Russian Culture And The Christian Church

I live in one of the most culturally diverse regions in the US. In fact, TIME magazine named Sacramento as “America’s Most Diverse City” in 2002. I am a first-generation migrant to the US. More precisely, I fall within the category of “1.5 generation,” according to Wikipedia.

While there have been numerous articles written about diversity and its affect on various social issues, I want to focus on culture diversity in the Christian church…

When my family immigrated to the US, I was 12 years old. I remember the culture shock. I remember how difficult it was to learn a new language. I remember the desire to “fit in.” I remember officially changing my name to Tanya from Tatyana, because I was tired of correcting the college professors on the correct pronunciation of my first name…

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And I remember constantly hearing the following messages from the pulpit of my Russian-speaking only, conservative Baptist church…

“We need to keep our children safe from the wicked culture of the West. We need to stay separated from the Americans. Keep our language. Keep our traditions. Look at the American churches. They are empty! God brought us here to be an example for the American people!”

The messages continued throughout my attendance in one of the many Russian-speaking churches in Sacramento. However, I failed to see how we were “an example” to the American people…

I am not belittling good traditions. I am not degrading my culture or any culture for that matter! No! I love diversity. I love and appreciate good traditions.

Unfortunately, what I see is that we failed at “being an example” to the American believers in Jesus and the American people at large… And we continue to fail miserably…

The failure is extremely painful to observe. Not only do we constantly fail as an “exemplary culture” – Russian-speaking professing believers in Jesus cheating the IRS, cheating the government programs like SSI, etc. – we fail daily at living out our faith. We have become religious hypocrites, leading double lives. And by this we are bringing shame to God’s name.

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While some adults keep their sinful activities hidden from the community, we can’t fool our children. They see the hypocrisy. They see the lies. And they don’t want to have anything to do with Christianity. They only see DEAD religion and believers who only speak words, but preach the opposite with their actions…

Dear reader, I would be willing to stake a wager that you will not find even one person within our “exemplary” Slavic community who does not know a young man or a woman who has left the Christian faith, despite our utmost efforts to stay “independent” and confined within our community…

We wail and cry out to God for mercy and ask Him questions such as “why,” when we learn of yet another young man put behind bars for drugs or murder. We cry for our loved ones who have become atheists…

Alcoholism, drug dependence, prostitution, greed, burglaries, adultery, pornography, dishonesty… These are rampant in our “exemplary” culture. We have pastors stealing from the church treasury. We have pastors being arrested for soliciting prostitutes. We have church members committing adultery. High divorce rate. We have professing believers lying about their health conditions just to get an SSI check…

And we start to rate sins. The drug addict is excommunicated and shunned. The member who gossips, or lies and cheats without anyone’s knowledge, keeps his membership while voting to excommunicate the drug addict…

We become self-absorbed, worshipping ourselves. We race to outdo each other with bigger houses, more expensive cars, boasting about our travels to hot vacation spots and showing off our designer clothes and bags… We are idolaters…

And yet we wonder “why” young people reject Christianity?!

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“Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they KNOW God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1:28-32

Where did we make a turn onto the wrong path?

We started worshipping our culture. We started worshipping ourselves… We “did not see fit to acknowledge God.” We forgot about God’s perfect holiness and that He does not tolerate ANY sin, no matter how small we make it in our mind or how much we justify it. We focused on skirts and pants and the external. We focused on how we can please God by our works, forgetting that the only way to be declared RIGHTEOUS before God is by FAITH.

Our culture did not bring any change to America.

Our faith has become dead.

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My husband and I, both 1.5 generation Slavic immigrants, were being led by the Lord to an “American” church. I can’t count the number of times we have heard disapproving remarks about how our children will “lose” the Russian language and their culture.

We even heard comments such as “go to any Russian church but don’t go to an American one.” Although I am pretty sure the comments were well-meaning, I still cannot wrap my mind around the rationale of these statements.

What does “go to any Russian church” mean? Why are we, as believers in Jesus, so stuck on our culture? Are we not the citizens of another Kingdom? Doesn’t the Gospel transcend all cultures? Do we expect only Russians to be in heaven? Do we really think that only “Russian conservative Baptists” will get a pass to heaven?

I know some of these questions are silly. However, I am tired of seeing the enemy wreak havoc not just in the world but in Christ’s church!

Did we forget the greatest commission?

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“Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20

How can we bring people to a church that is only Russian-speaking? Sadly, I came to a conclusion that even if there was an available translation to English in the Russian church I used to attend, I would still not bring any unbeliever into that church. The judgmental looks would drive anyone away before he or she would have a chance to sit down…

A man covered with tattoos and a young woman wearing shorts would not be welcome.

We forgot Jesus’ commandment to love unconditionally. We forgot that only HE has the power to radically change a person…


Culture.

Each individual church has its own culture. This culture could either be positive, negative, or a mix of both.

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We decided that our children’s spiritual growth is more important than our Russian/Ukrainian culture. We do not care about them “forgetting the Russian language” as long as they do not forget what faith in Jesus is.

We also understand that no matter how much we teach them to speak Russian, they will not be as proficient in Russian as in English, and we want them to understand spiritual truths by hearing these truths from a language they understand the most.

Besides, heaven will have one universal language. There won’t be a Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, French, Hebrew, or whatever language.

Last Sunday, I wept from joy at seeing people representing different races and cultures in my home church. There were white “American” people, Russians, Romanians, African-Americans, people from India, Mexico and China… Women wearing skirts and pants. Men wearing dress shirts and jerseys…

God spoke to me and said, “these are my beloved children gathered together under one roof.” One culture: believers in Jesus with one mission to love unconditionally and spread the Gospel to all nations…

This was a little glimpse of heaven…


The following article includes the responses of several of my readers to this post and my response:
“A Simple Solution To A Complicated Problem”

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184 thoughts on “Russian Culture And The Christian Church

  1. How about praying and bringing some change to your communities instead of running away from your problems? Takes guts, doesn’t it? Its always easier to judge standing on the sidelines. Laboring and paying the price is hard…. Upon studying major church reformations throughout the history, I would like to point out that all changes came from folks who stood, paid the price and faced scrutiny and even death for their convictions. But this is hard food to swallow, isn’t it?

  2. I think, for those who would label some Russian churches as ‘strict, legalistic’, that if we put these churches under the light of the persecution they came out of, we might get a different picture. When you think of a church constantly oppressed; trying to stay holy and follow Christ in a country that tried to eradicate them. Families trying to raise their children to follow Jesus despite the atheism being taught in schools and peer influence – in a place where following Jesus could mean life or death.

    You think of a fortress – under siege it makes perfect sense to have that protection, but when there seems to no war going on, them people think those who stay in the fortress to be crazy. I think there is a way to love Jesus and love others without judging, however, not compromising our life and standards to make others feel good.

    I don’t know…how do you say it? But I have lived in the South U.S. as well, and how many American Baptists I see complain of the same thing – that their church was too strict or had too many standards. I understand that we are not to find faith in doing, but their is the factor that we should obey Jesus’s commands. My family and I have been called legalistic and narrow minded because we wear headcoverings and dresses. We are not judging anyone; we love people no matter what, yet we have been told by people that our very presence has made them angry because we are different.

    Also, the U.S. church in some areas is very much dead. I think in any country that has so much freedom that believers forget that they are set apart, forget that they are to be a shining light – any such country the church can die. The persecuted church all over the world prays for the church here; they are afraid for us, that we are the lukewarm church to be spit out because we have compromised following Jesus and following the world.

    Jesus said the world would be offended if we truly followed Him. If unbelievers are not offended and see no difference in us except that we are ‘good’ people, then are we truly following Jesus? I like how another post said that it is all one body, we can love each part of the body for its function in the whole. But let us not take our eyes of Jesus and let us not lose our saltiness or our light no matter where we are or where we come from.

    Blessings.

  3. Hi all.
    Tanya is very brave to say what many preachers are not saying! There comes a point where you cant take it no more and you feel like you have to say something to make a difference.
    I am an American christian, i love my country as imperfect as it is, i love my American church where they preach the whole bible and not compromise with the world around us. Yes Andrey, there are good American churches here… I love the freedoms the US affords us but dont forget Andrey and other America bashers THE FREEDOM DONT COME FREE! Many Americans died fighting many wars so you can come here and enjoy a peaceful and comfortable life! Yes sir, i have served in the US Navy after 9/11 so you Andrey could sleep in peace tonight and speak your mind freely.
    But i have not always been an American. I grew up in Russia in a non-christian home. I have never known who God or Jesus was or ANYTHING about church at all…WHY?! Nobody told me! Turns out we had a number of Russian Baptist prayer houses not far from my house but why did not they reach out to us?!
    In 1992 there was an American missionary, who gave up a lot back home in the States, and moved to Russia to tell many about the Gospel and even a sinner like me… And i got saved and will always be thankful for those selfless missionaries from the US who went and still are going to many countries shedding their blood and tears and sometimes laying their lives down for the sake of the Gospel.
    If i may, i want to share a couple of examples of what Tanya is talking about from Philadelphia, where i live.
    I worship at an American church but have known many Russian-speaking pastors and church members over the years and i do enjoy very much visiting those congregations from time to time. I think there are many good things we can learn from them. Having said this, i was reaching out to a Ukrainian friend of mine here in Phily and trying to tell him about Jesus and what a life of a christian looks like and all and he asked me point blank ” Why did the Russian Baptist car dealer lied to us and sold us a very bad car and then later he was bragging about it to his dealer friends?! But then on Sunday he looks all holy in the church service?!
    Or here is one more: my good Ukrainian baptist friend lost his job. I helped him to get his unemployment paperwork done ( for he did not speak English ). So a few weeks later i asked him about his job search, he said he was still looking but mean while he was working for cash ” under the table ” so he could buy the latest computer and what not. I told him to his face that he was a thief and by God’s grace he repented and quit doing the cash jobs… There was a big Medicare fraud case in Philadelphia a couple of years ago against a few Russian-speaking ambulance workers who were members of a good Russian-speaking Baptist church… Yes, i have seen americans commit such crimes but they did not clam to be christians, Neither they came to America for being persecuted for being a christian in their home land.
    As a church we need God’s mercy we need His Grace but lets not abuse it. We need repentance! It is high time we beg God to forgive us for letting our kids down by our poor examples and by not preaching His word boldly even if it meant we would lose our church status. Some look at being a pastor as a good-paying safe job rather than a calling from God. As a result some preachers will say anything just to keep their church growing…. I have said enough

    Tanya, keep the good fight, endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ
    greg
    Jesus is Semper Fi

  4. Australia born, live in Canada. I am an avid Christian believer. I am not writing this to defend the Russian church or any church for that matter. I’m writing to defend the body of Christ.

    1) All members of body of Christ.
    1 Corinthians 12:12-27
    “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
    *”Jews or Gentiles… Slave or Free…” Meaning, diverse and in different levels and stages of our walks… Whether weak or strong and still all members of Christ. Each serving its purpose. Yes, even the Russian Church you condemn. Christ died for them also just as he shed his blood and died for both you and me.

    2) The same measure.
    Matthew 7:2 – “With what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38 and Mark 4:24) *The principle of your own judgement will be applied in turn to yourselves.

    *These spots freak me out whenever I’m tempted to condemn my church or any member of my church. Can you hear what it says? When I begin to raise myself up and condemn anyone, especially the body of Christ or any part of it, I nullify the blood of Christ that redeems me.

    *That means that when I will stand before Christ on judgement day, instead of saying “Enter in my Good and Faithful servant”… He will pull out the collective scales that I used on every person and/or church and weigh me to see if I am worthy to enter. Totally freaks me out.

    *I will never judge, for fear, that God will pull out my scales and measure me. I’m a sinner. I’m a failure. I’m a hypocrite. I know I won’t pass my own scales.

    **The only thing I wish that Christ brings out to measure my goodness, when I stand before Him in the end, is his blood.

    ***Why? Romans 3:10 – “There is no one righteous, no, not one”.
    Not you or me or any new Church we’ve raised up.

    3) Who condemned Christ?
    It was not only the Pharisees. It was a large portion of multitude of those that once followed him. They joined in with the mob that spat, beat, and condemned him all the way to Calvary.

    You forget that the Russian Church is of the body drinking of the same spirit. And now we condemn it and spit and beat it. We have filled the same shoes as those that profess to follow Him and when the mob forms (and we feel safe to do so) spit and beat Christ.

    *Isn’t it amazing that in this advanced and digital age we repeat the same things that were once done against Christ. This forum is public the same public forum of that day. And publicly we mock, beat, and scorn Him.

    *Instead of hiding away as Peter did because we were afraid, we joined in on the mob.
    Jesus forgive us. Jesus forgive me.

    4) And when we are wronged. Is that when sweet revenge is approved or justified?
    Matthew 5:38-42 “Turn the other cheek”…
    Romans 12:17-21
    (This scripture is actually in context of enemy. Non-believer. I’ll still use it here.)
    17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people.
    18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.
    19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written,
    “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
    20 Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink;
    for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    *Even if you or I were wronged by the Church… Christ was wronged far more and was silent. He bore all to the Death because he loved us.

    **In Canada, these forums have become a place to bully, mock, and harass kids in schools. A place where one can judge and defame in the safety of one’s own home. And now, the same low level bullying, mocking, and harassment has come about from the members of the Body of Christ.

    ***We are the body of Christ. You and me. Can you believe the shame that would be in Christ’s eyes as he looks down upon us from the cross? Is this what he redeemed us for? So that we can judge our own brethren?
    Jesus forgive us. Jesus forgive me.
    Your brother in Christ.
    Eric (Canada).

    1. Thus article put uneasy feelings and made me want to protect my people because it came of very harsh instead of loving ….than scrolling down as I read your response Eric it made me realize that God will judge accordingly and he is a righteous God….and I am happy I read it before responding lol…Thank you Jesus for forgiveness!

  5. Hello Tanya.
    I accidentally stumbled upon your blog by having one of my facebook friends like one of your articles. I skimmed some of your posts, but then this post caught my attention . After re-reading it a few times, I would like you to please address the following questions:
    1) Please provide the statistical data about how “rampant” alcoholism, drug dependence, prostitution, greed, burglaries, adultery, pornography, dishonesty is in the “Russian Church” (I will use this term from now on to mean any of the unregistered “otdelyonie” baptist churches that you probably attended here in Sacramento).
    “According to Christian Smith, between 20% and 40% of religiously active teenagers are involved in serious risk behaviors involving alcohol and drugs. Of U.S. 12th graders who attend religious services weekly or more, 31% of them drink enough alcohol to “feel pretty high” at least half of the time that they drink, as do 27% of 12th graders who say that their faith is “very important” in their lives. When it comes to drugs, nearly 39% of U.S. 12th graders who attend religious services weekly or more had used illegal drugs in the previous year, 31% had smoked marijuana in the previous year and 20% had used hard drugs in the previous year. For those who said their faith was “very important” in their lives, nearly 40% had used illegal drugs, 32% had smoked marijuana and 21% had used hard drugs in the previous year. Furthermore, 11% of 12th graders who attend religious services weekly or more and roughly 13% of those who say religious faith is “very important” in their lives had tried marijuana or hashish by the ninth grade.”
    I’M ASSUMING THIS IS MOSTLY LIKELY DATA FROM THE AMERICAN CHURCH YOUTH, NOT FROM THE “RUSSIAN CHURCH”. http://youthandreligion.nd.edu/related-resources/preliminary-research-findings/significant-numbers-of-religiously-active-teenagers-are-involved-in-serious-risk-behaviors-involving/
    2) Please provide statistical data about how many people are leaving the “Russian Church”.
    “Whereas 85% of the silent generation (born 1928-1945) call themselves Christians, just 56% of today’s younger millennials (born 1990-1996) do the same, even though the vast majority — about eight in 10 — were raised in religious homes. Each successive generation of Americans includes fewer Christians, Pew has found. To put it simply: Older generations of Americans are not passing along the Christian faith as effectively as their forebears.” http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/12/living/pew-religion-study/
    “According to Rainer Research, approximately 70% of American youth drop out of church between the age of 18 and 22. The Barna Group estimates that 80% of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/november/27.40.html
    SO HENCE EACH SUCCESSIVE GENERATION OF RUSSIANS MAY ALSO INCLUDE FEWER CHRISTIANS AND THEIR YOUTH MAY LEAVE THE CHURCH. THIS IS NOT JUST A “RUSSIAN CHURCH” PROBLEM. DEAR TANYA, I WOULD BE WILLING TO STAKE A WAGER THAT YOU OR THE OTHER PEOPLE YOU GO TO CHURCH WITH WILL NOT FIND EVEN ONE PERSON WITHIN THE “EXEMPLARY” AMERICAN COMMUNITY WHO DOES NOT KNOW A YOUNG MAN OR WOMAN WHO HAS LEFT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
    3) Excommunication is a Biblical truth. (Matthew 18:15-17). Please provide your American Church doctrine about excommunication.
    http://mp3-ehb.ru/msc-ehb/47-dokumenty-msc-ehb/318-ob-osvyaschenii-izdanie-sc-ehb.html?showall=&start=14
    4) Please provide statistical data about the high divorce rate in “Russian Church”.
    “A Barna Group report from 2008 claims that the overall divorce rate in the US is 33%, but they also note that evangelical Christians are at 26% and Catholics are 28%. But Protestant in general are listed as 34%” ARE YOU SAYING THAT THE RUSSIAN CHURCH YOU USED TO GO TO HAD EVEN 25% OF THEIR MA RRIAGES END IN DIVORCE? http://www.inquisitr.com/1336702/christian-church-divorce-rate-statistics-in-america-is-not-50-percent/
    5) “We have pastors being arrested for soliciting prostitutes.” WERE YOU THERE WHEN HE WAS SOLICITING THE PROSTITUTE? As there is a Russian saying “ты свечку держала?” Are you just repeating what the media and the news station says? I’m not sure if he did or didn’t, but have you read what others have posted on this regard? Did you talk to the pastor to hear his side of the story? How can you be sure that you’re not just repeating a lie? The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted. If you’re not 100% sure he did it, are you not committing the sin that you claim other people do in the Russian Church: gossiping? http://www.gfchurch.com/ru/pages/newDetails.php?id=244&a=4&b=28
    6) “The majority of the people in OUR community ARE doing those things mentioned in the article” (here you were responding to another blog that the people in the Russian Church are not cheating the IRS, the SSI…” WHERE IS YOUR STATISTICAL DATA AGAIN?
    “In a recent year, however, only 2,472 Americans were convicted of tax crimes — .0022% of all taxpayers. This number is astonishingly small, taking into account that the IRS estimates that 17% of all taxpayers are not complying with the tax laws in some way or another. And the number of convictions for tax crimes has decreased over the past decade.” http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/negligence-versus-tax-fraud-irs-difference-29962.html
    SO EITHER OF THOSE 2472 PEOPLE WERE ALL THE PEOPLE THAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT “THE MAJORITY”, OR THE IRS IS LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE- THEY NEED TO GO TO THE RUSSIAN CHURCH AND HAVE BETTER RESULTS THERE. Also, did you notice that SEVENTEEN percent of tax payers are not complying. If we were to take that number to the Russian Church you went to, and even give it a few more percent points (just because), and lets say that 25% of Russian Church members cheat the IRS…. TWENTY FIVE PERCENT IS NOT THE MAJORITY.
    7) “We race to outdo each other with bigger houses, more expensive cars, boasting about our travels to hot vacation spots and showing off our designer clothes and bags… We are idolaters” SO THEN YOU’RE SAYING THAT AMERICANS ALL HAVE SMALLER HOUSES, CHEAPER CARS, NOT GOING ON VACATION, AND DON’T WEAR DESIGNER CLOTHES? Since you’re saying “we”, then I guess I’m included as well? Well, my family lives in a smaller house (1300 sq ft), have salvage cars from car auctions, haven’t been anywhere on vacation except to San Diego once and to Russia for a few weeks to have our kids meet their paternal family, never been on a cruise, and have only 1 “expensive” purse ($100) which my husband got me for Christmas, which I use for the last 2 years now, and most of my clothes come from Ross or Walmart. We make close to $100,000 a year by the way. Am I not a part of your non-existent non-statistical analysis then? Am I just a weird Russian Church goer?
    8) “Our faith has become dead”- Are just lumping everyone into the phrase “our” again, as you lumped “we” in the point above? Prove to me that the Russian Church faith is dead. Prove to me that the American Church faith is alive. Please.
    9) Lastly, please provide your American Church’s doctrine on killing people. Not MURDERING, but KILLING in general. Can Christians kill another person? Can they serve in the army?

    I’m sorry that I took up so much of your time in making you read this, but these are just SOME of the points that I would like you to address ( in the same numerical order and with references please). I will respect your opinion more if you answer to my comment WITH DATA.
    Thank you so much,
    Sister in Christ, Lena

  6. It’s not Chinese language, it’s Mandarin Chinese.

    Thanks for sharing praise God. As long as your words are fully backed up by your life. As long as you are fulfilling all of God’s commands your self. Just be very careful while you are picking apart other people and other churches don’t get to carried away and proud by seeing all the wrong in others and completely forgetting about your self and seeing your self for who you really are. Only you can truly analyze your hearth thru God’s word and prayer and you can’t do it for other and others can’t do it for you.

    Praise God that He reviled to you all of this. Stay stron in His Word and prayer daily and ask for the Holy Spirit to continue His work in you and make sure your heart is always soft and broken before God don’t let any pride, bitterness or unforgivness dwell in your heart. May the Lord continue to bless your family, church and ministry.

    1. Thank you for the correction, Paul. Also I thank you for the warm encouragement to stay in the Lord. That is what I desperately desire and need the most.
      Blessings.

    1. I did think about it initially and was going to find someone to effectively translate into Russian but in the weeks following the post, there were only a few requests for translation. So, unfortunately, I didn’t continue to pursue that process.

  7. I completely agree with you considering the fact that God does not want us to please him by only trying to look acceptable but I do believe that this plays a huge role in showing our love towards God -through our physical appearance. Of course along side with that, you also need to be a true Christian in your heart as well, not just through the way you dress. What I am trying to say is that if you are a born again Christian then you should also dress like a born again Christian. (You don’t have to agree with that). Sorry if it came across as a generalization from my side but yes I was simply stating about my experiences at American churches. I agree with you that the most important thing in any church is to focus on Jesus and his gospel! Anyways God bless you Tanya and your incredible blog! You are truly amazing and your posts are very inspiring. Some of the comments I read from this post are very sad to read as they are so full of hate and negativity. Even though I may not agree with everything you wrote either, I am sharing my thoughts with you in the most loving, kind-hearted way and I hope that’s how you see it as well

    1. I do see the love and I appreciate it very much, Michelle! Thank you! This is what we should be doing as believers – encouraging each other and building each other up in love. I do agree with you about honoring the Lord in everything, including the way we dress. What I also believe, is that the person who is yearning to represent Jesus in everything will dress in an honoring way regardless. Issues like lack of modest attire would not be issues if we all lived self-less lives, lives fully surrendered to God and His Word…
      I also wanted to clarify that the example I used of a young woman in shorts coming to church is that of an unbelieving friend I would invite to church. Unfortunately, I could never invite my nonbelieving friends to my church because I KNEW the judgmental looks would drive them away the moment they would step into the building… 🙁 Thinking about the story of Mary Magdalene coming to Jesus and the religious hypocrites’ responses…
      All love to you and your family,
      Tanya

  8. Hello Tanya, I see the points you are willing to make but I would have to disagree on some. I myself am an American (although I can also speak Russian now) and my husband is Russian from a conservative Russian church. After we got married 6 years ago my husband and I both started attending my American church. Since I myself have never been to a Russian church I assumed that everything in my church was perfectly normal. Then my hubby decided to take me to his church and let me tell you I was truly amazed when I saw God’s children portray his true image. Even though I was wearing pants, makeup, jewelry, and no head covering, everyone welcomed me as their own. After thinking about it and re-reading passages from the bible concerning this subject, I truly realized how much just physical appearance reflects on who you are as a Christian and especially how important it is to enter the Lords house in proper apparel. Even though I still don’t wear a head covering, I now only wear skirts/dresses and no jewelry to church. I don’t know if what you meant about women coming to church in shorts as in just the first time they come to church or if it’s how they dress to church on a regular basis? I mean honestly we need to show Gods image on the outside just as we do on the inside. Many times I see Russian youth at my American church and the way they dress portrays no image of Christ whatsoever. Honestly I can say that I feel like the only reason why they go here is because they feel a sense of freedom here and nobody will tell them anything. Another point I will make as ironic as this might come across (considering the fact that I am an American) is that I feel like American churches glorify/worship God on a more emotional level rather than digging deeper into his word, which is most likely the reason why many people might feel the presence of God within them and might turn to an American church even if they are Russian. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my American church but after many years of going there I realized that it will always be easier to let God in your heart when that is mostly the only topic the songs and sermons are about. I don’t know if you have realized that but American churches tend to focus a LOT of their attention on being a Godly person, on fleeing from sin etc. (which is a great thing) but they don’t dig deeper into the bible which I something I believe true Christians should be doing. We should be trying to really absorb the whole bible and all the points it makes even if it is not only the points which focus on being a more Godly person. Being a Godly person and growing in Christ is something we should be doing daily anyways. Also of course every church has their flaws and weaknesses such as drug dependency, adultery, cheating but then again this is seen in every culture. I am not going to lie I have seen many more of these problems occur at my fellow American church rather than in any Russian church. Truly I have learned a lot from my American church as I have from a Russian church and I love both dearly. I don’t think there is anything wrong with many of the differences a Russian church has from an American church, even though to many Russians (going to an American church) it might be hard to adjust to. Also I don’t believe it is right to say that “we (in this case you: the Russian culture) have failed in being an example to the American culture”, it is better to ask “have I succeeded in being an example to the American culture?”

    1. Hello, Michelle,
      Thank you for sharing your heart. I am happy to hear that your experience with a Slavic church was a pleasant one! I do not discount the need to be set apart from the world. However, what sets us apart is the love of Christ, which He gives us – a love towards God and a love towards our neighbors. Unconditional love.
      I grew up in a legalistic church, constantly hearing “Wear this, don’t wear that.” UNTIL Christ started to change me from the inside out, I was only doing WORKS – attempting to “please” God by “looking acceptable.” That is not what He wants from us. You, however, are welcome to disagree. 🙂 Again, the illustration of a decorated coffin with rotten flesh inside.
      I also want to lovingly point out that you are doing the same thing you and many people have said I was doing in this post: generalizing all churches based on YOUR experience. You said, “I feel like American churches glorify/worship God on a more emotional level rather than digging deeper into his word” and “American churches tend to focus a LOT of their attention on being a Godly person, on fleeing from sin etc. (which is a great thing) but they don’t dig deeper into the bible which I something I believe true Christians should be doing.” This is your experience of “American” churches. 🙂 I went to a few “American” churches. And yes, there are those that fit your description but there are also many of those that do not.
      What we really should focus on and what I have been trying to convey the entire time is the need to focus on Jesus and the simplicity of the Gospel. The Great Commission. That is what I am looking for in a HEALTHY church. Culture is insignificant.
      Love in Christ,
      Tanya

  9. Tatyana,

    No disrespect but this article is hypocritical. You are judging the “Slavic community” for being judgemental and full of sin. Isn’t that a sin itself? Reading Mathews 7:3 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
    Are you sin free? For We are all sinful, no matter of race, gender, age, culture or belief. So why compare one culture to another, “American” or “Slavic”. For all human beings are filthy and deserve the wrath of God.

    I understand your frustration with the problems in modern churches, as we all should be. Instead of publicly expressing thoughts, we should be united as one body in Christ constantly praying and fasting about all the sins that you mentioned, not just in the Slavic churches but everywhere. So that God might have pitty on them and us.

    The most important question we should ask ourselves is, Am I imitating God by my daily life, or am I imitating the sinful world around me. If I am imitating the sinful world around me, then what difference does it make if we attend a “Slavic”, “American”, “Chinese” or “Latino ” church. I am still sinful and will burn in hell if I die without repenting.

    So my proposal for you is to write a article, with you impressive writing skills, so the the article can help us unite together in Christ. So that the article may touch individuals who have been imitating the world, and blinding living life with no knowledge of their acts. So that they might realize or their sins and repent.

    This would be a much better approach then judhing the “Russian Community”.

    One more question, since you switched over from the Russian church to the American, have you escaped sin?

    May God bless you !!!!!!!!

    1. Roman,

      I’m being transparent about myself. If you read other posts, you will see this as well. I welcome my brothers’ and sisters’ rebuke. I thank the Holy Spirit for convicting me every day and I thank Jesus for renewing my mind and heart daily, for I am in constant need of a Savior!

      If I am calling things by their names, that does not make me hypocritical but you are entitled to having your own opinion. 🙂

      As to your comment on writing an article that would focus on uniting all of us, I did write a follow up, explaining that the only way we can get rid of these things in our community (our churches) is if we focus on Jesus. That was the message of this post as well, by the way…

      I hurt for the young people who are being damaged by the religious hypocrisy and I WILL NOT stand by, while the majority of the community brushes trash under the rug…

      I would rather a brother points out my sin here, on earth, than to have it pointed out before God’s throne…

      Love,
      Tanya

    2. Roman

      She is not judging the Slavic community, she is simply pointing out the truth and believe me I see it often. It is always hard to hear the truth but hearing that truth is one step to realizing what is going on. God can’t help us make a change if we don’t want to make that change.

      Tanya,
      Do not feel bad for writing about this. I think it needed to be done because it is a major problem in the Ukrainian/Russian Slavic churches today and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who sees it.

      1. I have seen this same exact judgement from the Russian/ Ukrainian churches time and time again. That didn’t dissuade me from continuing in my Christian walk of faith though. Because I KNOW that God and Jesus exist, and that there is an afterlife (through faith, of course, and watching some Near Death Experiences on YouTube 🙂 !) I just needed to find a Church that didn’t look at my past and judge me for it, or judge me on what I was wearing, or was all about cliques, etc. We all make mistakes and we grow and learn from them! Like the Bible says, do not look to people as an example of how to live in the faith, but look to GOD and the Bible as a model on how to live and pray. I believe the Slavic churches run on the fact that it is part of our culture, they do not run on faith and Christianity alone. That is why it is flawed. We need to live and act as Christians in order to keep people in the Church. We shouldn’t judge others and leave that supreme right up to GOD! We shouldn’t condone sinful behavior, but lead people to see the truth and light in a loving way. Not shame them out of the Church. This is what I’ve seen happened, and it is very sad! This is why I prefer my American Church Harvest to the Ukrainian church I used to attend.

    1. I have seen this same exact judgement from the Russian/ Ukrainian churches time and time again. That didn’t dissuade me from continuing in my Christian walk of faith though. Because I KNOW that God and Jesus exist, and that there is an afterlife (through faith, of course, and watching some Near Death Experiences on YouTube 🙂 !) I just needed to find a Church that didn’t look at my past and judge me for it, or judge me on what I was wearing, or was all about cliques, etc. We all make mistakes and we grow and learn from them! Like the Bible says, do not look to people as an example of how to live in the faith, but look to GOD and the Bible as a model on how to live and pray. I believe the Slavic churches run on the fact that it is part of our culture, they do not run on faith and Christianity alone. That is why it is flawed. We need to live and act as Christians in order to keep people in the Church. We shouldn’t judge others and leave that supreme right up to GOD! We shouldn’t condone sinful behavior, but lead people to see the truth and light in a loving way. Not shame them out of the Church. This is what I’ve seen happened, and it is very sad! This is why I prefer my American Church Harvest to the Ukrainian church I used to attend.

  10. Dishonesty and lack of simple decency among people is very frustrating, and the main reason why churches been unrelentingly spiraling down. All it took is mere 25 years for our people to have kids that claim to be atheists, give it another couple of years and we’ll have kids dubbing in occult and Satanism, and be okay with homosexuals in church. When christian backslides, he ends up being seven times worse than any nonbeliever, backsliders make up the worst part of humanity, deeply distrusted by both the believers and the world. Problem is we have ton of backsliders attending our churches, they elect their own backslider pastors, and just go through religious motions, some of them already wiped out from the Book of Life for all the messed up stuff they’ve done, others just a mere step away from it. We cant really proselyte effectively to outsiders anymore, because we have ton of lost churchgoers in need of salvation, not to mention the abstraction and damage all this numerous backsliders going to cause to newly converted.

    Our family been here since August of 1989. And been a witness to things Russian in America since the very start. Back in 90-91 there was still power and anointing in our services. Then with the increased dishonesty and loosing of decency, all the real believers who called to repentance and opposed spiritually debilitating sins that made our churches spiritually impotent were shown to last row pews, or simply driven out of churches. Time and again after each sermon calling to repentance and honest living, there always be some cheerleading clown be clambering on pulpit, and do his best to discredit and mock previous sermon by very primitive logic and shallow slogans addressed to lowest of animal instincts in people: “We are in promised land! Our fridges full of fodder. Graze on!!!” Only few were enraged and embarrassed by it, even fever had guts to fight it. People just bought into unrestrained feeding frenzy, and instead of electing real and sober leaders, elected bunch of crowd pleasing cheerleader losers to be their pastors, nice guys who wont interfere with things“biznes”. Cheating and exploiting every social service they can, formerly oppressed Christians of USSR got themselves into mass production of wrecked deathtraps on wheels, only bothering to barely patch them cosmetically; not even concerned or having any qualms of conscience that their shoddy workmanship is only contributing to the death toll rate statistic on American roads. And it was just only the beginning of the decline really, since then things Russian only got worse.

    With opposition silenced, congregations gradually turned into religious puppet theaters, devoid of God’s power and anointing. New arrivals from Old Country providing breath of fresh air and some real food off pulpits, only to be corrupted and end up like the rest of majority eventually, or just simply silenced.
    Our churches for the most part is nothing but intermarried clan religious mafia syndicates. And God is not alright with it, favorable grace period is over, God is going to uncover all the messed up stuff for everyone to see. And no amount of whitewashing attempts is going to stop it! And then God is going to punish severely and fairly. All the ones who lived fairly and honestly God is going to bless and protect during the coming hard times. While backsliders are going to eat the humble pie and lose their ill gained money and property, and get toppled from their positions of prominence and humiliated.

    “Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash,a say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’ Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord GOD.” – Ezekiel 13:10-16

    1. What can I add to your comment? Allahu Akbar?

      What you are missing that these days it is the atheists that are more decent, it is the non-Christians that are more understanding. It is the liberals that have more compassion. It is the non-religious that are more empathetic.

      Here is something to think about from Mathew 21:
      28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

      29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

      30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

      31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

      “THE FIRST,” THEY ANSWERED.
      Mathew 21:28-31

  11. Tanya, thank you for sharing your heart! Thank you for Todd White’s testimony – it changed my life! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0W6hKWl_nho
    God bless Bridgeway church and Pastor Lance Hann! God bless House of Bread and Pastor Alex Shevchenko! God bless every Christ centered church where people repent and get transformed by the power of Holy Spirit! God bless every believer that loves Jesus and loves people; that shares Good News and heals sick; feeds poor and casts out demons; so that hell would be plundered and Kingdom of Heaven would be advanced!

  12. Hello friends! To be honest, I was really troubled by this post when I first read it. I was flooded with emotions of sadness, hurt, and even anger. I really wanted to let my thoughts come to fruition, and have been contemplating on how to phrase things properly. To speak against the article, but yet, do it with humility and love. Praise God that He put it on the heart of this brother as he has already said it better than I ever could. Please read it if you haven’t had the chance yet as I believe this is a better view at the problem at hand that Tanya was trying to describe.

    http://russellkorets.com/2015/03/27/response-to-slavic-culture-and-the-christian-church/

    Want to add this verse. Please let us all bring grace with our words to all who listen.
    Ephesians 4:29
    Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

    Love, and Peace

  13. Did you hear about the man whose boat capsized and they found him living on a deserted island for many many years all by himself? He survived and figured out how to live very well on the island. After finding him, they saw he built three buildings on the island, and they asked him what they were.
    “The first one is my house” he said.
    “The second is the church I go to”.
    And the third they asked?
    “Oh, that is the church I used to go to”

  14. Dear Tanya, you haven’t gone far enough. The issues are actually much much worse. If Slavic churches were any good there would be never-ending praises from the American community. At this moment, there are NONE!!! Instead, the Slavic community keeps praising itself. Like it has ALWAYS done.

    What the Slavic religious community does not have is conscience, empathy and love for others (and each other). And that’s blatantly obvious everywhere. Notice what happens when a person speaks Ukrainian in all-Russian church? What about speaking Russian in all-Ukrainian church?

    In their families one of the parents/spouses is often mentally ill (I am not kidding, it is a huge problem that no one ever talks about), super selfish, hypocrite and doesn’t even bother following the teaching of Christ (but often loves preaching it). There is an enormous amount of verbal violence on daily basis. There is also physical and sexual abuse. ALL OF THAT IS BEING IGNORED. The focus instead is on superficial things like never missing a Sunday service, singing in the choir and preaching (often done by the abusers themselves).

    Many, and I mean MANY, people in the Slavic churches are SUPER MISERABLE. But the “people of God” could care less. As long as you pretend you are happy and go to church every Sunday, you are fine.

    Slavic churches are self-serving and absolutely USELESS in brining people to God. They constantly talk about thousands/millions of non-Christian Russian speaking people in the US that need to be saved and brought to church. The problem is, why anyone in their right mind would ever want to go to a church full of miserable people? And no one comes. And no one will.

    P.S. What I said is from my personal experience, my brothers, sisters, cousins and other relatives from my rather large extended family. It is time to stop pretending that everything is (almost) fine. And no, I don’t think the problems will ever be addressed or fixed. It will be swept under a rug, like it always has.

    P.P.S If you are experiencing any kind of abuse, don’t turn to church for help. Go to the people who REALLY care and KNOW what to do. In the US, there is plenty of help available. Just Google it.

    1. VicM you’re completely right. Its insane how many people are bashing her for writing this article! Shows you how CLUELESS people are. They’re mad at her for pointing the obvious out. Just wow, you lying, blind fools. And I agree, the problem is so much worse, she definitely put it in a very “lime light”. But yeah, Russian culture is too proud to admit that, and to be able to change it you first have to admit there’s a problem, and don’t even get me started on Ukrainians, hell, I’ll get rocks thrown at me just for walking into a Ukrainian church speaking Russian (I literally been “unofficially” forced out of a church because I could only sing/talk in Ukrainian). Sad sad sad. Then they wonder why kids turn away and immigrant kids have the WORST jail/crime rates. BECAUSE YOU SELF SERVING OLD PEOPLE DON’T GET IT. You came here, away from your farms, and finally got that car you could only dream of from a bunch of loans and 8-5 jobs. You think you know what culture and values are when you sold them out down the drain while bashing Americans for not having any “culture” and american churches being “evil” and if you don’t go to a Russian church you’re going to hell. The amount of hate and crap being taught at many of these churches, I should say ALL churches but not all preachers. In every church there’s so many delusional people and they’re all allowed to push their agenda without anyone even screening before the service on what the heck they will be talking about. I’ve witnessed so many anti american sermons, anti woman, anti jeans, anti RED T SHIRTS, anti guitars, anti loud music, oh man list goes on and on.

  15. Tanya, thank you for sharing your experiences and having the confidence to share this. I can totally relate to everything you wrote. I literally grew up hearing all these things and seeing them first hand. Don’t let the negative comments get to you. People have the tendency to ignore the reality of what is truly going on. God bless you and your family. I approve of this message!

  16. Tanya good job girl! You wrote a controversial article which means you will get hate mail (don’t take it to heart) but so many of my friends and I have read this and we agree with you completely. Ignorance is bliss, or so they say, that’s why so many live that way…Thank God for your boldness. Many blessings to you and your family.

  17. Even though I don’t agree with everything you wrote in your post, I do understand the pain behind it. As a Slavic church here in Fresno CA we decided to tackle some of these issues, specifically being obedient to Christ’s great commission, and launched a service in English. This service is not just a typical Slavic service translated into English but a service that reaches out to the culture we live in. In the past three years we’ve seen nothing but God’s blessings. People from different cultures are coming to Jesus, getting baptized and becoming members of our church. Young people and couples stopped leaving our church, on the contrary they found many opportunities to serve Jesus and people around. I believe that Slavic churches have a great opportunity and unique ability to reach out to our culture, as our culture is becoming more and more diverse. Blessings to you and your family! Here is an article I wrote about this same issue: http://ygkovalenko.com/2014/06/10/5-things-slavic-churches-must-do-to-survive-and-thrive/

  18. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    (John 13:31-35 ESV)

    It’s easier said than done, but this is what Jesus, our Savior, has commanded. Another thing I want to point out is that, “by THIS all people will know that you are My disciples…”

    God bless!

  19. Dear Sister Tatyana & Other “Siblings” ~

    Two years ago, my wife and I were asked by a local Slavic pastor (in a little city north of Sacramento) to help his congregation. My wife was born in Kazakhstan speaking Russian most of her life. I am American-born and still have trouble pronouncing Russian names correctly (to my shame). The small church consisted of Ukrainian, Russian, Moldovian and Georgian members: most of these were 1st generation immigrants with little skill in the English language. The group had met in our American church facilities for nearly eight (8) years but had diminished over time from 100 people to about 10. None of the original families’ children attended anymore despite the fact that many of the original families had children and even grandchildren. All of these 1.5 and 2nd generation people grew up in American schools using English as their primary language. Sadly, we discovered that some of the families’ younger children could not communicate with their own parents: mother and daughter would speak to one another through online translators instead. The pastor knew that the younger generations were leaving the church because they were not hearing the Word of God in their own language. The youth could not ask questions well. The sermons were often circular in thining without ever really “going anywhere”. And, the beauty of and desperate need for our Lord Jesus Christ was being missed. So, my wife and I serve as a cultural-linguistic bridge and minister to these multilingual and diverse families.

    Our church family has grown again, by God’s mercy and grace. Our bible studies on Friday include little children and grandparents, Russian-speaking & English-speaking members, and our services are broadcast around the world via YouTube. It is a humble service, obviously, but one in which God’s Word is sent out to family members and missionaries in other countries. And, our corporate gatherings average 50 – 70 members.

    Why do I mention all of this?

    I mention these matters, because many of the issues presented in your article are real ones. We have faced (or are continuing to face) these challenges here. Perhaps, these issues are more acute in the Sacramento area as it does have a huge “Russian” community and many, many churches serving that community. As part of the leadership/pastoral staff at our church, I know that local church leaders in Northern California have acknowledged these issues. The challenges are real and leaders are seeing their effects upon their own congregations. So, I do not see your article as being overty accusatory or the painting of a community with a wide brush. Instead, I read a heart for God and His people.

    You AND many of your respondents made some wonderful comments. The most important, I believe, is the acknowledgement that Christ’s church is not a Russian church or an American church. It is Christ’s church built by Christ Jesus, Himself, as He promised. We are one family, of God’s household, in which we are granted the right to be called children of God by grace through faith. That is an important truth! Although I do not wish to discount the value of our diverse cultural backgrounds, God gifted His Russian children with the same and necessary gifts that He gave to His American children for the sake of building up the Body of His Son for service to one another and the world. He gifted Russian pastors, deacons, leaders, and teachers. He gifted American in similar ways. Each is equipped to serve Him and His church. Therefore, an American thumb cannot say to a Russian eyeball, “I have no need of you!” Neither can a Russian toe say to an American mouth, “I have no need of you!” I think we get so caught up in patriotism and nationalism that we actually do damage to one another using God’s name.

    Our little church faced a lot of ridicule and slander because our pastor reached out to an American bible teacher and his wife for help. Several of our Russian brothers and sisters refuse to attend now. Moreover, we have had guest churches come and preach/teach to us with condemnation and an aire of arrogance: they told us, “Americans THINK they are saved, but they are not!” And, I understand the reasoning behind the accusations. In many respects, Americans ARE casual in faith. But, not all of us are casual.

    Our little church has also had to struggle through many of the challenges faced by the bigger Russian churches in the Sacramento area. Since there is often a large disconnect between Russian parents and their English-speaking children, my wife and I frequently are called upon to counsel young families in crisis. Teenagers, who are on the worship teams and provide leadership in their church youth groups, battling with online sexting and pornography, drug use/solicitation, and living dual lives (the one seen in church & the one seen outside of church). Just as frequent as in American churches, these young people (12-28 years old) wrestle with sexual fornication, often keeping their encounters hidden from adults. It is no different from American culture. Why? Because these younger generations are living in America now with the same temptations and worldly exposure as any American-born kid. Opportunities to endulge in sin are rampant in this country. But opportunity to worship and service the Lord without threat of persecution is one of God’s blessing upon the people of this country, too. We can celebrate together in the Lord surrounded by a marvelous diversity of God’s people. We can grow and learn from one another. What God has done in our little neck of the world is nothing less than glorious! Americans who grew up building bomb shelters in their backyards during the Cold War are now learning Russian hymns and praising God alongside people who once serviced in the military of the old U.S.S.R. People who were raised to fear and even hate one another are lifting unified voices of thanksgiving. That is a miracle!

    And, pastors, teachers and church members from these different cultures must realize their responsiblity before God: they are to feed and care for God’s flock. It is not loving to ignore the burrs and illnesses that plague God’s sheep. Ezekiel 34 reminds us of God’s displeasure in those shepherds who did not address the needs of His sheep. These poor shepherds did not put medicine upon the sheeps’ wounds. The shepherds did not address the sins that enslaved their lives. The shepherds did not protect God’s people from the false teachings (wolves) that came into the sheep fold to devour and scatter God’s people.

    It is not loving or gracious to allow one of God’s children to walk around this earth infested by bugs and parasites. It is not loving to turn a blind eye to corruption and sin within the church, either. It is our duty to be truthful with one another. Shepherds need to get on their knees before their flocks, roll up their sleeves, and tend to the needs of the sheep. They need to brush the stickers out of the wool. They need to ensure that the sheep are nourished adequately by God’s Word rightfully preached. They need to love God’s family regardless of ethnic background, because His Spirit gave birth to them. His Son died and redeemed them. And He will someday gather all of us together in His arms to take us to our true home in heaven.

    Thank you, Tatyana. I hope people see the truth behind what you wrote rather than try to find a way to dismiss what you wrote. We have something to learn here.

    1. Thank you so much for this.

      I see that what the readers keep missing are crucial pieces of background information which had an effect on what I wrote and how I wrote it.

      I am comforted by my Father and by being fully convinced in my own heart and mind that I was writing this piece for one reason only: to address the issues and problems in conservative Baptist churches in Sacramento, mainly the lack of focus on Christ and the Gospel.

      I thank the Lord that there ARE pastors who are humble enough to ask help, despite resistance from their own members in their own community. I will pray for you and the ministry you have.

      Right now what I desire the most is God’s heart and to keep my focus on Jesus. I honestly had thoughts about publicly defending this post but the Lord is telling me there is no need. I listened to Him and surrendered to Him. It’s out of my hands at this point. He WILL take this wherever He wants to.
      In Christ,
      Tanya

      1. Hi I wasn’t sure which place to comment so ill just do it here. YES this article is on point and in my opinion could have been even harsher about the spiritual abuse and brainwashing that goes on in Slavic churches, at least mine. I was driven to two suicide attempts because of my church and parents who back up the heretical beliefs. I think some of the commenters on here don’t understand because they didn’t see first hand the stuff that goes on and the attitude some of the slavic church people have. Its so awful the way the Gospel is distorted and the way culture, tradition, legalism, language and outer appearance is worshipped in Slavic churches. Not to mention the racism and wrong views of what is actually sin. I’m working on my own website for this from my experiences. Someone needs to shed light over this horrible darkness. God Bless and please don’t stop fighting this fight. So many people have been wounded and mislead because of some Slavic churches and this needs to stop.

        1. Thank you for your comment, Emily. 💜
          I believe that you are right (about how most people not understanding first hand about what goes on in some churches)…
          Please, do write. We need to speak the truth, no matter how difficult it may be but do it in love…
          In Christ,
          Tanya

    2. Hello Matthew,
      I have a few issues with your post that I would like you to please address:
      1) When the church started out, it had about 100 people. That is correct information. Why? The reason was that it was it during the housing prices boom and many Russian-speaking families moved to this area as the prices were much cheaper than similar (or even smaller) houses in Sacramento area. We sold our 1100 sq ft house for $270,000 and bought a 2500 sq ft house for $290,000. Gas was also much cheaper at that time. This was the exact thinking of many of the Russian-speaking families that moved here. Thus, there was an increase in the Yuba City Russian-speaking church attendance. When the house prices started to drop again and gas prices increased, many families sold their houses in this area or filed for bankruptcy/foreclosure and many people left this area. Thus, there was a decrease in the church attendance.
      2) “None of the original families’ children attended anymore despite the fact that many of the original families had children and even grandchildren.”- See the point above. Of course the original families had children and grandchildren… but they were all living in Sacramento area, and others moved to Fresno.
      3) There was never 10 people left in the church, that I’m aware of.
      4) “mother and daughter would speak to one another through online translators instead”- maybe that is one example in the entire church. I believe you’re most likely talking about Alex’s youngest kid or your own daughters, who have a Russian-speaking mother. Alex’s older kids translate for the church, so I’m sure that they understand and speak to their mother in Russian without an online translator. Furthermore, even I use an online translator sometimes when I don’t know how to translate a word into Russian, but that doesn’t mean that now I speak to my family through an online translator.
      5) “The pastor knew that the younger generations were leaving the church because they were not hearing the Word of God in their own language”-maybe it was because their families moved back to Sacramento? Could it also be that they were leaving because, even according to American church statistics, approximately 70% (if not more) of American youth drop out of church between age 18-22. Are you saying that American-speaking youth leave the church because they don’t hear the Word of God in their own English language?
      6) “The sermons were often circular in thining without ever really “going anywhere”” You can not talk about what the other sermons were like, because you were not present during all the services. You were not a witness to those sermons. If I’m not mistaken, the only American preacher in that church is you. The other preachers are either also Russian-speaking (who can say sermons in English as well) or those who have been preaching in the church before. So you’re saying that now that you preach in that church, the sermons are “going places”? Or is it that the preachers that were there before were not circular in thinking and “going places”?
      7) “our corporate gatherings average 50 – 70 members”… are you counting the guests that are always there from other churches (First Slavic, Second Slavic, etc)? There were always guests there from other churches, even before you came there. Even then, from gathering information from people that currently go to that church, there is an average of 30-40 people that come to each service (that’s including about 15-25 guests per service). Maybe the harvest service sees 70 people (most of whom are members of other Russian-speaking churches/guests)? If I’m not mistaken, in the last 2 years, there is either only 1 or 2 other Russian-speaking families that come to that church in Yuba City regularly who are not considered “guests”. How many MEMBERS of that church are there? You know, the ones that are only registered to the Grace Family Fellowship church? Not the ones that are members of Bryte, First/Second Slavic, American churches, etc?
      8) “my wife and I frequently are called upon to counsel young families in crisis” I didn’t know that there were so many young families in that church. How many are there that have Russian parents and English-speaking kids? Maybe 2? 3? That’s MAXIMUM. According to the videos on YouTube, I mostly see the youth-group consist of Alex’s and your kids.
      I’m not trying to disprove all that you wrote, but if I’m not correct, please correct me and answer all my questions that I addressed. I do agree with several of your thoughts, but I don’t agree at least with those issues that I wrote about. I really enjoyed going to the Yuba City church and have good memories about it.

  20. I agree with Tanya’s article, because i got her point. So let me summate in one sentence : WHERE IS NO
    CHRIST-CENTERED THEOLOGICAL BIBLICAL PREACHING – LEGALISM (SALVATION BY WORKS) AND CULTURE WORSHIP WILL BE PREACHED THERE INSTEAD.

  21. This was well said by Sister Tanya.I Praise God for your awareness to your surroundings. Thank you! I know we have been the most welcomed; Most invited people group to America(Slavic’s). Yet we are exile’s. I would like to witness Slavic immigrants as a hole in America to establish a new Holiday, a new tradition. For our children’s children and for us. A day of giving back to our Neighbors!
    Good Neighbor Fellowship day! What more can shock you more then the people you actually live next to. This holiday would commission everyone to associate with there geographic circle. To build relationships/friendships. To know the fathers the mothers the teachers the gardener.in to be a good neighbor. No longer to live next to strangers.

    This holiday rules: Making sure its a safe zone for everyone.for children!
    not drinking or smoking or cussing/profanity as if in a public family setting.
    And I would like to see the Slavik culture to serve there fellow American neighbors in this given time God help us. By having potluck. Play music. Sharing art.. Sitting by each other. Show in tell. Welcoming the new neighbors. Bonefire. Being mindful of each other feelings. Think about it.

    August (definition)-respected and impressive.

    “she was in august company”
    synonyms: distinguished, respected, eminent, venerable, hallowed, illustrious, prestigious, renowned, celebrated, honored, acclaimed, esteemed, exalted; More
    great, important, lofty, noble;
    imposing, impressive, awe-inspiring, stately, grand, dignified
    “our august guests”

    I think it should be during August month because of the meaning and also it has the least holidays out of all the other months.

    “Refugee Resettlement in the United States
    The United States is proud of its history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. The U.S. refugee resettlement program reflects the United States’ highest values and aspirations to compassion, generosity and leadership. Since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world. Refugees have built new lives, homes and communities in towns and cities in all 50 states.”-U.S.DepartmentState

    And for the day of the month. –
    “The 8888 Nationwide Popular Pro-Democracy Protests ; MLCTS: hrac le: lum: also known as the People Power Uprising[6]) was a series of marches, demonstrations, protests,[7] and riots[8] in Burma (Myanmar). Key events occurred on 8 August 1988, and therefore it is known as the 8888 Uprising.” Pro democracy.

    We are the people who know and love our close ones- our Neighbors!

    So I just offering a solution, that will be a monumental start to see a brighter future. Email me if you consider joining this cause.I start on August 8. I want to know your advice your answers that will contribute to resolving this problem. Williamkrasno@gmail.com

    Slavic people may we be a life Buoy to America. In whatever way you think of it God has placed us here for such a time as this!

    Let me know if you find a better date for something like this.thanks. Much love.

  22. I totally agree with you. I grew up in a small Pentecostal church were literally everything was a “sin.” I guess in a way it makes sense that the elders of the church want to keep the traditions because it’s all they know, and since they are so closed minded that is all they will ever know. But since these churches focus so much on appearance, spiritually they are going no where. I feel like since the older generation is so uptight, judgmental and closed minded that is the reason why so much of the younger generation is leaving to American churches, or in other cases even leaving church, God and Religion in general. Salvic “Christin” people really need to just calm down with all their silly unecessary rules. God bless you and your family (: I really enjoyed your article and i completely agree with you!

  23. Having been in the Russian culture in Portland, and then moving to a state where literally the only Russian people I know are my family and my little church of 80, I see good and bad within the Russian community.

    The good is that so many common sense values are almost taken for granted. Of course everyone in the Russian community thinks abortion and homosexuality are wrong. Of course you don’t cheat on your husband or wife, etc, etc.

    It’s the way that Russians treat the fallen sinner that can be wrong. It’s almost like people have a hard time letting you know that they are going through a stressful period in life because they’re scared that you’ll judge them.

    Also, it doesn’t matter how hard it is, the important thing is to put on airs. Don’t have enough money to buy a new pair of shoes? Go take out more credit, because you need to look your best and show off! How else are you going to pay for your expensive car or house? And many lie about their income to get a better tax return. I’m not saying that all Russians are like that, there are plenty that are very hard working and deserve their cars and houses… because they can pay for them. But then there are others that just want to keep up. It’s like, keep it real.

    It’s just these little types of things that are not really little at all…

    There are good things and bad things about both American and Russian churches… In general, I think our Russian generation should keep it real, and be open to helping one another instead of acting like it is always perfect, we should be vulnerable and loving toward one another.

  24. Thank you Tanya for the article. I did not see it hateful but as a great reminder that our churches must wake up and refocus on Jesus instead of church politics. We have become so immuned to this lavish lifestyle that we forgot why we immigrated to this country. Our flea for religious freedom and a better lifestyle may cost us our salvation.

  25. Guys, whatever problems there are in so called “Slavic” churches, they have absolutely nothing to do with Russian Culture. Russian Baptists and Pentecostals were living in separate subcultures in Russia. They had their own music, dress style, jargon, and most of all anti-Russian, anti-cultural mentality. They didn’t read Russian Literature, because it was a sin to them. They didn’t go to museums, theaters, balet, concerts. They didn’t even have TV in their houses. Please don’t mix Great Russian Culture in here. Those people read Bible every Sunday, not Tolstoy’s or Dostoevsky’s books.

    1. Actually partially you’re right, but then shows how little you know about Russian Evangelicals. I was raised in Unregistered Pentecostal church in Moscow, grew up with TV, went to theater (and still dont care for that foolery), museums and etc. Was raised on soulish Russian literature and culture. We had ton of intelligentsia and folks with high education in our church. My family had guests from all over USSR staying over in our flat in Moscow, all sorts of “sovok” types, ranging from blue to white collar.
      I am Russian, and I dont care for this totally illiterate politically correct term “Slavic” used nowadays. Besides a lot of Russian folks here in states come from dimensional void anomaly commonly known as Western Ukraine, and were subjected to centuries long oppressive derussification and dissociating reality bending experiments by Poles, Austrians and the Catholic church to such an extent, that among other things they dont even associate themselves with the rest of Russians anymore.
      Totally disagree with your Russian Evangelicals raised with anti-Russian bias. If there was any, most of them had matured over the years along with the rest of Russian population, especially after Western governments had shown their true New World Order Sodomite nature. With Ukrainians it might be different however, they generally seem to mature and develop naively and stubbornly slower than their other brethren, still having difficulty advancing past post-Soviet “1990s Age” and still fervently trust in Cargo Cult, Uncle Sam, and other false gods of prosperity, believe them more than they believe in God.

      1. Andrey. I am DVR. Rased in baptist church. All my live I was very active member, leader and musician. Visited tremendous amount of churches, conferences in Russia and USA. I also do social and cultural studies as a hobby. I know what I am talking about. Your family is an exception, just as mine and some others.

        1. Seriously. Both the Baptist and Pentecostal movements was nothing but revivals. Baptist revival was a step up and had recovered water baptism by faith, Pentecostals advanced a step higher and had regained spiritual gifts. But people instead of advancing further and closer to God, had turned those two revivals into weird abusive religions. Christianity is a lifelong gradual treatment from the insanity program, and there is no limit to spiritual growth: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
          Yet the infantile obscurer types in above mentioned denominations had decided for themselves (and everyone else) that all you need is a water baptism and speaking in tongues, and no further spiritual growth and development is necessary. In fact further spiritual growth and getting closer to God is discouraged and even gets shot down, ones who dare end up being persecuted and even excommunicated.
          Spiritual growth is a gradual process, and requires gradual surrendering of our fleshy inadequacies. But people being people, and being very content with being stupid and infantile just prefer being stuck half way in birthing canal: “Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him, but he is a child without wisdom; when the time arrives, he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.” – Hosea 13:13
          Basically just end up with dead church, bunch of thieves and crooks and other types in total denial, stubbornly not willing to give up their sins in exchange for spiritual growth. All they do is just invent lame excuses to cover up their total inadequacy and incompetence, and hide behind the false pretenses on Russian and “Slavic” culture.

          1. Извините Господин , мы просто ещё не выросли до вашего духовного уровня.

          2. I do agree that using Russian Culture as an excuse or explanation to Pentecostal and baptist problems is lame and unfair. But I am not going into denominational debate. I am turning to orthodoxy right now.

            1. Well brother Sergey, typical of disgruntled evangelical, convert radically either to Orthodoxy or abandon oneself in hijacked by Satan and New World Order Charismatic movement. Orthodoxy is not even the earliest Christian or even the earliest Russian Christian denomination. Only reason why them and Catholics claiming to be the original church, is because they had pretty much persecuted and wiped out all other denominations around them by mid Dark Ages. Even falsified early Russian history and had it shortened by 600 years, simply because to their warped mind, Christians of other denominations considered to be not brothers and sisters in Christ, but a competition that needs to be quickly converted or dispatched to afterlife. Typical sectarian attitude, they claim others to be nothing but sects, while displaying all characteristics of totalitarian insular sect themselves.
              Earliest recorded Christian denomination for Russians was Arianism, Wulfila’s fourth century Gothic Bible being the very first Russian and Germanic Bible translation. If you read Russian chronicles carefully, you’ll even discover guy preaching to Grand Prince Vladimir using an Arian creed instead of circa 325 AD Nicene creed of Orthodox. Russians werent even Slavs, but of North Germanic Norse and Eastern Gothic Germanic stock, Slavs being their subservient vassals. Being very pragmatic, Russian princes adapted Byzantine culture, the most advanced culture of that time, along with it they adapted Byzantine Orthodox denomination as chief Russian state religion. Since one third of Russian subjects spoke Slavic language, (Slavic being widely used as French is used in nowadays Canada, or Spanish in USA) they just turned to neighboring Slavic speaking Orthodox Bulgaria, which in turn provided Russians with Bulgarian Bible (Church Slavic Bible) and steady stream of priests and monks. Bulgarian was adapted as church and administrative language of Russian lands. Similar occurred elsewhere, Germanic Norse adapting French in newly settled Normandy, later loosing French in favor of English in conquered by them England. Since Arians were banished from Eastern Roman Empire back in Dark Ages, and Wulfila’s Gothic alphabet made illegal, similar occurred in Russia. Accept there is enough of reports made by foreign visitors up to XVII century, saying that there is a lot of Arians in Russia. Basically up to Nikon’s fraudulent reforms of 1660s and the following persecutions, there were several denominations coexisting in back then Russia. Dont forget that one third of Batu khan’s Mongolian army was of Nestorian Christian confession. Once Mongol Empire had split up, Golden Horde ruler Uzbek having converted to Islam, started persecutions of Nestorian Christians, whole lot of them fled to Russia in XIV century. Like I said there was several denominations among Russians, Orthodox church just like in much earlier time in Eastern Roman Empire, again used state to persecute and kill ones who werent of their religious concepts.
              Main goal of Christianity is achieving the personal relationship with God. We only have one High Priest intercessor between us and God- our Savior Lord Jesus Christ. Orthodox and Catholics unbiblically wedged priests and whole army of saints between the believers and Christ, and added whole bunch of abominable pagan concepts and practices to Christianity, making it very difficult to reach God for your average churchgoer. Same applies to Protestants and Evangelicals, they surely had shed a lot of unnecessary Dark age luggage imposed on Christianity by various philosophers commonly known to us as “Church fathers”, but still having very difficult time bringing themselves closer to God. Even among Evangelicals we still have unbiblical class of leaders insolently claiming to be the necessary intercessors between us and Christ: “You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” – Luke 11:52
              Newer generation of leadership conditioned by the previous one to be “twice as much a child of hell” – Matthew 23:15B; is even worse than the previous one, they still dont know God, their seminary degrees mostly useless, since seminaries only teach various philosophies under the disguise of theology. For some darn reason them seminaries just dont teach and encourage the very necessary for a future leader personal relationship and guidance from God. As the result we ended up with real scary mathematical multiplication; each new generation of leaders literally becoming “ twice as much a child of hell” than the previous one, only capable to cheerlead, sing lulling lullabies off the pulpit, and cater to thieves, cheaters and other sinner delinquents. They’re not doing God’s work, all they do is literally sell lulling opiates to the masses.
              PS. When it comes to real truth, I honestly think Russian Orthodoxy to be one of the main reasons of Russian revolution and many other troubles. They never even had properly reformed, Orthodox seminaries being the chief nurseries of atheism. While not doing enough among Russians, actually mostly doing nothing to improve the spiritual health of the nation, they caused a lot of obstruction to other denominations who tried.
              Because of them Russians were forced to turn and depend on that mixed bag of soulish unspiritual counterfeit “Russian Spirituality” (Russian Unspirituality really), aka known as “Great Russian” culture: “Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” – James 3:15. We have entire nation turning to “Golden Key. Adventures of Buratino.” instead of Bible. Pathetic. Nation of Buratinoveds, reduced to quote and live by kid’s fairy tale book. Thank you very much Orthodox church!!!!!!

              1. You behave now exactly how I described in my very first comment. Anti-Russian, Anti-Cultural mentality. Thank you for being such a bright example.

                1. Earth is an insane asylum of the universe. And it doesn’t matter where you live, another country is just another insane asylum ward filled with sinners (mentally ill) in need of salvation. You make it sound like Russia and her culture is an infallible paragon and a model example for this world. Do not forget that most of Russian writers and other “culture” figures had some serious issues, whole bunch was mentally ill, most of them ended up their lives horribly, on duels, suicide, or raving mad. Same applies to rest of this world culture content creators. Culture is a mixed bag, there is way too many inadequate characters involved in the creation of the culture: lunatics, alcoholics, drug addicts, occultists and perverts of all sorts. And you have to be very careful with the consumption, it is literally akin to digging for gems in a pile of filth; you can pollute your soul and mind, and do some serious damage to yourself. Guys like Yesenin, a lot of his stuff is of depressing suicidal character, why is it after listening to Rachmaminov people graduate into deeper depression and crazy thoughts about killing themselves? Depression is a sure sign of lack of peace with God, and there is just no way culture could ever compensate for being at peace with God. A lot of atheists and backsliders just use culture as false front, a mere fig leaf to cover up their total moral bankruptcy, and defiant mutinous character. Why in the world should I respect culture content created by losers that end up in hell?

                  1. No edit option 🙁 should read as “Depression is a sure sign of the lack of peace with God, and there is just no way culture could ever compensate for NOT being at peace with God.

                  2. Andrey, if you need my replies to your statements please talk to me on FB, or in email. i don’t feel comfortable talking here about this things. I believe, that this discussion is about Russian-Ukranian churches in America, how bad they are and how soon they will sease to exist. I don’t like to go off topic.

  26. while many thoughts in this article are true ( though some a bit exaggerated )it is also worth pointing out that are not even slightest behind. there have been american pastors past few years that committed suicide, committed adultery, got arrested for drunk driving and children molestation. also, many cases of young people leaving church has nothing to do with church doing something wrong ;it is often just because they love the world and things of the world.we live in the last days

  27. Uh… Hater!

    I left the “Russian Baptist Church” too but I’m not gonna go around bashing them and belittling them. Shame on you! Its Christ’s Church you’re bashing! That’s great that you went there for so long and got to see the pros and cons but you’re only focusing on the negatives (while not equally and fairly comparing the negatives within the american church) and calling them failures at being the light? These people might be in a Russian church on Sunday but the rest of the week they are out in their communities at their jobs, that is where they are being examples.

    I apologize that you had such a bad experience that you need to feel like lowering them down to get approval.
    And by that I mean just discussing all their negatives and conveniently ignoring to talk about american churchs’ negaives.
    Just because its not right for you doesn’t mean its not right for everyone, which is what you are making it seem.

  28. I too, am a 1.5 generation, came here at 9. I attended both Russian and English churches, and right now go to Russian church. My church isn’t perfect, but only because we’re all sinners; however, we do our best to grow and please God. For now we go to our Russian church and grow there, but it’s very possible that we’ll attend an American church in future. You can grow in any culture/church. There are people growing in tough persecution in churches in Middle East. You have to be very careful about bashing God’s church and people.

    I wanted to bring up an important point- statistics say that 70-90% of AMERICAN youth leave church and faith their parents took them to as kids when they reach about college age. I’ve seen these articles on the news, and is very painful to realize, Tanya, that churches like Bridgeway, Bayside lose almost all of their kids when they grow up.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to diss and dismiss our parents’ faith that has stood the test of time in USSR, because you don’t want your own kids to in the same way dismiss Christianity, and “organized religion” several years in the future.

    The most important tools in passing down faith to our kids is our own, the parents’ faith and example. Unfortunately, these days busyness, technology, phones/TVs hinder that, and I pray that my husband and I raise our children for heaven, and they dont stray as soon as they leave the nest.

    There are very good examples of strong Christian families- I personally wish and strive to be like the parents of “19 Kids and Counting”; not in the number of children but their faith and example they give their kids. Homeschooling also is a huge advantage. Programs like Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk, etc also help.

    Blessings

    1. I can only speak for the churches I attended, Lora.

      Not bashing on ANY church. I still love the conservative Baptist Russian churches in Sacramento. I LOVE THEM. I am not blaming them for anything. In fact, God made me who I am today because of the trial I went through while being there. Both my husband’s and my parents still go to that church… I only want change to happen because MANY YOUNG people go there and see the same things happening…

  29. Makes no difference, be it Russian or an American church. You have to be where God wants you to be, and have to be under God’s direct authority. Otherwise all you end up doing is wasting your time, and instead of being under the authority of Russian religious mafia crime syndicate, you’ll end up under the authority of American religious mafia and their shenanigans. Christians have to start being dependent on God and God only. And be friends with Him all the time, not just 2 hours a week, rest of the week being good friends with the devil.

  30. Tanya, you speak the truth. Thank you for writing this article. And to those disagreeing, Tanya never said every single Russian Christian is a hypocrite and every single American Christian is blameles. The point is that the prevailing attitude in the Slavic Christian community is that “we are better, we are the light, our way is better, Americans are the sinners”. The very first commenter said that “the sins of Russian churchgoers don’t even come close to the sins of American church goers” Seriously? What does that mean?? How is lying and stealing lesser sins? Sin is sin. Jesus died for all sinners and everyone needs a Savior. Not to mention the sin of PRIDE that is so prevalent in the Russian community.
    I work for a social service agency. I see first-hand how skirt-wearing head-covered Christian members of the Slavic community, who are supposedly here to save the sinful Americans, come in with entitled attitudes and rudely and obnoxiously argue and demand benefits, complain loudly about the “terrible” life in America and reminisce how much better it was back in the Soviet Union. No, not everyone does that an I do meet wonderful humble Christian people from time to time but sadly the majority is not humble. I am not even going to argue about how good or bad Americans are because that’s besides the point. Those “bad and sinful” Americans WELCOMED you into this country. Many Russian families were actually sponsored by American Christians! Others received government welfare benefits and many still do. Yet there is very little gratitude and humility in the hearts of our Christian Slavic people.
    And, by the way, all those “American” sins that are said to be “so much worse than the lying on taxes” are also present in the Slavic community. They might be more hidden but they are there. There are Slavic people in American prisons, there are Slavic women in domestic violence shelters, there are Slavic people that are homeless and the drug addiction is rampant among the youth. So the Slavic community as a whole should stop saying “we are better” because we are not.

  31. This was such a great post. I hope to see this generation of slavics rise up and speak from their hearts and while respecting the traditions of their parents, seek to better themselves and not fall into mistakes of the previous generation.

  32. Hi Tanya,

    I really liked what you said about the moment you experienced with the diversity of worship. I experienced something similar when I was at a worship session at my university’s Chapel. The worship team had about 12-15 people on stage, and everyone would sing a verse out of the the song – in a different language! It was so beautiful I actually cried. I cried because I had seen so much division between Romanians/Americans and young Romanians/old Romanians that this was almost like a moment of hope and healing. I finally saw it as it would be.

    I hope we can all embrace what the Lord says through his prophet Isaiah. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

  33. Tanya: First you say “…I wept from joy at seeing people representing different races and cultures in my home church.” – Then you say “under one roof…One culture…”
    So are you encouraging embracing one culture or many cultures? There is a fundamental difference between the two.

    USA has seen relative success despite a big mix of cultures because the constitution guarantees equality regardless of religion, gender, age, etc.

  34. English speaking churches in Southern US states are far more conservative than most English speaking churches in Sacramento for example. The USA is a big country, third most populated in the World. This is a country of contrast and Sacramento far from representes ‘America’. What you see in Sacramento, you will see a completely different World in other US states and towns.

    1. Thank you for your input.

      It is important to note that Sacramento is just one city with hundreds of Russian-speaking churches. I have not been to each one of them and I certainly do not say all of them are not healthy.

      I said this in the above post: “Each individual church has its own culture. This culture could either be positive, negative, or a mix of both.”

    1. Pastor Russel,
      I really appreciate your response. It’s on point!

      With all honesty, my intent was NEVER to misrepresent the Russian churches. If I had any idea that this post would go viral, I probably would have written it more carefully (since it appears many people misunderstand what I was trying to say). THANK YOU for pointing out critical pieces to this COMPLICATED puzzle.

      I am NOT bashing on all Russian-speaking churches and nor do I state that a true worship can be found in an American church. Unless I missed some sentence that says that? Anyways, I am not here to defend myself. I am just praising God for starting this important discussion because obviously it touched many people… I just pray and hope that this discussion will provoke real change in those churches that have taken their focus OFF THE CROSS – both Russian and American.

      Praying God’s blessings on you and your ministry!

  35. What an article!! Props and my applause to the author of this article!! To all the people offended, truth hurts and topics right on point hu? May God Bless you with more wisdom to speak the truth and how it really is.

  36. Love the boldness! Exactly my thought process as well!! After reading all these comments. Tanya this is exactly what you were talking about! Amazing post!

  37. Hey Tanya, I really like this article. Reading it I thought it would be quite controversial among the Slavic people, and from the comments I can see that was a correct assertion.
    You know, you can look at whatever you want in the different cultural churches and find faults everywhere.
    There are a lot of good American churches, just as there are many Russian churches.
    I don’t think what you were saying is that all Russian churches are dumps of hypocritical sinners trumping the light of the gospel with their knowledge of scriptures and most importantly the “proper” dress code for coming into the church all while cheating the government, their friends, their families, their customers so on. That stuff happens, but the Italians have the Catholic Church to cover their mob deals. Does that mean all Catholics are the same?

    I’ve heard all the arguments. I’m not against Russian culture, and I understand you are not either. You’re article was so radical as to make a point that IT IS OKAY to break out of tradition if God is leading you a different way. (There is only one way to God, but our lives take many different roads and cross many paths; not all can follow.)

    I understand that the time you spent in a Russian church left a sour taste in your mouth. I get that.

    I support you on the idea that Russians are more prone to judging and discriminating certain sins while justifying others. That comes with the culture, it’s in our histories. So we should expect to deal with it now.

    I myself am a true 1.5 generation, was 3 when we immigrated, don’t have a noticeable accent, but I speak Russian pretty well due to my local church’s Russian school. You know, I’m happy for that. I’m glad I know both languages. For my future kids I’d like to have the same, for fundamental reasons, not spiritual or cultural. I don’t even know what true Russian culture is right now. What we brought out of the Cold War era and are trying to hold on to is completely different than what it’s like now over seas.

    My church I’m thankful for, my pastor I’m thankful for as well. Our church has went through a lot of change and growth through two decades, all with the intent of following Christ and seeking the truth. We were not perfect, still probably are not, and we’ve had much discrimination from Russian churches through the ages although we keep some of the traditions because they are good.

    But we have an American service now, and a large youth service. We have young people who are on fire for God, who want to serve in church for God (not because their parents are threatening them), and we have local Americans/Hispanics from surrounding communities coming and connecting to the Kingdom of God through our church. That’s crazy and awesome.

    I believe the heart of your message is to follow Christ. Sure, people can look at it as if you are being critical and judgmental with all Russian, but those people can not understand or discern.

    What you gonna do, haters gonna hate.

    And I know many of you will read into what I have wrote and decide to misinterpret it. God bless you if you do. Truly, be blessed. I don’t understand all your “spiritual” mudslinging.

    Tanya blessings to you and your family. Thank you for the article!

    1. Andrey, I thank you for your response! You understood exactly what I was trying to convey with this post…

      THE HEART OF THE MESSAGE IS TO FOLLOW CHRIST. Doesn’t matter what church you are in: follow Christ. Our decision to go to an American church was based on many different factors, mainly that our children are growing up and NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE TEACH THEM TO SPEAK RUSSIAN THEY WILL NOT BE FULLY PROFICIENT IN IT.

      Before making this decision, we attended several other Russian-speaking churches where we really enjoyed the message. These were HEALTHY churches, not the ones I talk about in the post. We asked the leaders if there are any plans for incorporating English-speaking services. The response we had was, “we believe our children should learn their language.”

      Anyways, I am happy that the discussion IS taking place and pray that many church leaders will reexamine their theology.

      I DO LOVE MY CULTURE and the Russian people. However, I feel sometimes we put it above the Gospel.
      What is more important? Jesus or our culture?

  38. Wow, I am surprised at the amount and diversity of comments on this article. As it’s been said many times, it’s a good thing to have this discussion.

    Having said that, I want to say that I don’t believe this article to be fair in its generalization of conservative Russian churches. From Tanya’s many comments and clarifications, I understand that isn’t your heart or intent but it is how your article is understood. That may be why so many comments are harsh in their negativity, they feel you have judged their church without even knowing it. And that you don’t have the right to speak on their church’s behalf. For example, that’s how I feel.

    I am of the same generation and can honestly say I was in the same place a year ago. I argued with the elders of my church, bringing up all the hypocrisy I saw and demanding change. I sought counsel from American pastors, Rick Holland and local Brad Bell. Again and again I heard the same answer: Yana, hypocrisy and sin exists in all churches for they are all filled with humans.

    So… I humbled myself and made a decision, by God’s grace to stay in my Russian church out of obedience and submitting to my parents. I live under their roof, and am under their authority. Therefore I wanted to honor them by respecting their decision in church. And I cannot tell you enough about the huge change this brought about it my life. I genuinely rejoice in my church now. I have seen their heart in wanting to fear God, honor Him, and bring glory to His name. Loving Him in reverence. I don’t agree with all the rules, but I can unite with them in heart and spirit. There is so much beauty in my church and now that I have taken my eyes off of their shortcomings, I can truly see their thirst for the same God.

    I was planning for this to be a short comment, lol but there’s so much to say! I guess the most important thing I want to say is begin to see the beauty in other people rather than their flaws. Pray for the sins, and perhaps God may use you to exhort them. But understand that He may not choose you. Take care how you point out the shortcomings in someone, and please don’t speak on behalf of (most) Russian conservative churches. You didn’t accurately reflect my church, and I would hate for readers to make a hasty conclusion. But most of all, just rejoice in the fact that there is a church. That you have freedom to attend without fear of being killed or tortured. How blessed we are in America to worship so freely and how silly do we look to the nations in which Christians are beheaded for the faith, in our pointing fingers and animosity towards another. Spread the fragrance of Christ by pointing to Gospel rather than the churches’ sins. Concern yourself with the great Commission and take care not to be a stumbling block to others.
    Much love 🙂

  39. Tanya, I want to point out that your ranting on this post is first completely illogical and secondly portrays failure, hatred, stubbornness, divisive thinking, along with a rebellious spirit from within you. May God truly bless you in these areas of your life.

    I’m both surprised and amazed on your illogical line of thinking of the Russian Christian culture in which you collectively incorporated pretty much every Russian speaking believer. Don’t say that you didn’t, because you first mention your previous single baptist church, but then follow along with and include the entire “Exemplary Russian Community”, “exemplary Russian culture”, “Russian speaking pastors”, and “Russian speaking followers”. Don’t back track your own words. You know you included more than just your church and that’s why there are so many comments on here about you grouping Russians together from your readers.

    But seriously…bringing up cheating the IRS with SSI examples of Russian believer(s)?! I have lived here in the US for over 24 years in multiple Russian speaking churches and never even heard of that specific scenario. Why bring out one rotten apple from your own past church that you CHOSE TO GO to on your own and portray the entire Russian culture as doing this? And yes, you did mention the ENTIRE Russian speaking culture in the same sentence, not just your church. And you repeated the SSI cheating twice, as if the first mention wasn’t enough. By the way, there are [probably rotten apples like that in any community, not just the religious Russian folk. But for the sake of peace, don’t group everyone and shine the light on the worst of the worst. Illogical thinking by you? I say yes. Maybe you’ve cheated the IRS yourself? I don’t know but I sure hope you didn’t.

    More obscure thinking? Yes. You bring up adult sinful activities hidden from the community, at least one young man or woman who left the Christian faith, etc…this happens in American and in every other culture churches and groups. Has that crossed your mind? Why bring up only the Russians? Seems like you ONLY see DEAD religion and DEAD believers in only the RUSSIAN church because you have some previous, unresolved hatred within your heart. There are plenty of Russian speaking followers that do not do this, and for a fact, they are the majority.

    “Alcoholism, drug dependence, prostitution, greed, burglaries, adultery, pornography, dishonesty… These are rampant in our “exemplary” culture”. RAMPANT? Prostitution is rampant in your church?! I don’t know what church you went to, but it’s sounds horrific and unlike any other Russian speaking church that I have ever heard of. May God bless and change your old church around.

    Drug addicts are completely welcome and there’s multiple rehab centers that the Russian speaking churches spend tons of finances and time on to help these people overcome their struggles. They are not excommunicated and shunned in every church. Most churches dedicate special attention and time to help these lost.

    We do not ALL “race to outdo each other with bigger houses, more expensive cars, boasting about our travels to hot vacation spots and showing off our designer clothes and bags…” We are not all idolaters…while again, this happens in every church, regardless of language, this does not happen in every church, and definitely not amongst ALL the followers. If someone is successful financially, God bless them and let them choose what they do and buy with their money instead of scorning them about it.

    Are these above reasons really the only “why” young people reject Christianity in the Russian speaking churches? I doubt it. First it happens in all churches, but it’s mostly from a rebellious nature of the songs that they hear on the radio, the rebellious movies, games and TV shows that they watch, and the friends from school that drag them down the wrong roads. And this blog posting isn’t helping them either.

    The church you describe sounds horrible. And to the readers of this blog, please do not believe most Russian speaking churches and culture are horrible as this post makes them all seem. I assure you, they are not.

    To Tanya, you’ll never find light while analyzing the darkness. You mention that you like diversity, but you don’t want your children to learn a diverse language as you mention on this post. I can hear a hatred towards your own culture, as you mention you come from a “big fat Russian family” in your about you page. There you also mention how much you hate you’re Russian accent there, as it’s “not going away anytime soon”. You mention that you don’t ever want to bring anyone to a Russian speaking church based on your past experiences. You blame and bring light only to Russian speaking churches of acts that happen similarly elsewhere. May God bless you and your family to love everyone equally and be part of this exciting and diverse country. Release your grudges, hatred and illogical thoughts towards your old church. May God help you be a peacemaker amongst all Christian churches, regardless of what language they speak. May God bless you abundantly.

    1. Either you’ve been living under a rock, or you’re in denial or you’re clueless. Russians not cheating IRS section 8 or SSI? Are you kidding me? Between the periods of 1998-2007 or so I have been to every known russian/ukrainian church in midwest/plain and central and south east coast, this article is spot on and is VERY LIGHTLY spoken. Sorry but you are living in COMPLETE denial lol. Seriously dude, wake the heck up. MAYBE you’re in a perfect little church, but more chances are that you’re living in your PERFECT little world and don’t see enough happening around you to see whats going on. You tell her that you’ll never find light by analizing the darkness? One of most ignorant statements ever. Stop trying to sound smart and keep denying the facts. Did you just write all that just because you feel a need to correct and argue her every statement? People like you is what ticks me off,. You’re saying drugs addict centers in Russian churches, are you KIDDING ME, if someone even admits to drugs, smoking, or any of the “bad sins” they’ll get publicly crucified in a Slavic church.

  40. It’s interesting to me that so many people are saying if you don’t like it then fix it. In my personal experience, I’ve seen person after person try to ‘ fix it’ in the church. Each one were run out of the church because they did not like their ideas. You can’t fix what doesn’t want to be fixed. What you can do is educate people, which this article is doing. If you don’t like what she is saying that’s fine everyone is entitled to their opinions, just like she is. But to go as far as saying your not saved? Sometimes the ignorance of people baffles me. Go get educated in the scriptures, for yourselves not what’s preached from the pulpit. Research it for yourself, then come back and give an educated answer.

  41. My parents brought me to USA about 25 years ago when I was 15 years old. Now for 10 years I attended american mega church and have been witness numerous times when adulterous were excommunicated, but it was done with love and hope that they would repent and embrace Jesus in their lives.

    We have all sinned and all sin equally can keep us away from eternity with God. All need a Savior. Andrey, may the love and grace of God be upon your life. God bless.

  42. why compare we are all sinners. i love russian culture, language, an i want my kis to know it to. if some thing is bothering you in the church why not try to fix it, or shoul we just run away from it an go to another church? Every church has its problems. stay were you are and do something about it. pray an do.

  43. People wake up. Why compare we are all sinners. I love rassian culture . If something is bothering you in the church why not try to fix it, or should we just run away from it and just go to another church? Every church has its problems . Stay were u are and do somthing about it.

  44. Good artical but in my point of view we need to start the change in ulur churchs, and not just nsme all the problems. Why is it that we see a problem and we dont want to deal with it. Some one needs to start. Going to another church american or russian dose not change anything. Why not deal with the problem. Personaly i like being russian , i love the russian culture, and i want my kids to know it to. God comes first thats a must but why is it that we cant change anything in our on church, or is it that we dont want to so we go somewhere else.

  45. “a Russian church goer’s typical sin such as not paying taxes or lying about SSI does not even come close to the sins of an American typical church”— this comment here is the perfect illustration of what the writer of the articles is trying to convey– holier-than-thou superior arrogant attitude of many of the Slavic Christians.

  46. Tanya Jesus didn’t argue with Pharisees for a reason. Don’t waste your breath, it’s pointless, speaking from experience! Article hit the nail on the head, that’s why they are offended!

  47. That is funny how the author said that she is filled with Holy Spirit and she’s judging all the Russian people.There’s a lot of hate towards Russian people in that lost soul.

  48. Generally I agree with the author. Following is my contribution to the discussion also in general terms. Slavic Christians aproach God as their King. American people aproach God as their Father. Both sides build their relationship with God on this presupposition. Slavic people say, “How dare you come before the King with such and such or do this and this in His presence. American people say, “He is my Father and He loves me and won’t kick me out. If I mess up, He will forgive and still accept me.” Truth is, our God is both our Father and He is our King. We are to come to Him with reverence as to a King and we are to come to him with simplicity as one comes to a Father. I can say more but that will take pages. Reflect on what I am saying.

  49. This article has some truth about the sins of the culture, but then we’re all sinners and that’s why God sent Jesus to save us. American churches are in the exact same boat. There’s also a lot of misguided information, Russian church is there for the Russian ppl, nothing more. We’re a community of imperfect ppl. Church, pants or a skirt don’t save you. God does. English churches have their own issues that I can name. It’s all just dirty laundry that needs cleaning by Jesus. Although many things are true, the author doesn’t need to hang the dirty laundry for the whole Internet to see. It’s easy to find articles about English churches to.

      1. Not at all. I was trying to show what I see in Russian churches. My heart is completely with you but it also hurts for so many young people who are blinded by their leaders. I want this topic to be preached boldly not just on th web in a few blogs but spoken out loudly so people can see the truth we worshipped our ego so way too long and Jesus is completely by very soon and we don’t have much time to waist any more. Tanya you started something that is in most of Russian church goers but because they are “trained” to be afraid, they are quite. And that is why they need to hear it not just from the blog but from the polpit

  50. To all who are criticizing Tanya for writing this article: She is not “shaming” the Russian culture or Russian churches. She is simply expressing an observation that I doubt anyone who has extensive experience in Russian churches can deny. And the “funny” thing about all the negative comments is that their focus is on the supposed “shaming” of the culture or church, NOT the hypocrisy so clearly pointed out by the author, which, by the way, is actually the main point of this whole article. People wake up… this is real and we all know it. Get over your Russian pride. Look PAST it and at the real point that Tanya is making: HYPOCRISY.

    While there are some “generalizations” in her article, at no point is she saying that they’re ALL bad, or that ALL “American” churches are good. The point of this article isn’t even the Russian church OR the Russian culture by itself. It is the combination of the 2 that often poses a problem – “Russian pride” being, in essence, “preached” at Russian churches, claiming we’re better than others and are an example to those around us while many people clearly aren’t leading the lives that are “exemplary”. Yes, there are people in other cultures and other churches that commit the same sins that people within the Russian community do. And yes, there are people within the Russian community that are very strong in their faith and lead a righteous life. Again, she in no way trying to “shame” Russians and/or “praise” other cultures. What she is doing is pointing out in a very blunt way a problem that is very present in Russian churches AND within the Russian community. I’ve been hearing all my life “Don’t go to an American church. They’re all bad and they’re doing it ‘wrong’. You’ll forget your language, your culture, etc.” Why does that matter? Why does remembering my culture or my language seem so much more important to many Russians than being in a place of worship where I can truly feel the power of God working in me and my faith growing? So what if after some time I can’t speak, read or write Russian. Will God turn away from me then? Why is it that we focus on the culture of the church more than the effect it actually has on a person, and consequently encourage people to be in a church/place of worship where they can grow the most, be it a Russian, American, black gospel, Spanish, etc. church? And why are they portrayed as “bad”? Why do Russian churches often claim to be better than others while their members are doing things they should actually be ashamed of? Hypocrites! And no, Russians are not the only ones like that, every other culture will have just as many people who are living hypocritical lives. The difference is that if you go to an “American” church, you will doubtfully hear someone say “American churches are better. Other cultures are doing it wrong”.

    The main thing you should all take away from this isn’t the “shaming” of our culture or churches. It is the fact that we all need to stop following blindly and open our eyes to the hypocrisy and address it. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should all stop attending Russian churches. By no means am I saying that and neither is the author. But we DO need to look deeper at what is really being taught (both through words and the actions) of people around us. Look for the hypocrisy. Confront it. Challenge it. And DON’T fall unto the same wrong path that many have. Each individual has to decide what exactly that means for them. It could mean attending an “American” church. It could mean attending a different Russian. Or it could mean trying to make a difference within your own Russian church. Being Russian won’t get you into heaven. Following blindly and doing what everyone else does (including continuing this trend of “russian pride”) won’t get you into heaven either. But questioning and challenging everything we’ve been taught since we were little children to find the faults and find a way to not make the same mistakes (which is what Tanya does with this article) and truly leading a righteous life (be it in a Russian church or not) is a big step in building a foundation one needs to stay true to their faith and to their commitment to God.

    I’m sure someone will not like my comment as much as they don’t like the article. As long as either one forces that person to actually think for themselves at more than just the superficial level, my goal has been achieved.

    God bless you all

  51. Absolutely on point! Wonderful article. I don’t know you, Tanya, but you just put into words everything I feel and experienced growing up in religious Russian churches. It doesn’t mean that we have bitterness or hate towards the those churches… it just means there’s an obvious truth that needs to be acknowledged and not defended like a lot of people are doing in these comments simply because they don’t agree or just don’t want to give up their cultural traditions. If going to a russian church works for you, by all means, continue! Just don’t bash or shame the people who don’t. God bless you and your family Tanya!

  52. Well as this might be true to a certain point. But not all Russian churches are the way you described them to be. There are a lot of churches that are filled with the Holy Spirit.
    You can feel the power of Holy Ghost. And to be honest what nationality is perfect? What nationality doesn’t lie to get onto SSI. Or to get around the IRS? So really you are trying to humiliate all Russians by putting them down in one line when no nationality is perfect and honest. If your heart longed for a church that wouldn’t pay attention to what you wear or do than you chose the most perfect one an American church that let’s you do everything with a mentality once you’ve got a salvation you are saved that’s not how it is. Every person needs to have a personal relationship with Christ on daily basis. Just because you got upset with your own culture doesn’t mean you should pin point all the flaws online like this. Shame on you.

    1. Iana, I am going to copy and paste my response to Andrey, since your comment is along the same lines.

      If you read the beginning of the post, I talk about MY city and MY experiences in several of the “conservative-Baptist Russian” churches… Should I have made a disclaimer, saying that this post’s intent is NOT to generalize all churches?

      Disclaimer: the above post is not meant to generalize ALL of the Russian-speaking churches. I LOVE the people who misrepresent the Gospel and I pray for their hearts to be changed. The ONLY purpose of this post was to point out the obvious issues in many of the “conservative-Baptist Russian” churches. NOT ALL of them are like the ones mentioned in the post and many are true to the Gospel.
      I also want to point out that the church is CHRIST’s church. And I do acknowledge that even in the “unhealthy” conservative-Baptist churches, or any other churches for that matter, there are faithful believers who love the Lord with all of their heart, mind and soul.

      Hope that clears things up for you 🙂 Again, please, do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to be anything other than honestly sharing what was on my heart and what I kept hearing from other believers who have left the church I was in… This is NOT AN ATTACK on any church. Just a heartfelt cry for people to reexamine their theology and FOCUS ON THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL AND JESUS.

      Another point I want to make is this: I started the blog ONLY because I was sure God wanted me to do it. Every post I make, I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me to write only what the Lord wants me to write. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think that this post was going to be read by so many people. NEVER! I wrote it. I posted it. And I prayed for it to get to the right people. Some people may think that it was all for popularity and they have a right to their opinion. However, the Lord knows my heart… I praise him for provoking people to discuss this. It’s ALL HIM!

  53. Im sure a lot of people agree with you about this whole article. Praising you like you discovered something new… But I’ll tell you one thing. In your article you condemned your own people as well as the people who have fallen. The reason why the russian culture is so focused on keeping their children away from the world is to prevent thier kids falling away from God from the church. How you said that the parents are “crying out and wailing” to God for their salvation. How dare you shun their shame and pain so lightly. Clearly this article was written to shame our culture. Have you ever gone through something so tragic and realized that what your parents have been saying must be true? Well until then I don’t think that you should “judge” (the very same thing that you have accused of the russian church doing) the culture just because it didn’t fit you’re “style” of worship.

    1. Lora, I do not claim to have discovered anything “new.” While God and the Gospel are always the same, the enemy changes and devises new methods to SHIFT OUR FOCUS OFF JESUS AND THE CROSS. That is the only point I am trying to convey.
      Love and blessings

  54. Wonderful article! Thank you, I think this concerns all the Slavic nations and nationalities and denominations. Plus this is something the Americans can learn from. America has great history with Christianity! I Thank God for the men and women from America that have dedicated there life to ministry and spreading the Gospel around the world! Including the the Soviet Block countries. There has never been an America and probably will never be another one. God has blessed every Slavic who had the chance to come to this “so sinful” and “uneducated” etc etc… country, please if there is something you are not okay with in America? Your are more then welcome to move back to whatever manure hole or metropolitan city, village you came from. You have to Thank God everyday for the opportunity that you received or your parents, and that this America gave all to you and your family.

    For a few of you that have the nerve to say anything against the American church, “Bless your heart”.

    All sin is equal before God. You fail in one you fail in all! No need for theology or any degree for that. This is why Jesus came. He gave everyone a chance, and we are his representatives on this earth. What his article is saying lets have a conversations. Lets come together. This was Jesus prayer before he left this earth. Father, keep them in this world, don’t take them out but keep them here.(in my words) We are not of this world but we are here cant change that!!! Jesus was asked this question, even in that day, What is the greatest of all commandments? I think if we are true to ourselves we can all understand what is asked of us.

    As my favorite missionaries says, Plunder hell so we can populate heaven! I try to ask myself these questions everyday, Do I posses the Love of Christ in me? Can the people around me see that Love? Would Jesus hangout with me? Or am I a Pharisee?

    Once again we never need permission to spread the Love of Jesus! God Bless everyone! Only Love for the Slavic Community!

    1. Alex, I pray for more believers to be awakened to the true Gospel.

      “Plunder hell so we can populate heaven! I try to ask myself these questions everyday, Do I posses the Love of Christ in me? Can the people around me see that Love? Would Jesus hangout with me? Or am I a Pharisee?” Jesus hung out with both the religious Pharisees and the “sinners,” the “scum of the earth,” and loved ALL 🙂 But I totally get your point!

  55. It absolutely does not metter what
    nationality church you go to ,American or Russian !God wants our hearts ! Pure and free of sins !
    Connection with Him that’s all that matters!!!
    God Bless .

    1. Amen!

      “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:5-11

  56. Wow, what a great article! Tanya, you’ve neatly and succinctly summarized my thoughts and feelings on the Russian Baptist culture that is prevalent in a lot of the Russian-American Baptist churches.

    One small suggestion to Russian-American readers: if you would like your kids to be fluent in Russian, visit your relatives in Russia for a couple months, every couple years. Make sure to buy Russian books and have your kids read Russian a little bit on a regular basis. Your kids might end up knowing Russian better than you.

  57. I came from Latvia to a Russian community when I was 5, while they are strict and judgemental they are trying to change with the times currently. They try to build a solid foundation in all young people to have love for their community and strong family/friend ties. The problem with American churches (some not alll) is a CRAZY way of thinking. I have an American friend who kept doing the same sin over and over again and I asked her why does she not try to stop? Does she ask for forgiveness each time? And then she does it again, did she not feel guilty about it?And she said that God loves me and forgives everything, literally saying she can do what she wants and does not even try to refrain from the sin because God already forgave everyone. I was friends with her for some time but I could not believe that this was how she thought, all this time I assumed she wasn’t a retard, and then I realized a lot of Americans think this way! Being a bit mean here, yes, but Americans have a different way of twisting the word to fit their own lives. Tattoos, drinking, lots of adultery, and insanity all while going to church every Sunday and praising God. It’s worse in A LOT of American churches, not better.

    1. Kate, yes, there are many churches preaching the message of “hyper-grace.” English-speaking AND Russian-speaking… That is an entirely different topic, however.

      We need to stop generalizing churches. Perhaps, your experience with “American” believers was limited to those who believe in the hyper-grace message. That does not mean that ALL “Americans” adhere to this doctrine…

      Blessings.

        1. Andrey, if you read the beginning of the post, I talk about MY city and MY experiences in several of the “conservative-Baptist Russian” churches… Should I have made a disclaimer, saying that this post’s intent is NOT to generalize all churches?

          Disclaimer: the above post is not meant to generalize ALL of the Russian-speaking churches. I still love the people who misrepresent the Gospel and I pray for their hearts to be changed. The ONLY purpose of this post was to point out the obvious issues in many of the “conservative-Baptist Russian” churches. NOT ALL of them are like the ones mentioned in the post and many are true to the Gospel.
          I also want to point out that the church is CHRIST’s church. And I do acknowledge that even in the “unhealthy” conservative-Baptist churches, or any other churches for that matter, there are faithful believers who love the Lord with all of their heart, mind and soul.

          Hope that clears things up for you 🙂 Again, please, do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to be anything other than honestly sharing what was on my heart and what I kept hearing from other believers who have left the church I was in… This is NOT AN ATTACK on any church. Just a heartfelt cry for people to reexamine their theology and FOCUS ON THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL AND JESUS.

          Another point I want to make is this: I started the blog ONLY because I was sure God wanted me to do it. Every post I make, I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me to write only what the Lord wants me to write. NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think that this post was going to be read by so many people. NEVER! I wrote it. I posted it. And I prayed for it to get to the right people. Some people may think that it was all for popularity and they have a right to their opinion. However, the Lord knows my heart… I praise him for provoking people to discuss this. It’s ALL HIM!

  58. WOW! Tanya you are seriously just amazing. I am also from Sacramento and have moved to MO recently. Being here and attending one of these so called “American fake churches” my eyes were and are opened on a daily basis to this truth. Thank you so much for sharing! Don’t listen to the hate or put downs from other commenters. I feel a passion and understanding in your post. I hope God continues not only to open your eyes but provide windows of opportunity for you to act and serve on this revelation. God bless you and your family!

  59. Our Slavik generation is not the first to immigrate to United States. Previous waives of immigration have attempted to do the same thing; preserve the culture and language. Which is not a bad thing on its own but comes with a price. All those churches have died out, although I do hope that some morphed and survived the struggle between culture and faith.
    Some choose to leave Slavik churches, some choose to stay hoping for change. Others choose to be the change.
    It’s obvious that we have two options: stay the way we are and die out or change and be the light that this world desperately needs.

  60. Wow!! Thank you! I honestly am so happy finally someone is writing something about this. I am a Russian, grew up there till I was seven came to America with all of those same things that you experienced and went to the ‘ Russian’ church up until I was 19. But slowly I began to see the cracks in theology, the hold on traditions more than the Bible it self. The day I left my church, they did bless my decision and they announced that to the whole church. But I didn’t care, I felt like I left the chains of traditions and got wrapped up in Jesus love. I am married to an ‘American’ and I go to an American church. And to be completely honest I have never loved Jesus more. I used to live that debased life of partying and doing who knows what. But not anymore, with my renewed relationship with Christ those things are not even attractive to me anymore.
    What Slavic churches lost… Is preaching Jesus and the cross. Not DO NOT DO THIS OR DO NOT DO THAT. Once you have Jesus in your heart, truly have him in your heart, those things become disgusting in your eyes.
    Anyways thank you Tanya I appreciate the post and stand behind it 100%

    1. You have put this so eloquently, Marina!!! This is exactly what many people seem to be missing: FOCUS ON THE CROSS and you will see changes. ONLY JESUS can change a heart. The changed heart brings about a change in everything else – attitude, emotions, deeds, and how we look…

  61. First of all want to apologize for my English, but i want to try to get my point , and hope you will understand it. After reading this article, if i did not know any better, I would think that all russian people and all russian churches are full of the worst people on earth. There is not one good word about anyone or anything. Only blame. Those young people who do not God in their life are looking for an excuse. In our church probably 95% of young people who love God and serve Him (without blaming anyone) and rest are looking for excuse and someone to blame. (they are the same people who “like” this article but do not want, and will not change. So far i have seen here, true, great article. Nobody said: yes its me i want to change.) There is a good example in the bible of someone confessing sins of his people. Daniel. I admit that there is the problem with our slavic christianity. But young generation is blaming all on older one. And leaving church because they are bored and do not get anything out of it. Well I came here when i was 18. Back home we had one bible for the whole family. We had to walk 8-10 km to church and there were preachers who could not even read good. We were not bored. We were reflection of Christ. We lived holy lives. But our faith got tested with reaches of this world, and yes we failed the test. Young people’s faith has not been tried yet. The way older people’s faith been tried, but it will be. My problem and problem of this our generation is that we are looking more in the world than the WORD, if we were praying more and reading bible more, there would not be so much problems. If my people HUMBLE themselves…….and seek my face …….then I will heal their land. Easy to talk hard to do. God have mercy on all of us. What I have seen during my 25+ years here, that we are russians and americans falling the same. Not blaming anyone but myself and praying for revival.

    1. Mila, thank you for your sharing your heart. I ask forgiveness if this article appeared like I was only blaming others and not myself. That was not my intent. The Lord knows, that I have been a hypocrite as well. I shared about this in these posts:
      http://www.renewedandtransformed.com/radical-love-i-am-unto-death-a-christian/
      http://www.renewedandtransformed.com/jesus-is-enough-or-salvation-by-works/
      http://www.renewedandtransformed.com/paradigm-shift-coming-back-to-my-first-love/

  62. The only thing I see in everyone’s comments is Judgement for each other , hate . We all Gods children, we all equally same to Him .
    It’s sad very sad how people have no love for each other.

    1. Agree, Lisa. Although NOT ALL comments are judgmental and hateful. 🙂 We are to be the light to the world. The world sees the strife, the anger, the arguments and does not want to have anything to do with Christianity… 🙁

  63. This post reminds me of a sermon that Alex Shevchenko has prieched a while ago! Surprisingly, there are a lot of Russian speaking church Pastors who’ve actually been bringing this issue up out and open, and its been for quite a while now! I cant really make up my mind on how I feel about this article, but it almost sounds like the author is belittling our traditions and culture!!! It almost feels like its written with deep wounds in heart from certain experience, which gives me an impression of a hint of bitterness towards the past. Although I can relate to so, so, so many points in this post, but at the end of the day I dont want to be in the spot of judging and pointing fingers at our fathers, who’ve tried to bring us to a better life (spiritual as well as materialistic) while walking through the “dessert” themselves. I can totally see where the author is coming from, as many of us the 1.5 generation went thru similar obsticles. But this article points out to so many “we (russian speaking churchy people) had to be this, but we failed” that makes me want to ask – “Says who?!” Really, I mean yes, I’ve heard of few statements and even few priechers who’d be pointing out to the “staying within our borders” here and there, but not to an extent of all of our culture being “the example” to Americans although I too, went to a conservative Slavic, but Pentecostal church. As far as I rember i was raised in understanding that ALL Christians need to be “the example” to the “world”, and it was never really divided unto race, denominations, culture or anything else! I know American churches, where Pastors steal, lie, and cheat, where American church people do all the same sins as we Russian church people do! Same sins, same lies, same corruption!!! I know American people who’ve stopped going to American churches for the same hipocrisy filled “ministry” reasons, and so on. I know a lot of American young people live double standards as well, and struggle with the same pressure of being “the example” to their fellow friends. They too suffer from addiction, and all those sins are too being categorized. But we can all sit here in the social sites, and pretty much just blah, blah, blah, or we can change things and start working together to serve people. To be His hands, feet, and mouth. This is definitely a very “painful” topic for many of the 1.5 generation immigrants even more painful for our parents, but its not worth the effort to try to figure things out as to who caused what, or what caused this. Regardless of the situation right now, or 1000 years ago, or 1000 years from now, God allows, the root of this problem (and all problems for that matter) is that we, all people are not focusing on Him, His love, His heart, but at the same time we have to belong to an earthly church, and which one it is dont matter. Church is our spiritual family, and we all know how many problems there are in family!!! But do we leave our family behind and go and become someone else’s family when things get rough? Yes we always blame each other and point out to who caused what, and of course the most popular “he/she started it”. And of course families become weaker and more strict, but that wont help, unless each member of the family takes on a responsibility for things, withstand the heat, but still be able to say after that “well its family, and i will stick thru and support, pray, and be bold, and “i’ve got your back brother”. We all need to hear this, we all need to have these people who can believe in us, and support us. All of us, our conservatively strict parents, pastors, leaders. I steongly believe there are true worshipers in every church, strict, conservative, Rissian, Orthodox, Charismatic, American, Catholic… You name it, who are free in God, and they may be the least noticable ones, but i know they are there! We shouldnt be taking sides and pointing fingers at each other, there is only one side we should be taking, its His side, in rows of His warriors and try to lead more people from the other side to His love and mercy! i am forever grateful for my Slavic conservative pentecostal church, where God taught me how to be humble, strong, thirsty for Him, seeking Him desparately, embrace my family roots, and history. I am forever grateful for my American Christian churches, priechers, worship teams, authors of millions of Christian bestsellers, etc through whom God taught (and still in process of teaching) me passion, knowledge, revelations, boldness and forgiveness. I am forever grateful for my Russian/American church I am attending now, for God is teaching me how to breake the rest of the borders, how to embrace what He’ve given me, and filling me with faith that one day we will all come together as one to be in His Army.
    Blessings ❤️

    1. Natalya, thank you so much for your heartfelt input. I agree with most of what you said!

      I just want to clarify some things. 🙂 I am not bitter about my experiences or my past because these experiences shaped and formed me to be who I am today. Although I did have some wounds before, Christ healed ALL of them! I am actually thanking Him for my experiences now. There were many positive experiences in my Russian church!

      The intent of this post WAS NOT to blame the Russian culture. I love many Russian traditions and incorporate them into my own family. What I was simply trying to say is that sometimes we exalt our culture and traditions above God’s Word!

      I deeply respect your pastor and feel that he is one of the few who is passionately in love with the Lord. I listened to many of his sermons while attending my church because I craved for more solid food… Sadly, the leaders in my previous church called him a heretic and even said that people who go there or listen to his teachings will be excommunicated…

      One of my brothers and his family are members at House of Bread and I see the change in their hearts after they started to attend this church! I thank the Lord for Alex Shevchenko and pray for God to sustain him and strengthen him more.

      Again, NOT every church is the same. There are healthy churches and unhealthy churches. We are all sinners and prone to falling. The difference is how we get up after falling…

  64. Tanya,
    I wish you were a little honest about your nationality before demonizing Slavic community. Georgia is not Russia, you are Georgean by nationality, different country, different language and history, therefore you have no moral right to speak of the whole community in such tone. I almost wonder how much you got paid for this back stab ? I have no hate for you, only disappointment for you misleading Americans, and they don’t even know your roots and hate that your have for Russians. After all, I seriously doubt that you are a true Christian, at least for one little reason: disrespect was never a quality of a true Spirit, and lack of humbleness with wisdom, but you sure became popular…. Congratulations you won fame, but what about your soul? What a convenient time to write such propaganda in the context of the world events.

    1. @ Sergey

      Doesn’t matter if you are Georgian, Russian or Ukrainian. Its a “Slavic culture”. Yes I think she should have put Slavic instead of Russian because Georgian Ukrainian Russian and all Slavic churches for the most part have these issues. And of course instead of seeing these issues and trying to confront them you are going to play the race card. We are all Gods children and all Christians. Doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what we need to focus on are these issues.

      1. Sam, thank you for your input. Perhaps I should have used “Slavic” instead of “Russian.” I honestly thought about that. However, this probably would have created another dissonance: readers accusing me of generalizing the “Slavic” community. My experiences are limited to a Russian-speaking only conservative Baptist churches… So, I thought the post was appropriate.

        What the readers seem to miss is that I did not intend to demonize the Russian culture or any of the Russian-speaking churches. I thought I had made that clear in the post. Also what I wanted us to focus on is that CULTURE or RACE SHOULD NOT BE A DRIVING FACTOR in our walk with Jesus! That is the reason why I didn’t even mention where I am from in this post. It was irrelevant.

        As you said, “doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what we need to focus on are these issues.”

    2. Sergey, I thought and prayed about responding to you. I hope that my response will come at you as I mean it – with love, honesty, and respect towards your own opinions.

      You live in the US but still identify yourself as either Russian or Ukrainian, right? Did you even think of a possibility that my family lived in Georgia but are Russian/Ukrainian? I never spoke Georgian, although I wished I did. The school classes were all in Russian. Russian WAS the primary language…

      Another little piece of information: I am half Russian and half Ukrainian. My parents decided to live in Georgia after they were married. I love all people – Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese, Mexicans, Americans, etc. ALL PEOPLE are God’s children. Does the race or culture really matter to God?

      Blessings and love,
      Tanya

    3. the trolls that have come out to condemn and criticize this post are a great reminder of why i left my parents’ Russian Baptist church and haven’t looked back since. accusations of “liberal”, “weak/defective faith”, “lacking humility”, etc. – if i’ve heard it once, i’ve heard it a thousand times.

      the heart of the matter is legalism and attempting to live in a bubble – that will only get you through the 1st, the 1.5th and the 2nd generation, but not much farther.

    4. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? ~ James 4:11-12

  65. For those who may misunderstand the intent of this post, here is a little background that helps clarify where I am coming from: http://www.renewedandtransformed.com/jesus-is-enough-or-salvation-by-works/

    I was also led by the Holy Spirit to write this post NOT to condemn any specific church but to shed some light on the issue that I felt was on many hearts… It’s a complicated issue with many facets and the length of the post did not allow me to fully dissect it.

    What really grieves me and pains me is the fact that scores of young people are leaving. Do they all leave because of hypocrisy? Probably not.

    But I am just painfully weary of hearing stories such as these: a young woman leaves the faith after she has sex with a young man, confides in her pastor and the pastor calls her a “whore.” A young man shared how he left with a memory of being told by his Sunday school teacher that he will get a present if he walks out to repent during an altar call. A pastor tells another young man confiding that he has a problem with pornography that it will just “resolve on its own” after he gets married…

    “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” Matthew 18:6-7

    Thanking the Lord for stirring this important discussion…

  66. Oh sister! What a wonderful joy it was to read your this post tonight. I could not agree with you more!!! As I read I rejoice over you Tanya -over your renewed mind and gospel centered thinking, and all the while my soul is aching because I know first hand the reality of our Russian culture. I know that the only thing that will be ever able to renew our ‘dead’ Christian people is Jesus. and with Christ all things are possible!

  67. Fear
    Greed
    Guilt
    Power and control
    Hypocrisy
    Unbelieve
    These are afew set standards for most of Russian churches. And the only person who can fix this is Jesus Christ.

  68. Agree with this post 100%
    And I see it like this in Russian church. Usually pastors and elders are older generetio and they have this unhealthy fear of staying along. They will try to do anything to keep their members either feeling guilty or proud of thier church (themselves). As soon as they see any kind of threat they will make it a sin and will find in the word of God passages backing them up. They can’t defend weak because weak usually people what I call middle class in church and they not as profitable to church as one or two “business men” who support pastors living.
    Leaders most of the time boustin how awesome they are compair to naibor church.
    I hope young generation will raise and speak up the truth of Gods word. And there is only one truth and everything else is the copycat to real THING

  69. Thank you for this article, Tanya. May the Lord bless you, and don’t let the negative, hateful comments get you down 🙂 May the Lord continue speaking through you and touching lives 🙂

    1. I am a dead woman, Anna 🙂 The negative comments do not get me down 🙂

      “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

      My only desire is to passionately love the one who saved me – my Jesus, my bridegroom – until the end.

      “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-38

      May we all be used by Him to the fullest! Thank you for the encouragement, sister!

  70. Tanya, I’m so glad u wrote this. It’s very well written and it’s causing us to discuss this important topic!
    I meet more and more young Slavic couples that have completely stopped attending church. All because they know firsthand of all the filth that is happening in the personal lives of pastors and clergy in general.
    It has discouraged them to the point that they are refusing any type of community with Churches.
    It breaks my heart. What do u tell someone who has been discouraged for years on end by “men of God”, leaders of the church who are supposed to guide them? Men who do not admit thier transgressions and just sweep them under the rug? Pastors that answer to no one and do not step down no matter what terrible thing they do?

    We are set up to think that the Slavic church option is the best one. And then when we see the filth here, we assume it’s even worse in the American churches, Bc that’s what we have been tought for decades. So we just avoid it altogether 🙁

    1. Please, do not be discouraged… I rejected my faith once. Hypocrisy in the church was one of the reasons. Jesus has been pursuing me even while I denied Him and everything He stood for.

      The lesson God has taught me through the years is to never lose focus on who Jesus is. People are born into sin and even the most “perfect-looking” pastor may fall. That is not God’s fault. We should keep looking on the one who was perfect in every way and without sin. Christ is our righteousness and as long as we have Him living in us, we will overcome.

      What do I tell someone who has been discouraged? I have talked to many young people who have left faith because they could not stand the hypocrisy. Remember, I was one of them… I tell them that God will be the judge of every human being. You will answer to him about yourself. There will be no excuses. No one to blame but yourself. “He made me do it” will not cut it.

      The enemy is extremely skillful at devising ways on how to shift our focus from Jesus.

      “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

  71. I have to agree with the minority, Andrey and Nataliya. I moved to America when I was 6 years old (23 years ago) and attended a ‘strict’ Russian church all this time. I can proudly say that I grew up a Lord fearing woman, and am thankful to God for all the people that preached, sang, said poems, and taught in a Russian church. I would not have grown spiritually without the church and language I’m familiar with (though church is not the only factor for my spiritual growth)I believe, that if you attend a church and notice only hypocrites and those who start judging you, instead of filling yourself with spiritual food and hearing the word of God, then you should pray about yourself and your spitirual standing. There are hypocrites in every culture, and that is because Satan wants to have more followers. My wish to you and all of your readers is to not pay attention at the liars, cheaters, adulterers or any one else you might notice in your church but focus on yourself so you don’t end up leading any lost soul into temptation. God will do his work in every different culture church if the person seeks it. Blessings!

    1. Alla, thank you for your input, sister. Again, I want to stress that in no way do I generalize all the Russian-speaking churches into one clump of “unhealthy churches.” You are right, a believer may thrive in a church that has many issues. I thank God for your faithful heart and your love for the Lord!

      I am just coming from a place of YEARS of trying to grow spiritually and YEARS of trying to make changes. In all honesty, I stayed in one unhealthy Russian church only because of other hurting young women.
      (The enemy did succeed in making me focus on the hypocrisy as a new believer and I rejected God in college. My faith also crumbled because I DID NOT have a solid foundation of faith and could not provide any solid defense of my faith when presented with hard questions from my atheist friends).

      After repenting, I started a prayer group but even that was frowned upon. I tried to talk to the youth leaders to start FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH classes but to no avail. However, you want to cut it, the focus remained on the external, not the issues of the heart. When you start seeing that no one is open to change (again years and years of waiting and praying for change) you notice that your spiritual growth gets stunted. A plateau. I craved to know God more. I craved more meat and not the milk that was constantly being fed to us…

      Yes, we could remain in the church and continue praying for change. However, as my post says, my children’s salvation is more important than anything. The risk of them going down the same path I went was too great. We do not regret our decision to start attending an American church. Not in the least.

  72. I very much agree with your post- I too came from the same background and experienced the same situation. I’m blessed with 3 daughters and I want them to love and grow on Christ.

  73. This blogpost has a lot of really good points in it! I am American and married a Ukrainian from a very conservative baptist church. We have been married for almost 18 years, and I’m so thankful for my walk with the Lord, because He sure did help us through some very difficult times! Back 18 years ago the Slavic community was not marrying outside of their culture, so it was a shock for people to find out that my hubby married an American! “Oh wow, what is it like being married to an American?” Is she lazy? Does she clean? My hubby would come home and tell me the funny questions he would get! I must say I have visited many Slavic churches throughout my marriage, but never wanted to become a member, why? Because I wouldn’t grow! Yes, some of them were not very welcoming and would stare, but some were very welcoming! There does seem to be more legalism in the Russian churches, at least from my experience, yet I have met some of the most loving people in those churches! So I guess what I’m trying to say, is we as believers should welcome anyone, and uplift other churches, not bring them down! Believe me I have gotten angry and hurt at the way some of these Slavic churches believe, but who would I be if I judged them just as they judge me? No better! I think “you will know them by their fruits!” All of my inlaws attend the same strict Slavic church, but they love me very much, and even though I don’t dress like them, wear the head coverings, etc, I really do think they have seen my heart! Maybe it took a lot of years for them to see this, but I am thankful and grateful! I prayed so much for God to intercede for me on this area of my marriage! God bless, I really have embraced the Slavic culture and community, and am thankful to have met my husband!

    1. Heather, you hit the nail on the head. “Lack of growth. Legalism.” We put God in a box we can understand. We focus more on traditions rather than deeply studying the Word…

  74. Very well said, thank you very much. I have seen “German” Lutheran Church in Russia and I have seen how it led to absolutely dead religious group. I concur that the only way to be living church is to be immersed with the local church. We have been in the US only for 3,5 years and around a year ago we made a decision to quit Russian church and to join a solid Biblical American one. We are so glad we did. Well, yes there is no such a thing as a perfect church, but we love the one that God has called us to serve in.

  75. This article is so well written and I can relate SO much to all of the statements you made. Thank you for having the courage to write this and for acknowledging this in Slavic churches. I went to both American and Slavic churches and was criticized for attending an American one. It’s funny how Slavic people and church’s are so afraid of grace that they really rely on works to get to heaven. I truly believe that much of the fear is from communism and it is not of the liberty we have in Christ. My husband always mentions the fact that he was taught “don’t sin, because you will be cursed and have no blessings.” That tactic of fear is not from God. Fear should never drive the teachings and sermons we hear. Anyways that’s kind of a different topic, but thank you again for sharing ! Many blessings to you and your family 🙂

    1. Your husband’s comment is something I can relate to. It grieves my heart to see young people being indoctrinated to believe that God’s love is conditional upon our works… I grew up fearing God and fearing hell. Yes, we should teach about sin and its consequences. Yes, hell is a punishment for those who refuse God’s love and his plan for salvation. The Bible does teach this. However, what we miss are all the other verses that talk about Jesus living in us and changing our hearts and minds. Our love for God is driven by fear… 🙁

      We were talking about this with my husband recently – about fearing God. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. My husband said the “fear” is not “I’m afraid of the fire and brimstone” but a “fear” that is basically “jaw-dropping awe” of His holiness and majesty. That type of “fear” should make us fall on our knees in recognition of the need for our Savior.

  76. As an American, married into the Russian culture, (I believe my Husband is what you would consider a “1.5” *smile*) I appreciate this view of the issue. I’ve been on the receiving end of certain judgments like you mentioned above simply because people knew I was American, and assumed that meant that they knew ME. Unfortunately, they allowed my earthly identity (American) to somehow shadow my heavenly identity as a fellow daughter of the same Lord they claim to follow. I have also witnessed snap judgments on the other side of things by fellow Americans assuming things about my new extended family simply because they are Russian, and more traditional/conservative (women wearing skirts, having their heads covered)…. I think it’s sad to see on either side. I wish that we as Christians could see past all of the things that so easily distract us, and realize that we were fellow believers striving to live our lives honoring the one who gave his up on our behalf.
    If we transformed time typically spent casting judgement on each other into time spent building each other up and encouraging each other, can you imagine the change that would follow? It’s something I certainly hope to see in my lifetime. True revival that cuts through the idea of race/denomination/class/etc… while we simply keep our eyes focused on our Savior.

    Great article! I hope it stirs up thoughts, good discussion and real life change!

    1. Your comment of “…it’s sad to see on either side” is a really powerful reminder and how true are your comments about the time spent casting judgment! I truly believe there WOULD be amazing change if we followed the two commandments of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
      Blessings Anne.

  77. I am obviously a minority however I have a right to voice my opinion. I do not agree with the author of this article on most points she has made. I will comment on just a couple. I immigrated from Ukraine 10 years ago and I now attend a local Slavic church like the ones described in this article with my family. My church is considered “strict” and “very conservative” but if a person came to my church with tatoos or wearing shorts, no one would look at them judgementally like the author of this article stated. I found this article to be propogandizing so called “freedom” in churches. It IS important how we look and what we wear to church. Not only does the Bible says so but also our own brain should tell us that if you are going to church you should not wear shorts. There’s different types of clothing for different occassions: work, gym, beach, park, etc. I am not going to wear a professional suit when I go to the beach, so why would I wear shorts when I go to church. It is common sense. Also, for those of you who grew up in Ukraine or Russian, remember Orthodox churches. How did these people who do not know Jesus as their personal Savior know what to wear when they went to church? I remember Easter mornings in Ukraine when our Orthodox neighbors were returning from church, the ladies were wearing long dresses and a shawl to cover all of their hair. How did they know to wear such decent clothing even when they are not true Christians? Because common sense told them that whereever you go, you should wear chothes that are appropriate for the place, especially if it is church. If these people who did not read the Bible know to wear such decent clothing to church, we should be even more considerate about clothing that we wear to church as true believers.
    I also do not agree that Russians/Ukrainians are liers, cheaters, etc like the author made it sound in this article. I am sure there are people that do all of those things however, do you know a nation that doesn’t have those kind of people? In every culture there’s good people and the bad people. But I can most certaintly say that there is so much more good people in our Slavic churches and culture than bad people.
    This is just my ten cents on this article. God Bless all of us, Europeans, Americans, and all other coultures.

    1. Thank you Natasha. I totally agree with you. Most ex Russian people that go to American church’s go there because no one will judge your sin. People feel more comfortable in American church’s knowing that for the most part they are safe to live in sin.

  78. Well said Tanya, this is so sad but so true. I’m very surprised to have stumbled across this post because this has been a topic that has been weighing heavy on my mind and my heart lately. I would like to just say that it’s a little bit of an over generalization but it fits the majority of Russian churches. God bless you for not being afraid to speak the truth.

    1. Deanna, very fair observation that the article can be read in a way that is painting Russian churches with broad strokes. That was not the intent. I just wanted to share what was on my heart in what I’ve observed at many of the Russian churches.
      Blessings.

  79. I agree 100% with you Tanya. I have also grown up to view not only America, but even Christianity and the Bible from the Russian culture lens and only now am I learning that you need to see everything, including your own culture through the prism of the Word, not the other way around.

  80. Wonderful article. Something I have personally dealt with. How should people of the church act (if thats even the right way to say it) towards someone who is gay/lesbian? Yes, we should accept everyone, but are we as people of the church suppose to remind them or teach them that its a sin? I know its a very sensitive topic but would like to hear how people feel about this?

    1. First I’d like to honour the author and say that you really are the future of the next generation. People with this outlook are supposed to be leading the younger generation. God bless your family and I really hope my old community can clean itself up.

      Taty, I used to live in Sacramento, but moved to Springfield, MO for work and made James River Church as my home church. The other week, our pastor basically apologized to the homosexual community of how the Church treats homosexual/les/bi/etc community. Here’s the link. I really hope you find it helpful. It will definitely clear up BIBLICAL truths on the matter.
      A Biblical Look At Human Sexuality
      http://www.jamesriver.org/jra-messages/1485

  81. Your struggle is one that is experienced by the young Russian speaking generation all over the US. We are all struggling through these question, and its not easy. The temptation is to just criticize and look for something that looks better. I think what you do here is important though – moving past observing the fruit of the problem and trying to get to the ROOT of the problem. Pointing to the heart of the christian walk, the great commission, is where it all starts. When we loose site of our mission in the gospel, we start to attach our faith to secondary and external things. I think that many Russian churches have lost clear site of the power and glory of the Gospel.

    I wrote a piece on this issue a while ago as well (http://andreyb.com/2014/06/20/the-war-on-calvinism-is-killing-out-churches/). Also, keep up the great work! We cannot build a better future for the generation following us unless we take up the books and the pens and grow ourselves!

    1. Brother, thank you so much for the encouragement! I read the link you provided and agree with you – the issue is much deeper than our efforts to identify the cause of why young people leave their faith. You said: “When we loose site of our mission in the gospel, we start to attach our faith to secondary and external things. I think that many Russian churches have lost clear site of the power and glory of the Gospel.” This is the entire point of this post and I couldn’t have said it better! Keep up the good fight!
      Blessings

  82. AMEN. SO GOOD!!!! thank you for this article. We must not forget to pray for those in the traditional Russian churches as well, so that the Lord would change their hearts!

    1. Praise be to Jesus only! Thank you for the encouragement Mila! This is all Him – all glory to Him! Praise be to our Father for revealing to us that He loves all people unconditionally. Agree with you that we should not forget to pray for all the Russian churches. I pray for a great awakening not just in my city, in all the churches (not just the Russian ones), but across the America and around the world. He is our only hope! I pray for all of us to have HIS love in our hearts. I pray for God to continue shaping us and molding us into HIS likeness. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not the people who think they don’t need any saving. Blessings!

  83. Looks like another liberal ex Russian, probably Ukrainian… Don’t fall for the Western propaganda of diversity. They want everyone to be the same in the community as well as the church. In the Old Testament God constantly held the Jews from mixing with other non God fearing people. He told them not to intermarry and not to have any sort of communication. The reason is because those non Jewish people would have a negative influence on God chosen people. This is the same in our time. We as Christians should stay away from wicked God hating bigots. We should tell them of Jesus but not mix with them. In our generation these wicked people are know as the westerners. They have homosexual weddings, pedophilia, watered down church’s filled with half backed knowledge of God. Divorces, drinking, clubs no morals, no absolutes, no reason to life other then eat, drink for tomorrow we shall die. This is the mentality of the west including Americans. That is why we as Slavic people should bring Jesus to America rather then become like Americans.

    1. Andrey, first of all, I want to thank the Lord for your heart and I want to pray for blessings on you and your loved ones. I thank the Lord for giving you a zeal for righteousness! Jesus, I ask that you would continue working in Andrey’s heart. Continue shaping him and molding him into your likeness. Amen.

      “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.'” Luke 5:31-32

      “Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values (John 17:14-15). As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the insipid, corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). This is a daily activity and commitment.
      We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice. Even the heathen knows that “by their fruits you shall know them,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us.
      Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, such as the beautiful creation God has given us, but we are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values, nor are we to chase after worldly pleasures. Pleasure is no longer our calling in life, as it once was, but rather the worship of God.” Believers in Jesus Christ are simply in the world—physically present—but not of it, not part of its values (John 17:14-15). As believers, we should be set apart from the world. This is the meaning of being holy and living a holy, righteous life—to be set apart. We are not to engage in the sinful activities the world promotes, nor are we to retain the insipid, corrupt mind that the world creates. Rather, we are to conform ourselves, and our minds, to that of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). This is a daily activity and commitment. We must also understand that being in the world, but not of it, is necessary if we are to be a light to those who are in spiritual darkness. We are to live in such a way that those outside the faith see our good deeds and our manner and know that there is something “different” about us. Christians who make every effort to live, think and act like those who do not know Christ do Him a great disservice. Even the heathen knows that “by their fruits you shall know them,” and as Christians, we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit within us. Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, such as the beautiful creation God has given us, but we are not to immerse ourselves in what the world values, nor are we to chase after worldly pleasures. Pleasure is no longer our calling in life, as it once was, but rather the worship of God. Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/in-but-not-of-world.html#ixzz3VRP32a2t

      While I agree with you about being “set apart” from the world and the Bible does support this, are we truly “set apart?” You may have misunderstood the point of this article…

      God does not condone the sin but loves the sinner.
      “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:7-9
      I am the same sinner as the prostitute who sells her body for money. I am the same sinner as the drunkard, the drug user, the habitual thief, and the homosexual. I am the same sinner as the man who sexually molested me when I was a child… The difference is that I put my FAITH in what Christ did for me on the cross and HE radically changed my life.

      “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Because Jesus now LIVES IN ME, he gave HIS love towards all people, including the man who stole my childhood innocence. I love this man with God’s love and I pray for his salvation. He is desperately in need of Christa the same way I was in need of Christ while I was lost. And I am still in need of Christ, desperate for Him to continue renewing my heart and mind…

      HE changes me and sets me apart. While Israel’s “set apart” was all about the external, our “set apart” is all about the internal. The internal then influences the external. Not the other way around, brother. I can try my hardest to do good deeds and to “look holy.” But if Christ is not in me, it’s all fruitless and my faith is DEAD.

      “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
      If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:16-26

      Love in Christ,
      Tanya

    2. Andrey, it seems like you are turning a blind eye to the reality of the struggles and pitfalls of the Slavic culture itself. To label the entire western culture as God-hating bigots is to reveal your own lack up awareness that God is working in all cultures in different ways. There are strengths and weaknesses of the church in all parts of the world.

      1. There is a big difference between those churches that allow divorce, drinking, and a woman at the pulpit which is clearly unbiblical and liberal and then comparing it to the negativities of the Russian church such as someone who cheats on their taxes. Yes cheating on taxes is a sin for we must pay as Jesus commanded but there is no comparison in terms of sinfulness and in terms of consequences between the two. It seems to me that this article takes these Russian (sins) as I just stated and makes them out to be some sort of stumbling stone for Americans? So an American got a very negative opinion on Christ because some Russian cheated on their tax return? I’m sure that American got a bad impression but there is no comparison to what the general western churches do. In a western church there is practically no preaching on Sin, mostly it is about Gods love. Woman are given high roles in church such as pastor ship which the Bible prohibits. Drinking is just fine. Divorce is also allowed when it says no in the Bible. Sex before marriage is not looked down upon as it should. Worship of God is more emotional and less verbal, or less though based. Sermons are targeted at woman in their 40s rather than at the wickedness of the heart. These are all catastrophic to a churches survival. Now look what we go in 2015. A lot of American churches are marrying homosexuals. Show me one Russian church that allows homosexuals? There are none. For the most part Russians are more conservative than Americans culturally and Biblically. The one area that the Russian church suffers a lot in is Biblical preaching because most Russian pastors do not have a degree in Theology or even went to a Christian College. But just by going to a Christian college does not remove liberalism from the heart as is proven from the thousands of American educated pastors. Not having an educated Russian pastor has a direct impact on the Russian church. Thank God that my Russian Pastor has a PHD and is well educated from John MacArthur’s Seminar in California. My Point is that for the most part American are more liberal as a society as well as a culture. Russian culture has always been more conservative then western culture. In conclusion I would rather go to an uneducated Russian conservative church that fears God then an educated liberal American church who sees God with a lower case g.

        1. Truly I still go to a Russian church and I love it. But if you have not fully attended a lot of American churches you can not put them all into the category of allowing divorce and all the other things you have listed. This is not true. A lot of churches I know teach you not to have sex before marriage and all the same principles we teach in our churches. And wine is acceptable to drink, the Bible states so. Personally I have not drank any type of alcohol other then the wine during communion, but everyone was taught differently…and I believe God will judge them by there conscience…and we should accept everyone for who they are and there choices. If the bible states not to divorce then those rules we shall follow, but we cannot use everything we have heard from other people about American churches and stereotype them into a certain category. Will Americans not get saved? Are we the only righteous ones here? I believe not. And yes our churches do have people who cheat and lie but that is something we should not focus on. Every church has the lost but there are those who are pursuing God from the heart. And you cannot say divorce is a smaller sin then lying. They are all sins in Gods eyes. Equal. Everyone fights their own battles. Some with sexual sins while others with lying or cheating. Instead of judging those we should pray for them. Set the example. And pray a lot more. But we cannot sit here and judge Americans and say they are sinful people. That would break Gods second commandment which is love thy neighbor and Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭4-8 NIV) so if we love thy neighbor we should not speak about thy neighbor in a negative way. May God bless you 🙂

    3. Wake up Andre,

      She is drawing attention to the widespread hypocrisy in the “Russian church”. You’re comparing Russian people to Jews as if you’re also God’s very own chosen people. You’re not. You’re arrogant. Repent.

      1. Again my argument here is comparing a Russian church goer’s typical sin such as not paying taxes or lying about SSI does not even come close to the sins of an American typical church. Yes Russians should stop lying on their documents but making a whole article on how this is a stumbling block for Americans and how Russians should adapt is just silly. Russians have their own sins but the culture is so different in terms of conservatism. Americans as just plain liberals. Answer this very easy questions. Show me one typical American church that excommunicates its members when they commit adultery. And I mean typical not a real God fearing church but a typical American church. Now show me one typical Russian church that does NOT excommunicate an adulterer. Give a go try to find one. I bet you can’t that’s because in general Russians are more conservative than Americans. That is why there is same sex marriage in American churches and no such thing in Russian churches. This is just a cultural fact.

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