Lets Start with Honesty
For many years, I have struggled through services, conferences, church leadership trainings, meetings, and the like with frustration in the back of my head and my heart concerning the church. So much of what I have seen in modern-day Christianity (within the confines of the local church) has left me with an undeniable weight of frustration to bear. A frustration that two years ago, ignited my decision to not do “church” anymore. I wrestled with a feeling of discontentment because, through all that we do, some simple principles that I believe are critical to the Christian faith, Christian fellowship, and what we call “the church” have been far too often overlooked, neglected, and ignored.
What started as a single post on Facebook referencing Amos 5:21-24, has turned into a somewhat unorthodox and controversial personal mission to bring the church back into the balance of what matters. It’s what’s missing from us being greatly impactful to our communities, our nation, and ultimately to those who are in need of a risen savior. The post came at the tail end of what I internally felt was a break down of my last excuses. A final straw, as it were, of seeing and staying silent.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans, and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations, and image-making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.“
Amos 5:21-14The Message Bible
With the initial post, I needed to address my disdain for the church simply because I was tired of being seen as a ”backslider” and rebellious for not wanting to contribute or engage with an organization and idea that I experienced hurt from, firsthand. I was tired of defending my own protection and, I was tired of having to remind people that I did truly love God. And even in this, I have to be clear; I do not hate the church. I do not seek to attack the body of Christ. What I want to see, in my honest heart, is change. Unfortunately, the only change that I can see at this point will come through a blatant, bold stance and series of statements that will point to the errs, start a conversation, and bring awareness to the needs of change.
Realizations in Sequential Order
With the world-altering shutdown, I realized I could no longer sit quietly as I watched the world ache while churches resorted to their social media schemes with their links to give still planted at the bottom of the screen. I couldn’t stomach seeing churches break social distancing rules so they could still have a service with lights, cameras, and a full worship team. I hated it. I wept sitting, seeing with my own eyes, the world in a pandemic, and the church in a popularity crisis. The race to most relevant.
Some of the only times I felt ministry was authentic from church streams was when I saw people sitting in their homes without sound systems, sharing their encouraging words, and being able to see in their eyes the same fear and uncertainty that we were all gripped by. It wasn’t a show, it wasn’t a presentation, it was real. COVID -19 was the necessary change that life brought to us all, yet few valued its significance. Most were so busy in attempts to further ministry agendas that the opportunity to press into what God was doing was missed, and still is.
I may have spurted off a few Facebook rants but I wasn’t able to fully articulate what was happening on the inside; this rumble of my human spirit; this unsettling feeling that I could not shake.
Black Lives Matter… Again?
The next phase of realization for me was at the hands of seeing yet another senseless killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. I witnessed silence from churches in my community as many people of all ethnicities took to the streets to protest and speak out. Where were the churches? Don’t get me wrong, there was some church organized prayer walks which, while the efforts were appreciated, lacked the unity with the community needed to show the compassion and love of God to the lost. While the church community was present and accounted for in their circles and groups, they were separate and far off from the rest of the city stating, without words, that because the church is set apart, it’s okay to justify isolation from those who could use an example of love in action; what the church should be.
I saw with my own eyes as some religious leaders even discredited the work of peaceful protesters who were on the streets day in and day out. Announcing, and to paraphrase, that Christians should not be among them, that we should be doing it differently, and that to be a part of protesting was not “advancing the kingdom of God”. It infuriated me to see the church be separated from the very neighborhoods that surround their buildings, who’s residents pay local and state taxes to support that community, and some even attend and give offerings to these churches, but never see real change IN their communities. The good workers from the church community were too few and far in between. For all that say they are Christians, there was simply not enough; too many were silent.
The Black Church, Untamed
The last of realizations came after watching a discussion on the black church and its role in black liberation, here in Milwaukee, WI. As I sat through this thought-provoking, powerful conversation, I couldn’t help but see that many of the topics of sexuality, abuse, mental health, and others were woven into the fabric of the struggle of the black church. Unfortunately, even outside of the black church, these topics and others are regular issues that the church sees and does not fully address. In some cases, the church has been complicit in the toxic behaviors that destroy more than they build by sweeping issues under the rug and pretending they don’t exist.
What I realized was, in a culture of religious meetings, conferences, and conventions; Pretentious slogans and money goals; Image-making all to the tune of ego-centered worship songs, We are missing the real truth that God still requires justice and seeks fairness. Justice and fairness, in the context of Amos 5, were not God’s responsibility; It was the church’s. Posting the statement seen on Facebook was my cry out to a malignant system I despised, it was my lashing out to a church that I believed in but was severely hurt by and disappointed in.
I was done making excuses for why I hadn’t said anything sooner, for why I didn’t blare on a loudspeaker while leading worship for so many years. I was convicted within my human spirit about how complicit I had become by saying nothing. I was finished caring about who would invite me back to their service or which Christian friends I would lose. I was done. I am done. Something had to break, and it starts with me.
A Permanent Shift of Reasoning
A moment happened, Amos became more clear to me than it had ever been. I realized that if the church was to be the change in the world, living up to all that we have said we are to be, then we were going to have to finally address the things that are holding us back. We are going to have to change; loving justice and fairness more than loving our platforms, our buildings, and our agendas. No one was going to say the obvious, no one was willing to ruffle the feathers of those in authority who had gone astray feeding their own agendas and motives. Someone who was already an outcast would have to. This was that moment. This is that moment.
The church must be done with making excuses such as “the church is flawed”, the phrase that has allowed us to blame shift and ignore what toxic perception the world has of us. Although it is true, it has allowed us to push people away; it has been the excuse used when we fail to meet the needs, and it has been the explanation when we hurt someone and they turn away. We’ve made the statement even when we haven’t made the statement, we’ve done it with our actions.
If the church is supposed to be the example then it’s time for us to own what we are doing wrong. If we have the truth and healing for the world, then it’s time for us to prove it. We have to start by fixing what we have messed up. We were created by God to do GOOD things. To play an active role in the shaping of this world for the better. We cannot do that if we continue to focus on building our ministries/platforms and influences while hiding the mistakes and errors we have made.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”
Ephesians 2:10King James Version
The Shifted Call, Unashamed
This isn’t an easy statement to make but it’s not just a wayward manifesto. It’s not an idea that will fade and pass with time. For me, it’s the new mission; it’s the call necessary for me to plant my feet firmly within the church once again to add value besides just singing and playing the keyboard. This value must be eternal. I can not sit idly by and see the church recycle Christians, favor needless religious doctrine, and push agendas that don’t win the lost. I won’t do it anymore. If we are the church then we see going to get this thing right because someone is going to speak up, and I’ll answer the call.
This website was created with the idea that if we create an environment where we discuss the issues, then we can wrap our minds around how they translate in our local churches and the church at large. We can then repent, make adjustments, walk in a new truth, and a new authority; one that is no longer stained with the unresolved errs of the past but one that is pure and holy because we did the work in repentance, which is turning in the other direction.
It’s not an expose’ blog; it will not be a place to bash or attack one specific church or defame the character of leaders in detail. What this platform will do is expose truths about how we should really be love, toxic church culture, money motives, and what’s important to heal our land and win the lost.
The mission is clear; to provide a voice for the broken, to reveal what has been covered up, and to bring about change. I want to see revival; I want the church to rise and be the body where the hurting can come and receive healing; TRUE healing. I believe that begins with us pulling the scales off our own eyes and working on us, so we can help the world.