And The Good News Is

Do those of you who attend church ever find it hard sometimes to sit in church, not because of anything the pastor has said in his sermon, but rather how some folks (certainly not all) in attendance can look down on others they don’t even really know, and they have a way of letting them know (nonverbally) that they really aren’t all that welcome in their church? Sometimes when people leave a church, they don’t tell anyone why they left that church; they just stop going.

A Google search on the reasons why people stop attending church produced many article links and survey results on the topic, and in one article titled, Five Reasons People Leave the Church,” by Andy Stanley, Communicator, author, and pastor who founded Atlanta-based North Point Ministries, he provides five succinct reasons why people leave the church (see article at this link). For this post, I’ll focus on reasons #3 and #4 in his list:

#3: They had a bad church experience.

Most bad church experiences are the result of somebody prioritizing a view over a you–something Jesus never did and instructed us not to do either. Self-righteousness and legalism are leftovers of the Old Testament laws, which Jesus replaced through his death on the cross.

Relationships are messy and complicated. But if our actions are rooted in Jesus’ command to love one another (John 13:34), we can prevent many of the experiences that lead people away from his body. 

#4: We’re bad at making people feel welcome.

It wasn’t just his message that made Jesus irresistible. It was Jesus himself. People who were nothing like him, liked him. And Jesus liked people who were nothing like him. Jesus invited unbelieving, misbehaving, troublemaking men and women to follow him and to embrace something new, and they accepted his invitation.

As followers of Jesus, we should be known as people who like people who are nothing like us. When we invite unbelieving, misbehaving troublemakers to join us, they should be intrigued—if  not inclined—to accept our invitation. (Quote source here.)

Neither of those two reasons listed above should come as a surprise as to why people stop attending a church. Sometimes what has happened to cause someone to not feel welcome is hopefully not something that was done intentionally (motives are hard to detect). Too often the church can appear to be a closed off social club of sorts–a “members only” assembly of people. We tend to forget that Jesus welcomed everyone wholeheartedly regardless of their station in life or their backgrounds.

I read an article this morning that got my juices flowing thinking about what I’ve written above, and how church should be a place for everyone (sinners and saints alike). It was published on October 4, 2022, and it is titled, Grace Still Wins!” by Jerry Parries, founder and senior pastor of Christian Family Worship Center. His article is based on the Old Testament story of King David, Bathsheba, her husband who was intentionally killed in battle, and the outcome (see this link for the story). He starts off his article with this question:

Has there ever been something in your life that was a really big screw-up?

This is where the story of King David and Bathsheba comes into focus, and it involves adultery, a cover-up, lying, murder, the death of an infant son, and finally David’s repentance (see Psalm 51) and restoration. The second son of King David and Bathsheba grew up to become King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. And Bathsheba is included in the lineage of Jesus Christ (as noted in the article). Also, God called King David “a man after My own heart” (see Acts 13:21-22 and an article at this link).

At the end of his article, he writes this paragraph in closing:

Even in our greatest mistakes, GRACE can still win. Jesus paid for your sins and, so, you are no longer a slave of your past. People may have disqualified you, but God stands with his hands open to give you another opportunity to win. Your mistakes do not disqualify you from being used by God. I don’t care WHAT YOU HAVE DONE! HEAR ME! You are not disqualified to be on God’s team. Get up and start all over again. Jesus is pulling for you because Grace still wins. If you place your full trust in the love of Jesus and in his forgiving power, there is hope for Grace to still win in your life! (Quote source here.)

That’s great news, isn’t it? At any point in your life if you are still living, breathing, and no matter how bad you might have screwed up, you can start over again, even if others try to pull you down (and that includes yourself if you’ve reached a point in your life where you think you are out of the running and don’t matter anymore). Nobody in this life is perfect, everybody screws up from time to time, and we live in a world (inside and outside of the church) that is constantly judging others.

In an article titled, Why Are Christians So Judgmental?” by Jason Malec, a contributor on, he writes:

One of the most dominant views about Christians today is that they are judgmental. According to a study of people ages 16–29 in the United States, nearly 90 percent of respondents articulated this opinion of Christians and the practice of their faith. (See footnotes for study source at the bottom of this article at this link).

It’s not hard to make the case that some judgments are, in fact, necessary and good. We can judge that the roads are too slick to maneuver in icy conditions, or that our coffee is too hot to drink, or that a particular relationship isn’t healthy. But these types of judgments are not the issue at hand.

Rather, it is the act of judging someone personally, derogatorily, and unfairly that the study’s respondents keyed in on so overwhelmingly. According to the study mentioned above, “Being judgmental is fueled by self-righteousness, the misguided inner motivation to make our own life look better by comparing it to the lives of others.” (See footnotes for study source at the bottom of this article at this link).

While it’s easy to point fingers at religious people and label them as judgmental, the reality is that we’ve all got a judgmental stripe in us, don’t we? Look at the recent trends in talk shows and reality television. Most of the shows depict the baseness and silliness of humanity. Why have they become so popular?

Is it possible that the reason viewers are so enamored with them is because they allow people to feel better about their own lives and situations? When you see a parent who’s completely inept at controlling their children, a hoarder who lives in a pigsty, or an unfaithful boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s hard not to compare your life to theirs and pass judgments. (See quote source and the rest of his article here.)

In the rest of his article he focuses on several aspects regarding our tendency to be judgmental towards others, and he makes some very valid points for consideration (see his article at this link). He ends his article with the following statement:

In the end, Christians, like most people, will unfortunately continue to judge others at times. That’s human nature—and the nature of the struggle against sin and wrongdoing. But, hopefully, as Christians endeavor to recognize, reconcile, and balance both aspects of God’s character—his love and his justice—they’ll become better able to communicate their truths with grace and humility.

For this is the epitome of the faith journey: not that we are perfect, but that we trust in God’s perfection and strive more and more to become like him. (Quote source here.)

How we treat others (all others) is vitally important as Christians. states how we should treat others from a Biblical perspective:

The Bible has much to say about human behavior and the way we should treat each other. There are thousands of specific directions for doing so, but they can all be summarized in what we know as the Golden Rule. Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

When we treat others as we want to be treated, we will be honest, kind, trustworthy, and loving. We all need honestykindness, etc., from other people, so we should be equally concerned with giving those things to other people. When God first gave the law to Moses, He included hundreds of instructions about the way the Israelites were to treat each other (Leviticus 18:320:23Deuteronomy 18:9). They were immersed in a world that was violent, godless, and wicked. When God chose them to be a holy people, set apart for Himself, He was very specific about what was allowed and what was forbidden (Isaiah 41:8–10Deuteronomy 7:6Exodus 19:6).

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” In other words, all the laws God had given to Israel could be summarized in two commands: love God above all else, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. If we do those two things, we don’t need the other laws. We will automatically obey them as part of loving God and loving others.

Every culture has its own mores and social customs. Part of treating others as we wish to be treated is to honor those customs so as not to offend. When missionaries move to another part of the world, they are careful to study the customs of that culture and blend in as much as possible. They know that they cannot effectively share Christ with someone they are offending. For example, in cultures where women wear head coverings in public, a female missionary will wear a head covering so as not to offend the culture she wants to reach. In some cultures, people sit on the ground to eat. Even though the missionaries may prefer to sit on a chair, they will set aside preferences in order to love their neighbors as Christ loves them (John 13:34).

Jesus is our model. He is fully God, deserving of all honor and glory (Colossians 2:9John 1:1). Yet, because He loved the human beings He had created, He set aside His rights as God to take on human flesh and come to earth to live among us (Philippians 2:5–11). He voluntarily accepted the limitations of a fleshly body in order to connect with us. He lived as we live, hurt as we hurt, and fought temptation as we do (Luke 4:1–13). In doing so, He gave us an example of how He expects us to treat others.

Treating others as we would be treated means we must be willing to set aside our own preferences, rights, and desires in order to serve those in our lives. As a mother loses sleep, sacrifices financially, and cares for the children she loves, so we are to give up our own comforts for the good of others. Jesus did exactly that. When our focus is on treating others as Jesus would, we don’t need a hundred specific laws telling us not to murder, steal, rape, abuse, or lie. A heart filled with the love of God would never treat others that way. When the heart is right, right actions will follow (Matthew 15:191 Peter 1:22). (Quote source here.)

In James 4:11-12, there is a reminder to us as Christians in how we are to treat each other. The following is taken from The Message Bible:

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?

I’ll end this post with the words of Jesus from John 13:34-35 (NIV): A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you…

Are my disciples . . .

If you love . . .

One another . . . .

YouTube Video: “Love One Another” by the Newsboys:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here


2 thoughts on “And The Good News Is

  1. I’ve seen congregations that were cold and unwelcoming. I’ve also seen congregations that frightened visitors away by being overly friendly. I don’t know how often congregations are judgmental toward outsiders and visitors. I think a lot of times people are merely awkward, not knowing how to make a visitor feel comfortable. J.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with what you said regarding part of it might be caused by them not being sure how to make a visitor feel comfortable. I was thinking more about people who have been attending for a while and then end up leaving.


Comments are closed.