“I Hate Church…”

ImageIf you’ve seen me speak in the last few months you might have noticed a bit of a change in my attire. Instead of a nice pair of jeans and a blazer you might have noticed my hat worn backwards coupled with earrings in my ears. What I’m about to share with you is the reason why.

My wife and I have made a habit of randomly showing love to strangers wherever we go. It could be a waiter/waitress at a restaurant we’re visiting or a homeless person on the street asking for money. We’re not always the most consistent with this, but we have quite a few stories we could share. One of these stories is about this time when we decided to go on an adventure downtown and we saw this beautiful young lady sitting on the ground asking for money. Immediately we were moved with compassion and decided to invite her to come with us to get something to eat and then proceeded to give her some money. While we were sitting down getting to know this amazing young lady it came out that we were “church attendee’s” and she went on to mention how there have been times when she’s walked into a church and people have simply stared at her because of her piercings, tattoos, and how she was dressed, ultimately making her not want to immerse herself in that kind of an environment.

Another time I had the incredible opportunity to speak at a memorial funeral service with 100+ bikers inside of a Walmart Parking-Lot. Afterwards several of them came up to me and made statements like “I would never step foot inside of a church, but I would come to your church,” or “I’m not welcomed in churches,” etc. Keep in mind many of these guys and girls were saying they came from pretty hard backgrounds and if I can be stereotypical for a moment, they also looked like it.

Then I would hear outrageous statistics about abortion rates within the church and how studies have shown that abortion is highest where religion is highest… (insert screeching car sound effect here). Say what??? How does that happen? I thought church was supposed to be a safe place. I’d walk through downtown Toronto and see “Christians” on street corners yelling at people with signs in their hands telling them they’re going to hell. I’d even engage a few of them in conversations asking them how effective they’re evangelism attempts had been, often times they didn’t have much to speak of. I’d get into conversations with young people in bars about me being a Christian and at first I was written off because of their previous experiences/encounters with people who profess Christ.

Fast forward a few months and my wife and I find ourselves deciding to visit some prominent churches in our city, as well as churches that I’ve spoken at in the past. She would wear a mini-skirt, I would wear some baggy jeans with a hat put on backwards, with big diamond earrings in my ears, and it’s as though we automatically appeared like we didn’t know much about how “church worked.” In almost every single church no one would say hi to us, people would simply stare at us, I had people in services tap me on my shoulder and tell me to take my hat off… Some of my Pastor friends didn’t even recognize it was me and were absolutely shocked when I revealed myself. All in all… most places left me not wanting to ever come back. I remember in one service I couldn’t even focus on the message because I was so infuriated as to how this one lady treated me. I wanted to tell her off out of some misplaced sense of pride, but I managed to keep it together. Then I got it.

I began to understand why an entire generation can feel more loved and welcomed in a club than in a church. We preach revival, we talk about reaching people, but how many Christians are really stepping into the ‘dark places’ of our city and shining their lights? How many Christians only have “Christian” friends, go to “Christian” events, and speak “Christianeze.” Are churches really ready for the day the prostitute walks into church after she just finished her night shift? Or when the back of the church smells like weed and alcohol because we’re serious about “ALL are welcome?” Or the day when you can’t leave your purse on the seat during worship because that visitor might just steal your wallet? Healthy perspective: That’s a good problem to have. For the first time as a Christian I poorly attempted to put my feet in the shoes of “non-christians” and I confess… I would have probably written off church/organized religion if I wasn’t already a Christian.

I think Ghandi said it best, “I would have become a Christian until I met one.” The will of God is always displayed in Jesus but not always in his followers. We as Christians do a really good job of screwing that up. It’s as though church has become about good meetings and good music, and unless you look like, talk like, and act like me, then we cannot walk together, be seen together, or hang out. We’ve created this movement, this culture that is so anti the very world we are called to help. We’ve demonized celebrities, stepped out of society, and we’re afraid to come close to what some people call “darkness.” Show me Jesus in that. Can you imagine if they had social media in Jesus’ day? Instagram, facebook, or twitter? Someone would have taken a picture of a prostitute washing Jesus’ feet and someone would have posted it online and it would be an absolute media frenzy. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch that which the people of his day would call unclean! He sat with sinners, was even called their friend. Religious leaders thought he was a sell out. By the way, I’m pretty sure he dressed like a modern Jew in his time.

Now… I don’t hate church, and not all churches in Toronto are like the churches I described in this blog. This is just a title to catch people’s attention. I love church. I find myself falling in love with this awesome church plant downtown called C3 Toronto. A church filled with broken people, who don’t have it all together, but genuinely love Jesus and are allowing him to better their lives and the lives of those around them. I’ve realized that some of the sweetest worship doesn’t come from the most perfect people, but from some of the most broken people who simply recognize they need him the most. I’m not sure where the invisible wall we’ve created in churches that says “unless you act like us and dress like us, you don’t belong,” comes from, but it’s so far from anything I see in the life of Jesus. This blog isn’t an attempt to bash churches, or speak negatively of organized religion, but to some of my friends who are Pastors, I hope it’s more of a challenge. When we preach this message of unconditional love do we live it when people step through our doors? When was the last time we decided to go and hang out where the “Zacchaeus'” of our day hang out? Would we even go to their home if they invited us? This is why some of my modern day heroes are guys like Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, who we just had the privilege of visiting during our stay in New York. Thousands of misfits, x-gangsters, celebrities, hipsters, gather together for 7 services in rented out clubs right in the hub of the concrete jungle. He’s got a lot of haters, but religious people always despise people who do things they are afraid to do. I’ve gotten emails from people and had conversations with individuals who think I’m crazy, are concerned with the way I dress, and I find myself feeling a bit more like Jesus, and to me they’re beginning to look a lot more like Pharisees :s.

To all those who wouldn’t consider themselves Christians and are reading this post, on behalf of the church, I want to apologize for the way you’ve been treated. I hope that our actions don’t serve as a barrier that stop you from being able to receive the authentic and unconditional love of Jesus. You are loved, you are wanted, and you belong. To the Christians reading this post, take a look inwards and evaluate your life. Your city needs you to communicate and display the truth in love. If it is truth without love it isn’t the truth, and it isn’t the gospel.


428 thoughts on ““I Hate Church…”

  1. I wasn’t raised in any religion. I would go to many different churches as a kid with friends. I see the beauty in people. I also see hurting. I started going to a church on a regular basis when was 14. This church that I thought had answers really was judge mental, hateful, prideful and self righteous. I left there and found a place were the preacher was once in charge of a biker gang and came to Christ though a life changing experience. Here is where I was introduced to a real loving, caring God. This pastor became ill and had to retire. Since then I have went to many churches and they may start good but then turn into a clique social club. I HATE CHURCH. I hate that they say one thing and do something else. I hate that they do one little deed and blot about it for years. The will give one person a piece of bread and walk past 6 others dying while patting theirselves on the back. They are a joke. But it is not funny. If someone truly believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and that hell is eternal then why be so lazy and pathetic in your effort. The Bible says love others as you want to be loved. As some one that was lost and headed to hell in a hand basket I am appreciative to the ones that have reached out to me and guided me. I know Christ is real. I feel His presence. I know the difference that He made in my life. What can’t people just sell out for what they believe and do the work with love?

  2. I hate church too. I also hate faith and religion in general. I’m not trying to be harsh but I must be honest when I say I especially despise the Christian belief system and those who promote it’s falsehoods, ignorance and oppression. Bad is Christianity is, Islam is worse for reasons obvious even to Christians. In either case you could not invent two more dehumanizing, anti-life belief systems than Christianity and Islam. It’s my fondest wish to see these fraudulent, fear based control systems wiped off the face of the earth. My prediction is that one day (maybe long after I’m gone) Islam and Christianity along with their vile hell threats will be tossed onto the dung heap of defunct religions or at least relegated to status of fringe beliefs. If/when this happens, it will be mankind’s greatest achievement, the triumph of reason and freedom over bronze age mind slavery.

    1. Joe, have you ever considered that most of what we see in Christianity today, and for many centuries frankly, is not a true representation of Jesus Christ or true Christianity? Humans have distorted God and have created religions of all sorts to serve their purposes. The true God is forever loving, sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to restore mankind to a relationship with himself and to set us all free eternal death. This is ALL by his grace. God is unchanging in his love. Whatever you’ve heard or learned about Christianity in church or out, tell God you want to know Him – not some man made concept of Him. If you do this, He will reveal himself to you and set you free! This is what happened to me.

      1. I realize many Christians cannot accept that anyone could find fault with their precious beliefs, so in true self-deprecating form they blame themselves for being inadequate Christians. But believe me when I tell you, I actually like Christians as people (well, some of you) it’s your belief system I can’t stand. If you can love the sinner but hate the sin, I can love the Christian but hate their beliefs.
        You’ve wasted your life playing make-believe. Believing in vicarious redemption and restoring mankind to a relationship with God is like believing in dragon taming and unicorn riding. I am so sorry for you and hope that you wake up before your one life passes you by. Islam and Christianity are basically two sides of the same 20 sided die of religion. Both have their moderates, and their fundamentalists, but at their cores they all preach the same message: “We’re right, everyone else is wrong, and if they disagree, then they go to hell.”

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  4. I don’t like the sign but I do love the story because there is a situation that is close to my heart in a . church that I love and I watch some teen kids get left out of many activities because they are stereotyped as being bad kids because they are not in the click of the other teens and young adults that get to go on trips or other things, all this one group has to do is love the other group and be nice enough to invite the teens that never get to do anything because they are alittle different. they feel that they are not good enough and I feel that if the other teen group that treats them bad are not showing Christian love for the teens that are getting shunned or getting made fun of. its just not right. how do you change those so called Christians that thanks that they are better than others. I am so glad that the lord said that everyone who says lord lord will not make it into heaven.only the pure in heart will make it in. I love my lord jesus with all of my heart. I wish everyone did so that we all could go to heaven .

  5. I absolutely loved this. I’m always judged because I have visible tattoos, do my makeup a little differently, wear holy jeans and a band Tshirt like everyday, and I enjoy dying my hair unnatural colors, especially purple an crimson red. Churches always treated me differently until I found Good News Gathering in my hometown. Everyone there accepts me and others like me and now I’ve been singing in the worship band for over two years. GNG has helped me through a lot and this post made me so happy to see that other people and places are as accepting as GNG. Thank you. ☺️

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  7. The first responsibility of the Church is to the widows and orphans of the anointed ministry who are the called. Who of them do you serve in your service to the Lord who purchased the Church with his blood? Even though the husbandmen had stole the vineyard, Christ did not hate the Church but loved it and purchased it and returned it to his father, keeping it in his father’s name. He never vilified the Church only those who had taken it over against the order of his father God. The slogan may ring with those who were hurt by some errant member of a local body, but as others, they were not perfect and are as much under Grace as those who want to keep a foot in Satan’s world by taking on his emblems, artefacts and body markings to express some visual message other than Christ. A study of symbology and language would help anyone wanting to cover the temple of the Holy Ghost with signs other than that which supports the body of Christ. The scripture contains no record of Christ or his disciples adding adornments of the world’s symbology to their body in order to be in union with any group. The idea that a Christian appear like any person so they are accepted by that person is in direct opposition to the scriptures admonishing us to come out from the world and be separate. Symbolic rings or items needed to convey a status of order such as marriage or part of a family or nation may be necessary for some, but superficial adornments provides illusions of grandeur to a person but conveys vanity against God. Still, for that new or potential convert to the kingdom of God who is already covered in graphics, Christ says come, and we must welcome all who seek Christ for our best was as filthy rags before God. However, we don’t need add to ourselves more dirty rags of this world’s fashion or style.

  8. I feel that many times those who accuse some of us traditionalist as being the problem with our judgemental attitude are being judged with by them. Having pasotred for more than 43 years I came to realilze years ago it is not about my dress, my hair, my tattooes or lack of that makes a difference. It is a matter of my heart.

  9. I was raised in a Christian home as a matter of fact my mother was a minister .. as I became an adult and rebelled I decided to get tattoos and piercings ,Im not a girly girl either so I like my jeans and t shirts I have found out with most churches I have been to always judge on appearance and if you cant look like them be like them then you are not accepted ,I struggle on a daily basis to even consider to go to church ..if there was a church where I lived that was not judge mental or hypocrites I think I could find a home there but so far I have had no luck doing that

  10. As a Christian raised in church, out of church, back in church, and ready to leave again (I attend a church who welcomes Everyone. Not only welcomes, but provides and cares for) … I don’t think there are any surprises here or that Church is The issue :/ Ask a Christian (in any type of church) why they do, say, post, live the way they do if their life does not primarily follow or represent Biblical Scripture and there is the real issue…”that’s Old Testament” “because it says it in the Bible” “that’s between me and God”. The last is the “worst” in my opinion! It is not between you and God … we are called to be lights, to be different than the world, Love …

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