#238-Describing Backsliding as "Taking the Easy Way Out"
Editor's Note: Also the picture above arrived in my inbox last night with the caption:"For those apostolic hipster men that want to stay modest."
Which entirely deserves a good old Al Pacino "Whooo-Ah!"
Also Another blog from another anonymous blogger... I like it:
Last night I indulged in some late night revelry with a friend of mutual appreciation for one another’s life paths. After a short while our conversation segued to the topic of how we are treated at church and major church functions. For the most part we’re kindly greeted, given a passive aggressive invitation to church “anytime” and casually dismissed. What is most interesting, though, is when the preacher has direct knowledge or relationship to us. Often a message is given in which we are described (indirectly and/or ambiguously, so as not to directly call us out) as “knowing better”, “having been raised right”, and “just wanting to take the easy road.” Now, all of these statements are insulting, and we’ll get to the first two statements, but the last is the most problematic. Growing up in Pentecost is easy. Sure, someone occasionally doesn’t understand why you look slightly different, but if you have a good personality and a sense of humor you can quickly circumvent the social ramifications of not conforming. Even recently, non-conformity, aka “hipster style”, has taken off, so there can even sometimes be a level of respect for your willingness to stand out. Over all, it really isn’t that bad. Oh I know, there’s exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure you all have stories you heard about someone getting gum in their hair or their skirt pulled up, but in reality those stories are by no means common, or the norm. In reality, if you’re like most of us, you went to school, kept to yourself, didn’t participate in extracurriculars because your youth pastor demanded you at church all the time, finished school, and that was that. Past high school there really is hardly no examples of why being Apo is hard. (Except being a guy in the summer when you’re sweating through your jeans and looking for a walk in freezer to stand in for about an hour) But that’s why they think we walked away. Because it’s “easier”. Yeah that’s it. As if it's so difficult to have your religion laid out for you neat and tidy, never having to read, showing up three times a week, doing what you’re told, abiding by a dress code, never asking questions, and being told everything is black and white, cut and dry, finite and inarguable. That’s so hard. As if it's so easy to study for yourself, admit everything isn’t black and white, have questions you don’t know the answer to, come to grips with the fact that you were (or may have been) spiritually and emotionally abused, not know what you believe about God, not know what to think about religion, and just not know and be able to admit “I don’t know.” Yeah that’s easy. Wait. No it isn’t. As a matter of fact, those two should be reversed. Pastors, please stop doing this. It’s insulting for you to make these claims, and this is why we don’t want to come to your church. When we do, you make your ENTIRE CONGREGATION sit through your brow beating session about us. There are broken people there who really need a word, and you spend the whole sermon condescending us. And aside from that, it isn’t that simple. When you tell us “we know better” and “we were raised right”, all you’re doing is damaging your own credibility, and making us not want to come back. Editor's addition: Can we not say that if we were raised in your church and we backslide, that our "rebellion" is a symptom of your leadership? You look at us and say “they were raised right.” While we’re sitting there thinking “we weren’t raised right, we were instructed by people who don’t study to learn, but simply to back up their own existing points.” Some of us (albeit not all) resent the way we were raised, and the churches we were raised in. We feel robbed of our childhoods and teenage years. We feel cheated.
So when you say “we were raised right” what you're really saying is “we know your questions and choose to ignore them.” And “they know better.” Better than what? We know better than to wear pants and cut our hair because you’ve taken some obscure passages, tweaked them, given them your ‘best guess’, passed it off as black and white biblical law? We ‘know better’ than to do our own reading and studying because everything that wasn’t written by a oneness Pentecostal author is heresy?
No. I could go on but there’s one more subject I’d like to address on the issue of ‘backsliders’ (or refugees, depending how you look at it). Those of us who grew up in church played the same games you all play now. When someone leaves we were encouraged to say, “I miss you” and invite them to church. So when WE leave, and you start doing that to us, we see right through it, and it, again, insults us. We don’t need an invitation to church. We can go whenever we want. The passive aggressive, thinly veiled disappointment behind “We miss you, you should really come to church and see us” condescends us and makes us not want to come that much more. Lastly, I have a friend who stopped going to church. He is gay. Frequently church people will see him in public or post on his facebook wall and give the “We miss you, come to church” rhetoric, and he has come up with the best response, which usually knocks the people for a loop. He says “I probably won’t come to church, but we can get coffee or dinner whenever you want.” There have been a few people (wonderful wonderful, good hearted, gracious people) who have taken him up on this, and they are really just being a friend, not trying to ‘win’ him back, and have dinner with him frequently. But there have been many more who dismiss the invitation. Because they don’t care. They aren’t interested in being his friend. They just want to be the one who gets the five bonus points with Jesus for converting him back. If you REALLY want to prove your worth, and be an exemplary Christian to people who stop going to church, stop inviting them to church, talking to them about church, cramming church down their throat and just have a casual coffee or dinner. They might take you up on it, but they’ll probably dismiss your church invitation, because they can see right through it.