Saturday, January 17, 2009

Church Experiment: A Pastor Responds

Well, this was unexpected.

I always wondered how someone from a church I visited would respond if he or she ever found my blog. Now I know:

You, Steve Fuller, are a hypocrite and a coward. To hide behind a blog and put down others is not Christian at all... it disturbing! I think you are the creepy one! Sneeking into churches and looking for things to critisize publicly is not honest or a journey of discovery, its just plain wrong! I think you should grow up, especialy in your faith and love! That's a journey worth taking. Remember, a good rebuke is better than flatery. - Pastor Randy Rice (Christian Life Center)

That was verbatim from the comments section of Monday's blog. (It was posted late Friday night.) First, I'm not convinced this was actually written by the pastor of Christian Life Center. The name is correct, so maybe, but anyone could have written the comment and attached his name, so who knows.

But, assuming it was Randy Rice, this is my response:

I am truly sorry you were so hurt by my words. I have wrestled long and hard with how Godly people from the churches I visit would process my comments. I really do feel terrible if this experiment causes pain or frustration for any Christians trying their best to serve God. It is not my intention to discourage Christian leaders.

I know it is difficult to hear criticism. But, to quote you, "A good rebuke is better than flattery." I naively hoped any pastor that stumbled upon my blog would use my experiment to help him consider how visitors experience his church. Obviously, I am only one person, and others may have different experiences, but as a current teacher and writer (and former church leader), I crave feedback. It always helps me to refine my work and improve. Of course, any pastor is free to lead his church however he feels led by God, but it never hurts to stop and consider honest feedback. In fact, I really appreciate your perspective and have prayed about your words as I consider how to move forward with this experiment.

And I do just want to point out that my feedback was honest. I didn't lie; didn't make up anything; didn't even exaggerate. I simply expressed my feelings about the church as I experienced them. I tried my best to be fair; and I fully admit that some of my comments were based on my own biases.

I don't walk into a church looking to publicly criticize the service. I walk in with an open mind (as much as humanly possible) and a desire to experience God. If that would have happened at CLC, I would have written about it. But it didn't (for a variety of reasons, both internal and external), so I wrote what I experienced. I mentioned the good (nice people, communion, worship seemed to be genuine), and I mentioned the bad (anti-Obama sentiments, nationalism during worship, Biblically inaccurate tithing comments).

Despite our differences, I wish you the best and will pray for your church community.

11 comments:

ylmurph said...

I know that there are businesses that pay to have people come in and give their honest opinions. I've even heard of churches doing this....
so maybe they got off cheap?

I'm guessing they wouldn't normally put the report on an internationally acclaimed weblog though. Having said that, I’ll bet it was Jana who sent the note.

Mike Brown said...

It was probably Mike Brown. He's been known to post comments under someone else's name, when he wanted to be mean and not be held responsible for it.

Anonymous said...

dangit. that was supposed to be anonymous.

Signed,
Not Mike Brown

Steve Fuller said...

Mike,

If you wanted to be mean, I know you would take great pleasure in doing it right to my face. :-)

random blogger said...

with 52 weeks this was bound to happen, especially with church people. i bet if you were visiting 52 dance clubs or bars and gave honest feedback-both positive and negative-you wouldn't get a hater like this.

bshawise said...

just when i thought your experiment couldn't get any more interesting....

DanThoms said...

I must say, its a bit ironic that that comment fell right under the one that I posted about hoping that your blog is taken well. Oh well, such is life. I've come to the conclusion that your reviews, as they were, should be used as a learning tool for everyone involved. There's really know point with just being offended and not taking anything positive away from it.

John Arns said...

good stuff, Steve. it should make christians think about their impact on others for Jesus' sake.

Anonymous said...

i'm a pastor and i loved this...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFNR_sM499c

Anonymous said...

I didn't feel lead by the Lord to comment on this one, until the last comment. You have to remember..that know one comes to the Lord unless the Lord draws them. WE are all very differnt people...so of course you will find differnt forms of worship.

Shelli FCA

Kathy said...

Well, if these comments really came from the pastor, I can see why the church has problems.