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We Love People and Are the Friendliest Church in Town

we love people

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected. 

Have you ever read an Evangelical or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church advertisement or sign that says, First Baptist Church, The Friendliest Church in Town or We LOVE People? No one ever bothers to ask, so are all the other congregations in town churches that hate people and are unfriendly?

Churches who talk about their love for people and how friendly they are sincerely think these advertising slogans are true. To them, shaking hands with visitors, making them feel at home, and letting them know where the nursery and bathrooms are shows that they are a people-loving, friendly church. The question I ask is this: WHY does this or that church love people and befriend newcomers? What is their motive for being so loving and friendly?  Most often, their motive is to win lost souls to Jesus, resulting in increased attendance. And more people=more money in the offering plate. Like any business, their goal is to gain customers, increase revenues, and expand the business.

Ask any Evangelical pastor or church member if their church loves people and they will say, Of course we do! We love people like Jesus loved people. We love our neighbors just like we love ourselves. But this is no disinterested love. This is a love that has an ulterior motive. It is a love that has conversion and assimilation as its goal. Just ask them if a lesbian woman in a same-sex marriage can join their church or teach Sunday school and you will find out quickly how little they actually love other people.

Their Jesus is a Jesus who loves people so much that he does not leave them where they are or as they are. Their Jesus changes and transforms people, so their objective is to love and befriend people so that they might be saved (changed and transformed) and become a part of their church. That’s what their Jesus is all about, making more church members. (Matthew 28:19,20)  Sounds crass, but any Evangelicals pastor who tells you church attendance numbers don’t matter is lying.

Compare Evangelical love for people to love that accepts people as they are, where they are. There’s a big difference between the Evangelical love for people and loving and befriending people with no expectation of return. In some liberal/mainline churches such an approach to love and friendship exists, but I’ve never seen it in Evangelical or IFB churches. And I just know a commenter is going to scream that THEIR church is different. Sure it is.

Once an unaware newcomer is friended and loved to Jesus and made a part of the church, it is on to new people to pretend-friend. For those taken in by the friendliest church in town advertising campaign, they quickly learn that the church is no more or less friendly than any other church or social group. In every church there are kind, decent, friendly people. There are also people, sometimes the pastor, who are mean, nasty, and unfriendly. Sadly, in churches that are Fundamentalist, their initial friendliness quickly dissipates and is replaced with legalism, demands to conform, and a quick unfriending if you do not fall in line. Ask anyone who has deconverted: what happened to all the friends they had while attending the friendliest church in town? Once people leave their churches, they often find out how unfriendly their churches really are. They find out that friendship was a lure, a scam. The true nature of a church is revealed by how it treats those who leave the church, regardless of their reason for leaving.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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18 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Karen

    I never attended a Protestant church that wasn’t friendly. Catholics, well, they assume newcomers are Catholic and not in need of saving. But they warm up in time.

  2. Avatar
    Brian

    RC or Anglican are a bit less greety but the Protesters really love to have you join their gaggle…. until, as Bruce says, you fail to fly in formation. Then the peckers get at you. I like the line: Ask anyone who has deconverted.

  3. Avatar
    Troy

    I suppose I can understand this. People who join a club want to meet like minded people. If someone is interested in joining a church it should be friendly and welcoming, it is a social club after all. As for people who leave, I suppose a true Christian should continue to be friendly but human nature will of course win out every time. The majority of relationships are friendly acquaintances, not let’s hang out type of friends. Naturally these dissolve when you leave the club. As for deeper friendships, leaving will put a strain on it and possibly break it. But like I said human nature.

  4. Avatar
    mac

    U are such a failure as a christian and a satan worshiper!
    you were neaver a bible believer!
    neaver new how to defend the King James bible or
    to be able to prove it is the true word of God!
    all this fat you carry around to run Godly men down
    speaking evil of there good yea you fat budy wimp
    of a man u are a woman in mans clothing how dare u
    wear suspenders, u smell of hog wash every thing u stand for fell!
    so gossip and so discord about good men of God that neaver gave up
    like rolloff – paterson- fountain just to name a few of the many Godly men of the faith
    that have and carry a good testimony of faith in the Lord Jesus to this day !!!
    u need to repent and stay low and a heart adjustment might help u
    to see what side your on
    thats the Lords army lots of secrets here publish this u fat sissey !!!

    • Avatar
      Marlena

      I’m guessing you haven’t read anything else on the site- trolls usually don’t. In any case, why don’t you take some classes on spelling and grammar first?

    • Avatar
      Becky Wiren

      Your comments are incoherent at best with bad spelling and grammar. Marlena is right that you need classes. I wonder how people like you can expose your lack of learning and knowledge to atheists, agnostics, liberal Christians, and other non-fundamentalists. Because you sure make your type of Christian look bad.

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      Oh… oh my… Okay, that’s it. “How dare u wear suspenders,” may be my new favorite phrase. I may actually have to get it printed on a t-shirt. I mean, way to put Bruce in his place, there. The arrogance[1] of the man, wearing suspenders like that! The sheer, unmitigated[2] gall! The unbridled[3] nerve, walking around wearing suspenders, in public, where anyone could see him! As if someone like him deserves to have his pants stay up!

      Jesus wept.

      (Since your grasp of English appears to be tenuous[4] at best, I’m including a handy list of definitions for the more… advanced… words in my comment.)

      [1] Arrogance – noun: “offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.”
      [2] Unmitigated – adjective: “not softened or restrained.”
      [3] Unbridled – adjective: “lacking a bridle; not controlled or limited.”
      [4] Tenuous – adjective: “lacking clarity, vague; insubstantial”

    • Avatar
      Karen

      Bad spelling… check.
      Bad grammar… check.
      Fat shaming… check.
      Assertion that women are less than men… check.
      General incoherence… check.

      Is there a troll school where they teach people to write this way? Because if so, this individual surely got high marks.

    • Avatar
      Kate Bartlett

      Mac you can’t be serious. I mean this must be a sendup, it’s absolutely hilarious. You gave me a good laugh and made my day.

    • Avatar
      Jada

      Yawn. You’re even more boring than the run-of-the-mill boring troll. I think I need an espresso after this one.

    • Avatar
      John Arthur

      Hi Mac,

      I’m not sure whether you are being satirical or whether you are actually a Fundamentalist. If the latter, I suggest that you are being very disrespectful of Bruce. Does your bible teach you to disrespect others? Is this the fruit of the Spirit which Christians are supposed to show with their lives and lifestyle? Are your words gracious and seasoned with salt? Do they add flavour to the conversation?

      Mac, please take a good, long, hard look at what you have written. If all human beings are created in the image or likeness of God as your bible says, then why don’t you treat them with dignity and respect? I see far more consideration and kindness shown by many non Christians than I see from some Christians. Does the light of compassion, healing-mercy and loving-kindness shine through you? Is this reflected in the words you have written?

      If you are genuinely a caring and compassionate Christian, then please apologise to Bruce for your outrageous outburst. The fruit of the Spirit is love.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

    • Avatar
      Hugh D. Young

      clap,clap,clap,clap,clap Very gooooood……Not quite sure whether to take this post as clear satire, or see that you truly are one seriously stupid mother fucker???

  5. Avatar
    Ahab

    This is absolutely true. Fundamentalists ooze with charm and friendliness when trying to convert you to their church/denomination/way of thinking, but if you refuse to join them, that friendliness vanishes FAST. I’ve met multiple fundamentalists who started out as friendly, but who turned cold and catty when their proselytization efforts failed to convert me.

  6. Avatar
    Darcy Walker

    I assumed Mac was imitating what a “friendly Christian” would say when someone started to fall away from their church. “Oh, you were never a Christian, you were a Satan worshipper. ” Grammatically, though, Mac is equating a Christian with a Satan worshipper: “U are such a failure as a christian and a satan worshiper!” But I think you are right, a troll came trolling by.

  7. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    That commenter mac was practically illiterate, and I wonder how they managed to read an entire post!

    A lot of evangelical churches seem to try to hide what they are behind a cool name, like Alive, or Harvest, or Encounter. My aunt was going to what she thought was a cool, loving, hip church where they had a rock band and the pastors wore jeans. So she took her gay friend to church with her because he was interested. It was all fun and games until one Sunday the head pastor preached an entire sermon on why gay people shouldn’t marry. My aunt and her friend cried, and he said he had never felt so dehumanized and mortified in his life. They haven’t been back since. A junior pastor noticed my aunt wasn’t going to church, so he called her. She told him why she had stopped going, and he said, I can’t do anything about the head pastor, but I don’t feel that way. He tried to convince her to return with promise that someday Pastor So-and-so would retire, but she was done. So much for a loving church, huh?

  8. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    I wonder if I might ask for your help here: I need to find a way to contact a certain ‘mac’. It is my sincere belief that he is the man to bring this nation a step higher than has been achieved by the Toddler-in- Chief. Come November, Mac for prasedant, I sey! Long live troo trew fayth in our Lard!

  9. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    I live in Coastal California, and Husband and I are building a retirement home in far Eastern California, a 5 to 6 hour drive for me depending on whether I take the summer route or winter route. (The summer route is shorter, but closed in winter.) Part of the winter route involves a shortcut around a Sierra foothill town which sits on the highway and has lots of stoplights. The shortcut goes past no less than three churches that have trendy names with no indication of denomination. By comparison, my suburban neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area is littered with denominated churches, most of which a) have fairly empty parking lots on Sunday morning and b) have small signs beneath the main one indicating that other Christian congregations holding services in various East Asian languages also use that facility.

    I find this all both bemusing and somewhat humorous. So many Christianities! (Though I don’t object to anyone attending services in a non-English language that is more comfortable for them. Raised Catholic, I recall that it was a big deal to get services said in the local language rather than Latin, and most US Catholic churches try to serve all the ethnic minorities in their congregations.)

  10. Avatar
    Ann Lo

    Watch out for the “cool” new churches that are popping up everywhere. Gateway Church, Red Rocks Church (waving at Mother Nature I guess), Celebration Church, Harvest Church, Table Church, Mosaic Church…it goes on and on. In fast-growing cities and suburbs, they have cool music and hip, mostly male pastors in jeans to attract young people. But what they teach is hardcore conservative evangelical anti-gay theology–with a fake Christian smile!

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