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This is a topic that has always weighed heavy on my heart. I spent the better part of my childhood in the church building, going to church, Sunday school, or various events and activities at church either with my mom or my godparents. While I did get an amazing biblical education and developed an amazing relationship with Christ, I also learned a lot of things that were less helpful in life.

  1. Don’t make noise.
  2. Sit straight.
  3. At least pretend to pray.
  4. Holding the prayer book looks great, and you can read other pages, no one will know!
  5. How you are dressed equates to how Christian you are.
  6. Don’t wear to much makeup, this means you are a whore.
  7.  Don’t wear a short skirt, this means you are a whore.
  8. Don’t wear clothing that is to revealing or too sheer, this means you are a serious whore.
  9. The right hairstyle is key. Not to frumpy, not to trendy, and for sake’s alive, don’t colour it to far from your natural colour, cause this indicates you want to follow Satan.
  10. No tattoo’s or piercings, because this means you are definitely going to hell and already a willing follower of Satan.
  11. Don’t wear any attire that is not conservative, and stay away from anything considered alternative or counter-culture as this means you are on your way to hell and must be secretly worshiping satan!!
  12. Make sure you bathe before church, your clothes are clean, and you smell nice, because smelly people are agents of the devil.
  13. It’s ok to cry and get prayer, but don’t tell anyone what is going on because everyone will find out you are having a hard time, or sinned, and they will talk bad about you for the next two years. Longer if it’s something really bad!
  14. You must judge everyone, because that is Christ-like. Christ will come to judge the living and the dead, so be like Christ, judge now.
  15. In judging everyone, make excuses for your own sinful behaviour, and make sure you live your life better then everyone else, or at least hide your sins extremely well. If you look perfect, then you must be sinless.
  16. Only perfect people are allowed to go to church. If you are having a hard time, or maybe sinning, then please stay home, because your not welcome in church.
  17. If you are truly a christian, then any adversity in life will be quickly overcome because God is so amazing that if you are a true believer he will fix everything quickly.
  18. The more money you give, the better Christian you are.
  19. Everyone expects to find out how much you are tithing, so bragging is best, but make sure its in a conversational tone and the delivery is humble.
  20. It’s not called gossiping if you are asking for prayer for someone, but you do need to tell the whole entire story, along with your opinion, just in case it helps for prayer.
  21. Regardless of what the bible says, if you are not in agreement with everyone else then you are wrong, and your thoughts are going to lead you straight to hell.

Unfortunately, this is the story is far to many churches. I grew up in a conservative small town, and while we all could see most people’s dirty laundry outside of church, unless it was made apparent within the church we acted and pretended it wasn’t happening. I took my relationship with God and my personal bible study seriously. By the age of 15 my spiritual maturity has far outstripped many of my elders which made it tough for me to find the help I needed at such a crucial age, especially because my earthly maturity was crucially lacking.

I was quite rebellious of the status quo and didn’t understand why everyone else didn’t see the forgiving and loving God I knew. My faith was strong and I understood the hypocrisy of my elders, but somehow was able to maintain my faith. For many in churches around the world, children or adult, this is definitely not the case. They leave the church angry and disillusioned and hurting in a way that keeps them from Christ for the rest of their lives. The actions of many around me led me to run as far away from the church as I could, for a very long time. It was made clear to me that I was unacceptable, that conformity and outward appearance was more important then my relationship with Christ.

I still struggle with this hypocrisy in every church I attend. It is like a virus, a plague on christianity, a cancer that eats and destroys churches from the inside out. My discernment helps to me understand that Satan is really at the heart of this, already in the hearts and mind of church goers, but not everyone ravaged by this disease is able to see, especially the elders and clergy.

Sometimes it is so hard when I hear someone speaking “truths” that you just know are twisted versions of what Jesus was trying to teach us. I just want to scream at them, “Go read your bible, and stop messing up other’s lives!” What kills me the most is the political speak, like somehow unless you vote or support the “right” candidate, which must only be a Christian, then you to are going to hell! I’m just baffled. As if we can really vote in some super Christian government which will magically legislate biblical truths and somehow make a moral and ethical country. And maybe I’ll get a unicorn for Christmas!

The church is filled with self-appointed referees on morality and ethics. Can we just stop this? If by some miracle you are still ready this post, can you please do one thing for me: Please look over this list, and honestly try not to do any of the above, and reach out like a true bother or sister in Christ to someone who enters or perhaps is already siting in your congregation. Don’t judge them, love them like Christ does, and pray that the holy spirit will work to change not only their lives but your heart as well.

This is what I learned by the age of 15: The church is a minefield, be careful where you step.

What is your minefield? Which one of these lessons have you also learned in church? I’d love to hear your story.