Smiling faces with hurting hearts


It’s a word that gets tossed around quite a bit, especially in church culture. We ought to be more genuine, authentic and vulnerable.

It’s a word that, honestly, as a man, I don’t like a whole lot. It’s uncomfortable.

And yet, we cannot think of vulnerability in terms of male or female. As in: Guys are more rough around the edges, rough and tumble, not emotionally vulnerable because that’s a weakness; Girls are vulnerable and laugh and cry together and talk about feelings and all of that.

I tend to spend a good amount of time thinking about the Sunday morning “experience” at church. That experience can be good, bad, or indifferent. Some come and really connect with others, spend time talking and praying and being intentionally open with others. Some come and have a horrible time. They felt judged, didn’t get greeted, couldn’t find a seat, and really connected with no one. Yet others come because that’s just what they do and their experience on Sunday is neither good nor bad, neither unenjoyable nor enjoyable, it just is part of their habit or behavior.

Sunday mornings are weird.

Many are dressed in their “Sunday best” clothes. Most have on their “Sunday best” mask where it’s like none of the stressors or horrors of the week before actually happened…as if they aren’t dreading another Monday morning…as if everything in life is great, they are great, their family is great, their dog is great, and things really couldn’t be better. Is that true?

Or is Sunday morning between 8am and 12pm the time when the most lies are told all week?

Could it be more accurately labeled the “dishonest hour” instead of the “Sunday school hour”?

How many times do we walk past someone in church and say, “Hey, how’s it going?,” shake their hand and keep walking, while they respond, “Good, how about you?” reciprocating the hand shake and continuing on their way too? Neither of us stopped to receive an answer. Neither of us really cared what the other had to say.

Can we be honest? In the above situation, we both secretly hoped we would get the response we did get because if things actually weren’t going good we would have to stop and talk. We wouldn’t be able to keep going where we were just going. We would actually have to stop and connect with someone…have to stop and listen and hear what they need prayer and maybe actual physical help with. We would have to DO SOMETHING.

I think Sunday mornings in church need more vulnerability. If you’re honest, I think you can see that need too. There are a lot of smiling faces, but a lot of hurting hearts.

It may be that it must start with you, Pastor. It may be that you set the tone for this sort of thing in how you train other leaders and volunteers, greeters, cafe workers, and how you speak in your sermon.

Is your church a place where it is okay to not be okay but people will come around you, pray with you, walk with you through it because it’s not okay to stay that way? If the answer is no, it might be up to you to do something. Start a new trend. Begin cultivating a new culture. Why not start this Sunday?


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