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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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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