The Church Stigmata

December 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

“Your church does that Spirit thing? Not interested!”

That was a disheartening ending to what began as a good conversation about a man and his need for a change.

We had been spending some time together and I had the opportunity to invite him to our church. I explained a little about our culture and threw in the term Pentecostal.

“What’s that?”

I explained that we consider ourselves an extension of the Book of Acts church. Spirit filled, etc.

That turned him off.

The truth is he had never experienced what I was talking about.

What he would try

He had experienced multiple marriages. Some bad relationships had led to divorce, but he tried it again.

He was addicted to drugs. He had tried them all.

Friends had destroyed his life. He pursued more friends.

He had been incarcerated. He broke the law again.

He had been to multiple rehabs. Where he had been required to open his life up to complete strangers. He worked the steps and was still struggling.

Those are just a few of the things he had tried. These experiences were not on his original bucket list of things to do before he died. He touched the stove and was burned, but he touched it again.

What he wouldn’t try

Try God? Out of the question.

The Spirit? That’s wacko.

“The church down the road gets a little out of control with the Spirit thing.” For every church like that there are many more in the city that do it right.

They prayed for me and I wasn’t healed. I don’t believe in those healing churches.”

I’ve also been to the doctor multiple times and taken medicine that didn’t help, had shots that feel so good but didn’t work. I still go back to the doctor though.

It’s frustrating.

Stigmata

I know the church isn’t perfect. We are group of messed up people emerging as disciples of Jesus. Far from perfect, but stumbling forward in God’s process. The Church is still Jesus’ answer for a lost and dying world.

Give the church another chance.

This left me wondering why there is such a stigma attached to church. After a few days thinking it through, I still don’t have a good answer. Perhaps the person that one bad experience with church was a better evangelist than I was.

I had a bad experience at my favorite fast food restaurant the other day. My fries were cold and the barbeque sauce didn’t make it into my bag. I went back again. Their service was back to normal that next time.

One bad experience with a church causes the bad label to stick forever on any church.

I’d like to hear your perspective. What do you think?