Monday Morning Insights

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    Christians are a bunch of jerks

    Christians are a bunch of jerks

    What do you think of this billboard?  Christ Covenant Church in Beaumont, TX is starting a series with this very public premise:  "We know we've failed".

    In fact, here's how the church's website explains it:

    The church has failed. That's right; we've messed up, big time. The church was SUPPOSED to be a reflection of the God it claimed to serve. The church was SUPPOSED to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. But, for the most part, the church has failed.

    Our failure has left a bad taste in people's mouths. Our mistakes have led to a lack of credibility. Our messes have caused people to seek answers for this life elsewhere. And really, who could blame people for giving up on the church? Gandhi had a very good point when he said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

    What a bunch of jerks. Prideful, hypocritical, selfish, judgmental jerks.

    Essentially, the church is saying that the church (whether theirs personally, or the church in general) has failed in many ways.

    I would agree.

    But I wonder if this will be effective at the people who think all Christians are jerks.

    Here's my case:  if people think we're jerks... just because we admit we're jerks doesn't make them want to come to our party.

    That's kinda like saying, 'sure I'm a drunk... let's have a beer".

    Don't get me wrong.  Sometimes I think the per capita of jerks is much higher inside the church than outside.  But I don't know that openly sharing our jerkiness endears anyone to our cause.  Instead, they just shake their head and say, "Yep... thought so".

    I'm afraid now, those same people will think we're both jerks AND idiots.

    That said... the billboard does catch your eye.  I'm not sure the message relayed is exactly what Christ Covenant was looking for.

    You can read more here at Beliefnet.com.

    What do YOU think?

    1.  Is there value in the church apologizing for the bad taste we have left in people's mouths?

    2.  How will this translate into reaching more people?

    3.  Would your church run such a billboard.

    I'd love to hear your answers.

    Todd

    PS -- NorthRidge Church in Detroit is doing a similar type campaign, but it is more nuanced.  One of their billboards reads "NorthRidge Church is for Hypocrites".  This seems to me to be a better approach... telling people that they shouldn't stay away from church because they're a hypocrite.  (That's one of the main reasons people say they don't go to church).  I think it's different to say you're welcome here if you're a hypocrite and saying join all of us other hypocrites this Sunday.  What do you think?

    Comments

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    1. Thomas McDaniels on Tue, October 19, 2010

      I agree with you.  I think those who thought we were jerks, now think we are a bunch of nuts!

    2. Brandon Matthews on Tue, October 19, 2010

      I’m not totally sold out on this campaign, however, I do think there is value in being transparent enough to say “we’ve messed up and we’re sorry.”

      I gain a lot of respect for those who can admit when they are wrong, and we as the church have a lot to apologize for.

    3. Lex on Tue, October 19, 2010

      “Here’s my case:  if people think we’re jerks… just because we admit we’re jerks doesn’t make them want to come to our party.”

      Agreed.

      Two thoughts:
      1 - I, for one, am over the whole let’s-be-hip-Christians-by-appologizing-for-the-abuses-of-the-church. It was revolutionary four or five years ago, but now it’s a white suburban teenager with a Che t-shirt.

      2 - No one is impressed or moved by empty apologies. The Church can throw around edgy marketing schemes until Christ comes back, and no one outside is going to think it’s anything more than an edgy marketing scheme until the Church is changing the face of our communities by being the hands and feet of Jesus.

    4. JR on Tue, October 19, 2010

      Who’s apologizing for who and for what? Who was a jerk when and how? Apologizing for something specific is good. These people are making things worse.

      They should make an apology for themselves if they feel the need to, but not for me. I’m responsible for my own actions.

      I think a lot of people in society aren’t as down on Christians as we sometimes think they are. The key is for us individually to show that we’re not jerks (and reflect Christ well.) Not to write billboard apologies.

    5. CS on Wed, October 20, 2010

      “The church has failed. That’s right; we’ve messed up, big time. The church was SUPPOSED to be a reflection of the God it claimed to serve. The church was SUPPOSED to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. But, for the most part, the church has failed.”

      Two thoughts. 

      -First, the Church is the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  Nothing’s changed there.  Just because you’ve seen people do bad things in the name of Christianity or your own church has significant shortcomings does not mean that the true, invisible Church, still isn’t doing what it has been for the last 2000 years or so.

      -Second, to echo Paul Washer, I would be very cautious about criticizing the bride of Christ as they did.


      CS

    6. Mark on Wed, October 20, 2010

      They have hit the nail on the head! 

      Most Christians are complete Jerks.  It is wonderful that someone finally had to courage to confess.

      CS responded:
      > “I would be very cautious about criticizing the
      >  bride of Christ as they did.”

      Hey, that sounds like a threat?

      I guess this topic has failed to stroke your christian ego today.

      How big of a jerk does a christian have to be in order to feel compelled to threaten another christian who is confessing his own sins?

    7. CS on Wed, October 20, 2010

      Mark:

      “Hey, that sounds like a threat?”

      I know what it feels like if someone criticizes my wife and what response I would take if they speak ill about her.  I’m just saying that I can only imagine how Christ would feel about someone disparaging His bride, that’s all.

      “How big of a jerk does a christian have to be in order to feel compelled to threaten another christian who is confessing his own sins?”

      Perhaps their billboard should have said, “We’re a bunch of jerks,” instead?


      CS

    8. Mark on Wed, October 20, 2010

      The bottom line is that christians today need to do a whole lot less rebuking and a whole lot more confessing if they want to be thought of as anything other than JERKS

    9. CS on Thu, October 21, 2010

      Mark:

      “The bottom line is that christians today need to do a whole lot less rebuking and a whole lot more confessing if they want to be thought of as anything other than JERKS”

      That almost sounds like that we should be doing certain things to get along more with the world or look better in their eyes.  I’m not sure how biblical that is.

      But remember, rebuking is not a bad thing.  We’re called to do that in many ways, for different people, and in many instances (1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:13,2:15).


      CS

    10. Jan on Thu, October 21, 2010

      I was sitting in a small group of women at a park day for homeschoolers.  I was the only Christian and had been invited to talk about teaching drama classes for them.

      Somehow the subject of Christian homeschoolers came up and a woman said this.  ‘I HATE those people.  They are so self righteous.  They talk about loving people.  They tell us that Jesus loves us and that they are like him.  But they don’t really love us at all. In fact they don’t want to have anything to do with us and they treat us very badly.”

      So there I was, THE Christian.  My response “I’m a Christian.”  (lots of shocked faces!)  “And you are right.  Many Christians don’t live like Jesus, who loves everyone.  If I ever do that to you, would you please tell me?  The last thing I want to do is to hurt you, or someone else, or to misrepresent Jesus Christ, by my actions”

      From that point on that woman did everything she could do to help me. She held the rehearsals in her home. She told everyone to take my classes. She praised me to the skies.

      I don’t think the billboard is necessarily a good idea.  But I do believe that we need to own the mistakes of the church.  We aren’t the most loving and accepting people. Let’s face it.  And it needs to change.  And we need to humble ourselves and be real.

    11. Peter Hamm on Fri, October 22, 2010

      CS writes [Perhaps their billboard should have said, “We’re a bunch of jerks,” instead?] I agree with that idea. It goes along with what jan says above, about being more confessional. When I say “Christians have got a lot wrong”, I’m a critic, and I often don’t want to hear what others say.

      When I say “We have got a lot wrong, and I need to change”, it can be a first step towards real change. Some of us are seeing that in our churches, and I hope it might become one of the earmarks of the church in this new century.

      Some of our behavior has been bad. Some of our words have been bad. We have not always been as we should be.

      We won’t always be as we should be, but we can admit that, change perhaps, and move on in love.

    12. Mark on Sun, October 24, 2010

      CS wrote:
      “...But remember, rebuking is not a bad thing.  We’re called to do that in many ways, for different people, and in many instances (1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:13,2:15)...”

      Its always amazing how the worst of the christian jerks often run to Paul’s writings to justify their own arrogant attitude and yet they completely ignore God’s own words in Matthew 7.  Its funny how a few lines from the bible can be lifted and abused to justify all sorts of evil pride.  This proves that the billboard is correct.  Christians are indeed jerks and the biggest of the christian jerks will protest the loudest.

      Jesus told you to confess your sins, not the sins of your neighbor but YOUR SINS.  If you are a true christian then OBEY and stop trying to shift the attention onto someone else!

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