Unfortunately, there are times when good intentions are not enoughand the church is one of those places where this is most true.  The church attracts such a wide assortment of people with such a wide breadth of expectations, that it is very easy to even subconsciously inject your own personality into the words you share or to perpetuate half-truths with whole-hearted conviction.  Which is why I had to unlearn a few things I would have sworn were gospel truth.  To start, Paul said it best…

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.  The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely…”  Philippians 1:15-18

Not every one who misinterprets a verse should be condemned a heretic, and few who take up the title of teacher are saints.  Here are my top 5 things that I was led to believe, consciously or subconsciously, in good intentions or ill, throughout my years in the church.
1)  Every verse stands alone and is written to me- It’s the basic format of most bible studies I was in.  Read a passage of scripture, talk about what it says to us, end with a practical application.  Respectable right?  But missing the overarching purpose.  Every verse was written in a cultural context, in most cases to specific people groups, addressing specific problems or issues.  It is not meant to tell us about ourselves, but about God.  That’s it.  Each verse is understood in context, and in reference to what it tell us about God, not us.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Very motivating, until you read the verse right before it…and consider the context…and that is was written from prison…
“Do not…put tattoo marks on yourselves.” (Leviticus 19:28)
Very cut and dry, until you read the verse right before it…and consider the context…
2)  Most of the world is Christian and everyone else is miserable –  The distinction between happiness and joy is one I heard for years in different contexts, usually pointing to the prevalence of ephemeral, fleeting pleasures in this world.  This unspoken idea that Christians have the answer to every trial and situation, and the rest of the world is one bit of bad news away from imploding into a black hole of depression.  Come to find out that uh…yeah, EVERYONE is one bit of bad news away from imploding into a black hole of depression.  The only difference between believers and the rest is that we are promised eternal relief in heaven.  Not a satisfying answer right now, or a magic prayer or verse that changes everything.  We are promised a savior to be with us, through everything, no matter how dark and debilitating.
3)  Various Unfounded Myths and Phantom Passages  – Some were from preachers who got carried away, some from honest people who trusted the wrong source  instead of doing the research themselves, some simply passed on by word of mouth for generations.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness
  • God is married to the backslider
  • The sinner’s prayer
  • Jesus drew a fish in the sand
  • Satan fell from heaven with a third of the angels
  • Heck, CNN wrote an article about it

They meant well…some of them.  The first two were spewed out by a pastor in a small church I visited who didn’t open the bible for the whole sermon and only gave a reference when he mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah.  The next three could  be looked at as “taking artistic liberties”.  But you tread on dangerous ground when you “make the bible your own”.  The Word doesn’t change, you do.

4)  If you aren’t facing persecution, you aren’t trying hard enough – Well that’s a slippery slope.  There is a thin line between not being conformed to the patterns of the world and making yourself the moral police that needs a battle to prove their devotion.  Jesus had plenty of conflict, not by seeking it out, but by living in love and standing up for the truth.  Real Christianity is radical enough without a militant mentality.
5)  Christianity makes the most sense and everyone else is just too blind to see – I had a brief foray into commenting on anti-Christianity blogs…didn’t go well.   Half because most people don’t want to have discussions: they want arguments; and half because God cannot be undeniably proven.  Anyone who claims to have absolute proof for or against the existence of God is delusional.  I say this not egotistically, but purely from humility.  I begin arguments on creation, morality, hypocrisy, and every other topic from the basic assumption that God existed before time, created the earth, sent His son who died and rose again, and will come again.  From this, I build my arguments for other things.  Without this common ground, however, the discourse will never be resolved.  
It is just as reasonable to claim God doesn’t exist as it is to say He does.  I say this very hesitantly, because in either side of the debate, there is a leap beyond what can be proven into what you must accept without all the evidence you would need.  No one can prove where the orignal muck the world evolved from originated, but they accept that, assuming that eventually they will have all the evidence they need, even if they don’t right now.
That’s why as Christians it is so important to not allow ourselves to get dragged into arguments…the basis of our discourse should be to build understanding and relationship.  And if we are going to attempt to defend our faith, it is incredibly important that we have done our research and aren’t spitting out religious jargon and fantastical folklore.