Okay, like you, I got really nervous when I saw the above phrase in a book review at Church Central. Nothing like being provocative, I guess. Here’s a fuller explanation:
Scott Oldenburgh is Campus Pastor for The Church on Rush Creek Mansfield West (Texas). His new book is entitled Church Sucks: But it Doesn’t Have to Stay that Way, (Fort Worth: Austin Brothers Publishing, 2013).
To fully understand Scott’s heart, you need to read the first paragraph of the Introduction:
“Let me start by saying that I am well aware the use of the word ‘sucks’ is a turnoff for many people in the church world. However, after several attempts at rewording and rethinking the possible title of this book, I decided to keep it. Let me explain my thinking. There are times in life when the only phrase that seems to fit is, ‘Well, this just sucks!’” (p. 1)
The reality is that those of us who have served churches for very long completely understand what Pastor Oldenburgh means either through our own experiences or through observation.
Pastor Oldenburgh begins with some of his own negative experiences in church. Scott says, “I gave my life to Christ at age 15 and God began to quickly reveal two things to me: First, I had the spiritual gift of leadership and second, there were things about church that just didn’t make sense” (p. 5). He recounts his experiences of how churches he served veered off mission and how leaders sabotaged the effectiveness of those churches. He goes on to explain how damaging this is to churches, to the Kingdom of God, to church leaders, and to those leaders’ families.
The third chapter of the book gets to the heart of the matter: Church Isn’t Supposed to Suck. Scott says, “When you are faced with a situation in life that just sucks, you will be forced to make some difficult and life changing decisions. What is clear is that God does not desire for you to continue to have the life that He gave you simply sucked out of you!” (p. 27)
Pastor Oldenburgh builds his thesis with these chapters:
Church Sucks When . . .
Vision Gets Sucked Out by Tradition
Joy Gets Sucked Out by Busyness
The Joy of Serving is Sucked Out by a Sense of Duty
“Serve Me” is More Important than “Serve Others”
Spiritual Growth Gets Sucked Out by Entertainment
Trust Gets Sucked Out by Bad Leadership
Grace Gets Sucked Out by Legalism
Authenticity Gets Sucked Out by Make Believe
The book cover image was sourced at ChurchSucksConsulting.com — It’s not every day that life hands you both a provocative post title and a hilarious book cover. 132 paperback pages from Austin Brothers Publishing; US SRP $15. 9780985326395