Why is church so hard?
February 5, 2009, 01:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

Don’t say it isn’t.  There are too many unchurched believers, burned out pastors,  rebellious youth, and empty spots in the pew for me to buy into “easy church”.   I have been in many churches and hung out with enough church people ,heard enough complaints and felt and witnessed enough pain to know it just isn’t easy.   

   There should be less interpersonal problems in church than out.  We are all to have the mind of Christ,  to be of one mind in our mission, so what gives?  Don’t take this wrong, I love Dayspring and our small but growing church family.  Being a pastor has turned into one of  the greatest experiences of my life, this is not a complaint fest, but there is aways a bit of friction or an issue somewhere.  There is aways maintenance and tweaking needed.  I  spent over a decade as a Vol. Fire Chief,  and I find a lot of parallels ,actually a lot more than I would have expected.  That said,  Dayspring is still the smoothest functioning church group I have been involved with.

   Am I jaded?  Getting asked to leave a few churches,  and being in a soap opera church for a while can leave scars,  but from what some of you say and from reading a lot of church blogs, I am far from the only wounded Christian.  I have often thought if we hired the billboard next to the church to say.” hurt in your last church, come here to heal” we would pack the place.  Still might do that someday.  Hanging with preachers has convinced me that trouble abounds.  Get some of these guys alone, build some trust and the plastic smile breaks off into a pained grin, and then morphs into a death mask.  A lot of these guys are hurting.  No wonder Barna says over 1000 preachers leave ministry every month! 

   All right, maybe some of these guys are their own worst enemy.  I have made enough messes myself,  but taken as a group, used car salesmen seem happier at their jobs.  By the way in a recent poll used car salesmen were called more trust-worthy than pastors.  Correlation?  I am not a seminarian,[ by choice, by the way].  Some of the most miserable pastors I have met are about one year out of seminary and six to eight months into the pulpit.  No offense ,but more classes in humility and a couple less in Higher Biblical Criticism might be a better preparation to serve in a church where the deacons know they will stay and you will move on.

  Here is some theory, just theory, please submit your own.   Top 10 reasons church is hard.  In no order.


  1. People who are sure of being right about eternity sometimes think they are eternally right.           
  2. People who have been at a chuch for years feel ownership of it, not stewardship. 
  3. Church family blood is a lot thinner than blood family blood.  
  4. If the church pays the preacher, and I put money in the plate, then you work for me and I am your boss,  right? 
  5. I am here to serve God and if you get in my way I will hurt you, in His name.     [this one works in the pulpit and the pew]       
  6.   Why should I examine myself, I’m Saved, Sanctified and Saintly?     
  7.   My feelings are the most important thing in the church,  God loves me, and would not want my feelings hurt,  even if it is necessary for growth.
  8.    Expectations , realistic or not, must be met or disappointment reigns.       
  9.   The meter of God’s will is success,  God would not back a loser.   This success is of course instant and miralulous.
  10.  There are ways to do things, and the best ways are the old ways. the argument , “we have always done it like that” is a trump card. [note to Baptists, that means it wins]

Hard as it is, it is worth it to me.  I never grew much outside the church, also, I get paid [kind of] to be there.  I understand why it just doesn’t pay a lot of people to be there.


17 Comments so far
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11. the church is full of broken people. broken people suck. they break themselves and others. we are all broken people.

Comment by graceshaker

graceshaker, forgive me if I do not post that on the sign outside the church. I hear you, but where is the healing of the love of God? I am glad I was broken, when I thought I was fixed I was a mess.

Comment by willohroots

Interesting. Why are you one of the only Christians I haven’t found myself disagreeing with yet? I don’t like that!

Comment by trumpethope19

I have been wading through one of those hard times this week and I was scanning your list to see if one of the reasons matched up. I would modify graceshaker’s reason to make it a little more universal for my situation, because it does fit somewhat.
1. Life is pain, anyone who says differently is selling something. (John 16:33, Princes Bride paraphrase)
And the corollary – 2. It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.

I will admit it, I have watched too many movies.

Comment by jeofurry

Trumpethope19 Brass instruments are stupid!! there we disagreed, feel better? glad to oblige.

Comment by willohroots

Jeff, Princess Bride is on my top ten. I watched with my daughters when they were young, still love it!. When we think about the Savior, in a description given hundreds of years before He was born [wow, amazing!] “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
at least we know we have an Advocate who is understanding. Cling to the Good!
We do not sing the old hymn, “Count your many blessings name them one by one, Count your many blessings see what God hath done, Count your blessings, Name them one by one, Count your many blessings see what God Hath done.”
I am learning now to do that in the church. I want it so good, I could ruin it with good intent. I need to see the good in the group, the individuals, the opportunities, not the short comings.

Comment by willohroots

Depends which brass instrument you’re referring to.

Comment by trumpethope19

none of them, I was kidding, brass is a blast, good night! How about posting “taps” over here for after vespers, or better yet revelle to fire me up in the AM

Comment by willohroots

I knew you were kidding. I just wanted you to know that I still knew we haven’t disagreed on anything yet.
Taps is cool. I played it one time at practice and my director came running over to me and told me to stop because some kids dad had just died. I felt like an idiot.

Comment by trumpethope19

all i really did was sum up the ten.

woodwinds rock. =]

Comment by graceshaker

I depressed myself with this post, moving on!

Comment by willohroots

The #1 reason church is hard for me is that it disproportionately reflects Western\US culture…this is why we sit in a room with tons of people we don’t know to consume a product weekly just like when we go to the movies or a concert; this is why the church operates as a business with its CEO pastor and necessarily has a ridiculous emphasis on being self-sustaining and self-serving rather than dying for a kingdom; this is why the church is now an institution and a club rather than a community following in Jesus’ footsteps; this is why it reflects the idolatry of individuality where we put ourselves first rather than emptying ourselves; this is why we have strangely aligned ourselves with specific political parties and grasped onto american rights (such as toting around a gun) as if they are biblical rights rather than seeing ourselves as bought by Christ into servanthood; this is why we hide our sin as we pass the peace with a big smile pretending everything is all right in our lives rather than confessing our sin and resting solely on the grace of Christ; this is why christians have an image of being hateful bigots among so many; this is why so many of the people in my generation want nothing to do with our church let alone our christians; this is why we are an unnecessary stumbling block to others rather than Jesus Christ and him crucified which should be the sole stumbling block and more importantly the sole cornerstone. When I walk into most churches, I am overwhelmed by how much they do not reflect Jesus; they reflect the USA. That’s a lack of discernment on our parts.
I truly believe it does not have to be so hard, however. Not all the time at least.

Comment by Chris Sweigart

12. Jesus was doubted, despised, gossiped about, tormented, and tourtured. What makes us think we deserve any better?

sorry, in a mood

Comment by Shawn W

Moods are welcome Shawn W. besides, you do have a point

Comment by willohroots

Chris, I am on your street, but in the other lane. I do not think the church today reflects TODAY’S western\US culture, I think it reflects an imaginary 50’s era culture that never did exist except on “the Donna Reed show”,” Leave it to Beaver” and “father knows best” It was a land where dad was a leader, mom stayed home and kids said “Yes sir” Chances are you are too young to remember or relate to those shows. the important part is, they were not real. Dads screw up, mom was really on Valium and the kids were rebelious when out of sight. Our churches, all of them were in love with a post WW2 dream world. People went there to pretend “it was all OK”
We set couches up in the church and said “if you are tired, lay down” Sounds simple, right, but my brother elder said, “you can’t say that, this is church” but the bible said a guy fell asleep and hit the ground dead. He was not standing up. My brother elder believes the bible. So other than during prayer, get a coffee, change seats, why not? Because what you said, it does not fit the model. But the 50’s are over!!
If you think it is just your generation turned off talk to THEOLDADAM OR AVOICEINTHEWILDERNESS
they are linked here, this is not a generational problem, this is a family problem and we are all family. I want you to defend me and my right to worship even though I do pack a gun. I will fight and if needed die, for you to worship in spirit and in Truth.

You are so very right that the “club” often does not reflect the Savior. I think money is part of the problem. Mortgages, salaries. I believe in Bi-vocationalism. and church building is often the enemy of the church. Our lawns are manicured but our people need attention.

I am of a hinge generation. I feel the change, I embrace [most] of it. You will be what is left to carry on. If you cling to scripture like we didn’t you will be fine. change is good. There was a time when “The Old Rugged Cross” was that crazy new music. There was a time we segregated to worship. Times change. Stop back. I am posting my ideas on church this week end, opine, your well spoken opinion is valued at willohroots.

Comment by willohroots

I believe Mr. Sweigart has come closest to my take on this.
And I think you are wrong in your assessment that the church is trying to emulate an 50’s culture that is not real.
1. It was real I was there
2. It was not the Donna Reed show but it was Playhouse 90 and Edward R. Murrow.
3. It was also Senator McCarthy and Central High in Little Rock.
However, I don’t want to get too far afield here.
Let me start by asking a question.
Where did we ever get some of the ideas that constitute “church” anyway?
Where did we get the idea that we had to have a separate structure that was dedicated to the idea of “church”? I suspect it is just an attempt to caputure some of the glory of the Catholic buildings and that was an attempt to capture the glory of the pagan temples and the temple in Jerusalem.
Christ made buildings unneccesary. We are the building.
Why do we hang on to the idea of a professional clergy? What is that?
Show it to me.
We are the priesthood with Christ as the head Priest.
All of these traditions that we are bound up in are the cause of most church splits. Most of them are meaningless or as Jeoffry preached probably just don’t matter to God.
Here is my bottom line.
We have substituted “church” for a living and real relationship.
We go to “church” as if the place and meeting itself is something we are doing for God.
We put money in th plate or give generously for Lottie Moon or Baptists Men’s Association and are absolved of doing good because that’s what Jesus told us to do.
The Church is a living, breathing organic entity suffused with the life or the living Christ.
The “church” is a sad imitation.
And we know who the father of lies is.

Comment by Rob

The fake part Rob, is that on Father Knows Best daddy never had a hangover and Donna Reed had her pearls on at 3pm, and life was a dream. Unfortunately many of us were living a nightmare. But on Sunday we went to church in our finery and smiled the fake smile and told everybody God was a blessin’ and a blessin’.
I don’t think the buildings were an attempt to capture Catholic Glory. Our Puritan ancestors had plain jane whitewashed walls and stood to hear the sermon. They embraced plain and simple..We are studying Mark right now. His Mom had a huge house for people to meet in. My social class has maybe a 300 square foot room as the biggest in the house, we need some room so we get a store front or a hall. My wife and I thought about a house church, but were lead in a different direction.
Rob, if “church” was a community, a real Jesus shaped family it would be the Church.

Comment by willohroots

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