let me see if I can shed
some light on who I am and
why I do what I do by telling you a bit about myself and
how I came to write Love Jesus, Hate Church. Let me
share with you, oh, how shall I put it—
the joy of believing the lie. I believe this will
give you a better grasp of who I am and why I wrote Love Jesus,
Why Did You Write, Love Jesus, Hate Church?
I was a kid, church seemed to be a picture of the kind of family I always
wanted. The kind of family I didn’t have at home. I remember
Sunday school and youth outings and pot-luck fellowship dinners that were
served by large, overweight women with large, inviting smiles. I
remember Vacation Bible School and the Church Softball League and the
addictive feeling of oneness I experienced when I was with my other
co-patriots in the youth department. It was like I finally belonged
to something— like I had finally found a home. A purpose.
Something I could believe in and somebody I could trust.
yeah, I remember all the good stuff. All the
kind of stuff that leads a young boy like me to dream of becoming a pastor
someday— of devoting his life to the Lord.
such sweet, childlike innocence.
joy of believing the lie.
like living in a Norman Rockwell painting...uh, until the day your balloon
bursts and you lose your church virginity and your whole world comes
crashing down around you.
I remember all the good stuff. But I also remember all the
not-so-good stuff. The stuff nightmares are made of.
not sure when my blinders came off and I began to see, for the first time,
the church for what it actually is. Try as I may, I simply can’t
pinpoint the specific situation or the event or maybe even the
conversation that began my long descent from idyllic bliss into the cold,
dark, painful reality of church. I can’t put my finger on the exact
day when I lost my spiritual virginity and began to Love Jesus and
at first, like a tiny trickle from a leaky faucet. Small.
Insignificant. Hardly worth mentioning.
after drip after horrid drip— until it pounded in my brain like the
incessant beating of the old man’s heart in Poe’s, Tell-Tale Heart.
before I could turn around, by default, I had joined the ever-swelling
ranks of those who Love Jesus and Hate Church. I had
become one of them. I was now joined at the hip, like a Siamese
twin, to a group of people I didn’t even know existed.
I know now. Boy, do I know now!
most of us the idea of church conjures up the image of stately red brick
buildings with tall, white, majestic steeples. Church gives us the
warm, cozy feelings of nostalgia, the pleasant memories of good-times long
past. Church was portrayed as a place of safety and security— a
place of worship, a place of love, of acceptance and mutual ministry.
The Church was the one place on earth where you never feared being hurt,
persecuted, slandered, wronged or berated.
church is just like one big ol’ happy family. Right?”
not always. Not really.
into the membership fabric of our congregations is an ever-growing army of
disgruntled and disillusioned Believers that carry with them the battle
scars they received on the frontlines of Church. They are the
walking wounded— clutching tightly to their Love Jesus,
Hate Church Purple Hearts. They are detached. Wary.
Reluctant to allow the pain they have experienced in Church to be
inflicted upon them, and their families, again.
come any closer. Stay back. I don’t want to be hurt again.”
moral failures, deacon’s meetings, gossip, financial budgets, “the pastor
didn’t call me when I was sick”, arguments, hymns versus choruses, young
versus old, family church dynasty versus the “new kids on the church
block”, building programs, tithing, pride, the Annual Church Business
Meetings, “look, those people sat in my seat”, and King James going
one-on-one with everybody else… ah, you name it. They all take their
every day, the ranks of the Love Jesus, Hate Church army
a pastor and a minister for the past twenty years, I have seen and
experienced firsthand the spiritual trauma and emotional havoc situations
like the ones described above can wreak on
hearts and minds of those who attend church.
I have seen countless
people bounce into church with exuberance, contagious excitement,
literally wide-eyed with awe and expectation of what the Lord was going to
do in their lives and in the life of their church. And sadly, like
spooked cattle, I have also seen these same people leave the church in
droves, vowing never to return. Those same wide eyes now vacant and
blackened by a church fight and the inevitable loss of their child-like
innocence. I have heard their cries and have seen their tears— and
I’ve seen this cycle repeated year after year.
it gets worse. Many will then pass their hurt and disillusionment
down to their own children creating something like a generational curse
that keeps growing with no end in sight. This curse, like a
Love Jesus, Hate Church virus, infects and attacks the very
roots of the Believer’s view of the Christian community. It destroys
the Believer’s sense of acceptance and mutual respect. It turns a loving,
trusting church family into a team of spoiled, self-seeking free agents.
it most certainly grieves the Lord.
Jesus and Hate Church? Sound impossible?
life stands as irrefutable proof of these two realities— Love and
Hate and Jesus and Church all in the same sentence.
I Love Jesus with a burning, all-consuming passion. He is the
source of my life and the best thing that has ever happened to me.
In a word, I am literally obsessed with Him.
make no mistake, I Hate Church and what it stands for today. I Hate
Church with a raw, loathing vengeance, with unleashed rage, with every
fiber in my being. It’s like church pushes me right to the edge,
right to the point of no return— and then sadistically pushes even harder,
mocking, sneering, and demanding I respond.
it scares me. My rage. I didn’t know I had the capacity to
hate as much as I do.
the focus of that hate is what so-called Christians have done to the
Church in the name of Christ!
on, you know it’s true.
heard the rumors, the countless tales of woe, the never-ending classic
late-night horror stories about good people hurting good people in church.
Maybe you’ve got a couple of stories of your own to tell. Maybe
you’ve got your own church scars. Maybe you’ve got your own reasons
for those countless sleepless nights. Maybe you’ve been the victim
of a vicious, well-organized, rape, pillage, and burn campaign that often
takes place behind so-called sanctified church walls.
you’ve got your own reasons— darn good reasons, to Love Jesus and
the other hand, maybe you’re the reason someone else has a story to tell.
Maybe you’re the one who held the knife that cut and scarred the tender
spirit of another with your gossip, pride, or unmasked hypocrisy.
Maybe you’re the one, drunk behind the wheel of self-righteousness, that
plowed his car headlong into the crowd of bystanders one Sunday morning,
wounding and maiming the innocent with your misplaced anger.
don’t care what the pastor says, we’ve been here longer than he has.
He’d better start listening to us if he knows what’s good for him.”
you see the dress Martha was wearing? Who’s she trying to impress?”
always gets to sing lead in the Easter Cantata. What makes him think
he’s that good?”
did all these new people come from? Who invited them to our church
you’ve got blood on your own hands.
you’re the Pilate in your own church.
you’re one of the ones that shouted, “Give us Barabbas!”
again, maybe not.
with all that as a backdrop, what would you have done? Exactly!
would have done everything in your power to stop the needless hurt
and bloodshed that often takes place behind stained glass windows every
Sunday. You, like Colonel Travis and the brave men at the Alamo,
would have made a stand. You would have done something.
me, I wrote Love Jesus, Hate Church.
Steve McCranie - Brief Bio
Steve McCranie has a M.A. in Biblical Studies and has
been a pastor for the better part of twenty years. He has pastored
churches in Tennessee, Georgia, Washington, and North Carolina.
is the founding pastor of The Church Without Walls in Gastonia,
North Carolina (www.thechurchwithoutwalls.org)
which is a cell-based church that primarily ministers to those who have
fallen through the cracks of the traditional church— and have been
seriously hurt by that fall.
More importantly, he has personally experienced the Love Jesus,
Hate Church phenomena and is still alive to tell about it.
Scarred— but alive. Which, by the way, is a major feat and makes
him more than qualified to write Love Jesus, Hate Church.
The McCranie Clan... Whew!
Steve McCranie lives in Gastonia, North Carolina with his
and their many, many... did I say many... kids.
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