By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
If one were to judge a book by its cover, the only conclusion would be that Dusty Hammock hates church.
But that’s a strange concept for a man who has spent 30 years working full-time in Christian ministry, as a pastor, assistant pastor and youth pastor.
Last month, Hammock launched his book, “I Hate Church,” which is geared toward people who really do hate it, even if they say they love God.
“One hundred million people believe in the basic tenets of faith ... but they refuse to go to church,” he said. “They despise church.”
Hammock, who lives in Corner, said he felt a “deep, longing prompting” to reach out to such people.
His book does just that, but without “Christianese” language, he said, which tends to turn off people who have no interest in church.
Hammock said that early in the book, he aims to remove any guilt people might feel if they think they should be in church but do not attend.
Instead, he tells people to just simply be the church.
“If they’ll be the church, they won’t have to worry about going,” he said.
Hammock said he hopes people find healing and find that their bitterness about church fades as they work through the book and accompanying videos, which can be viewed on the Internet.
Later on in the book, “I Hate Church” does “help people build a bridge back into church.”
And if they simply can not find a church that they like, the book teaches people how to start their own church by teaching the book’s principles to others.
“When you start giving away what God has given you, you’re being the church,” he said.
However, the book reaches out not only to people who hate church, but to church-goers who might be part of the reason that others do not want to be affiliated with them.
“I have a lot of stories of how (Christian) people didn’t act the way Jesus would have them act,” Hammock said.
He tells plenty of personal stories in the book, including a time more than 20 years ago when a situation caused him to develop some hard feelings toward church folks.
“Both groups need to take responsibility for the issue,” he said — church haters as well as church goers. “Each person needs to look in the mirror.”
Hammock said the book would be good for church groups to study. It features discussion questions at the end of each chapter as well as videos that accompany each chapter.
So, is Hammock himself a church hater?
“I’m far from hating the church,” he said. “I love the church.”
The book, which is published by Yorkshire Publishing, is available at ihatechurch.com and at amazon.com.