“Why would he say that at this table?” I thought to myself while sitting at dinner with a group of people. Let me back up a little bit to give you some context. I was having dinner with a group of Christian and non-Christian friends. When (somehow) the topic of church came up. One of my Christian friends at the table immediately started talking bad about the church, almost as quickly as someone else brought up an event at their church. I was frustrated and thought to myself, “Why would he say that at this table?” but refrained from saying anything to add to the conversation so it wouldn’t be prolonged.
Thankfully the conversation transitioned quickly, but I left still thinking about it.
Although I know my friend wasn’t attacking anyone specifically for attending a church, I was frustrated because I understand how damaging talking bad about the church can be. Whenever a Christian talks bad about the church in front of people who don’t attend church and are not Christians, it’s especially damaging.
When a non-believer hears a Christian talk bad about the church, why would they want to attend?
As you read this, you may be thinking to yourself, “Alex, you don’t need to attend church to be a Christian.” Although I am aware of this and agree, I would argue that most people do not find Jesus without first attending a church. (If you’re a Christian, where did you give your life to Christ?)
I want to dive deeper into three reasons that Christians need to avoid talking bad about the church and share one solution to helping the church become stronger. But first, let me quickly list out what qualifies as talking bad about the church.
- Talking about how the church (as a whole) is wrong, broken, or messed up.
- Speaking poorly of a church that you’ve previously attended, even if they have done something wrong. (I.E., If your church stole money, the pastor did something immoral, they were preaching false doctoring)
- Getting into the mega-church turf war debate.
- Taking bad about a church you’ve never attended, even if you “know a lot about it.”
- Talking bad about the church that you’re currently attending.
Are you getting the point? Saying anything, even the slightest bit negative, about any church is a huge mistake. I know many Christians disagree with me on this, but I encourage you to continue reading and have an open mind about what I’m sharing today.
Three things happen when we talk bad about the church:
#1. It causes division.
When you talk bad about the church, you attend, or one that you used to attend, or the church down the street that you’ve never been to, or the church as a whole, it causes division. Churches need to unite more than ever. This only happens when we put aside our feelings of negativity and become positive about the church body as a whole. Stop causing division – start speaking life!
#2. It causes people to be silent about their experiences.
If you’ve ever talked bad about the church in front of someone, they’ll never tell you any experiences they’ve had. The last thing Christians should want in today’s post-Christian world would be for us to be silent about our experiences with God. Don’t be the person that no one wants to talk to about it because they are afraid of your response.
#3. It breeds a negative mind.
If you really pay attention to the Christians who are talking bad about the church, you’ll quickly realize that they talk bad about a lot of things. Talking bad about the church, or anything breeds a negative mind. Here’s an old saying that really gets my point across:
“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I understand that everything I just mentioned is easier said than done. But I believe if we can get this right, we can really begin helping strengthen the church. In addition to not talking bad about the church, here’s what we can do to help. We can fill in the gaps to make the church better.
Instead of leaving the church or jumping from church to church, start focusing on how you can help make it more like Jesus. Together, we make up the body of Christ. There may be a gap or problem in your church that only you can fill. Perhaps it’s a volunteer position, a way to pray, something to address with a pastor. Whatever it may be, I believe it’s your calling as a believer to be positive and do what you can to be part of the solution.
DailyPS has a lot of great posts about the church. Here are a few of my favorite to continue reading on this topic: