Hey lets talk about churches that pretend to love everybody always.
What I mean by this are churches (especially megachurches and church plants) that love to advertise how much they LOVE people. All people. Doesn’t matter how you dress or how colorful your past (colorful pasts make quality testimony, great witnessing material). Come as you are, they say. But it’s a hook.
I know that sounds cynical. And obviously I don’t know the heart and mind of every pastor in America. But having spent my whole damn life in churches spouting these lines, AND also knowing the real rules for fitting in; I can say with confidence that systemically there’s a problem.
You see, American Christians have been saying these things for so long, they really believe them. They believe they are “saving people” from themselves and therefore it’s perfectly acceptable to get them in the door, no matter how false the pretenses are. The problem is this: church leadership plays the long game. They know you’re wary of being judged by judgy religious folk. So they’re going to do their best to make you comfortable at first. The longer you stay and the more you get involved the harder it is to keep being yourself.
This is especially true if you’re a woman or identify as LGBTQ (out or not!). Pretty soon you’re getting walloped by clobber verses preceded by “the bible clearly says” so you must conform or you can’t (fill in the blank- lead anyone or anything, get married in our church, preach in our church, send your kids to our school, attend seminary, etc etc etc).
Years ago orgs like Church Clarity didn’t exist. So it was easy to be fooled into thinking you actually found a place you belonged, until you didn’t.
So I guess my call is this; I wish churches would just be real up front. Can you just put a paragraph in the bulletin laying out your bad theology that upholds your bigotry as biblical somehow? Would you just put it on a slide at the front every Sunday before worship starts? “Jesus loves you only if: ” and list your manmade rules clearly so we know what we’re getting into?
Because honestly being a part of a church body when you ACTUALLY love people these days, is exhausting and confusing.
One very tired, LGBTQ affirming, people loving, Christian feminist.