It’s an old line. And you’ve heard it, too. Maybe you’re even guilty of saying it. But it comes in many styles.

“The Church is a mess.”

“Pastors are all two-faced.”

“No one preaches the Gospel anymore.”

And the best one: “I’ve looked for a good church in my area, but there just isn’t one.”

So I wanted to take a poll, open to those who were willing to respond, and find out how their church experience was on Sunday:

How would you describe your church service yesterday in 3 words or less? Ready…go!

I got lots of responses on FaceBook. Some were cute:

Bernard Rochat The big Apple

Jena D Sandquist Quesada Loved Sleeping In!!!! (Sorry, couldn’t stop myself)

Jon Allen ya… slept in!

Some where candid:

Millardthemk Jones Ok but powerless.

Joni Merg A Wilderness Journal

And the rest were–strangely–very contradictory of the statements I listed at the top:

Stephanie Lyon Reminder of Redemption!

Elizabeth Eiowing Dresdow AWESOME!!! πŸ˜€

Tammy Alberry Desormo Anointed, Rockin’, Encouraging =D

Tim Desormo Uplifting, Encouraging, Awesome

Samantha Vence Changing, Active, Spiritual πŸ™‚

Sharon Whitlock Gold Uplifting

Theresa Woodkirk The naked truth!

Elyssa Krivicich convicting, many babies…. (There were 5 babies getting dedicated yesterday).

Marti Eggleston people get ready!

Reenie Bovier real love

Donna Stanley alive, powerful, inspirational

Jamie Jo Rutigliano Alive ! Anointed ! Awesome !

Jonathan Cowan spirit, truth, love

Kathleen Seery Anointed !Restoring ! Hope !

Amy MacDougall It hit home!

Joseph Anthony Cook Intensely Spirit Filled!!

Sandi Kirkwood Bethel was beautiful

Beth Walrath Awakening, powerful, encouraging.

Courtney Kleefeld hyper, redeeming, inspiring.

Wayne Thomas Batson Forgiveness is expensive.

Julie A. Mason Shelmidine ?”Open the BLINDS!”

Thomas Brennan Encountered by Christ.

And then the best one, that pretty much sums up how I feel about the Body of Christ:

Millardthemk Jones Wow ma, I just read all the comments, people must have had great sundays!

Yes! They did! Despite what the critics claim, the Church is a glorious, wonderful thing, full of life, change, adventure, and growth, hit by pain, defeats, and hardship, and driven by flawed, passionate people who are ever attempting to merge heaven and earth.

I learned from my senior pastor that whenever someone makes a sweeping generalization condemning some aspect of the church, we should always reply with a question: “Who?”

Most people, I’ve found, can actually name one person that embodies their accusation. Maybe even two. Because it’s their experience. And at least in identifying those particulars we can have a legitimate discussion.

But when the entire Body of Christ takes the blame for one or two poor experiences–whether a moment or a season–we do God a terrible injustice. The Bride, you see, is His invention, not ours. (And He likes her enough to come back for Her).

My friend Chris Mooney summarized this best when–without knowing the details of this post–replied to a my status update that I was writing something about the Bride of Christ:

Chris Mooney careful writing about someone’s bride, tends to be taken personal by the hubby. πŸ™‚

So how was your church experience this past Sunday? Please add to the conversation.




Rachel H. · 15 Mar ’11 at 7:15 am

I miss Christians who believe heaven invades earth…

Everywhere I look there are Christians who don’t think that God has the power to come into our lives. They believe He’s just out in the heavenlies somewhere waiting for us to make a mistake. Therefore, within this belief, church is not a glorious place. Instead, it is haunted by a group of sinners continuously striving to please an uncaring, condemning, loveless God.
Of course, people don’t want to come into that environment… Why would they?

    Christopher Hopper · 15 Mar ’11 at 5:13 pm

    Rachel, thanks for your heartfelt commentary. Though I suppose that’s kind of my point. And I mean this without any animosity (you know I love your guts!), but statements like, “Everywhere I look there are Christians who don’t think that God has the power to come into our lives,” catch me off guard. Because I meet them all over world! Now, I know you’re a bright lady, so obviously you’ve met some of these (or else you wouldn’t have such an opinion); so as a pastor and a coach and a friend, I’d ask you to define that a little more concretely. Where? In what environment? Because I guarantee you that if I flew out to your college and visited your county, we’d find lots of Christians and churches that reflect the opposite of your statement.

    So can you revisit your thought, which is a good one to bring up, but define it a little more for us for the sake of this conversation? Love you!

      Rachel H. · 16 Mar ’11 at 1:35 am

      LOL! Sorry for not being clearer! Thanks for your comments… sometimes it is hard for me to remember the world is bigger than my college. πŸ˜€

      And, I am not saying everybody in the world believes this way either. Yet, I know quite a few Christians who struggle with believing God would love them so much that He would actually desire to be part of their lives. They are continually striving to impress God, creating an intense fasaad, instead of accepting their position as a daughter or son of Christ.

      The herd starts with even the smallest of sheep… If we can’t display our true inheritance in Christ, why would outsiders want a fake version of The Truth?

      Again, I probably need to broaden my focus. But, it is disturbing to see people putting “God-covers” on everything just to make them appeal to other Christians…especially on a Christian cmapus.

      Does that help clarify at all?

        Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:16 am

        Yes, perfectly! I’ve found that just even given generalizations a context helps put everything in perspective. Fact is, we tend to be pretty dramatic as Americans: everything is big, even our spiritual issues (even if we don’t mean for them to sound big!). Even you just saying “my college campus” starts to paint a clearer picture (though I would still argue I could find some well-meaning, passionate Believers there with you! Shoot, YOU are one!).

        “The herd starts with even the smallest of sheep… If we can’t display our true inheritance in Christ, why would outsiders want a fake version of The Truth?”

        This is a great statement, and SO true. And likewise, it’s also my responsibility to own up to my crap. I think that’s one thing that confuses the lost: so you’re perfect? Nope, in fact, the only reason you see anything good in me at all is because of Jesus.

        Such an attitude then invites their imperfect self into the conversation…and hopefully into salvation.

        Thanks Rachel!

tj · 15 Mar ’11 at 9:02 am

Rachel: I actually can tell you why….because its more about the herd than the individual sheep. New believers don’t get equipped anymore in a way so they can understand,trust and live by his word and many believers just don’t get filled,even though they long for it…where is the balance at time? I stayed away,a little because I didn’t get filled in church,I didn’t get knowledge to battle my fight so I stayed home,read the word,listen to online sermons because I needed to be filled,equipped so I can be strong to help those around me who don’t know jesus and to help,heal myself…

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:22 am

    TJ: Thanks for responding to Rachel with your candid thoughts. I’m really sorry you encountered a lack of care in the Church; it saddens me.

    As a blogger and a pastor, I would challenge you with statements like, “New believers don’t get equipped anymore…” I don’t doubt you saw this somewhere, as I mentioned in my post, but to make a sweeping generalization is pretty dangerous.

    For one, it’s not my experience at all. In fact, my church staff spends hours and hours each week trying to improve the way we meet the needs of baby Christians. It’s such an exciting process to be a part of, too! Also, you clearly “got fed” by Christians somewhere who preached and promoted and made available those podcasts you listened to. (Which I commend you for tracking down and digesting).

    I travel extensively to churches all over the world who have immense Biblical care happening for people: the key is not to allow our [legitimate] few experiences mar the entire Body of Christ. Hope you can receive my challenge in love. Thanks for reading!

Leah Stockholm · 15 Mar ’11 at 9:27 am

Holy spirit filled πŸ™‚

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:24 am

    Oooo amen! And no small thanks to you in that, and I know YOU are one of the reasons God moves in a place! Be the living sacrifice upon which the fire falls! You go girl! Thanks for sharing that, Leah!

Kirk Gilchrist · 15 Mar ’11 at 9:59 am

Great Post and so entirely true! Thanks for the Post.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:26 am

    You’re welcome! And thanks for the constant instruction on good perspective.

reenie · 15 Mar ’11 at 10:13 am

We are the Bride, and what is beautiful ,is that when he returns he will come for US and we will NOT have spot or blemish….NOT becauses of US but becauses of WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE DID!!!!!! The Bride is in a metemorphises so to speak – the Lord is doing a work in His people and by the time he comes the work will be finished- Yes we will hear again it is finished – and we will be perfected….until that day we are not perfect. OH how we are not perfect . BUT WE ARE HIS, and because of that glorious statement – He is continually at work in us.

Yes there are churches out there who are carrying an oozie dow the isile – but God won’t let them keep it at the alter….. BUT that is not every church. I have been VERY blessed, that where ever we went to church, (and I think I have been in 7 to date), that the body of believers has reflected the beauty of Christ’s Bride in so many ways be it: worship, fellowship, teaching, encouraging….. they were all so beautiful in situation …… Does that mean that people can not hurt each other – nope they can – but that doesn’t mean that the whole Body of Christ’s Bride is in that one hurting (hurting people hurt peole ) person……. God showed me a vision / picture of HIS BRIDE her face was full of 1000’s of faces her neck and arms fingers – the same, she wore white and stood at the alter with Jesus the Angels circled them singing HOLY HOLY HOLY – we are His Bride made Holy through his BLOOD – He will return for us and He will find us HIS WORD SAYS – WITH OUT SPOT OR WRINKLE – (she won’t be old and filthy ) She will be the completion of HIS amazing LOVE – I guess the Question is DO we believe it ??????? thanks for the posting Christopher You always make me think – BTW Church was Real Love!!!!

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:28 am

    Reenie: what a POWERFUL image! If I was a better painter, I’d totally do that up! I see it more as a graphic design, though. Very otherworldly, but beautiful! As always, thanks for your encouraging thoughts…and New Life is BLESSED to have your family as part of it’s family.

Wayne Thomas Batson · 15 Mar ’11 at 11:23 am

“There aren’t any good churches” or “Christians are such hypocrites” –these are just excuses to avoid personal responsibility. Define “good.” What’s your standard? And what of hypocrites? A certain percentage of all people, no matter what profession, are hypocrites. Does that mean you abandon the human race. What if a car repair shop has a couple of hypocrites there, do you avoid ALL car repair shops and just drive a broke vehicle?

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:31 am

    “…These are just excuses to avoid personal responsibility.”

    Man, now if that’s not a zinger, I don’t know what is! Well said. Isn’t it true? I love Christians and drunks: both know that their lives are a wreck and need something to fix it.

Billy Jepma · 15 Mar ’11 at 12:16 pm

Church is always relevant. Not a ton of people know that the church isn’t the building, but the people. WE ARE THE CHURCH!! It is our job to welcome all, broken, disgraced, prideful, and everyone in between and above and below. EVERYONE! God give the church its strength. Even if the message isn’t powerful as you might like, you have to look in the meaning, not just the words. God has given me revelations in the smallest of things. I had to look though. That’s my two cents. Not sure if it applies, but Church is always good. It depends on your idea of ‘good’. Like Wayne wisely said before me. πŸ™‚

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:33 am

    Amen, Billy! People are the Church! Love your guts, bro.

Kevin Kidd · 15 Mar ’11 at 1:27 pm

Great blog! Thanks Christopher!

When I fell in love with Christ in 1992, I also fell in love with what He fell in love with…His Bride. The romance continues!

I am adamant about being pro-life…it’s a cause, a lifestyle, a worldview…for me. So, in my next comment, please keep it in this context. I’ve come to discover…even as of late…that there are many, many serving in the Planned Parenthood industry, that are well-meaning. They actually think they are doing good for people. Of course, we know they are misguided.

In that vein, there is a similarity between many in the Planned Parenthood organization and the Bride…they both mean well. Unfortunately, well-meaning doesn’t always translate into well-doing. And what has resulted is that there are many in the world today (I’ve encountered them…listened to them…discussed with them…, etc), that have been hurt by the Bride, AND in many instances, the Bride was “well-meaning.”

This requires patience and grace from the Bride to let go of “being right” to release grace into the lives of hurting people…even when the hurting people are coming at you with accusations and judgments.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:36 am

    Kevin: Man, really great comment. And I love your response about our need to be willing to engage in the conversation with patience and a caring heart. And THAT is exactly the attitude that will woo back those who we’ve hurt. Tremendous thoughts, my friend. Tremendous.

Ted Hamilton · 15 Mar ’11 at 5:05 pm

There is no one good, not one. Therefore there is no “good church”, just a bunch of people on journeys to encounter God while relating to each other. There is joy in shared communion and Communion, purpose in shared praise (it’s what we were created to do), and a continual cleansing and re-cleansing from our sins and hypocrisy. There should be some learning about the Kingdom and it’s laws too…
Perhaps we need to stop deriving value in church from it’s “spotlessness”, and promote and value the continual cleansing. Don’t celebrate the sin, but celebrate the freedom from it. (a la “shall we go on sinning that grace may increase?….no!”) Maybe we’ve been selling the wrong things and wondering why the world was/is disinterested?

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:38 am

    “Perhaps we need to stop deriving value in church from it’s ‘spotlessness,’ and promote and value the continual cleansing.”

    What a great line! And I love it because it so reflects the continual work of Jesus in our lives! Which makes life a JOY and not a taunting ground. Thanks for sharing, Ted, as always. Great insights.

mooney · 15 Mar ’11 at 10:38 pm

Man Christopher, volumes could be written here. The Bride. That word means a lot to me. Beth and I just celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary. Twelve years, and I love her so much I cannot put words to it; well, OK I could. I am positive if someone who didn’t know us spent a few days with us, they could point out all her flaws, heck, I could name a few things that get under my skin. But I won’t, because I love her.

In my eyes she is the most beautiful of God’s creations. You can argue with me all day about this or that about her, but I love her, and that covers it, and you will never convince me otherwise. Is she perfect? No. Is our house always in order? No. Do I always love her cooking? … Yes, lol

The point is none of these change that I love her truly, madly, deeply. She’s my bride, and I really don’t care what you have to say about it. And if you get in my face about it, well, you’ll be dealing with the man of the house then. Good luck.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:40 am


Tom Brennan · 15 Mar ’11 at 11:37 pm

There is much to say here. It is easy to find fault with anything, including God’s church. After all, it is full of people. We are all made of the same stuff, and we all have our dirty little secrets in our past, or even the present. The church is the only club that you have to profess how bad you are to join. We are all sinners, and we find our rescue at the feet of Jesus. Every one who has trusted in Christ for this rescue is part of His body, no matter what their present state of imperfection. Jesus only saves sinners, so there is no room for boasting. Except in the cross.

And these sinners who find love and acceptance at the feet of Jesus are His Church. And He is not ashamed of them. I want to be like Him in this matter.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 7:45 am

    “The church is the only club that you have to profess how bad you are to join.”

    What a GREAT line! So true, Tom. So true… Thanks for sharing!

Mike Belmont · 16 Mar ’11 at 9:45 am

Does Pandora own this box? The Church… Hmmm. Who? This is the right question. Jesus was sent to us to live and die in a way that changed everything and everybody. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Right? He died so perfectly that He lives so that we may live — forever. He didn’t come for stones, bricks, and mortar. He didn’t come to redeem steeples and bell towers. His face didn’t even ring a bell!! Why are we having this conversation? I think that it’s because there is a longing for “true religion”. — taking care of orphans and widows and doing our best not to get polluted by the world. There is a longing to be effective for Christ in the lives we touch every day. There is a longing to be known less for where we go and more for who we follow and even more for what we do. Faith without doing doesn’t make a heartbeat. The experiences we have on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays as we follow Christ and love people along the way constitutes being the church. The “experience” is greater and gets greater as we receive from the Lord and then do what He says to do. If the “experience” on Sunday ( or whatever day, night, morning) in worship, fellowship, learning, does not translate into doing — we simply are left with more experiences at our favorite Christian club. There is a longing to be involved in real authentic transformation — be the church.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 3:43 pm

    I love the connection here between the works of Christ and the works of us as individuals, even further still, the works of us collectively as the church corporate. And the fact that the perishing are hungry for and searching for the authentic and the genuine. Thanks, as always, for your unique outlook on everything, Mike. Keeps it fresh for me.

Christian Fahey · 16 Mar ’11 at 10:18 am

Good and challenging. Yay God-He rules! BTW, you find what you are looking for. If you’re looking for faults, you’ll find them. If you’re looking for something to cheer, you’ll find it. And if you’re looking, really looking, for God, you’ll find Him. I promise–no, He promised.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Mar ’11 at 3:44 pm

    Incredible perspective, and yet so true. Simple. Outlook is everything (if not at least 90% of it all!). Thanks Christian.

Michael Hensley · 17 Mar ’11 at 10:41 pm

When people get their eyes off others and on Jesus, church will be what it was intended; a place to corporately worship our King.

Nothing is so pathetic an excuse than to hear someone won’t go to church because someone AT the church hurt their feelings! I heard it a month ago from my senior pastor in a personal conversation. Someone was angry because an usher asked them to make room in the aisle but apparently didn’t do it nicely enough. So they aren’t coming back here.

As Wayne said, people escape personal responsibility when they can point to someone who is as broken as themselves (but yet has the audacity to join fellow dirtballs and call upon the Lord as a body) and declare it’s THEIR fault that “I” don’t go to church.
Sorry for the run on sentence.

Be well CH,

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Mar ’11 at 7:01 am

    I think we should call ourselves, “Fellowship of the Dirt Clods.” It would just keep everything in perspective, and as you said, keep Jesus at the top. πŸ™‚ Thanks Mike!

Erica · 21 Mar ’11 at 11:36 am

I am a born-again, bible believeing, Spirit-filled Assembly of God member and I think my church is pretty good.

Robert Treskillard · 30 Mar ’11 at 3:24 pm

Great post and discussion, Christopher!

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