Eugene Cho

church sucks but so do you

I preached a sermon couple weeks ago entitled, “Church sucks…but so do you.”  The brief explanation:  I really do believe that most of us grow up needing and wanting to be angry at something or someone.  God and the Church is not excluded.  The institution of the Church has done much to warrant some of this anger.  So, yes…church sucks.

Church is community or family.  And there’s one certainty about community: it has the ability to expose us – all of us.  It exposes both our beauty and depravity which is the reason why community is so hard.  It is the reason why we are so drawn to it and simultaneously, we are so fearful of it.  Why it is so fragrant and yet, so repulsive.

It’s too easy to be angry at others.  At some point, we need to examine ourselves.  And if we’re honest and real…we suck too.  

What’s the good news here?  You suck. I suck.  The world sucks.  Church sucks.   Where’s the gospel in the midst of all this suckiness?

God is able to redeem beauty out of our depravity.  He is able to restore our brokenness and give us glimpses anew about our true identity.  We are created in the eikon [image] of God.  Grace is such a beautiful thing.

After couple really discouraging weeks, I enjoyed and felt hopeful reading this recent email.  [I edited couple minor things for the sake of anonymity.]

I know that you have been crazy busy with all the work that goes along with a transition of a church. I would just like to take a second to tell you a few revelations that I had from Sunday’s service (23rd).  

My wife and I have been going to Quest off and on for about a year or so. Life becomes so busy and both of us have not taken the steps to really get involved at Quest. The truth is that I have been burned by the church in the past and I didn’t want to let my guard down and really believe that I could get involved in a church again. I was waiting for this perfect church with perfect views and perfect people. People that fit my own views on Politics and God. I wanted to get so far away from the [removed] church that I had experienced growing up and all the flaws that I saw in that place. I have been telling myself for two years now that I don’t want to be ‘angry’ with the church, but it is so hard when I see the “American style” of church.

You see I worked for a Christian record company [removed name] last summer and I traveled from Christian Festival to Christian Festival and it made me sick some of the things that I saw. I wanted to get closer to God but it just turned into more things that I found with the church. Every time my wife and I watch CNN we come across some mega church pastor talking about how if we pray for that promotion or new car that God will grant our prayer request like some sort of genie in a bottle.  You see none of this is really the point. I wanted you to know that I don’t want to be angry any more and I want to thank you (or really God speaking though you) for letting me know that the church is flawed because people are flawed. I had heard this point before but it never really stuck in my head until yesterday.

I think I was waiting for Quest to do something for me and for it to bless my marriage, and me but the truth is I never took the steps to fully get involved. I love when you said about the new church renovation, “welcome to your home, walk around and get familiar with it”. This almost brought me to tears because of the fact that until that instant I had really missed the point of what church can be. Yeah organized religion is flawed because people are flawed and broken, but I never really let my guard down to realize that I (who was so mad at the church) am also flawed. I have issues just like everyone else and that’s what really stuck “just like everyone else”. As Christians we try to put on this perfect persona, perfect job, perfect friends, perfect morality, perfect marriages, and that is not the point. The point is that God loves us so much even in our brokenness, Christians or not. For the first time I want to spend some time at my home. I want to volunteer and get involved with other people in my family. I want to help serve and not be served. It will not be perfect and I love that!!

Thanks for listening and God bless.

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church, religion

8 Responses

  1. Dennis says:

    Eugene,

    Well said. Thank God for grace!

  2. Randall says:

    …it’s like in that W.H. Auden poem, “As I Walked Out One Evening” which says near the end, “You shall love your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart.”

    The physical renovation is over, let the physical/spiritual renovation continue.

  3. jadanzzy says:

    eugene,

    i’m an atlantan here. thank you. well, thank God for you. i just left my church of 3 years for various reasons, but i’m thankful for your rebuke.

    i hope there’s a chance i can talk to you, but know you’re busy. i’m good friends with david park btw.

    Dan

  4. Jimmy says:

    Fantastic post…thank you for sharing.

    Peace

  5. Nick H says:

    Anger and frustration has been my best friend for awhile now. I have taken a leave without pay from church for almost a year now and my sunday’s have been much happier days. I stopped going because I wanted out of the abusive relationship I put myself into as soon as I walked through the church doors. I found myself looking around and judging everyone and judging myself because I too am part of all the problems I see wrong in this world. I find myself looking for perfection in an imperfect world. Maybe church isn’t supposed to be a place where Im suposed feel comforted. Maybe its a good thing that Im so disturbed. I know I suck but I can’t seem to get move on.

    Nick

  6. e cho says:

    Nick H:
    Thanks for visiting the blog.

    You don’t suck.
    You wrestled much with the decision and the totaliity of faith and God isn’t embodied in the local church. Not everything needs to happen at Quest.

    The most important issue is that you’re involved and invested in community and so, I’m glad that you were involved and invested the last time I visited your home.

  7. […] is why I believe that Church sucks but so do you.  So, let’s move on and work towards Philippians 4:8-9… Finally, brothers and sisters, […]

  8. bekah says:

    Well, church does suck and it wont stop. Churches, like businesses, are now marketing machines. They need money not souls. Tithing is not about giving to God but building the church empire. People attend church not to grow closer to God, but to gossip and network. Sure there are good people there that want to grow closer to God and help others, but the whole thing is sick, and while I appreciate that it will never be perfect it could be a lot better than what it is.

    The only good and pure thing is kids church, beyond that get the HELL out..

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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 3 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago