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Shading the Truth

What do people want our church to look like?

It's a question I'm often tempted to ask. Yet this impulse reflects in me a lack of vision or a deep insecurity.

A healthy church is secure enough in its understanding of the kingdom of God not to put on a show. At its core, a healthy church must walk in the light of the reality of God and the world. The first step toward honesty and health is identifying the dishonesty. Most churches don't intend to be dishonest, but sometimes we create unrealistic expectations.

Its disguises

Here are several ways our churches can unwittingly participate in a form of hypocrisy:

1. By what isn't said.

A young woman who visited our church described to me the three worlds of her early life: The first world was her home, where she was sexually abused. The second was a public-school room, where she was respected for her mind. The third was her church, which portrayed God as one who knew nothing of, and who made little difference in, her first two worlds. She said ...

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