(Photo: Disciples Church)
The word on the street is simple – “church sucks.”
Plastered throughout one city in northern California are signs stating the same message, stirring some controversy among the local residents.
But it’s all part of the plan, according to Stu Streeter, the lead pastor of Disciples Church in Folsom.
Using the slogan as a way to attract those who have stopped attending church, Streeter, along with Adam Adams, his connection ministry director, have teamed up to ironically bring people back into the church, reported El Dorado Hills Telegraph.
“The whole point behind it was twofold,” the pastor told EDHT. “To stir awareness and that we have something to say.”
The message was not targeted towards his congregation, but rather for potential churchgoers.
“You probably saw our signs … and thought ‘What’s Church Sucks?’” the website churchsucks.net states. “The sad fact is that sometimes church does suck.”
“It sucks when people are made to feel like outsiders, or when power gets abused. It sucks when leaders don’t serve. When people are selfish, when we give up on people, or when talking trumps listening, church sucks!”
“Church in general doesn’t suck, but when power is abused or you’re an outsider, it can be a bad experience for some people,” Streeter clarified to EDHT. “I want to remind people that those are isolated instances. The churches in Folsom are wonderful friends and we believe in them.”
“We’re trying to return church to what it’s supposed to be.”
“This is kind of like our way of saying, ‘Jesus didn’t suck, and neither should His church.’”
Adams also commented in a forum on MyFolsom.com, “Too many people have missed or disregarded the opportunity to be connected with Jesus and Community because, let’s be honest, church sucks sometimes. We’re ready to acknowledge that, engage our community, and speak clearly about Jesus’ real desire for His Church.”
“We put our money where our mouth is and work hard to end the things Jesus wants to end, and begin the things Jesus wants to begin.”
Though the campaign was meant to draw people back into the church, the signs haven’t exactly been welcomed by the community.
“We’ve gotten a bunch [of negative reaction],” Streeter mentioned to EDHT. “Usually it’s from really good people who haven’t read the whole story (on the website).”
One Folsom resident relayed to EDHT that she was not pleased with the signs or the ads in the paper. “I don’t want my children to see this,” she disclosed.
The message behind the signs and the newspapers, she believed, did not translate to children.
The church also reported witnessing one woman yank out one of the signs and place it in her car.
Responding to much of the backlash, the lead pastor penned on the city forum, “I know for many this seems like a terrible idea, even sacrilegious. And yet for others, the campaign has been great, a means to reignite a flame once barely flickering. I can best respond to all your thoughts and some concerns with a story from Jesus’ life, found in all four of the Gospels.”
Sharing the story found in the Scriptures where Jesus cleared out the temple courts and overturned the tables of the money changers, Streeter summarized that out of all the things Jesus could have done to emphasize his point, he chose to flip tables over and rattle awareness.
“Jesus looked out at the state of the church in his day and felt the need to ‘rattle awareness’ and ‘say something’ about the state of the religious community. We feel the same way. We know we are part of the problem,” Streeter confessed.
“We pray our signs and the more importantly, subsequent talks I will give at church, will be a catalyst to be sure Jesus does not need to flip the tables at Disciples Church. Equally, we pray and hope this will cause more and more people to re-engage in the beauty that IS the gathering we call ‘church.’”
Starting this Easter, the Disciples Church will begin a new series called “Church Sucks,” looking at six perceived problems that sometimes drives people away from church.
“It’s a conversation about Jesus’ real intentions for His Church,” the website informed.
The first message of the series will be delivered on Easter Sunday, April 24, entitled “When You’re an Outsider.” Special service times are being offered this week only at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
According to their campaign website, they are simply “a group of people trying to learn how to follow Jesus in real life, as real people.”
“We work hard to be the Church and people Jesus called us to be, and one small part of that is not sucking.”
“Church Sucks, sometimes. But we’re not content with that.”
Disciples Church, which is part of the Growing Healthy Churches Network, is less than two years old and touts "real God, real people, real life." Its vision is for people far from God or His church to be engaged and inspired to pursue real life through Jesus in a creative and life-giving community.