto the pavement outside this church, I knew I needed to pray. Something big was about to happen. I was right.
As soon as the sermon started at this new church, I pulled out my Bible. I was going to catch this Pastor in a lie and prove that there was no good church anywhere. If this sermon didn’t work out, I was going to leave church for a while. I’d attended more than 10 churches in three years, trying to find the right one. Pastor “M” had me flipping through my Bible all throughout that amazing sermon. He did not stray from the Word of God once. I was blown away. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I got chills. I can’t remember exactly how many times Jesus’ name was spoken that day, but I do remember that it was more times than I’d ever heard His name called out in any other church I’d ever been to. I stayed at that church until Pastor “M” left a year and a half later. I still miss his preaching. He was the real deal. Our souls were fed and nourished. Sin was called sin, mercy was administered. Healing happened faster than we were prepared for it to. We called on the name of Jesus because He was alive and working through our church family, especially our Pastor.
Pastor “M” isn’t the only Pastor I’ve met who has preached this way, but he was the first in my then twenty-six years of attending church. I’d almost given up, but then I found the Light being shone through the darkness. I share this with you to encourage you, Brothers and Sisters. You can not only walk away from a Liar and a Gossip, but you can seek the Truth and you will find it. Do not lose heart. Do not weary of doing what is right. God has not forsaken you and He has never left you.
We cannot stand idly by while those entrusted to lead congregations spew lies and spread Gossip from the pulpit. We have to call it out as we see it, Brothers and Sisters. We have to leave bad churches in search of better ones.