CHRISTIANITY’S IMAGE PROBLEM

Last week I wrote a short post called, “Are Christians too Anti-homosexual, Political and Judgmental?” …because according to the world, we are! I was overwhelmed by the opinions that were given in the comment section on that post. To sum up the majority of opinions, I’d say we all agree that the church, and Christianity as a whole, has an image problem. We, as followers of Christ, haven’t always done a very good job looking like Christ.

We’ve treated others unkind in the name of religion. We’ve talked out of both sides of our mouths, saying one thing and then doing another. We’ve been harsh, critical and condemning. We’ve often drawn lines in the sand, where God never intended there to be lines. We’ve preached uniformity instead of unity. We’ve praised God for His grace on Sunday morning and then after services we’ve been very ungracious to our waitress for not keeping our glass filled up. We’ve been hypocritical.

I understand that we are sinners. We make mistakes, and we’ll continue to make mistakes, BUT that’s NO excuse for how we treat others. We need a perception change, and it must start with the person you see in the mirror every morning.

So what do we do about it? How do we change the perception the outside world has of us? That’s a tough question. I’m not sure there’s a simple answer, but here are a few things that I think would help. A man can dream, can’t he? :)

  • I dream of a church that welcomes all people despite their looks, backgrounds or beliefs.
  • I dream of a church that not only welcomes people different than themselves, but also goes out and serves people different than themselves.
  • I dream of a church where every Christian makes it their passion to be just like Jesus.
  • I dream of a church where Christians show Christ’s love to the people they disagree with, whether they are gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, religious or atheist, conservative or liberal.
  • I dream of Christians and a church that doesn’t just preach against abortion, but looks for options to help adopt and find others to adopt babies that aren’t aborted.
  • I dream of churches that refuse to pour in millions of dollars into fancy buildings, but are satisfied with adequate facilities and spend the rest of their money on feeding the hungry and reaching the lost.
  • I dream of churches and Christians who don’t divide over things that aren’t important, and start being unified over things that are.
  • I dream of what would happen if Christians and churches started trying to out-grace one another.
  • I dream of what would happen if Christians and churches started doing the two things that God calls the most important things, “Loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself.”
  • I dream of Christians who instead of freaking out over the economy, health care reform and politics, will simply trust in their God to take care of them, like He’s done since the beginning of time. When will we realize that Jesus never staged a political protest, nor did the apostles ever attend a political rally, instead they were too busy reaching out to others with the message of Christ and serving their fellow man.
  • I dream of Christians who would realize that how you live outside the walls of the building has more to do with your relationship with God than what you do inside the building three times a week.
  • I dream of a church and Christians that pursue learning God’s word in order to be transformed, not to simply gain knowledge.

Even though these are just my opinions … I still think there were also some REALLY good answers in the comment section here.

So, what’s your opinion? What are some things you dream of the church becoming?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
26 Comments Post a Comment
  1. nick gill says:

    Oh Trey… what an awesome dream! I think that's the church God dreams of too.

  2. cwinwc says:

    "I dream of churches and Christians who don't divide over things that aren't important, and start being unified over things that are."

    All of your "dreams" are mine as well. I don't want to ever limit God but on the particular "dream" that I have listed above, I fear that a body of Christ followers that have a heritage in the Churches of Christ denomination – will not be able to see that dream come to fruition unless it leaves the denomination. To some degree it has happened (and not because we wanted it to happen) at our church with the “brotherhood” ejecting us from the fold. Yet it has been our experience that there are other churches in other denominations that have the same dreams you’ve listed. What a blessing it has been to “find” each other in our community and truly put our walk were our beliefs are as we reach out in the name of Jesus.

    Thank you for reminding me to not take our experience for granted.

  3. Angie says:

    Your list is terrific. Creating the vision is the most basic step toward making it happen. The second step is to hold on to that vision when the negativity tries to surface….the "nice list, but fat chance of ever seeing that happen" negativity, or the "do you know how many times we've already tried that?" negativity along with the "who am I kidding?" negativity.

    My dream? One body, no church. It's that whole concept of church that seems to be messing things up. If we can every grab ahold of the concept that we are one body, the same body, where smashing a finger causes the stomach to turn upside down and respond with appropriate support (finger to be soothed by the mouth for lack of better example), when a cold/cough can be felt in every cell and nourishment sent to the rescue of the affected system (another lame example), then we will be on the road towards paradise.

    There is no excuse for a small town to have a church building on every corner. We are dividing ourselves over stupid, petty, selfishness and that makes us weak and powerless for Christ. One body, everybody, united. It's not red rover.

  4. Mark says:

    seriously?…. I dream of the end of "church" as we have known it. No more buildings at all, no more paid staffs, no more official meeting times, etc., etc. i dream of those who are followers (disciples) being just that, disciples of christ living in the world doing good, loving others, caring about human beings, and sharing lives together, not just a few hours a week.

    my experience has been that the organization and structure we call church (in almost any form) is what limits us in our abilities to follow as we might. it limits our worship, it limits our service, it limits our sense of community, and it limits our imaginations about the type of discipleship god desires for those who believe. we lean so much on the organization to lead us that we limit the spirit's influence on our lives. there is so much more to all of this and we miss out on so much of what god has in store for us because we are trapped within the structures that the "church" has and not free to be all that he has called us to be.

  5. Andre Nunes says:

    The list is pretty simple. When I look at this list I envision the church of the first century, How the out-graced themselves, loved one another. Great Post. My focus this year is to know more "of Jesus" than "about Jesus". Hope that makes sense.

  6. Linda says:

    I loved your post. I too have been very convicted lately about "the church" and our attitude towards sinners. Thanks for saying what I've been thinking.

  7. Stoogelover says:

    I think the church of your dreams was what one Man had in mind when He went to Calvary.

  8. JamesBrett says:

    i dream of a church not concerned with adding to its own membership and growing its own numbers, but with kingdom growth period.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I not only want to dream these things for myself and others – I want them to become a reality because of the changes Jesus has made in my life. Love Jerusha xx

  10. TREY MORGAN says:

    Excellent comments.

  11. vanilla says:

    Trey, you so nailed it that any comment I would add would be redundant.

  12. Marc T says:

    Wow! We have come to focus so much on "parts" of the gospel and not the message. Your dream of loving each other IS the message of the gospel. We want to believe that everything in the gospel is complete when a person's nose comes out of the water and we forget about the "make disciples" part. My dream is to have a church that Jesus described in Matthew 25 – first by growing our talents and then by sharing our lives. The rightous in Matthew 25 lived the way that they did because their changed lives made them have the character and nature of servents. I can see that character and nature of the new believers at the end of Acts 2 – when the beievers shared with anyone who had needs. They saw a need and if they had the resources, they shared them. Man o man, when do we sell the things that we like the best to help somebody out. I dream of a church where if somebody has a need, we don't hesitate to sell some of our stuff to lift our brother out of a problem.
    Yep, love is the answer.

  13. Donna G says:

    Great dreams. The challenge comes in making little steps everyday to make our dreams reality

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great post Trey. I am growing and learning more each day. I have read many passages then sat back and thought what we are doing as Christians is different than what I just read. I hope this message spreads all over and makes others sit and think about the what God's message intended. Thank you as always for the thought provoking post. MM in Amarillo

  15. Ginger says:

    As I read your post, I felt the twinge in my heart that was telling me, "Yes, you!" I know I don't always represent myself in a way that is pleasing to Christ. Most of the time, my mouth gets the better of me and I know there have been times that has caused relationships to ravel.

    "Let go and let God" sums up your post. God is always in control and when we let go of the things you talked about, He is happy. When others see us as happy and accepting, maybe they will crave for the happiness in Christ we have.

    Your blog is something I read daily. Your passion and love for the Lord radiates. Thanks for a "gentle" reminder of the bigger picture.

  16. Dwight says:

    Your dreams and mine are the same. May they become the dreams of every child of God.

  17. Dan Beals says:

    Im against the idea of not having any church body at all because it would become total chaos. Personally I like the idea of what my church does now. Its a cell church. The whole idea is that the church should multiply like cells. Basically the cell is a group of about 10 or 12 people who come together and talk in more detail about the sermon and/or anything else that is on there mind. It comes down to relationships. However the main emphasis is on reaching the "lost." The goal is to bring non-believers to the cell groups, and to make them feel at home with other believers…to feel loved. Once the group gets bigger (close to 20 ppl)…. it divides like a cell. Once the church has enough cells it will create another church (this takes much much longer). Its a very organized and efficient way of reaching the lost because it brings them into an environment that they feel accepted and comfortable and loved. Its truly an amazing process to see new believers coming in and allowing the people of the cells to transform there lives.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Good list but I have to disagree a bit with #10. I see nothing wrong with Christians being involved in the political process. In fact we need more Christians involved to ensure that our nation retains morality. We have seen a turning away of the morality we once enjoyed in this nation and I believe it is because for too long Christians did not become involved in politics.

  19. TREY MORGAN says:

    Anonymous – I see nothing wrong with Christians being involved in politics either … as long as they conduct themselves like Christians, and not like some who are unkind, rude and un-Christ-like. I still can't find where Jesus, Paul, the Apostles or the church in the 1st centuries were involved in a political rally or protest. Just a thought.

  20. eastern ky pastor says:

    I dream of a church where people come to God to be changed, rather than to have their problems fixed.

    I dream of a church, where people realize how aweful sin is and how great grace is, so that the question of living like the world is not an option.

  21. Mr. Apostate says:

    I think the operative word here is dream. Dreams are often associated with delusion and you all have to be delusional to believe in a magic man in the sky.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Trey, I do see Paul asserting his rights as a Roman citizen. After he is flogged and they try to quietly let him go he refuses and demands his rights and the Romans had to come release him. Also another time he could have been released but he appeals to Caesar which was within his rights as a Roman citizen. I guess you could say he was protesting. We, as American citizens also have rights to protest. Is this anything different? Now no one is condoning rude or ugly behavior but let's not paint everyone who protests as rude or ugly just because of a few stupidly acting people. I don't think any of us Christians all want to be branded hypocritical because there are some in the church that act that way at times.

  23. TREY MORGAN says:

    Anonymous – very well put.

  24. Dan Beals says:

    In many ways I see protesting to be somewhat pointless. When it comes to politics and the desire to have "God fearing" leaders (which I think we should strive for), it all comes down to the votes in this country. Votes are the deciding factor if we want a leader for God, or a leader against God. So then it comes down to understanding which leader you can vote for is most God fearing and truly loves the people of his country. "OK, but all these leaders we have a choice to pick are corrupt," you say. Well it all comes back to the behind the scenes stuff that we as believers in Christ should be evangelizing before protesting. Think about it people, if we had a society of people who loved God, than our choice of leaders who loves God will increase as well. As for current leaders who love evil… Pray for them! Hate the sin that they do and don't justify… But instead pray for that leader and love the person…. Just like Christ said to do.

    Thanks guys for this great conversation :)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Yes Dan we should be praying for our leaders and evangelizing and voting. All of these things are good and correct, but I still see nothing wrong with protesting. Protesting is a unique American right and I see nothing wrong with exercising it. If Christians in Germany had stood up against Hitler and the Nazis they might have been stopped. But Germans for whatever reason, fear or that the Nazis promised security in a scary time, remained silent and as a result Hitler played on that fear and took over.
    I have a few (okay so a bunch) of gray hairs now and I've come to believe now that their is nothing un-Christian about standing up for your beliefs. Yes you must do it decently and respectfully, but I've seen what has happened to the culture when Christians have been silent because it is "un-Christian" to speak up. In the early 70's Hollywood began to push homosexuality. When any objection was made Christians were ridiculed and made fun of and made to look so out of touch. Now 30 years later, because we as Christians didn't stand up and protest, we now are facing legitimizing homosexual marriages and anything said against homosexuality is considered hate speech.
    Yes we must continue the fight of preaching and teaching Jesus at every opportunity, but maybe it is time to also rise up and protest against injustice and sin. Think about what the world would have seen about Jesus if Christians had stood up and protested against the injustices that Blacks suffered. What would that have said about Christianity if we had had a Civil Rights movement before the 60's?
    So is all protesting evil or worthless? It might depend on what you are protesting.

  26. AlphaGem says:

    AWESOME post!!! We are sooooo happy that our son (Denson 'Bob Marley' Ligon) met you in Honduras. You are a blessing.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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