Churchy People Get on My Nerves

Over the years one of my biggest struggles as a pastor has been dealing with churchy people. Admittedly, I don’t like them. They are kin to the New Testament Pharisees. They love the trappings of church more than people. I can’t judge their heart condition but this I’ve observed: they usually cause hurt rather than joy.

Years ago, we raised money for church pews by asking families to buy a pew. We then placed a plaque on the end of the pew, in honor of the family. One Sunday I noticed much confusion in the middle aisle, as one of our pew “owners” informed a guest that he needed to move, as that was his pew. The man was unkind and forceful and brought embarrassment to the unsuspecting guest. The newcomer left, never to return. When I challenged the unrelenting man, he became indignant toward me saying, “I bought this pew, and this is where I sit.” When I rebuked his attitude, he began causing me problems from that time forward. You see, he was churchy. I cannot speak to his relationship with Christ.

In another church, a young man walked through the doors wearing a hat. An older man approached him saying, “Young man, take that hat off before you go into the sanctuary. You will not disrespect this house.” The teenager looked at him with a shocked expression, turned around and left. When I called the man out for his attitude and lack of compassion, he rebuked me and refused to talk with me again. Some years later I stood behind him in a grocery store checkout line and he refused to shake my hand. You see, he was churchy, but exhibited little or no love for people. Can I be honest? I have no patience for modern day Pharisees.

I wonder. Did the man in the pew or the boy with a hat ever find Jesus? Did a pew and a hat hinder them from saving faith? Oh, Jesus, forgive us for being churchy instead of loving people unconditionally. It behooves all of us to remember that church is not a building or your personal property. The church is the people who love Jesus and other people. Period. 

Hang your rules, policies, and regulations if people are being hurt! When the first man saw a guest sitting in “his” pew he should have rejoiced that his gift was blessing a stranger. When the second man saw the hat, he should have left it alone. His generation taught that hats should be removed in public buildings as a sign of respect. The boy’s generation minimized such thinking. The old man allowed a generational mindset to push away a searching heart. I’m so upset!

Today I declare war on “churchy-ness.” Help us to remember what’s important and put aside what we think, and even some of the attitudes we’ve embraced, that hurt the cause of Jesus.

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