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I’ve received multiple maimagerketing pieces from a church expansion in my area.  The church prides itself on welcoming people just as they are – no matter who they are.  They want to get to know their visitors’ authentic selves.

Do they really?

So I went to their website and noticed quite a few things that communicates otherwise: sermons that consider being gay a sin… messages that state that living together is wrong… women prohibited from certain leadership roles.

To me, this doesn’t affirm everyone like it says in their marketing pieces.

This is no different than other large churches in our area.  “Come as you are,” they tell us.  But when it comes down to it, their theology is set in stone and not even God Herself could change it.

Listen, I think there’s a good chance that all churches stretch the truth to get people to visit.  But when you tell people that they are welcome like they are and then send various messages that say otherwise, then that is false marketing.  You are not welcome as you are… you are welcome as the person God will transform you to be.

I’m not saying that everyone in our churches will agree with us or like us.  But we deserve to come to a church without feeling spiritual stones being thrown at us- especially when we think the stones won’t be thrown.

What if you could find a church that would welcome you no matter who you love or how you love?  What if you could find a church that would welcome you no matter what your family may look like – even if it means two unmarried adults raising their beautiful children?  What if you could find a church that would want you to be a leader even if you are female?  What if you could find a church that affirms your doubts and allows you to struggle with your agnosticism or even atheism publicly?  Isn’t that worth just as much as smoothies in the middle of worship or a band with hip music?

Wearing blue jeans or coming into church with uncombed hair doesn’t really affirm your disarray.  Celebrating a God that loves your soul just as it is right now – in all its chaos – is worth everything.

In the meantime, I would ask the churches who want gay people to change their sexual orientation, or who shake a finger at couples who intentionally and thoughtfully live together before marriage, or who don’t allow half of the population to hold leadership roles to say so in their marketing.  Stop lying.  Stop bearing false witness to yourselves.  Be real.  Be authentic.  Say it like it is.