And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak
by Jen Hatmaker on March 18th, 2013

Like most graduating high school classes, mine rewarded our parents and educators by perpetuating Senior Skip Day right before finals. I can only imagine these satisfying gestures are why secondary teachers are able to get out of bed in the morning.
 
In a slightly innocent twist, my class of clowns decided on the Wichita Zoo for our naughty excursion, so off we went in our scrunched socks and Keds, Z Cavaricci jorts, and oversized striped rugbies.
Note my cool shades on the front row that are so dated, they are now "ironic."
My seventh grade daughter has a pair. Hold me.


I begged my mom to call in a feigned illness for me, and when she refused, I tracked the soft target, because Dad would’ve assuredly provided an alibi, but he was missing in my hour of need, so I…simply skipped. The only attendance bail in my high school history, and despite the breezy, cool aura I’m clearly projecting, I spent the day with my stomach in knots. (When I received the subsequent day of in-school suspension, I cried silent, hot tears the second I entered the ISS room, and the monitor found me pitiful and let me sit in her office playing solitaire all day.)
 
For such a prim rule-follower, it was surprising when they started strangling me.
 
I grew up immersed in typical Christian subculture: heavy emphasis on morality, fairly dogmatic, linear and authoritative. Because my experience was so homogenous and my skill set included Flying Right, I found wild success in the paradigm. My interpretations were rarely challenged by diversity, suffering, or disparity. Since the bulls-eye was behaving (we called it “holiness”), I earned an A.
 
But careening into adulthood, my firm foundation endured some havoc. I noticed very few of my Third Day Acquire The Fire Disciple Now Weekend Mercy Me compatriots stuck with church after high school. Evidently, that is absolutely the trend: According to Rainer Research, approximately 70 percent of American youth drop out of church between the age of 18 and 22. The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be "disengaged" by the time they are 29.
 
80 percent. Gone.
 
A recent nationwide poll on religious identification noted that respondents citing “no religion” (The Nones) made up the only group that grew in every state, most numerous among the young: a whopping 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds claimed no religion, up from 11 percent in 1990. Worse yet: the study also found that 73 percent of Nones came from religious homes; 66 percent were described by the study as ‘de-converts.’

This gave me pause, because the mechanism was not holding. More precisely, the church I grew up in was not making disciples. The religion I knew was leaving young adults disinterested at best, hostile at worst. It failed to capture their loyalty. Dechurched adults cited grievances that gave definition to my own inner struggles:
  • Emphasis on morality and voting records to the exclusion of weightier matters like justice and transformation
  • A suspicious amalgamation of the American Dream and Armed Forces
  • A me-and-mine stance as opposed to you-and-yours
  • Persistent defensive posture, treating unchurched or dechurched people like enemies instead of future brothers and sisters in Christ
  • Narrow talking points that slice and wound and slash; principles over people
  • A boring religion of behaving instead of an adventurous life of true discipleship
  • An unreasonable opposition to science
  • Arrogance over humility, using the Bible as a bludgeon instead of a balm
But here was the Good News: upon heavy scrutiny, none of this remotely sounded like Jesus, so He wasn’t the problem, which was a relief because when having a faith crisis, you don’t want to discover your Main Character is a fraud. As far as I can tell, Jesus is still the easiest sell on earth, because if you don’t love a guy who healed lepers and pulled children onto His lap and silenced the religious elite and ate and drank with sinners, then you just don’t know Him.

Jesus remained politically neutral, unswervingly, despite the teeny tiny fact that the Savior was expected to engineer freedom through political upheaval. He never once pandered to the powerful and prominent. He was called a drunkard and a fool for the company He kept. Jesus committed His kingdom to the most unlikely: the sick, children, women, the poor, the marginalized. Everyone else? Blind, deaf, according to Jesus.

So if it wasn’t Jesus making enemies out of the adopted, it had to be the structure in which we contained Him.

This was the point my ministry took a hard left.

If you’ve been around me at all in the last six years, you’ve heard me pushing for reform, asking the church to stretch, to become the new wineskins my generation is begging for. I’m hungry for a church less known for sanctimony and more for their shocking intervention for hungry babies and human trafficking and racism and injustice. Christianity is too thrilling to reduce to middle/upper-middle class First World Problems, encapsulated in issues and gauged by a nebulous moral compass that lost its bearing decades ago.

People are starving – spiritually and physically – and this world needs some Good News, but they can’t decode what is actually good about us. Good is finding a safe place to struggle, to doubt, to ask hard questions. Good is food when you’re hungry. Good is warm, kind, genuine love extended, no strings attached. Good is clean water, medicine for your sick baby, education, family. Good is community, even before ‘belief’ binds us tight. Good is sustainable work, dignity. Good is Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways.

I constantly ask these hard questions of the Bride, of myself, of my own little family.

Because of this, I was recently uninvited to speak by a large church. They cited my struggle with the church, concerned that “these disparaging glimpses at the church certainly can be helpful to a more mature follower but cause great confusion to those who are not quite so far along in their walk with the Lord.” In fact, it is the exact opposite. It is the young believers asking the questions and finding very few safe places to do so. Sanitized Christianity in which the church is propped up and healthy criticism is labeled as “spiritual attack” is the head-in-the-sand approach turning away the next generation.

Second, and not surprisingly, a blog was cited in which my hilarious friend jokingly brought a bottle of margarita mix to a Lifeway taping, hoping to cast us as boozers in front of my very conservative publisher. (To their credit, the filmmakers just laughed and carried on because, you know, it was a joke, and my LW peeps totally get me. We are guilty of many offenses, but taking ourselves too seriously is not one of them.) This satire pushed an envelope that is still licked shut, and the uninvitation was sent.

It doesn’t matter what church it was or where, but here is what I want to tell them:

I understand. I really, really do. Not only did I appreciate your gracious tone, but I genuinely know where you are coming from. I get the things that make you uncomfortable and why, and I realize we will likely never see eye to eye, and that is okay. Unquestioningly, you love Jesus and the church, and I have no doubt you are serving your community and each other. Within your tribe in your demographic in your city in your tradition, you are exactly how and where you should be. My feelings toward you are terribly warm, seasoned with familiar memories of the church that raised and loved me.

But what makes me unsafe to you is exactly what makes me safe to others.
The skeptic, the cynic, the doubter; my arms are wide open. Their questions and disbelief don’t scare me; I am unthreatened. The loosey-goosey, tambourine shaking, barefoot liberal who loves Jesus and the earth and votes straight-ticket Democrat? I love her. The young adult generation who is leaving the church but running to Jesus in unfamiliar, new ways – I gather them to me like a Mama because they are going to change the world.

I am not put off by creed or denomination or sexual orientation or terrifying doubt or outright anger or nationality or socioeconomic status or issues or weirdness or politics. I’m not going to make a deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation. I just can’t muster the energy. (And since Jesus’ first miracle was turning 150 gallons of water into wine at a wedding in Cana, I’m pretty sure He hedges left here.)

With nearly 8 million people leaving the American church a year, we need some renegades closer to the margins, building bridges, creating safe spaces to question, wrestle, rethink. Plenty of churches exist to serve the 20 percent already connected. For them, I am grateful. Enough shepherds are on the ground for those sheep. They have a deep well of leadership, and my absence will not even be felt. They are brothers and sisters, and I’ll see them on the other side.

As for me, I’m throwing my lot in with the other 80 percent, the ones with their arms crossed, their hearts broken, their worth unrealized. The ones who shake their fists and shake their heads, but still crave hope and redemption, because we all do. Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. If you don’t believe me, start in Matthew and read until the end of John. Jesus is a hero, a brother, a Savior in every since of the word. He is everything good and gracious. His love for us is embarrassing, boundless, without standards at all.

Along the way, if I make some of my brothers and sisters uncomfortable and we must part, I hope we can throw our arms around each other and promise to write. I trust you will do your part over there, and I’ll do mine out here where life is sticky and faith is less a blueprint and more a compass, gently leading all us ragamuffins north. I’m willing to wrap us all in grace, because one day we’ll both discover we got some parts right and other parts wrong. Jesus’ mercy is going to be enough for us all.

So if anyone wants to venture out to the margins, past familiar boundaries, through sanctioned Christian staples, beyond guilt-by-association fears, outside traditional approval – I’ll be here with my people, with Jesus, making others crazy and getting uninvited from things…

…unless it is a wedding in Cana and the wine has run out.



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494 Comments

Sarah Bessey - March 18th, 2013 at 1:52 PM
I love you. I'm with you, you know this. We're all out here, the misfits and dreamers. You're my people.
Whitney - March 18th, 2013 at 2:29 PM
Amen and amen! Thank you for calling us to the edges. You inspire me with each post to be a bridge builder (and remind me that I am not alone!!).
Dan King - March 18th, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Ditto what Sarah said... just. amen.
Jennie Allen - March 18th, 2013 at 6:02 PM
Yes Sarah. Heart racing- running right beside you Jen. Can not wait to see what will become of our angsty tribe.
Michele - March 18th, 2013 at 8:39 PM
Ditto - I have found my tribe, if only in Social media.
Kate - March 19th, 2013 at 2:17 PM
Plus me too.
Susan - March 20th, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Yep, my church is the 20% (b/c that's all I can find), but my true tribe is in the Bloggosphere.
Debbie - March 20th, 2013 at 9:08 PM
Me too.
Glennon - March 18th, 2013 at 8:44 PM
Plus One

Love, G
Julie - March 20th, 2013 at 4:11 AM
Plus One More!
Kristen D - March 22nd, 2013 at 9:51 PM
First, Glennon is that you from momastry?!

Second I am with you! You are not alone. Absolutely adore you and your willingness to say what you think - not shun anyone and make everyone feel welcome. Often times I feel like I am at home with you - curdled up with a blanket and letting out a *sigh* of relief knowing I am safe. You are truly a living example of Jesus to me. Love you lady!!
Nicole - March 20th, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Wow finally someone who has so eloquently spoken what I have been feeling for the last 5 years. I simply called it "playing church". Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Arlene - April 2nd, 2013 at 6:38 PM
Yes, indeed. Thanks for articulating what my heart longs to say. Thanks for putting into words why I KNOW my son has decided "religion" is not for him. My prayer is that he will be brought back to Jesus, not religion.
Tsh Oxenreider - April 17th, 2013 at 4:27 PM
Add me here, too, friends.
Gwen Wacasey - March 18th, 2013 at 1:55 PM
Great article. LOVED it! Thank you for speaking out like you do. It is SO refreshing.
kelli woodford - March 18th, 2013 at 1:56 PM
oh, yes. you had me with a whoop and a happy dance here:
"Sanitized Christianity in which the church is propped up and healthy criticism is labeled as %u201Cspiritual attack%u201D is the head-in-the-sand approach turning away the next generation."
love love love!
taylor - March 18th, 2013 at 9:08 PM
that was my LOVE LOVE TOO! that is soo hard !!!!

Jessica W - March 18th, 2013 at 1:57 PM
Jen, I am so thankful you are willing to be a leader in this often uncomfortable space. Both over churched and under churched people are looking for a safe place. Let's not stop the flow of grace until we find it. Appreciate you!
Robin O'Bryant - March 18th, 2013 at 1:57 PM
With every post, every sentence of yours that I read I am encouraged that there is a TRIBE of people in the church who is NOT content to let go of believers for challenging tradition. I am with you, I am beside you. I wanna be a renegade for Jesus.
Jessi - March 18th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
If anyone could have captured so much of what my heart has been saying, you have done so in a nutshell. Press on, sister...uninvitations and all...knowing you are not alone!
Bet - March 18th, 2013 at 5:37 PM
Amen....I am with you too!!
Kim - March 18th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Jen, I want to send this to my 16yo son to let him know that while I can't break out of being that church that uninvited you yet, I want him to know the path you describe, that seems like it could be him, is THERE -- he doesn't need to walk away from Jesus because he doesn't want to walk my path. Thanks...
Rose - March 18th, 2013 at 9:53 PM
This is so amazing. I pray it blesses your relationship with your son and his relationship with Christ.
Tracy - March 18th, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Kim - your post and your actions are courageous. Praying for your family. The best thing we can do as parents is leave a spiritual legacy in our children greater than our own.
You are getting it right!!
In Him - Tracy
Cynthia - March 20th, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Yes, love this spirit Kim! Give it away to your son. He will welcome your maturity in Christ for sure! blessings!
Megan - March 18th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
"I%u2019m hungry for a church less known for sanctimony and more for their shocking intervention for hungry babies and human trafficking and racism and injustice."

This is my heart song. I live smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt, and it's very lonely to espouse the above. Thank you for blogging these words and helping me carry on.
Alli Wylly - March 18th, 2013 at 11:35 PM
My husband is a student pastor & we just moved out of the "Bible Belt" to Missouri [partly] because we wanted to be in a place where "church" wasn't so cookie-cutter and rigid. Hang in there, there are others around you who are with you, and when you find them and join together, what a difference you'll make :)
Me - March 25th, 2013 at 7:04 PM
Ah, the preconceptions..... From my upbringing - New York, Colorado, Illinois, and Kansas - Missouri is the Bible belt!

Now I'm wondering what the true Bible belt looks like!
ed cyzewski - March 18th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Thanks Jen for keeping your arms open to the 80% without shutting out the 20%. I appreciate your grace while sticking with the message on your heart.
Erin d. - March 19th, 2013 at 6:57 AM
Yes, I echo this!!!
Martie Byrd - March 18th, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Yes! Yes! Keep banging that beautiful drum of yours! We feel the vibrations!
Kristi - March 18th, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Love. Love. Love.

This is PRECISELY where I'm at in my faith right now, and so thankful to have company here. I've been writing about this exact thing, and coming to terms with my newfound faith in Jesus (despite growing up in the church as a Pastor's Kid and now a Pastor's Wife). This faith is more liberating, more loving, more enjoyable, more liveable than any faith I ever had before.

Kristi at My Cup Runs Over
Tricia - March 18th, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Yes!! Bring on the uninvited.
Lisa Bartelt - March 18th, 2013 at 2:00 PM
You're speaking so much of what I'm feeling right now. The part about the glass of wine when people are starving ... yes. I'm so tired of the church majoring in stuff Jesus didn't even teach about. I'm ready for an adventurous, even risky, faith. And I'm not finding a lot of understanding about that in my current denomination. But there's hope.
Holly Bristol - March 18th, 2013 at 2:01 PM
Thank you.
This is what my heart has been saying and saying and saying.
Count me in.
Time to disciple...
Ferne - March 18th, 2013 at 2:02 PM
Man, I love this "ish." Great stuff!
Jen Bentch - March 18th, 2013 at 2:02 PM
It's like you are inside my head! I have been struggling so much with the Church and wondering what the heck I going on. Our focus seems so off. God has really convicted me here. Thank you for your transparency and being so willing to talk about it and ask the tough stuff.
Heather Disarro - March 18th, 2013 at 2:03 PM
"Jesus%u2019 mercy is going to be enough for us all."
Michelle - March 18th, 2013 at 2:03 PM
I'm so thankful for your bravery in going outside of what's "allowed" in the more dogmatic, traditional churches and giving those of us who struggle with all the things you wrote about a safe place to process our questions.
Because of your writing and your loving acceptance I came back from NONE status and brought my husband and children with me. We had left the type of church you describe (the dogmatic, rule bound, defensive church) after a lifetime of being VERY actively involved in it. We had so much angst about how it felt like it didn't line up with the Jesus we read about it the gospels. Through your writing I was able to connect with others who had the same feelings and had a safe place to process.
Our family is now firmly involved in an inner city church serving a majority homeless church population and neighborhood. Christianity is the thrilling, dangerous and amazingly blessed life that I always thought it should be. We are so relieved.
Cara Coleman - March 18th, 2013 at 2:03 PM
Preach it sister. I think we are seeing a generation that wants to "trim the fat" and get down to the real meat. It's difficult to be Jesus to a world that is suffering when we are being fed less and less of the Word. Thankful for my church home that preaches truth. Thankful for your heart and that you sometimes get uninvited. Keep being the light.
Bronwyn - March 18th, 2013 at 2:04 PM
One of the most honest, humble, gracious pieces of writing I've ever read. Thank you. I'm writing from New Zealand where some of the issues are different (politics, military - not a divisive issue for Christians) but most are the same (80% - probably).

"As far as I can tell, Jesus is still the easiest sell on earth, because if you don%u2019t love a guy who healed lepers and pulled children onto His lap and silenced the religious elite and ate and drank with sinners, then you just don%u2019t know Him." YES!!! Jesus and Western Christianity are not necessarily the same......I want to get back to Jesus. Thank you, Jen.....I love your heart as expressed through your writing.......keep it up!
June - March 18th, 2013 at 2:04 PM
You've done it again, Jen. Yet another of your blogs that leaves me thinking, "Yes! YES! That's what I was thinking, but didn't have the right words to say!" Excellent!
Donna - March 18th, 2013 at 2:04 PM
Trying to find my passion after 33 years of teaching....you always encourage me to continue to stretch and look and grow.
jamie ivey - March 18th, 2013 at 2:05 PM
love this. i also emailed the church and told them that one time I saw you on a motorcycle. Then I think I saw you drink a glass of wine. It was tough though, it could have been juice. I'm not sure.

seriously thanks for your words and encouragement.
Alexis Wesley - March 18th, 2013 at 2:05 PM
Yes.
Kim Van Brunt - March 18th, 2013 at 2:06 PM
Full of grace and truth. Thank you for this.
Susie Davis - March 18th, 2013 at 2:06 PM
Whew. For a minute, I thought we were gonna have to cancel our happy hour party next month.
Favorite line: "Good is Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways."
Love you, friend.

Melissa from the Blue House - March 18th, 2013 at 2:07 PM
I loved this.... Sadly I think the world sees us all as Mrs. Needlenoses ...(http://www.thebluehouseblog.com/2010/07/righteous-and-upstanding-and-strictly.html)

... and there's no convincing Mrs. Needlenose that SHE'S the problem...
Kelly - March 18th, 2013 at 2:08 PM
I agree so much with what you have to say. Can't say I always love your posture but I believe that there is a great deal of truth is coming from you. God is so kind.. even to people who give 'take backsies' on speaking engagements. Don't sweat it - you'll speak where you're meant to.
Christy - March 18th, 2013 at 2:08 PM
As my mom so wisely said in those last few years of her life, "It's just a bunch of sinners trying to run a church!!" Grace, grace and more grace!! You, Jen, are a breath of fresh air!!!!
Hope - March 18th, 2013 at 2:08 PM
I think you would really like Soulation. I love their resources at www.soulation.org and especially the Ruby Slippers blog.
melissa - March 18th, 2013 at 2:10 PM
i am a loosey-goosey, tambourine shaking, straight ticket democrat voting, barefoot, dready mama, hippie, earth loving liberal. BUT, I LOVE JESUS. i want to know him more. i want women to long to know him more because the empowerment and worth they are so desperately seeking is found in HIM! i want jesus to use my open mind to show him to the least of these, to those who have deemed jesus and the church irrelevant.
Katie - March 18th, 2013 at 7:34 PM
Me too Melissa! Jesus loves the cloth diaper. :)
melissa - March 19th, 2013 at 2:34 PM
yes, yes he does!
Steve - March 18th, 2013 at 10:15 PM
So the purpose of Jesus is empowerment and worth? Those might be byproducts. Is salvation in there? Jesus the life affirming buddy?
Susie - March 19th, 2013 at 1:29 AM
I have to say if you love Jesus and your voting straight ticket democrat you might be voting for pro-choice, those 2 do not go hand in hand.
Marny - March 19th, 2013 at 7:40 AM
As opposed to voting for war, the death penalty, and economic policies that privilege the privilged over the least of these?

I think equating the love of Jesus to voting the "right way" (meaning your way) on any single issue is EXACTLY the problem that Jen was describing.
Kate - March 19th, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Amen.
Susie - March 19th, 2013 at 3:42 PM
Scary, scary stuff.... Jesus would never be in support of killing babies, no matter which political side your on. The priviledged, who have worked hard to get there should not have to pay for "the least of these" when they are just lazy. That is called socialism, if you want that you could go to Canada. We shouldn't outlaw abortion because women are going to do it anyways is like saying we shouldn't outlaw drunk driving because people are going to do it anyway. And I do think our love and money and energy should go to hurting women considering abortions but you have to take a stand somewhere without being hateful and mean. The Bible is not just a bunch of loosey-goosey do whatever feels good to you because it's your own body theology. Jesus does love a gay person just as much as anybody else, but they are still a sinner, just like anybody else and the same grace and the same rules apply. To lovingly tell a gay friend what the Bible says about it should not be considered hate. It's actually loving to share the gospel, which is all about love and grace to save someone from an eternity in hell. To say these issues are just political and we shouldn't take sides is to say that we shouldn't support what the Bible says.
Truth - March 19th, 2013 at 4:02 PM
The "least of these" aren't lazy. You however, are a greedy bitch.
Susie - March 19th, 2013 at 4:22 PM
I am guessing that is not the direction Jen intended for these comments to go... I'm not sure why I am a greedy b@#*h, because there are people who are lazy looking for handouts and there are those who are down and out and need help because there health has failed or they were laid off. To think that if you work hard you are not entitled to have some $ is backwards thinking. I'm sorry you feel this way but I don't think socialism is going to save our country, it hasn't worked other places.
Jonathan - March 20th, 2013 at 7:15 AM
"Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!" -Ron Burgundy
April - March 21st, 2013 at 2:14 AM
Jonathan, thank you!!!!! I'm laughing so hard my face is red. Jesus is my saving grace and will Ferrell my laughter in this life. Seriously, love the Ron burgundy quote. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
karen - March 21st, 2013 at 7:33 AM
hahaha... well played, sir.
Lorin - March 21st, 2013 at 11:09 AM
I think the word "entitled" is the key here. Since when did Jesus coming to earth, living and dying to give you a new life make you "entitled" to anything! If you love Jesus, trust Jesus, and follow Jesus everything you have you're given to be a blessing to those around you even if it makes you uncomfortable. If the church took care of people and showed them the grace that Jesus showed us we wouldn't have to rely on the government programs to take care of them. If we adopted children the way some of the early churches did we wouldn't have to worry about abortion because women would know their child would be taken care of. The church and government are seperate for a reason and if WE would step up and take care of the issues in the world our government wouldn't have to.
S - March 20th, 2013 at 7:37 AM
Truth 1 - March 20th, 2013 at 9:28 AM
Liz - March 20th, 2013 at 4:45 PM
I think you would do well to read more of Jen's writings, particularly her last 2 books, or at least her blog posts 'In the Basement' and 'The Basement Manifesto" before judging her stance on these issues. It's pretty clear she is absolutely Bible / Gospel centered. Myself, I am always in a bit of a quandary when I hear someone say that Jesus (God) would never be in support of killing babies, when apparently God commanded the killing of everybody, including the babies and the livestock in the taking of the promised land. I realize that's different, but still, a lot of babies were outright murdered at God's command it would seem....Interestingly, there is a consistent and clear command all the way through both the old and new Testaments to help the least of these, the widow, the leper, the fatherless, regardless of whether we judge them deserving. There is no way to effectively legislate morality, and BOTH parties, being run by sinners, since that's what we all are, are RIFE with practices that run counter to what Jesus taught and commanded us to do, and if you read more of Jen's writing, which again, I really encourage you to do, then you will at least understand her point of view on this, even if you still disagree with her priorities in leading others to discipleship.
Susie - March 21st, 2013 at 12:19 AM
I'm not sure what your stance on abortion is but it sounds like your trying to rationalize it and abortion is not because of God's command like it was in the case you were mentioning. I think the least of these should be helped, if they truly are the least of these, meaning I don't want to give money for an alcoholic to go buy beer, but if there was a practical way to help him, yes Jesus calls us to that. I think that Jen is speaking out of hurt and maybe leading some people down a wrong path, which is dangerous. There is grace and truth in the bible, and it's dangerous to throw away truth and think that anything conservative or mainline is bad, legalistic and hurtful. There are those churches out there I'm sure because all churches are full of sinners. But to blame all the churches on young people leaving is not fair, it could be in the hearts of these young people who don't want to commit to something or be told that the bible does have black and white, it's not all gray.
Avery - March 21st, 2013 at 11:11 AM
Hi Susie, first of all I have to say that I admire your conviction, it is obvious that you really want to chase after what God wants. I know I am the same way but unfortunately I don't always take the right path getting there. :) I didn't see Jen in the article say that she condones or agrees with the things you are referencing, she just said she loves people regardless. We are called specifically and repeatedly to do that in the bible, regardless if they are kind to us, regardless if we agree with them, regardless if they are sinning, regardless if they appreciate it or are behaving as we think they should or living their life like we think they should. The best way to impact someone is love them and then once we have really loved them, truth can come and they will know it is coming from love. That is what we are called to do above all else is love. If we try to speak truth without first giving grace and love it will be ineffective and fall on deaf ears. If you feel strongly about something, like abortion, then ask yourself "how can I love on someone who may have an abortion?" and then go do that... If we are speaking truth yet not being Jesus with skin on to the world then we are in real danger of being a Pharisee and after reading Matthew 23 I know that is the LAST thing I want to be. We need to be the hands and feet, not just the mouth. And I think "Truth's" comment to you was an example of trying to give what they thought was "truth" without focusing instead of giving Love. "Truth" is called to love you even if they don't agree with you, I've been guilty many times of that and it's tough business but it's our calling. We all fall and have to get back up but remember we are sisters and brothers in Christ. We we are in this together. I love you all :)
Susie - March 22nd, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Thanks Avery! I have a real sense of heaviness and feel outnumbered here. I am not entitled to anything, but the bible does say that the Lord blesses hard work, not laziness. I am shocked that I could be called a bitch on a so-called Christian blog. Jen is very clear on her political views "the suspicious amalgamation of the American dream and armed forces", what does that have to do with the church? And morality is boring? Are we to be praised for dancing as close to the edge of what may appear to be sinful in a weaker brothers eyes just so we don't appear boring? She says she is all about love and grace but I do not sense that any difference of opinion is welcome here, I feel more animosity than anything.
Jill - March 24th, 2013 at 7:27 PM
Well, Suzie, I kind of think you missed the point. You keep on sticking to the letter of law and thumping your bible and spouting hate and see how that works out. This post was about love. FYI, I am a Canadian and it is not a socialist country but a very nice place to live none the less. Maybe you need a lesson in compassion and political science.
Susie - March 24th, 2013 at 11:51 PM
You caught me on one point, Canada is not considered socialist but does have some socialist aspects for needed services.... As for the hate, I'm not sure. I thought this was a Christian blog and therefore ok to use the Bible as a reference.
JB Farrell - March 19th, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Even if we change the law Abortion will still go on (illegally). Perhaps if we spent our money and energy on loving those at risk of having abortions, rather than political discussions. We could change a generation one life at a time?
melissa - March 19th, 2013 at 1:26 PM
shockingly, i love jesus and i am socially pro choice. for me personally, i would not choose to have an abortion. there are millions of people in our world who do not follow the teachings of jesus as their moral compass. for those, we must respect their choices and beliefs and PRAY that jesus will call them to him. as christ followers, we MUST respect the beliefs of others even if they are different than our beliefs. respect opens all kinds of doors.
Sarah - March 19th, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Why wouldn't you have an abortion, Melissa?


Lucy - March 19th, 2013 at 1:36 PM
I'm so with you on loving those that are at risk of having an abortion. There is some major contradiction when you essentially said changing the law isn't worth it because it will never be stopped, but yet, we can do it "one life at a time".
ShelbySam - May 17th, 2013 at 1:32 PM
Just a thought here: when I think of what I know about God, our Creator, I can't help but remember that He gave us all free will so that we would have a choice in loving Him, having a relationship with Him, obeying Him. He didn't make us robots that were only allowed to love, honor, and obey Him without any thoughts, feelings, decisions on our parts. If our Creator gave us free choice, what makes us think that pro-choice doesn't go hand-in-hand with loving Jesus? Whether or not you agree with abortion, shouldn't take away from the fact that God has given all of us free will.

Also, you mentioned further down the line that you don't want to give an alcoholic money to go and buy beer with. Have you ever wondered what God thinks about how all of us spend the money He has blessed us with? Do you think He agrees with all of our choices? If you believe it's all His anyways...what right do you have to feel as if someone 'deserves' it or not?
Rachel - March 18th, 2013 at 2:10 PM
Jen, I am inspired and grateful for your words ... when you are in Virginia the next time I'd love to share a coffee with you and some other ragamuffins who are out there with you. And when you need a worshipper to get univited with you, just call me :)
Anna - March 18th, 2013 at 2:28 PM
I'm in Virginia, too! Can I come to the coffee party with you, Rachel? Jen, even though you write as though we are the same person, we're clearly not because I have this strong desire to be you when I grow up. Everything you write, my heart cries, "YES!" Please keep writing.
Rachel - March 18th, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Anna? My sweet dear friend Anna Miller?
Courtney Laib - March 18th, 2013 at 2:10 PM
So very well written Jen. I always love your insight and the idea you've talked about before that people need to feel like they BELONG before they attempt to BELIEVE and BEHAVE will stick with me forever. Thanks for pushing the envelope even when it leads to criticism and lost opportunity. You're doing the right thing. But I know you already know that... or you wouldn't be doing it right? :) Love you.
Kelly Burton - March 18th, 2013 at 2:11 PM
I haven't had time to write my own heart lately. Thanks for doing it for me....
Amanda B. - March 18th, 2013 at 2:12 PM
Amen. Writers/speakers like you refresh my faith, my hope. May God give you strength and stamina, and may his church learn more every day how to stretch and be truly representative of his kingdom.
Diane - March 18th, 2013 at 2:13 PM
I sure hope it wasn't the Devoted Hearts Conf. in late April that cancelled you...or I'm boycotting! LOL
Liz - March 18th, 2013 at 2:14 PM
Thank you for this. Needed it today.
Kelcie - March 18th, 2013 at 2:14 PM
I get it. While I disagree with you at some levels, I get your heart, and that's what matters. This post clarified to me where you come from, and I have the upmost respect for you. While you may be a little more "to the left" than me, I believe that our purpose is one in the same. I love that we're allowed that diversity in Him.
Michele - March 18th, 2013 at 3:45 PM
I second what Kelcie said as I agree 100%
KS - March 18th, 2013 at 2:15 PM
Thank you for continuing to challenge me...a gal who grew up smack dab in the buckle of the Southern Baptist world (my dad worked at LifeWay for 20ish years - I still have to stop and remind myself it's LifeWay now and not Baptist Sunday School Board!) who God led to a church that challenges traditions for traditions sake and is now focused on all races united in Christ. We are breaking down barriers in our little corner of Texas with God's help. I've got a long way to go to be transformed into Jesus' way of doing life, but I'm so far from where I used to be. PRAISE HIM FOR THAT!!!
Kristen - March 18th, 2013 at 2:15 PM
I spoke at a women's conference this past weekend and mentioned that while drinking a margarita with another Christian couple, God provided a miracle (by way of a large unexpected check we needed for Mercy House Kenya). I cried into my adult beverage and gave thanks.

We serve a God who has not called us to be safe. And our world certainly doesn't need anymore legalism.

You. Go. Girl.
Leigh Ann - March 18th, 2013 at 3:29 PM
Love Mercy House and what you're doing, Kristen!!!!
Stacy - March 18th, 2013 at 2:16 PM
Love it, Jen. So true about the younger generation. Let them ask hard questions, because I think their faith is gonna blow us all away!
Mary W. - March 18th, 2013 at 2:16 PM
I am an atheist and I love this and I love you for your integrity and lack of hypocrisy. You seem to be attempting to live your life as Jesus lived, not merely worship him. I truly wish you all the best.
Christy - March 23rd, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Seems safe to say here that living the life Jesus lived IS worship of Him. That is the highest form of praise and honor and giving worth to a life that was I given for us.
Camille - March 18th, 2013 at 2:20 PM
I LOVE this! It took quite a while for me to read the entire thing because I had tears in my eyes. This is my heart beat, my tribe...thank you Jen! Thank you for being the voice of so many--what a blessing!
HC - March 18th, 2013 at 2:21 PM
Thank you for writing this Jen. I couldn't agree more. He is always making things new, and is obviously using you!
Lindsey - March 18th, 2013 at 2:21 PM
I love this.
Michelle Wagoner - March 18th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
Thanks for making me feel worthy..as we all are of the love of Jesus Christ. I was once dismissed as the Leader of a Mops group for not telling a fellow member she would go to hell for thinking a certain way! It was a very hard time for me and I still believe I am not to judge...only God! The "rules" some put on being a Christian truly push others away from Jesus...keep sharing your heart!
Tasha - March 18th, 2013 at 2:24 PM
You've got my heart racing this afternoon! I needed this push to love past boundaries and stand firm but graciously in the place God has called me. When we embrace the "dirty" we are often approached with closed arms from the rest of the Church but what beauty when we can "throw our arms around them and promise to write." Your grace and openness is challenging and heart warming every time.
Renee Pierce - March 18th, 2013 at 2:25 PM
I just want to hug you! You really get it! Where God has been leading my heart over the past year and a half. You are a few steps ahead of me but I know this is where Jesus is leading me. I wrote a short thing in my journal/blog this morning and then read this. I really need to meet you some day, you have some things to teach me. Thank you sister.
Duane Scott - March 18th, 2013 at 2:27 PM
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. More people need to be in this place, rescuing, loving, helping.

It's messy and awful and terribly exciting all at the same time and reading this puts my stomach in knots but you've inspired me to push the envelope and ask these hard questions more.

And now, after reading this, I have to find some chips and salsa and think about it all.
Anna - March 18th, 2013 at 2:27 PM
I love your heart for the margins :) Couldn't agree more. The American church has closed it's doors to so many when I believe Jesus would do as you have - open His arms and welcome them with love.
Juanita - March 18th, 2013 at 2:27 PM
Hey Jen Hatmaker! Have I ever told you I love you? And you know....you're changing the world. You really are. Aslan is on the move.....
Deidra - March 18th, 2013 at 2:28 PM
I love it when you write, Jen Hatmaker. And when you speak. And when you throw your arms open wide the way you do. Thank you.
Lindsey - March 18th, 2013 at 2:28 PM
Exactly :)
mbs - March 18th, 2013 at 2:28 PM
Mary W.
Living your life as Jesus lived it = worship. (It is a common misconception inside and outside the church that worship is only what happens in the building on Sunday)

Jen, keep preachin' it.
Heather - March 18th, 2013 at 2:31 PM
I just want to give you a big hug. Thank you.
Stacy - March 18th, 2013 at 2:32 PM
There is a whole people group with whom your message resonates...the time of the cocooned life of a christian is over! There is a reason God's loves cracked vessels...He wants our love and resources spilled out on those around us and yes God's love is big enough, wide enough and deep enough for those who color outside the lines:)
Jessica - March 18th, 2013 at 2:33 PM
Great post! It is just tiring to have the fights over morality issues (like a joke about a margarita) when people are starving and separated from the God who loves them. Glad Jesus has given you some tough skin to keep going in love and humility!
Jen - March 18th, 2013 at 2:33 PM
Love, love, love this! I was one of the ones that came back to the church after being away almost 18 years. So glad to have found you. You help inspire me to keep believing the church can truly serve the way Jesus wanted. Thank you.
Kate - March 18th, 2013 at 2:37 PM
Sixty years old, a product of that uptight church and I LOVE EVERYTHING YOU SAID!!!! We must open our arms and hearts to all............!!
Susan - March 19th, 2013 at 1:36 PM
Me, too! Being the product of such a church took me far, far from God for many years. The man I married over 16 years ago led me back, and we are leading a home Bible study in the buckle of the Bible Belt! It is encouraging to read your reflection of our hearts! Let's keep The Main Thing as The Main Thing. I read somewhere, it is up to God to judge and up to the Holy Spirit to convict. It is our job to love one another as Jesus loves us.
karen - March 18th, 2013 at 2:37 PM
thank you, thank you for every word of this. on behalf of all those who have been uninvited in one way or another, you have so clearly reflected our hearts. A friend of mine asked me once what it was that "so enlightened" me to take a detour away from the hard right politically... I was somewhat speechless, as I just think I'm trying to know Jesus more, and this is the way He's asking me to follow. I want to print this and keep it in my pocket when I'm tempted to forget. (next time, I may just point her to your blog)
Robin Lee - March 18th, 2013 at 2:38 PM
I don't fit in. Over the last year I finally figured out I don't want to fit in. I want only to be obedient.
Elizabeth@Warrior Wives - March 18th, 2013 at 2:39 PM
"As for me, I%u2019m throwing my lot in with the other 80 percent, the ones with their arms crossed, their hearts broken, their worth unrealized. The ones who shake their fists and shake their heads, but still crave hope and redemption, because we all do. Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. " As someone who is working on helping that 20% of people who are not outside the church, I'm taking this thought away with me. Right now, as a biblical counselor in training, I see those crossed arms and broken hearts all over the place. I see people who still go to church who somehow don't believe that they have hope and redemption. Those wives who had one night stands and don't believe their marriage has hope. That husband who lashes out verbally at his wife and destroys her and doesn't believe he can ever change. That teenager who veils her pain of being sexually abused under an eating disorder and believes her identity is dirt. Our churches are filled with those people and I believe that it is absolutely handicapping them from stepping outside their church walls to minister to that 80%. I want them to know that Jesus can handle all that stuff too. Thanks for the inspiration to be ministering to broken, messy people no matter where they are.
Liz - March 18th, 2013 at 2:42 PM
Thank. You. For. This. Thank you for the courage to say this, and for sticking your neck out for the "others". No one is really saying what you are saying. They blame the losses in the church on TV, the internet, anything but on themselves. The church lost me at around age 10 when I started seeing the ugliness and hate and hypocrisy. I don't see myself ever going back. But I nearly wept while reading this, just to know that there is a single Christian on this Earth who can acknowledge these failings of the church and its followers, I feel peace in my heart.

I remember once asking my father, "Dad, how do you think Jesus would vote? I don't think he would vote Republican. I think he would help the poor, the sick, the old, and children." He turned ashen. He had no answer for me.
Jennifer - March 18th, 2013 at 2:42 PM
well said
Sarah Stevens - March 18th, 2013 at 2:45 PM
You took the words right out of.... my heart.

Thank you!
Jamie - March 18th, 2013 at 2:45 PM
Oh my gosh. So glad you got uninvited. It will seriously stir that church and get people talking.. this might make an even bigger impact on some of them! So proud of you and the work you do!!
Chelle - March 18th, 2013 at 2:45 PM
Jen,
Where have you been all my life? I've lived (happily, joyfully) in the margins, and am praising the Lord that it might just get a little crowded out here. This was brilliant.
THANK YOU!
grace calling - March 18th, 2013 at 2:47 PM
girlfriend, if i pastored a church, and I actually have been thinking of starting an organic church in my home, you'd be the first one I'd reach out to to speak to us!

janelle marie
Cori - March 18th, 2013 at 2:48 PM
And I'm quickly looking up a conference I am attending next month to make sure I still get to hear you speak there ...
Melinda - March 18th, 2013 at 2:48 PM
This is probably the most inspiring blog post I've read in ages!
Keith - March 18th, 2013 at 2:48 PM
Another caricature of the "church" - some of it true, much of it not. Could it be that many of the "nones" who've left the "traditional" church (I was one myself back in the day) are self-centered and seeking a "Christianity" more "hip" & more pleasing to mainstream western culture? I don't fault you for moving toward something The Lord is leading you to, but the condescending tone toward believers who aren't being so led, is hard to appreciate.
michelle - March 18th, 2013 at 4:17 PM
As a "none" who left the church it was for the exact opposite reason you suggest. I didn't leave because I was self centered. I left because the "traditional church" was cultivating self centeredness in us - OR - the current attenders of that church were demanding that the church cater to our/their every want and "need." It was about the style of worship we liked, the right kind of teaching, cool lights and awesome graphics, the right kind of book studies, and ladies retreats... and cafes and coffee stands. Bookstores. Campuses... etc.

I don't think her tone is condescending. I think she is speaking to many of us who have thrown our arms up in distress about how to be a part of the church in a way that feels authentic to the gospels and the examples we have of the way Jesus lived.
Ellen - March 18th, 2013 at 5:05 PM
I have to agree here to an extent. The Jesus that so many are fleeing from is the one who is showing us our sin and calling us toward repentance. As sinners, all people are fleeing God, we are running from him. A gospel of "morality" is no more saving than a gospel of "social justice." Jesus advocated neither. He advocated himself.
He is the way, truth and life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. The one true Gospel is Jesus death on the cross for our wretched sin, and His MERCIFUL, saving grace that was freely given to my wicked self. No other gospel saves. People are running from the church, yes, but it is just as likely that they are running from acknowledging their own sin and need for a savior, as it is that they are running from morality culture and tradition. The church is encapsulated in sin and populated by sinners. Many of them don't even know the true gospel for running in circles trying to please God with their own version of "righteousness." Whether left or right or somewhere in between, we should be concerned about the GOSPEL that saves. The social justice gospel is just another version or morality and legalism, but it just sounds better. If you want to shun morality and legalism in the church--DO IT! But do it on all sides, don't just invent another merry go round to get on! My head is spinning trying to keep up. JESUS is all that matters. HE came to call sinners, of which we are all qualifying, and he calls us to REPENTANCE and RIGHTEOUSNESS that can only be attainted through Him. Sure we can rethink some things and ask hard questions and not be the status quo, etc, etc, but not at the expense of the true Gospel of Grace!
Kam - March 18th, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Thank you, Ellen and Keith. Finally...
Tara - March 18th, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Ditto!
Stephanie - March 19th, 2013 at 4:16 AM
Thought I was the only one feeling this way!
Marian Green - March 19th, 2013 at 9:25 AM
Yes, yes. Thank you for putting this into words. We are an adoptive family and a pastoral family. God continues to rock my American world and challenge me to live in a life of love and generosity, but never at the expense of His holiness and desire for others to step into His light. I cannot understand this Jesus everyone is trying to introduce to the world as tolerant of sin and eager to make everyone comfortable. People fell at his feet, much the same way Abraham, Moses, and Ezekiel fell at Yahweh's feet--exposed before His holiness.

I long to have a heart like Jen's and the knowledge to serve. I've seen the poor and the uneducated and long to serve and give as I can--and so I do. I can always do more. But I also note that Jesus ate dinner with those who probably faced Middle-to-Upper class problems. He took time with the rich and the poor. He was with the healthy and the sick. Because, as you noted, he was here so we might know Him. And when we know Him we love Him. And when we love Him we are filled by Him. When we are filled, we overflow....

And so, I am so grateful there is a range of callings among the body of Christ. And our calling is here, to Americans--rich or poor--crossed arms or open. Because Jesus loves them. And I cannot compromise God's standards of morality, but I will live it an teach it because spiritual starvation is a devastation and a tragedy of its own.
Janie - March 19th, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Ellen, I am so thankful for you! I have a deep fear that the love of Jesus is being hijacked by a world looking to make it OK not to consider the entire Bible. Free love for everyone and no obligation on my part other than complain about the world's injusticeness thrust/shown to me.

God sent Jesus as a radical at a time when there was NO "church" only a set of behaviors and rules. This stand for/against moral self conduct has been going on even since the time of the first "church." That is why God sent Paul on his path to advise and encourage the creation of a church body.
Patty - March 20th, 2013 at 9:38 AM
You are right on!
Rachel R - March 20th, 2013 at 10:43 AM
I 100% agree with you that Jesus is definitely all that matters. It is his love and grace that causes us to move though. But, respectfully, speaking of a social justice gospel as if it replaces his saving grace is missing the point. Jesus was and is about saving, grace and justice. There can't be a gospel without justice.
Ellen - March 21st, 2013 at 1:48 PM
Neither can there be a Gospel without Truth. People aren't "moving" in the church because they do not know the Gospel. The Gospel comes FIRST, and out of that understanding and Truth flows justice, mercy, and humility. (And all other good works). I assure you I missed no point here. Feel free to go back and read the article that has NO gospel and all "justice." And lacks a great deal of humililty. If Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey can spread "justice", then that must not be the point of Jesus' earthly ministry! It was to call us to repentance--we are all but pharisees! I recognize that this is but a snapshot of Mrs Hatmaker's theology, but a call to social justice does not spur us on toward Christ--the Gospel does. Those who truly believe the Gospel need very little spurring :) The gospel will change the hearts of the people, and only then we will then begin to see a change in the church. If she really wants to see change, she will share the Gospel with her readers.
Tom LeGrand - March 19th, 2013 at 8:42 AM
Or, perhaps those "nones" are tired of the special brand of self-centered Christianity that the traditional church has all to itself, with its righteous indignation towards anyone who has a beer or might have slept with their spouse before marriage or does not have the right skin color or drive the right kind of car into the parking lot? There is plenty of western culture in the traditional church, as well as its current "nemesis", often called contemporary church.
As a pastor who is trying to help revive an older, once-dying congregation, I can say that I have witnessed what a lot of believers of all ages are longing to find. And it's not Western, self-centered culture, because they've already seen plenty of that. It's a genuine search for Christ and what Christ wants us to do. And the traditional church isn't challenging them to it.
As far as the "condescending" tone, I simply disagree. She didn't refuse to go and speak at the church, they turned her away. I believe that the tone is more kind and conciliatory than perhaps I would be.
michelle - March 19th, 2013 at 1:32 PM
Amen and thank you!
Gina - March 19th, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Keith, Thank you for making this NOT a pro-hatmaker echo chamber. Jenn, I feel your anger at growing up in such a legalistic, non-Christian environment. (no sarcasm.) I totally agree that evangelicals lost generations of youth because we would not change our music style, one of many shallow issues we clung to, and not exactly a salvation requisite. However, I did not grow up in the nasty, superficial culture you describe. I also find it regrettable that you have "open arms" for the liberal democrat, and nothing but disdain for the Christian conservatives (those evil people who vote for pro-life candidates, and pro-traditional marriage laws; things like that.) Yes, embrace the misguided with open arms, no matter their politics. However, our nation is already paying a very high price for the Church's lack of involvement in politics and government and social justice. I guess churches I was in went to the other extreme - political neutrality - hardly a mention of voting for righteous candidates and principles. Political neutrality. Really? In a nation that God gave us - yes, He actually did - as a means to spread the gospel, i.e. advance the Kingdom in the last days. The USA is not ancient Rome, or the middle east of Jesus' day; it was founded on biblical principles. No, the government will not save us or feed the poor, (although our govt will go bankrupt trying.) But the only way to have the "righteous" in authority, is to support them and vote them in. ["When the [uncompromisingly] righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh." Prov 29:2]
Jenn, you have great influence, but you seem to enjoy using it to encourage young believers away from political involvement. We are supposed to impact the culture, not abandon it. ...Just my reaction to your article. Be blessed, and go in peace.

Amy - March 21st, 2013 at 1:32 PM
Yes, yes, and yes!
The gospel is about salvation. Salvation from what? SIN. Salvation implies an active response on those who are saved, aka REPENTANCE. If there is no turning away from sin on the part of the saved, then Christ's offer of salvation is in vain. By all means, we (as the church) should embrace the lost, the confused, the homosexuals, the people who drink alcohol, and all sinners. But we (the church) should also be encouraging sinners to turn from their sin, just as we (the church) should turning from our own sin. I feel that THAT is what the "nones" are running away from. They want Jesus AND their right to themselves, but that can't be.
Marci Glass - March 18th, 2013 at 2:49 PM
Amen.
Jeanne - March 18th, 2013 at 2:51 PM
Thank you.. you are right on.. we have to get down, get dirty, have fun, stretch out, go out-- in the name of Jesus! We need to help people run to the church, not away from it! You have hit the nail on the head. Praying you through this ..keep up the good work!
Christina - March 18th, 2013 at 2:52 PM
You were intentionally not invited to my church, for the reasons you mentioned. But the wise counsel in my life (namely, the holy Spirit) told me to stay at my entrenched place of worship because like you said, "we need some renegades closer to the margins, building bridges, creating safe spaces to question, wrestle, rethink". Pray for those of us who do think differently to have the courage to step forth with a Christlike way of thinking instead of slipping back into the fog.
Donna - March 18th, 2013 at 4:36 PM
Christina, I can relate to what you are saying. I saw Jen speak in Oostburg WI last month. Life changing experience for me... and a confirmation of my heart's song. But I believe at this point, God is asking me to remain at my entrenched place too... if for nothing less than to be a thorn that questions, that asks the hard questions, and makes people think a little more about exactly who or what they are following. Praying that the fog never descends upon me again and that holy spirit continues to guide and gird my heart.
Christina - March 18th, 2013 at 9:20 PM
Yes Donna !!! Cheers to being truth speaking turns that live out the life song God put into our hearts! Love that I am not alone :)
Shannon - March 18th, 2013 at 2:53 PM
This may be the best thing you ever wrote (or, you know, that I've read). Oh my heart!!
Jeri - March 18th, 2013 at 2:57 PM
Well, I will just go ahead and delete my drafted blog post that had this tune but was far less eloquent. It has been said, and for that I thank you!!


Ashley - March 18th, 2013 at 3:02 PM
Jen! YES, yes, YeS. My husband and I work in campus ministry near Philly. Sometimes I feel like I am in the trenches feeling the same way. If any of our supporting churches down south knew the thoughts that go through my head on a regular basis I am sure the would withdraw their support and high tail it. The people and situations the Lord has put us in here in PA are unlike anything my Christian high school and Bible college prepared me for.

Thank you for this

Keep on loving CRAZY, wild and with abandon. I am with you girlfriend.
Linda B. - March 18th, 2013 at 3:04 PM
Yes, I get it. I'm understanding and agreeing with you.

What I want to know is: Where are these churches for the 80%? Where for the 20-something, unhappy with the status-quo, unhappy with church? My son is looking and looking, not finding. Anyone have advice for him, where to find a spiritual home in the Phoenix area?
lauren - March 18th, 2013 at 4:01 PM
This is where we call home. http://www.cityofgrace.com/ :)

Jan - March 18th, 2013 at 8:49 PM
Try gateway church in scottsdale.
Kate - March 18th, 2013 at 9:06 PM
Yes! Gateway Scottsdale. I attend Gateway Church in DFW that planted Gateway Scottsdale. The senior pastor, Preston Morrison, was the young adult pastor prior to moving to AZ to plant the Scottsdale campus. Amazing and anointed man of God!

http://gatewayscottsdale.tv/
Nadine - March 18th, 2013 at 3:06 PM
I'm sitting here at my desk saying "Amen", "Yes, Lord, what she said", "Bring it, Jen Hatmaker". Inspired? That would be me. Challenged to be more than just a pew filler? Sign me up. This world needs more Jesus and needs it in a fresh new way.

Yes!!

This is post has passion and I'm feeling it. (can you tell? *wink*)
Anna - March 18th, 2013 at 3:12 PM
Sick. And so tired. A gospel that's been watered down so much that the milk doesn't even nourish any more. Walking out of church the same person I was when I walked in shouldn't be happening. It's like robbing the Holy Spirit of his job. I just can't make sense of the reasoning/ rationale. Yet, God hasn't allowed us to walk away. I will continue being one of those crunchy ones I suppose. Someone has to stay that is asking the hard questions. So glad you are staying Jen.
Gary - March 18th, 2013 at 3:13 PM
Jen...This is my first read of your blog. I'm Greg's book, "Barefoot Church." I am a pastor and it's the heart that God has broken through it me. We actually took our church (The Sanctuary) out of the traditional building and began meeting, by design, downtown in a large Coffee Shop/Vegetarian Vegan Cafe. Our challenge this past Sunday was that we are do be a safe place "to come out" in the variety of ways that can be interpreted. And, instead of "Do you know where you will spend eternity if you die tonight?" as our "Good News" invitation, instead, "How and why will you live tomorrow since you will, likely, not die tonight." I'm looking forward to continue follow you and others like Sarah Bessey that I see responded. I just found and love her, too.
deb - March 18th, 2013 at 3:14 PM
Cool to be in the same tribe. :)
Hidi Byrd - March 18th, 2013 at 3:14 PM
Loved our class!! This photo cracks me up Jen!! ;)
Kim Bradley - March 18th, 2013 at 3:16 PM
Thank you.
Jessica - March 18th, 2013 at 3:19 PM
When I wrote about leaving our church last year, I was "fired" from a conservative collaborative Mommy blog. I have to admit, I'm still a bit indignant about it.
Cindy - March 18th, 2013 at 3:20 PM
I would be happy to sit in the naughty seat with you- don 't stop pushing!
Daniel Darling - March 18th, 2013 at 3:22 PM
I agree with much of this, but I'm wondering why "shocking intervention of starving babies" cannot ever include defense of the unborn. Millions of lives are never given the chance for life because we deem their birth inconvenient.
Jill - March 18th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
Yes, I wonder the same thing. That's the one main thing that I appreciate about "traditional" church setting, is there voice for the unborn. And contrary to much belief, it's not always harsh to the woman struggling. Please don't leave out the precious unborn for the sake of everything else. I completely agree with your blog post otherwise.
Jessi Morton - March 18th, 2013 at 3:23 PM
We are studying Galatians right now, and this post remind me of Peter and Paul...one going to the Jews and one to the Gentiles. They resolved to preach the same Gospel to different groups of people. I am grateful they did so, and I am grateful for you calling some to go to the 80%. Thanks for the encouragement today!!
Suzie Q - March 18th, 2013 at 3:24 PM
God bless you for speaking truth. Don't worry how the chips may fall with this... the Holy Spirit reveals truth. God continues to call us; drawing us to Himself. The church needs a paradym shift and sometimes we're called to the 'hard, unpopular stuff' in His name!
Michelle - March 18th, 2013 at 3:25 PM
Yes ma'am. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Elora Nicole Ramirez - March 18th, 2013 at 3:26 PM
This is balm. I agree with Sarah - you're my people.
Joesette - March 18th, 2013 at 3:28 PM
Absolutely!! I find that those "real" posts of mine get a lot of scrutiny from the churchy...
Teresa C - March 18th, 2013 at 3:29 PM
Beautifully said! I wholeheartedly agree with you.
Karen Graham - March 18th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
I would've been beside you at ATF but it was too progressive and I had to stick with Sandi Patti and the KJV. Thankful for grace and discovering the real Jesus on my face in my dining room at age 37. Keep pushing my sister!
terry - March 18th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
I trust you will do your part over there, and I%u2019ll do mine out here where life is sticky and faith is less a blueprint and more a compass, gently leading all us ragamuffins north....

I love this ...that is all... and we are with you in that place where life is sticky and faith is less a blueprint and more a compass leading ragamuffins North...thanks Jen for doing your part and for encouraging the rest of us to do ours.
Shelby - March 18th, 2013 at 3:31 PM
I love how you love people! And Jesus loves it too! :)
Kellie - March 18th, 2013 at 3:34 PM
I just heard someone say that when you preach grace and there are people who say you've gone too far, then you've preached it right. Well done.

Also, I'm on my church's planning committee and you are speaking here next year. WE CAN'T WAIT!!
Libby - March 18th, 2013 at 3:34 PM
Yes.
So well said. Thank you for sharing this!
I also had to laugh at your senior skip day account. The same thing happened to me and my class. We were the "rebel class of '95" haha!
Osheta Moore - March 18th, 2013 at 3:35 PM
"I am not put off by creed or denomination or sexual orientation or terrifying doubt or outright anger or nationality or socioeconomic status or issues or weirdness or politics. I%u2019m not going to make a deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation. I just can%u2019t muster the energy. (And since Jesus%u2019 first miracle was turning 150 gallons of water into wine at a wedding in Cana, I%u2019m pretty sure He hedges left here.)"

And that my friends...is the brilliance of Jesus reflected in Jen Hatmaker.

You are my peculiar peeps and you are always invited.


Pat - March 18th, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Thank you for including everyone... I am 70 years old, Conservative-leaning, and unable to connect with the 20% -- I have been a Christian intermittently active inside but mostly outside the church for many years, searching for a community of the 80% It is not necessary to be young to be searching. I have found my beliefs in The Shack and So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore, but only after I reached my retirement years!
Lyli - March 18th, 2013 at 3:39 PM
Ah, you had me at "Z Cavaricci jorts!" This is my life on paper. I lived in that church, that culture, and my friends all left.

I am so thankful that there are people who care -- I am thankful that you are lead by the Spirit and not by the status quo.

This post is going on my FB page, and I know it's going to resonate with my friends.
Jennifer - March 18th, 2013 at 3:40 PM
The only point where I disagree is the paradigm on which salvation is based. Orthodox Christians do not see salvation as a one time "ask Jesus into your heart" and then hopefully you will live the life of a disciple. Salvation is a lifelong experience, a cooperation with God's grace throughout your life. I get that you see there is more than a one time experience for sure. But I urge you, instead of new wineskins, go back to the original! The Orthodox life is one of fasting and prayer, an ongoing struggle with a denial of self, which in turns produces the kind of others centered life you feel the church should have. If anyone needs a place to start, ancientfaithradio.com has a million podcasts, a favorite being Matthew Gallatin's, who wrote "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells." As a Christian who went through a terrible split in my evangelical church, stuck around for a couple of years trying to help it get Jesus centered (guessing you've read Michael Spencer's Mere Churchianity?), doing a house church thing trying to figure church out, then by God's grace finding the Orthodox Church, I can truly say that this is where my salvation will be worked out, where, by God's grace, I will hopefully move beyond my self-centeredness and into Jesus and others-centeredness.
janie - March 18th, 2013 at 3:45 PM
I am a new reader and this is a topic worthy of discussion. I can relate to most of your comments, however, please PLEASE tell me you met with these conference people and PRAYED TOGETHER and talked it out "pull your brother to the side, face to face" style. Please tell me you didn't just email each other and that was it. I keep seeing these blogs with these manifesto statements of dissatisfaction about something that basically follow a pattern of "I'm just going to point out how RIGHT I AM about something so that all my peeps can high five and gush about how RIGHT I AM, but I am not going to hold myself to any responsiblilty of really working it out with whom I have a disagreement, because that takes too much effort and it wouldnt be blog worthy."

I am also confused as to whether you are talking opinions of government purpose or the purpose of the church? I never want to leave serving people up to a bureaucracy when it should be the church (which is the people and which I agree SOME churches don't put this at the forefront. If a church isn't pushing people out to the streets, then it isn't doing its job). What I want my government to be doing (Ceasar's) is totally different from what I want my church to be doing (God's).
Allison - March 22nd, 2013 at 11:37 AM
thank you for pointing this out - about meeting with a brother and talking it through vs the public manifestos... great point
Kirsten - March 18th, 2013 at 3:46 PM
Yes. We're here. {{hugs}} Afraid and often too silent, but with a budding resolve to live like Jesus. Courageous beyond the boundaries.
Kamille@Redeeming_Table - March 18th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
you describe my upbringing in the church so well. I loved growing up in the church, but it was Jesus--It is Jesus who I've always been drawn to--how can one not love the guy?! Thank you for this!
Jamie - March 18th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
I'm struggling with this one...I totally agree with your call for action to love the marginalized, the destitute, the outsiders who need food/clothes/house/a listening ear more than they need a church service. But I guess my experience is different from yours in that I see many churches in what you would call the 20% doing this work. The megachurch in the city near mine, the Catholic church in a city a bit farther away, the Christian nonprofit my husband works for. I'm not sure that it's helpful to draw lines in the way you seem to be doing here...surely there are plenty of mainline denominations who are steeped in tradition being "good" in the ways you described. And surely there are uberconservative megachurches doing this good too. And surely some are not, just like some emergent churches may be spending more time celebrating themselves than being Jesus to others. I'm not sure how helpful it is to categorize in this way...perhaps it'd be better to acknowledge that God can use even those churches that wouldn't invite you to speak to reach that 80%.
janie - March 18th, 2013 at 3:56 PM
I felt the same way, not sure why it seems that lines are being drawn.
Jennifer - March 18th, 2013 at 4:12 PM
I think American Christianity as a whole perpetuates this "me and Jesus" mentality where our personal "salvation" story is the main point. My guess is that Jen gets the passage about the sheep and the goats. Many will think they are saved, when they did nothing for the least of these. This is a scary thought, and I applaud Jen for taking a stand! Not only for the salvation of the haves, but for the salvation of the have nots.
michelle - March 18th, 2013 at 5:01 PM
That passage of the sheep and goats has come alive for me in the past year in a way that makes me so concerned for the church. And myself. Not necessarily in that order.
Jamie - March 18th, 2013 at 5:28 PM
I think the sheep and the goats passage is a helpful corrective here...there are sheep and goats in every brand of Christianity. What's not helpful is this "us" and "them" mentality that is described in this post, where entire denominations and churches can be dismissed as not reaching the marginalized. That's just not accurate. God sorting out sheep and goats, yes. One of us humans deciding which entire congregations are sheep and goats (or "good" Christians or not), no thanks.
Megan - March 18th, 2013 at 9:57 PM
The sheep and goats passage is an issue of salvation and not works, the transforming work that the Holy Spirit does in those who believe. To make this passage about how many acts of service you have done in order to get to heaven makes Jesus' act on the cross null. The point is that to believe in Christ is to be transformed into His image, and that will change your heart, which will lead to caring for your brothers in their need of food/clothing/shelter. It is me and Jesus. And when me and Jesus is real, it will lead to me and my neighbor.
Shirley - March 18th, 2013 at 10:25 PM
My reply is inspired by Jamie's posts. "What is not helpful is this 'us' and 'them' mentality". Previous to reading this inspiring blog, the Lord has been giving me a thirst for a more 'hands and feet' kind-of-living-out-the-gospel in my own life. AND I love my church which is doing a great job of listening to and seeking God's plan for an increasingly effective way of ministering AND worshiping. I am a bit uncomfortable with the growing 'us and them' delineation popping up in Christian media. Such labeling leads to pride (the one thing that God opposes), and division, (Paul spoke so much of in the letters to the Corinthians) destructive criticism, and emphasis on method rather than motivation. I pray that churches which seek to serve and worship in spirit and in truth would prosper greatly in this current age and those who are not... would decrease... leaving a transformation in Churches AND People that creates a compass leading us straight to JESUS.
Holly - March 18th, 2013 at 7:13 PM
I'm not sure why lines are being drawn either. I'm a foster mama attending a conservative church. I'm not sure why I need to pick a tribe of Christians to belong to. I like Jen's challenges but I'm not choosing sides- I appreciate my spiritual heritage and being surprised my so-called "safe" brethren AND I want to live life with the right priorities like Jesus did.
Bj - March 25th, 2013 at 3:53 AM
Jamie, you've obviously been blessed to have come up in Christian churches and organizations who have done this. Jen describes a commonality among many legalistic evangelical churches. Your churches got it right. Ours, unfortunately, didn't. And as you can see by the comments, many others are reading this blog who had the same experience Jen describes.

To whomever said above "I hear your anger...." I didn't sense any anger in anything Jen wrote. She's singing my song. I am 55 years old, and my faith in God has never waivered from the time I accespted Christ at the age of 6. But my faith in the church has. Jen has written the lyrics to the song of my life. I went through a period of anger until I learned that what frustrated me about the churches I had attended was what Jen so clearly defines here. Then there was no longer a reason to be anger.

There's a place for those churches: they're for those believers who call them home, God is moving there just as he is everywhere. But I want more. I don't fit in there. Not because I'm looking for a watered down version of my faith but because God has challenged me to get dirty in my faith. And the churches I was in weren't interested in engaging in that kind of ministry.

My pastor now is 27. Our church is made up of mostly 20somethings. They are hungry for the word. They long to know Christ more. Today a man stood up in our service and shared how he just finished trucking school - which our body paid for (I didn't ask him if he is "really" one of the least of these...is there a test that determines that?), and he's going to Arizona this week to pick up his truck and start his new job. When he first walked through the doors of our church two years ago, he was homeless. He told our pastor he wanted to pay the church back, and he was refused. It was a gift. Unearned. Maybe even undeserved. Hmmmm...sounds a little familiar.
Scott - March 18th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Obedience follows love. So, was your 'feeling guilty' over skipping class an act of love toward God? How does putting down one aspect of 'being good' in order to uplift another aspect of 'being good' by serving the unjust, etc...help the believer learn how to fully magnify the love of Christ? I've heard this over and over again and I'm tired of this kind of confusing/conflicting 'blah' message encouraging people to stop 'feeling convicted' and point fingers at 'high' church, what people are calling 'pious'. The problem is self-esteem related church. We simply have church participants. That's my interpretation...
Kelly @ Love Well - March 18th, 2013 at 3:51 PM
So well said. You drip with grace, Jen Hatmaker, which is true of all people intimately acquainted with Jesus.

Have you read the little book "The Post-Church Christian" by Paul Nyquist (current president of Moody) and his son, Carson Nyquist? You would resonate with Carson's explanation of why the millennials. You are younger than you know, perhaps. (Said a fellow scrunchie-wearing, rubgy-stripe-sporting child of the 80s who is also former Pharisee)
Christy McFerren - March 18th, 2013 at 3:51 PM
So very liberating, as I seek to find my voice around these same fringes of the faith. Thank you!
Chris - March 18th, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Yes! Yes! YES!!!! Thank you Jen for putting into words every struggle I have battling in my soul. For my son, just 15, who has begun to break away from church, I pray when he reads this, he will see and know there ARE people out there who simply adore Jesus and His broken children. LOVE you!
Amy - March 18th, 2013 at 3:58 PM
You ripped this right out of my brain and gave it words..
Melissa Irwin - March 18th, 2013 at 4:01 PM
I had to stand on my tippy toes to read this. Too excited to sit. Thank you!
Brandon Scott Thomas - March 18th, 2013 at 4:07 PM
Brilliant! Thank you! I'm a worship pastor and wholeheartedly agree with everything you've written here. Love this so much!
Tanya Marlow - March 18th, 2013 at 4:08 PM
Came via Sarah Bessey - and cheering you on. So much. This rings true for my journey too - the fondness of my heritage but the calling in a different direction. Thank you so much for this.
Kathleen - March 18th, 2013 at 4:10 PM
I guess I am in the minority here, because I don't get it. Yes, I go to church ... every.single.Sunday and Wednesday. My husband is even a pastor in a {gasp} Baptist Church. But we L*O*V*E people ... all people! And we work very hard to meet all people ... right where they are at with whatever that need is .. be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Maybe I am in the wrong circle of churches, but that is the Christianity I have seen exhibited in my nearly 50 years of life. It is exciting. It is life changing. I am sorry you and so many others have not seen the church reaching out to a lost world that is desperately in need of a Savior!
Laci - March 18th, 2013 at 10:24 PM
I echo your thoughts, Kathleen.
Scott - March 19th, 2013 at 8:46 AM
I happen to agree. If I'm brutally honest, all this article says to me is, man I wish I had the platform to do something significant for the cause of Christ - and no intention to find the causes all around me. If your discontent then learn to proactively be a light in your church...if you feel 'called' to reach a particular type of people that you aren't currently reaching...then don't point your finger...go do it.
Crystal - March 19th, 2013 at 11:42 AM
I agree with you as well Kathleen. While it is ok to have an opinion I don't think that basically slamming this church (that's how the blog comes across) for uninviting you to speak was very gracious. Division amongst Chritians is one of the enemies greatest tactics and I fear that rants and articles such as this one give him a foothold he doesn't need. Conservative church, modern church, Orthodox Church, home church.....as long as Jesus Christ and the Gospel is at the heart of it and the Bible is being soundly taught then why are we fighting about the little details. One wise bible study teacher has been quoted to say "Differences will always exist, but division doesn't have to be the result". This article seems like it divides the 80% and the 20% as one being better than the other. We are all in need of Gods grace and we all need to be working towards unity in the body, whether you have a glass of wine or not and whether you go to church in sweats or in a three piece suit.
Amanda - March 23rd, 2013 at 3:18 PM
Kathleen, thank you so much for posting. I was digging thru these comments trying to find someone who might not think this post was awesome. In Acts,
We are called to church. We are all just doing the best we can. I enjoy reading Jen's posts, but it seems to me you are as ok with the church's uninvitation as you are letting on. Otherwise, you would have gracefully accepted and walked away. Instead, it seems you have written a post that has caused disention. Can't we just all love Jesus and get along? Why does your way have to be better than my way? We are all just fumbling our way through this Christianity thing the best we can.
Robin Dance - March 18th, 2013 at 4:11 PM
"Christianity is too thrilling to reduce to middle/upper-middle class First World Problems, encapsulated in issues and gauged by a nebulous moral compass that lost its bearing decades ago."

I may or may not have done a little fist bump right then.

A gracious response erring on the side of love while extending benefit of doubt. That's either insanity or the Holy Spirit ;).

xo
Evie Schultz - March 18th, 2013 at 4:16 PM
I am so with you on this, and I am so grateful to be a part of a church that relentlessly preaches the Gospel (add nothing). I was raised the same way you were and have come to the same shocking conclusions. But I have learned some valuable lessons and reasons why some Christians can seem so legalistic and so bent on being holy. It's a simple answer. they have been hurt by people who cared nothing about doing what was right. They see the value in obeying Christ's every word, not because it will save their souls (because Christ alone has done it) but because to sin and disobey the Lord is to live outside of His order for the world. and it hurts people. While we can never be good enough to earn our salvation, and we will always mess up and fall short, to strive to do what He says will only help people. not harm them as sin will.
tymm - March 18th, 2013 at 4:19 PM
A to the mother-effing Men... This is good, good, good stuff that we need WAY more of...
Karen - March 18th, 2013 at 10:08 PM
I can't see agreeing to what Jen has said with that kind of A-men as being a positive light on the way people who love Jesus from either side of this conversation should talk.
Christine - March 18th, 2013 at 11:09 PM
But this is what the conversation is about - why does it matter what kind of a-men Tymm says? (It's not even the real "bad" word!) You are focused on a cultural "wrong" to the exclusion of real conversation or learning Tymm's story. I seriously doubt that Jesus would even flinch at salty language and would instead respond to all with love and grace. It's fine if you don't want to use some words, but lets not miss who is talking or what they really mean because of a word or two.
Tara Livesay - March 18th, 2013 at 4:29 PM
I struggle a lot with the 20% -- you've encouraged me to work at growing in grace.

With love from Port au Prince,
T.

Jennifer Dennis - March 18th, 2013 at 4:31 PM
I grew up in the same culture, same rules as you describe and I am thankful for your voice every single day.
Melissa - March 18th, 2013 at 4:36 PM
As a 23 year old, I've spent the past couple of years as a disillusioned saint immersing myself into justice-related causes like human trafficking and willing the Church to be as beautiful as it was commanded to be.
When I began to work at a megachurch it started with headscratching ("why are we throwing money at a new building when we need more for missions?") and then progressed to downright discouragement that made me not even want to go to church and small groups. By asking questions and urging social justice in lieu of events like $10,000 staff holiday parties paid by the church I was made to feel like I should just accept it. I was told that the Church did much of its giving in private and that's why I didn't see the fruit of a multi-million dollar budget in our community.
After Biblical study, reading books like yours, and a HUGE heaping of grace I'm finally with you! I am now joyfully serving Christ's "wayward Bride," simply because it's His and I have been made a part of it. (This is big for me! ha) It really only makes me love the magnetic Jesus that you spoke of more because He still chose the Church to be the vehicle to make His name known throughout the world knowing fully well our tendencies and depraived nature!

In short... thanks. I dig your tribe.

Kent F - March 18th, 2013 at 4:36 PM
Might it be, could it be, that 20 and 30 something year olds simply prefer Starbucks, t-ball, dance, etc. to church on Sunday mornings? Don't disagree with the reasons, but is that really why folks left, or did they just get tired of getting the family to yet another event in an already over-committed and caffeneited schedule?

And, one more bit of somberness - if these trends continue, we may lose a generation of Theology majors/pastors/and religious professionals. Church budgets are largely being supported these days by 70 and 80-something year olds. 20 and 30-somethings are having trouble finding jobs, have gotten used to it, and what giving they do is more likely to a large non-profit digging water wells in Africa. Very cool - but I"m truly concerned about our younger ministers' livelihoods - very.
michelle - March 18th, 2013 at 5:09 PM
I can only speak for THIS particular 30 something but I didn't leave because I had better things to do. I left because after a lifetime of going to church I started to question it's effectiveness. It didn't seem to look at all like the life Jesus modeled or the instructions He left for us. And then, while wrestling with these feelings week after week, bitterness took root and I just felt repulsed by the megachurch "big show" that I sat in for 47 minutes per week.

So I left for 3 years.

And then God used Jen's writings and the things she said to give me a place to process what I was feeling and helped me to articulate what I was really feeling. Ultimately, it was Isaiah 1 that I was able to use to define my feelings about church.

Since then, we found a beautiful church that is 100% about worshiping God, serving the marginalized and not about exalting itself or it's members.

It had nothing to do with T-ball. ;)
Kent F - March 19th, 2013 at 6:52 PM
Glad to hear Michelle! Thanks for the response. In my city of 40,000 about 55% of residents don't go to church - they are nones. 20 years ago when we moved it here Dallas (from a similar mega-church), the percentage of nones was probably 30%. Lots of different reasons - thanks for sharing your's.
Kathryn - March 18th, 2013 at 10:25 PM
My church is full of folks in their 20s and 30s. This past Saturday we had a few hundred people come to an all-day Bible study on the book of John. All day. Saturday. We do it every month, and it is incredible. They could have been anywhere else, but they were there. Because our pastor sounds a lot like Jen. Passionate for the whole world, loving the hungry -- physically and spiritually.
Angel - March 19th, 2013 at 1:11 AM
Don't worry too much. God is looking out for us. The average age of our church is 26. These are young professional men and women who are living out their lives with mission, purpose, and passion to the glory of God. I would love to share some amazing stories we've seen through the last nine years of our church plant, but this isn't the space.

Eshet Chayil, Jen! Another great post. We may never meet on earth, but my people are working with the same heart walking the second mile in Tucson.
Andrea - March 18th, 2013 at 4:37 PM
The encouragement and reminder I needed to hear. Despite the 80% being the majority, the draw of the 20% is overwhelming - perhaps because it looks prettier. And there are a couple books you might find interesting if you haven't come across them already: God Without Religion and The Naked Gospel both by Andrew Farley. I'm almost through the first one (which was actually written second) and its completely changing how I read the New Testament...in a good way!
Jill - March 18th, 2013 at 4:38 PM
I would really like to chat with you...can you email me? I have some concerns, a "disconnect" that I feel, that would love to see what your thoughts are.
LauraKM - March 18th, 2013 at 4:48 PM
Oh, thank you. This says so well what I am often at a loss to try to explain.
Amy - March 18th, 2013 at 4:52 PM
Umm, so WHEN are you going to be in SD so we can go out for coffee?? haha :) I have read Interrupted and am working on 7...you are my kind of gal! Keep up the moving and shaking for His kingdom girl!
Louise - March 18th, 2013 at 4:59 PM
The church you are talking about, the one that uninvited you, it's the one that showed me Jesus back in the '80's - in the Word, in the flesh, in the trenches. Be careful that church doesn't get tarred with the same black brush that is commonly used for 'liberals' today. There are sinners everywhere. And saints, too.
Amy - March 19th, 2013 at 10:49 AM
AMEN! It's not the church's job to keep 20 and 30-somethings coming to church. That's the Holy Spirit's job. The church just has to speak Truth and model Love.
RW - March 18th, 2013 at 5:01 PM
Totally, completely, and proudly with you. I go to a church that would seemingly agree with you but really doesn't. I struggle with it constantly. Living in a city with a church on every street corner yet not one in sight with arms open (truly open) leaves me sad. It's comforting to know others are in the same situation and searching for a safe place. Thank you for making this place one of those places.
Ann - March 18th, 2013 at 5:03 PM
Wow and Amen!
HopefulLeigh - March 18th, 2013 at 5:03 PM
I've been the 80% and it is because of people like you who listened to my doubts and offered grace that I have a faith at all. It is no minor miracle I returned to church almost a decade ago and while I may not attend consistently enough for my parents, I keep giving the Church a chance because I want to be a part of the change I wish to see. My heart is for those who are still in the 80%. I want to be the safe place that a few kind souls were for me.
Joanna - March 18th, 2013 at 5:05 PM
Jen...After 130 some odd comments, I may get lost in the shuffle here, but I just feel led to respond to this after reading so many affirmative comments. I don't disagree that the church has lost its way. But we are the Bride of Christ. And for that reason, I have a problem with criticizing her publicly. The lost world and the media do that enough.

I think the solution to walking this Narrow Road, trying to walk in holiness while eating at the table with sinners, is found in the latter chapters of Romans. Paul, (I caught glimpses of his counter-cultural intestinal fortitude in your writing - be encouraged), hit the nail on the head describing the Christian life in individualized terms. Personal holiness, and sacrifice for the sake of others. Some are strong enough to sip that glass of wine, but if they sit with someone who has a problem with it...they abstain so the other won't falter. But the whole point is to lead those others closer to Christ by sacrificing for them. I'm afraid that the permissive tone that some readers interpreted will lead them to a laissez faire false religion.

I've read other books by you, so I know you know the Word and strive to live by it. But the same people who read this blog and "like" it on Facebook follow authors like Anne Lamott, whose recent FB post preaches a gospel that one can accept totally without Jesus. She doesn't believe in Hell. She probably doesn't believe in sin. And Jesus did preach about those things. Hers is a salvation of reputation. It is easy and acceptable to love your neighbor. Jesus would have us die to our own reputation and people's opinions of us and do the crazy things.

I know you think this way. My concern is that by criticizing His Bride, we push people off the Narrow Road. Because, let's face it. It's difficult. It's messy. They don't really want to be there anyway, unless they have that crazy love relationship with Jesus to begin with. And Jesus knew this, which is why He said in the end, many would come to Him crying, "Lord, Lord" and His response is going to shock a LOT of good people.
janie - March 18th, 2013 at 5:29 PM
A very thoughtful reply. Thank you.
Jeffrey - March 19th, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Well stated Joanna ...my wife is taking this ministry to such an extreme that she is deciding to forfeit the value of our almost 23 year Christian marriage because she feels I'm one of the more "traditional church goers" and she is more to the liking of Jen's left church. My wife sent me this blog to share with me her recent feelings when I tried to share with her that indifference to our marriage and lost love that she is developing since reading Jen's books and blogs. My wife places more importance on this teaching and lifestyle than that of maintaining a healthy loving unconditional marriage. I have been a Christian for more than 40 years and have kept faithful all my life. I don't push my traditions on anyone; however, I do share my faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ to all walks of life. I firmly believe drinking is not for Christians; mostly because of the sin it causes and as pointed out, how much of a stumbling block it can be for believers and nonbelievers alike. I CHOOSE to abstain and have asked my wife the same prior to getting married. But I believe your words can be taken to loosely and you can give people misdirection. The LOVE of Christ IS ALL ENCOMPASSING, but we must be careful about our direction and live as examples. We are not perfect, we are forgiven...but don't lead a life that could cause others to sin. Jesus DID in fact associate with ALL walks of life, but he was GOD! And Jesus walked a life on earth blameless and without sin or guilt. We are creatures who walk in sinful nature and need correction- all the while living humbly and giving Jesus Christ the glory and credit.
Letitia - March 19th, 2013 at 4:14 PM
Jeffrey, you must know that the way your wife responds to something she reads isn't the writer's fault. It seems a little harsh and unfair to make it Jen's writing, theology (whatever you want to call it) the bad guy. The things Jen writes about are obviously biblical. But your wife also has the responsibility to take what she hears and process it through with Jesus, and her understanding of the Bible; to discuss it with others around her who are wise in order to help her make changes she wants to make in her life in ways that are healthy. Jen is sharing what she has learned in her life, and through her time spent with Jesus...placing the responsibility for your struggling marriage onto her doesn't seem right. Food for thought perhaps.
HB - March 22nd, 2013 at 8:42 PM
Jen's and Brandon's and other similar teachers books are making my marriage stronger as we realize that the Christian life is an adventure that our whole family is in together. I can't express how much we've all grown as we've stepped out of our comfort zone for Christ. My husband was raised in an extremely legalistic church and it is an act of the Holy Spirit that he stuck it out and remained in church. It has been amazing to learn that the Bible isn't just a book of rules, and serving others and Christ together out of our comfort zone has been the best thing for our marriage. It is so good to be of one mind.
Bill Donnelly - March 18th, 2013 at 5:11 PM
"Don't you have that annoying Christian friend whose only offer to help anyone ever is to "pray for them"? Doesn't it drive you nuts? I'm not even commenting on whether or not prayer works; it doesn't change the fact that they chose the one type of help that doesn't require them to get off the sofa. They abstain from every vice, they think clean thoughts, their internal dirt is as pure as can be, but what fruit grows from it? And they should know this better than anybody -- I stole the fruit metaphor from the Bible. Jesus said something to the effect of "a tree is judged by its fruit" over and over and over. Granted, Jesus never said, "If you want to work here, close." No, he said, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." from Cracked.com
Carmen - March 22nd, 2013 at 10:52 AM
After 9 years of marriage, 5 moves involving four different churches, five homes, three cities, three states, two countries, plus the addition four children, and the difficulty of a near-breakup, we moved to a new city and church, completely spent. I joined the moms' group at church, full of many wonderful women. After a year of inviting people for play dates and coffee and doing my best to make friends in this new place, and receiving nothing but declines every single time (except once!), never any reciprocation, and finding out that another new woman was going through the same thing, I finally decided to bring it to the group. I laid it out all the loneliness, the vacancy, the pain of having no family for over 1000 miles, having no friends, no one to put on my emergency contact lists for school, no one to call in a pinch, no one who even knew our kids' names in Sunday School. They nodded and looked sympathetic at my teary mess. Then they had a group prayer that God would bring people into my life. And that was it.

I was devastated.

And that's when God whispered to me, "See that? Don't ever do that. You put my love in action."

The solution isn't always to leave. It's to show the way, to be the change. I recently heard someone say they disagreed with their church, but they weren't going to leave, because as soon as they left, no one would have to face the ideas they represented. Amen, and Amen.
Bob M - March 18th, 2013 at 5:17 PM
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz....Howl.
Larri - March 18th, 2013 at 5:19 PM
Enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more from you. I grew up with all the legalism and rules, followed by the overwhelming guilt when I sinned. It's difficult to depart from that, and I find myself staying in the Word & trying my best not to judge others. I get what your saying, though I'm still learning to wrap my head around what my heart knows.

Sidenote: I know that zoo well! I was born in Wichita, raised in Derby. My grandfather helped build that zoo, welding the cages. His favorite (and ours) was Marbles, the chimp. :)
Anna - March 18th, 2013 at 5:19 PM
Oh Jen. Yes. I don't have fully cohesive thoughts on this, but this touched me so deeply. As a 30 year old new mom to an adopted 2 year old with special needs I am in the most vulnerable place of my life, a downward slope of the crazy rollercoaster of life God has gifted us and our church is nowhere to be seen. After over 2 decades at the church, over 10 of those in leadership, I am finding that our new neediness and the questions I am asking - our radical choices and obedience to God that looks way too much like risky decisions - do not have a place there. And that makes me feel like one more foundation I was standing on has been taken away. That's not all bad, but it's hard, especially 8 months post- international adoption. The crazy thing is our church is considered pretty open and leading-edge - the type of church that hosts Catalyst and lets women preach. We're not leaving "the church", but we are at sea as far as a church community and considering where to go from here and all my beliefs about church are being called into question.
Laura - March 18th, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Jen, I read your stuff! I cannot tell you how thankful I am to have had your influence in my life in these past few years. We need more "real" believers! More people telling the truth! Loving the unlovely! Saying what the "Church Ladies" are afraid to say. Thank you! May our Father continue to bless you and your family and your ministry to the lost.
brian - March 18th, 2013 at 5:44 PM
I've found that so much of these conversations drift to alcohol and Creation. it really is ashamed that both sides of these topics let it be an issue. Alcohol was certainly consumed by Christ in the form of wine. on this subject there is no debating. why can't the "dry" side come to grips with this? why can't those that are the "wet" side acknowledge that the Bible is full of warnings of what damage alcohol can do to your life and your relationships? so then both sides can move on. as for Creation, your belief either way doesn't determine your salvation. however, this debate again sees both sides making accusations. statements like "An unreasonable opposition to science" is not a way to reach across a divide as you claim to make. I am a Creationist and i am proud that i know both science and the Bible are consistent. but to accuse one side of being unreasonable is to become the very thing you are discouraging. i think we all need to focus on Christ, accept the Salvation only He can offer, then act like Christ (which probably means not getting hammered and not complaining if someone has a drink with dinner). I certainly think that i have enough sin in my own life to deal with before i start picking splinters out of someone's life.
Janie - March 18th, 2013 at 6:26 PM
Brian, reasonableness has no place on the internet! Just kidding. I enjoyed your well thought out response.
Suzanne - March 18th, 2013 at 9:23 PM
Growing up in a conservative Christian family, alcohol was always discouraged and warned against. When I was old enough I decided to listen to many of my friends and stop being so legalistic about it. Unfortunately, I brought my new views into my marriage and convinced my husband that it's okay to drink every once in awhile (his upbringing was similar to mine and he was anti-alcohol). Needless to say, this one seemingly harmless choice led to a slippery slope and unimaginable pain in our marriage. We have worked through it and decided to abandon alcohol altogether. I am open minded enough to realize this choice is not for everyone. However, I am not okay with Christians trying to convince other Christians that they need to drink to be regarded by the world as approachable. How can we know who is predisposed to become an alcoholic? In general, I think there is still much wisdom to be gleaned from the older generation, and we write them off with our critical spirit. I agree with Brian that we need to turn our focus inward when those negative thoughts arise. Placing ourselves under the authority of our church leadership doesn't mean we will agree with everything said or done, but it seems that our generation is so much more tolerant of others on the internet than in the church pew in front of them. I think the church can change for the better, but we have to be committed to it. We can't all run away. That means we may have different convictions and ministries than others in our church, but diversity has always been a good thing! These are just my thoughts. Praying for unity among believers so that we can reach more for Christ!
Laura L - March 18th, 2013 at 5:56 PM
may i start by saying that you are a true beacon of light to me in a time (among many times) when i am struggling with the concept of "church" and what it actually means in the Life. i find myself drawn to your words and the example of your life as i try to navigate my waters and lead my family. so, thank you.
i am... catholic (gasp). i know... and, i am hoping and praying with all of my being that our new pope may be a little more like you. the catholic church was built upon thousands of years of "stones" making it hard and rigid and very, very, unknown. as a teacher i believe that it is impossible to truly know something if you must simple memorize and spit back out. unfortunately the catholic church does just that. there are so many rules, and changes to those rules that only the pope himself could possible know half of them. how are the youth (or not so young for that matter) supposed to know God, Jesus, or the Bible, if we are too busy trying to figure out the rules? how may we act and disciple if we are so busy following? we are taught to follow, and not to question. how shall we teach if there are no questions? how can we learn if we cannot have answers?
anyway, you say it best, and i am so glad that you accept us all as we struggle along. thank you.
Jamie - March 18th, 2013 at 7:35 PM
And yet the beautiful Catholic church has fostered some of the most sacrificial servants of the poor in all time...Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, thousands of devoted monks and nuns. Your church has a long and strong lineage, and deep richness of faith can be found in the liturgy and ritual and tradition, if it is understood well. This is coming from a wannabe Catholic, can you tell? :)
Rebecca - March 19th, 2013 at 8:51 PM
I'm sorry that's been your experience of Catholicism. I taught theology at a Catholic high school for the past six years, and it was my honor to get to teach my students about our faith, helping guide them to a personal encounter with Jesus and to understand that Catholicism isn't just a bunch of rules. I taught Scripture and church history, so that my students could understand where all these teachings come from. I also have very high hopes for Pope Francis. I think that God is going to do some great things through him! I'm excited to see what's going to happen next.
Cindy - March 18th, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Great post. Loved every word. You remind me of a lucious little blonde friend of mine, initials WS.
Morgan Bush - March 18th, 2013 at 6:25 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you suggesting that Jesus can't be found with the 20%? Are you sure about that?
MrsRitz - March 18th, 2013 at 6:33 PM
Here is the latest research on the "nones" in case you are interested: http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx
Jenny - March 18th, 2013 at 6:34 PM
oh my....loved this one! You are awesome. Someday I'm going to vacation in Austin and come to your church and then make you hang out with me! I'm not a creeper at all. Actually, I happen to think I'm really funny and I think you are too, so I will buy you that glass of wine and we will laugh and laugh and laugh (all while our husbands roll their eyes).
Andee Z - March 18th, 2013 at 6:36 PM
All of this. Just, yes. And it's not just younger people...its those of us in our 40s who maybe want to raise our kids to love Jesus AND love diversity.
Kae - March 18th, 2013 at 6:43 PM
I had so many favorite sentences and paragraphs in this post. It is outstanding!!! The line that stands out the most for me is:

%u201CGood is community, even before %u2018belief%u2019 binds us tight.%u201D %u2013 Amen x10 %u263A

Below are two quick [edits] that you can make to improve this otherwise perfect post:

1. Just below and to the left of the %u201CFUND THIS PROJECT%u201D green bar:
This was the point [where] my ministry took a hard left.

2. In the fifth to the last paragraph:
I%u2019m not going to make a [big] deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation.

Bev - March 18th, 2013 at 6:58 PM
Oh my! Did you wrap up why I left the church in my 20's and struggle to find one I love and want to raise my children in my 40's! That was the best written, most you read my mind on the Church ever. Thank you for it.
Gina - March 18th, 2013 at 7:16 PM
I understand a lot of what you're saying. I even agree with a lot of what you're saying. But I wonder, with all due respect, if you realize just how cliched and shallow that "I'm a brand new kind of Christian! I vote Democrat!" line has begun to sound. I don't know how many dozens of times now I've read it, from how many different authors, and to me it sounds as if you're all replacing some of the kneejerk conservatism you saw in the church of your childhood with something equally kneejerk -- and something that the next generation of Christians will rebel against just as surely as your generation has against the conservatives.

For in my experience, no matter how much they consider themselves above the fray, this generation of Christian liberals are every bit as political, and just as willing to be used by a political party, as the conservative Christians whom they criticize. And they will be called out for it just as the conservatives have been.
Jamie - March 18th, 2013 at 7:31 PM
I think you have a really good point. We all have to be careful that in trying to get rid of certain rules and definitions that we used to associate with Christianity, we don't just start a new list of rules and definitions to replace the old. "I'm not one of those legalistic, Republican, creationist Christian! I'm a free-thinking, Democrat, evolutionist Christian! See how it's better!!!" It's hard for all of us to not get sucked into labels, I think...it feels safer and easier to categorize things nice and tidy, no matter whether you lean left or right. Praise God Jesus was and Independent. Just kidding. :)
Gina - March 18th, 2013 at 7:56 PM
Thanks, I appreciate that. After I left my comment, I was afraid it may have been a little too harsh. Please know that I didn't mean it to be. As I said, I am on board with much of what you wrote here.
Marie - March 19th, 2013 at 6:10 PM
the irony of all of this is that this "new brand" of Christianity claims to be so open and non-judgmental when in fact they have just swung the pedulum a different way, they are STILL very judgmental and critical people......they're just judgmental of a new group now. Christianity will only change when Christians stop thinking we are better than other people (including each other), and become humble and accept God' grace which he has freely given to us all.
Stephanie - March 21st, 2013 at 8:21 PM
I too am tired of the "sanctimonious renegades." SOOOOO decisive-and that's not what the Lord wants form His BRIDE!!
Tracey - March 18th, 2013 at 7:18 PM
thank you for your honesty.....i SO relate
Alia Joy - March 18th, 2013 at 7:27 PM
And this is why I love you. Because 80% is a big portion and it wasn't so many years ago that I was one of the de-converted. Thankful for questions and pushback and a God that is big enough to handle it all. .
Michelle - March 18th, 2013 at 7:31 PM
I just love you!
Tori Taff - March 18th, 2013 at 7:33 PM
I have the biggest Christian girl crush on you right now.

*gospel hanky wave in your general direction*
Jackie Brock - March 18th, 2013 at 8:38 PM
My daughter accused me of this today, too. I think I'm just glad to find a kindred spirit.
Melody Reid - March 18th, 2013 at 7:52 PM
You're my hero.
Sharon - March 18th, 2013 at 7:57 PM
I don't know you personally, but you are speaking from my heart. Thank you for this.
Sara - March 18th, 2013 at 8:17 PM
Right on sister friend! Good gravy I am so glad you found the words that had been hiding in my heart! I'm with you here on the other side of the fence loving and living in the 80%. Love you lady!
Jim Harris - March 18th, 2013 at 8:20 PM
Jen, this is so exciting! Thank you for singing the song of my heart. I'm a 64 year old retired pastor and I have been seeking a way to frame my feelings about the church in America, and you just did it! God bless you. I am inviting my self into your "uninvited" world!
Shannon - March 18th, 2013 at 8:22 PM
Can I come to your uninvited party? Because this divorced single mother of three who's tattooed and speaks openly about things that make church people uncomfortable still loves Jesus and also loves the margins.
Elizabeth - March 18th, 2013 at 8:25 PM
With HIM I am learning & LOVING getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. It is my joy to step outside the boundaries in the name of the KINGDOM!
Sarah - March 18th, 2013 at 8:29 PM
I JUST left a play date with my liberal-unchurched-kinda-hates-God-because-she-only-hears-about-him-in-terms-of-who-he-hates friend and she totally went off on how scary it is for her that these "mega churches" are growing and growing because she's terrified of what their power will mean for America.

In my own liberal-and-I-love-God way, I totally resonated with her fear. But, I fear not what those churches will do to America, but what walls they will reinforce to keep the unchurched (by the way, this accounts for almost everyone that I know these days) out and far away from the Lord.

And, to quote my friend, Jesus loves the Democrats too. ;]

You go girl.
samatha - March 25th, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Yep, a resurgent Puritanism is the real threat facing America%u2019s unchurched today. Sad that the left seems interested only in listening to an echo chamber, instead of challenging its own hypocrisy and ignorant stereotyping of what being a follower of Christ is about.
Paige - March 18th, 2013 at 8:32 PM
I think we could win if we all took them on! We could be the angry mob from Phineas and Ferb!
Curtis - March 18th, 2013 at 8:33 PM
Thanks for sharing Jen.
I grew up in Wichita around the same time as yourself. When Rich Mullins was still alive. I was plugged in to the "Christian Scene" in my early adulthood - and then life happened. I was drug down with all the deceptions the world could throw at me. Now in my late 40's - I am finally walking a path in a Church family committed to make disciples. Blessed to be here - but wish I didn't have so many scars... My heart pains for those youthful hearts seeking truth in a morally polluted world. I can only hope and pray there will be more people such as yourself willing to reach out and touch those the church treats as "unclean".
Thank for sharing your passion.Keep being salt and light.
Jen - March 18th, 2013 at 8:37 PM
Soul sister.
Glennon - March 18th, 2013 at 8:38 PM
Oh, Ms.Jen Hatmaker.

Love.Love Love Love,Love,Love you and all the ragamuffins. Sorry I drank all the wine. It was a really long wedding.

Glennon


Lindsay - March 18th, 2013 at 8:39 PM
Just lovely. Thank you.
Beth - March 18th, 2013 at 8:41 PM
I'm the 80%. Brought up in a very traditionally rule minded church that is an amazing place for some. It was never a comfortable fit. I am still a Christian and still looking for a "home church" that does fit. In the meantime, I continue to be a Christian full of faults looking to love on God's children, my siblings. All of us, with all our warts deserve to be loved. I look forward to the other side and learning what parts I understood well and what parts I got all wrong.
Jill - March 18th, 2013 at 8:46 PM
Speak on, Sister. Speak on. LOVE. Thank you for your leadership.
Debi Marshall - March 18th, 2013 at 8:47 PM
Thank you so much for this! It's like you've been reading my thoughts over the past week, especially you're "inner struggles." I can also relate completely to wanting to reach the 80%. I want to be with those on the margins too... after being on the margins myself for so long (and still feeling like I'm there most days). As I consider a call to seminary and ministry, I'm struggling with what that actually looks like but your post has really helped me visualize it much more clearly. Thank you!
Debi Marshall - March 18th, 2013 at 9:17 PM
your, not you're... shoot I'm tired :)
Shannon Craig - March 18th, 2013 at 8:48 PM
Reading this felt like a long exhale of relief for me. Being a young twenty-something who grew up engulfed in evangelical culture I am just discovering that questions and difference and messiness are okay, and I love this affirmation that we can be different than that culture AND still love its people.
Ashlie - March 18th, 2013 at 8:49 PM
I love everything you write Jen. I will continue to
Pray that you are used to be a voice to the voiceless.
Your words are powerful and so well received.
AJ - March 18th, 2013 at 8:50 PM
Well well now that they uninvited you to their place, are you free to come to mine? I am newer to your blog but have been feeling this stiring for awhile. Tomorrow we will embark on an adventure in something bigger than us we are bringing home twin boys (3months) to care for until their dad is back on his feet. I am terrified and excited and overwhelmed and trusting. So if ya want come on to KS and hang with me. You do a great job and thank you. Wish we had more of you and your fence riding friends in our world.
Kristen - March 18th, 2013 at 8:51 PM
You are an outstanding person! Thank you for you words. My heart is dancing.
Candy - March 18th, 2013 at 8:54 PM
This says what goes through my head but I don't seem to have the guts to follow through on.
Thank you for being so honest and for saying the truth about what is going on in this crazy world today.
@OdysseyMamaC - March 18th, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Oh you and your words! I'm sitting here, wiping messy tears and raising my glass of Pinot to you. :-) Thank you for providing a safe place to ask difficult questions and for the affirmation that the will of Jesus and "traditional approval" may not always coincide. It's only in the past few years I've stuck a toe into the fringes, and while I've never felt closer to God, I've also never felt more isolated from my peers. Uninvited. Thanks for this encouragement and truth. LOVE you!
Esther - March 18th, 2013 at 8:55 PM
I. Am. The 80 percent. Sing it, sister.
Tyler Mullins - March 18th, 2013 at 8:55 PM
You had me at "ragamuffin".
Amanda - March 18th, 2013 at 8:56 PM
As someone that has no love for the Church I've known of my entire life, your words always ring so true with me. I want to know Jesus and I think I can pursue that relationship in the context you describe and subscribe to. Thank you for your words. I think you are changing my life...
Alicia - March 18th, 2013 at 8:56 PM
I usually don't read your blog. I have 5 kiddos and your FB comments keep me going. Anyway, God is using you in a mighty way. You know that, right? Stay humble. Stay authentic. Keep it up!
Caitlin - March 18th, 2013 at 8:57 PM
Thank you. You have helped restore my faith in the Church, this group if people truly seeking to know God and live radical lives of love toward all--*especially* the outsiders. I'm a young stay at home mother with a B.A. in philosophy who gave up on my dream of becoming a pastor because I became disillusioned with the Evangelical church's emphasis on dogma over, and often to the detriment of, loving God and our neighbor. Be blessed for your boldness, sister! "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."(Mt. 5:11)

Shelby - March 18th, 2013 at 8:57 PM
You have an amazing way with words. I want to hang with the 80% as well, for all the reasons you cited and then some. Keep doing what you are doing - God is using you to change hearts.
Daisy Rain Martin - March 18th, 2013 at 9:00 PM
I used to feel lonely because this is how I felt... and then it hit me: I JUST NEEDED TO GET OUT MORE! HA! This is excellent. Thank you.
Cyndi - March 18th, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Just - WOW. You typed my heart out in ways I could have never put together. THANK YOU FOR THIS! I've been struggling with thoughts along this exact same line, anger, bordering (and often) judgementalism, cynicism, apathy, doubts - on the church, our role in this world, community. Thank you - I am going to print this out and read it until my heart mirrors yours :-)
Kristy - March 18th, 2013 at 9:01 PM
This so resonates with my heart...thank you for being so open and honest. Your words ring true in so many ways.
Gigi - March 18th, 2013 at 9:05 PM
Wow. It's very interesting to me that you post about "arrogance over humility" then write a post like that. Pretty sure the Bible says a few things about being prideful too.
Christy - March 18th, 2013 at 9:14 PM
I wonder, isn't there room for both? Can't you be sold out for the water-to-wine Jesus and still believe in hard lines? After all, He didn't just love the Samaritan woman and the tax collector... He loved them and asked for CHANGE in their lives. Not at all to say that we should be judge or jury, after all we are called first to identify and work to change our own issues. BUT, while we are loving the person and being the church and acting like Jesus, it has to be OK for there to be some black and white. If we make everything a gray area in order to keep from offending, then how can we be the light in the darkness? Won't we just blend in?
sharee - March 18th, 2013 at 9:20 PM
Thank you for being you! Thank you for being honest. When I read your words whether on this blog or in a book, I feel a kinship that has been absent most of my life. It's hard to be on the fringe, to question and to wrestle. I love Jesus and I know he made me this way on purpose, so glad that I have found one more just like me!!
sarah - March 18th, 2013 at 9:24 PM
I am disappointed you so obviously need to be seen as the "cool/liberal" Christian. There is something lame about those who are desperate for the image. I grew up in Austin... still live here. I love Jesus, and follow him. My family loves him and follows him and we go to an AMAZING church filled with tattoo clad, dread locked, adoption heavy people. Our hearts are rooted in who Jesus is, and biblical truth. We seek scripture and truth. Maybe you have a heavy Southern Baptist audience that is wowed by this type of "risky/ wow Jen loves Jesus AND drinks AND loves people that dont look like her" mentality. I dont know, but you seem to feed off of it "you can be a Christian AND a liberal" type msg. Anyone that understands Christ and knows him, gets that...but I would challenge you to make your writing less about glamorizing yourself/marketing how you want to be viewed and focus on Christ/what you are learning from the word. Share with them your heart for what is being revealed to you from scripture and try to diminish your concern for how you are being perceived. I feel that you are well intentioned, but you get a little too caught in the feedback. Do your part to change what you see as unjust in this world, and pray for the rest. This is not meant to discourage you, but to challenge you as a fellow believer. I hope this is thought provoking for you and doesn't cause you to go on the defense. You dont need to reply. Hope you are well, and wish you the best!
Steve - March 18th, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Completely agree. She comes across as really patronizing and smug (self-righteous?)and still has the same "Let's go get 'em!" rah rah stuff the churches she dismisses do. Just walking up the different side of the same mountain. An emphasis on the social gospel (nothing new there, really) with no mention of the saving work of Christ; Jesus is a buddy who will listen to your deep,deep libertine problems. Eldest sons and prodigal sons both need saving. It's great that it's your calling (pats on head).

You've built up quite a following on your blog. I hope it's about the gospel and Jesus Christ crucified and not how awesome your approach is.
Kim - March 19th, 2013 at 1:47 PM
"comes across really patronizing and smug" and then "It's great that it's your calling (pats on head). Dude..you just killed your own comment.
Jeanna - March 18th, 2013 at 9:25 PM
Amen, amen, and amen. Keep asking questions! So many of the things the church gets caught up in have nothing to do with following Jesus. Honesty is not a sin. Getting tangled up in silly conventions/rules that exclude others and fail to share His love and message are the sins. Keep preaching it, sister!
Rachel Cleveland - March 18th, 2013 at 9:26 PM
I'm amazed ( but shouldn't be) at how much the comments are about political party lines, us vs. them instead of what Christ, Himself gives us and CALLS us to. To the adulteress (who's heart he knew) He says, "then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin NO MORE." (emphasis, mine)

Where is the drawing the church TOGETHER? Where is the call to HOLINESS? Truth spoken without love is no longer truth. Grace taken forgranted is grace that will not be received. We will all give an account.

The only party line we should be concerned with is Christ's. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's; Give to God what is God's. That's what He requires. Nothing less.

Emily - March 18th, 2013 at 9:34 PM
There are many different styles/denominations in the Christian faith. Specifically for services there is a broad range from "cool" mainstream sounding bands and scripture to more traditional services with customs and traditions. There are youth groups doing service trips to third world countries and weekend retreats specifically for marriage. You really have to try hard to not find one that resonates with you and that you can enjoy.

I absolutely think the disengagement of our youth does NOT have to do with the Church, but with the lack of morality overall in the world. The emphasis on material things and the "role models" that our kids our looking up to.

The Church shouldn't change to fit the mold of what our youth want, because (in my eyes) that's heading down a slippery slope.
Wade - March 18th, 2013 at 10:19 PM
The message doesn't change, but the medium certainly does, has, is and will.
Emily - March 18th, 2013 at 10:45 PM
I disagree. The message can easily be overshadowed when an emphasis is put on "what exactly I want Church to be."
Wade - March 19th, 2013 at 9:39 PM
So then the medium has not changed in 2000 years? Oral communication, to books, to all of the media that now exists. The gospel is being communicated electronically all day long. The medium has changed. It has nothing with what I or anyone else "wants church to be." The way we communicate has been radically altered and will continue to be and likely at a more rapid rate than ever. What mold did the church we grew up in fit into? Is it the same mold in which Paul found the church in the first century? Is it the same mold that Martin Luther felt compelled to shatter with a hammer and 95 theses? The medium changes the message (the Gospel) does not. It's not about " what our youth want," it's about how our youth or anyone else receives information. And the hard thing is that for those of us who grew up with the 1950-19?? church, we have to learn new languages, mediums if you will. Is it a slippery slope? Darn right, the church has always existed on a slippery slope, being human is a slippery slope, orthodoxy is a slippery slope. But it's a slope we are called to serve on and in. The message has been overshadowed in every generation. The Romans co-opted our faith for their own means, the Crusades were certainly a distortion of the message, slavery was supported by the church's distortion of the message. And yet the message remains. Oh yes, the medium does change.
Jen - March 18th, 2013 at 9:37 PM
Maybe they know their audience better than you do? Maybe they prayed about it and found that the Lord was leading them in a different direction than they originally thought they needed to go. Maybe the Lord intervened so your message could be spoken in person to someone else who needed you face to face...at another conference, on a street corner, in a coffee shop, in your kitchen.

In other words...maybe it's not about you at all.
Deanna - March 18th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
Thank you from a little girl with a camera, a cat, and many questions. Many questions about tithing to pastors with several houses and cars, and to those that would tell me I am going to hell for not attending church in a year or being friends with agnostics and atheists and gays "who are going there also". I hope to meet you and walk with you and our friend Jesus one day. Thank you for being you.
DJ Lazzell - March 18th, 2013 at 9:44 PM
I too grew up like you, but I'm the fatal statistic that won't come back to the church for every reason you stated in your beautifully written blog! You are the only Christian I listen to until more of you appear. Thank you!
KM - March 18th, 2013 at 9:58 PM
it is like you read my mind.....I was raised the good girl...I did everything i was suppose...I didn't even do senior skip day! I would ask you so many why's you would think you were surround by 100 3-4 yr old kids....yet I can't seem to catch a break. Give, give, give, give, give to the point I am EXHAUSTED and emotional on empty and trying to be patient and wait and yet apparently in my case good things DO NOT come to those who wait.....some thing has to change...something has to give....but I don't know what else to do and I can't take much more of this....
Kelly - March 19th, 2013 at 9:00 AM
I understand this feeling. Consider discussing with a Christian counselor. It helps! Take the time to understand this and yourself. It's never too expensive to invest in YOU.
Laurie - March 18th, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Yes,yes and yes! Thank you for sharing and putting into words what has been ripping at my heart for the past several years. Every where I turn in the past 12 months The Lord places me (or is at least opening my eyes wide open) in situations to feed the hungry,clothe the poor,minister to a stranger, care for children, and homeless and (the list becomes extensive)...He is also driving home the simple and profound truth-love people.period. Thank you for continuing to share Jesus!
Wade - March 18th, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Jen, If you get uninvited somewhere again, you come speak at my church, cuz we need to hear that! (Oh and I'm moving to a church in Austin soon!)
Stephanie - March 18th, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Amen! Thank you for your precious words and viewpoint... I have felt the same way for so many years! I pray I love and lead others to Christ as unconditionally as you!
RK - March 18th, 2013 at 10:10 PM
On paper I'm one of the 80% - in my heart it's more complicated. I got to a point where it seemed like it was expected that my religion would be more important than my faith. All around me people were hurting and struggling and lost (sometimes I was hurting and struggling and lost) and we were arguing about carpet vs tile in the meeting hall. I couldn't do it - I can't. However, now I'm raising my little Ethiopian-American and I want to give her the community and the faith that meant so much to me as I grew, so I'm trying to find a place where we can fit. I'm hopeful still, but honestly, discouraged as well.
Amy - March 18th, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Hi Jen, I liked when you said,
"So if it wasn%u2019t Jesus making enemies out of the adopted, it had to be the structure in which we contained Him." You hit the nail on the head, sister! And there is nothing arrogant about pointing out religious hypocrisy... Jesus did it all the time. I recently wrote about religious control in the church - you can check it out here if you like.:
http://www.truthisaperson.com/2013/02/beon-guard-religious-control-in-church.html

Kudos to you for your grace, love, courage and honesty!
Jeff - March 18th, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Well said. God bless you.
Stacey - March 18th, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Here's the thing, you were one of the people who made me feel normal. My faith journey has felt rather lonely at times. There was a recent period when I felt like I didn't belong anywhere at all. I read your blog, two of your books and starting feeling like there was a place for me. I have recently found other women who share my heart and it is so refreshing. Thank you for being an inspiration to me and so many others.
Edgar - March 18th, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Why is it so awful to be 'unchurched?' Plenty of people lost their Christian faith,only to have found it replaced by a truth that truly resonates with them.
Edgar - March 18th, 2013 at 10:26 PM
And also, if it's social justice you are looking for, try a UU church!
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