When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage

( 8 )


“Dave allowed God to navigate him through the pain of religious moralism to arrive at insightful, compelling, and gracious wisdom. He remains a sincere lover of God’s church and people as he directs weary pilgrims to safer lodging.”
—John Lynch, coauthor of TrueFaced and Bo’s Café
Have you been betrayed by a Christian friend?
Are you ...

See more details below
BN.com price
(Save 17%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (20) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $1.99   
  • Used (10) from $1.99   
When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price


“Dave allowed God to navigate him through the pain of religious moralism to arrive at insightful, compelling, and gracious wisdom. He remains a sincere lover of God’s church and people as he directs weary pilgrims to safer lodging.”
—John Lynch, coauthor of TrueFaced and Bo’s Café
Have you been betrayed by a Christian friend?
Are you disillusioned with the church?

If you have been hurt by Christians, you know all about anger and resentment. But what about a workable solution? How can the words and actions of “bad Christians” be addressed so the mistakes are not repeated? 
When Bad Christians Happen to Good People offers a workable response and, ultimately, a new way of living. In this revised and updated edition, you will find healing for hurts infl icted by others. At the same time, you will discover ways to help Christians and church leaders recognize the damage that is done by unexamined assumptions, words, and actions.
After dealing with his own hurt, Dave Burchett now shows believers how to:
■ Live as Jesus followers, not rule enforcers
■ Stop using religious performance as the standard for accepting others
■ Let go of moralism, legalism, and an allegiance to trying harder
■ Discover God’s grace as a daily reality, not just a word to use in evangelism
Working toward a solution will benefi t your own life at the same time it helps others. Whether you have been a bad Christian in the past, or have been hurt by one,
there is a better way to live.

Discussion Guide Included for Individual and Small-Group Use

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for When Bad Christians Happen to Good People

“In When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, Dave indeed succeeds in making Christians think carefully and in getting us out of our comfort bunkers. I know that Bob would be chuckling with me at Dave’s sense of humor as he addresses very tough issues. I recommend it heartily to all who are serious in their commitment to be Jesus to our world.”
—Marty Briner, widow of Bob Briner, who authored Roaring Lambs and Final Roar

“Even though I’m not a betting man, I’ll bet you’ve never read a book like this one. Here is a no-holds-barred look at what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s really weird about the Christian movement in America. At the end of the day, Dave Burchett has a heart for the church, for the gospel, and for people who don’t know the Lord. Christians could make a powerful difference in our world. But we ourselves must change. This book points us in the right direction.”
—Dr. Ray Pritchard, author, conference speaker, and senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois

“This book is excellent. Dave Burchett sends a wake-up call to all believers that our behavior and our attitudes can have a profound effect on how the Message is received. National research shows that there is a great disparity between how the world views Christians and how it views the person of Jesus Christ. When Bad Christians Happen to Good People challenges people of faith to live a life that shows the world love, hope, and encouragement.”
—John Frost, noted strategic broadcast consultant 

“Dave allowed God to navigate him through the pain of religious moralism to arrive at insightful, compelling, and gracious wisdom. He remains a sincere lover of God’s church and people as he directs weary pilgrims to safer lodging. His self-effacing humor allows us to examine our religious culture without having to defend it.”
—John Lynch, coauthor of TrueFaced and Bo’s Café

“After reading this book, I was motivated to take a personal inventory of my daily walk with Jesus. As I read page after page, I jotted down nuggets of wisdom, words of encouragement, and new ways to strengthen my relationship with Jesus, with other Christians, and with those who are not believers.”
—Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates

“Dave Burchett strikes out sometimes but happily hits home runs like Sammy Sosa. His comments about the sinner-sensitive church and CSL (Christian as a Second Language), his WJSHTOT question (Would Jesus Spend His Time on This?), and his “Don’t Know Much About Theology” song are all terrific.”
—Marvin Olasky, editor of World and senior fellow of the Acton Institute

“When I need someone to convince me that there is still hope in spite of the bad Christianity I see all around me, I talk to Dave Burchett. He makes me laugh, makes me cry, and makes me think. And in the end, he helps me fall back in love with the bride of Christ. In the pages of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, you can join in that conversation.”
—Ed Underwood, author of When God Breaks Your Heart and Reborn to Be Wild

Publishers Weekly
A cursory reading of Burchett's expos? of the pitiful condition of the American Christian church shows the book to be stinging, acerbic and slightly flippant. But careful attention to Burchett's painful message that "bad Christians" have done, and continue to do, great damage to others in the fold reveals the truth of his accusations. For openers, Burchett tells his own story of callous rejection by a church he attended when his terminally ill daughter was only months old. The congregation in question decided in no uncertain terms that Burchett's daughter was not welcome in their nursery, despite the fact that baby Katie posed no threat to the other infants. Such behavior is the first of many examples where Christians slammed their church doors at the first sight of discomfort. Burchett's style is critical, sometimes overwhelmingly so. Yet he supports every claim of Christian shame, and does so with evidence solid enough to convict. He describes churches as frequently elitist, unfriendly and fearful. He also takes issue with lazy Christian-ese, countering that true faith is measured not merely in words but through acts of humility, service and self-sacrifice. Some sensitive Christian believers will surely take issue with Burchett's tone and the one-two stabs of witty humor that are often aimed at Christians themselves. Yet his call to reform is so solidly founded on biblical principles that his severe words must be heeded. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307729927
  • Publisher: Crown Religion/Business/Forum
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 451,237
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Burchett started his career as a disc jockey in Ohio, and later moved into sports broadcasting. An Emmy Award-winning television sports director, he has directed events ranging from baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan’s sixth no-hit game to the Summer Olympics. The author of Bring ’Em Back Alive and a blogger on Crosswalk.com and theFish.com, Burchett writes honestly and authentically out of his personal experience. He and his wife, Joni, live in Texas and have three adult sons and a daughter in heaven. 
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Author Flannery O’Connor once noted in a letter to a friend, “It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the church as for it.” I believe her. The most painful experience of my marriage came courtesy of the church.

In 1985 my wife, Joni, gave birth to our daughter, Katie. We were thrilled, but our happiness dissolved into grief when we learned that Katie had a terminal neural tube birth defect. Her condition was known as anencephaly, meaning that in the womb her brain had not developed normally. She basically possessed just the brain stem and was not expected to live more than a few hours or days. The delivery-room doctor described her situation in physician-speak that I will never forget. “Her condition is not compatible with life,” he said.

Our shock and grief were immediate because Katie would have no chance to enjoy a normal life. There would be no cure, no hope for even modest improvement. I went through the painful process of calling family and friends. And I had to tell our two sons about their sister.

But Kathryn Alice Burchett confounded the doctors and lived. She was never able to open her eyes, nor could she smile. Katie also lacked the ability to regulate her body temperature, so her room temperature had to be monitored. Part of Katie’s deformity was an opening with exposed tissue at the back of her skull. It had to be covered regularly with a new dressing. Joni loved and cared for Katie in a way I will always respect and never forget. She insisted that Katie come home with us. I worried about the effect that caring for Katie at home might have on the boys. Truthfully, I
was probably more concerned about the effect bringing her home would have on me. But Joni would not have it any other way, and when she sets her mind to something she is scrappy. So I showed my spiritual wisdom by agreeing with her.

Katie found her place in our family’s routines. She could drink from a bottle. Katie responded to her mother’s touch and even grew a little. We took her on a camping trip with us, and she was a regular at the boys’ ball games and other events.

Sometimes people would make hurtful or mean remarks. A kid at school taunted our oldest son because his sister didn’t have a brain. (That was something the classmate had no doubt heard at home, and it reminds me that we should always be cautious about what we say in front of our children.) Once, when we wanted a family photo taken, we dressed up the troops and went to a photography studio. The photographer insisted that Katie needed to open her eyes. We explained patiently (for a while) that she physically could not open her eyes. He informed us that we couldn’t get our picture taken because their lab would not develop a picture if any person in the group didn’t have their eyes open. Katie totally upset their system, and they would not flex. We finally left without the photos and ended up going to a private photographer. Still, all things considered, our life with Katie went about as well as it could.

Then the church entered in.

One Sunday morning before church, a friend called to tell us that Katie would no longer be welcome in the nursery. The moms had met and decided (without any input from us) that Katie might die in their care and traumatize some volunteer worker. They worried that the opening at the back of Katie’s skull could generate a staph infection. In truth,
however, the nursery workers did not have to deal with potential infection because the opening was covered with a sterile dressing and a bonnet, and it required no special attention during the brief time she was in the nursery each Sunday. And there was almost no danger of spreading infection because Katie did not interact with other babies. Clearly, a little caution would have eliminated any possible risk.

As to the possibility that she might die while in their care, we knew she was going to die. No one would have been to blame. Since we were in a church of only one hundred fifty people, I think they could have found us fairly quickly in an emergency. If they had come to us with their concerns, we might have been able to put the volunteers’ fears to rest. But the decision was made without us. Katie was no longer welcome, and our church had done what I had not thought possible: they made our pain worse.

Joni was devastated, more hurt than I have ever seen her before or since. I am sure our church didn’t intend to wound us as they did, but the hurt lingered for years. And the pain was multiplied by the method. We had no warning that there were concerns. We received no invitation to come and address concerns. Instead, a secret meeting was followed by a phone call to tell us what had already been decided. I’m not the only one with this kind of story.

I know a pastor in the Midwest who suffered the tragic loss of his wife to leukemia. Within a matter of weeks the board asked him to resign because they did not want the church to be led by an unmarried pastor! This grieving man had to change denominations in order to continue his ministry. It is a miracle and tribute to God’s grace that he kept going at all.

In my hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio, an acquaintance finally decided it was time to get his family into a church. He loaded up the crew and visited one nearby. The church immediately showed a tremendous and heartfelt concern for his…grooming issues. You see, Roy had the audacity to show up in God’s house with a full beard, not unlike Jesus’ in the picture hanging in the foyer. A church leader met Roy on the way out.

“So are you going to start worshiping with us?” he asked.

“Why, yes,” Roy replied. “We want to start coming to church.”

The church leader looked at him and said, “Well, I hope you will have shaved by next Sunday.” Because of that comment, it took another twenty years before Roy found a regular church home.

Stuck in Legalism: The Airing of Grievances

And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!
—Frank Costanza, Seinfeld episode “The Strike”

Most of us chuckle over the invented holiday of Festivus. In the famous Seinfeld episode, Frank Costanza explains how he grew frustrated with the commercialism of Christmas:

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!

Part of the “tradition” of Festivus was the airing of grievances to all who came to dinner. Frank Costanza’s frustration with Christmas commercialism mirrors my angst over the odd brand of Christianity that we’ve too often foisted on our culture. I am borrowing Frank’s concept of the airing of grievances. Actually, churchgoers are pretty good at the airing of grievances, even without the Festivus excuse. In the Seinfeld episode, the airing of grievances is followed by the traditional “feats of strength.” The head of the household selects one person at the Festivus celebration and challenges that person to a wrestling match. Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned. Wouldn’t that be a fascinating addition to our church bylaws?

Section 7: Resolution of Conflict

The elders shall invite the congregation to an annual church potluck, followed by the airing of grievances. The potluck shall be followed by praise songs and then the feats of strength. The congregational meeting shall not be adjourned until an elder is pinned to the mat by a church member.

Perhaps the sight of a volunteer wrestling with an elder would be silly enough to help us understand that 98 percent of our grievances are pointless in the context of the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment. But there is a place for the airing of grievances, especially in reference to the way we do Christianity in this culture. But I pray that I will always come around to grace and truth that enable the real feats of strength to be our focus. I hope we will learn how to trust God to demonstrate truly amazing feats of strength, such as forgiveness, selflessness, serving, and unity.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction: A Brief Disclaimer 1
Part I Silencing the Lambs: The Indefensible Things We Do to One Another
1. The Unfriendliest Club in Town? 13
2. The Schism Trail 31
3. WJSHTOT? 41
4. Fear Christianity 51
5. Whose Idea Was This? 67
Part II Why Won't Those Heathens Listen? Thoughts on How We Lost Our Audience
6. Our Walkin's Ain't Matchin' Our talkin' 83
7. CSL: Christian As a Second Language 95
8. Godly or Gaudy? 105
9. Jesus Wept...and He Still Does 115
10. The Culture War: Rambo or Conscientious Objector? 125
Part III Reality-Based Faith for Survivors: Being Real in an Artificial World
11. This Is a Hard Teaching! 149
12. Six Things I Learned About Evangelism During Election 2000 167
13. Don't Know Much About Theology 193
14. All God's Children Got Souls, Even the Annoying Ones 207
15. Pleading Humanity 221
16. Loose Ends 233
17. Now What? 241
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    If I can be perfectly honest, I have a lot of anger inside of me

    If I can be perfectly honest, I have a lot of anger inside of me. A good portion of it is directed towards my fellow Christians. If I can be blunt, the average person attending the American church can be a bit of a meathead. (I’m including myself in this demographic – I’m a rather oblivious person from time to time ¿) So when I saw this book, “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People” by Dave Burchett, I clicked ‘order’ nearly immediately. I was intrigued. 
    I tell you what, ladies and gentlemen, this book is fantastic. The author is funny and thought provoking, an unusual combination. I’d never have imagined that a single book (save the Bible) would cause me pause and consider so often. Every three pages I would be stopping and asking God to help me change. 
    Guys, let’s face it. We have all failed as a church. But this book could be a remedy to that. This book doesn’t bash Christians in the face. It instead holds their hand as they are convicted and shows them a way to fixing their problems. 
    I highly recommend this book. Five out of five stars. This book is excellent!
    I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2012

    When Bad Christians Happen to Good People

    People can be hurtful. Christians included. Unfortunately, that hurts is sometimes intentional. Fortunately, it is not always intentional. It is sad to say that this hurt , at times, comes from those who should certainly know better and who have been given the strength and spirit to refrain from such practice. Dave Burchett, author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People; Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage, has written a smart, honest, and insightful book that pulls no punches when calling out the bad behavior that Christians display today. Burchett offers no excuses. Instead he offers a fresh perspective on the fragile relationship between those he considers his target audience; those who have “been hurt by a judgmental person or church” and the “Christians who inflict the wounds”. Burchett has smartly divided his book into three common sense sections: The Indefensible Things We Do to One Another (evaluation), Thoughts on How We Lost Our Audience (diagnosis), and Being Real in an Artificial World (prescription). Burchett does a great job in his evaluation of Christian conduct today. He writes that Christians are at times hypocritical, prone to fuss and fight, guilty of further harming the already wounded, and successful at majoring in the minor things. Chapter three (Would Jesus Spend His Time on This?) is the most powerful in this first section. It shows how easily distracted Christians are today from what should be their true focus in life. The author’s diagnosis, or the reasons Christians are losing their audience, is shamefully accurate. Issues such as an inconsistent witness, church language, and the contrasting portraits of love and forgiveness are given as reasons for the pushback. Chapter nine (Jesus Wept... And He Still Does) is especially powerful. In the third and final section, Burchett offers a prescription for Christians to become more genuine before a watching world. Stressed are embracing the hard-teachings of Christ as being vital to growth and witness, a return to biblical literacy, and the exercising of grace when dealing with those in whom we disagree. Chapter thirteen (All God’s Children Got Souls, Even the Annoying Ones) is truly convicting. His call to “hate the message and love the messenger” is spot on. A book such as this one needed to be written. What I really like about this book is that the author’s views and critiques do not come from a sterile laboratory, nor is it simply an academic exercise. Instead, by his own admission, he has been hurt by Christians and as Christian has hurt others. His style of writing, containing humor, scripture, and real-life stories, is engaging and insightful. A great work on a serious subject. I highly recommend. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2012

    When Bad Christians Happen to Good People ¿ Dave Burchett ©2002

    When Bad Christians Happen to Good People – Dave Burchett

    ©2002, 2011 Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs

    You just can’t go wrong with a title like When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. And Dave Burchett (who is NOT a theologian by profession, by the way) backs it up with the subtitle “Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage.”

    I will be the first to admit that the lion’s share of books available in Christian bookstores today that are aimed at helping Christians be more like Christ have a strong bent toward finger-pointing negativity. Our preaching tends to do the same. Either Christians are pointing accusatory fingers at the non-Believers around us highlighting the sin that is dragging them straight to hell, or we are involved in abusive name-calling of one another reminding each other how short we come when measuring up to our image of what Christianity should look like. (May I raise a quick “guilty” hand admitting my own participation in this unhealthy faith? We can work on it together.)

    Many of these books (and sermons) are coming straight from the studies and mouths of some of the most sought-after Christian preachers and writers today. And then Emmy Award-winning television sports director Dave Burchett throws in his two-cents’ worth. Perhaps it is his lighter tone, or the fact that he is a non-clergy-type taking an honest look at what the Christian church is and has become that is appealing, but whatever the cause, in this second edition of his book, we find a sincere call for Christians to be more, well, Christian.

    Burchett uses examples from his own experience with the unforgiving air of the forgiven and encounters with others who are actually living like Jesus to weave a Christian Living book that is arguably the most helpful one in the market today. He not only points out the shortfalls that have given the church a black eye over the years, but he also drops the answer to such failings throughout the book. The answer, according to the book, is to stop trying to be a good Christian and let Christ through His grace take care of that for you.

    This book has and will earn its author more headaches at the hands of the self-righteous bunch of Christians who are monitoring the halls (his allusion, not mine), but no one expected shining the light on unpopular truth to be easy (history is filled with the blood-stories of martyrs who have proven this). What makes this book worth your while if you are a Christian is it’s readability and its personable approach to becoming more like the One whose name we bear.

    If you happen to find a copy of the original 2002 version of the book, go ahead and read it, but if you can get your hands on the new 2011 edition (with some newer material and a softer tone), I would suggest it as the one to read. In fact I think it deserves 5 out of 5 reading glasses.

    —Benjamin Potter August 31, 2012

    [Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2012

    This title strikes a deep, hollow, minor chord in me. As a pasto

    This title strikes a deep, hollow, minor chord in me. As a pastor, I find those people that are most resistant to Jesus are those who have been injured by those who bear Christ’s name. The deepest wounds come from those we trust, and we are supposed to be able to trust our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a need for a book like this: a book for surviving hurts that have been given by those who are supposed to love their neighbors as they love themselves. The concept of the book is right there in the title and sub-title. Does it deliver?

    Burchett delivers up some very fine points. The first chapter points out that bad Christians are just that: bad Christians, not non-Christians. We are still sinners, and sin gets in the way. He does not jump on the holiness rollercoaster that says the person who hurt you is not a Christian if he or she hurt you in such a way; the person who caused the hurt is a Christian who sinned.

    The first chapter has some great quotes, and I want to simply lay out a few here so you can get a taste of Burchett’s prose style:

    "Many of the unchurched folks I talk to base their rejection of Christ on a bad experience with a Christian. In reality, that can be a lame excuse that disguises the real issues at hand: who is Jesus Christ and what does that mean?

    "On the other hand, I believe a disturbingly high percentage of Christians leave the church and even the faith because of a bad experience with an individual Christian, a Christian leader, or a group of Christians… This Christianity thing would be amazing if Christians would just stop getting in the way."

    After laying the groundwork in the first chapter that Burchett is not claiming that bad Christians have given up their ticket to heaven and targeting his audience (Christians who are frustrated with other Christians), he moves on to target some of the specific causes of Christians harming other Christians. First up in his crosshairs is legalism. The chapter focusing on the silly laws we lay out for each other includes a great insight into Burchett’s sense of humor. He claims that Christians should throw a Festivus pot luck, which would include (of course) an airing of grievances and feats of strength.

    In this chapter, he suggests that churches should be welcoming to sinners, and yes, this will create problems. Sinner-sensitive churches will offend the sensibilities of many – just as Christ offended when he reached out to tax collectors and prostitutes. The chapter ends with an indicting paragraph: “Christians, like physicians, should vow to do no harm. But forgive us, Lord, because too often we do inflict harm.”

    The next chapter looks at how Christians like dividing out over the silliest things. Burchett again reminds us that the church is made up of sinners: “The church is dysfunctional because it can’t be anything else. Seriously. Just look at who attends.” This chapter makes some good points about being forgiving over sin, but I feel that he leaned a little bit too far and started saying that we shouldn’t divide over false doctrine. He never states that outright, but some of his statements lean that way. He does ask an important question, though: If you are tempted to leave the church, is it an issue of pride? Many of his points in this chapter are helpful, but again, I think he may be leaning too far into saying, “Don’t leave your church, even if it’s false doctrine.” (I will admit, again, this may be me reading too much into a few specific sentences.)

    The next chapter really caused me to pause and consider. It asks WJSHTOT, which I should probably cross-stitch on my whoopee-cushion. It stands for “Would Jesus Spend His Time On This?” He talks about Christians getting involved in crusades and causes that simply aren’t worth the congregation’s time. He targets the issue of praying in public schools, and I found myself cheering him on in his stance, though I suspect he didn’t win too many brownie points from most evangelicals.

    He then returns to legalism in a slightly different form, labeling it “fear-based Christianity.” He nails several targets handily.

    Finally, he looks at how stupid it was of God to leave the “marketing” of Christianity to sinful, all too often selfish Christians. He doesn’t call God stupid, mind you – he simply points out that he would never have done the marketing this way!

    Having looked at the many ways that Christians hurt Christians, he turns and looks at how Christians have lost the world as an audience. He targets several areas in the next few chapters, including how so often Christians act no differently than the unbelieving world. If our Christianity doesn’t change us in day-to-day ways, why would anyone examine what we believe? He offers a great CSL class (Christianity as a Second Language). Burchett does a great job showing just how strange our Christian way of talking is to someone who didn’t grow up in the church. Then he focuses on “Christian products” as completely unnecessary in most cases. He takes a look at militant Christians that go to war with the world.

    Finally, Burchett starts examining ways to teach the church to do better. He begins by saying that so many Christians don’t know what they believe. They can’t explain grace. They can’t talk about Jesus in any real way. They have dumbed down Jesus to an acceptable, safe level. Burchett recommends that the church gets back into the Bible and simply read it and see what it says. I found the advice refreshing. He talks about how the simple “sinner’s prayer” is too easy – not that grace isn’t free for the sinner, not that you have to earn forgiveness, but so often new Christians aren’t led to see the depth of God’s amazing love. (I will note that as with many books, this one proclaims decision theology without any kind of shame over it. He does not see how “making a decision” in and of itself is works righteousness, something that Burchett soundly denounces in the rest of the book.)

    A chapter focuses on how “All God’s children got souls, even the annoying ones.” And it’s true. It’s hard to remember that sometimes, but even these annoying Christians are in fact my brothers and sisters. That means that ministry (and faith in general) is messy. It’s hands-on. He also points out that Christians are meant to mature; why should we be surprised when a brother or sister sins? They’re still sinners! Why should we be surprised when a young Christian sins? Why should we be surprised when someone who grew up in the church doesn’t know the basics when they haven’t done much more than sit in the pew for the last forty years?

    He suggests that Christians need to show themselves to be different as an opening to explain why they’re different – instead of claiming to be different but never having actions to back up their words. Let the world notice our light, and then let them see the oil that powers our flame. Don’t try to splash them with oil and then light them on fire. That doesn’t work so well.

    Finally, Burchett turns to grace. He shows that what we have is so very different from the rest of the world. We have forgiveness. We don’t have to become anything… because we’ve already been transformed. We don’t have to change… because God has changed us. We do mature into what we already are, but we currently are new creations. We need to remind Christians of who they are – not force them to be something they’re not through law and fear. I greatly appreciated this focus, but it really could have been infused into the entire book instead of just the last chapter.

    Overall, Burchett has a lot of

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When Bad Christians Happen to Good People

    Every now and then I come across a book that just looks like a fun read. And this is one of those books. I mean, the title should make you cackle with laughter or at least chuckle softly if you are a more reserved person. Anyway, as the title suggests, the book covers the various hypocrisies in the modern Church. I say modern because it does not dive too deep into Old Testament prophet books that go into the hypocrisy. But the book does quote heavily from the New Testament and the words of Yeshua. I personally liked the part where it talked about modern-day Christians not knowing enough theology. Because--let's face it--if you can't explain what you believe or if you don't even know what you believe, that's a recipe for disaster. While this book has some fun humor in it, it can be a bit slow at times. But, for some people, they really need to read it. This book has tough love. It will be hard to read at times, but it delivers Truth. Trust in Yeshua and take the plank out of your eye. I'm still working on that. ;)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    Every Christian or person struggling with Christians should read this

    Burchett finds a great perspective on one of the churches biggest struggles. His introduction is a great start to acknowledging his place (as well as every other Christian's) in the Church. We all have great flaws and can sometimes be better at displaying our less-then-great qualities then the qualities Christ has called us to have.

    Burchett is no theologian or major christian figure. He is not out to make Christians out of the whole world like evangelists. Instead he points out what all Christians need to hear to be better theologians and evangelist. THANK YOU DAVE! Stay strong in your ministry.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 21, 2011

    Must read look at the sins of Christians

    When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett is the must-read book for anyone who has been hurt by a Christian, whether they are a fellow Christian or not. Burchett has released an updated version of this book that was originally released in 2001. His faith and understanding in God has changed, and he wants to share that with his readers. He has a message that many Christians will not want to hear and will most certainly not want others to read. Christians are supposed to be perfect, so exposing our sins for the world to see is sure to upset some readers, but for others, this is exactly the message the world needs to hear from our community. I have been so deeply hurt by two churches in my past that I haven't attended church in over a year. My faith is deeper than it ever was in a church, but I know that it's a missing part of my life. It's been hard for me to be willing to trust again and step inside another church. I picked up Burchett's book because the title spoke directly to me. He appeals to anyone who has ever been hurt by someone from the church. His writing is sometimes acerbic, occasionally humorous and always insightful. What really makes this book a stand out is that it goes from sympathizing with readers about their pain, to challenging them to rethink their own faith, and finally to acknowledging areas in which they may have harmed someone else through their faith. I was personally convicted in a couple areas of my life (including my lack of church attendance) that I am addressing. Burchett is brutally honest about his own sins and that allows readers to think more honestly about their own. Some great quotes from the book: Faith based on fear has the potential to become like a marriage based on abuse. Remember, the church is full of sinners, and if they ever fix that problem, you and I are gone. The hospital never tells patients they are too sick for help, but the church often treats the spiritually ill with contempt or condescension. Burchett includes a bill of rights for non-believers that should be mandatory reading for believers which includes the right never to be treated in a condescending manner, the right to never have faith forced on them, and the right to be loved no matter their response, plus more. Christianity has gotten a bad rap, deservedly, in recent years, and Burchett deals with that unflinchingly, and then turns around and offers readers ways to change themselves and just maybe the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)