Cringe-Inducing Church Stories [open thread]

Anyone got any cringe-inducing church stories?  You know what I mean.  Those times that you’ve seen or been told by a good friend of when Christians get it so….awkwardly….wrong?

Here’s my two (one heard today, the other from the past)

  1. A family was sitting in a pew together during service.  A child was playing with a helicopter toy in church and, given that he was learning his words, he said “helicoptor” in a quiet voice every so often. At the end of church, a person in front of the family turned and said to the mother “How does it feel to know your child interrupted service for everyone around him?”  The family never went back.
  2. A youth was on a mission trip to another city and the mission team worshipped with an area congregation on Sunday morning.  The youth didn’t sing well but loved to sing, and did sing the hymns respectfully during the worship service.  Halfway through the middle hymn, a person in front of the youth turned around and said “Please stop singing!”  The youth didn’t sing in church, even his home church, for a month.
I think “social skills” needs to be part of the “new members orientation” curriculum.
Any cringe-inducing stories?  I ask not to bash Christianity but simply to be thankful that at least your church, for all its faults, isn’t like that!
Share them in the comments or on Google Friend Connect box below!
(image from JCUB for its perfect “cringe” look)
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Comments

  1. Missy Meyers says

    I've shared this story in a sermon a few times…it's a fun one!
    So…In my home church, I was a part of the transition between traditional & contemporary worship and led the praise band until I went to college. My first Sunday back in worship, I got there late and didn't get my pew and had to sit in the back row…The praise band was leading music that morning, so I was clapping with the music as I was singing and the woman in front of me kept turning around and giving me dirty looks. Finally at a break in the music she turned around and waved her finger in my face and she told me, "There are no happy noises in church!" Of course, I was so respectful and then clapped right in her ear…

  2. Kathleen McDade says

    I'd attended a certain church a few times and finally convinced my husband to try it. During this service, a baby in the back was whimpering off and on — not bawling or anything. But the PASTOR stopped in the middle of his sermon and said "I'm sorry, but the baby's got to go." Exact quote. We never went back, even though we didn't even have children yet.

  3. Jesi says

    Back in middle school, when I was in 4-H, my club (which met at my church) attended and helped out during service for 4-H Sunday. One of the girls in our club was Catholic. When the time came for communion, she didn't know how we did it in the UM church, so she took the bread, ate it, and then tried to drink from the cup that the bread was supposed to be dipped in. The youth serve communion at our church, and that evening at youth group I heard several of them making fun of my friend for not knowing how to take communion. I angrily explained to them that making fun of someone just because they come from a different tradition is not okay.

  4. Pastor Justin Hildebrandt says

    I serve a federated church (UMC / UCC). At times it's like two clubs within the overall club of the church. So to some people it matters a great deal which denomination you are.

    So a family with two young boys had been coming to our church for several weeks. The mother was raised in church but the boys had never really been.

    One of our members was chatting with the mom. "So what denomination are you?" they asked. "What do you mean?" she says. "Well are you Methodist or Congregational?" Confused about the question she says, "Well I don't know." Our member, "Well you really should know."

    That mother and the boys came a couple more times and then stopped. They even were good friends with another long-term family. But that attitude just couldn't be overlooked.

    Why can't we ask more important questions? Or even just say, "I'm so glad you and your family have been worshiping with us."

    Social skills needs to be a course offered to EVERYONE in the church. The longer you've been there the more it seems you need it!

  5. Anonymous says

    My husband and I tried multiple churches until we found our church. We had plenty of strange comments/incidents, One came after we had been visiting a particular church for about a month. We tried a new Sunday school class, and one woman came to say hello. She then asked if we had children. We said 'no'. She turned around and didn't speak to us again. No one else in the class did either. We never went back.

    Another incident, on our first visit to a church, I was using a cane (I'm in my 20s and need it periodically, so I get that it's not the 'norm' and I'm used to insensitive comments and the like). When we went to Sunday school, no one would talk to me or make eye contact with me, but they would speak to my husband. We didn't even go to service after that. If they treat a visitor with a disability, I hate to think what they think of 'the least of these'.

  6. pastordan says

    I have a few to tell: there was the ECUSA church where the little old ladies in front of us kept up a steady stream of negative comments about everyone around them, including dishing on their rector as not looking like a pastor (the organist, we gathered, did a better job of that). Or another set of dear ladies who sat in the back of the sanctuary cracking racist jokes, then seemed offended when someone called them on it. Or the church where a visiting child was braiding the bookmarks in the hymnal, only to have her hand slapped by only of the elders, and told "We don't do that in this church."

    What is wrong with people sometimes?

  7. Anonymous says

    I remember getting told that if I believed in a god of love, I was worshipping the wrong god.

    This was when I was a staff member of a fairly large Christian online messageboard, mind you. I can't even count the number of cringe-inducing moments I witnessed there, but that was far and above the worst of them.

  8. Stresspenguin says

    I'm the pastor in a small country church that worships around 40 on any given Sunday. On Mother's Day where we were celebrating a baptism we had enough guests and infrequent members attending that we were over 60 in worship. I had a woman stand up and tell me that she knows I don't believe in Jesus. Then she went on with a completely unrelated prayer concern. Absolutely most bizarre thing that has ever happened to me in church.

  9. isabella mori says

    i was at a half chinese, half english speaking church here in canada. at one point, the pastor directed all chinese speaking people to seek out a "white" person and shake their hand, thanking them for bringing christ to china. i understand the sentiment but it felt VERY awkward and immediately brought thoughts of imperialism and overzealous missionaries to mind.

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