100 Things I've learned about church

I don't have much of a faith anymore. At least not like I used to. I thought I was so great with all my theology and my good works. I worshiped my church and thought it could be great one day if only we got things right. If only we worked it all out, said the right things, acted the right way and looked just right, we would convince anyone to become just like us. We were Christians. We sang great songs, had great truths, married great people and did great things. We thought alike, talked alike and acted just as we should. We thought we were so great because we only had ourselves to impress.

I know that some of what follows will greatly offend some people, it would have offended me a little while ago. Some items result from great leaps of logic. That's ok. I'm not intending to write a thesis here. It's more of a snapshot of what I think about church now. Some of these I'll defend, but I'm sure many will vanish from my thought at some point. Basically, if it helps you, great... if not, oh well, at least you can see church from another perspective.

There's more to come. I'm treating this more or less like a table of contents for what I'll be writing about on this blog.

Corporate driven church

  • Your church is not a company.
  • Running a church like a corporation leads to all sorts of problems that church leaders are ill-equipped to handle.
  • The corporate driven church often leads to an entitlement mentality amongst the 'customers' who are paying for services. That leads to enormous abuse as churches scramble to get their employees and volunteers to meet the needs of their ever picky 'customers'.
  • Everything the Church ignores grows.


  • Many churches, often in an effort to meet the demands of their top donors stifle diversity.
  • Diversity (of culture, style, thought, leadership, viewpoints) can only be good for a church.
  • Lack of diversity kills communities.
  • The more churches stifle diversity, the more they will find their members splitting on the most obscure issues.
  • If you aren't regularly saying "I've never thought of it that way", then you probably don't have enough diversity in your life.

The poor

  • Many churches who have the megachurch philosophy say "We don't invite the poor because we don't know how to handle the poor".
  • The truth is, the poor know how to handle the poor. If churches began respecting the poor, they would be amazed by what they have to offer.

Women in leadership

  • Contrary to what most christians are taught, the Bible has surprisingly little to say against women in leadership.
  • The typical views against women in leadership don't stand up well against the "where is it written" argument.
  • Churches often will model their leadership based on Jesus and the disciples, saying that all the disciples are men, therefore the church leadership should be similarly composed. If that's so, does that go for race as well? Or occupation?

Gays and Judgment

  • Most christians have no idea how much gays have suffered in the hands of so-called 'christians'.
  • Many christians believe that all sin is equal, yet they judge gays for their sins much more harshly.
  • Every time I've thought someone should be excluded from the church for some reason, I find out that I should be excluded for reasons which are just as equal.
  • Most christians are unaware of the amount of promiscuity that goes on within their church.
  • Most churches would rather appear without blemish than to provide a safe forum for their members to work through issues of sexuality. Whatever the church ignores, grows.

Absolute Truth

  • There is absolute truth, there just isn't absolute interpretation.
  • Many christians try to find absolute truth in anything and everything. This mentality leads to bickering, divisiveness and alienation.
  • It's never good to claim that you have the total truth.
  • There are plenty of things we just won't know the absolute truth on.
  • It's ok to not know the absolute truth.
  • The phrase "where do you draw the line?" is ripe with fallacy. Alarms should go off every time it's spoken.
  • Our job is rarely, if ever, to draw lines.
  • Many chrisitan leaders are uncomfortable with the idea of postmodernism. This is usually because they've spent their lives building a highly rational defense of their faith and postmodernism undermines that. Lesson: don't spend your life building a highly rational defense of your faith. Instead, live it out
  • There's something worth learning from every religion and every philosophy. Ask what's right before asking what's wrong.


  • Church communities often place enormous value in argumentation; alienating people who aren't easily understood.
  • Those people who lack a "clear voice" may still have profound truths to share. Ask.
  • It's good to ask this question: "Can you possibly imagine an exception to your argument?"
  • Every argument can be turned back into a conversation by believing "It's okay if I'm completely wrong about this."
  • Everything I say is wrong.
  • Everything you say is wrong.
  • We should have pity on each other for our shared inability to communicate truth.
  • Pity does not mean contempt.
  • There are exceptions to everything here.
  • All of us are always in progress always, all the time.

Style and Substance

  • Making a church look cool does not make it 'postmodern'.
  • When it comes to church; style does not equal substance.
  • There are plenty of 'uncool' churches that are far more "postmodern"/"emergent" than the "cool" churches.
  • "New Look, Same Great Taste!" doesn't work if it tastes nasty.
  • Churches spend countless resources in pursuit of the perfect formula for getting people saved. There is no formula. There never has been, there never will be.
  • You can't buy the formula, you can't sell the formula, you can't go to a 'cool' church and copy the formula. No amount of research will reveal the formula. So just step away from the Drucker.
  • Churches could move a thousand mountains with the effort they exert trying to perfect their formula.
  • Read the bible, everyone. Relentlessly discuss what it says with as many different kinds of people as possible. (is that a formula?)
  • Christian language has become so corrupt, so many of the words have taken on such terrible meanings, that the Bible is nearly unreadable for some people. There's something worth working on.
  • For example, when the bible uses the word 'grace' but we have never even seen anything close to grace being demonstrated in our churches, then how are we to understand what the bible is saying?


  • The word "christian" means all kinds of things to all kinds of people. Very often it means bad things.
  • Same with 'Jesus', God, Savior, etc.
  • Republican does not equal Christian.
  • Many people will have nothing to do with church simply because they think that they have to change their political viewpoints to be a part of it.
  • In most Christian debates there's a big disconnect between what we are passionate about and what Jesus was passionate about.
  • It's good to always ask the question "What does the Bible say more about?". Does it say more about the small inconsequential issue we are fighting about, or does it say more about love and unity?


  • Find out what's right about someone else's beliefs before attacking what's wrong.
  • The focus of christianity shouldn't be to 'convert' people when it's at the expense of loving them.
  • Many christians have been relentlessly taught to 'convert' 'non-christians'. They do so with the best intentions but usually end up alienating their 'unsaved' friends and marginalizing the church.
  • Everyone has heard the salvation message, several times, with fewer exceptions than most christians have been lead to believe.
  • The four spiritual laws are never presented in scripture explicitly. They are simply one way of condensing the gospel message in a way meant to make sense to the modern man.
  • The four spiritual laws don't make sense to most people.
  • Trying to boil all the mystery of the bible down into faux-scientific fact does little to convince people who have little faith in science. Or in you.
  • The sinner's prayer isn't in the Bible. No one in the Bible ever got anyone saved by using the "sinner's prayer".
  • Truth is, no one ever, in any time has ever been saved by the sinner's prayer. Think about it.
  • Repeating "That's just your truth, I'm glad you found something that works for you," will confound many evangelicals. (and it tends to anger a few).

The next big thing

  • The more a church says "if we build it, they will come", the more they will find themselves in debt with their burned out volunteers walking out the door.
  • Two steps towards irrelevance: one, hold an evangelistic event that will impress your christian friends. two, blame the 'unbelievers' if they don't get saved.
  • What works for another church will not work for yours. Especially anything with the number forty in it.
  • Most of the "Next Big Things" in christianity end up disillusioning their proponents, even in small imperceptible ways. Did alpha, 40 days and the passion really live up to all their promises? Do you have the same regard for them now as you did when you first found out about them?
  • The "Next Big Things" are often the Get Rich Quick schemes of the church; promising pastors large congregations for a low low price.
  • Be wary of Get Large Quick schemes, just like you are wary of Get Rich Quick schemes that attempt to circumvent common sense and Godly wisdom.
  • This goes for the 'emerging church' too. Don't think that making your church 'appeal' to 'postmoderns' will make your church big.


  • Just because someone says "I feel God is leading me to do such and such" doesn't mean that it's right.
  • 3 steps to disaster: one, fill your intuition with lousy data; two, mistake your intuition for God's leading; three, silence your critics with God talk by saying things like "I know God is leading me" or "I'm just stepping out in Faith".
  • Many christians mistake psychological phenomena as spiritual phenomena.
  • It's dangerous to mistake the temporal for the eternal.

Long View

  • It's even more dangerous to treat the eternal as though it's temporal.
  • Take the long view.
  • Expand your timeline for change (of you, others; your church, community and world). It may take another 200 years.
  • Be encouraged by the kinds of changes that can be completed in the long view.
  • What kind of changes would you make at your church if you knew it was going to exist for 400 years?


  • Listen intently to why someone hates church. Really listen, actively listen, ask questions, don't react.
  • By all means don't say "well, our church is different" or "that doesn't apply to us".
  • When someone hates church, it is surprisingly rare in this culture, that they hate church simply because of Christ.
  • Be prepared to make significant changes to your point of view the more you honestly talk to those whom the church has abandoned.
  • If we believe that the church goes beyond four walls and includes all 'believers', then we need to be consistent in that view.
  • Most people who avoid the church have been hurt by the church. Not 'a church' but 'the church'.
  • It's worthwhile to see all christian atrocities as our own.


  • It's okay to question.
  • Question everything, everyone, everywhere, always.
  • Nothing is off limits. Question God, life, salvation, death, sin, hell, bible, leaders and traditions.
  • Never accept "that's just the way it is" for an answer. Never accept "the Bible just generally says that".
  • Always ask "where is it written?".
  • Don't accept for a moment that just because someone has "the right credentials", that they have the right answer. Honor them, but question.
  • Questioning does not make you less of a Christian. Questioning isn't a sin. It isn't even doubt.
  • Don't stop anyone from questioning.
  • Don't give canned answers.
  • With few exceptions, there is always more than one answer.
  • Good answers take time and they account for truth on all levels.
  • A culture of questions is organic, fragile and easily broken. Don't break it.
  • Allow people to find their own answers. Don't impose your will on them.
  • Usually, asking a question is more important than receiving an answer.
  • If you believe God is sovereign, then you can rest assured that they will come to the right answer at the right time.

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