Monday, 25 July 2011

Honesty in Church

I preached yesterday morning at a Baptist church who meet not far from where I live.

They were a nice bunch of people and I felt very welcomed.

After the service I had a number of people come up to me and thank me for my honesty in my preaching. They said it was refreshing. They also said it shook them out of their Sunday morning routine.


I find this interesting, especially in church.

When someone is honest, especially when preaching or leading worship, people are almost amazed. It shakes people in their seats. They are not sure what to do with honesty.

I don't try and be controversial or provocative when I preach (well maybe sometimes I do! ;0)), I simply try and be honest. Yet it often seems that people are not prepared for such honesty and find it something completely alien when confronted with such honesty in the church.

Some people react very positively when they hear honesty within the church, and some...well they don't like it.

Sometimes we try all sorts of ways to not be honest because we feel like we can't.

Sometimes it is the curse of the smile; feeling like you have to smile when inside you are hurting and darkness is your only friend.

Sometimes it is because you do not feel there is anyone you can be yourself with, so you put on a show, pretend you're ok and shuffle out of church before anyone notices you.

I think it is important to be honest, to be yourself and to live authentically.

I wonder how liberated many would feel if they knew they could be completely honest in church.

I'm hurting.

I don't believe in God anymore.

I'm so happy.

I'm gay.

I'm depressed.

I haven't prayed for months.

I'm so excited.

I'm pregnant.

Be great wouldn't it...


RDM said...

Good post Joe (honest!). Is it possible to get a "church community" to be simultaneously honest given the varying degrees of maturity, self-awareness, authentic critique, etc? I'm not sure it is which means, among other things, how does the one who wants honesty respond to the 'fake' (i.e. immature) honesty all around? In this regard churches seem inoculated against the very Gospel that is supposed to transform them. Discipleship, one-by-one, step-by-step is the key, but you already know that! Another angle is the willingness to encourage despite a bad sermon (as if!), so what appears as dishonest or flattery is really an encouraging quip that avoids all confrontation! But like vous, that's never happened to moi!
See you soon. R

Joe Haward said...

Perhaps it is the way in which we meet that can be the stumbling block to honesty. If we stare at the back of each others heads for an hour or more on a Sunday and then go home after a polite cup of tea and biscuit then it is tough to build real honesty together. Not saying the way we meet is all wrong, but perhaps there needs to be a way in which we can authentically be together in honesty whereby where ever we are at, however mature, everyone knows they can be themselves without fear.

My turn to treat you to a breakfast soon. Sound good?