Published: 30 May 2022

Why The Church Is Repulsive To Unbelievers

Church Is Repulsive

Hypocrisy. Unmitigated, overt, and unrepentant hypocrisy is the reason the modern church is repulsive to unbelievers. In past decades, the church and church leaders were held in high regard even by those who were not Christians. This is no longer the case. The world is justifiably disgusted with what is happening within Christianity. In fact, a lot of Christians are also holding their nose to avoid the stench of sin and hypocrisy within their own circles. 

Church scandals have been in the news this past week. In my weekly blog posts I do not normally comment about current events. It’s not because there is a shortage of news to apply biblical commentary to. It’s just that much of what passes as news is really nothing more than the media elites peddling propaganda and fear. So, I tend to focus my posts each week only on what I’ve learned from the Scriptures. This week is different. 

The church is repulsive because of hypocritical church leaders

Last week, Guidepost Solutions released the results of their investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.[1] It was a bombshell report detailing the coverup of sexual abuse by Executive Committee members and church leaders within the denomination. The report names a number of SBC elites including former presidents of the SBC, seminary presidents, North American Mission Board executives, and prominent SBC pastors. It’s a lot to take in and the denomination has a lot of problems to work out. Be that as it may, if you think sexual abuses and cover ups are only a problem among Baptists and Catholics, think again.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Before the ink on the Guidepost report was dry, news broke of a minister from a Christian church in Indiana who confessed marital infidelity to his congregation. He said that the adultery happened twenty years ago. As it turned out, his admission was only part of the story. Immediately after his confession, his victim took the stage. In what followed, she described how this “pastor” took her virginity when she was sixteen on the floor of the church office. According to her, this abuse went on for seven years while this man served as a pastor.

Bullies and lovers of money

The abuses aren’t only sexual in nature. Not a week goes by that a church leader isn’t making the news because of questionable financial dealings or outright theft and embezzlement.[8] Others draw attention to themselves because they live in multimillion dollar “parsonages,” have private jets, and the like.[9] Likewise, contrary to 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, churches and Christian leaders are suing one another in a very public manner.[10][11][12] This not only gives the church a black eye, but is in direct violation of biblical commandments.

In other situations, we observe pastors who have developed a profound sense of entitlement and expect special treatment. It is all too common nowadays to hear about pastors who are bullies. They are little more than privileged thugs who manipulate, coerce, and make threats to get what they want. When confronted about their unchristlike behavior, they either intimidate the one who is attempting to hold them accountable or play the victim card blaming their conduct on something in their past. They can play the victim very convincingly. 

The “bully pastor” has become so prevalent that it has started to be publicly acknowledged. Paul David Tripp has commented that given the way churches choose pastors, he is shocked that the problem isn’t greater than it already is![13]

Two Reasons Bully Pastors Rise Up in the Church

We could multiply examples such as these. It is happening in every denomination and faith group in the nation. Why is this happening?  

The church is repulsive because of unbelieving church leaders

Does your minister even believe the Bible? A new study by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has concluded that only 37% of Christian pastors in the USA have a biblical worldview.[14] What does it mean to have a biblical worldview? 

A biblical worldview is based on the conviction that God is real and that the Bible is His true and infallible message to mankind. It means that you believe absolute moral truth exists and that this moral truth is defined by the Bible. Having a biblical worldview means believing that Jesus Christ was a real person, born of a virgin mother, lived a sinless life, and was bodily resurrected from the dead. One who has a biblical worldview believes that Jesus is the only way to God and eternal life. In short, a biblical worldview is one that is formed from the teachings of the Bible. 

Six out of ten church leaders – those who are teaching and influencing the American church – don’t have a biblical worldview! They don’t fully believe what the Bible teaches. Dr. Michael Brown recently wrote about how compromised teaching is contributing to cultural rot: 

“[R]ather than Christian leaders equipping their people to swim against the tide of the culture, they too are being carried by the current of the age. And that, in turn, means that the light is not shining and the salt is not being salty.

It is a vicious cycle of moral and spiritual deterioration.

In short, when the doctors are spreading disease rather than curing disease, the populace is in big trouble.”[15]

The church is repulsive because of compromising church members

Who will hold church leaders accountable? Ultimately, it must be the person in the pew. How are we to do this when we ourselves are too cozy with the world? For far too long we have not taken the Bible seriously when it says that we are to be separate from the world. We want to fit in so we compromise our biblical values. Being mistreated because of our faith is unpleasant of course, but as Christians we are told to expect it (1 Pet 4:12-14). A lot of us live unsanctified, untransformed, sinful, lives that differ little from those of our unsaved friends. 

We have justified our lukewarm condition by saying that unless we can relate with, and appeal to, the lost we won’t be able to entice them with the gospel. So, our churches water down biblical teaching to make it less offensive to outsiders. We imitate the world’s entertainment in our church gatherings. Some of our church services look more like rock concerts accompanied by motivational speakers than a gathering of disciples who meet together to build each other up and provoke one another to do good works (Heb 10:24-25). Has it not occurred to us that the lost who are truly seeking something better expect what God has to offer to be different?

Do we possess something special?

Why would anyone want to be a Christian if they cannot tell the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever. If we don’t have something different, something special, something which has precious value in this life and the life to come, why should anyone take notice?

A compromised gospel, preached by compromised Christians, has neither the appeal nor the power to help those who are dying spiritually. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16 ESV). Some will reject the gospel; they always have. Others will see it for what it is; a message which brings eternal life (2 Cor 2:15-16).

A compromised church is repulsive to God

Just as the hypocrisy of today’s church has nauseated many of our generation, it also displeases God. God grew weary of the hypocrisy of the people of Judah as the prophet Isaiah said:

13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (Is. 1:13–14 ESV)

Even though they performed the very worship He commanded, He rejected it because they tainted their worship with their sin. Centuries later the prophet Malachi spoke to the people saying:

Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. (Mal. 1:10 ESV)

Based on these passages, do you really think that God isn’t weary with some of our churches? Is there anyone who would just close the church doors so that God does not have to endure what we offer Him? 

What do we do about it?

Just as when David committed adultery and then murder, we “have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Sam. 12:14 NKJV). Notwithstanding, there are still lots and lots of faithful congregations of God’s people. In spite of this, it only takes one fly to ruin the ointment. We have more than a few churches ruining the reputation of all the rest. What is the solution?

Reestablish a biblical worldview

Either get in, or get out! “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him” (1 Kings 18:21 NKJV). Do you believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible message of God? If so, act like it. Obey it. Do what it says. If you think only parts of the Bible is God’s message how can you trust any of it? Make a choice.

As individual disciples, we must take our commitment to Jesus seriously. We must offer Him what He has commanded, not that which pleases us. We must hold each other accountable and disciple one another to instill a biblical worldview. This is best accomplished by a wholehearted commitment to studying God’s word and applying it. 

We must stop being naive

Just because a person claims to be a “man of God” does not make him one. His ordination does not make him a true servant of God. His seminary degree says nothing about his faithfulness to Jesus. Gone are the days when we could assume one who is in a position of church leadership is a faithful Christian. No one can be above scrutiny and accountability, especially those in positions of trust.

Turn on the light and watch the cockroaches run

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed (John 3:20 NIV).

We must insist that our church leaders be true servants of the Lord who themselves embrace a biblical worldview. 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 tell us exactly the kind of people who are (and who are not) qualified to serve as church leaders. God didn’t give us these qualifications for no reason. Until we take God’s instruction seriously and only allow biblically qualified men to serve (who remain qualified), our pulpits will continue to be filled by those who don’t fully trust in God, or whose conduct makes them unfit for church leadership. 

Many are posing as pastors in the form of sex abusers, bullies, embezzlers, the power mad, and those who deny the inspiration of God’s word. We will only drive these “pastors” from our churches when we know what the Bible requires of those who lead and then demand nothing less than strict adherence to biblical commands and principles.

Why is the church repulsive to unbelievers? Given what they see in the news everyday, how can they feel any other way?