I get it.
I’m not here to judge you.
Actually, I’m more tempted to call out the church for whatever it did to you.
And I’m saying this as a local church pastor. One who has been in full-time Christian ministry for 15 years. One who knows that he’s part of the problem.
I’m not proud of it but I am aware. And Jesus keeps inviting me reach out to those I’ve hurt.
That’s where you come in.
Maybe you abandoned the church because you felt more judged than loved.
Maybe you left because you encountered more problems than solutions.
Maybe you hated being part of another dysfunctional family.
Maybe you left because your parents forced you to go for 15 years, or maybe you were physically, emotionally or sexually abused by a church member or leader.
It’s hard to accept that nothing I do or say here can return the time, the joy and the peace that were stolen from you. But with all of my heart, I want you to know, that I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
I don’t blame you for leaving. Probably, it was the best thing you could have done at the time. You needed to recover. You needed the detox. You needed to find God on your own.
But unapologetically, I’m asking you to come back.
Hear me out por favor.
I’m asking because we need you.
Not your money, or your attendance, or your blind support.
We need your pain. We need your story. And we need your forgiveness.
We also need your voice, your differences and your tension. It’s part of what makes us (together) the multicolored representation of God himself.
“The purpose is that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known…” Ephesians 3:10 (AMP)
I get it.
It’s the hypocrisy that puts you off. The double standards that disgust you. The politics that contradict Jesus.
You have valid and appropriate points!
Part of why we need you back.
Not to be bitter or rude. But to be radically honest and radically hopeful.
As Nicky Gumbel says, “Churches are not museums that display perfect people. They are hospitals where the wounded, hurt, injured and broken find healing and each other.”
I have no doubts that if you never, ever, came back… Jesus would still love you perfectly where you are. Church does NOT equal salvation. But maybe, just maybe, church is the place where you can join the story of a whole community being loved into grace.
Honesty, I could give you the top 10 reasons to go to service every week. I could give you Bible verses about the importance of gathering. I could even try to manipulate you by telling you that you won’t be manipulated anymore.
But I know you know.
And I know you get it.
So the best I can do is ask forgiveness again. There is nothing more valuable (or appropriate) to offer.
As a pastor who has used people to build his own personal kingdom, I say to you: I’m sorry.
As a man who has treated women as second-class in the congregation, I say to you: I’m sorry.
As a leader who has tried to get more cash, more effort, more obedience out of people, I say to you: I’m sorry.
As a minister who has pushed his own agenda and twisted Scripture to judge, I say to you: I’m sorry.
As a preacher who has made others feel guilty and ashamed because their struggles were different to my own, I say to you: I’m sorry.
And I’m not the only one. There is an infantry of lovers that is rising in the church, and it is prioritizing humility, love and connection. So we are collectively inviting you to join the family again.
We are far from perfect.
But we are willing to learn.
Jesus is worth it.
And so are you.
I know for certain that God loves you way more than the church does. So you can trust Him with your heart… and forgive us from the heart. It may take a bit of time to regain trust, but the Father will honor your willingness and hope.
Yes, I’m confident that Jesus is building His church. Nevertheless, the process (and the journey) will be more beautiful with you in it.
See you Sunday.
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