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A Recipe For A Bad Church Experience

December 7, 2009

A good friend of mine, Jason Stock, asked me yesterday what I thought a bad church experience was. We began a brief discussion that ended up talking about good and bad being subjective terms and what I though of as a horrible church experience could be a good one for someone else. He’s right! We are all wired certain ways and will have different stylistic tastes. I can get past those, but there are certain things I can’t get past. So here is my checklist to ensure you have a bad church experience (at least in my opinion…)

  1. Have no parking attendants and bad signage. This will ensure your first time guests are nervous, clueless, and confused from the beginning. As if it’s not hard enough to be in a church for the first time, make them ask where to go and how to get there, it will really make them uncomfortable.
  2. Assume everyone is in a relationship with Jesus.
  3. Make sure greeters hand someone a bulletin and pass them on.
  4. Have all the regulars stand right in front of the coffee station so even if the guest was brave enough to try to get one, they wouldn’t be able to get there.
  5. Do not have kids church. I mean parents who have worked all week and need some peace can’t wait to wrestle their kids during the whole service. And the kids will definitely be able to follow and learn from your amazing exegesis of Romans 8. But be sure to mask it as your belief in “intergenerational worship,” so no one thinks you really just don’t want to put the countless hours into training and developing leaders who will pour into the lives of children.
  6. Assume everyone is in a relationship with Jesus.
  7. Assume all the smiles you see are real. No one would ever put on a church face and pretend life is fine. Just listen to the news and you will hear how great our world is…
  8. Use lots of church language. Be sure to mention words like regeneration and  sanctification, but under no circumstances define them so that the 80 percent of your congregation that pretend to know what these words mean will never really know.
  9. Every time you read a bible passage, make sure you start with the phrase, “I know you all know this passage,” or even better, “You know the story of…” Remember everyone is saved and has the whole bible memorized.
  10. Assume everyone is in a relationship with Jesus.

These are the basics. I could go into many more details but if you follow these instructions, you will be sure to make every visitor feel completely alienated, isolated, and out of place. They will leave just knowing this is a place they can find hope, healing, and belonging.

And if anyone questions your disregard for the importance of first time visitors and guests, just be sure to say, “We are a church that is going deeper,” and that will get you off the hook.

Ok, my rant is done. Please go change a life today, in a way that will make God smile.

Grace.

Ben

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 7, 2009 6:29 pm

    Good ol’ Jason Stock. Always thought provoking…and super hot 🙂

    I went to a ‘bad church’ growing up…my reason: Lack of other options. In a town of 700 people, it was really the only ‘authentic’ church out of the three in my community but it was littered with church language…not even church language…more like denomination language. We sang songs that were specifically ‘our’ songs and even wore uniforms that were specifically ‘our’ uniforms. I remember when a new pastor came to town and changed the Sunday evening meeting time from 7:00pm to 6:30pm, 5 people left the church, upset by the change.
    Still, it was all I had at the time and even though it had it’s issues, it didn’t ‘try’ to be bad…and where a lot of churches drop the ball, it tended to excel…like in pastor-congregation relationships, visitations and authentic, practical care for the community. In the midst of the dueling accordians (yes, I said accordians), monkey suits and weird lingo, people kept coming back because they knew they were loved and they loved others…and I think that one element can right a whole list of wrongs.
    I’ve yet to find a church without bad elements, that excels in every area, and I don’t believe one exists since they are all run by imperfect beings, but the key is trying to do the best we can with what we have and loving the mess out of each other in the process.
    Miss you guys.

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