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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displaying most recent 100 comments

Kathryn Goins - March 19th, 2013 at 1:52 PM
I shared your post on FB. Here's what I wrote when I shared:

PRAISE GOD for Jen Hatmaker and like-minded people--those seeking to truly make disciples versus church-goers. Exactly what my family is searching for; people who are unafraid to address the challenging questions and reach out to people where they are...JUST LIKE JESUS DID. God bless Jen Hatmaker and those who share the same spirit!!!

Candy - March 19th, 2013 at 1:55 PM
Thank you for being a voice of BOTH grace & truth on this topic. I'm glad you use your writing gift with wisdom, love and boldness wrapped up in grace & mercy. From the large # of comments, clearly this is a conversation which needs to be continued.
Ben Crout - March 19th, 2013 at 2:02 PM
Dear Jen,
We have never met personally and I came to read this by chance when someone posted it on facebook. My name is Ben Crout and I just wanted to tell you I find your stance encouraging. I am 26 and have not been attending any church now for a few years, not because I have lost my faith but I have overwhelmingly lost faith in most "church establishments%u201D. To be honest I'm not entirely sure when this happened. When I was a child I had seen multiple sex scandals within the churches I had gone to, and that coupled with a complete in-ability to really go outside the traditional Christian talking points and feel good sermons left me not only hungry to learn but disengaged with the only place I had been told to seek answers. Luckily my Mother is a strong woman of faith and has really encouraged me to learn and delve into the questions we do not understand or have any easy answers for, no matter where these questions take us, or how that makes us feel. I guess my point here is that I think if there were churches made up of Christians like you, that are unwilling to squabble over whether or not God wants you to be a Baptist or a Lutheran, whether Jesus would be a democrat or a republican, and actually focus on just being a CHRISTian that is a church I would probably attend. Please continue to take a stand for a principled but not pretentious church.
Benjamin Crout

Jenny - March 19th, 2013 at 2:12 PM
I am speechless. Truly. This fires me up. In such a good way. It makes me want to scream from the mountaintops. It truly paints a picture of Jesus. And I am with you. I want to seek out that 80%. Thank you for reminding me of that today!
Jerry - March 19th, 2013 at 2:24 PM
Hi, Jen
I am in my 4th decade of church pastoring and it took me the first 2 (20 years!) to learn the lessons of grace. I weep when I think how many I turned off with my legalisms, my confusion of church with Christ.
When the demands of the institutions, ya know, stuff like making payroll, paying the utility bill, buying VBS supplies for 200 kiddies, meet the Word of offense that is rooted so deeply in grace, I'll admit to being torn. Do I keep the support base (usually older, more conservative) happy, or do I go with a message of radical grace?
Hurrah for you! Glad you were let the invitation go and write about it with such aplomb.
Kate - March 19th, 2013 at 2:34 PM
Interesting, but I see the same thing here that you complain about in the "Bible Belt" - you are just pursuing different social issues. The same thing is still missing that was missing when I began questioning 45 years ago. I'd read through the NT several times and found missing in my church what is still missing in your article and in many churches - the power of the Holy Spirit! I knew about grace and love, and the legalism that my parents had left behind, but where was the power Jesus talked about? It is evident in some places today, but in far too many churches, whether "left" or "right", there is just more of the world, and more division. I pray you all will seek the Face of Jesus, and the leading of His Spirit, rather than the leading of the world
Marie - March 19th, 2013 at 2:44 PM
I don't think I've ever left a comment on someone's blog before, but here it goes. Although, I agree with most all your thoughts and I too wrestle with many questions; one thing bothers me (scares might be a better word) about your blog and a few others that I have read....they appear to me to be lacking true humility. One of the most beautiful qualities about Jesus is that he was humble. In this post and others that I have read there is an air of superiority.... as if God has chosen to enlighten only a few. Anyway, I guess my concern is that humility should be our ultimate goal, not drawing lines that will stroke pride or place us above others because we think "correctly" about things. Humility is the true mark of a Christ follower. It is easier and more fun to write off the church who dis-invited you as not enlightened....but it is harder to truly and humbly listen and learn.
Marie - March 19th, 2013 at 4:00 PM
I just wanted to add, I'm not writing this from a viewpoint of a church leader or pastor's wife who is tired of being criticized. On the contrary, my husband and I haven't attended a regular church for 10-12 years. We meet with a small body of believers regularly in our homes. (this is just what we prefer and is encouraging to us, not saying it is the right way.)
Bruce - March 26th, 2014 at 8:19 AM
Humble didn't cause Christ's death. Passion and what the people of today call intolerance. He was intolerant to the religious leadership. He was passionate about his Father's house. So much so that he took time, he set time aside, and assembled, created, fashioned, a whip and tore the place up (Temple.)
The church today doesn't have a passion for God, or a whip! They have a passion for themselves and the like of man.

Seriously, the very people he came for despised and rejected him.

Leslie @ Body Won't Break - March 19th, 2013 at 2:50 PM
I love this. Absolutely love it.

I have struggled with the church for SO LONG. And I still struggle with it. But I love her. Because she belongs to Jesus.

I also struggle with the idea of needing to be successful. I've made it an idol, and Jesus has reminded me of this. A LOT. He keeps helping me to turn everything back to HIm. We have a large house, which means it is time to pursue fostering kids in state custody. We have good jobs which means we need to give back to those who have less.

One of the reasons I love reading your books and blog is because you talk so much about giving back. I am tired of the consumer culture in church and just simply can not do it any longer. Thank you for giving words to my feelings and for voicing all the things I wrestle with but don't really know how to talk.
Justin Harvey - March 19th, 2013 at 2:52 PM
This is my first introduction to you, Jen. High-five! Fantastic article.
Tonya - March 19th, 2013 at 3:28 PM
Thank you for putting into words what I have felt in my spirit for quite some time and didn't know how to express! I just love your openness and honesty. Keep up the good work.
Steve - March 19th, 2013 at 3:44 PM
as a skeptical person (like you) i would be interested to know the name of the Church that dis-invited you. Even as you state you are not political I detect a tone of politics when you mention taking a hard turn to the left and hinting that Jesus tilted left. You wouldn't mind us doing our due diligence I'm sure
Chelsea - March 19th, 2013 at 4:20 PM
Thank you for writing my thoughts in your beautiful words... this is exactly how I feel. You know what's funny.... the longer I'm married, the more I understand why the Church is referred to as Christ's bride. I want her to change so badly but only because I love her so much.

Thank you again for writing this and providing a sense of unity in your difference.
Diana Curry - March 19th, 2013 at 4:20 PM
At 67 years old, I find myself just newly in the place you are talking about here. It was brought on by the revelation of one of my 7 children that she was gay. Where do we put Christian gays? I found that most churches ignored or shunned her. Lots of Christians just walked away but many have been wonderful. All of the responses left me with a feeling of being tried and judged right there in Sunday School. I wanted to know that my beautiful, Bible College educated daughter could still worship after revealing her life change. I did not find that for a long time. I know that when I look at the life of Jesus, I can say that He loves her. Where do we put them and where can they go. Most drop out of church and walk away wondering why they are so freared and hated because they love someone. My daughter is in a great, loving and permanent relationship with another woman. I am so confused.

Grace - May 2nd, 2013 at 5:08 PM
Diana, in response to your comments, most people who say "I know how you feel" would not be able to really mean what they say. Even though they might have the best intentions in trying to comfort you, or help you with your confusion, they wouldn't really know or understand what it is like to be in your shoes. I, on the other hand, do. I am in your same boat. I know what a lonely voyage in a very unfamiliar vessel it can be. Like me, you probably never thought you would be on this particular journey. My daughter also has a strong Christian background and even served in ministry for some years. She loves Jesus, and she is living in a gay lifestyle. I know that Jesus loves her, as you also know He loves your daughter. It is also very clear that He continues to pursue her, care for her, provide for her, and comfort her. My daughter is also beautiful, both inside and outside. And like you daughter, she is also in a committed relationship.
As you related the reactions you got from your Sunday school friends, I felt your pain. While many people have truly been compassionate and kind, there have been a few who have been judgmental and hurtful. And yes, some have walked away, like you said. I think people (especially those within the Church) just don't want to deal with this issue. Christians often have chosen to disengage from the issue of homosexuality, even though this issue is one THE biggest of our time. This issue is everywhere - but we have wanted to bury our heads in the sand and hope and pray that it doesn't touch our lives personally. Most Churches have shied away from addressing this issue from the pulpit, in Sunday school classes, in youth groups, or in Bibles studies because we hoped if we just didn't talk about it, that it might not creep into our doors.
And if a church has chosen to tackle the issue of homosexuality, oftentimes the term abomination is thrown around in the discussion. It seems like we Christians have set this particular sin in a category all its own, and deemed it to be THE worst sin. (I may get some huge and negative criticism here, as I just put the terms homosexual and sin in the same sentence. It is not my purpose in this piece to debate that subject. I am a person whose whole Christian life has been based on the truth of Scripture. If I give up or compromise truth, I would be giving up everything I have believed in and based my whole life on. But, please keep reading before you label me as a hater, intolerant, or whatever else you might be thinking of me. I also, like Diana, have a daughter living in the gay lifestyle, and I STILL love her, pursue her, help her, and show her much grace - as she does me!)
Now, back to the issue that Diana raised about how the church deals with gays: Since in some people's minds, it is the worst of all evils, homosexuals can be portrayed as worse than lepers or adulterers - worse than drug addicts or dead beat Dads - worse than people in prison. There has been more mercy and grace shown to such as these, than to gays, in some church communities. There has been more tolerance, love, help, and outreach shown to such as these, than to people in the gay community. The church welcome mat has been extended to many a sinner, but gays often feel unwelcomed and unwanted. Why is that? I believe it is because of all the negative rhetoric and judgmental statements that have gone out from the church, in general, about homosexuality. It has been hard for us to live up to the motto - "love the sinner, hate the sin." (If you are looking for an exact verse that says just that in the Bible, it isn't there. But, the intent of that "motto" is very much there.) The church often does a good job in reaching out to people in the 80%, as Jen referred to, but with this particular group of people, the church has been lacking. We have a hard time looking past the behavior, to the heart and soul of the person. We let their sexual orientation determine how we look at them. And in fact, if that person we are looking at is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should look at them through that lens. God does. When God looks at us sinners, if we have accepted His Son's gift of forgiveness and grace, He sees His Son's blood covering our sins.
Within the Christian community, there is disagreement about whether or not a person living in the gay lifestyle can be a Christian. Now things can really heat up fast, and can get ugly. (We could have another one of the "Ron Burgandy moments", as I read about before in the responses to Jen's blog. I sure hope no one calls me a BAD name!) I personally DO believe that a person can be a Christian and be gay - identified, because I have a daughter that I know was saved at an early age, who served the Lord in full-time ministry for a number of years, and who still loves Jesus. Some call her salvation into question, based on her actions and choices.
I do not believe it is up to any of us to judge another person's salvation. We should leave that up to God, and the person. He is THE ONLY one who knows their heart. Again, this issue is NOT the reason I am writing this piece, so I will move on. (When you get into this whole gay issue, there are so many twists and turns, points of possible disagreement and argument, places where the whole discussion can fall into a ditch and not move forward that no wonder we want to avoid it altogether!) But, some of us can't avoid it. We can't ignore it because it is affecting OUR family. As Christian parents of a gay child, our lives are greatly impacted by our child's lifestyle. While I guess that is true of every parent, it is particularly hard for parents like Diana and myself, and my husband. We feel the rejection our child feels. A Mother can't help it - even if it involves a grown child. We in turn feel rejected, judged and condemned if they feel those things. When people walk away from them, and when people walk away from us - it is painful. And when it is the very people who should be loving us - fellow believers - the pain really pierces the soul. Fortunately, our church family has been compassionate and supportive of my husband and I, thank goodness. I don't know if that can be said of Diana's church group. I hope they have loved on you, and been there for you.
But, then the question you raised in your writing comes up - where do gay believers go to Church? That is a REAL tough one. It sounds like your daughter and her partner do want to go to church, and probably to a church that teaches truth from the Bible, as you said she went to a Bible college. My daughter was raised in a conservative church, and also desires Biblical teaching. (Even though she embraces different interpretations as to what the Bible says about homosexuality, she still wants to grow in her knowledge and faith.) Some churches will welcome people who are struggling with sexual identity issues. (Notice the word - struggling). While they are struggling with their identity, most churches are willing to reach out to them, with the hope of helping them to possibly make different choices and to lead them toward repentance and toward living a holy life. At this stage, there is often love, grace, mercy, and acceptance.
But, it seems that when a person is no longer struggling with their sexual identity, and has fully committed to the gay lifestyle, there are very few places that would welcome them ... very few. There are very few places of worship where they would feel accepted as people and respected as people. Even if we don't agree with their way of living, they should always be shown respect as deserved by every person God created. We should show them respect and kindness, and extend the hand of friendship to them. But, finding such a loving community is hard to find for gay Christians. I know you desire that for your daughter and I do the same for mine. We know they need believers around them, as do we. I can only tell you to keep praying about it, and hopefully God will answer both of our prayers. Most, as you said, do walk away from church, because they do feel that rejection, judgment, and condemnation. Some people in church do fear them, and maybe even hate them, although I don't think they would even admit that emotional response to themselves. As Christians, we aren't supposed to hate people. So rather than do that, we just ignore, marginalize, put out, walk away, quit calling, treat coldly, don't sit with, don't invite to lunch, etc. I wouldn't want to go to a church that treated me that way. No one wants to be looked at with disdain and disgust, as if they were something very strange - something to be avoided, because what they have %u201Cmight be catching.%u201D That may sound very harsh, but as a parent of a gay child - I have felt just a tiny bit of that myself, and it has cut me to the quick. If that is how I felt in a particular church - I would run away as fast as these very out of shape 60 year old legs could take me! I hope and pray there is somewhere that they can run to. I know if there is not a place - there is certainly a person they can - and do - run to - and that is JESUS. Praise God that He never gives up on us. His welcome will NEVER END! God bless you Diana. I feel your pain. I know your struggle. I understand your confusion. During this time, you also need to hold tight to Jesus and grow in your faith. Know you aren't alone. (Even though you probably feel like it 99.9% of the time.) I have to believe there are others of us out there. We have been "hiding" because of the fear of rejection and out of shame, guilt, or whatever, we can become isolated. That is not a good place to live! We have to start opening up, and reaching out to each other. I don't know how we (and I am assuming there is a WE) can connect, but it would sure be great if we could. I know we all won't agree on every facet of this very complicated issue, but surely, as mothers and dads, we could help each other out. We need each other!

Julie - June 5th, 2013 at 10:35 AM
First, I just want to offer my love and support to both of you. I've had to do some spiritual re-examining over the past year, and it's lead me to some surprising revelations that might be of interest to you. When I was young, I married a man who was kind and romantic, and I loved him deeply. Sadly, he had worsening mental illness. Over the course of several years, he became progressively more paranoid and jealous, with an explosive temper. He became extremely unstable, and was unwilling to seek treatment. I became physically and spiritually ill. I shrank away from my church and my previous volunteer work. I prayed that God would heal us. Instead He gave me a strong moment of insight that I needed to get out to save my life. We divorced a year ago, and I thank God every day for giving me my life back.

I'm about thirty, and I long to find someone who will treat me well, to remarry, and to have children. Because of my past experience, some have clobbered me with the Bible and told me that remarrying would be adulterous (The Bible says it in the "black and white" text, after all). I've been told that if I ever want to experience romantic love or physical intimacy, and if I ever want to have a family, it would be "living in sin." I've been told that because of my circumstance, I must live a celibate life. Sound like the boat anyone else is in?

I started exploring things on my own, and discovered that the Bible has over 600 rules and prohibitions, mostly about food preparation and animal sacrifice. We cannot pick and choose rules, taking them at a surface level without deeper exploration. We must look at their historical contexts and must ask ourselves what our hearts are really telling us. Anyway, probably the last thing you need is another person's interpretation of scripture, so I'll move on.

I want to invite you and your daughters to the Episcopal church, where I have found great love and acceptance, and which even invites openly gay and lesbian people in relationships to be church leaders including bishops. I think you all will certainly find a welcoming community there. You also may be interested in my blog article "Why do I, as a Christian straight woman support LGBT causes" at You also might enjoy the article right after it "How does the Bible apply," but that does start delving into interpretation of scripture, and I hope it won't feel like one more person's unrequested opinion/judgment. I offer it in case you find it to be a valuable resource for showing others that there are multiple ways to look at this. I wish you the best. God bless.
Kelsey - March 19th, 2013 at 5:34 PM
Hold up...are you in KS? Love, This. Epic.
Jaimie - March 19th, 2013 at 6:44 PM
A kindred spirit! Only one that's not afraid of being fully "discovered" - anxious about what people will think if and when she speaks out. Thank you for being that person, growing in Christ's sanctification each day even as I am. :)
Kim - March 19th, 2013 at 6:56 PM
My husband just posted your blog entry today on facebook and I read it. I am so glad I read this. It was a strong encouragement to me today. I am a pastor's wife who has been burned all too much by the church as we know it. I would very much like to never return to church but my spouse keeps me there. I know that is a good thing

Long ago, before I met him, I wanted to be a PW because I longed to see the hurt find healing; to feed the poor; to cloth the naked; to help the helpless. All I have found thus far is a church that doesn't care. A church that would rather push it's right-wing agenda. A church that says, "God helps those who help themselves." A church with apathy towards those who need help them most, that loves the white collar crowd, that can't identify with ordinary folks or the intellectual. I've been feeling helpless/lost/out of place.

And then I read your blog......It's like you've been reading about my heart's misery and grief. I don't want to turn away from Christ's church but I've felt like I can't even identify with the body anymore. Sometimes I've wondered if I've been rebelling. But how can caring about the poor be against God?

So thank you, Jen for writing this blog. I'm glad I'm not alone. I wish I could find all these people who identify with your posting so I can fellowship with them. There is so much we could do together.
Charles Gray - March 19th, 2013 at 7:09 PM
It seems you are tolerant of everyone and everything except certain christians who you feel are out of touch with modern day culture. I wonder what was the driving reason behind you writing this blog. Could it be that you were angry about being uninvited to speak and this is your way of drawing attention to yourself and trying to sell books? You are reacting to the church the same way you accuse them of reacting to society. Seems somewhat hypocritical. You have done an excellent job of using this topic to increase your exposure and paint yourself as one of the "enlightened" christians who knows better than all the traditional, ignorant and hayseed christians who have lost touch with reality.
CranialCavity - March 19th, 2013 at 8:51 PM
How did you even come close to reading that into the article? She clearly says that "I understand the current status quo" but is trying to show that "the church" in general is missing the mark of what being a Christian is really about!
Laura - March 20th, 2013 at 1:41 AM
I agree with Charles. Just like she is calling BS on the social gospel within the American Church, I call BS on her accepting there difference and supporting the church. Tone often says more than text!!

A wise person once told me: Be careful how you talk about the Bride of Christ. The historical church has had major flaws in every generation, yet it is still God chosen medium for the advancement of the gospel. Now this generation is no exception but change has to take place within the body as opposed to this new tribe of cool misfits, so much humbler than you traditionalists.

I do truely understand your frustration and desire for change but the attitude communicated to anyone reading between the lines is of a cattie teenager whose seemingly nice words are just daggers in disquise.
Kelly - March 19th, 2013 at 7:22 PM
Been heading to the margins for a while, but a little nervous about letting my 20% parents in on how far afield I've gotten. But I think it's time, and I love the grace in your description. We're serving and loving, just in different ways.
Nissa - March 19th, 2013 at 7:44 PM
You are one of my hero's. And not because of your "struggle with the church" but because of your love for it. You are the real deal and I love you deeply even though I don't know you. You inspire me and make me want to know and love Jesus more. You fan a flame in me to make Him known. Thank you.
Diana - March 19th, 2013 at 7:59 PM
Bless you, girl, for understanding true grace and having the courage to speak for the 80 percent. And I don't hear any hostility toward the 20 percent, merely an acknowledgement of the differences and a message of love. More courage.

My heart's pounding, my neck hurts from nodding and my kids are looking at me weird (again)--this blog post spoke a word into my life today. Thank you.
Robin - March 19th, 2013 at 11:12 PM
From a radio show this morning, Max Lucado talking about how we get so caught up in trying to make everyone happy, when our purpose as Christians is to honor God. So, if we can get to the end of the day and have honored God, then He is pleased. If others are pleased in the process then that's great, but we are to honor Him! I appreciate you getting uninvited and being real. I have 1 son included in the statistics and pray that he will find his way back. Keep telling the truth, offering grace and honoring Him!
Erica - March 20th, 2013 at 2:04 AM
I was raised Southern Baptist and I am now staunchly agnostic because I see no reason to live by a 2,000-year-old work of historical fiction.

People are leaving churches because the global population is becoming increasingly literate and capable of researching these things on their own, and coming to similar conclusions.

We are slowly but surely moving towards an era in which the human race no longer needs to make up (or continue to believe) stories that try and explain an inexplicable world. Or, at least we're getting so far away from the origins of this particular story that a new, more modern and relevant story will arise to take its place.

And it won't mean a complete breakdown of morality. You don't need Jesus or any man-made "God" to feed the poor, care for the sick, or love the marginalized; nor should these acts of kindness be bound by the strings of self-righteous proselytizing based on an archaic view of the world.

For example, it is simply not possible to "lovingly" tell a gay person that their entire being is inherently wrong and/or evil, and a growing number of people want nothing to do with that kind of "charity."

I applaud Ms. Hatmaker's attempts to move the Christian church forward; if more Christians would adopt her views, the religion might have a chance of staying relevant, but it doesn't seem likely.
Raised in the Church - March 20th, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Thank you! This times a million.
Kelly - March 20th, 2013 at 6:32 AM
Thank you. For being able to stand in the middle of being truly blessed and see that so many others are not. And then choosing to help them. I attended ANC once when visiting friends in Austin. It was more moving than I was willing to share - and perhaps even accept. I have to say though that I am glad they uninvited you - since it triggered this post.
Jessica - March 20th, 2013 at 8:30 AM
We're with you...
Upside Brown - March 20th, 2013 at 8:58 AM
I feel like I just took a breath of my own air! I love watching people live in their calling - which is more often than not - a march to the beat of a different drum. Thank you, thank you, thank you for standing in the truth and the LIGHT.
jenni - March 20th, 2013 at 9:01 AM
You have made me feel so much less alone. As someone who has a blog entitled "God is bigger than your shit", you have spoken words that echo my own sentiments so well. You have verbalized all my thoughts about church and the marginalized. THANK YOU! Thank you for allowing and helping Christ to shine beyond the walls of "church".
Paula - March 20th, 2013 at 9:08 AM
Sounds to me as if you are caught in many gray areas and you are falling even further from what is right. This is exactly what is wrong with Christians today. They have "given in" to things that are not right... all in the name of not condemning. It is a slippery slope, and it seems to me you are sliding down it slowly. Sorry to offend, but this is exactly what Satan does. It brings to mind the frog in a pot of boiling water story.....
Emily - March 20th, 2013 at 11:37 PM
If loving people (no matter what their sexual orientation, addiction, political preferences, past, etc.) like Jesus did and still does is wrong, then I sure don't want to be right. We're not called to judge or condemn, just to LOVE. Loving the unchurched, dechurched, etc. does not equal "giving in."
Paul - April 1st, 2013 at 6:48 AM
I'm with Paula on this one... 95% of what Jesus did was call people to repentance. Not just "LOVE", whatever you mean by that. Patting people on the head as they go to hell?
Sandy - February 25th, 2014 at 3:51 PM
And those people he called to repentance? Pharisees, aka "church people."
Linda - March 20th, 2013 at 9:19 AM
Well said. Living on the "Jesus Edge" with you!
Jennifer - March 20th, 2013 at 10:11 AM
Keep fighting the good fight, sister! I am in the same camp and thank you for having the courage to speak out loud - what an encouragement!!!
Duncan - March 20th, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Love it! Agree completely! And shared extensively! :D
Nicola - March 20th, 2013 at 11:01 AM
Really fabulous. My husband, close community, and I are all trying to walk this awkward balance too. Helps so much to read about your own similar walk, struggles, and victories. Thank you for putting it out there.
Cindy - March 20th, 2013 at 1:21 PM
that is the best blog I have read in a long time! Thank you for your honesty, for challenging your brothers and sisters in love, for standing up for the outcasts, to whom Jesus ran to! Oh to be like Him! I praise God for you and your voice and His Holy Spirit in you! Praying for you and your ministry! Its the gospel in action!
Abigail - March 20th, 2013 at 1:32 PM
The cracks in my (I thought) infallible Southern Baptist faith started when I made a choice my church couldn't categorize as "right" or "wrong," but just "different," and widened when I met CHRISTIANS WHO DRANK ALCOHOL! in Argentina, and grew close to our devout Christian interpreters on a mission trip to Russia...because they loved my God, but not my country.

I went on an excruciating three-year struggle and returned to faith only after college via Andy Stanley's Starting Point class for doubters, those new to faith, etc.--for the very reason you share here.
I was raised in a church environment that castrated those with questions and spent most of the time emphasizing what NOT to do while missing out on the LIFE I so loved in my Jesus. Now a teacher in Las Vegas, I attend a non denominational church that welcomed me with open arms after my old church told me that my ex-husband and I just weren't being good enough Christians after a particularly abusive episode on his part. I am not perfect, but RESTORED, for sure, and now serve as a leader in several ministries.

The merciful and Jen Hatmakers of the world are why I am insanely in love with my heavenly Beloved today, despite hypocrisy and a father and husband who abandoned me. Ps. 12:5, Isaiah 43:1-4, & well, God bless!

David - March 20th, 2013 at 1:37 PM
Wow. That nail has a serious concussion, cause you slammed it square on the head! My wife found your writings and blog and shared them with me and I am very impressed and spurred on by your boldness, Sister! I am working with my pastors to have our church sponsor a new ministry program that will help break these stereotypes and get people thinking and acting more in the spirit of love and grace than maintaining traditions.
The church I was "born" in was just like the ones you described. More concerned with keeping the status quo and making sure the "older" generations were happy and at least stagnant, not backsliding, than ensuring they were living out the great commission. I love how you're able to lovingly, boldly call us all out on this! Keep it up! I'm praying for you.
Julie - March 20th, 2013 at 2:05 PM
Good words here. I am a pastor's wife and we were just called to a church that is very affluent. I wish there was a good book on how to really speak to the heart of the very rich, the women are so guarded and high-walled, but for now, I am going on prayer and a smile and a sincere, "How are you?" at the PTA meetings and the ladies luncheons, and the grocery store...

Jen, do you read these comments? I sometimes wonder if I would ever even get back to you, because I love the thought you stimulate. My friend who lives in Montana and I text back and forth; we love to get a good thought stimulated, especially about church and Christians and adoption and rich and poor and justice and this crazy world. I'd love to talk to you because I think you are a thinking woman. And I wonder about your blazing Jesus guns. I like them, I have a set, but I also think there is a fine line. What do you think? This is a great book that has me thinking, "Accidental Pharisees" by Larry Osborne. If you even had a minute to read the back cover and tell me what you think, I would love that. Otherwise, God Bless! Meet ya on the other side sister!
Meghan - March 20th, 2013 at 3:13 PM
After reading this a few days ago I cried tears of joy when I said my prayers that night. I was so grateful to find that I'm not alone. I'm thankful beyond words to have found someone who can put into words exactly what my heart feels. Thank you. You are awesome!Type comment here...
Caroline - March 20th, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Why do feel the need to share that you have been uninvited? I'm sure that hurt to be uninvited, but I don't see how sharing this with thousands of people is beneficial.
Deanna Shrodes - March 20th, 2013 at 4:53 PM
I believe sharing that she was uninvited shows just how threatening this message is to the status quo and all the reason more why it must be shared. Why are Christians and leadership so afraid of this message?
Cindy - March 20th, 2013 at 8:17 PM
Wow! I am inspired by your love, compassion and courage. I so want to be part of reaching the 80%. Please pray that I'll have insight and courage in my sphere of influence.
Stephanie - March 20th, 2013 at 8:18 PM

I get what you are trying to say and appreciate much of it. However, be wary, oft- times bitterness over rejection evokes a rebellious response from folks-even Christ-followers.
Tearing down a Church, even in a subtle way, is divisive and just isn't necessary. More importantly, it isn't biblical. Christians must speak the Truth and the Bible is the TRUTH, the Living Word of God. (Heb.4:12) It should not be reduced to merely a "bludgeon or a balm. "
So what does the Word say regarding how Christians are to regard the Church? We are to "BE SHEPHERDS OF THE CHURCH OF GOD WHICH HE BOUGHT WITH HIS OWN BLOOD."-Acts 20:28
Also, the Bible is clear that divisiveness is not from the Lord. Among Christians, There is no 20%-80%, no "my people"- your people. Who is to say who is %u201Ccloser to the margins%u201D than another? We are all "ragamuffins", alike. Unity is a core value among Christ-followers.
Believers must be clear and speak the truth. We must work towards unity!! We all know that Jesus was not a Democrat (or Republican for that matter.) So our faith and ministry need not take a turn to the left or the right. Neither was he a drunk (He himself along with his disciples spoke against drunkenness-Luke 21,Romans 15, Gal. 5,1 Pet.4)
Take caution in taking such a strong position against the Conservative Christian Church, (or any Christian church for that matter) because in so doing you may be taking a "persistent defensive posture" against another "tribe, demographic or tradition." Precisely what you are trying to argue against.
I agree with you that people are starving for God-we ALL are in need of His Saving Grace. Life is %u201Csticky%u201D everywhere by the way. However, Easter is COMING!! The CHURCH is ready!!! Aren't there enough people in this world criticizing the CHURCH? Shouldn't Christians be reaching out and bringing people to the Church instead of leading them away? Regardless of what you may think, the TRUTH is that Christians ARE the church-the BRIDE of CHRIST!! And we should be defending it!!
Praise be to Jesus that He loves all 100%-and He throws his lot in with us ALL!!

Joe Thomas - March 20th, 2013 at 8:30 PM
I am a man. Shocking on this post I know. Sweetie you are on point, we as Christians MUST change our perspective or we to will die. Jesus loves me for me and has knowne since the beginning of time, he knows faults and my sin yet still loves me. Time to grow up people Christ is waiting on us to finally get it and unfortunately we are way behind.
JP - March 20th, 2013 at 9:01 PM
As a recovering Catholic I cannot say how much this hit home.
I am deeply sickened by the curreent organized Christian religious sects.

I note the adage those who fail to read history and understand it are doomed to repeat it...

HMMM the leaders and followers of the christian churches of today are striking similar to the jewish leaders and followers of the organized jewish church of Christ's time. All rules, all pomp and ceremony, all rhetoric. No real action!

That being said the wrath of Jesus is not going to be on the Jews this time when he returns but on those very religious orders/organizations that claim his name but by no means follow in his actions, in his unquestioning love, his boundless mercy, and the very spirit of his life and direction of his ministry.

Emily - March 20th, 2013 at 9:31 PM
I'm with you Jen! Thanks for having courage to speak the truth. I come from a similar background and share your beliefs about the church. Stay encouraged!
Georgianna - March 20th, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Thank you Jen! Speaking the truth isn't easy, but I hear you and you are right! I am from the Boomer generation and I know that I was questioning things back in my teens. I see your generation and pray that you can make the church be what it needs to be, from this point forward! Peace to you!
Allison - March 20th, 2013 at 10:37 PM
I identify with your heartbeat of breaking away from a dead church but the 'hard turn left' is dangerous. Going heavy on the grace at the expense of Truth is never loving. Sometimes the desire to rebel 'against the establishment' can overshadow and confuse the message of Christ and what could otherwise be truly transformational.... I see this here. You do seem to have a good pulse on the unchurched, de-churched and dead-churched and true love and passion there - and that is beautiful.
Stephanie @ Hugs, Kisses and Snot - March 21st, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Love this and bless you. Please keep pushing the envelope. Please stay silly. Please keep the grace coming. Just don't stop. We need you, the church needs you, Jesus lovin' Democrats need you. Oh, and you're welcome at my church any time.
Lee Ann - March 21st, 2013 at 2:56 AM
"Within your tribe in your demographic in your city in your tradition, you are exactly how and where you should be." Really? If this tribe is not helping people to expand the people who they love: their world, how can it be right?
This is a very articulate post. Thank you so much. You are so much more gracious than I am after mounds of rejection and destruction from "Christian" family. Do you think that N. American Protestants think that Jesus was born in TX? He is for "us" not the world and the world seems to see our arrogance. How odd of us. Under the circumstances, returning to our roots in Eastern Orthodoxy seems pretty good! Orthodox people in the west are generally very invested.
Lorraine - March 21st, 2013 at 3:52 AM
Just a "Thank you" from South Africa! Really great to realize I am not an alien in my journey and that others are on a similar path. :)
Rena Gunther - March 21st, 2013 at 7:19 AM
"Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some." THIS! This sums up quite a lot.

I am 43 years old. I am just now, at 43, grasping the amazing beauty of grace that, really, can probably never be fully grasped.

I am the one who has learned, repeated, rinsed, and repeated the oft told lies that one sins weighs more than another. You know? The one "I" don't have.

I am soaking in grace. I'm coming to the realization that just as the American wife of an Ecuadorian Pastor told me last summer--"We've got it all backwards in America." We tap our thoughts and sermons and don't realize that we're inviting the church and the world to follow our steps and points TO. GET. TO. GOD.

NO! NO! NO!!! It's never ever ever that. When did we miss it? When did we fall asleep? It is ALL! ABOUT! HIM! It's about what HE did and the grace he gives that we keep wanting to add to. Grace {fill in the blank}. But it's grace plus nothing. It's the blood of Jesus plus NOT ONE THING that sets us free, MAKES us free from the LAW of sin and death. All the while we keep applying the law to the areas of sin we see in the lives of "others" because we are so much holier than them. And the law never could free. The law just keeps on bringing death. OH GOD HELP US! HELP! ME!

Surely this is the season of the return to grace. This is what causes me to toss in my sleep and feel compelled to talk, to write, to blog about. Enough of our pettiness. Enough of what should really be labeled contempt if we are honest.


Let's return to grace. Point them to Jesus. Then trust Him to keep what THEY have committed unto Him. He can handle it all. We likely never will this side of glory.

THANK!!!! YOU!!!
Katy - March 21st, 2013 at 8:46 AM
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Lesa - March 21st, 2013 at 11:16 AM
so loved this. makes me know that i am not alone. I am just up I-35 from you in the Big-D... unevenly attempting to do the same. :o) grateful for your voice! -Lesa

Kayla Estabrook - March 21st, 2013 at 11:56 AM
I wish I had met you at nineteen. Because this... "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 %u2013 I gather them to me like a Mama because they are going to change the world." ... this means more to me than you will EVER know. Thank you for loving like Jesus.
Storm - March 21st, 2013 at 3:52 PM
My sister and brother-in-law just introduced me to your blog while I was visiting this past weekend. As a liberal thinker in the middle of Kansas they really suggested I read your blog. This was the first post I read and I found myself crying while continuing down the page. Thank you so much for ministering to me today. From your 400 comments you are obviously reaching many people, but thank you for ministering to me today.
L D Ryan - March 21st, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Go get e'm. We need a revolution in the Christian community to live and act like Jesus. Two percent share their faith. That means 98% have majored in the minors of good things, but they have missed the point of "feeding the sheep". Witness, witness, witness ... You might see someones son or daughter saved. Evangelism with the Holy Spirit works.
Sarah - March 22nd, 2013 at 1:33 AM
great post.
what is funny though is that the very same people that are posting it on FB are the ones that have been the most cruel to myself and other not "good enough" christians.
i am part of that 80%.
i am the part that has taken myself out of where i was consistently told that my questions weren't appropriate, that my views weren't biblically based and that i needed to just "pray more".
when a family member was terminally ill these very "friends" said "i'll pray for you," they didn't come over, they didn't help through the horrible time, they prayed during bible studies - the very bible studies I dreamed of being able to come to, but couldn't because I was too busy taking care of my dying relative, and yes I did ask for their help - they just couldn't help because they had "church".
yes it was a choice, but a choice i made alone, while I was being "prayed" for.
i think that it isn't the "church" but the church body, when the church body can't be disturbed to step out of their norm, see others needs as great as spending another night focusing on one chapter of the bible than there is a problem.
i appreciate this post, but it still misses the point. we, all of us, need to see that Christ didn't spend his time in a building singing songs devoting more and more time on himself - but he got out into the world, he spent time with people at their lowest points without mixing words he got to the root of the issues and then didn't run, but stuck around to see change. we need to see that bringing Christ's love isn't about a blanket statement of "I'll pray for you." but going beyond.
i try my hardest to do this daily, i try to open my eyes to others hearts to see what their needs are and instead of just placating them i show them genuine love.
isn't that what it's about?
Marti - March 22nd, 2013 at 8:15 AM
I'm a newbie here. And that was awesome.

And I was a part of that the grace of God I got pulled back in but that time in the desert changed a way the 20% will never get. Thankful my Jesus does...
Katherine Willis Pershey - March 22nd, 2013 at 11:10 AM
Wow, Jen! I love you, too! It was so cool to see myself in your post. (I'm one of those Jesus-loving, barefoot, earth-mama liberals. And I used to play tambourine in a gospel folk band when I was in seminary.)

In all seriousness: yes, yes, yes. Thank you for your witness. I know that you are speaking primarily of the evangelical Christian subculture, but you have been a source of wisdom for me as I seek to deepen my faith and witness and discipleship within the liberal mainline church.
Carmen - March 22nd, 2013 at 11:38 AM
"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%u2019t 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 %u2013 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%u2026."

Thank you! I grew up extremely conservative, loving Jesus, and extremely "good." I never rocked the boat, and would have rather been struck with boils than do anything directly disobedient to Christ. And yet, at age 27 I found myself facing the odd realization that judging by the way I related to people, the way the world made sense to me, the only way I could truly dream and be fully alive, the only way my relationships needed no interpretation to make sense to me, meant I belonged to a marginalized group with the label "gay." What?! How. Could. This. Be?! I went to church every Sunday. I prayed. I loved Jesus. I didn't even know any gay people! (Which hadn't stopped me from saying mean things about them).

And yet, like all truths, it simply IS.

Who needs to be convinced of hell in eternity when you can experience its fire here on earth by coming out to your Christian family and friends?

Ghandi said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

In the hellacious aftermath, I left church. I held onto Christ only by a string - the string offered to me by ONE - just one out of 200 family members - who showed me real love, and made me think there still might be a loving Christ in all that mire after all.

Sister to sister, we need this grace you show, Jen. Christians and non-Christians alike. We MUST be Jesus to each other. How else will he ever shine through?

I have raged. I have begged. I have questioned. I have denied. I have bled. I have wounded. I have coped. I have yearned to take my leave of this world that in the name of Jesus would force such despair on beautiful and wounded souls. He is never daunted. In the end, my Jesus is beautiful. He plants himself in the middle of the marginalized. He touches the dead bodies brought back to life, he eats with lepers. He makes himself ritually "unclean" and reaches through the darkness of ostracization. And he sees. Oh, he sees.

There are many Jesus-followers who will never see eye to eye with me on this subject. We will sit together, heads between our knees, hearts too heavy to speak, because neither of us can budge, and we are so grieved. But may our focus be so intently on Him, our eyes be so filled with Him, our focus be pressing in for more of Him and only Him, that the only battle line we draw is the one against our own unwillingness to be his hands and feet to others.

Rose - March 22nd, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Jen, check out this story. This is the reality when our respect for children is lost. They become a commodity. And the sad part is that it is all in the name of "Woman's Right to Choose". We are hurting women not helping them. Rose
Ericka - March 22nd, 2013 at 5:11 PM
Your story and my story are incredibly similar. THANK YOU for writing this blog! I totally "get you" and as a woman who grew up an uber-conservative deacon's daughter, I'm there too! All I can say is - PREACH sista! That conference is missing out on a much needed message of LOVE and GRACE.
Vanessa - March 22nd, 2013 at 6:12 PM
Thank you so much Jen. You have been able to say in one blog what I have not been able to say to my parents in the last 8 years. I grew up in the "Bible Belt" and my parents are very traditional in their beliefs. Not that it is a bad thing. I loved growing up in the church and I would not have the faith and be the person I am today without it. But becoming an adult and getting married I studied the Bible and have some different opinions. We don't disagree on the basics, Jesus and baptism for example. We disagree on the little things, divorce and remarriage, how the church can spend money, etc. But in their eyes these are not little things and meant that I was heading in the wrong direction and it scared them. To try and 'save me' they didn't attend my wedding and have "disfellowshipped" me. They can't eat with me, they can't socialize, and that has led to little contact in the past 8 years. It hasn't changed even with the our 2 year old son. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for letting me know that there are other people out there who feel the same way, who think the same way, who believe the same way. You help me feel like I am not alone. I know I have Jesus and my wonderful husband and his family. But you help me feel like I am not "disfellowshipped." That you would proudly fellowship with me and shout it from the rooftops. Thank you for showing me love even though we have never met.
Bj Hickman - March 29th, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Vanessa, your comment breaks my heart. I am so very sorry. I would be honored to be in fellowship with you.
Katrina - March 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I am a friend of Tara Foreman's and I am so proud of you, not that statement may mean much to you but a part of an older generation and involving myself in some radical ideas like the Church in America actually acting like the Church. I understanding why my boys don't want to make the effort to find a church after some of the things they have seen and heard. But God always has a remnant, God always has a people so continue to obey that radical call and be a peculiar Priest.
Aaron - March 23rd, 2013 at 9:18 AM
I loved this blog post! Your take on this matter is wonderful, and I think everyone would be better people for reading this. My take is slightly different, and I think you may benefit from seeing this from another%u2019s perspective.
Just from reading this blog post, it sounds as though you%u2019ve taken the circumstances surrounding this church%u2019s un-invitation and repackaged it in a framework of, %u201CWow. I%u2019m so raw and so much more radically Christ-like than the majority of the modern church, they just can%u2019t handle me!%u201D Much like you, I think of myself as a bit of a reformer. I read the Gospels and the life of Christ and have my own views on how the church should do things, but if Solomon is any guide, there is a time and place to air our grievances and concerns over what we feel %u201Cis%u201D and what %u201Cought to be%u201D. I think this church was wholly correct, and I am refreshed to hear of a modern church with such wisdom. From the outside looking in, it doesn%u2019t sound like they think you are unsafe or are uncomfortable with you in the slightest. They simply made a wise decision that the subject matter of your talking engagement could be fantastic for the mature and yet misconstrued by young and/or new Christians. Kudos to them for making that distinction. As you%u2019ve stated, I know you think the contemporary church is sanctimonious, boring, narrow, treats people like enemies, and tends to bludgeon (all your words). In many ways I%u2019m totally with you, and however worthwhile I think this sentiment is I recognize that it could easily be a stumbling block to young/new Christians. Working with youth for many years, one thing I learned was that there are sensitivities they have that older, more established Christians do not.
I also see you fostering an %u201Cus versus them%u201D approach to church but as Paul said, %u201COne Lord, one faith, one baptism.%u201D In a few of the comments I see people heaping scorn on other churches for being rigid and dogmatic. Sometimes I feel that way, too, but I%u2019ve come to recognize that churches that don%u2019t cater to my sensibilities aren%u2019t necessarily lacking or dogmatic or rigid- they are just, well%u2026 different. And in the body of Christ, different is good! What%u2019s all this talk about parting ways and %u201Cpromising to write%u201D while you are %u201Cover there%u201D and another is %u201Cover here%u201D? Instead of this attitude, why can%u2019t we strive for unity in the body as Christ instructed. You talk a lot about what is off-putting to youth that are leaving the church, but I think you leave out one of the biggest factors- division. Young people see division in the church these days, and they want no part of it. They get it from people who agree that helping the poor and downtrodden is one of our highest ambitions, but who squabble over what church is doing enough and what church is doing too little. They see division when one church tells another, %u201Cyou%u2019re too sanctimonious,%u201D or when one Christian tells another, %u201CI%u2019m a more accurate reflection of Christ than you.%u201D I don%u2019t think we have to wait until the last supper for the church to be unified- it should be happening here and now.

Kim - March 23rd, 2013 at 10:15 AM
With you, Jen.
Lynn - March 23rd, 2013 at 2:21 PM
WOW - I got through about half the comments and so many nasty nasty things being said. Very disappointing. And while we need to reach the young, we CANNOT FORGET the unchurched that are ALL AGES. I cannot tell you how many people in my age group (40's thank you) say that the church that is only reaching for the 'youth market' has nothing to say to them. Not to mention it's all baby formula and no meat. You have no middle group and frankly I'm disgusted with many of the comments here. Please remember as well: You and I are responsible for the atmospheres in our church. Change where you are - but don't leave anyone, regardless of age, behind.
Oh - and the 'delightful' writer posting curse words: God is proud of you for that?
Heather - March 24th, 2013 at 4:43 PM
I made a similar comment over at Sarah Markley, forgive me.
I like this post and I agree with standing with those struggling in the margins whether it is with in the church or in the social justice arena. I do that too. Some times though I wonder if what makes this particular church uncomfortable is that they are seeing you engage and amening many of post-modern/emergent/post-evangelical female writers you engage with. Could that play a part?
Lana Liggett - March 24th, 2013 at 5:18 PM
You make me think and question my actions or lack of them. My background (although many years older) is so similar to yours but as a pastor's wife and a Christian for fifty years I am blessed by many young women who today are writing blogs, books and being the feet and arms of Jesus. My generation has spent years learning and "amen-ing" yet not moving. You are a breathe of fresh air - thank you for sharing and helping people see Jesus.
Joy - March 24th, 2013 at 8:15 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Olivia - March 25th, 2013 at 9:13 AM
This was exactly what I needed to read today. There are no words for the way I am feeling right now.
Tammy-Lynn - March 25th, 2013 at 9:58 AM
Wooooooo-hooooooooo! Preach it sister! I
christa - March 25th, 2013 at 10:27 AM
A-MEN!!! This is so well written than any comment I leave would not be enough. I thank you, I am with you. I just wrote a snippet of the similar sentiment last week if you'd be interested
God bless you and thank you again for inspiring me to bravely step out and question
Liz - March 25th, 2013 at 4:07 PM
As a 29 year old who was raised by athiests, this is one of the most heart warming things I've ever read. We need more people like you out here, helping us on the outside find our way in. I've got a wonderful friend who has patiently stood by my side for many years and posts like this make me think that one day I'll make it in too. Thanks for not counting us out!
Dacia - March 25th, 2013 at 10:47 PM
I love your heart. I'm can't say that I'm 100% with you on your views, but I can certainly agree with your statement that when we make it up to heaven we'll all see that we had some right and some wrong, and His grace covers that when our hearts are truly His. I'm grateful to have found your blog and will continue to read about your reaching His creation and bringing them into His family as children. I think it's awesome that you are doing what your doing and I hope you inspire a multitude of others to serve like Jesus served.
Linda Kennedy - March 26th, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Thank you for saying this OUT LOUD! I completely agree, and although raised Baptist, I am raising my children in a Methodist church where I feel there is no judgement and the focus is on sharing Christ the way He shared. The focus in our church is helping in our community (local and worldwide). Its not on self-righteousness, but on service. I love that at the end of each service our pastor says, "Our time together is coming to an end. What will we do?" The response is "We will go out and be God's people in the world." I hope that is what we do. May God continue to bless your ministry and may he open the hearts of the "church" to his plan!
Jill - March 26th, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Thank you so much for this post. I'm an associate director of children's ministries at my own (very conservative leaning) Methodist church. Back in November, I simply shared this article on my personal Facebook page ( In a nutshell, the author was bemoaning how the "good Christians" were grieving Obama's re-election and how he himself was distraught that so many Christians "had become so intimately tied up with the Empire" (aka the Right Wing).

After this seemingly harmless share, I received this (public Facebook) response from my SENIOR PASTOR on the thread...

"What does it mean for a Christian when a party's platform excluded God and when they attempted to put it back in, were booed and the chair had to manipulate what was an obvious no vote to get it passed. What does it mean for a Christian when a political party supports the right to abortion? How do you read scripture and be comfortable with that?"

Since that time, we've had one of our conservative U.S. Senator's (Ohio) come out in support of gay marriage because his own oldest son came out recently. It was a pretty big deal, politically, and personally, I would have gladly shared his editorial on Facebook ( because I happen to share this view.... but I didn't.

And today, I personally would post the red equal symbol that so many of my friends are posting (on Facebook) in support of gay rights, but I won't, because my family can't afford for me to lose my job at the moment. Never did I think that some of my own, personal, political views would be an issue when I signed on to plan Sunday School lesson plans and recruit volunteers to love on preschoolers and kindergartners. It makes me very sad...
Paul - March 31st, 2013 at 1:41 AM
Remember the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon? Why is it that there is always 1 degree of separation from people like the writer of this blog and people like you (those willing to flush the whole Bible down the toilet)?
Jim - March 26th, 2013 at 8:40 PM
caligirl - March 27th, 2013 at 3:42 PM
Thank you so much for this post. I was introduced to your blog from a wise friend, and just love your insight. I nearly became one of the 80% after growing up in a legalistic home, and going to a legalistic "bubble" Christian college. I pretty much said, "Forget It." And it was only by His grace and a boyfriend (now my husband) that insisted we go to church. You are right on. Many Blessings.
Katie Sutton - March 29th, 2013 at 11:11 AM
You have written my heart and frustrations on the pages of your blog. I'm so glad that there are others out there who feel just like me. I've been in youth ministry with my husband for over 20 years. I am soooo tired of seeing the entertainment-based "20%" youth ministry being promoted as good ministry. I'm watching most of these kids in church and their friends who are out of church walk down the pathway straight to hell while we sit back and sing "One Thing Remains" with our cool youth band. It's time to step up and be messy, Jesus-like, question answering, hope bringing, Christians. ...I guess I'll be joining you in the "cast out" section for eating with the sinners. :)
Queenie - April 1st, 2013 at 9:55 PM
My stepdaughter told me to read your blog; she said that you remind her of
YES..someone who feels the same way I do! I Love my bro and sis at the church however, I don't fit in and can't conform. Thank you for your honesty and courage to speak for the 80% non traditional Christians who deeply and desparately love Jesus!
GringaTica - April 2nd, 2013 at 4:00 AM
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. SO MUCH. Blessings to you, Jen!
Cara Coffey - April 2nd, 2013 at 7:17 AM
I am on the same path as, blogger. But I can't become a public speaker because the last 40 years I have been a prophetic testimony against this about which you write.

They have rejected me wholly, a woman such as you, a Mary Magdalene type who has borne ten children in her midst. I quoted barna in my second book and made the same point in the chapter, "Loved, Though Careful".

I am glad we are still writing. I am glad you are speaking. We need it. The 80 percent need it. The Spotless Bride needs it. They will not silence us, and perhaps they will be drawn farther into the love of Christ as a result of our testimony past the point of no the body of Christ.
Julie - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:35 PM
I totally agree! This is exactly how I see things - Jesus is, above all, love. How can someone profess to love Jesus, yet reject those who are made just as he intended. You have put into words what I believe, and I am so happy that you have.
Kate - April 4th, 2013 at 5:41 PM
I wish I was leaving a really spiritual post, but honestly, I am beyond selfishly upset. I grew up about 30 miles from this church and the day before the conference date is my 40th (or 29th if you ask my kids) birthday; so, my 3 friends who spent the last year doing 7 with me were going to surprise me with a birthday trip to see you. I feel this is righteous anger...right? Maybe this is God's way of saying you should just come to St. Louis for my birthday and hang out with possibly the most amazingly devoted 7 followers (and Peru mission trip leaders) you've ever met (outside of the council, of course!). Regardless, we love you, and we know that God made you who your are for many reasons, but for us, before you "arrived", we felt very alone with these same thoughts. Thank you for being our voice. We've never met, but we truly do love you like a sister.
Crystal - April 5th, 2013 at 3:52 AM
Love your honesty, your transparency and your gutts. What a loss for that group!
Tamara - April 10th, 2013 at 2:08 PM
I love you. Thank you. You make me wanna pack up and move to Austin. Even coming from an African American community, I have the same story. And I feel my church has pat me on the head and told me my ministry is cute but they are going to continue business as usual. I am now the marginalized (especially in reference to Southern Baptist culture). Thank you for your writing (I am putting my 7 program together), it means a lot to know I am not alone in the journey/warfare/calling. Keep on keeping on! Be blessed!
Chris - April 11th, 2013 at 5:48 PM
Susie, I feel your heart. I think I understand where you're coming from. It exhausts me to be called 'Bible thumping' because I choose to follow it. I love Jen's heart and would love to see the church become Jesus' hands and feet instead of what it has become, in many cases. So, I feel trapped between these two generations. I'm a fifty something who would love to be a part of active church, who puts the Bible into action. As far as social issues such as abortion and homosexuality, The Bible is clear. This new flavor of worship or a new generation doesn't change anything. So, how to love sinner but hate the sin in the perfect way that Jesus would?

For those of you who are hungry for the type of worship the Jen writes of (I'm one of them), please be gentle with those from the generation before. Please be loving and kind and patient. Hateful speech about the organized church and the previous generation isn't the way to go.

In your zeal, don't marginalize those you don't agree with or you become the person that you are trying to flee. Satan loves it when we are fighting.

Ellen, I loved your post. If we put social justice above the Gospel, it just becomes a new flavor of legalism!
amy - April 22nd, 2013 at 1:01 PM
We walk a dangerous line & I haven't read you enough to know exactly where you stand but we need to be sure that we're applying biblical principles to all aspects of life. We also have to live as examples. We cannot engage in things that could cause our brothers & sisters to fall. We have to be willing to put aside our preferences for the good of others. If that means I don't even bring wine into my house out of respect for family members who may have weaknesses than so be it. I will not avoid a homosexual or someone who has had an abortion and at the same time I will not endorse their choice. I will not speak words of condemnation but words of love. We will never win folks if we only point out what they've done wrong. My fear is that we're loving but not speaking the Truth in love. It does the drug addict, homosexual, etc. no good if they have a great group of Christian friends who have never bothered to share the gospel. The ultimate concern we must all have is someone's eternal destiny. If that means some will consider us intolerant, not because we've been jerks, but because we've lovingly shared the Truth, then so be it. Not eveyone will choose Christ but every knee will bow & every tongue will confess one day that he is Lord.
Meg - June 21st, 2013 at 4:15 PM
Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice. Period. The end. This type of attitude is exactly why it was that I (was kicked out of truth be told) chose to leave the Church. I was raised in a fundamentalist church where women were not allowed to be elders and had no authority in the church whatsoever unless they were 'running the children's programmes'. The people I met and interacted with there, for the most part (there were some exceptions) tended to be fairly judgemental and sanctimonious about living 'on the straight and narrow' and they paid a lot of lip service to 'love' but when it came down to actually loving anyone who did not fit their idea of what 'the scripture' said was a good or a bad person suddenly they were very hard lined and unforgiving. Their stand on abortion was that it was NEVER allowed and yet when 3 young teenage girls in the church got pregnant they were gossiped about and shamed. That was when I had enough. Being gay is NOT pedaresty which is what the New Testament condemns when it condemns homosexuality. Christians, no matter how well intentioned, will never be able to draw me back to the fold because I will always refuse to follow a group of people who are so entrenched in 'loving the sinner but hating the sin' in so many.

Having said that - Jen your blog is amazing. I love it. I laugh out loud every time I read it. I'm not a "Christian" but I share it with all my friends and I think what you are doing in the world is amazing. I think your love and your hope and grace and your transparency is simply fantastic. You are funny. You are real. You struggle and you're not afraid to share that with everyone. You don't pretend you are perfect and you don't pretend to have all the answers. If there were more people in the Christian church like you I would perhaps give the idea another go. (Having tried 2 times as an adult to re-integrate into a christian church and not being able to do it) I have to say that your blog does give me hope. I am going to be sharing many of your ideas with my family. (I have a male partner and we are parenting his three children half time).

As for Christians who want to wrap up their intolerance behind nice smiles and graciously tell me I'm living in sin because I am going to marry a divorced man or that my best friend is going to hell because she happens to be married to a woman - I politely would ask you to perhaps simply take a page out of the Westboro Baptist Church. If you're going to be hardline in your thinking then do it up big. Those Westboro Baptists - I have a ton of respect for them because in a way they are preaching what they truly believe is the word of God. God says in the old testament that he hates homosexuals so by golly they hate homosexuals. They have the strength of their convictions. They aren't trying to make themselves fit into a modern world. For that I give them props.

For the rest of y'all - you are welcome in my home any time. I have no beef with you at all. I truly try to live without judging others. But you won't get me to join an organization that is so very actively hypocritical. I would rather just give all my money to the Red Cross.

End of rant.
Thanks for listening :)
Niki - May 31st, 2013 at 11:18 AM
I think one of the things I like about Christianity is that the basic tenets can be held to by people who do not necessarily believe in a god of any sort. Blessed are the peacemakers. Jesus did not sweat the petty stuff, and if we follow in His footsteps, neither should we. You're a good woman, Jen.
Mae - May 31st, 2013 at 3:43 PM
Well said!
And very Christ-like!
Which sadly, cannot be said of all people who call themselves "Christians."
Jesus shook up and challenged the people who were "protecting" the religion of the day. He gathered the "sinners" to him, and loved them all. You are, in my mind, a true follower of Christ.
kathleen - June 2nd, 2013 at 4:22 AM

I want to say thank you thank you thank you to Ancient ekadu for everything so far. To everyone who doesn%u2019t believe in spell, I was one of those ones at first. I wasn%u2019t quite sure if I wanted to do this since I%u2019ve tried others so-called spells casters and they did not work and was a waste of my time and money. However, when I read through the testimonials of other people at this website and after I talk who answered all my questions and was very nice about everything, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be my last try to get my guy back. So my story is that I was at my office when the guy I am in love with told me that he wasn%u2019t in love with me and never will be and that he didn%u2019t want to speak or see me again, especially since he was talking to this other girl. When I talked to Dr ekadu, he let me know which spells would be most appropriate for me and I chose the ones that was to get him back to me and stay with me and want to marry me.As soon as he started on
JC - June 7th, 2013 at 4:27 PM
A friend sent me one of your blog posts...a non-christian friend...which is what makes it even more awesome. I laughed so hard and it was so inline with my life that I decided to see what else you wrote. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you were a christian blogger whose thought processes and struggles were shockingly similar to my own. The more I read, the more I connected with what you wrote. Then I came across this post. Simply fantastic and it gave me hope for the future. You struck such a resonance with me that I feel compelled to write a comment. Something I have never done before despite cyber stalking a number of blogs. So thanks and keep doing what your doing!
EL - June 18th, 2013 at 4:02 PM
I think you might find a kindred spirit in Pope Francis, he is saying some of the same things about the church and about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Tricia - June 18th, 2013 at 8:10 PM
Thank you. Love it. Could have been my very words, except I can't get it on paper like you do... I SO appreciate that you can. Been uninvited from the last two churches I called family and couldn't be more grateful for the truth and freedom that the un invites have brought my heart and family.

Jen - June 21st, 2013 at 12:16 PM
This could not be more true or fitting. I love you! God bless!

Kristi - July 24th, 2013 at 4:28 AM
You are challenging this 45 year old woman here..ME! And it's good, very good. I've always been afraid of homeless people because of diseases and germs (crazy, huh?...I know, I know..I think I have a real phobia)and many progressive liberals scare me with their social justice agendas because theyre not rooted in Christ, and many of their thinking processes behoove me as well on certain levels. But I realize in some of my views I have tightened my grip unknowingly and hung on to the familiar and not seen clearly what Jesus is really asking of us to those who believe and trust in Him. I also have read all of "7" and am searching for a partner to do this with, if my hubby isnt fully on it. Im going to keep reading and searching and praying. The Lord is definitely speaking to me, I just need to journalize and walk through all that he is leading me to read and saying to me. But if you'll have me, as nervous and apprehensive as I am, Im on board for whatever God is up to here. Have your own way Lord, you are the potter ...I am the clay.
Charlie Albano - August 16th, 2013 at 6:01 PM
This post rings so true to me. I was raised in the Church of Christ. A very modest but strict way of being a Christian. I'm clearly not good with rules or modesty. I'm loud, color outside the lines and question EVERYTHING! I left the church sometime around 21-22. I grew tired of seeing the same hypocrites at church on Sunday morning that I saw chugging beers and dancing on tabletops (myself included) The night before. The only difference, I made no excuses for my behavior. I was the black sheep of the Christian family that attended prom..all 3 years, wore shorts/skirts/bikinis, you name it.

I've lived in sin. My first child was born out of wedlock, but planned and very much wanted. I can't for the life of me understand why my aunt is ashamed of this. To me weddings are a social event to show off. And, having children together is by far a bigger commitment than marriage, in my opinion. I feel that my now husband and I made this pact/agreement/commitment to each other and I believe with all my heart that God and Jesus will honor our choice. It's the people of the church that struggle with honoring our choices. Another reason I have not returned to fellowship. I always fall back on, "judge not lest you be judged", but everywhere I look there is judgment.

After finding this blog and reading each post with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning opening presents, I long to find a church full of people like Jen! I want/need a friend like Jen to guide me on a spiritual journey that I can identify with.

Here's to new breath into a semi deconvert that has remained religious minus fellowship. Cheers to you Jen Hatmaker!!
Cody Wood - December 22nd, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Jen, like your article. You should check out N.T. Wright, Stanley Hauerwas, or "The Politics of Jesus" by J.H. Yoder in light of saying Jesus was apolitical. He was very threatening to the political structures, and understood himself as Messiah, which makes him very political. Keep the conversation (and good work) going!
Lisa - December 27th, 2013 at 5:24 PM
Oy! Got dressed up, ready to go out for a nice dinner (which, like, NEVER happens!) , and here I am as we get ready to walk out the door with tears smearing my mascara... Love. Love, love, LOVE...
Carmen - January 4th, 2014 at 10:03 PM
Jen: I love this. you are refreshing. As a black woman, with a physical disability, who once said "How can you love Jesus and vote Democrat?!" Who had an awakening after my disabled son was born and died 4 years ago, and I now serve as a political appointee for the current President, I believe everything you're saying is true. What you are saying is so true. And the people who need the Jesus we love are hanging back, waiting for us to beat them over the heads about what they need to fix in their lives to fit in. I am certain that Jesus does the drawing and makes us new creatures. Not the culture or's only by His power and might that we change and transform. You are the! Go on, Girl!

Dawn - January 8th, 2014 at 11:24 PM
And here I thought I was alone...

Brings tears to my eyes - thank you.
Akle - March 2nd, 2014 at 12:15 AM
Oh, Jen you just make me so happy. You're busy writing your new book and all but if you happen to see this please can I take this into my very traditional Bible Belt church where my husband and I are called (he's the student minister). I believe every word of this but most people in my church are just not there. It's all about the 20%. But we feel called to be here and maybe be used to bring's so hard being the only one though! How can we be most effective other than doing the thing and living life for our students in such a way that inspires transformation?

Ps I took a pic with you at the orchard in tupelo and totes embarrassed myself by how much of a creeper I was lol love you! :)
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