The Ugly Truth About Church | Forum for Theological Exploration

The Ugly Truth About Church

By: Rich Havard
October 20, 2020

Let’s be honest.

The church is often not a hospitable space. Faith communities have centered the privileged and pushed others to the margins. Religious groups have tried to snuff out those with a burning zeal for justice in order to maintain the status quo. Ministries have dismissed many who doubt and ask curious questions.

If we desire for the church to truly create hospitable space, we must first lament the ways our communities have failed to do so.

Ian Pitcher, Tanamá Rivera Vargas, and Audree Garcia, three undergraduate students in the Inclusive Collective, penned this poem to name the pain points of many—wounds and resentment caused by the church’s locked doors, crossed arms, and blocked paths. But these young poets and faith leaders refuse to stop with lament. The last line of their poem offers a glimpse of hope, “That must change, Hollow words must ring true!” Ian, Tanamá, and Audree are pursuing another way forward as they strive to create faith spaces where all of God’s people are truly welcome. Hospitable communities where people can be their true selves, discover who God is calling them to be, and gain the fuel for courageous, faithful living.

May we all hear their pain and frustration. May we lament the sins of the church.

And may we all move forward in a fresh, creative, and bold way.


Arms Crossed, words spoken

But do you hear?

Your Body kneels before the symbol

But is it seen?

Water hits the basket

But do you feel?

The doors are locked, again.


Here are movements only movements

The mind sleeps,

Or perhaps it’s elsewhere

Another time, or place

But, it’s needed here,

Well not, here exactly, but outside

It sits too long

It needs to hear the songs, feel nature, live.

These hands have been still too long.

Do they not feel the pain?

Can they not hear the cries?

They must!

But then, how can the doors be closed?

Are they afraid of what they might learn?

Is that why they change the songs, rewrite words, forget the stories?

No wonder they are still, but

That must change

Hollow words must ring true!

The Inclusive Collective (IC) is a member of FTE’s Community of Practice Cohort which is a two-year journey with an emerging network of Christian institutions committed to accompanying young adults in vocational exploration and discernment for ministry.

IC is a vibrant, growing, and diverse campus ministry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and across Chicagoland. The ministry exists to fuel young adults through Jesus-rooted soul work. They strive to create experiences where people encounter God in such powerful ways that they feel inspired and energized for courageous, faithful living. Experiences that stir them to follow Jesus, disrupt the status quo, and co-create God’s Beloved Community.

Tags...: Design Thinking, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future

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