20 October, 2008

Leaving "Church"


Molly Aley said...

Count me as one who LOVES Jesus, but cannot "attend" a church without feeling sick to my stomach.

In the same way that I hated the dumbed-down "social studies" class that turned World History into a boring tedious excercise in filling in blanks and repeating rote answers, I have the exact same aversion to the church services around me.

I had to go to 10th grade social studies in order to graduate high school. But, when I realized a couple years ago that I DON'T HAVE TO go to these church services, I stopped. Ah. Wonderful. Life-giving. I love it. Like being underwater for a long time and finally coming up for air.

From the woman who was born and raised in "church," used to be a "pastor's wife," there when the doors opened (with perfectly dressed kids in tow), often the last to leave and turn out the lights and lock up, helped run programs behind-the-scenes, etc,


Lin said...

Ironically, this group that is leaving appears to be the most evangelical in their approach to the Word. It is not the typical lazy Christian in name only..that oe would expect to see leaving. This is new. They are leaving because of shallow teaching/preaching, support of large staffs and buildings and not seeing the point of all that. And another reason is because of the narrow interpretations coming from the gender roles movement.

Could it be the remnant is leaving the institutional church?

Richard D said...

I've been mulling over what to say regarding the topic of this video. I fully understand Molly's response and have argued along those lines at a few large "pastor's" blogs recently when the question was posed, "Is there ever a reason to leave a church?"

On the other hand, I don't think the folks in the pews should think of church as someplace where they are to go to receive only. We all need to be heavily involved in our local church. So I don't like the argument that "I don't want to go to church because I'm not getting insert reason here. I think that is a very selfish and indefensible reason to leave a church.

But then again, I have always been heavily involved in the churches I have been a member at. And I have increasingly found that those who have a strong backbone and want to see the church do what is right are rapidly removed from roles that give them any widespread impact or perception of leadership. I think the leadership in conservative Evangelical churches has gone a good distance down a very dangerous path of totalitarian rule. I have seen the plurality of elders concept pushed as a way to cover the man-driven agendas of church leaders. The argument being, "this can't be just because the pastor has an agenda because we have a plurality of elders and that keeps one man from pushing his own viewpoint." But then those elders are appointed instead of voted on, so the pastor is able to stack the elder board with his own personal yes men.

It's a very sad situation and I really don't know how to approach it. And it truly does make me want to leave the local church altogether. I've been increasingly interested in the house church movement, but don't really know too much about them.

Lin said...

Richard, I can relate to what you have written. And have some of the same thoughts. In the Body of Christ we all are gifted and needed. The eye cannot say to the hand...

I hear you about the elder run church deal. I lived with that for 16 years and saw some real ugly stuff up close. Never again. Elders are simply the spiritually mature. We can recognize true elders by their humility and living out Matthew 5. All true believers have anointing and are 'ministers' in the priesthood. But you hardly ever see that carried out in practice in most churches.

All I want to do is study the Word in depth. No rushing through it, no fluffy studies by celebrities and no patriarchal man made agendas. Just the ONE TRUE TEACHER illuminating the truth of the Word. Ironically, I have found folks online in the same quandry that I can study with as they have been searching the scriptures deeply, too!

I still attend church. It is in my DNA and I am blessed with a church that has an excellent children's minister who is not caught up in the Disneyfication of Jesus as my last church was, so I do not need to worry there. But, I also have other believers, outside the church 'building', I connect with to pray and study the Word. Believers who want to dig deep and just want truth even if it is negative and convicting.

Richard D said...

I have sensed for a while a change sweeping through Evangelical America. The dearth of leadership in our local churches is appalling. Where the church carries out solid business practices, the preaching is light and fluffy. Where the preaching is deep, there is no care for folks' everyday needs. The pastorate seems more concerned with making money and building a legacy (a celebrity legacy) than with preaching the word and reaching the lost.

During times of great distress and great need, new leaders arise and new paths are forged. I think we are forging these new paths as we speak and we need to be very careful that we do so according to scripture.

Thanks for raising this topic and allowing me to vent. This has been heavy on my heart for almost a decade now. My father was an old-school pastor, back in the days when pastors cared for and sacrificed for their people. Those days are gone.