The church has a serious image problem. A while back, a pastor we knew proposed to the local fire chief that his neighborhood church team up with the fire department on a particular community event. The fire chief responded: “No… you see, people trust the fire department.”
What image comes to your mind at the word “church”? You may remember it fondly as the place where people loved you no matter what, and you enjoyed coffee between services. Or it could be where an abusive authority told God was angry at you, and you’d better shape up or God would ship you out.
Ask 50 people for their emotional response to their church, and you’re likely to get 50 responses.
But this is certain: people’s perception of church is not what it used to be.
That’s what many churchgoers don’t seem to grasp right now.
“When outsiders claim that we are unchristian, it is a reflection of this jumbled (and predominately negative) set of perceptions. When they see Christians not acting like Jesus, they quickly conclude that the group deserves an unchristian label. Like a corrupted computer file or a bad photocopy, Christianity, they say, is no longer in pure form, and so they reject it. One quarter of outsiders say their foremost perception of Christianity is that the faith has changed for the worse. It has gotten off-track and is not what Christ intended. Modern-day Christianity no longer seems Christian.” (David Kinnaman, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters)
I’ll tell you exactly why.
The church is consumed with behavior instead of life.
It is consumed with rules instead of Jesus.
It is asking how to deal with sin instead of how to embrace the people God loves.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHeartsand Jesus Blog columns.