Is it is okay when a Christian hates church?

by Cliff Ravenscraft on November 13, 2006

in Blog

It is obvious that I chose a title for this post that will at least spark enough curiosity in you so that you will pause for a moment to read what I have to announce here in this blog.
Would it be shocking to some of you to know that I sometimes hate church. Would it be shocking for you to learn that sometimes, I simply just don't even want to go to church, and well, at times, I don't! Those are hard things for me to say because when I think of the word church, I am forced to reckon with the fact that their are two means for the word that is spelled C*H*U*R*C*H.
For me personally, the word “Church” is the body of Christ. The Church is the group of people who have accepted the gift of salvation provided by Jesus on the cross in payment of our sins, those who have repented of their sin and have decided to follow the teachings and examples of Christ. To me, that is what the Church is.
So with that definition, I would say that I rather LOVE the Church. However, there is another definition for the word. The church, lower case c, is the INSTITUTION that we have come to know so well. The church is the “religion” based upon tradition and is filled with rules and do's and dont's. In some places, this church is old dusty and dead where only fifteen people show up every week at a service done by the preacher simply because, well, that's what they've always done.
In some places, church is a place where thousands of people attend weekly to hear a decent “feel good” or “how to” sermon. There are some that are like Country Clubs, that people join because it is the place with the nicest facilities, newest equipment, and programs for sports, exercise, entertainment, etc.
The biggest problem I have with the “church” are the ones that seemingly want to create cookie cutter “Christians.” You know the churches I'm talking about. They are the ones that brainwash people into believing things like…
…God wants you to attend worship Sunday's, Tuesday's and Wednesday's.
…Good Christians never drink alcohol.
…Good Christians don't go see movies, listen to non-Christian music, and certainly don't go to wild parties with people who do these things.
I could go on and on but you get the idea! Heck, I know some churches that teach that all homosexuals are going to hell.
As I am typing this, I realize that it is difficult to explain with written words all the context of church experience I've had over the years of my life that has brought me to the place where I am today. In fact, I've decided not to spend too much time with these words, and instead I decided to start a new SERIES in my Generally Speaking About The Church podcast about this topic that is on my heart.
I'm going to title this Series, “Why I hate church!” In this podcast, I will begin by describing more fully what I mean by the phrase “hate the church” and how I got to this place. I will also explain why I no longer choose to introduce myself as a “Christian” to those who do not understand what the true meaning of being a disciple of Christ really is all about.
In this podcast series, I will share some very UNCOMFORTABLE thoughts that are real in my thoughts that I've only shared with the closest people around me. There may be some people who will think that it is quite sinful to question the authority of the church in the way that I might do so. However, I will tell you that my desire is not to stir up controversy, but simply to start some open dialog about what it will take for someone like me to become the type of Christ follower that I read about in the Word of God.
There is one book that I plan to start reading for this series. In fact, I want to encourage you to go and pick up a copy of this book. It's titled “revolution” by George Barna. I have never read this book before, but I am quite familiar with some of the content of the book as I have heard Barna interviewed about the subjects he speaks on in the book and I heard a few quotes from the book. If you have never heard about it, here's a little info that might peak your curiosity.

Revolution
By George Barna
There is a new breed of Christ-follower in America today. These are people who are more interested in being the Church than in going to church. They are more eager to produce fruit for the kingdom of God than to become comfortable in the Christian subculture. They are focused on the seven spiritual passions that facilitate their growth as genuine people of God and citizens of the kingdom. These people are Revolutionaries.
In this courageous new book from bestselling author and renowned researcher George Barna, you will read the results of his studies that have discovered and described a growing national population of more than 20 million adults who are committed to living their faith and making God the top priority in their life. Some are doing so through the ministries of a local church, but many are not. The emphasis is upon allowing God to transform them in every aspect of their life.
This groundswell of spiritual passion and intensity is likely to amount to a Third Great Awakening in the United States, but with a very different look, feel and outcome than previous religious upheavals. In many ways, this new move back to God is designed to return the American Church to its roots, its first-century roots, as depicted in Acts 2.
Topics addressed in this book include:
# 1. The call to the Church
# 2. The seven passions of Revolutionaries
# 3. The current state of the local church
# 4. Confusion over Church and church
# 5. Significant cultural trends
# 6. The emerging spiritual landscape
# 7. Evidence of God through spiritual min-movements
# 8. Transformation in today's world
# 9. Alternative forms of “doing church”
# 10. Jesus the Revolutionary
# 11. The motivations and behaviors of Revolutionaries
# 12. The impact of the Revolution
# 13. Characteristics of Revolutionaries
# 14. Common criticisms of Revolutionaries
# 15. Affirmations of a Revolutionary
# 16. How local churches can respond to the Revolution
If you think you are a Revolutionary Christian, this book will encourage you. If you are interested in the future of the Church “and the local church” this book will inform you. If you are a leader in a local church, this book will challenge you. If you are searching for your place in the kingdom of God, this book will guide you.
The Revolution is here. The American Church will never be the same.

May I just say that I am very nervous about going through this series? In a way, I've felt quite comfortable hiding safely behind the “church” walls doing “ministry” in a very “safe” and “predictable” way. However, this type of doing ministry, going through the motions, etc. has left me spiritually dry and burned out. I feel called to much more and I'm tired of hiding. I want to break free from the chains of the church “the boat if you will” and I want to get out and walk on the water where Christ is calling me.
I hope you will join me as I share this journey with you. I don't have any clue where it will take me, but I'm eager to get there!
Here's how you can join me on this journey! (You can do one or more of the following)
* Keep an eye on the About The Church Website.
* Subscribe to About The Church in iTunes.
* Subscribe to the About The Church rss feed in some other program.
* Order the book “revolution” by George Barna and follow along with me as I review it.
* Pray for me and my family daily!
I can tell you that I will need your prayers! I will need prayers for wisdom and discernment. I will need prayer for protection from the evil one for me and my family as whatever God lays on my heart could have an impact on this world and cause many “Christians” to become more like the Christ followers who turned this world upside down.
Feel free to leave your comments here until the first part of this new series starts.
In Christ,
Cliff

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