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When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage Paperback – January 15, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (January 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578564905
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578564903
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,353,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of the best books available on how Christians continue to damage the cause of Christ, "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People" is a must read. Mr. Burchett starts with an example from his own life involving his daughter. She had a terminal physical condition that posed no threat to anyone. However, the church decided that she was unwelcome in the nursery because of her problems. Didn't Christ reach out to those in need? Didn't Christ spend most of his time dealing with those who were outside the mainstream of society?
In a sad state of reversion to times gone by it seems that the modern Church has a lot in common with the Pharisees of old. Don't disturb our status quo, don't do anything that might make our nice, pretty church not look like the best one in the community. Not only does that apply to the physical church but the people of the church also.
I have attended several churches with the problems mentioned in this book (unfortunately far more seem to have the problems than do not). From one that wanted the teenagers to participate in taking up the offering but only if they could get a nice suit jacket to ones that would forgive and accept any repentitant sinner into their group but would not forgive a repentitant member who made a mistake.
While Burchett's criticism of the church can be caustic, he never makes a point that he does not backup with a real life example and then also backs it up with specific Biblical concepts. If you have been injured by the church or know of others that have been then this book is for you. On the other hand, because we all are human and at various times commit many of the sins covered in this book, it should be required reading for all Christians.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book thinking it would confirm my beliefs about why people leave churches. What I found are the answers to that multi-faceted issue, as well as much more food for thought and spiritual growth.
Dave Burchett, a cynical journalist-type like me, smacks me between the eyes with each compelling chapter. A devout, sinful, growing, imperfect Christian like me, he points out ways the church universal has hurt thousands of people yet points out ways we can turn the tide in hopes of helping fulfill Christ's Great Commission. We can't win souls for Jesus by condemning others, judging others or boycotts as Burchett points out ever-so-often.
He pulls no punches when he embraces the fact that Christ wants us ALL to have salvation and that we poor little, selfish, prideful humans cannot rid the world of sin. But if we are truly Christ's followers, we should spread extravagant love. Christ's ministry here on earth was about love and service and how we can have salvation.
We are supposed to give His love to EVERYONE!!!
That means love your neighbor even if he/she takes part in "Gay Days" at Disney, is a different color from you, has a tattoo or pierced tongue or drinks alcohol to oblivion. But, he also points out how we need balance in our lives to bring our yet-to-turn-their-lives-over-to-Christ friends to Christ.
I recommend this book to anyone and already have been told by those I've told about it that they want to buy it now.
And yes, I've been a bad Christian. But, now I know how to continue to grow to change that. Hopefully now, I'll think a whole lot more before I open my mouth or do something that would make our Savior cringe from above.
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By B. Stamper on February 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am extremely happy with this book. Maybe it's because I'm a New Yorker, and we tell it like it is. I can sympathize with my Christian comrades that when we hear someone criticize Christianity or Christians, our first reaction is the definsive: "No, the person you are talking about must not be a 'real' Christian." But it is time to 'fess up, my friends. I am as guilty as you are of favoritism, negligence, deliberate hurtfulness, and many other things. (If we were not, why do we have a whole part of the church service devoted to "Confession"? That's not for "the unbelievers", friends. It's for "the faithful".) Having met Christians in other countries and from other countries, I am ashamed of American Christianity and its partisan politics, inability to separate faith from "Americanism" (read: laziness, indifference, exploitation, materialism). Burchett is living in the world (he's a TV sports director) and not of it; giving creedance to Jesus' hard teachings. If you are ready for a wake-up call and a challenge, read this book. It is excellent. I am only taking off one star as I think it's a little scatter-gun in the organization. But its time has come. Thank you, Mr. Burchett.
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Format: Paperback
You WILL NOT be disappointed with this book. Whether you are a Christian hoping to reach others who have been turned off by the church or other Christians, or you yourself have been hurt and therefore "turned off," this book will touch your heart and your funny bone. This guy is hilarious, but never sacrifices his point just for a laugh. And his point may hurt, when you do a little self-examination. -- In one trip back east, the book title brought up conversations on each of my flights. On my Chicago to Rochester flight, the woman I spoke to was a professor at a Christian college who decided she'd buy a copy and most likely assign it to her freshman seminar class, after I read her several hilarious and thought-provoking excerpts. If I could rate this a 5+ I would. It's that good.
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