What inspired you to start Changing the Face of Christianity Inc?
God whispered in my ear several years ago that the face of Christianity needed to change. I felt called, and I have simply answered that call by saying YES to God. Our mission is to reverse negative Christian stereotypes (such as homophobia, intolerance, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and others) by helping Christians be more like Jesus Christ.
God prepared me well for this enormous challenge. I was an atheist for much of my adult life, yet raised in a Christian home. So I’ve seen Christianity from the outside and inside. Although many Christians are living their faith and bringing glory to God, there are far too many so-called Christians who dishonor God through their lives.
Non-Christians use the negative stereotypes we are trying to reverse as a convenient stumbling block to accepting our faith.
But to be clear, our main objective is not to evangelize and bring people into the faith. There are countless organizations already doing this much better than we can do. We are focused on building up those already in the faith. Helping Christians mature and transform into Christ-likeness is the key. We do believe our efforts will lead to more people accepting the faith. You bring them in, and we help build them up into mature Christians who glorify God and truly change the face of Christianity that outsiders see.
What has been the response?
The overwhelming response has been positive. But as with any organization or public position, there are those that disagree or think we are off the mark. We take the negative opinions with an open heart and an open mind. We are teachable…just like we expect other Christians to be. However, we won’t allow people who oppose us to deter us from our goal.
The people who support us agree that there are far too many people out there giving Christianity a bad name…which dishonors God.
The people who oppose us think we are just trying to be culturally relevant or watering down Christianity until the masses think it’s palatable. It’s been difficult to change their minds, but they couldn’t be more wrong. We call Sin, Sin. We don’t water down the truth of the Gospel. However, our firm belief is that we can be a Christian faith that holds strongly to our essential core beliefs…yet still loves other people who don’t live or believe as we do.
Here is one of the more controversial examples of the divide that exists. As Christians, we believe that homosexuality is a sin. You’ll never hear us say anything to the contrary. However, how should Christians treat a homosexual? Should we reject the person? Should we not try to relate to them and understand them…so that we can reach them? Should we ridicule them and shut them out of our churches? Should we kick them out of our homes and families? My opinion is no.
We should first and foremost LOVE them. Love bridges the gap between our attitudes and beliefs about homosexuals. The problem is…homosexuals don’t feel loved. They simply feel rejected. REJECTED. And it goes deeper than that. PEOPLE are rejecting them, but they feel rejected by God too. Because of what WE do to them, they feel that GOD doesn’t love them or care for them. When we take on the role of Judge on behalf of God (a role we have never been given), we send the wrong message in my opinion.
There are those that say they SHOULD be rejected because of their sin. This is where the conflict arises. You can’t reject them INTO the faith. Rejecting them won’t influence them to BE different. Love is the only way. And to speak frankly about it…we suck at loving the unlovable. In everyday practice, most Christians find it virtually impossible to hate the sin but love the sinner. Instead, what homosexuals experience is both hating the sin and feeling hated as a person.
I’ve made this point many times. We all sin. And homosexuality is just one of many sins in this fallen world.
I’ve made this point many times. We all sin. And homosexuality is just one of many sins in this fallen world. If we rejected and kicked out of our churches and families everyone who held onto a sin…any sin…our churches would be abandoned and empty. It is only through God’s grace and mercy that any of us can stand in His presence. We all struggle with something. And only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to change. We believe that welcoming these people with open loving arms increases the chances that the Holy Spirit can work in their lives.
But, back to your question about the response. Again, most people are incredibly supportive and feel that we are echoing their beliefs and attitudes about what must change within our Christian faith.
What have you discovered since starting CFC?
There are many Christians out there that are disgusted with what they see happening within our Christian faith. Pastors are molesting children, elders are falling into moral temptation, churches are attempting cover-ups, we see snake-oil televangelists, and overly political Christian attention seekers. Those get everyone’s attention, and unfortunately help us take the focus off of ourselves. There are far fewer Christians willing to look at themselves and seek to change through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve heard stories about incredibly unchristian behavior from your average Sunday churchgoer. Such as a Campus Crusade group, or fellowship of Christian athletes group beating up or threatening someone who wasn’t willing to pray with them or convert, and people going through a divorce feeling shunned and judged instead of loved. I’ve witnessed “evangelism” conversations on facebook between Christians and non-Christians that pushed the non-Christians further away right before my very eyes.
Most of all, I’ve discovered Christians who so desperately want to SAY something to a non-Christian that they aren’t willing to LISTEN to them. Instead of earning the right to witness to them by first building a relationship, I’ve seen ineffective Christians shot down in flames because the person in front of them was treated like a manipulatable object instead of a real person.
We should evangelize, but mostly through how we live our lives. It appears we are ill-equipped to do so effectively. At Changing the Face of Christianity, we hope to change that over the long term.
What have non-believers or atheists said in regards to your organization?
It’s been interesting. The non-believers and atheists who catch the vision of what we are trying to accomplish cheer us on. They are incredibly happy that our organization is working to make a difference within the faith. Many of the atheists that we have met are FORMER Christians…or at least people who grew up in Christian homes who would have called themselves Christians at some point in their earlier lives. In many cases, these are the outspoken people who have been negatively impacted by the negative Christian stereotypes we are trying to reverse. Again, a secondary goal of our ministry is to help keep these people within the faith before they feel compelled to leave. There is a lot of work to be done in this area.
In reference to our primary goal of reversing negative Christian stereotypes, some tell us it’s a lost cause and we are wasting our time, and that Christianity and all religions need to disappear from the face of the earth. Effectively they are saying we are un-savable, so why try?
The biggest disappointment I’ve faced in talking with atheists is the incredible animosity and lack of trust that exists between us. We’ve earned the mistrust. And the animosity is a result
The biggest disappointment I’ve faced in talking with atheists is the incredible animosity and lack of trust that exists between us. We’ve earned the mistrust. And the animosity is a result. For example, the lead sentence of most Christians in conversation with an atheist is “you are going to burn in hell.” That may be true (only God knows who is in His book of Life), but do you think presenting the Gospel in such an antagonistic way is going to warm them to the faith?
Some Christians engage in a “relationship” with a non-believer for the sole purpose of converting them. And once the job is done or they give up, the relationship is OVER! I.e. There was no relationship. They were just manipulating them without true love for the person. People see right through this disingenuous tactic and it reinforces the stereotype that we don’t truly love people. I engage with atheists for the relationship first. And if my life and example influences them positively toward the faith, then I’ve done my job.
Why is it important to look at ourselves before going out and evangelizing?
Because our credibility is actually important to those being evangelized to. If we don’t practice what we preach, why would someone want to join us? The Gospel does transcend our own behaviors. In other words, even if we don’t live up to the ideal we present, this shouldn’t stop us from witnessing to others.
However, consider an obese person trying to convince you to adopt a particular diet to lose weight. You would reject it and rightly so. Even if the diet works and was full of truth, you would dismiss it because of the messenger. So, metaphorically speaking, in the Christian faith we have a diet which works and is full of truth, but the people out selling it (evangelizing) are grossly overweight. We need to shed some pounds before the message we want to share is credible and believable. Live a life consistent with the message and although there are still some that will dismiss it as a hoax, the “diet” has more likelihood of being adopted.
I like the section on “Christians Doing Good”. How important is that?
When we started Changing the Face of Christianity, I felt it was important to present not just the bad things we do (trying to educate and convict people of the need to change), but also to present the clearly good things we do. There are so many Christians in the world doing so much good. I don’t position it as a “hey, look at us doing good”. God’s word says we should do good but don’t call attention to it for our own glory. If we do, we have already received our reward in full. However, I position it in terms of what some Christians have done, that others can take and repeat. I look for working models from one community that others can learn and apply in their own community.
I think this is very important. People are always asking the question “what can I do?” There are people out there doing it. And so if we can spread the word, help others connect with them, and encourage others to carry it forward, then we can make a difference in this world.
Do you feel the tabs you have on your menu (judgmental, intolerant, hypocritical, homophobic, etc…) open up the conversation about the Christian perception mission, and vision for the future of the Christian nation?
We are humbly shining a spotlight on our own weakness and then saying “let’s do something about it together.”
Tell us about the Christianity Quiz and how folks can take it.
You can take the Christianity Quiz at http://www.ChristianityQuiz.com. It’s a short, 10 question self-assessment to determine how Christian you are. Instead of quizzing on things like Bible trivia or academic theology, we’ve created a quiz that evaluates the Christian believer’s thoughts, words, and actions in light of scripture and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Do your thoughts, words, and actions indicate you are a spiritually mature Christian? Or do they indicate you are far from Christ, worldly, or just a “good” Christian?
First take the quiz and see your own personals results. Then, see the results from everyone else here: https://changingthefaceofchristianity.com/insider-news/christianity-quiz-results-sign-up
We created the quiz to be a catalyst for positive change within our faith. If you score highly on the quiz, it means you are generally presenting a positive Christian image to the world by consistently living your faith. If you score lower on the quiz, it indicates there is some conflict between the teachings of Jesus Christ, Christian beliefs, and how you think and act in the real world. If you don’t score so well, we encourage you to recommit to living your life as a worthy disciple of Jesus Christ. That will take hard work and submitting to the Holy Spirit. Let us know how we can help you in that growth and maturity process.
What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?
I have several.
Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This is my favorite verse because it’s what Jesus Christ said are the two MOST important commandments. So, if I’m not doing this…then nothing else really matters.
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.”
No matter how much I learn or grow in the faith, my first priority is to trust in the Lord and walk in faith in Him. When I think myself wise, that’s when I know I’m in trouble.
1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Love is a verb. Do it.
Anything you want to add?
I want to encourage your audience to be a part of the solution. Visit our site, learn from the articles and stories we share, share your thoughts and comments, and help us change the face of Christianity.
Together, through God’s power and will, we can make a difference. And as a 501 (C) 3 non-profit, we need your financial support. If you believe in our cause, then please consider a donation to help us continue our work. http://giftworkslive.com/Donations/DonateNow/MRLAU7TAACY2WPM3J4RM
Finally, we can’t make a difference alone. Please share our ministry and mission with others and encourage others to get involved.
We see church small groups as a key avenue for growing mature Christians. We are piloting a new method for doing small groups that moves people from simply studying our faith to living it. If you lead or are in a small church group, contact us for more information at https://changingthefaceofchristianity.com/about/contact-us