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No Spin Zone

Churches across the nation and around the world are changing.  Not all are going through a transition, but those that are growing and vibrant are looking continually at every aspect of the ministry of the church to determine better and more effective ways to care for hurting people.  When most of us read about “helping the hurting”, our minds go to food and clothes closets, counseling for those dealing with problem areas of life, ministering to those seeking to be free from addictions, or helping the jobless to find steady income.  It is true that those are real needs.  However, we are also more aware than ever that the person that “wears the mask” on Sunday giving the appearance that “all is well” with them is likely suffering as much if not more than those that are in our focus in the community.

Through the years, there is a subtle conditioning that takes place among those attending church “about church”.  There is a desire to exemplify that a family is that “perfect” group where every person lives in absolute adherence to the Word of God and “seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day”.   That is not accurate or realistic in any home.  Some households have lesser degrees of struggles than others, but imperfect people do not form perfect homes, businesses, schools, or communities.  Churches that have safe places for members to be transparent and gain help for life’s issues are more likely to see mighty works of God take place in acts of repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and healing of relationships.

Barb’s life is a mess. Her drinking problem is out of control, and her husband Ken refuses to cover for her anymore. Everyone around her sees Barb’s problem, but they all pretend like everything’s just fine, a classic case of denial. Every Sunday Barb and her family dress in their Sunday best and go to church as the perfect family. Everyone at church looks at Barb and her family as the model family…they look so…perfect.

Sitting in the row behind Barb at church each Sunday morning is Joe. Everyone likes Joe, especially all the guys, because he’s a man’s man. Joe played football in college for a PAC 10 school, and he’s filled with stories of athletic conquest. But when Joe’s all alone his heart is filled with emptiness because of his inability to sustain long term relationships. His marriage only lasted six months, and over the years he’s driven away everyone close to him with his short fuse. But that Sunday when a friend asks Joe how things are going he quickly says, “Great…never been better.”

Joe and Barb have both learned that church is a place for plastic people, a place for perfect people. So Barb’s become Barbie, complete with her husband Ken and her perfect plastic children. And Joe’s become G. I. Joe, a plastic action hero everyone admires but no one really knows. But inside Barb and Joe are dying, because they’re not made of plastic.

Churches throughout our culture today are filled with “Barbies” and “Joes”. We’ve learned that image is everything, that what counts is how you look, the impression you make. So we in the Christian community have perfected the fine art of faking it.