Faking church, faking faith

Paula at Listen In has written a review of an interesting book: Faking Church: the Subtle Defection by Dan Schaeffer. Faking Church ties in well with some of the thinking behind my recent post, The Great Pretenders.

No one wants to be called a faker, says Dan Schaeffer, co-pastor of Shoreline Community Church in Santa Barbara. But in the introduction to his book about the many ways we fake our roles in church, he admits he is qualified to write the book because “In the past I have faked church. I still do, and fear I always will.”
… Schaeffer says that to see why we may have become fakers, we have to look at the original reasons we signed on in the first place. Why are we here in this place of service or this church community? Our motives may be mixed and we may never have even articulated them.

I think Schaeffer makes a good point here. I doubt that very many of us set out to fake our walk of faith. More typically, we get in too deep, too fast. We jump in the surf and soon discover that we’ve been swept out to sea. We’re suddenly in deep water, unable to swim, unwilling or unable to turn back. Along comes some piece of flotsam and we grab on to it to keep from drowning. At such times, some turn to God and experience a deeper revelation of his power. Others find it easier to fake it.

Perhaps faking church and faking faith are psychological strategies that help us avoid our limitations, our doubts, our unwillingness to go against the crowd. Faced with so many scary demands of faith—surrender, submission, trust, obedience—faking it will always seem like a safer alternative.

Perhaps I need to begin each day by asking myself, “Where am I faking it, and how do I go about getting real again?”

Thanks, Paula.

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  1. I think we are all victims of faking it somtimes.

  2. Well written, Chuck. Thanks for using your computer to post good things like this, and thanks for helping others with computer issues. Viva Mexico, viva ILV 🙂

  3. I don’t know if Dan Schaeffer gets into this angle, but “faking Church,” though not as desirable as a genuine embrace of church, may nevertheless be a net positive, in the same way that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. At least the fakery is an implicit acknowledgement of worth. Unless one is a psychopath, one doesn’t fake what one doesn’t care about.

  4. Also, there’s the pressure in some church circles TO fake it because if you’re real, by definition you won’t be good enough. Sometimes the only way to fit in, the only way to avoid lectures on “trusting God”, the only way to function in church IS to fake it.

    Hence my current exodus away from church and my struggle with my own tendency to “fake it.”