help me not drive my non-church-going friends insane

July 9, 2009

 main street_church street

I hope you don’t go to church.

Well, that’s not really true.  What I mean is, “I hope that some of the people that read this are not regular church attenders so I can learn from them.”  If that’s you, awesome.  Help me.

I got thinking about all this stuff when I read a great short blog post from Thom Rainer today called “What the Unchurched Don’t Like About Christians.”  If you check it out, you’ll see it’s written to Christians about non-Christians views about Christians.  (So, if you read it, you could be a non-Christian looking at a Christian’s views about the non-Christian’s views about Christians.  Sounds like a David Lynch film…)

Another reason I’m posting today is the recent internal discussion I’ve had with myself.  Most of my Twitter followers and feeds are from ministry leaders, churches, pastors… mostly “churchy people.”  But my Facebook friends list looks much more like my High School class. (OK – most of it IS my High School class.)  My Facebook world is full of “non-churchy” people.

Then I started using Seesmic Desktop – an app that allows me to update Twitter and update my Facebook status at the same time – and I realized that I would now be put to the test, so to speak.  Am I the same guy in front of my safe, affirming, like-minded Christian bubble as I am in front of… well, everyone?  Man, I hope so.

So to my non-church-going friends out there, you’ll see my faith displayed in my Facebook updates.  This is not meant to be preachy, or holier-than-thou.  I’m a mess, and I know it.  But I want to be consistent and real.  So my faith is on my sleeve.  I’ll talk to anyone who wants to listen, because I really love Jesus, and He changed my life.  If you don’t go to church right now, I’m not telling you how to live or that I’m on God’s preferred list and you better get your act together.  Nope.  Just trying to be authentic, honest, real, consistent.

Based on Thom’s post above, here’s my commitment to you, non-church-going Joe or Sally:

(1) I will display respect and love and encouragement to… other Christians.  Yep, I said other Christians.  Because I know that non-believers often look at the church and see us taking shots at other churches.  Ripping each other.  Fighting.  What happened to “love one another…”  When I disagree with another believer, with God’s help, I will treat them with love and respect.

(2) I will not act like I know better than you.  Like I said before, I am a mess.  I believe that God has forgiven me and He’s working on me, but I’m just a guy.  Just like everyone else.  Rather than tell you how you should live, I’ll just tell you how DEEP and MEANINGFUL my life is because of Jesus.  If you want to know more, you can ask.  Cool?

(3) I will listen more than I talk.  This one may not come as naturally for me.  Not because I want to “preach” so much as I love to talk.  About anything.  I just love to talk, man.  But if we get into a conversation about faith, I will LISTEN to you.  If you want an opinion, or if I can help, great.  Otherwise, I won’t try to solve all your problems with “Christian-ese” fluff nuggets of rehashed cliche with a side of Bible speak.  If I do that to you, EVER, you have permission right now to whack me in the knee.  Honest.

(4) I’m willing to actually get involved in your life.  I think Christians are often good at lip-service, but sometimes aren’t willing to stop – listen – spend time – and actually invest in somebody.  Now, I’m as busy as the next guy.  I’ll try not to offer help I can’t give.  But my life is a sham if I get paid to talk about “building relationships that change lives” (from Living Hope Church) and I never actually do it.  Right?  Can I hear an AMEN from all of you non-church-goers?!

Thom’s last assertion is that non-church people are turned off by Christians who don’t attend church.  Which makes sense – if we believe this stuff, wouldn’t we want to get together with other people who believe it and worship and celebrate it?  Well, yeah.  I do.  I love church, which may sound like complete lunacy to some of you out there.  That’s OK.  I’m trying to help our church be a place where people like you would actually WANT to come.  But that’s not easy, and our church is still a work in progress, too.

I’d love to know what you think.  I’ve been a Christian for so long it is hard to put myself in the shoes of someone who isn’t… and that makes it hard to know how it comes across when I talk about what I believe.  Thoughts?

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help me not drive my non-church-going friends insane by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.