An Open Letter To All Of Our Critics

Revolution will not launch for another six days (August 31st at 7pm at the Old PHS Gym on Waller Street) but already we have faced a great deal of criticism.  One area church refused to partner with us because they believe we are too conservative while another backed away from us from being too radical.  Thus, we are already taking shots from both sides.


One of the consistent criticisms has been our use of the motto ‘Revolution: Church That Doesn’t Suck!’  Many area Christians feel we are saying that their church ‘sucks’ or that we are simply using inappropriate language.
First of all, let me make it clear that the leadership team of Revolution in no way believes that we are infallible.  We are largely a bunch of young puritan punkers who will make mistakes.  If we have already made them then hopefully God will make that clear and we will apologize for them. 
Second, if you are one of those Christians who is offended then please hear me out.  We are trying to reach two lost generations.  What do I mean by that? An in depth survey by the Billy Graham Center at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary found that more than 66% of Americans born before 1945 call themselves Christians–that’s awesome.  However, they found that only about 33% of those born between 1945 and 1962 identify themselves as disciples of Christ–that’s a serious drop off.  Yet, that generation is darn near puritan compared to the following generations.  Only 15% of the so-called Gen-X’ers, or those born between 1962-1979, are willing to wear the badge of ‘Christian’ and, are you ready for this, only 3% of those born between 1980 and 1992 will identify themselves with Christ.  Shocked yet?  Wait, there’s more.
Last year George Barna, a Christian pollster, released a sobering survey.  Barna polled one of those two ‘lost generations’ asking them about their view of Christianity and here is what he found–only 16% of them have a favorable view of Christianity! 16% of Americans 16-29 have a favorable view of our churches!  When pressed for more details 87% stated that the church is “full of hypocrites”, 78% described churches as too “old fashioned”, 75% believe the church is too “political”.  A whopping 90% believe the church is “anti-homosexual.”  
I’ll take a minute to let all of that sink in.
Oh, and if you don’t believe me then pick up the book ‘Unchristian’ by Barna pollsters Dave Kinnamann and Gabe Lyons.
The leadership team of Revolution has been convicted by the Holy Spirit to go after the lost generations by planting a very different kind of church. So, when we say ‘church sucks’ we are talking about these generations’ view of the church.  We hope to meet them where they are BUT we will refuse to leave them there.  We want to disciple them! 

Yet, some have objected that if you use language like ‘church sucks’ then you will only attract a lot angry “de-churched” young people (i.e., those who love Jesus but have stopped regularly attending a church because they are mad about someting).  I agree and, in fact, hope we do attract them.  I mean, if they are angry then at least they care!  BUT, rest assured, we will not allow Revolution to become a place where young people come to grumble and complain about other churches while feeling self-righteous for attending the young, hip, cool church.  The people we are seeking obviously do not like most if not all churches for whatever reasons and, let’s face it, all churches have issues this side of the second coming, but we hope to re-focus that anger into true discipleship. 
Now, you may disagree with all of this but please know that our intentions are only to serve the Kingdom and that we truly believe we are being led by the Holy Spirit.  You may object that we cannot be led by the Holy Spirit if we use harsh language but I would gently remind you that Martin Luther regularly used profanity from the puplit, that John the Baptist, Paul and Jesus himself used language that was considered in their day to be very harsh (“vipers”, “your father is the devil”, etc.)

Also know that the leadership of Revolution will be praying for ALL area churches and will discourage any standing member of another church from leaving that church to attend ours UNLESS they state unequivocally that it is either Revolution or nothing!
Finally, if you are one of those who are not attending church or about to leave a church then please check out Revolution this week. AND let me make this very clear, we welcome all just as they are! Whether you are a 60-year old construction worker with a John Deer hat and a ring in your jeans from carrying a can of Copenhagen or an 18-year old skater punk with a Slipknot shirt or a 50 year old small business owner in khakis or a 21 year old single mom struggling to make ends meet, you are welcome at Revolution but, be warned, we are not here to put on a show for you, we are here to challenge you to follow King Jesus to storm the gates of hell if necessary.  If you have the guts for all that then check us out next Sunday at 7pm at the Old PHS Gym on Waller Street and to those who are angry with us, we will be praying for you.
Grace and peace to all of you.
By Matt Rawlings, Leadership Team of Revolution.


4 responses to “An Open Letter To All Of Our Critics

  1. slightly concerned

    First of all, I would like to thank you for this post; it helped me to better understand the goals of Revolution. I only wish that much of this had been posted earlier or maybe in the “About” link. I have been following the site for a couple of weeks now, and I have honestly had some concerns (though I was hardly opposed to Revolution). One of my biggest reservations was (and still is to a degree) the overall tone of some of your posts. Some of them have seemed to me to be almost mean-spirited. I realize that this is probably not intentional, but when you state “Others get offended and
    want to know if we are saying that their church sucks. Well, frankly, most do”, it does not seem to be in the spirit of Church unity.

    It is not my intent to bash Revolution or add fuel to the critical fire. My goal with these comments is to speak the truth in love, and I hope that I have accomplished that.

    I am honestly excited that there is going to be a church in this area that seems to have sound theology but isn’t conformed to the traditional church model, and if I am able to, I hope to attend a service from time to time. I will be praying that God blesses your efforts & that Revolution will help to build up His kingdom in the Portsmouth area.

  2. rivercityrevolution

    Thank you. We appreciate your comments.

    First of all, speaking just for myself (Matt), I naively expected anyone interested in Revolution to contact us with any concerns directly as outlined by Jesus himself in Scripture (Matt. 18:15-20). I still hope against hope that this will be the case. Unfortunately, far too many are simply talking amongst themselves and not to us.

    Second, once again, we are not as concerned with local church unity, which, frankly, I haven’t seen in some time and then only for a short period, as we are reaching the unchurched and the dechurched as commanded by Jesus in the Great Commission. Fulfilling that commission means getting the attention of the average 18-40 year old. Now, the word “sucks” gets attention whereas other proposed phrases simply do not. It takes a lot to get through the mass media clutter that the average 18-40 year old is surrounded by.

    Finally, I would contend that every church “sucks” to one degree or another. Reading through Paul’s letters, it is apparent that he did too and his tone certainly reflects it. Yet, the reason for the massive exodus from the American Evangelical church despite record high interest in Jesus and “spirituality” means that our churches are sucking more than usual and something radical needs to be done and we believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us to be that instrument in the Portsmouth area. If we are wrong then hopefully we will be men enough to admit it.

    All that being said, we will be praying for all the area churches.

    Grace and peace to you.

  3. I applaud your enthusiasm and burden to reach the lost. In reading your thoughts, I sense that your motives are sincere. I would like to politely and sincerely make one reminder, a reminder, not aimed at insulting your intelligence. You obviously have read much Christian literature, studied your Bible, and are fluent with the current trends of the culture. I too am deeply buredened for this generation. And there are individuals and I pray masses of individuals that you will reach with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, individuals that other ministries, including my own may never be able to even touch. That being said, my reminder is just of who the church is. The church is not a building, or a social orgainziation. She is the bride of Christ. Who Christ loved and gave himself for. Part of me, would love to show up at one of these events where people are wearing “I’ve got a friend who thinks the church sucks” shirts, only my shirt would say “I have a friend who loves the church” and the back would say “and gave Himself for her. Ephesians 5:25” Yes, the church currently is imperfect. It is because it is made up of people who are flawed an imperfect. We admit that. But Ephesians 5 also says He will cleanse her, sanctify her, and make her glorious. So when you say the church sucks, just remember you are talking about the Jesus bride that He will present to Himself. Matt, Reach a generation. Fulfill your work as an evangelist. But not at the expense of sacrificing truth. Through the work of Jesus Christ, I am now a friend of God. And my friend, God, well, he loves the church, and so do I. It hurts both of us when she is trampled. Sincerely, A fellow labourer for the sake of the Gospel.

  4. rivercityrevolution

    Pete, Thanks for the comment. You may well be right but let me throw a couple of things at you for your consideration: (1) is a community the bride of Christ because it calls itself a church? If so, what do you do with Paul’s rather rough language re: those who call themselves Christians but have distorted the Gospel? Paul tells them to literally “go to hell.” (Gal. 1:8). Was Paul sinning ? (2) Jesus himself says that just because you do great things in His name doesn’t mean you are a member of the Kingdom and tells one church that he will vomit them out of his mouth (Rev. 3:16). Now, are thier churches that fit those bills today? For example, the church at Laodicea is threatened with judgment because they are “neither hot nor cold.” Does this describe a significant minority or even a majority of American churches? Only 4% of Americans born after 1980 are willing to describe themselves as Christian. Nearly all of them have had some experience with a church. Nearly 70% of those born between 1962 and 1990 who have left the church did so because they do not believe “church is necessary to their lives.”

    Pete, that sounds pretty lukewarm to me and I believe that I am using language that is no rougher than that utilized by the writers of the New Testament.

    Now what amazes me is that so many people who don’t know us or are doing much of anything about the sharp decline in church attendance are so “concerned” about Revolution. If their church doesn’t suck then they will grow with ample representation of all age groups and they have nothing to fear from us because we will simply fade away.

    Anyway, I could go on but I doubt I will change your mind. I do appreciate your comments.

    Grace and peace.

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