Updated: May 8, 2019
Check My Church is a controversial ministry. We've received a lot of hate mail, a lot of questions, and a lot of criticisms for what we're doing. In an effort to answer every question and remain as open to challenge and criticism as we expect churches and their leadership to be, we will answer all of them here.
1. You ask churches about their financial transparency. Are you transparent with your ministry's finances? How much money do you make by Checking Christian churches?
We will always be transparent with our finances, especially because of how critical we are toward churches for refusing to be. So far we don't make any money. We haven't made a dime on this venture, but we have spent some.
Unlike certain church pastors who refuse to disclose their salaries and refuse to put a cap on their own income, we will. We are still unsure of how much that cap will be, but once CMC begins bringing in any money, if we ever do, we plan to give a certain percentage to our church, keep a percentage to support the ministry, and if we make more than our earning cap, we will give what remains to other ministries that we support. Namely, churches that don't preach tithing.
We will always disclose this information as it comes into being.
2. Aren't you being unloving, judgmental, and fighting against flesh and blood by judging churches?
Not in the least. We love our brothers and sisters in Christ, including churches that we find to be offensive in their approaches to doing church. We do not hate anyone that we criticize on the site, we would never insult anyone that we disagree with personally, and our fight is not against anyone personally.
We fight against the principles and ideas that have caused these kinds of churches to exist in the first place. We challenge those ideas and principles, criticize them, and pray for these churches to see the truth.
We present the facts, and from that logical conclusions must be drawn. Sometimes the truth offends and hurts people's feelings. Sometimes it may even seem judgmental, but to make a fair judgment about something that is necessary, such as the Biblical adherence of the Christian Church, is what all Christians should be doing with their own church as individuals anyway.
Lastly, we try to approach every church with love, respect, and the common decency that we would hope to receive from them, whether we agree with them on anything or not. Our goal is not to humiliate or attack the people running and operating these churches, but rather to attack the ideas and principles behind the approach that they take.
Sometimes our intentions may be taken the wrong way, but we will always aim to make our criticisms in love, truth, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
3. What authority do you have to judge churches and their pastors? Are you a theologian? What kind of education do you have?
We are not theologians, pastors or experts on the Bible. We are Christians who read the Bible and try to live out our walk with God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
People who believe we are in position to make judgments against churches or their pastors because we don't know as much about the Bible as they do or don't have the same level of education as they do are actually making an argument from authority, which is fallacious and irrelevant.
We don't need to be theologians or PhD's to know that church is supposed to be about God, and not man. We don't need a degree in Biblical Studies to know that as Christians we have liberty in Christ. We also don't need to be pastors to understand that tithing isn't supported contextually by the Bible for Christians today.
We have the same authority to judge churches and their pastors that any other Christian has when they walk into theirs every Sunday morning.
- Is my pastor preaching the Word of God, or his own words?
- Is my church nurturing my relationship with Jesus, or pushing me into a relationship with the church?
- Does my pastor preach tithing, which is an Old Testament Law that no longer applies to Christians today?
If your church isn't glorifying God above men, linking men with Jesus rather than with a church, or preaching grace instead of the law, then it doesn't matter what our education is. Truth is truth.
If anything we say or promote is un-Biblical or false, we encourage people to hold us accountable, but we do have just as much right to point out false and un-Biblical practices within churches as anyone else does. And everyone has the right to do that.
4. What are your doctrinal biases and denominational preferences that may skew your reviews of certain types of churches?
We do not align with any particular denomination, and just like all Christians, we do have our own doctrinal biases and preferences. However, we are not checking churches based on their doctrines. We want this to be as simple and unbiased as possible, so unless a Christian church is contradicting an essential core doctrine of the faith, such as the deity of Christ or that there is only one God, or that we have liberty in Christ through God's grace alone, we don't let it affect the Check Ratings whatsoever.
If a pastor claims he is a full preterist, or a New Earth Creationist, or doesn't believe in the rapture, etc...this does not affect the Check at all. In fact we may not even mention it because all Christians disagree on these issues and it doesn't affect whether a church is a house of prayer or a den of thieves in the end. Preaching the law does.
5. Who are you to decide which churches are good and which are bad? Are you the supreme judge on what a good church looks like?
Definitely NOT. God is obviously the supreme judge and authority regarding everything and anything. But just like the answer to previous questions, we are simply Christians who know what the Bible says about what the Christian church is supposed to look like, and we want to use that knowledge to help our fellow Christians find a good, healthy church, while avoiding the abusive, unhealthy, and unBiblical ones.
Anyone else in the Body that wants to is just as capable of doing the same thing that we are, and we welcome them to. We should all be doing this, and holding our churches accountable for their lack of transparency and greed. All Christians should have the knowledge to do this same exact thing.
6. You have given CAMPUS Church and Shawn McCraney a positive review, recommending his church and supporting his ministry. The Utah Christian community has rejected and ostracized McCraney as a heretic for some of his controversial doctrinal positions. Doesn't that make you a heretic?
First of all, the Utah Christian community is exceptionally legalistic. Their disagreements with Shawn are not simply on controversial doctrines regarding eschatology and the Trinity, but also on issues such as church membership policies and other legalistic practices such as tithing that churches push hard for in the state of Utah.
While CMC refuses to pick sides one way or the other when it comes to the Trinity argument or Eschatological issues, since they aren't essential to the faith, we stand firm in our positions regarding legalism in the Christian church. We reject mandated tithing or giving, membership laws and covenants, and any other legalistic practice.
Second, none of Shawn McCraney's controversial doctrinal positions are in fact salvation issues. And those that may be are easily defensible.
- Eschatological differences in doctrine regarding the Second Coming and Hell do not affect our salvation, the divinity of Christ, or the truth of Christianity in any way.
- The legalistic views of many Utah Christians and their churches are actually anti-antithetical to the Gospel of Christ and therefore we would argue that it is actually them, and not Shawn, who endanger the salvation of Christians by their ungracious practices.
- Shawn's criticisms of the Trinity are highly misunderstood and misrepresented by the Utah Christian community. Shawn does not reject the Oneness of God or the deity of Christ. To find out more about his actual views on the Trinity doctrine, listen to his own words.
Watch this one, too, if you want something more in-depth.
Lastly, none of this is relevant to our mission in Church Checking. Shawn and CAMPUS' unique doctrinal stances, along with anyone else's, are not our concern. We watch for five main things:
1. Does the church serve God, or money?
2. Does the church worship God alone?
3. Does the church preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, or another gospel, which is no gospel at all?
4. Does the church teach the Word of God, or the words of men?
5. Is the church completely transparent?
Regardless of doctrinal differences, these five issues are what we look for, and what we find to be the most important in regards to whether a church is worthy of recommendation from us or not.
7. How can you fairly judge and critique churches by just observing them online? Shouldn't you attend in person to get a proper view of the church you're critiquing?
While physically attending a church for our checks is ideal, sometimes it just isn't possible. So while sometimes we observe solely online through the church's website, their online sermons, their statement of faith, and the questionnaire answers, that's still quite a bit of information on a church, and a lot more than you would get by just attending services on Sunday.
At the same time, our aim is to eventually be able to attend every church in person, and while the initial critique is based on one or two sermons in addition to all the other information we get in the checking process, we continue to attend and observe these churches regularly over time, in case anything needs to be changed or updated. We want to be as fair to these churches as possible, and churches can change, so we should adjust our checks along with them.
8. Aren't you tearing down the Church by criticizing churches, rather than building them up? Isn't this divisive?
On the contrary, just as a shepherd builds up his flock by protecting it from wolves, false teachings, and principles of darkness that seek to destroy it, so does the shepherd's dog. And that's what we at Check My Church consider ourselves to be. A church watchdog group. The shepherd's watchdog.
We are not shepherds of the flock, but the dog that true shepherds of God's flock would send out to help protect His people. By doing this, we are building up the Church.
We do not sow seeds of discord between Christians within the Body, but between the sheep and the wolves, who outwardly act as though they are part of the Body, but inwardly are ravenous, dishonest, and greedy.
An essential part of building up the Body is by protecting it from real threats that actually want to tear it down, and have, through divisive doctrines, unBiblical practices, and anti-Christian behavior.