Updated: Aug 23
Okay, church checkers. It’s time to get personal, honest, and make some changes.
I’m coming to realize that the approach we’re taking may not have the effect we want it to. In fact, it may be having the opposite effect. Let me back up for a moment though and give you some background information about myself before I explain further.
Taking It On The Chin
I’ve been deep in thought and prayer ever since beginning this quest to check every church. The desire to expose the ugly truth about what’s really going on in local churches today is a strong passion of mine. Not because I hate the church, but because I actually really love it, and I want it to be free from the abuse, corruption, and greed that plagues it now.
Ever since I was a teenager and I used my dad’s computer to almost religiously listen to every Walter Martin recording I could find, I had a passion to really fight for Jesus. To “take it on the chin for as long as it takes until you get that one clean shot...because it’s God’s shot and it’s God’s Gospel,” as Martin would say.
I would throw myself into arguments, debates, and controversies because I thought that’s what Jesus wanted from me, because I wanted to take every chance and opportunity to defend Him, but also because it’s what I wanted to do for Him.
I forgot that fighting for the sake of fighting isn’t really what Jesus wants from us. Perhaps the haughty inclination I had for such confrontation, and even the willingness to take it on the chin for as long and as much as possible, was a time of spiritual immaturity for me. As a babe in Christ, I wanted to praise Jesus from the rooftops, without a single thought to whether or not anyone would even hear me.
That time of thoughtless but compassionate immaturity lasted all the way up until...well...right now, I think.
As it turns out, taking it on the chin can only last so long before you get knocked out, especially if you never even take your shot and fight back. I feel like I’ve been wandering around aimlessly for several years, or decades even, with the passion to fight for Jesus, but without the maturity to wield that passion.
And without that maturity, while I might feel like I’m doing something amazing, I may have just been shoving my face into other peoples’ faces, starting fights for what appears to them to be no reason at all. I think I’m planting these strong punches into the skull of the enemy, but I’m really just shouting from the rooftops, and no one can hear me.
Fighting for Jesus in and of itself may be a very honorable and noble thing, but fighting for the sake of fighting sure isn’t. And not making your purpose in fighting crystal clear to onlookers can have a bad impact. Especially if those onlookers are the very people you’re trying to help.
Eventually, you have to take that clean shot that Walter Martin was talking about, and if you don’t have a clean shot, you’re in trouble. Well, with Check My Church, we’ve definitely got the first half of that mission down to a masterful art. We can take it on the chin like you wouldn’t believe. But getting that clean shot set up for Jesus? Not so much...yet.
Maybe you have a different impression of us though. Tell me if you disagree and I’m just being negatively impacted by too many hits to the chin. That can happen you know. After getting hit in the head so many times, your susceptibility to getting knocked out increases. Personally though, right now, I think it’s time we reassess our fighting technique. While I’ll never mind taking it on the chin for Jesus, no matter how long it takes, at some point, I need to land a punch.
We’ve been checking churches for about a year and a half now, and while some beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ have noticed and appreciated our efforts, most people are either oblivious to, confused by, or angry about what we’re doing. So, I have some changes I’d like to make in our approach, what we’re doing, and how we do it. Not for popularity or to please people, but to make our goal more effective, and even more focused.
No More Hypocrisy
The problem with trying to expose something like legalism in the local church is that we run the risk of looking like hypocrites. It can give an air of legalism itself, ironically, to review and judge individual churches who are reviewing the individual lives of Christians in their churches and judging them.
People seem to think that I think that my way is the best way to do church and that churches need to conform to my way. Those of you who know us and understand what we’re really trying to do know that isn’t what we’re doing, but nonetheless, the misunderstanding is rampant, and I want to do everything I can to make my shot clear.
I do have my own ideas about how churches should do things, and I’ve been very vocal about what those ideas are, but do they belong in a supposedly unbiased and objective review? Am I guilty of doing the same nonsense that pastors and other church leaders are doing when they say their way is the best way? Maybe in a way, I am. After all, I am ranking and critiquing churches based on criteria of my own.
We’ve been attacked for our biases, our criticisms of local churches, and our judgmentalism, and I have to admit now that we may very well be guilty of these things. Of course, the way people have delivered these attacks wasn’t exactly as civil and “Christian” as it should have been. Regardless, we’ve taken enough hits to the chin to know when it’s time to cover up.
Our goal in checking churches was NEVER to make our opinions and our ideas of what church should be the objective for churches. Of course, we think our way is better. That’s what everyone thinks about their way, but it’s obvious now that this has been the main impression we’ve left on people, so it’s time to step back and do something different.
Starting immediately, we’re going to pair down the public posting of any reviews or “checks” for local Christian churches.
Now, calm down. Don’t get excited, or disappointed. Whatever camp you’re in, this isn’t what you think it is. I promise.
We will continue to post as much information on local churches that we can to help churchgoers determine which church is for them, but we are going to eliminate the opinion portion of the reviews. So they won’t really be checks or reviews anymore technically speaking, but a church directory of sorts with a list of relevant information to the churchgoer.
Instead of inserting my own opinion on what makes a church good or bad, and then making a recommendation, or not, the church directory will be purely informational. In separate posts and in an entirely different category, I (and other guest writers) will be writing topical posts on the subjects and issues that matter to me for anyone to read if they’re interested.
These topical articles and posts will help every individual Christian to check their own church, rather than me doing it. This accomplishes a few things. One, it takes my opinion and input out of the equation entirely. Don’t want my opinion on your church home? Fine, check your own church.
Secondly, it has a much wider reach. While the church reviews we were writing for every single church in the world would be impressive, it’s also daunting, and impossible, and each review/check only interests the people in that church, or the people considering going to that church, or the people who love or hate that church.
The directory will still provide the information individual churchgoers are looking for, but the topical posts will contain the information that we want to share with all churchgoers. And that information will be more clear than ever: Jesus Christ is the Head of this Church, and right now, we think He’s being gagged by legalism, abuse, and greed.
Third, it will resolve the inner struggle I’ve been having in doing this since the very beginning. Our goal has never been to fight other Christians and individual people, but to fight against the ideas and philosophies that put themselves between you and God. We do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the ideas that sometimes find themselves ruminating within people of power. In stepping back from writing critiques of each individual local church, creating a purely informational directory instead, and then writing separate opinion pieces on the issues that face the church today, we accomplish everything we want to for Christ while avoiding all the unnecessary and immature squabbles we find ourselves in today.
We are still fighting for Jesus. We are still exposing the corruption, the greed, the legalism, and the abuse. We’re still going to take punches on the chin for what we are doing, and we welcome it. Legalism will always fight against liberty, greed will always resist God, and abuse will always gaslight the abused.
Our fight against these wolves in the Church will only get more intense now, because our focus and our aim will be so much more accurate and zoned in, and it will ruffle the feathers of the wolves like never before. It’s easy to shove an aimless, angry fighter to the floor. Not so easy to approach someone who knows what they’re doing.
Our fight isn’t against other Christians and the congregations who love Jesus and just want to serve Him. Our fight is against the wolves that hide behind them, and we won’t reach them by punching through the sheep. We will only hurt ourselves because when the sheep hurt, we hurt. A good watchdog doesn’t hurt the sheep. He drives the wolf away from the sheep. He takes the fight away from the sheep to keep them safe. This is between the watchdog and the wolf, not the watchdog and the sheep.
These changes will make our fight against the principalities and ideas that exalt themselves above the throne of God all the more successful, and hopefully, they’ll plant some healthy seeds. Maybe they’ll even open Jesus up for the one clean shot He needs to knock them out, because as the late Walter Martin said, “it’s God’s shot and God’s Gospel.”
I’ve been in prayer since the very beginning of this, and the Holy Spirit is teaching me. We’re learning, church checkers. We’re growing, we’re adapting, and we’re improving. And with each improvement, we’re getting better at fighting against the darkness that aims to swallow His light through corrupting our churches.
We were swinging wildly and foolishly before. Now we’re focused. Now we’re poised for a good fight. We’ve been knocked down a few times and taken a lot of hits to the chin, but we’re learning from our mistakes, we’re getting back up again, and we’re ready to start again.
“I developed a style. Cover up. Peek-a-boo! I took the blows on my arms, and my shoulders, and sometimes on my face. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight to one…’cause I knew if I could get in close enough I could take you out with one shot.”
- Rocky Marciano
What are your thoughts, church checkers? Are you as excited about these changes as we are? Let us know!