By Keith Spurgin
Lead Pastor of New Hope Church in Wylie www.newhopechristian.org.
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part column.
There are certain words in our culture that carry some very heavy connotation. Depending on who you are, your age, your experience, gender, race, family of origin, and where you were born certain words are more potent than others. I came home from work one day and my little boy said, “Dad, mom said the ‘s’ word today!”
I thought to myself, “Wow, she must have been really angry to say that in front of the kids!”
My young son then proceeded to tell me that the horrible ‘s’ word his mother had uttered was “shut-up.”
I laughed at the innocence of my little boy.
Of course there are other words in our culture that carry massive connotation but what about the ‘c’ word – church? When you hear the word ‘church’ what are some word associations that immediately come to mind? For some people the ‘c’ word evokes wonderful memories and feelings of belonging. Don’t hold this against me but I actually grew up in church. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in church. I was born on a Wednesday and my Mama had me in church on Sunday! I love the church!
For others the ‘c’ word carries terrible pain, lost hope, or disillusionment. This is completely understandable. Some of us, including myself, have been hurt in the church. I’ve discovered that just because someone is religious doesn’t mean they are Christ-like.
This is complicated by the fact that people throughout the centuries have done some terrible things in the name of God and the church…
The Crusades and the Inquisitions were horrible atrocities where countless thousands were killed in the name of Christ and the cross.
Slavery in Britain and America was promoted by parts of the church that believed it was biblical to put humans in bondage.
More recently the moral failure of many church leaders, the shameful mistreatment of immigrants, people of color, and the vehement hatred of gay people has been propagated by certain segments of the church.
These are stains on the bride of Christ that have led us to have a very low view of the church. Unfortunately the pain of personal hurts, horrible reports in the news media about some church leaders combined with some of these historical stains has led millenials and others to leave the church in record numbers.
If that’s you, I just want to say to you, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for where we’ve let you down. I’m sorry for where we put the organization before the people. I’m sorry for leaders like myself who have failed at times and I’m sorry for the hurts, the pain, and the disappointment you’ve experienced looking for the love of God and instead you found hatred or evil or perhaps worse yet, indifference. I hope you can forgive us.
Next week I’ll share with you some of its beauty and why I think its still relevant and important for the betterment of our world.