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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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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