Back to Church Sunday: What is This? What Do You Think?

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Did you know today is Back to Church Sunday?  I didn’t until just today.  The spoof Twitter account, Fair IC Baptist  mentioned it here.  Below is a screenshot:

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Screen shot 2013-09-14 at 11.31.16 PM

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Fair IC Baptist is usually pretty funny, so I clicked on the link to see the YouTube video and noticed all kinds of “Back to Church” videos in the sidebar.   What’s up with that?  Here are only a few of about 25 videos that I saw:

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A Back to Church website explains what it’s all about:

About

National Back To Church Sunday began as a movement to invite everyone in America back to church by empowering and motivating church members to invite their family and friends to come with them to a special service hosted by the local church.

The movement was spurred on by a couple of statistics:

  • “82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited”
    –Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door
  • Yet only 2% of Christians EVER invite someone to church!

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Back to Church Sunday is endorsed by quite a few church leaders (from a variety of backgrounds, too):

Dr. Fred Luter, President of the Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent, Assemblies of God

Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent, Wesleyans

Dr. Glenn C. Burris, President of the Foursquare Church

Dr. Stan Toler, Superintendent of The Church of the Nazarene

Mark Williams, General Overseer, Church of God

Dr. Gary Benedict, President, The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Dr. Doug Beacham, Presiding Bishop, International Pentecostal Holiness Church

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Clicking on “church kit,”  this is what showed up on my screen.  Notice the tabs at the top of the screen shot:

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Screen shot 2013-09-14 at 11.28.12 PM

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What do you think?  Is this a bunch of hype?  Is it legit?  A couple of the videos seemed pretty sincere.  Who benefits from this campaign?   Is this about Jesus or is it the latest WWJD-type bandwagon?  I’m curious to know your thoughts.

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76 comments on “Back to Church Sunday: What is This? What Do You Think?

  1. Wow. Just who is behind this event? First off, the kit contains a sermon, which makes alarms go off in my head, a ready made sermon…like just follow the steps in our kit and your church and collection baskets will be filled again. Such a lot of slick advertising, but what is it about except money for the kit sellers and the churches that buy into it? They say “the church” is sorry, and is trying to change and yet there is so little evidence of that to be seen. I am wary if a stranger invites me to attend their church. read their pamphlet, join their cult. Back to church is not the same as back to Christ. I don’t like the implication that not attending a church is the same as turning away from God. Well it is late and I need sleep, but I don’t know if I want to go to my church in the morning.

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  2. I wasn’t aware of Back to Church Sunday, but I like the idea. If it leads to more Church participation, more growth in healthy churches,more baptisms, more believers- then it’s a good thing. And I have no reason to think it won’t do that.

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  3. This seems odd. I don’t know. To who is it targeted? If it’s just focused on “the unchurched” (based on the stat), then it’s not really “Back to Church,” is it? It’s more like “go to church Sunday.” Or “forward to church Sunday.” As far as Christians who may have left church for any number of reasons, I’m not thrilled with it and the reasons I’m not at church are super boring (I have a paper to write that’s due at noon… which is totally why I’m commenting on this blog and I have a million other reasons that aren’t very good but are real). None of those things is going to be addressed by a printed curriculum.

    It’s strange, because when I do go to to church, I go to a church I like. But I still rarely go. It would be generous to say these reasons are due to my past experiences with the church, though those haven’t been good. Mostly they’re due to my inability to want to get up and about early on the weekend. But even with that – I don’t think the problems and hurt I have felt by the church in the past are going to be addressed by a preprinted curriculum. I don’t think they’re going to be addressed by any curriculum. They’re going to be addressed through actual relationships with actual people, and probably slowly, and not at a pace that can be compared to other people going back to church, who have equally complicated stories and experiences.

    I saw a book on display at the library a few weeks ago that was along these lines, something about reconsidering church despite hurt. It was fairly short and I skimmed it before continuing to be unimpressed with it. Basically, it seemed to attempt to acknowledge the church’s flaws (which is fine, but often very trendy, if that makes sense) and then seemed to make a logical argument for going back to church. At one point it mentioned Bono, which caught my attention because I like U2. But judging by the size of the book, the author never interviewed Bono, and was just using him as an example to craft a logical argument, and the whole thing felt a lot like a term paper that I would have written and then patted myself on the back for my ability to throw in pop culture references. I don’t need the author to usurp Bono’s story to try and win me over, and I also don’t appreciate being expected to do a thing just because a celebrity has done it (“look, Bono goes to church and Bono is cool, if you go to church you can be cool like Bono!”)

    Now that I’ve gotten off topic and likely misrepresented the author of that book, I’m going to go finish the paper which is one of three reasons I’m not going back to church this Sunday.

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  4. Sarah, Good catch. You are on to something.

    A big thing in the church growth movement was to focus on the “unchurched”. Now what on earth does that mean? Does that mean they are not saved? Or, does it simply mean they are not involved in a church?

    See the difference? It is not about spreading the Good News, it is about growing churches. (Are we assuming they will actually hear the basic good news at church? If we are, we are fools)

    This has become ingrained over the last 20-30 years. The focus of ministry people is now “unchurched” not the unsaved. And there is a reason for that. It is subtle but very self serving.

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  5. Btw: “Going to church” saves NO one. Only Jesus Christ saves. Wanting to be around other believers is a natural result of being saved.

    And the sad part is getting more people to just come to “church” could actually be enabling evil in some cases. Just think SGM. Think CON. They are out there everywhere. Thing is people have to be very discerning about “church”.

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  6. Since my whole ‘leaving the church debacle’, I’ve been reevaluating exactly what it is I believe. What I see in myself and my other ‘church’ friends is quite alarming to me. In the weekly bible study that I attend what I don’t see a lot of is love for others, ‘God’s Love’ that is. What I do see is talking a lot about ourselves and our problems and how hard it is to love people in the world. I am appalled. What is my religion if I can’t have an overflowing love for the world? The lost and the dying. I truly want a religion that is life changing. A religion that is overflowing with love. I’m tired of just living the status quo, going to church every Sunday. I can’t see how it’s changed me or my friends. Honestly, I’ve been treated worse by church people than anyone. I’ve been shunned and the whole nine yards. And I’m a very likable person! Ha! What kind of religion is that! There has to be more. Or we’re screwed.

    All that to say, I haven’t seen where going to church has changed people all that much, at least the people I know. So ‘Back to Church’ Sunday…..I think what we should do is concentrate on ‘Back to Jesus’. Because if Jesus can’t change me, what’s it all about, anyways? I’m desperate for it. I’m begging God to make Himself real to me. I don’t wanna live like this anymore. I wanna make a difference in the world. If I can’t, as I said, ‘I’m screwed’.

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  7. “I think what we should do is concentrate on ‘Back to Jesus’.”

    Brilliant!

    The reason you do not see that focus is because if people really start seeking Jesus on their own, many more will leave the institutions. And they know this. A great exercise is to read the Gospels over and over for several years just focusing on Jesus Christ. What he said, did not say, what he did, etc. It becomes so obvious that what we are seeing done and said in His name in so many places, is not of Him at all.

    .

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  8. My first thought of this is that it is just a marketing campaign. The kit, the videos, the t-shirts, the signs, the follow up information, it all screams marketing to me. If a church were to use this kit, I would not consider it to be very genuine in trying to bring people back into church.

    This reminds me of the “seeker friendly” campaign that a church we once attended for many years started doing. They revamped all of the morning bulletins and hung banners in the auditorium showing happy people with catch-word phrases. The problem, in my opinion, was that none of the people featured on the materials reflected the people who attended the church. It was all stock photography. It made me feel like the leadership didn’t think that those already there were inviting enough.

    We also went to another church when a couple of elders were giving a financial account to the congregation. One of them said, “We need to be inviting people into church. Because studies show that when people are invited to church, they’ll stay.” The underlying message behind that to me was…and when people stay, they’ll start giving money.

    The truth is that people are leaving the church, and along with the people goes money. And, those who have stayed behind are most likely are either still giving what they have been, or they have cut back because of economic reasons. I’m sure that there are many pastors out there who are concerned about their pay checks, insurance and the ability to make payments on the building.

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  9. .
    Yes – Back to Church Sunday – Invite someone to Church.
    What a Great idea – I would just love to see this going on…

    Peter Pew Sitter – talking to – Friend Freddy Freeman…

    Peter —– Freddy, I’m inviting you to “go to my church” Sunday.

    Freddy — Why should I “go to your church?” Why do you “Go To Church?

    Peter —– To learn what the Bible says. To learn about Jesus.

    Freddy — Hmmm? Did anyone in the Bible ever “Go To Church?”
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Did Jesus teach anyone they should “Go To Church?”
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Did any of His Disciples “Go To Church?” Or teach “Go To Church?”
    Peter —– Errr… NO.

    Freddy — Tell me again – Why should I – “Go To your Church? 🙂

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  10. .
    Yes – Back to Church Sunday – Invite someone to Church.
    What a Great idea – I would just love to see this going on…

    Peter Pew Sitter – talking to – Friend Freddy Freeman…

    Peter —– Freddy, I’m inviting you to “go to my church” Sunday.

    Freddy — Why should I “go to your church?” Why do you “Go To Church?

    Peter —– To learn how to make Disciples of Jesus. The Great Commission.
    Freddy — How do your “Church Leaders,” teach “you,” Peter, to do that?
    Peter —– By teaching folks what Jesus commanded His Disciples. Mt 28:20.
    Freddy — Did Jesus teach His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    Peter —– Errr… Yes. – In Mat 23:10 NASB.
    Freddy — In the Bible – Did any of His Disciples call themselves “Leaders.”
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Do your “Church Leaders” teach NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — If your “Church Leaders” are NOT teaching folks???
    ———What Jesus commanded His Disciples? – NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    ———Are your Church Leaders making Disciples of Jesus???
    Peter —– Errr… NO.

    Freddy — Tell me again – Why should I “Go To your Church? 🙂

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  11. .
    Peter Pew Sitter – talking to – Friend Freddy Freeman…

    Peter —– Freddy, I’m inviting you to “go to my church” Sunday.

    Freddy — Why should I “go to your church?” Why do you “Go To Church?

    Peter —– To learn how to make Disciples of Jesus. The Great Commission.
    Freddy — How does your “Pastor/Teacher” teach “you,” Peter, to do that?
    Peter —-– By teaching folks what Jesus commanded His Disciples. Mt 28:20.
    Freddy — Did Jesus teach His Disciples NOT to be called “Rabbi/Teacher?”
    Peter —–– Errr… Yes. – In Mat 23:8 NASB.
    Freddy — Does your “Pastor/Teacher” teach NOT to be called “Teacher?”
    Peter —— Errr… NO.
    Freddy — If your “Pastor/Teacher” is NOT teaching folks???
    ———What Jesus commanded His Disciples? – NOT to be called “Teacher?”
    ———Is your “Pastor/Teacher” making Disciples of Jesus???
    Peter —– Errr… NO.

    Freddy — Tell me again – Why should I – “Go To your Church? 🙂

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  12. What I do see is talking a lot about ourselves and our problems and how hard it is to love people in the world. I am appalled. What is my religion if I can’t have an overflowing love for the world? The lost and the dying. I truly want a religion that is life changing. A religion that is overflowing with love. I’m tired of just living the status quo, going to church every Sunday. I can’t see how it’s changed me or my friends.

    Summer, I love how you are challenging your church experience. I really do. Think of how many continue the status quo for decades – – – – with no real change.

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  13. If I may repeat myself from the forum, many who have walked away from “church” have walked smack into the arms of Jesus. Whether or not “church” leaders recognize it, what they are really doing in so many instances is attempting to draw God’s children out of the arms of Jesus and place them under the thumbs of “pastors” acting as Jesus substitutes. They are attempting to call so many to traitorously renounce their citizenship in the Kingdom of God in favor of the tyranny of one of the many man-made Kingdoms of “Church.”

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  14. Gary W., that’s exactly what I see. I don’t want to sound critical but I see people worshiping pastors. Pastors that I know personally and I personally know they are no different than you or me. I’m not criticizing this, I know they are mere humans, just like me….but they set themselves up for this worship. It literally turns my stomach. It’s Jesus we need to worship, not another man who WILL let us down. The pastor is merely a human being who God uses, at least that is what I thought.

    JA, I’m with you.

    Well, I guess I’m not going to church now….too late….

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  15. .
    Peter Pew Sitter – talking to – Friend Freddy Freeman…

    Peter —– Freddy, I’m inviting you to “go to my church” Sunday.

    Freddy — Why should I “go to your church?” Why do you “Go To Church?

    Peter —– To learn how save “The Lost.” The un-believer. Evangelism.
    Freddy — Who taught you “The Lost” are the un-believers?
    Peter —– My “Pastor/Teacher” taught me “The Lost” are all un-believers.
    Peter —– Why everyone knows ‘The Lost” are the un-believers.
    Freddy — Have you ever thought God’s people could be “The Lost Sheep?”
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Led astray by “their” pastor/shepherds?
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Have you been a Berean, checking the Bible to see if that is true?
    Peter —– Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Did you know the prophet Jeremiah called God’s people?
    ————– “Lost Sheep.” Lead astray by “their” pastor/shepherds?
    Peter —— Errr… NO.
    Freddy — Check out Jer 50:6 – My people hath been “lost” sheep:
    ————-**their shepherds** have caused them to go astray…
    Peretr —– Errr… That sucketh…

    Freddy — If your “Pastor/Teacher” is NOT teaching folks?
    ———NOT to be called “Leader” for you have “ONE” Leader – Jesus?
    ———NOT to be called “Teacher” for you have “ONE” Teacher – Jesus?
    ———God’s People are “Lost sheep?” Led astray by “Their” shepherds?
    ———Could your “Pastor/Teacher” be just a “Bad” teacher???
    ———Or, could your “Pastor/Teacher” just be a “False” teacher???

    Peter —– Errr… Hmmm… Ahhh… ooohhh… Weeellll….

    I think I’ll refuse to answer on the grounds I might be Excommuncated and Shunned by my loving Christian “Church Leaders” who love me and watch for my soul – Until I dis-agree with them…

    Of course they would shun me for my own good. Out of Love…

    Freddy — Tell me again – Why should I – “Go To your Church? 🙂

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  16. lyn,

    Are you familiar with Pink? He thought anyone not a Calvinist in soteriology was an unbeliever. He was very hyper Calvinist/pro Puritan. Read his Sovereignty of God. Scary stuff. His idea of “coming out from among them” would be the same sort of method used by Calvin or the Puritans and today, Mark Dever with his loveless church discipline methods

    Funny how that video could actually be used to make us think of the current celebrity Christianity which includes the YRR…. big time.

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  17. It would be NICE if we didn’t turn EVERY post into some debate about calvinism. This is exactly why I have refrained from commenting on this blog, no disrespect to you Julie Anne. YES, I adhere wholeheartedly to the doctrines of grace, and yes, I have been blessed by reading the writings of Pink. NO, I will NOT debate the doctrines of grace with you Lydia, nor am I called to defend Arthur Pink.

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  18. Julie Anne,

    This goes back to your “what is non-institutional church” post. What I see in the NT is preachers and evangelists going out into the culture and preaching the gospel. Once people respond and become believers, only then do the assemble with the church. The church is for believers. Also, I do not see one sinlge instance in the NT (please correct me if I’m wrong) where the gospel is preached in a church meeting.

    But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. 1 Cor. 14:24-25 This passage in interesting. There is a conditional “if.” But “IF” all prophesy and an unbeliever enters? IF an unbeliever enters? If AN (singular) unbeliever enters? Seems Paul here using “if” and “an” is assuming that enbelievers ever entering a church is a rare occasion. How many today will fall on their face and declare that God is among the believers that they are watching “doing church”?

    This context shows all in the church using their gifts to edify one another. The next part of the passage confirms this:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20cor%2014:26-33&version=NASB

    Imagine what would happen if we actually did what was listed in 1 Cor 12-14.

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  19. Yea, lets keep Calvin to his designated thread.

    Lyn, there is room for you to have a voice here. I don’t want to exclude people. If you care about those who have no voice because of abuse, we share that commonality.

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  20. Thank you Julie Anne, I am just as concerned about the sad state of churches in America as any believer. I pray for Christ to be the center of all our worship, and for humility and love in its true biblical form be worked in our hearts. Compromise and oppression are rampant, and this is not based on whether or not you adhere to a certain theology; it stems from wicked hearts filled with sin. May God have mercy

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  21. I will leave. Pink would have no problem with you being “disciplined” for disagreeing with him. I thought it was an abuse position. Historically great evil has been committed by that doctrine toward people as history attests to and it’s proportionality is massive to anything else. As long as the thinking is tolerated that we cannot help but be “wicked” even after salvation there will be no holding anyone accountable in Christianity. It is that simple.

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  22. Lyn, Julie Anne, and everyone,
    I listened to the video. And I agree with things he said.
    “It is better to stay at home and read Gods word than fellowship with that which his word condemns.”
    What a great quote!

    I attended a church that the pastors/elders participated in a lie for over fifteen months that ended up in cheating me out of tens of thousands of dollars. I asked to meet with the ‘apostolic overseer’ and he sent word to me that it was to be handled by the elders. About the same time all this was happening, that ‘apostle’ put out his ‘monthly word’ about TRUTH which is such a great writing. And I thought, because of what he wrote, that he would meet with me. NOT! The problem is, he doesn’t practice what he wrote. But that didn’t mean what he wrote wasn’t good. And that is why too many people are sucked into their deception.

    I found out after I left the church that the senior pastor of the church had gone to a ‘theatrical teacher’ after he became a pastor. So was the whole nine years that I participated in that church just a ploy in getting me to tithe (and give) to a theatrical play?

    Why does it have to be so confusing?

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  23. Ang,

    You said ” The problem is, he doesn’t practice what he wrote.” Bingo!! There is so much phoniness and superficiality in the name of ‘religion’, and yes, people get sucked in by that. Who are we called to follow? Christ! Who is our teacher? God the Spirit. We simply MUST be good Bereans and cry out for wisdom, seek it as one seeks a hidden treasure. There are way too many wolves disguised as sheep who only want to fleece the flock or lord their ‘authority’ over the unsuspecting. It’s all about ego, power and control. Religion is also used by many to fatten their wallets, as they promote their books, their teaching series, their conferences and charge you for their ‘stuff’. They solicit donations for their ‘ministry’ instead of going out and getting a job, which is what they should do. The Apostle Paul labored with his hands, and yet today, we have men begging us for money while they travel all over the world, stand on soap boxes, and fight with the unregenerate. These same men have working family members who support them, and yet, they STILL ask for money…pathetic!
    Yes, there are many false ‘movements’ out there, which is why Christ warns his own disciples to ‘take heed that no man deceive you’. May the Lord Jesus protect His flock, may we watch out for one another, and love one another…from the heart.

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  24. Lydia: I am not asking you to leave and hope you don’t. I’ve learned much from you and I know others have expressed the same. We can discuss Calvinism with the C on the other thread. I do not have a problem with that at all. It just becomes too divisive.

    The way it was handled here for the most part was fine. Lyn said she found the sermon to be helpful, you said you believe that his practices are abusive and identified them. The issue got more heated once the Calvin name was mentioned.

    I’m wondering how it would work if instead of identifying someone as Calvinist, but we identified the particular behavior or practice that can lead to abuse? So in other words, if Lydia listened to the sermon, it would be helpful for her to identify what she sees as trouble spots. Now, it may in fact be teaching that stems from Calvinism, but again, in an effort to identify specifics, there really is no need to mention that word. I know Lydia is probably shaking her head at me and I know Paul Dohse is saying, just be done with it already. LOL I just think that we are going to get more of an audience if we speak in a language that will draw people in and not push them away (y’all can remind me of that when I get on my Twitter ranting with certain people).

    I’ve said it before, but all Calvinists are not alike obviously or we wouldn’t have 2.0 Calvinists and then some that go even past the 5.0.

    Dialogue is good and it helps when we can identify specific points rather than put general labels. Can we try that? What do you all think? And did this make any sense at all?

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  25. The reading from Pink is keyed on the admonition that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. 2 Cor. 6:14. This passage is specifically concerned that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers in idolatrous pursuits. Over on the Forum, Fiat Pax somewhere makes a point along the lines that we have substituted correct intellectual assent for the pursuit of Christian formation. ALL DOCTRINE (and I absolutely am not singling out Calvinism) has been made into a false god. I will go so far as to say that to attend a church–any church–where doctrine is the measure of one’s faith, is to attend a church where doctrine has become a worshiped idol. Therefore, to attend a church where doctrine, any doctrine, is the measure of one’s faith, is to associate with and be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

    I do not read Lydia’s 11:24 comment as an attack on Calvinism as such, so much as I see it as being in opposition to the notion that doctrine should be made the measure of one’s faith. If he is in fact guilty of making doctrine the measure of one’s faith, as Lydia asserts, it really makes no difference what specific doctrine Pink espouses.

    Lydia, please don’t leave.

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  26. Glad I didn’t read the comments here before I watched the videos. A lot of negativity here. Look, I have been burned by more than one church (I am the one who had PTSD for 7 years), but I see no harm here. These are fun, creative and cute videos attempting to return church-going to a NORMAL part of community life. The whole subject of church has become so SERIOUS and SUSPECT, here and in the US at large. We need to lighten up. There is no guarantee that everyone who walks into church will be saved, but even if they walk in with the wrong motives, lured by free coffee or whatever, you never know how God will use the circumstances.

    I know a guy quite well who was once a bad-a$$, hat turned around and everything, who decided he wanted to stop catting around and find a good woman to marry–so he attended a random church service he was walking by because that is where the type of women you marry go. He met his future wife that day, gave his life to Christ somewhere along the way, and he is all cleaned up. He looks amazing in a suit and he is a $2000 a month (per client) executive coach. Nice house too.

    And if a church wants to use packaged help, the result may be cheesy but it doesn’t have to be considered automatically inauthentic. Resources like these used to bring churches and denominations together in some common causes in spite of doctrinal differences. And we probably can’t deny that the country was a better place when church attendance was up–my parents weren’t “saved” but we went to our denominational church every Sunday, practiced our “faith” and were taught to live clean lives, at least. I would like to turn back to the days when the Christians didn’t always feel like they had to apologize for being Christans, could put a confident smile on and know they have something amazing to offer their neighbors–Jesus.

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  27. ‘I do not read Lydia’s 11:24 comment as an attack on Calvinism as such, so much as I see it as being in opposition to the notion that doctrine should be made the measure of one’s faith. If he is in fact guilty of making doctrine the measure of one’s faith, as Lydia asserts, it really makes no difference what specific doctrine Pink espouses”

    Yes! You get it!

    I was also concerned that Lyn might not be familiar enough with Pink in that he believes that the abuse that happens to people was foreordained by God to happen. This doctrinal thinking has been so hurtful to so many victims of abuse. His sermonette there was not a full representation of his view but he is basically seeing anyone not in his determinist construct is not a real believer. This is easily discernible from his many works.. In fact, he would be one to interview you and make sure HE thought you were saved.

    But she claims to be familiar with him so now am not sure what to think. I felt compelled to say something because I think Pink is dangerous for victims of abuse and got rebuked instead of discussing why– so am thinking this is not really the place for me.

    This is always a problem when we look to gurus. You can google some Pink quotes and perhaps get a feel for him. He approaches Sovereignty pretty much the way Piper and the others do. Here is one from the Sovereignty of God:

    “In the final analysis, the exercise of God’s love must he traced back to His Sovereignty or, otherwise, He would love by rule; and if He loved by rule, then is He under a law of love, and if He is under a law of love then is He not supreme, but is Himself ruled by law. “But,” it may be asked, “Surely you do not deny that God loves the entire human family?” We reply, it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13). If then God loved Jacob and hated Esau, and that before they were born or had done either good or evil, then the reason for His love was not in them, but in Himself. ~ AW Pink, The Sovereignty of God

    See the problem? “If He is under the law of love then He is not supreme”

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  28. I saw this “Back to Church” movement reported on in an article in an online Christian publication. It seems a little gimmicky to me.

    I can only assume if I return to a church, it will be more of the same. Shallow sermons in seeker-friendly type churches, or the sermon will be about marriage (again) and as a never married person with no children, I cannot endure one more marriage (or parenting) sermon.

    Churches don’t have any meaningful place for an adult, single woman to serve.

    The tendency is to shoo all single ladies off to baby sitting services in the church nursery (sometimes churches do this to married ladies too), and I’ve never felt at ease around kids.

    I’ve seen so many blogs filled with stories of people who went to the same church for years, but they, or their family, was sexually attacked, or taken financial advantage of, lied to, bullied, and those in church leadership positions did not take responsibility, but would blame the victim even more or force them out.

    Churches have a tendency to blame women in domestic abuse situations. They will not give these women money or food, or help them leave the abuser, but tell them to return and subject themselves to more abuse. I’ve seen these sorts of stories again and again on blogs for Christian wives who were abused by their spouses.

    Until churches clean themselves up and reverse these trends, I don’t have a large interest in returning to a brick building / weekly service.

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  29. Summer said,
    What I do see is talking a lot about ourselves and our problems and how hard it is to love people in the world. I am appalled. What is my religion if I can’t have an overflowing love for the world?

    I had the opposite experience when I began attending church after my mother died.

    I appreciate that some Christians are keen to help the homeless and orphans and the like, but.

    I got turned off to church and Christianity for the opposite reason (and this is but one reason, as I have several): in my time of great pain and need, when I went to other Christians for emotional support, the Christians I went to (including one church I went to regularly for a few months), they would diminish my pain and problems by basically telling me I should not feel sad…

    They would say things such as, “don’t you know that orphans have life worse than you?,” etc. There was little to no attempt to validate my pain and what I was going through.

    I was expected to shove my pain and grief down and care only about homeless people, orphans, and un-saved pagans living in a jungle somewhere. I even tried volunteering at a domestic abuse/ homeless shelter twice during that phase, and I hated the experience, and it did not make me feel any better about my own situation.

    I don’t have many flesh and blood family members I can turn to. As I get older, my family is dying off, including a parent and extended family.

    Other family of mine have drug addictions and are so wrapped up in their own drama, they don’t have the time or interest in helping anyone else, not me. A sibling of mine lacks compassion and has a horrible temper, so I can’t go to her for support or a shoulder to cry on.

    I was counting on “spiritual bros and sisters in Christ,” in my time of need, but they let me down.

    I think it’s fine if you want to care about orphans and pagans, but I do think it’s wrong for Christians to shut down or brush off a fellow Christian who comes to you in a crisis, in pain, needing help themselves – and a lot of Christians do this often.

    I see a this discrepancy where a lot of Christians will donate rice to starving Haitians or something like that, but brush off a fellow Christian who comes to them in pain after death of a loved one, a hard divorce, or a time of physical illness, a job lay off, etc.

    The Bible says to “weep with those who weep,” not lecture them, accuse them of having a pity party, or tell them to busy themselves by helping orphans.

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  30. “I’m wondering how it would work if instead of identifying someone as Calvinist, but we identified the particular behavior or practice that can lead to abuse?”

    But what if Pink’s beliefs do lead to abuse because God foreordained it? That belief alone is heaping abuse on people. And to say that one cares about those abused by the church or other professing believers and believe God ordained it at the same time is cognitive dissonance. And the inherent abuse in the C doctrine is massive proportionally than any other doctrinal stance of Christianity…and that can be proven historically.

    The thing about not using the C word is that their leaders and gurus don’t want us to use it. In fact, in chapter 4 of Quiet Revolution (the handbook to take a church Calvinist without them realizing it) they teach this very tactic. And more and more writings from current Calvinists/YRR are advocating the same thing. Get rid of the word. The reason is without the label it takes people longer to figure out the determinist construct because it is so confusing a doctrine. And we know this is true by how many church splits, etc came about years later when they figured it out the YRR pastor was a Calvinist but never said so but his teaching over time did not line up with their free will beliefs. Now it is becoming even more important for them to banish the word because the movement is not growing as fast.

    But I will say that usually over time Calvinism goes liberal or dies out then resurges. We see this throughout history. The “frozen chosen” types are, for the most part, wonderful Calvinists and people I would generally trust (I did a lot of business with them and their seminaries years ago) They pretty much focus on social justice issues for the most part and have no truck with condemning those who disagree with them or focusing on C’s determinist god.

    I honestly thought perhaps Lyn did not really know Pink well. I don’t take guru’s teachings in isolation from their other teaching so that might be another problem…as many tend to do that. I knew exactly what Pink was really teaching in that sermonette.

    Would using “determinist god” instead of C, be ok? If this is about not offending C’s then what about those offended by C’s teachings because they result in the abuse being foreordained by God and Him using for your own good? That offends me FOR all those who have been abused.

    Ok, I will stop now.

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  31. Lydia,

    I’m gonna risk getting us both uninvited, but I think I could do a pretty good job of turning Pink’s argument on its head:

    “In the final analysis, the exercise of God’s Sovereignty must be traced back to His Love or, otherwise, He would love as required by law; and if He loved as required by law, then is He under a love derived from law, and if He is under a love derived from law then is He not supreme, but is Himself ruled by law. “But,” it may be asked, “Surely you do not deny that God rules the entire human family according to law?” We reply, it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13). If then God loved Jacob and hated Esau, and that before they were born or had done either good or evil, then the reason for His Love was not from law, but in Himself.”

    Um, O.K. But the point is that, in the overall scheme of things it is all patent nonsense, both Pink’s argument and mine. Why should any of us be tyrannized into giving mental assent to ANY set of man made doctrines before being admitted to the fellowship of the saints? Certainly I am not saying you should cease to contend with the ongoing attempt to impose a particular brand of theology upon the consciences of children, women and men–quite the contrary. You should do that no matter the flavor of the doctrine being force fed. You appear to be called to it. Wherefore, insofar as the topic of this particular thread is concerned, why should it not be sufficient to simply fellowship in the presence of Jesus, regardless of which side of the red brick wall on which we stand?

    Like

  32. @ stevescrottpew. Well, at one church I went to for a few months, I was a regular attender, but not an official member. I don’t know if the church people considered me a member – I’m not sure if one had to sign paperwork or attend membership classes before being considered a member.

    When I was new there, they kept asking me if I wanted to go babysit in the church nursery, if I wanted to baby sit at a homeless lady shelter which I did (twice) and was uncomfortable the entire time.

    But there is an expectation in a lot of churches (even in much of secular culture) that all women, especially single ones, are “baby crazy” and are dripping in maternal feelings. I’ve never been keen on babies or children. I was a tom boy growing up. I’m feminine enough but do not fit the evangelical/. Baptist caricature of “biblical womanhood.”

    I’ve read many blogs and books by women who have quit church, and they all testify to the same thing: even if they are new at a church, the first thing the church gets them to do, or asks the to do, is baby sit (or do other stereotypical June Cleaver stuff, like bake muffins in the church kitchen).

    Married Christian couples at churches can be the worst at this. I’ve not experienced it myself, but I’ve read oodles and oodles of Christian single women say in books about church quitters and on blogs that the nano second they join a new church, if they are not ignored, the married couples with children expect the single women to serve as free baby sitting service.

    Then the marrieds never, ever ask how they can serve the single women (or single men). Singles are expected to cook meals, sweep the church floor, baby sit, etc, but the marrieds never seek to meet the needs of the singles.

    I’m a sort of tech head type person, (I don’t want to spell out exactly what my career background is, but it is not a “wife and mother” type of thing). Churches just seem to default to sticking women in “baby care” type ministries, as though that is their only gifting or interest in life (it’s not).

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  33. Steve Scott Tithing is waaaay down, so they had to do something.

    Speaking of money hungry churches. This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen:
    Grim Reaper on Tithing

    That illustration was meant to be a parody on greedy churches, but sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some preachers really wanted to use the image for real on their web sites or power point shows during church services.

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  34. So I use a short Pink video, where he states why it’s better to stay at home than attend church, and the attackers come out! How did this post become centered on Pink? People feel the need to pick apart just about everything, all in the name of religion…of course.
    Good grief, now I know why I hesitate to even post a comment!

    I am done here, thank you Julie Anne, for allowing my comments. May our God graciously bless you. If it is possible, could you please remove all my comments?

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  35. “Would using “determinist god” instead of C, be ok? If this is about not offending C’s then what about those offended by C’s teachings because they result in the abuse being foreordained by God and Him using for your own good? That offends me FOR all those who have been abused.”

    Yes, that is fine – – if you want to explain why you believe a determinist God viewpoint lends itself to abuse, then that is important to discuss.

    I think you are proving my point – – that the doctrine is so confusing – – and very likely many people do not know what they believe. That’s why it will be more beneficial to deal with specifics.

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  36. Lyn: ” If it is possible, could you please remove all my comments?”

    I’m sorry Lyn, but I am having difficulty not being offended in the extreme. Some of us have attempted to recognize your concern. Julie Anne jumped in. Lydia backed off. I went out of my way to compliment a post of yours that well deserved the compliment. I even engaged in a bit of gentle push back at Lydia, thereby risking the displeasure of somebody I highly regard. Then you get angry, pick up your marbles and announce that you are shunning us? If it is not enough that we are your brother’s and sisters, and if you cannot deal with the fact that quite a number here have in fact been greatly hurt by preachers espousing a hyper form of your particular theology, then may I ever so gently suggest that you take a good, long, hard look at whether your theology has possibly, just possibly, become an idol?

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  37. stevescottpew wrote,

    What I see in the NT is preachers and evangelists going out into the culture and preaching the gospel. Once people respond and become believers, only then do the assemble with the church. The church is for believers.

    I sometimes listen to a podcast by a Christian guy, and he complains about this a lot. I pretty much agree that church is for those already saved, not for the un-saved.

    Of course, one function (though not the only one) of a body of believers is to step outside of the body to spread the Gospel, but the body exists to build each other up and to help one another.

    One of the things the podcast host brings up on occasion is that in a lot of seeker friendly churches, the long- time (spiritually mature) Christians get fed up and leave, because the preacher insists that church is for converting the un-saved.

    The preachers of such churches say that church is for reaching Non Christians, not for serving those who are already Christians.

    So rather than preaching topics that could build up and equip the already-saved, the seeker preachers bring in rock bands, and sermons containing practical tips, to lure in the atheists and agnostics.

    One of my small problems with the podcast host’s show, though, is that he frequently contradicts himself on this topic.

    He criticizes seeker- friendly preachers for trying to reach the unsaved, but then he will spend the next show complaining that the preacher didn’t sermonize enough about Jesus, sin, redemption, etc. to those already in the pews.

    Well, someone who is already a Christian does not, IMO, need to re-hear the basic Gospel message in every sermon.

    So the host seems to waffle, in that he complains seeker friendly preachers don’t preach the Gospel enough, but then he also complains that they don’t sermonize for the already-saved. The already-saved don’t need to hear the Gospel all the time, they already got that part down.

    But anyway, there is an issue in some churches today where the preachers think that church is for reaching the lost only, and that it’s okay to ignore those who are already Christian. This attitude leads a lot of mature Christians to walk out of churches (it’s listed as one reason in books I’ve read about why people leave church).

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  38. You know, I’m not sure I ever want to fall back into the trap of being a “Sunday Christian”. When I was attending church on Sunday mornings and Bible study on Tuesday nights, it was too easy to fall into that trap. It was too easy to be sanctimonious and look down on the people who obviously weren’t dressed up for church at Sunday lunch. I don’t like the person I was back then. Now that I am not attending church on a regular basis I have to work so much harder to live out my faith on a daily basis. Its harder but so worth it. In some ways my disabilities are a wonderful gift.

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  39. “I think Pink is dangerous for victims of abuse and got rebuked instead of discussing why– so am thinking this is not really the place for me.”

    Lydia, I am not all that articulate, I read more here than I respond. I appreciate your voice, I hope you will stay for me. I need to understand the crazy doctrines that divorced my heart from Jesus.

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  40. Ok, I’m back – and whoa there is a massive dust storm/thunder/lightning in eastern WA – crazy weather.

    Regarding the doctrinal between Lydia and Lyn – – I really think there is room to discuss these issues here without the label of Calvinisim. I want us to be free to discuss specific things that we believe can lead to abuse. Certain topics may step on our doctrinal toes, but we should be able to respectfully dialogue while feeling free to challenge or ask questions. To reiterate my comment from above, I think we can facilitate by leaving Calvin out of it, and address specifically the issue at hand. If it goes over into Calvinism, I’ll ask it to be moved to the Calvinism debate thread – – – it’s the thread that never ends – – – it goes on and on, my friends . . .

    For example, if Lydia found something in the video that Lyn posted that she found to be troublesome, it would be helpful to specifically point it out for us all to see. (Lydia, you have done that before and I really appreciated getting it from another angle.)

    One comment I’ve read here time and again is how much people have learned from each other. I think that’s because in general, there is respect for diverse opinions. We can all learn from each other. I would not be surprised if one day my favorite porn-donut-hating pastor picks apart a post of mine from a year ago that contradicts a current post. I really have changed so much because of what I’ve learned here from some of you!

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  41. “I appreciate your voice, I hope you will stay for me.”

    As do I. Lydia has literally been my voice many times on various blogs. A champion for the abused, she is.

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  42. Okay, Steve Scott = stevescottpew. I have a problem with WordPress accounts and I think I just figured it out. If I visit on a new browser session, I get to fill in my info with my name and blog URL. It then recognizes me and a subsequent comment will default to my gravitar account I created when it was brand spanking new. I have no idea what my password/account is, but I remember creating it. I then have to change the info back. The third time, it recognizes my WordPress account I created to be able to post to WP sites to begin with. I then can change it back to my name and blog info. What a pain, but I think I can now just be Steve Scott.

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  43. This kit is just a way of motivating people to invite their friends to church by picking a day and building up the hype.

    But it misses the point. If people aren’t naturally inviting people to their church, their church might be the problem.

    When I attended my old church, I tried inviting some friends, but none of the people I invited enjoyed it. So I gave up. Having a motivational program would not have made a difference.

    What reason did my friends give?

    Friend 1: “People say this is the church to attend when you’ve got your act together.”
    (This was a friend who was single. He had been a Christian a long time.)

    Friend 2: “This is an elitist church. They look down on anyone who’s not perfect.” (This was a friend who was married, but hadn’t been to church in many years. She was married to someone of another religion.)

    Those two comments were part of a dozen reasons why I started looking for another church.

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  44. Steve – LOL – – I don’t understand exactly what you said, but I understand the WP headache of commenting on blogs. I go through it every freakin’ time and it drives me batty -haha! Thanks for validating my experience. I feel so much better already.

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  45. One of the local churches we used to attend did this “Back to Church” on Sunday. We left them a year ago when they merged with another church (and became a satellite campus of a bigger church in Richmond), and we noticed that the new place was very seeker-friendly (At the time of the merge, the new church was doing the “Circle Maker” book, and ever since then, it’s been book-series as sermons). The church we have been going to for a few months is a traditional methodist (most of the members are 50+ years, but realize that this is your stereotypical rural church), and they have used Lifeway’s Adult Series for the Sunday School hour. It wasn’t a bad series, but LW recently changed the format big time – the intro even says the purpose is to reach to unchurched! How many unchurched are sitting there in Sunday school hour? And the new format is really bible-light (the old format, I thought, did a good job with scripture), and much more what I call “Christian Pop-Psychology”. No longer is the goal to share gospel with the unsaved, but to get them to church, and in my opinion, to get in their wallets.

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  46. Lola: Welcome to the blog! Thanks for sharing your story after having really experienced the “Back to Church Sunday.” That was very interesting, sadly, not too surprising.

    This struck me:

    “No longer is the goal to share gospel with the unsaved, but to get them to church, and in my opinion, to get in their wallets.”

    How sad!

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  47. This goes back to your “what is non-institutional church” post. What I see in the NT is preachers and evangelists going out into the culture and preaching the gospel. Once people respond and become believers, only then do the assemble with the church. The church is for believers. Also, I do not see one sinlge instance in the NT (please correct me if I’m wrong) where the gospel is preached in a church meeting.

    Steve – I’m going back to this earlier comment of yours because it struck me that my husband wanted to go to BGBC because he wanted the gospel preached every Sunday – the hard gospel, no watered-down version. There were rarely visitors. So he was preaching the gospel to us, the ones who were already Christians. This is the same pattern we’ve seen at Sovereign Grace, Dever, TGC – as if Christ’s word was not done on the cross the first time. They keep their congregants in a perpetual state of negativity/sin, forgetting the Victory in Jesus and that we are of the royal priesthood. It makes sense why they do this – – the pastor gets to keep harping on this “sin,” and congregations are beaten down – – it’s a way they use their position to control.

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  48. Julie Ann:

    IMO the overriding theme in almost all things related to church is control. It may not for many Christians but that is a big turn off to me.

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  49. lyn,

    Are you familiar with Pink? He thought anyone not a Calvinist in soteriology was an unbeliever. He was very hyper Calvinist/pro Puritan. Read his Sovereignty of God. Scary stuff. His idea of “coming out from among them” would be the same sort of method used by Calvin or the Puritans and today, Mark Dever with his loveless church discipline methods…

    The original Internet Monk mentioned A.W.Pink as the ultimate “Church of One” type, worshipping alone at home on Sunday because ALL churches were Heretical compared to his Perfectly-Parsed Completely-Correct Theology.

    The theoretical ultimate end state of Protestantism is millions of One True Churches, each with only ONE member, each denouncing all the others as Heretics and Apostates. And A.W.Pink personally reached that theoretical end state.

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  50. This kit is just a way of motivating people to invite their friends to church by picking a day and building up the hype.

    Friendship Evangelism. Which of course assumes the churchgoing Christians doing the inviting actually HAVE friends outside of church. (Which is NOT an automatic assumption these days.)

    Back in the Seventies, I was involved on the fringes of Campus Crusade when a Billy Graham crusade came to Anaheim Stadium at the other end of Brea Canyon. Big announcement to all the CC types to “invite your non-Christian friends to the Crusade and Get Them Saved!” Followed by a big panic reaction among the CCers — “Oh no! I have only X weeks to make some Heathen friends so I can get them to the Crusade!” (I am NOT making that up.)

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  51. It looks a little hokey to me. Kind of reminds me of the Amway invite (with the kit and all).

    Well, there IS a lot of overlap between Amway and Born-Agains. (Including the “Multiplying Ministry” pyramid.) And Amway rallies ARE delibertately patterned after tent-Revival Meetings.

    Just this particular pyramid scheme is selling Jeesus instead of soap.

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  52. Yesterday I awoke to the radio on NPR and there was a discussion about economic recessions and depressions, and the speaker said that there was less alcoholism and suicides among people who went to church. He speculated that it was because the church provided a social support system.

    That really hit home with me, and I thought about the book of Acts and the Epistles. The repeated message was to love ONE ANOTHER. Encourage ONE ANOTHER. The first group of elders or deacons was formed to meet the needs of the widows, IN THE CHURCH.
    This is what I would call a social support system.

    The church that I was in for the last ten years became a mega church and I felt an increasing atmosphere of oppression. l I looked up “spiritual abuse” on the internet and learned about the Church Growth Movement or the Purpose Driven Church. I realized that is what was happening in my church. (and I found this site!)

    We were being beat with a stick and told that our purpose as Christians was the great commission. We were repeatedly told: “Its not about you, its about building God’s kingdom” . We were repeatedly reminded about “God’s heart is for the lost”, (although He seemed to have nothing but disappointment with the saved who were not working hard enough).

    I was involved in several ministries as a volunteer including the Women’s ministry where a standard phrase was “God will heal you as you reach out to others”.
    We were made to feel guilty and selfish for expecting anything. The church became an “organizational support system”.

    I have really appreciated the comments from Lydia since she has had experience in the mega church environment, and I also understand Daisy’s frustration when her pain was ignored or glossed over within the church.

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  53. What is “Back to Church Sunday”?

    Just another Christianese version of “National Fill-in-the-Blank Day” or “National Fill-in-the-Blank Week” or “National Fill-in-the-Blank Month”.

    Tip: If you can describe something as “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, that’s NOT a good sign.

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  54. <blockquote.Married Christian couples at churches can be the worst at this. I’ve not experienced it myself, but I’ve read oodles and oodles of Christian single women say in books about church quitters and on blogs that the nano second they join a new church, if they are not ignored, the married couples with children expect the single women to serve as free baby sitting service.

    Don’t you know that Married Christian Couples(TM) were NEVER single? They were apparently BORN Married to each other. Or they imprinted on each other at birth like Bella’s kid and the studly werewolf in Twilight Volume whatever.

    And don’t you also know that in a lot of churches, Singles are just a free labor pool for Church jobs — stack chairs, usher the parking lot, make the Fellowship coffee — so the Marrieds can stay home Focusing on their Families(TM)?

    It puts even more pressure on those Single losers to Get Married(TM) so they can be on the receiving end for once. (As well as enjoying all that 24/7/365 Dynamite Married Nookie we get bribed with as a promised reward if we stay virgins until then.)

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  55. JA wrote: “They keep their congregants in a perpetual state of negativity/sin, forgetting the Victory in Jesus and that we are of the royal priesthood. It makes sense why they do this…”

    I’m glad you wrote this, as I remember something else because of it. I’m not saying they all do this on purpose. But I remember a span of several years where my church at the time started doing everything in terms of the cross. It was the cross this, the cross that. I mean everything. The worship team introduced several new songs per month that had to do with the cross. There was a song that went so far as to say something like the cross was our redeemer.

    We should not neglect the cross (or the gospel for that matter), but to make it central to everything? The cross means Christ’s death. He died for our sins. But if that’s all there is, then we simply have sins paid for. The resurrection was to newness of life. If all you do is concentrate on death, you won’t experience life like you should.

    One Reformed Baptist church I attended “celebrated” the Lord’s supper with many of the hyper-spiritual burying their heads in their hands and then between their knees because of their “sin” before taking the elements. What kind of celebration is that?

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  56. Headless Unicorn Guy
    you are really making me chuckle here and yes, you are right on target.

    I know one of the things that I had been dealing with in my own life is the fact that I only knew Christians and never went out of my comfort zone- that was based on fear. I do not want to be like that again. I do not think it is healthy to be completely surrounded by “Church 24/7”- we will not win the lost this way. When you think about it, Jesus did not only surround Himself with the disciples- He went OUT.
    In fact, the early church had to deal with non-Christians continually.
    This mindset of exclusion was not implemented until the “church state”- then those who were unbelievers were either forced or bribed (replacing their idols with statues of Mary, Peter, Paul or the other saints) into coming into the church.

    Lydia
    Your comments are spot on about Pink- I welcome constructive criticism.

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  57. I’m glad you wrote this, as I remember something else because of it. I’m not saying they all do this on purpose. But I remember a span of several years where my church at the time started doing everything in terms of the cross. It was the cross this, the cross that. I mean everything.

    Yes, Steve, I think this cross-centered focus made the rounds especially in circles that were connected with TGC.

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  58. Summer, I really liked your entire comment (September 15, 2013 @ 7:37 AM) and resonated with much of what you said.

    I got so tired of the small group inward focused culture. And of church people being less kind than others. Of all of the judging. And fears of the world and “sinners”.

    I really love this :” What is my religion if I can’t have an overflowing love for the world? The lost and the dying. I truly want a religion that is life changing. A religion that is overflowing with love.” and this: “What kind of religion is that! There has to be more. Or we’re screwed”

    Pretty sure Jesus would shout Amen!

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  59. I would like the third video to be fact-checked. How can the church be the “largest single health care provider” in history? That is followed by the bragging about how the church brings fresh water and food, cares for orphans and widows, and provides disaster relief. How is that possible with church budgets going towards salaries, buildings, and other operational areas while going broke? Sure there are church based disaster relief organizations, but I am not sure if their impact amounts to what the video makes it out to be.

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  60. Did the organization that was behind the Back to Church day keep tabs? How will they know if their Back To day was a success, I wonder?

    I just saw a new report about a national youth show or program that is going on the road (or already has), and its organizer, Ron Luce, mentions it will have big video monitors and happening rock bands. If I understood the article right, the show is meant to get the kids back into church.

    LOL. For those of us who are soured on going back to church, it will take more than a video monitor and cool rock band to do the trick.

    The kids and the middle aged share some of the same reasons why we don’t want to go back to church, and one of those very reasons is being marketed to with the rock bands, free coffee, logos on T-shirts, post cards and so on.

    @ David C
    you raised very good points.

    But some churches do seem to be on board with giving out free food to poor people and so on, which is wonderful, but as I wrote above, many churches are hypocritical, in that they will ooze compassion for homeless people (or orphans, or *insert some other special needs group here*) but are completely abysmal at helping average Jane and Joe, middle class people (even Christians) who are grieving the death of a loved one, who just lost a job, have been diagnosed with depression or cancer.

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  61. Daisy, one of the reasons why I stopped going to a certain local megachurch about five or six years ago, is because when I was in an abusive home situation, and went to my class teachers for guidance, they became very afraid of me! One of them used to go on and on about how much she loved women and wanted to help them. So, silly me took her word for it and gave her a call. I had no one else to turn to. (I asked her for nothing.) Well, the woman could not wait to hang up the phone, and she never returned my call, as she’d said she would. When I went back to the church a few weeks later, I was sheepishly told, “We both talked about it, and we think you should just persevere.” Not sure why she waited until I showed up in class to tell me that.

    From then on, both teachers avoided me – they were nervous around me, would not look at my eyes, would cut me off after the obligatory “How are you?” It was rude, and made me very uncomfortable. Finally, I decided to put them out of their misery and leave.

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  62. @ Oasis
    I am so sorry. I think I remember you sharing your story here with me before, or at the Wartburg Watch blog?

    Their response about “just persevering” was lame.

    I can understand that sometimes people feel uncomfortable with someone else’s pain or situation, but why don’t they just admit it and ask the person, “I feel awkward, unsure how to help you. What can I do for you?’

    That approach would most certainly be a step up from avoiding the person, not making eye contact, or saying they’ll call back but then never do.

    I just so relate. It’s very difficult going through a trauma, or hurt, and have no family or close friends to turn to, and then, when you go to another Christian, they turn you down, or lecture you or offer advice (hurting people want love and sympathy, not advice!)

    I had something similar happen to me as what happened to you, with the lady who told you she was so gung-ho to help the hurting, so when you took her up on that, she brushed you off or would not make time for you:

    About a year after my mother’s death, I moved to a new state. About six months after that move, I started going to a new church. I confided in some of the people there about my situation, including one older lady.

    The older lady was nice at first, but as the months went by, she became more judgmental towards me, hse started giving me cliches and platitudes, and she actually snapped at me one morning in Sunday School (I didn’t do anything to deserve it), which was the last straw for me. I stopped attending that church.

    Anyway, the thing that made it galling (and what makes it similar to your church lady experience, which was terrible too) is that my church lady was very involved in the church’s ministry to a local abused woman’s / homleless woman shelter.

    She would volunteer there once a month.

    During Sunday School classes, Church Lady would get emotional and teary eyed and go on about how awful she felt for the poor abused ladies. Her showing deep compassion for the shelter ladies happened on several occasions, and a few times when I went to visit her at her home.

    I think it’s great she was compassionate for the shelter ladies, and that she volunteered.

    What hurt me deeply, though, is that Church Lady generally did not extend that same care and concern for me, and she knew I was hurting badly, had no friends or family to turn to or talk to.

    She would get judgmental with me, give me unsolicited advice, basically tell me orphans and shelter women have life far worse than me, so suck it up, etc.

    My grief over losing my mother (and other issues I had) were brushed off by her as though they were nothing, or as though me going through the normal stages of grief everyone goes to after a death was akin to having “self pity”.

    It’s one thing to be ignored in a time of pain (and that happened to me as well), but it hurts even more to be insulted or put down from a person who claims to be all compassionate and wanting to help (like your Church Lady) or one who does indeed show concern, but not for you, only for shelter ladies.

    My impression is that a lot of Christians find it much easier, and less time-, financial-, and emotion- intensive to write a check out to a charity; visit a shelter once a month; or say they care about hurting people during a Sunday School class, than they do to actually invest the time and energy it takes to help a hurting person, especially if the pain is emotional. Because it does take time and patience to phone up or meet up with someone you know if hurt

    I so could have used a nice, caring Christian friend the first 3 – 4 years after Mom died to just listen to me as I cried and talked about my Mom, but I had none.

    I specifically asked a few of them for that support, but they would not return calls, or just give me simplistic advice and feel good platitudes.

    I’m very sorry you were let down and abandoned at a time you really needed a friend to give you some time, to listen to you.

    Often, that’s all we want or need, someone to just sit and listen as we tell our stories or listen to us vent, but it’s amazing and sad how so few Christians want to take on that responsibility, which would only cost them a couple hours of their time a month, nothing more.

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  63. Yes, I guess my church lady got more than she bargained for. I know our stories are a bit different (not the best at this form of communication), but I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone in feeling abandoned by Christians (even though you already know), because it’s so sad to think of you grieving all alone back then, Daisy. There seems to be a lack of Christians who are truly willing to help carry one another’s burdens or weep with those who weep (from what I have seen, at least) – in other words, to be Jesus to people. And it’s tragic, knowing the ways your Christians have had such a lasting impression on you.

    What all of this does for me, is to first, keep more to myself and not count on anyone for anything – probably not healthy. But also, form a resolution to try to be different, to be to others what they need (within reason), to prove to myself and others that Jesus is Love, and alive in the world, that he does care.

    Having said all of that, there are so many loving people here at this blog alone. It’s incredible.

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  64. I so could have used a nice, caring Christian friend the first 3 – 4 years after Mom died to just listen to me as I cried and talked about my Mom, but I had none.

    That is so sad! I’m so sorry no one was there for you. To have someone to listen while you cry is such a beautiful gift. I know what a powerful gift it has been to me. I consider it a privilege to hear someone’s cries. What a precious gift – to be trusted and accepted with someone’s most intimate and tender tears. I read this verse recently and it literally moved me to tears:

    Psalm 56:8

    You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

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  65. If Back to Church Sunday were to actually work, it would depend on what that church’s intentions are. Are the people seeking to get people to come “back” church being sincere, or is it just to meet a quota, therefore, a numbers game. Are churches doing this trying to pull people from other churches or denominations. I have a friend who will still ask me from time to time to go to her church, even though she knows that I go to church, which is Catholic. I can’t help but wonder if she does this because she is and was raised anti-Catholic. Let’s just say long story short, it turned into a game of her taking advantage of me and my mom, with supporting most of the church activities.

    It can sometimes be a catch 22 when inviting someone to your church. Has anyone who has been asked to come to church ever ask why they should? If the reason given to go to church is to get to know God and Jesus, ask them to expand on that. When going to some of these churches, it’s not really about God or Jesus, but more of filling their agenda with so-called obligations. The church that I used to go to before I became Catholic would sometimes treat going to church as a formality just to go to a church activity or outing. They would focus more on getting people to commit to activities and serving the church so far in advance that they would make it hard for you if something genuine in your own life would come up.

    A lot of Protestant Christian friends and acquaintances will constantly praise their church, and how happy they are to be there. But what I also am hearing are their everyday problems. One person even told me that she is depressed when she is at home, but happy when she is out with her friends. I just see the same vicious cycle over and over with people who talk about problems, go to church to be “uplifted”, and then they are back where they started. I don’t know how many churches have people giving testimony of their lives about how “sinful” they were before coming to church, but it makes me wonder how sincere these people are when they give a testimony. Does it accomplish anything, or is it even supposed to?

    I believe that I am starting to go on a tangent. So I am stopping now. It’s easy to get worked up about different church issues.

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  66. Hi Ellen: Thanks for stopping by and giving your input. I think you are exactly right about the church’s intentions. And I guess the same could be said about friends inviting you to church, too.

    As far as your friends who seem to be going through a cycle of repetition – – that kind of does make you question what’s going on, doesn’t it? It seems to invalidate any testimonies if you can see something opposite in their life.

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