Andrew Jones is a pastor from the EFCA’s Christ Community Church in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The actual campus he is on is the Leawood, Kansas location. This blog is going to use this post to discuss evangelicals, doubt, and how they engage skeptics.
“Doubt grows with knowledge.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
From the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. in 2016
This is blog post from Andrew Jones of the EFCA’s Christ Community Church in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The post is called, “Dear Skeptic.” This blog is going to respond to this post and a question as well.
If you are reading this, you probably attended a service at Christ Community. I hope you liked it.
But just because you attended doesn’t mean you are sold yet. Maybe sticking around and actually becoming a part of Christ Community is still a big question for you. Maybe you are skeptical of this whole church thing in general. Trust me, I get it.
I didn’t go to church growing up, so even after I became a Christian, I was deeply skeptical of the church. I brought a lot of baggage with me, and it took me awhile to work through it.
Obviously, now I’m a pastor, so I’m a pretty big fan. But I still encounter so many folks who are open to faith and learning more about Jesus, but really don’t want anything to do with church.
If you are nodding along, this article is for you. Here’s the thing: I really, really don’t want you to give up. Not yet. Keep coming! Why? Glad you asked! Here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me along the way:
There’s nothing more relevant than church.
One of the major issues about church I needed to work through was the assumption of “irrelevance.” For me, it went like this: The church is a part of the past. I don’t need an institution to tell me what to believe. And aren’t they just a bunch of backwards-thinking weirdos anyway?
What I’ve found over the years is I couldn’t have been more wrong. The church, when it’s done right, is one of the most important, practical, and challenging spaces for me personally every week. That isn’t to say that church is always entertaining and fun. It isn’t. Sometimes we talk about hard stuff. Things that need to change in our society. Things that need to change about us. Sin. Death. Pain and suffering. Loneliness. Hard things. But relevant things.
You may not always agree with what you hear or what others around you believe, but church is a place that is deeply committed to the truth. I can’t think of a more relevant topic than that.
It’s okay to have doubts.
I used to think that church was only for you if you were sure you believed in Jesus and the Bible and all that stuff. That’s not true. There are many people in our churches who aren’t sure, and many people who still have questions and doubts.
We work hard to make Christ Community a place where doubts are not only allowed, they are welcomed. Even if you aren’t sure what you think about Jesus or the Bible, you are welcome here!
Christians aren’t all hypocrites.
I hate that I have to say this, but I do: the church has always and will always struggle with hypocrisy. Even Christ Community. That’s part of what it means to work with people: we aren’t perfect and we often present ourselves as something we really are not. The recent slate of pastors and churches imploding due to moral failure is a sad but relevant example.
And wondering if the church is full of hypocrites like that is a fair question. I’m here to tell you the answer is No. There are amazing people who model the love and grace of Jesus in our church. I know I’m biased, but it’s true. I would hate for you to miss out on some amazing Christian people because someone somewhere made a mistake.
There is real community here.
Now, I’m not saying there is perfect community here. But it’s real and available to you. My perception is that real friendships and committed relationships are harder than ever to come by. Once you leave the controlled environment of high school or college, the workplace and the internet are the biggest ways we try to connect with other people. Those are fine, but they don’t hold a candle to what is possible in the church.
The church is one of the few places left where people gather, not only to worship and learn, but to get to know each other and support one another in present and embodied community. Again, it’s not perfect, but it’s real. And we’d love to have you. Speaking of which…
The church needs you!
Maybe you’ve never thought of it this way, but church skeptics are great for the church. It’s how we see things differently. It’s how we get better. It’s how we grow and reach more people. Seriously!
I recently had coffee with someone who attends our church but is not really sure what he thinks about it yet. I left with ten ideas of how to love people like him even better. I told him, “We need you!” I’ll tell you the same thing, we need you!
Maybe you are still on the fence. That’s fine. But please know that our doors are always open to you, and we would love to have you in our church family. I hope we will see you back on Sunday!