8 Lies In Church Culture That Cripple Us

by Frank Powell

I love the church. I have given my life to the church. I believe in the church because I believe the King reigns over everything. There is a lot to be praised and celebrated when it comes to the church. There is another side though. We have bought some lies. These lies are hurting us. Crippling us. If the church is going to become the image of God in the world, there are lies we must drop. Here are 8 lies in church culture today that I believe are crippling us.

1.) Some sins are worse than others.

This is plaguing our church culture. Here’s why. It creates only two types of people. Group one: those that have not committed the “bad” sins. They have avoided the worst of the worst, so they tend to judge those that have not. Group two: those that have committed the “bad” sins. They are not stupid. They know once their virginity is gone, or they rape or murder somebody, God is really mad at them. The stares from group one tend be more direct and more apparent. Eventually, most in group two come to the realization they are just not good enough. Most in group one agree.

Some sins carry with them greater consequences…absolutely. Murder somebody…you get jail time. Gossip about your room mate…nothing. Both are sins. One has greater consequences. But this idea that avoiding a particular group of sins makes you more awesome than the group that has not is utterly ridiculous. Roman 3:23 has already settled it. We are all sinners. And in God’s eyes, there is only one group…sinners. That’s all of us.

It is time for the church to stop ranking sins. The cross is for every person. Let’s treat people this way.

[tweet_box design=”default”]It is time for the church to stop ranking sins. The cross is for every person.[/tweet_box]

2.) God does not expect that much from me.

You are right. God would only expect you to do what He has done. Wait…God sent His son to the cross to be murdered. For me? That’s crazy. So, tell me again why you think God does not expect much from you? God asks us to give our lives to Him (Romans 12:1-2). God asks us to kill our selfish desires. All of them. He asks us to live counter-culturally. Risk our lives, if necessary. Is that too much to ask? You decide.

3.) If you are a good communicator, you will be a good preacher or pastor.

What a terrible lie the church has given to so many young men. I fear it has created the circus show we have in many churches today. Preachers that are phenomenal communicators, but awful examples of Jesus. They are dishonest. They are in love with money. They are in love with fame. They are in love with everything except Jesus. Listen, being a great communicator does not make you a great preacher/pastor..its makes you a great communicator. A great preacher’s most important quality is his integrity.

So, when our young people step up to the pulpit or deliver a devotional thought at camp, let’s encourage them. Build them up. Give them more opportunities to lead and speak. But let’s stop anointing them as preachers because they do not stutter during a 10-minute devotional. We might just be feeding a beast that is devouring many of our churches.

4.) God is not ok with doubt and anger.

This would be a great idea if not for most of Psalms. I know why the mindset is present. It is disrespectful to yell at our earthly father and doubt his ways, so it must be the same (and more so) with God. Not terrible logic, but I direct you back to Psalms. Listen, God is all powerful. His love for you is so deep He sent His son to give you life. I think God can handle some doubt and anger. He knows this life is hard. He knows we are limited.

If you are reading this and have doubts about God, welcome to the club. I will pull you up a seat. Sometimes I struggle with things like a God who is everywhere at one time, three different Gods (but one God), and eternity. Doubt is an opportunity to draw near to God, not run from Him.

5.) God’s love for me is determined by my behavior.

The problem here…we think too highly of ourselves. If God’s love for you (or me) was determined by your behavior, He would be a crazy lunatic. He would also not have anybody to love. Here’s the deal. I suck at living up to God’s standard. Even on my most awesome day, I still end up light years short of God’s standard. Don’t freak out. God know this.


God loves you for one reason…his love is that deep (John 3:16). It’s not about you. Not at all. You are a child of God for one reason…Jesus. You can’t earn God’s love. You can’t earn God’s favor. Stop trying. You are driving down an exhausting road. Take the next exit and get off!

[tweet_box design=”default”]You are a child of God for one reason…Jesus. You can’t earn God’s love.[/tweet_box]

You are awesome because of God. When you really suck at life, praise God. His love for you hasn’t changed. When you knock it out of the park, praise God. His love for you hasn’t changed.

6.) We should never water down the message.

Alright, some of you are ready to write me off. Hear me out.

I am not interested in changing the message. The message must stay the same. It is the message of Jesus that transforms lives. It is of first importance (I Cor. 15:1-3). I am interested in changing the content of the message. This idea that the church should never alter the message so those who do not know Jesus can comprehend it is ridiculous.

“Frank, the Holy Spirit will do the work in those areas where people do not understand.”

Listen, I am a huge Holy Spirit guy. I believe in the Holy Spirit and His power. But tell me this…how is that working for you? You bringing non-Christians to Jesus with that mindset?

I was talking with a guy last week about this. He did not grow up in church. This guy has been a Christian for about 20 years now, and his words to me were striking. “Frank, I struggle to understand the message most Sundays. I don’t speak the language. So, most of the time I just tune out when the sermon starts.”

Translation: the church is speaking a language that is native to us, but foreign to those who have no framework for God. Call it Christianese. Call it whatever. But it is prideful to believe people should constantly reach up to our level. Tell me where you find that in Scripture? The prevailing theme is God and His people reaching down, not expecting others to reach up.

Yes, we have a standard. Yes, we are called to be holy. But that isn’t the issue here. The issue is making the gospel clear to everyone. It is equivalent to expecting a toddler to comprehend high school concepts. Ridiculous.

Churches that are bringing non-Christians to Jesus get this. The message is not watered down. It is convicting, and it is powerful. But it is not littered with big Christian words that only locals understand. If the goal is to make ourselves feel good and holy, keep using big words that only natives understand. Keep telling “insider” jokes that make locals laugh and outsiders feel awkward. But If the goal is to reach people that do not know Jesus, we must stop expecting them to know our language. Make a choice.

7.) God wants me to be happy.

Really? Where do you find that in Scripture? The word “happy” appears six times in the Bible, none of those in reference to God’s intention for your life. This is not a bad thing, though. Let’s be real…if God valued our happiness, He is a terrible God. Why? Happiness is more fleeting than a relationship on the Bachelor.

Right now, I am in a great mood. How quickly can that change? Let me pull out of this Starbucks and be t-boned at a red light by a granny who is too old to be driving anyway (sorry, I am bitter…forgive me). The other thing about happiness? It is almost always tied to the present. If we constantly lived for the present and our current happiness, what a miserable life most of us would have. How many times has something awesome birthed from something not so awesome?

The good news for you and me…God is much more concerned with lasting qualities like joy and peace. Those qualities that are unaffected by the fragility of life. Let’s all take a deep breath and say it together…God does not value my happiness. Now, doesn’t that feel good?

8.) We are growing!…Two families from across the road just joined our church.

Of all the lies, this one might be the most crippling to the church today. We have lost our purpose. We have forgotten our calling. We have neglected the Great Commission. Is it great to have a family from across the road join our church? Sure, but to view this as growth is dangerous. It is not growth. It is one Christian family moving from one church to another.

When will the church start looking at growth in terms of people that do not know Jesus? How many people have we baptized this year? How many people are in our buildings every Sunday that are searching? Is this not our mission?!

It is madness. There are people in this world that need Jesus. He is the ONLY source of life. Without a relationship with Jesus, there is no hope. None. And we arrogantly sit back week after week, lifting our chins high because two new families from down the road were tired of one church so they decided to give ours a try. “We are doing good…the church gained 8 people today.” No, the church gained those 8 people twenty years ago when they were baptized.

C’mon on church. Surely we are better than this?! It is time to run full speed towards the mission.


Join the conversation! What do you think? Are there other lies the church needs to squash? I love the church, and I want to see her become the unstoppable force Jesus Christ died to establish. By the power of God, we can do this. I believe we can!

I love you all! To God be the glory forever. Amen!

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Mike August 5, 2014 - 12:23 am

Some great points people need to think about, especially number 8. But in number 6 you seem to say that the lie is “don’t water down the message.” But you say near the end of that point that message from churches that are reaching people is not watered down. Are you saying that the presentation of the Gospel doesn’t have to be cloaked in theological language that can be difficult to understand? If you are I wholeheartedly agree. But I do not believe that presenting the Gospel in clear, easily understood language is the same as watering down our message.

Frank Powell August 5, 2014 - 10:18 am

Mike, I define watering down the message as not using theological language and churchy jargon. Make the gospel as simple as possible. Don’t change the message.

Mike August 5, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Frank, I believe we are on the same page substantively. We just disagree own semantics. I define watering down the message as changing the central truth of the message to make it more palatable. There are many who want to change the truth of Scripture to fit their lifestyles rather than change their lifestyle to fit the truth of Scripture. To me, watering down the message implies changing the truth to make it easier to swallow, not easier to understand.

Frank Powell August 5, 2014 - 8:42 am

Mike, I define watering down the message as not using theological language and churchy jargon. Make the gospel as simple as possible. Don’t change the message.

joyce August 5, 2014 - 12:19 pm

People are going from church to church searching, but the church they just left has God working in us every day. Stay for the hard times and help the church you are leaving to reach more nonChristians. Let people see God in you – running to another church is not the answer. Work on self in being the Christian everyone wants to be. May God Bless each and every one thru His Word and may we all be an example of which He would be proud.

Frank Powell August 7, 2014 - 10:40 am

Thanks Joyce!

Paul August 5, 2014 - 7:44 pm

You say you are a big “Holy Spirit guy”. But in the same phrase it seems to me that you limit the power of the Holy Spirit by saying “how is that working for you?”. The issue of people not being able to understand “Christianse” is due to the fact that many churches do not disciple new believers in bible doctrine, history, and basic theological aspects of Christianity once they accept Christ. That may seem old school to some but there are so many baby Christians out there who have such a lack of working knowledge of scripture because the Church is failing to disciple them. Just some thoughts of mine.

Frank Powell August 7, 2014 - 9:38 am

Paul, you make a fair point, but my point is not about new believers. My point is related to people that know nothing about Jesus. They have no framework. But somebody has invited them to our worship. If the goal is to reach non-Christians, we must be sensitive to this. Thanks for your comment!

Joshua Jordan January 2, 2015 - 1:19 am

The goal of the worship on Sunday morning is NOT evangelism. It is edification of the saints. Instead of tailoring your messages nonbelievers, you should build up and equip the saints. Don’t worry about running off people with meat. Preach the Word of God. The Holy Spirit works through the Word, not you. The Word works best when the preacher brings the most meaning and clarity from the Inspired Greek texts. This whole article is lazy and Post Modern. You have swallowed a false understanding of the Kingdom of God. The people were destroyed for their lack of knowledge.

George August 7, 2014 - 3:58 am

As for point 6. More time in I Cor. 1-2 would be helpful. Also use something other than “watered down.” The same is used to describe something (usually a drink) has lost it’s flavor because there’s to much water in it. (I know Mike has already touched this point).
But reverting back to what I was mentioning in I Cor. 1-2: you even got confusing in your point of argument to not be confusing.
Use small words. Use short sentences. If you do that everyone should be able to understand. Much of the world (including the US) is undereducated, even some who have college degrees. It’s bad enough that a person told “I don thin he got a last name, I don think he married.” So yeah the work of un complicating scripture is cut out for us. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is there/here because I know I can’t explain the great mysteries of Heaven and salvation.

Lori January 7, 2015 - 9:55 am

Frank, I really enjoyed this article. On the contrary to a few others I have seen “one sin is not as bad as others” for my whole life in church. I could give countless examples but I won’t. My point is it’s nice to see someone be truthful about the church and not the facade that we’re perfect on the outside.

Frank Powell January 7, 2015 - 8:47 pm

Lori, thanks for the comment! I pray people are pointed to Jesus through my words. That means wading through the fake layers the church often puts up. Blessings!

Tim Bates August 7, 2014 - 9:59 am

I don’t think “some sins are worse than others” is a prevalent lie in the church. If it is, it’s not one I’ve ever heard with any regularity. And to say that statement is a lie is hard to prove from Scripture. The Bible does indeed say we are all sinners and all equally incapable of earning salvation. Amen to that. But that doesn’t imply that all sins are equal. Certain sins earned the death penalty in the OT because of how damaging they were. Certain sins received a much lesser punishment. Premeditated murder has a deeper heart problem than a man who gets mad at someone who spills hot coffee on him. Right? Both are driven by our sinful nature but one is clearly a more heinous sin. Both can be forgiven.

But we’re probably on the same page. I’ve explained to people how broad sin is and we can’t act like we’re not sinful because we haven’t murdered someone. We all fall short.

Joshua Fowler January 8, 2015 - 10:02 am

I don’t think you would hear that voiced explicitly, but we definitely treat sin differently in the lives of our members. We overlook some sins while using a spotlight and a magnifying glass to place others in a public place of scrutiny. I concur with your thoughts regarding the nature of sin in scripture. I think the point we generally miss is that, although each sin affects the body (both individual and communal) differently, all sin separates us from God and must be redeemed. Good thoughts here, both in the article and in your comments, Tim.

Jason Franklin August 8, 2014 - 10:57 am

I really appreciated this article; especially number 1. In the liberal media-laden society we live in today, it is easy to “point the finger” at homosexuals, adulterers, girls that commit abortions, etc. The problem is that when you read the multiple “lists” that Paul wrote (Romans 1, Galations 5, etc.), you read that sleeping with another person that is not your spouse has the same bearing as lying, speaking behind a brother’s back, and even gossip! Now, how often do we see someone campaigning in the street with cardboard signs about “God hates liars,” or even “Stop the gossip?” LOL. I laugh, because, that is exactly what society would do. Everything becomes “normalized.” That’s how Satan works. I heard a news story this morning that lifting the ban on public nudity in San Francisco is being considered. We live in a weird world. We all need to stop judging, teach the truth IN LOVE, “rebuke, reprove, and exhort with LONGSUFFERING and DOCTRINE,” and become the living sacrifices we are meant to be.

Once again, Excellent article!! 🙂

Frank Powell August 12, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Jason, thanks for the encouragement and the kind words!

Dennis Mark Burgess January 10, 2015 - 12:39 pm

One would be that we don’t need to preach about sin or hell or how God punished those who were disobedient. Fear God and Keep his commandments wasn’t a suggestion. I tell our congregation that Grace has given us an “A” on our final exam, But that should not make us apathetic, rather more grateful and willing to try harder.

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