Today I get to interview a special guest, Matthew Paul Turner. He is the author of several books including Churched and Hear No Evil. I would highly recommend you follow him on twitter and check out his blog Jesus Needs New PR.
I asked Matthew if I could interview him after reading his book Churched because it resonated with my own experience of having a legalistic background. In the book he takes you through many stories of his childhood and shares with you what is what like for him growing up in a fundamental baptist church.
As an added bonus today, I am offering a free copy of the book to one of you. In order to qualify for the free book you have too leave a comment below and then share it with your friend through twitter or facebook.
I really liked your book especially the part when you mentioned the show Columbo.
Seriously? I thought this was supposed to be an interview, not some sort of weird 1980′s TV show fan club.
Oh, sorry about that, it was just such a good show and one of the few my mom let me watch when I was a kid.
You tell a story in your book about cheating in school. You had a comma test and you said that commas were hard for you, and you cheated because you did not want to get the wrong answer.
Right. I always struggled with knowing where exactly to put commas so in order to keep up my image at school (and school was part of church) I cheated. I was quickly discovered and I lied about it anyways.
Yeah, I was, never, good at, commas, either. You made a statement, though, that I thought was really important. You explained that you had cheated because in the system you were in it was all about your appearance and not about who you really were.
Nobody was really concerned about what was really going on inside of you. The only thing that mattered was how you looked on the outside. I was really good at understanding people’s expectations and doing everything I could to live up to them whether it was at home, at school, or at church. I was always the good kid who won all the awards and never broke any rules. I was unstoppable at Bible sword drills.
So what was your personal record for Lamentations 3:42? Never mind, we can talk about that another time.
It’s sort of ironic that you had to lie to keep up your image of being a good kid. In my own experience I have found that when we are so concerned with making ourselves look good for others, that we end up being afraid to confess sin and get help. In the environment I was in nobody wanted you to know what was really going on because it might make you look bad.
Exactly. I do not remember ever hearing a sermon about sins that could be really dangerous. We never talked about pride or self-righteousness. We also never talked about sins that have to do with serving others. It was always about adultery and sex and alcohol and how those things would punch your ticket to hell.
Reading the book it seems that some of these stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Are there more?
My church background was so different that I didn’t think people could understand all of them. Some of the things that happened were too painful to talk about too. There was one girl I knew that was sexually abused by a youth pastor. She talked to her dad about it, but the entire thing was covered up because her dad was afraid of how the information would hurt the church, meanwhile this girl who was hurting badly.
That’s really sad that people stop doing what they know to be right because of fear of the church or fear of the leadership.
Whenever I encounter a church leader who insists that he is right about everything and that his way of doing things is the only way it reminds me of my old church. If that leader tells people to either do it his way or leave, then somebody, somwhere in that church is being hurt. It could be physical abuse or it could be spiritual abuse, but somebody is getting hurt.
That’s really sad. You would think that the point of the church is to help people, whether the needs are spiritual or temporal. I have heard you say that the church needs to stop hurting people and to start helping. How do you think we can do this?
One of the things that helped me the most was to find a church with a pastor who I could trust. I don’t agree with him about everything, but I do trust him. When I first talked to him, he found value in me. He was not looking to change me and was not evaluating me so he could tell me what was wrong with me, and I found for the first time that I could trust a pastor.
If we want to help people who are hurting we have to be like that. We have to be trustworthy. We have to find value in people. We have to love them where they are at, not where we want them to be.
Thanks Matthew. I hope people are reading your books and trying to help others who have been hurt by the church.
Have any of you ever lied to protect your image? Share your stories or just leave a comment to win a free book here.
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