Local News

Fayetteville pastor's 'Don't Go To Church' message angers some

Posted March 28, 2012
Updated March 29, 2012

— “Don’t Go To Church” – the words are blunt and meant to spark a reaction. The controversial message has been popping up all over Fayetteville – on newspaper ads, billboards, T-shirts and online – but the message has a hidden meaning, those responsible say.

“I’ve worn the T-shirt. I’ve had people telling us we’re going to hell,” said Jeff Isenhour, pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church. “Church is not a place you go. Church ought to be who we are.”

Isenhour says his congregation is trying to reach out to those with no church home. Instead of going to traditional church on Easter Sunday, they are asking people to come to J.P. Riddle Stadium for a non-traditional service.

Those who go to the event "won't feel out of place. No one will be judging what you're wearing, shaking your hand with a plastic smile or telling you how good it is to finally see you again," according to a video posted on the group's site, DontGoToChurch.org.

The website features a montage of people, including a single mother and a tattooed man, expressing disillusionment with church. The video says 85 percent of Fayetteville residents don't attend church regularly and that 100 percent have a very good reason.

“Do I have to go to a big building to sing 100-year-old songs?” one woman asks. Fayetteville Observer sticker don't go to church Sticker shocks some church-goers

“Every pastor in this town has heard the same reasons for un-churched people, and we’re just voicing the reasons we’ve heard,” Isenhour said.

Another Baptist pastor, who asked not to be identified, said the message is deceptive and uses a bait-and-switch tactic.

“It might be misleading to people who go to church and think they’re going to something else,” Isenhour said. “But people who don’t go to church, I don’t think it’s misleading.

“We’re not trying to reach church people, we’re trying to reach people who don’t go to church,” he said.

70 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • revsister1 Mar 30, 12:26 p.m.

    I love the way Pastor Isenhour thinks. He is not following the traditions of man.In this instance he is radical just like Jesus. Amen my brother, AMEN! If this is the path in which GOD has led him, don't attach or hate, pray and participate!

  • tierneemalinadeveaux Mar 30, 8:41 a.m.

    The church is to blame for all the confusion. If the pastors and teachers had been teaching the Word of God without compromise all these years, then there wouldn't be an issue. But no, the church invited the world and the devil into the church and now look. Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to the church. I know this: when Jesus comes, He will be coming for "the church" without spot or wrinkle. If you are not a part of it, then you will be left behind to suffer the tribulation and the wrath of the anti-Christ. Call us "churchies" funny if you want, but you won't be laughing when Christ returns...

  • kolbee Mar 29, 12:33 p.m.

    A friend of mine had a ministry for the street youth of Seattle, those who would never consider to wear a coat and tie, and reached thousands of young people that way. Remember, Jesus was considered a radical by the Pharisees and wanted to kill him for it. Guess what, they did. But He fooled them and rose from the dead in order that they, and us, may live.

  • injameswetrust2003 Mar 29, 11:52 a.m.

    What if the sign read "Go To Church" - that would probably anger even more people. Somebody's gonna be mad no matter what.

  • iknowjack Mar 29, 11:21 a.m.

    Churchies are so funny!

  • not my real name Mar 29, 11:08 a.m.

    Maybe if more people studied the 10 commandments (in church or at home) there would be less violence, murder, etc. You dont have to give $ to a big church to have your religion and beliefs.

  • BubbaDuke Mar 29, 11:06 a.m.

    Great idea. It's about time the church was outward focussed rather than inward.

  • jurydoc Mar 29, 11:05 a.m.

    Why would this message "anger some?" Even it were exactly what it says on the face of it. I haven't gone to church in over 30 years yet I am constantly facing messages about "going to church." Does it anger me? No, I simply ignore it. It just doesn't apply to me. So, if you GO to church, just ignore this message because, simply, it doesn't apply to you. To each his/her own.

  • inclusion7 Mar 29, 10:25 a.m.

    This church is NOT doing this to collect money. As a matter of fact, the people of the church donated money to fund this service as a way to welcome others to worship with them. They are not trying to "shove religion down someones throat", make money for personal gain, or have more people to look down on. They will NOT be collecting money at this event...it is simply a welcome invitation to worship. Money is collected at regular services but this is used to fund projects that the members approve of such as helping recovering addicts. Try to learn a bit about something before dragging it through the mud.

  • NiceNSmooth Mar 29, 10:16 a.m.

    Jesus preached from hilltops and open fields.... why now do pastors need $10 million mega churches with marble floors and stained glass etc to be able to preach? Couldnt that money have been used to help the community? food banks? homeless? tutoring programs for kids?

    These church daycare centers... how many of them offer a number (not 1 or 2) free or reduced tuition to low income or single monthers(with a job)? yeah, that might cut into the profits

More...