What’s In A Stupid Name?

In naming Brian McLaren and Tony Jones as Stupid Church People of the Year, it seems to have created varied reactions. I figured it would. I mean, who would have really cared if I would have named one of these fine folks the SCPOTY:

Benny Hinn
Pat Robertson
Paul and Jan Crouch

Nobody would have cared. I don’t think most of the Emergent Church people would have defended these folks. In many respects they might have laughed and probably agreed. The problem wasn’t that I named anyone a “SCPOTY” it was that I named “their guys”. Sometimes it is just hard to see ourselves as we really appear.

You see, in my opinion, the point of being Stupid Church People is this:

1). You know when you are one. All SCP don’t mind being called one, especially when what they have done is SCP worthy. I’ve done tons of SCP things and will in the future do more. Many of the things I have done are chronicled on this site. Things like visiting “door-to-door” to save people, creating events that inflate my ego and make me feel good but don’t really build the kingdom, making people feel “guilty” and “shaming” people to follow God with their lives… man have I done some things I wish I could change.

2). You are honest about your shortcomings. As a result, when I am honest, I open myself up to all sorts of judgments. Trust me, this has happened on this site more than once. There is a difference between being judged for what I have done and judged for who I am. I know sometimes the lines get blurred.

3). We don’t take ourselves too seriously (at least not to the extreme). And that’s the big point here. In naming Jones and McLaren as SCPOTY it is obvious that they are not on par with the SCPness of the Hinn’s, Robertson’s and Crouch’s of the world. What they need to recognize is that I already considered them Stupid Church People (as I consider all of us who are or have been part of the church). They might find that offensive too, but they are in good (if not great company).

I consider Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, James Dobson, Erwin McManus, Eugene Peterson… I consider them all SCP. There are possibly degrees of SCPness, but in all seriousness… all SCP’s are created equal. The difference is acknowledging it… admitting you have a problem is the first step of recovery.

And here is the rub. If you are a Christian and have been a part of a church, or a pastor, or a Christian ministry leader of any sort (paid or unpaid)… YOU ARE A STUPID CHURCH PERSON! And if you don’t think you are one, this means you are even more of one than you appear. It no doubt confirms you are a SCP if you deny it. Denial is the first sign.

To be Stupid Church People is not negative. Yes, on this site we may tend towards cynicism and skepticism. We may be a bit harsh in our criticisms. Occasionally we may step out of line and say something that we wish we hadn’t of said… but we will never hesitate to admit our shortcomings and seek to make things right to the best of our ability. Part of what happens here is raw, honest and unfettered dialogue. I have heard that’s what the “emergent-types” want. We don’t desire anarchy in our discussions and while some may be thrown by the name (the word stupid just really throws people off doesn’t it?), the people that have regularly visited the SCP site have become an extended family to one another…even in the midst of our own unique dysfunctions.

I am so glad Tony Jones has commented on this site and is seeking to enter into the conversation over here (even if I kinda dragged him here). For him, I am sure it equates to slumming and I appreciate him venturing over to our “stupid” little site. I know he is busy (and I mean this) and so for him to take a few minutes to either explain himself or even defend himself… makes me extremely glad. He should be here. As he has written to me (and I don’t think he would mind me sharing this)… we are on the same team! And we are probably more on the same page than either one of us cares to admit. I look forward to turning those stupid pages together.

25 thoughts on “What’s In A Stupid Name?”

  1. Steve…my name is Leanne, not Laura :o).Okay, I’ll bite. We all do stupid things. Can you give specific examples of things that are, as you say, “detrimental, toxic, or painful” to others? I’m here to learn. Seriously. I grew up in the Christian culture. I took my first steps in my then church’s nursery at about 9 months old. So my world view is that of a “stupid church person.” Perhaps there is a post that you can direct me to that lists more concrete examples if you do not wish to list them here…Thanks for making us think a little!!

  2. I’m happy to be involved in the conversation, as you know. And I truly don’t mind being tagged as a SCP. When your commentary crosses from sardonic to mean-spirited (which I think it does at times), that’s when I get uneasy.Looking forward to the interview!Tony Jones

  3. Another reason I love Tony… I always have to look words up in the dictionary when I dialogue with him…Those damn PhD’s!

  4. Steve said: “What is this the Emergent Mafia?? Sounds like an episode of Sopranos.”::in thick N.Y. accent::Whadd’ya twalkin’ ’bout? dere’s no mafia, it’s just a myth. He’s just lookin’ out for your welfare, as a, ya know concerned citizen. Cuz ya know they wouldn’t want nothin’ bad ta happen ta ya. Just consider this a friendly little warning, dat’s all.ROFLMAO🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. I was going to make a list of SCP Things I Have Done but then I realized it would exceed the character limit for comments and also it would be really embarrassing.Realizing you have a problem is the first step to recovery…

  6. We are all “stupid” EVERYTIME we think, speak, and/or act in a way that is not in line with God. If you claim to be a believer and you sin (going against the will of God) you are “stupid”. I’ve been calling myself stupid for years because I continuously let down the One I love the most.I agree with Tony though…when the comments become harsh sarcasm and mean spirited, then one begins to wonder what the benefit of such talk is.

  7. I am usually the first person on deck when it comes to laughing at Christian culture…we’ve produced some scary stuff! But as a pastor, I have to say that half-a-pastor also has a point. The majority of us do what we do because we believe in God’s calling on our lives. We are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, serving in an imperfect church. So what does the author of this site hope to accomplish by calling us all “stupid church people”? How is it NOT a negative connotation? And what exactly can we do to be removed from that category?

  8. Good questions, Laura!🙂Seriously, Leanne. Just read around this blog for some examples of well-meaning church folk who, in their attempts to make folks ‘holy’ have crushed spirits and spoiled faith…

  9. I have been watching from the sidelines. Sort of wondering when this emergent thing would implode . . .and how it would all shake out. I love your equal opportunity SCP spirit.

  10. <>So it would be wise to back off.<>Yes!!! Yes!!! Back off!! That is exactly what conversation is all about!! Whatever you do, don’t question anyone’s methods, because their motives are good.What were those crazt Bereans thinking when they searched the scriptures, verifying the teachings of Paul… I mean, this was the Apostle Paul, not some lightweight, nameless follower of Christ, but Paul!! He wrote most of the NT!! yet, it was a good thing for the Bereans to do???I’m sorry AfghanGrant, but this IS the conversation. Whether ‘Emergent’ likes it or not. People have opinions, questions and points of view. If you attempt to kill the conversation, you’re fulfilling < HREF="http://demerging.com/2005/12/emerging-emergent-and-flag-waving.html" REL="nofollow">my prophecy<>, and you’re defeating the very purpose of the movement.True, God did create us this way. But He created this way, not so we would be silent. He created us this way so we would be accountable. For you to ask anyone to back off is wrong.I think God has faith in us that we can take the heat that leadership brings… nobody’s been ugly here. No-one has disrespected anyone here.Thanks for conversing…

  11. Its one thing to admit that we are all “stupid church people” and try to laugh and make fun of that, it is quite another to make someone the SCPOY and making a scene about it. Pinpointing names is not unifying, especially since it just seems to be a difference of preference. The author did note that we are all playing on the same team….that is what matters…not how someone chooses to try to reach the postmodern generation….is what McLaren and others doing imposing on essential doctrine from Scripture, probably not. So it would be wise to back off. Christ loves the church, even though its fallen and run through a fallen creation, but we need to remember that God planned it this way. He has faith in us.

  12. Point well taken Marshall clan…. being stupid can and is many times negative. Embracing it, recognizing it… that’s positive. Having fun and laughing at ourselves and our stupid ways can be positive.And there is level of stupidness… some of it is innocent in many ways and not all-in-all evil or overally deterimental. Other times the stupid things we do as part of our Christian subculture can be downright evil, manipulative and cause pain in the lives of others.

  13. Steven the Prophet has eloquently stated: ” If you are a Christian and have been a part of a church, or a pastor, or a Christian ministry leader of any sort (paid or unpaid)… YOU ARE A STUPID CHURCH PERSON! And if you don’t think you are one, this means you are even more of one than you appear. It no doubt confirms you are a SCP if you deny it. Denial is the first sign.”Hmmm, so I can’t deny anything anymore. People can just hurl any accusation or insult at me and I have to live with it. So when Josh calls me or anyone else a bitch or an asshole, well it must be true, because if we deny it, we’re bitches and assholes in denial. I’d actually be hurt by this if I believed a single word of it. But it’s a good thing I don’t, and it’s another good thing that I have a sense of humour.I think Steve thought one thing but his stupid prophet fingers typed another. Yes, we are all stupid church people at times, but I don’t think that by someone currently going to church, or participating on a paid or voluntary basis is automatically a stupid church person. I think we will do things in those capacities that can be considered stupid, but acting in those capacities by themselves do not make us stupid. Besides there will always be people out there who think you are stuipd. It could be for the way you drive, the way you talk, the things you believe, or because you put your faith in a God you can’t see, etc. The difference here is, the prophet has forewarned us that we will all stuipd, therefore we are all stupid church people to beging with.::rubbing his temples::This post is making my head hurt. 😛

  14. Hey Peter Longfellow (yeah, like that’s your real name…), that wasn’t a very nice thing to say.But hey, to quote Forrest Gump, ‘Stupid is as stupid does…”

  15. Leanne, I guess I can’t view the church in any other terms than negative, therefore just referring to people in the church as stupid church people is generous. If I had the time to devote to a web site and a podcast, I’d come out with Evil Church People, but that has already been done under many other names. Steve’s trying to call out the stupid things we as Christians do in the name of pleasing God. Steve is a humourous prophet, one that the church desperately needs to listen to. This site and one other are the only vestiages of the church I allow myself. Anything more would be too toxic for me.

  16. So Laura, in answer to your questions: <>So what does the author of this site hope to accomplish by calling us all “stupid church people”? How is it NOT a negative connotation? <>I hope to accomplish that each of us will see that we do “stupid things” (meaning a lack common sense not necessarilly intelligence but sometimes both) that can be potentially detrimental, toxic or painful to others. Things that create disulliusionment in the eyes of those we serve as leaders within the church. Sure it has a negative connotation (I will admit that) but it is a form of hyperbole, meant to get our attention and call awareness to the current state of things in ourselves and in the church.

  17. I cannot speak on behalf of my brother, but being ‘stupid’ IS honest. But, honesty and negativity are not mutually exclusive.Most of the stupid church activity I see/participate in/cry over/sickens me, is all honest. But, it’s pretty freakin negative, too.The fact that we can all embrace our stupidity is a positive, but the stupidity, in and of itself does so much harm, that is can only be construed (sp??) as negative…just a thought

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