Public Confessions: What’s Missing

I’m sorry. 

I was wrong.        Please forgive me. 

There’s a looooong history of people from outside ‘the church’ calling the people inside a church ‘hypocrites.’ I think I get why. “Everyone seems so happy.” or “I can’t go to church unless I have it all together” are some paraphrasing of what I’ve heard. Perhaps the biggest reason some call Christians ‘hypocrites’ has to lie somewhere in what we pretend to be. We say we’re one thing, but act another.

We praise God with one side of our mouths, but curse our ‘friend’ with the other. We act one way on Sunday, another way when we’re with our co-workers. We smile, embrace hugely, and say, “I”ll pray for you.” But the recipient of our hug knows we sometimes. . . gossip. OR we just never admit the wrong. That’s my hang-up. If Christians stood up more and say, “I”m broken, so broken and this is how I’m broken.” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

I’ve been to several AA meetings. That’s right Alchoholics Anonymous meetings. Perhaps you’ve been, wish you had been, or have seen the movies. Typically the meeting starts with everyone introducing themselves. Upon naming their name, the members also state their biggest addiction or faults.

“Hi my name is Jeff, and I’m an alchohlic.”

“Hi my name is Sue, and I’m a recovery drug addict.”

Within the first few minutes, the tone is set. These people are NOT hear to brag about what they’ve done well, what’s going right in their life, or how good they are. Period. It’s all about the darkness. The addiction. The drug of choice – be it beer, booze, over-the-counter, prescription drugs, food, guilt, shame, anger. Whatever their big darkness is. They share. I mean, we share.

It is the most like church I’ve ever experienced. Me, who’s been in dozens of different churches. Denominations. Languages. Small groups. Community Groups. Service Groups. Mission Trips. You name it, I’ve dabbled. But I’ve never seen this much church* from Christians. The AA members have more church happening than this heart has ever held before.

The difference?

Confession.      Confessing.

              Publicly confessing. 

They hold nothing back. It’s right there. You can’t miss it. “Hi my name is Nicole, and I’m a horrible person.” “Hi, people call me Boehrig, and I’m selfish to my core.” “Hi my name is Nicole and I’m addicted to food.” The darkness is named.

Something happens with the powerful confession. It compels me. To confess as well. All of the sudden, I’m searching myself for the darkness. Not because I want to have something to say, but because these people have trusted me with their sin, their wrongs. The weights are lifted. They aren’t chained. And neither am I, any longer.

You see, CONFESSION is a huge part that I think we’re missing as a body of Christ-followers. Forgive me for not quoting or citing other evidences here. It’s late, and I’m ready to sleep. But I must tell you, that I want this to change. I dream of a church that I walk into that feels and is like AA. We start with confession. Move on to how we daily overcome our darkness. Encourage each other on the path. But even before that, before we even enter the doors. We come to this place because we know we’re a screwed-up kinda person. And we need grace. That’s really why we come, isn’t it? 

We confess because we seek grace from God. and from our fellow humans.

Plus, in a place, a church, where the Christians all confess that we’re broken and in need of a Savior, we wouldn’t have so many hypocrites. And if we did, well, they’d be compelled to confess that.

The          walls            are         broken          down.

People who stumble upon the place, listen, and then go out may not say the things they’ve been saying. Instead of, “That place is full of hypocrites,” there might be more, “I’ve never seen anything like that before. That’s the most Christ I’ve seen in one place.”

And the grace pours out.

Because public confession is something I think we need more of in our institutional church, I’ll be posting some of my confessions. Feel free to add, comment, share grace, rage violently against, journal further, seek time to process, or time to forgive, or join in. Really, I’d love if we could just share with the people we’ve wronged.

First up, I’ll be confessing to Newark – her children, the homeless people, my co-workers, my friends. It promises to be uncomfortable, but real. 

* when i say ‘church’, i’m talking the universal, united group of people, body of believers, anyone who gets together with someone else in the name of G-d, Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim God. Not just a building. But sometimes meeting in such places.

Since publishing, I received this daily email meditation from Richard Rohr. Found it intriguing that it talks about the power of AA.

Categories: Public Confession | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Public Confessions: What’s Missing

  1. Amber


    Thank you for this post. You probably don’t know this but I’ve loved reading your thoughts on Christianity on this blog for quite a while. I grew up excited to go to church every Sunday, and as a kid I could never have imagined my faith in God would ever be swayed. But over the years I started to see this hypocrisy even within my own little neighborhood church: friendly, racially diverse, full of young families and seniors, who I had grown up with. But as I got older I just realized that many of our church leaders were not living the way they professed to live. Our reverend, who I looked up to my whole life and who treated my theological questions with respect during my confirmation, was forced into “early retirement” because the church did not like his wife. I remember sitting in the deacons’ meeting and several leaders walking out in protest. I’ve been soured on organized religion ever since. The political overtones of religion in the media, not to mention the absurdly bigoted Christian politicians making news lately, certainly haven’t helped the situation.

    You hit the nail on the head by stating that maybe, if Christians could accept that they have weakness as well, others would not feel so alienated. The “holier than thou” attitude is really sickening and a turn-off to those who want to be welcomed, warts and all, into a church community. Right now I know for sure that I have faith in God, but I’m not sure that I will ever return to organized religion. I just can’t imagine finding a church that would accept me: imperfect and, honestly, pretty unsure about exactly what it is that I believe in.

    So for what it’s worth, here are some confessions of my own: I am a lapsed Christian. I envy my friends who seem to have unshakeable faith. I am frequently driven by a compulsion to do what is hard, what is impressive, what is a challenge, rather than what makes me happy or serves others best. I shop too much. I still regret leaving Newark. I am wildly unhappy in law school but I pretend that I like it because I don’t know what else to do.

    Phew. That feels pretty good. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the dialogue on this train of thought.


    • Oh Amber! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. How refreshing it is to hear truth. I’d say YOU hit the nail on the head. And inspired me to continue in my confessions. Funny how the confession I’ve been mulling over regarding Newark was going to be my confession for my lack of living FULLY and in honor of the Christ I want to serve (want because I don’t always) with my co-workers.
      It was incredible to read your response. Thanks for being courageous and starting the train of thoughts in response. May the ones that continue be inspiring. I’m glad we can engage in the conversation – if only over a few miles.
      Thank you for your confession. In the same fashion I heard someone else respond to the confessions of a fellow human, I’ll say, “Grace be with you. I, too, am broken.”

  2. Pingback: Public Confession: Forgive me, Newark « Exposed

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  4. Rachel Mancuso

    I truly enjoy reading your Blog’ posts.. I may not agree on everything. But, it sure get’s me thinking about the world and many different things. Keep writting, it is changng lives and you don’t even know it. I hope to chat with you soon again. Hugs

    • Thanks Rachel for honesty and the encouragements to keep sharing. Blogs are the easiest for having real conversation, but I wish there were more dialogue on it! Hope yall are doing well! We’re in SC now, spending time with family, so that’s great! Hugs & hello to the fam!

  5. Pingback: Re- highlighting: Confessions « Exposed

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