catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Church sucks?


May 03 2002
09:29 pm

In response to Mr. Ruek’s article on bad church, I am wondering if the author could expand on what would actually constitute a church that doesn’t suck. Perhaps I should first ask if church should even exsist?

Obligation, drag, annoyance, unauthentic, kitch, cheesey, fluffy, wateredown, social club, image-based, etc…, it happens—church.

What would be freeing, fresh, true, powerful, real, beautiful, invigorating, humbling, empowering, deep, and ultimately authentic in regard to a group of people who mutally believe and desire to commune in that belief, ecclesia,….church?


May 05 2002
10:17 am

I just finished reading Philip Yancey’s Soul Suvivor. It does an excellent job of wrestling with this a bit. Ultimately, Yancey seems to conclude three things. First of all, church does suck — and in fact, as bad as your church is, there are probably other churches that are even worse.

Second, the fact that church sucks does not deminish our need to communion with our creator. We are sinful humans. Get a bunch of us together and you are bound to find betrayal, pettiness, and so on. Yet, we should not confuse our response to a sucky church with our need to God’s love.

Third, and this was what struck me the hardest — we probably think of church as sucking because we are approaching it as something that should be helping us, feeding us, comforting us, and so on. Yancey makes the point that church is there in order for us to serve. Look at it that way and the more sucky the church is, the greater the need — not for me to come in there, be cocky, and solve everybody’s problesm, but rather to pitch in and help where I can.

My wife and i get frustrated with our church soemtimes — the leadership can seem infantile and wrong-headed, many of the members seem unwilling to help out, hypocracy abounds, but it is a church that needs us and it is a church that we need, and switching brands isn’t really going to make a difference. What is going to make a difference is our willingness to join the family and let God work in us.

Cause the fact is, it isn’t just church that sucks.

I suck.


Jun 01 2002
04:43 am

I’ve been meaning to respond to this for awhile now. The CRC has shifted its focus toward planting churches in the city now. One such upstart church is proposed for the Rogers Park area here in Chicago. I’ve talked to the pastor of that proposed church and asked him what kind of place it would be. He told me that it could be whatever we want it to be. He’s open to all kinds of unorthodox ideas about what it could be. It’s a great opportunity to build a church almost from scratch. All kinds of possibilities have been swimming around in my head. I’d love to hear more ideas about what such a church could look like, with the idea in mind that this is the CRC’s chance to venture into uncharted territory.


Jun 08 2002
11:12 am

Of course, that does bring up an interesting problem. If a whole bunch of people give you a whole bunch of cool ideas, but don’t intend to actually join that community, does it still work, or do the people with the ideas need to join you in forging the church? I’ve often dreamed of starting a Christian school from scratch with people who really care about the ideas and seeing them through. But that kind of means that you can’t just hire a bunch of people. You either need to come together as a group of visionaries from the start, or hire the people and then see what they want to do. i suspect that either way, church still will suck, at least a little bit, because you always have to keep your doors open to people who don’t care, who whine, and who have a wholly different vision of what the church ought to be than you do.

Don’t get me wrong, I can think of few things that are more exciting in life than getting involved in such an endeavor. The potential pay-off is huge — but like anything worthwhile, the disaster potential is huge too.