Called to Consistency & Living in Brokenness

December 21, 2009 by

From the beginning one of the communications issues we’ve continually harped on is that some of the very worst marketing for churches is Christians themselves. So often we’re a poor advertisement for the faith we want to spread.

You don’t have to look far to find examples of ethical failures. Like most years, 2009 is chock full of examples:

  • South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made headlines for “hiking on the Appalachian Trail,” the excuse he gave when he was really using tax payer funds to rendezvous with his mistress in Argentina.
  • Golfer Tiger Woods joined the infidelity club around Thanksgiving with his mysterious car crash. He eventually apologized for “transgressions.” After at least a dozen women admitted to having affairs with Woods, he apologized again and admitted to “infidelity.” He’s currently taking an indefinite hiatus from professional golf and watching his many sponsors drop him like a rock.

Of course those are just two high profile examples of mainstream figures getting caught up in their own lies. Sadly, the famous person cheating on their spouse is hardly remarkable.

Unfortunately, the church isn’t immune from our own stories this year:

Whew. Depressed yet? I think I may have inadvertently ruined Christmas.

There are two solutions to this.

Be Consistent
The first is for Christians to be more consistent. If Christians lived what we believed then we couldn’t be our own bad advertising. If we could manage to mess up less frequently we’d be in better shape. We’d actually be doing what we preached and then maybe, just maybe, hypocrisy wouldn’t be one of our calling cards.

However, we are a broken people. So “just be good” isn’t much of a solution.

Be Broken
We’re bound to mess up. That’s just part of the deal. You can’t expect perfection. That’s no excuse to wallow in sin, but instead of pursing perfection, we should be pursing grace and forgiveness. Learning to address the mess with grace is the second solution and perhaps the better road.

Which is why one of this year’s other big controversies is such a great example. Mike Foster and Judd Wilhite, the Deadly Viper guys, started taking heat for perceived racial stereotypes in their Deadly Viper book and the accompanying marketing. In the end Mike and Judd shut down Deadly Viper completely and their publisher pulled the book from shelves. In its place they kicked off a new ministry that had already been in the works and seems so much more timely now: People of the Second Chance.

How perfect is that? We all make mistakes, whether intentional or not, but true character and integrity (which was the heart of Deadly Viper) means we do what’s right. And we give each other second chances. It’s heartening to see Soong-Chan Rah, who originally raised this issue, fully supporting People of the Second Chance (it’s worth noting that Rah did not call for the closure of Deadly Viper). This is hardly a perfect example–it’s full of messiness and anger and mistakes. But it’s such a good example in the way that forgiveness and grace were allowed to shine through in the end.

As Christians we are our own best–or worst–marketing. While practicing what we preach and seeing fewer headlines about broken pastors would be a good start, how we deal with that brokenness says so much more.

May we all be people of second chances.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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6 Responses to “Called to Consistency & Living in Brokenness”

  • Sara
    December 21, 2009

    All too often in the church, we talk of ‘restorarion’. What this means is we are willing to forgive the sin, whatever it is in our eyes, as long as we don’t have to look at it or acknowledge it as a communal body. This is why couples who serve and get divorced are asked to step down unless they are willing to ‘work through it’, parents whose children end up pregnant endure shame even though these same faith communities condemn abortion and praise the adoption option (which means the baby must be carried to full term), families or individuals struggling with addiction are left in silence because they simply do not have enough faith to ‘let go and let god’…
    Is it any wonder our own leaders fail us when we ourselves strive for what is unattainable? Perfection is not what we are to be after; instead, it is melding our outer and inner selves until there is no compartamentalization left, no reason for it.

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  • Matt
    December 21, 2009

    Sara, I agree with much of what you have said and agree that often times “restoration” is code for can we pretend it never happened and move on, or some other thing that is not dealing with it. However, I think that there is also genuine restoration where a person deals with their sin while their brothers and sisters in Christ deal with it along side them.

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  • bondChristian
    December 21, 2009

    Yet another one of these posts?
    I cringe when I see them, but they do help remind of some important lessons. Brokenness is such a key to the Christian lifestyle. Sometimes only these stories or in some cases experiencing something similar is the only path to realizing how important brokenness is.
    It’s definitely not a normal Christmas theme, but it should always be a normal Christian theme.
    -Marshall Jones Jr.

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  • Michael Holmes
    December 21, 2009

    I agree with BondChristian (such a cool name) “Brokenness is such a key to the Christian lifetyle.” As much as I am a proponent of “success” “making it” and “living a life of purpose”…I believe the best thing God can give is not the things I just mentioned…but Himself. And to get and keep that requires a level of brokenness.
    Another thing we all these falling splashed across the media screen…we need to honor those believers who HAVE maintained their integrity. There are a lot of then out there…even though the media wouldn’t want us to believe it.

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  • Ben Arment
    December 27, 2009

    I’m trying to figure out the spirit behind this post. The thoughtful comments at the end seem only to serve as an excuse to fuel judgmentalism and perpetuate gossip and rumors. Of course the church is screwed up. I’ve seen dozens of pastors fall in my lifetime. But to promulgate a list of sinners for public discourse (hyperlinked, no less) is shameless… especially without one’s own name added to the list.

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  • Sheila
    January 14, 2010

    Accepting and dealing with our brokenness and living our lives with humility in our brokenness is paramount to being real and transparent in our relationships. Understanding that our brokenness is part of being human, that only at the end are we made truly whole and perfect is what we need to embrace.

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