Reason #2 – I Left Church Behind

Comment taken from Naked Pastor’s ‘An Appeal‘ Blog

I don’t have the time or energy to serve the body of Christ. I’m too busy welcoming the homeless single dad and his teen son into our home (the family shelters are full in our city), and I’m too busy helping the Latino family down the street obtain legal immigration status. Forget serving the church. It’s forgotten us.” (Jerri)

I like what Jerri has to say – I think he gets/understands the ‘good news’. The church is too focused on itself in my opinion and overlooks people like Jerri works with – on an almost daily basis. Even if they do something foir the poor – it’s very menial and a side track – not something of focus for the church (or congregation).

I grew up in an inner city also with the problems Jerri also talks about – and I knew all the churches in the neighborhood – there was about 6 or 7. None of them really did too much for the poor or deal with the problems of these people. No one played Jesus for the poor in my opinion. People just are not willing to lay their lives down for this ‘good news’…it is good but not great for them.

I see where Jerri stands – I stand there with him. I have always helped people from the community I grew up in – even when the church did nothing or could do nothing (which was quite often) – or overlooked their problems as ‘meaningless’ (being not spiritual and all). But someone has to care for the people with ‘no hope’ in this world or the next…and someone needs to lay down their life so they can know it. Who is going to help the gang-member find self esteem? The abused spouse to find safety? The prostitute to find hope? The drug addict to find a ‘way out’? Churches cannot deal with these scenarios – they are scared to.

The church, to me, has become a middle class focused entity. It is now concerned with problems that effect the middle class – from theology to practice. It has become useless to me in that regard…I grew up poor and my heart will always be with the oppressed in society. The church always plays it ’safe’ – as far as I am concerned – everything is so…comfortable.

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11 thoughts on “Reason #2 – I Left Church Behind

  1. “The church, to me, has become a middle class focused entity. It is now concerned with problems that effect the middle class – from theology to practice. ” -SVS

    agreed. but shouldn’t the middle class get some spiritual help too? i know your answer and i agree with you as well. the church has really missed the mark on it’s call to help the poor and has become a bueracratic machine. The CEO/business style churches are to blame for this… but also ignoring the fact that the church is a business doesn’t help much either.

    for me the church serves mainly as a reminder to the masses that transformation is needed. (social, economic, and political transformation). to do this, the church must have a prophetic edge and must RAWK the boat (haha! i funny!). many churches ignore this part as it’s not profitable and it could end your career as a minister… so how can we balance this?

    church has got issues.. but it’s gonna take people like you and me and Jerri to fix it. one person can make a difference, but not as big of a difference as 25 people… and definately not as big as a whole country.

  2. Society,

    I’m really big on definitions tonight. Are you just defining church as a group of people who gather in a certain place to listen to a sermon and worship God?

    Rather, maybe the church is wherever a follower of God goes. In which case, can the church truly be left behind?

    Maybe we need to re-claim the word church. We don’t leave the church behind, we bring it with us, and encourage others to follow.

  3. maybe the church is wherever a follower of God goes

    How about ‘some followers’ rather than ‘a follower’? I fall in the ‘a’ follower category but God forbid anyone associate church with me! 8)

  4. I grew up in an inner city also with the problems Jerri also talks about – and I knew all the churches in the neighborhood – there was about 6 or 7. None of them really did too much for the poor or deal with the problems of these people. No one played Jesus for the poor in my opinion. (SVS)

    You are right about that. I think it comes as result of the bottom line beliefs that most churches hold. Their is a rugged individualism type of christianity that is preached in the pulpits and taught in these churches. What I mean, is that churches, the evangelical ones anyways, will preach and teach that a person must accept Jesus Christ, become born again, join our church, and then your life will somehow dramatically change and everything will be okay from now on. The next step is to train you to lead others to Christ.

    The focus has become “soul winning” and nothing else. Thus all the resources of the ministry go towards “evangelism” and the real needs of people do not get met.

  5. “The focus has become “soul winning” and nothing else” (Just1)

    I agree and it’s damn shame. This reason number 1 I left church – it was self-serving with a purpose. If that’s all they are concerned about – then church is a literal waste of time. All funds will go that way. All teaching will go that way. All resources will focus there also. I saw a lot of this as a young Christian – and it really turned me off. It’s not that the morality was not good – it was – but it’s not morality the church is all that concerned with anyways. I think it’s mis-placed energy for a pastor (my opinion).

    However, since I wrote this two people on NP’s site gave me a list of churches to look into concerning actual societal efforts (for the community) and that was kind of cool. I haven’t checked into them yet – but I will. I will see if the church is changing to one that cares for the issues in society.

    Yael, on a side note, I am guessing you see a bunch of us debating what seems like ‘law’ on the blog prior to this – what do you think of that? I am trying my best to relate a position that respects the Jewish law and also brings into the conversation the NT writings (which are not law). I am not sure how I am doing over there – but I have a sort of clarity on the issue – namely that Jewish law was the basis for the writings of the NT (namely law concerned with moral issues). I may be wrong – but I am trying.

  6. “agreed. but shouldn’t the middle class get some spiritual help too? ” Luke

    This lead me to think, what is the “true” purpose of the “church”? By this I mean, what should people who call themselves Christians being doing? What is a christian’s purpose?

    Is it is to evangelize? Or is it to make the world a better place? To be honest, most churches I went to, their purpose was to win souls becuase this world is lost and heaven awaits the converted. So conversion of the soul is more important. I have my doubts about heaven and so conversions are useless. It only matter what you do on earth.

    But can there then be a heaven on earth? A place where all people are equal? Can we make the world a better place? I have my doubts about that to.

    My purpose is to live a good life for myself and family. Then in my community and then in the world around me. I don’t not care to win people to a system of believe, because that is a waste of time. Who cares what your absolute doctrines are, if you are caring for your neighbor and family?

  7. Well said Wilfred. In my shul we have people who hold to very traditional beliefs about God and Torah, we have people who are skeptics and atheists. Who cares? They are all part of our community, they all contribute to sustaining our community. And each of them adds a needed dimension to our dialog amongst ourselves and to our working to make the world a better place for all.

    Social justice is really a big deal for us. Rabbi was on the front page of New York Times again on Saturday because of the effort we are promoting to bring ethics back into our ritual observance of kashrut. Its effects reach far beyond the Jewish community, which is why we have supporters from all over. Very cool.

    I’ll repeat your last paragraph only I’ll reverse a couple things since I know what works best for me:
    My purpose is to live a good life for community, my family and myself. Then in the world around me. I don’t not care to win people to a system of believe, because that is a waste of time. [Personally I’d rather win money. What would I do with all the people I’ve won anyway?] Who cares what your absolute doctrines are, if you are caring for your neighbor and family?

  8. Jason,
    I posted under Numbers 31 as you no doubt have seen.

    I’m getting together a place for us to discuss Halakhah. Since the class has not yet started, I thought it might be a good time to review some materials to help us prepare. I’ll probably start putting up some of the easier legal cases for us to start discussing so that we’re ready to move on to more difficult ones when the time comes. Should be fun.

    But, since I get to do the foot work to start, with Elul, the month of preparation for the High Holy Days beginning next week, and then the High Holy Days themselves which stretch out for about a month altogether, I probably stay out of most of the convos here. However, you are free to copy and paste anything of mine that you feel might contribute to the conversation.

    Anyway, law site: Halakhah: Way to Go

  9. Shouldn’t it be a balance? As Christians we have an example in Christ for relieving the sufferings of the oppressed and marginalized but why? Social justice is laudable but is it relief for relief’s sake or is there more to it? Some would say that suffering is the static that prevents a person from hearing about the Gospel. If you’re hungry, or tortured or rejected the focus of your life is the aliviation of the discomfort. When that suffering is gone it opens the door to hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, does it not. Christ healed and then blessed with an admonition of faith that makes people whole….whole in body, mind and heart.

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