Dear Church, Here’s Why People Are REALLY Leaving You, Part 2

It’s not you, it’s me.

That’s what you seem to be saying, Church.

I tried to share my heart with you; the heart of me and thousands and thousands of people like me who are walking away, to let you know of the damage you’re doing and the painful legacy you’re leaving, and apparently: You’re not the problem.

(Which of course, is still a problem).

I’ve relayed my frustration with your insider, religious rhetoric, and you responded by cut-and-pasting random Scripture soundbytes about the “Bride of Christ” and the “blood of the Lamb,” insisting that the real issue is simply my “biblical ignorance,” and suggesting that I just need to repent and get a good Concordance (whatever that is).

I let you know how judged and ridiculed I feel when I’m with you, how much like a hopeless, failing outsider I feel on the periphery of your often inward, judgmental communities, and you proceeded to tell me how “lost” I am, how hopelessly “in love with my sin” I must be to leave you, reminding me that I never really belonged with you anyway.

In the face of every complaint and every grievance, you’ve made it clear that the real issue is that I’m either sinful, heretical, immoral, foolish, unenlightened, selfish, consumerist or ignorant.


Heck, many days I’m not even sure I disagree with you.

Maybe you’re right, Church.

Maybe I am the problem.

Maybe it is me, but me is all I’m capable of being right now, and that’s where I was really hoping you would meet me.

It’s here, in my flawed, screwed-up, wounded, shell-shocked, doubting, disillusioned me-ness, that I’ve been waiting for you to step in with this whole supposedly relentless, audacious “love of Jesus” thing I hear so much about, and make it real.

Church, I know how much you despise the word Tolerance, but right now, I really need you to tolerate me; to tolerate those of us who, for all sorts of reasons you may feel aren’t justified, are struggling to stay.

We’re so weary of feeling like nothing more than a religious agenda; an argument to win, a point to make, a cause to defend, a soul to save.

We want to be more than a notch on your Salvation belt; another number to pad your Twitter posts and end-of-year stat sheets.

We need to be more than altar call props, who are applauded and high-fived down the aisle, and then forgotten once the song ends.

We’ve been praying for you to stop evangelizing us, and preaching at us, and fighting us, and judging us, and sin-diagnosing us, long enough to simply hear us …

… even if we are the problem.

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John Pavlovitz
I am a father of two, (Noah and Selah), and husband of one (Jennifer); a 17-year ministry veteran, specializing in rabble-rousing, engineering mayhem, and generally trying to live-out the red letters of Jesus.