Most recent from my favourite sportswriter…(with permission)

If you shun own church, don’t blame others’ flaws
By Terry Pluto, Beacon Journal columnist
A friend told me a story about a certain pastor hired by a church after he’s had at least two moral failings with people in previous congregations.
I don’t know if the story is true. It’s about a church out of town, but that’s not the point.
Then my friend said, “You hear stories like that, and you understand why some people don’t go to church.”
The temptation is to agree.
It’s so easy to see faults in the church. We hear a story about a corrupt priest or pastor, and we assume most of them are like that.
But what does one possibly corrupt pastor at one church somewhere else have to do with why we won’t attend our local church?
It’s a poor argument, especially because most people in ministry are not like that. Despite the sex-abuse charges hitting the Roman Catholic church in the last few years, it still covered only 5 percent to 10 percent of priests.
That’s far too many. One is too many.
But it also indicates that more than 90 percent are not involved — and most of that 90 percent are good guys trying to do the right thing.
For every sleazy TV evangelist (and there are more than a few), there are thousands of hardworking women and men leading churches. It’s ridiculous to lump them in with the TV quacks.
Some problems in churches are far too many. Some people deserve to be driven out of the clergy. Some in the pews have been hurt terribly by pastors who have abused their position.
No excuse for any of it.
But often, people just look for a reason not to go to church. They grab on to the “the pastor is a crook… the priest just talks about money… the people are phonies.”
A more honest answer is: “I think church is a waste of time. I’d rather sleep in or play golf.”
If we don’t want to go to church or temple, that’s our choice.
The fact that someone once was rude to us, or a leader in our denomination somewhere was arrested — those are rather lame reasons.
We just don’t want to go, period.
But saying that sounds a bit selfish, so it’s better to blame the priest. Or criticize the pastor as boring. Or maybe attack the reputation of the rabbi, and then write off everyone in the pews as hypocrites.
It takes us off the hook. It’s their fault, not ours.
I’m not talking about people who have been victims of serious church abuse. They have real issues. Lots of counseling, healing and time are needed before they can be reconciled to the church.
But that’s not most people.
Understand that nearly everyone has a church horror story. If you don’t, you probably will if you stick around long enough.
If a church says “come as you are,” then you’ll get people who are all over the moral map. Some have their lives heading in the right direction; others are lost. A few just want to cause trouble.
Some sanctimonious types asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
In Matthew 9:12, Jesus overheard them and answered, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Churches tend to be a little messy because people who come often are a mess. Life is not a neat proposition.
Church leaders are people, too.
They say stupid stuff. They aren’t always as patient as we’d like. They sometimes wake up in a lousy mood.
Too often, they act just like us — because in many ways, they are just like us. They just have a slightly different calling on their lives.
I’m not telling anyone to go to church, because it will be meaningful only if we want to go. There were points in my life when I went to church sporadically, and pressuring me wasn’t about to work. My heart wasn’t ready.
But I knew why I stayed away — it was me, not them.
Messages for Terry Pluto can be left at Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at


1 Comment »

  1. this guy has some really great insights!

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