If Being Hurt by the Church Causes You to Lose Faith in God . . .

 

This meme was posted on Facebook. For those who have been harmed by church leaders/people, what does this message say to you?  I’d love to read your first impressions of this meme.

 

 

 

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136 comments on “If Being Hurt by the Church Causes You to Lose Faith in God . . .

  1. The dictionary definition of “Insensitive” should have that meme next to it under the category example.

    So should the definitions of “Callous”, “Thoughtless”, “Inconsiderate”, et al.

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  2. What?
    Seriously, what?
    This is one way to add insult to injury.
    How spiteful to turn grief into “it was your fault”?
    And at what point does the church get to dismiss its responsibilities for faithfully representing Christ?
    And what do you understand by “losing faith”? Actually, going through a questioning stage is widely recognised as a step to maturity.
    “My name is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you”
    Better to have a millstone.
    But God saves.
    God knows his sheep.

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  3. This is very true. After nine years of anger at God, I came to understand that it wasn’t his fault that church people lied to me and abused my trusting nature. Though I always believed in the Lord, I foolishly trusted that what the house church leader said was true. I didn’t do my own research to find out what God said in the Bible about the doctrines I heard. Those wicked people who spiritually abused me now face the wrath of the Lord for harming one of his “little ones.” Matthew chapter eighteen has more on this matter.

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  4. Let me preface my thoughts by saying I was in a cult for 10 years and I was subjected to physical abuse and witness to domestic abuse growing up. I never lost my faith in God because of my circumstances. So when I see this meme I think, yep, that’s true. I am not offended by it and I certainly did lose my faith in people, for sure.

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  5. So should the definitions of “Callous”, “Thoughtless”, “Inconsiderate”, et al.

    Yes. Definitely all of these.

    This topic is probably too complicated for a meme anyways. Certainly this isn’t the way to handle it. Lots of people lose faith in god, temporarily or not, when bad things happen. Or at least, they question their faith. I think it would be better to acknowledge that that questioning is part of growing up in your faith and figuring out how the simple things you learned as a child apply to the messy reality of life.

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  6. And I should say, this questioning of faith is obviously going to be more severe when the people who hurt you are supposed to be the church!

    I have some thoughts also about how we’re supposed to look at the fruits of the spirit, and if the fruits of your church, which is ostensibly Christian, are nothing but bad? I can see how someone could take that as the fruits of Christianity are bad. I didn’t react this way myself, but I learned at an early age that churches and pastors are far from perfect and I have always been more leery of church and church leadership. I just consider that separate from god. But I GET it.

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  7. I do think we have to ask the question why does God allow this to happen? These are very serious questions that raise serious issues. If God is all love, and if this is his church than why all the corruption? Why all the pain? What type of loving God sits by and allows this to continue…unabated.

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  8. I can’t possibly say anything better than what Capt. Cassidy said on her blog (Roll to Disbelieve):

    “Nobody deconverts because of ‘Bad Christians.’ And I don’t think Christians are really thinking this one through very well….Even if someone did quit Christianity over having been treated poorly, Christians’ focus should be on resolving the issue and making their religion less prone to abuse, not on where it is now: trying to emotionally manipulate that person back into a sheepfold full of vulpine predators and abusers who are all licking their chops at the idea of getting their old victims back again. ”

    The whole article is great: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/excommunications/2015/02/bad-christians-are-not-the-problem/

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I used the same concept of dividing vs bridge building with a friend regarding this meme.

    For me, it feels like victim blaming and it also reminds me of what it might be like for a rape victim to hear someone tell her: “well, you shouldn’t have been out drinking late at night.” It’s like pouring salt on a wound. It is entirely inappropriate and basically says, “suck it up, we’re tired of your excuses.” That’s not love.

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  10. Terri, I’m glad you didn’t lose your faith. This meme is the kind of thing that can be used by people who’ve never been hurt, or who feel they held onto their faith via their own strength, to give themselves licence not to care about those who do leave the church or ostensibly “lose faith”. That’s why I find it very problematic. We shouldn’t blithely assign causes to why a person loses their faith.

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  11. I’d also like to say this.

    How many times have we seen churches, church people, and pastors draw lines in the sand that state you must be/believe/do _______ in order to be right with God? How many times has someone’s idea of God come in the way of a weaker individual’s search for God? This meme betrays a naïve understanding of simple human trust relationships to start with, and it also ignores the very real aspect of abuse of spiritual authority.

    Sometimes, the only concept of God one knows in an abusive environment is that of a Monster.

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  12. This is a smack in the face for those who were raised as children in spiritually abusive environments. While adults have a choice in who they trust, children are left with no choice. For many survivors of childhood spiritual abuse, they were never given the choice to separate faith in God from their abusive Christian leaders. It was all the same. I understand how people who come from healthy spiritual environments might see nothing wrong with this meme at first glance… But for the rest of us, it comes across as harsh victim shaming and blaming.

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  13. Julie Anne…the church is creating a lot of atheists, and ex-Christians. I see them at my blog and behind the scenes. In a couple of weeks they are having the largest atheist rally in US history on the national mall here in Washington, D.C. I am looking forward to attending, just to hang out and talk with people. I plan on writing about secularism and atheism for two weeks at my blog during this event.

    But the Christian church needs to repent and own the pain they cause. From the mess with C.J. Mahaney to what your pastor put you through…one of the issues is that people don’t own their mistakes. When they hurt people they are indifferent and its horrific. Another thing that angers me is that many Christians say, “justice will come in God’s timing or in judgment.” Honestly I would like to see judgment here and the right actions taken.

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  14. By the way, if any of you forward this post on Facebook, it would be helpful to leave a note encouraging people to read the comments. I don’t think people are being intentionally malicious when they post this. They just don’t understand what the violation of your soul feels like. This might be helpful for those not familiar with spiritual abuse.

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  15. I understand how people who come from healthy spiritual environments might see nothing wrong with this meme at first glance

    I don’t know…it comes off as judgment to me from the start. They could have flipped this, and said something more generalized and less confrontational like ‘If you have been hurt by the church, remember to put your faith in god not people’. But they didn’t.

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  16. Hey JulieAnne,
    I’ve been reading your blogs for some while now.. And they are not only empowering but incredibly life giving and healing…
    Throughout my experience with churches/ buildings… I will always be so very thankful that a loud voice within my weakness shouted out that this bad experience wasn’t God. He kept me trusting and knowing that my faith was always in him.. It was him I was serving… Not people.. I still find that incredibly humbling..

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  17. Thank you for sharing, Olgs. It’s comments like yours that keep me blogging. I know what it was like waking up to the reality that I was experience spiritual abuse and that’s why there was so much spiritual conflict in my soul.

    You raise another important point about that voice that spoke to you. Many times when we are in spiritually abusive environments, our pastors become that loud voice drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirit. It takes time to hear the voice of the Shepherd again. I think if we are listening, we will find Him.

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  18. I agree with all of Chris W’s posts on this.

    I think memes like this make the writer feel absolved of helping those who have been wounded by Christians, and/or who feel hurt by God, for whatever reason.

    My faith crisis of the last few years hinges on both God and the behavior of Christians, not only the behavior of Christians.
    (Not that I’m sitting in judgement of anyone who feels hurt only due to how they have been treated by Christians, I am just explaining my own situation.)

    I most assuredly did have faith in God and did not put my faith in people, so I find this meme insensitive and offensive, and I think the writer is in denial.

    In some of the books I read by Christian psychologists and psychiatrists, they clarify a lot of wrong thinking by Christians, which includes the notion if you are hurting or have mental health problems, you should “go it alone with God” and/or deal with it by reading the Bible, or try to “pray it away”.

    These doctors say, wrong (and some of them back this view up by citing Bible verses) – they say you need to have the emotional support of other people (which would be Christians, if you are a Christian).

    If you are a Christian, whether you like it or not, you may be the only picture of God some people ever get. There is an expression that goes, if you are a Christian, you are “God’s eyes, God’s hands.”

    I don’t expect Christians to be perfect, but I would, and do, expect them to at least attempt to carry out the bare minimum of Christ’s / the Bible’s teachings, such as, “weep with those who weep.”

    I’ve found the majority of Christians I’ve been to in my own life have failed miserably at this sort of thing. I ended up having to deal with problems and pain by myself.

    I never know how to articulate this to get Christians to understand it, but those who are in the same spot as I am seem to grasp what I’m trying to say:

    It’s kind of hard for me to hold on to the Christian faith when many of those who profess to be Christian regularly fail at it – they refuse to help the hurting, they instead scold and shame you for coming to them admitting your pain, (hey, just like this stupid meme is doing).

    If you’re a Christian person who is trying to convince me not to walk away from the faith, this meme is not the right way of going about it, it only turns me off all the more.

    I know Christians want people to only look at Christ and not be turned off by His followers, but that’s not reality. I think it’s fair, to a degree, to judge Christ based on how those who claim to his name behave and treat other people.

    Apparently, following Christ does not change even most of his followers for the better (many don’t even TRY to live out Christ’s teachings, and again, I do NOT expect perfection from them), so what is the point in believing in the guy or following his teachings anymore?

    One reason of a few I reject Islam and Islam’s Allah is precisely because some (I said some, not all) of Islam’s adherents run around blowing people up or decapitating them (such as people who they deem to be infidels).

    If I’m not going to give Muslims a pass for this stuff or let their Allah off the hook for how they treat other people, why would I give Christians a pass on this same thing?

    If I’m going to draw conclusions about Allah, Mohammed, Islam, and the Koran based (in part) on the actions of some of its/ His adherents, why is it unfair for me to do this with Christianity or Jesus?

    I think Chris W. really nailed it in their posts in this thread about this topic.

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  19. It’s all backwards again. Every reformation focused on poor, defenseless, hopeless helping them to break free from tyrannical religious leaders who didn’t preach Christ. According to that meme the abused has to grant grace to abuser so abuser can continue to sin? That makes no sense, who teaches this crap?

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  20. Sounds good on the surface. But the big problem is that most conservative authoritarian churches push the notion that if you don’t have faith in church leadership, (i.e. not submitting oneself to the spiritual authority of the pastor), you have no faith in God.

    So that notion was drilled into your head. So you submit yourself to the pastor’s spiritual authority because that is how you are to express your faith in God. The pastor fails you. Now it is your fault that you put your faith in people in the first place, not God.

    Circular logic at its worst.

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  21. My knee jerk? This is “Christian passive-aggressive” at its best. Yuck. Christians who are actually living out an authentic, Christ-like compassion for the hurting and disenfranchised would never think or say this.

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  22. There is a grain of truth in it. They can still trust Jesus when Christians they trusted betrayed and wounded them, though expressed in an ugly victim blaming way. The worst part of it is assuming their faith in God you so thoroughly crushed wasn’t genuine in the first place. But mainly, it is abusive churches and church leaders washing their hands of the lives they damage.

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  23. @Monique, spot on.

    Equivocation, again.

    What is “God”? The god claimed to be the god of the Bible and claimed to be modeled by my parents and church was not the true God, but a judgmental, distant, abusive jerk. They claimed God was gracious and yet they never showed me grace. They claimed God was loving, but I struggle to see much love in how they treated me.

    I have remained a Christian because I have clung to the idea that God is loving and gracious, despite the abuses of my leaders. The true God, and not the patriarchal, authoritarian god of fundamentalist Christianity.

    If I had lost faith, it wouldn’t have been losing faith in God because of trusting people, but losing faith in an idol because of trusting the idolators. Did those who were hurt by the church and left God really have faith in the true God, or was it a bad caricature?

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  24. I think there’s a strawman set up here in the meme and in some of the comments. Go talk to people who have left the faith. “Bad Christians” may have set up circumstances that led to their de-conversion, but people leave the faith for much more substantial reasons in general.

    Those that leave are constantly told (gaslit) by others by saying, “You just left because somebody hurt you.” It allows the person making that claim to ignore and dismiss the actual reasons the person left. It allows that person to avoid unpleasant questions or truth about their faith. It indirectly labels the person who left as weak while the accuser gets the default of “strong.” People don’t lightly leave a faith they’ve held for years, so such an accusation is an insult. It’s much harder to leave than to stay.

    Truly, go talk to some that have de-converted. “You just left because someone hurt you” is probably the number two false accusation made against them, right after “You just want to go sin.” It makes people feel better to say those things, but they’re wrong.

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  25. @OutsideLookingIn, great point. I looked for excuse after excuse to stay in an abusive denomination. I was almost willing to give up the idea of growing spiritually for the rest of my life to maintain the family connections and a few doctrinal positions. My leaving took multiple steps, and after each step, I became aware and angry about how I had been treated. When I finally left, it hit me how abusive the whole system was.

    But, yes, I’m sure they believe I left because I was a liberal and I couldn’t stand the truth, because I didn’t want to submit to godly leadership, because I wanted to mistreat my wife (they taught that anger towards one’s spouse, or actually anyone, was sinful, and when I got upset with that, the elders decided that I must be abusive).

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  26. The Body of Christ is supposed to reflect Christ, right? If it fails to do so, if it in fact abuses, the victim is not to blame. Worst. Meme. Ever.

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  27. Speaking for myself, it was a long time out of church before I could sort this out. This meme was not around in those days but I got the statement from people and it did not help; it was more blame. Not only have you been betrayed and hurt, it’s your fault for trusting people! You fool! Yet, the same platitude speakers love to say “you are the only Bible some people will ever read.” (Was anyone listening? maybe it only matters how you treat those who are outside the church?)

    It was very hard for me to believe that God, who I cannot see, would love me, if people who I can see, who are equally sinners as I am, cannot. I had a very hard time feeling that God could love me yet his church reject me. It took years to separate “church” from God.

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  28. I wonder if the people who make these memes, or forward them out, believe that a Christian is a representation of Christ; his hands and feet. If so, then the people that we “put our faith in” just may cause some to lose their faith.

    That being said, what bothers me most about this meme is that it discounts people’s feelings and response. This screams, “Get over it!” God, having created humans complete with emotions, can handle anger and doubt. It’s people who seem to have a difficult time dealing with emotion.

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  29. This sounds like a ‘get out of jail free’ card – a defence against being held responsible for hurting others. As several others have mentioned here, many churches insist that you submit to the authority of the leader/s. In effect, they are demanding that you put your faith in them (i.e. “people”)! That reality makes the claim of this meme null and void.

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  30. What Kathi said here – this is some of what I was trying to convey above, but she got it across way better than me:

    I wonder if the people who make these memes, or forward them out, believe that a Christian is a representation of Christ; his hands and feet. If so, then the people that we “put our faith in” just may cause some to lose their faith.

    That being said, what bothers me most about this meme is that it discounts people’s feelings and response. This screams, “Get over it!” God, having created humans complete with emotions, can handle anger and doubt. It’s people who seem to have a difficult time dealing with emotion.

    And what David (who I think is Eagle on other blogs) said above about some Christians and churches who are ‘Atheist Factories’ – they are churning out Atheists (or agnostics), is very true as well.

    I know a lot of Christians want to separate their behavior from Jesus, and tell hurting ex-Christians (or people who are on the brink of possibly becoming ex-Christians) to just ‘focus on Jesus and not the jerks who claim to follow Jesus,’ but this just does not work.

    It ends up sounding like another excuse or whatever, as though if you are a Christian you can act anyway you want and not live out your faith, and it lets you off the hook.

    Saying that you can act any way you want to, or even contrary to Christ’s teachings more often than not, and that the disgruntled Christian should just look to Jesus, or not confuse the jerks with God, sounds like a flimsy excuse to the person who is going through a faith crisis.

    I wish there was a clearer way of explaining it, but I don’t know how.

    But anyway, Kathi’s comments about this stuff were really good. I also felt that livingliminal‘s post was really good.

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  31. When I first read it on Facebook it felt like a punch in the gut. But then I thought about it a bit, and remembered that I hadn’t been hurt by THE Church, I had been hurt by the people in that brick building who thought they had to follow EVERYTHING that the new pastor said. That new pastor who yelled at my husband, “Why can’t you be like ________ and _________? They show up for everything!” I couldn’t find a biblical reference for that one. It took a long time, and so much pain, but after over 50 years, it was time for me to go. My husband followed shortly, after it became so unbelievably obvious that no one cared at all about us or what was happening in our lives. The only time we heard from them was when an elder called to ask us to write a letter saying that we were not offended in any way and had left on good terms. Well, THAT did NOT happen.

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  32. Done One said,

    My husband followed shortly, after it became so unbelievably obvious that no one cared at all about us or what was happening in our lives.

    In all my reading about why people quit going to church, or even leave the Christian faith itself, that is one recurrent theme.

    And it really makes me angry. A lot of churches or church-going people expect you to show up all the time and volunteer and do stuff, but they seldom want to help you.

    I’ve read a lot of stories by Christians in books or blogs about how when they had to stop going to church for weeks, due to health problems for example, or they got so fed up with not getting their needs met that they quit going, they said they noticed that a lot of times, nobody from their church followed up.

    They did not get a single phone call from anyone they sat in Sunday School with for months, nor did their preacher notice they were gone.

    If you do speak up, if you tell people at your church, or a preacher, that you feel overlooked, or that you’re not getting your needs met, they will jump down your throat about that. You will be chided. You will probably get the “you should go to church to serve not be served” lecture (it’s not even in the Bible).

    I’ve also read a lot of people say that church people were friendly to them so long as they went to church, but if they stopped going to church, or left the faith, their former Christian friends from the church dropped them like hot potatoes.

    The former church friends didn’t want to stay in touch or take an interest in their lives if they left the church, which makes these people wonder (understandably) how sincere or real friendships made in churches really are.

    So many churches are very broken. There is something horribly wrong with a lot of them. People are not making the deep connections and friendships or getting the emotional support from other Christians they should be getting. I have no idea what the solution is or how to fix that.

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  33. First, just because people leave their church doesn’t mean that they have lost their faith.

    Second, people are hurt when they put their trust in people because they were taught to put their trust in people. Even though church leaders often chide those who lose faith in God for putting their trust in people, they forget that they built a culture of expecting their congregation to put faith in them! They want their people to trust leaders; it makes their life easier. Then when those believers get damaged by abuse, they blame them for putting their faith in people when these believers were being obedient to what their leaders wanted in the first place!!

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  34. I understand the idea behind the meme. However, I don’t like the wording.

    The subject in this is You.

    You have lost your faith in God (cause) because You have been hurt by the church. (effect)

    The writer assumes that this is an irrational loss in faith (and irrational thinking) due to You having put your faith in the wrong thing.

    So, You (dear subject) are left with an if/then/then statement. (If) you have been hurt by the church (then) you have lost your faith (then) your faith was not in God.

    It’s all put on you with no consideration for the them that were involved in your life.

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  35. There’s a lot of unwritten things happening in this meme. It’s loaded with catchprhases, codewords. First of all you have to keep in mind that most churches and denominations aggressively teach that participation in the social aspect of the religion (ie attending services) is a vital part of being a true member or a True Believer. In fact because you can’t see in someone hearts the best guess you have is by observing their behavior. ( fruit of the spirit doctrine anyone?) and because we all subconsciously know that humans can and do lie and pretend, we set up hoops for them to jump through to comfort ourselves that they are trustworthy. so faith is really equated with membership, membership is equated with participation in accordance with group rules and in many churches ( or any type of group based on exclusivity really) participation is equated with complete agreement or submission with group philosophy (from the mistaken tribal idea that people like me are more trustworthy because I understand them) and conformity no matter what. If you aren’t happy or don’t accept something that is a group identifier, value or habit or tradition you aren’t a part of the group.. (for example in one church one such identifier was; we have an unwritten agreement turn in a blind eye to so and so’s weird penchant for hugging prepubescent girl in exchange for his skill at bbq.. We will never talk about this openly.)

    When I read this meme, I immediately sensed that it was being communicated that I should not have left the church. That if I was a real part of the group, none of those things would have happened to me. Because of all the unwritten rules and beliefs and meanings of that set of words, I know that “lost their faith” is a way people in church talk about people who stopped going to church. It’s a negative and derogatory term. It is a shaming term. I have seen and heard it used as an informal cue to shun a person. Those of us whose belief systems have changed don’t use that term anymore. So this meme is from a church person and its target audience is someone still in the church. It’s a veiled threat to rescind someone’s status as a member of the club if they complain of something. It’s a social control (bullying) technique often used by girls. it boils down to is is the no true Scotsman argument being used as a weapon or threat.

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  36. I believe that Jesus is good enough and tender enough and caring enough to come after His bruised and battered lambs (many times abused in the institutional church).
    I don’t think people who are abused need to pray more, read more Bible verses, etc. I think they just need to rest. Let the Good Shepherd attend to them.

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  37. I really like Daisy’s comment on comparing Islam to Christianity: some of the Christians who post memes like these are going around saying Islam is evil and we should not welcome refugees and should bomb them to the stone age. If this meme were about Islam these Christians would denounce it as Liberal Propaganda(TM). Thank you Daisy for pointing out the double standard!
    BTW, my position is that of an Evangelical dissatisfied with much of Christian Culture(TM; more info at my blog)

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  38. @Daisy, I am really struggling with this one. The churches I’ve been in talk about equipping the saints, but I still don’t know for what. I was born and raised in this denomination that thought it was the only true church in a lot of respects, and I never was equipped. I got a lot of sermons on how horrible we are and how our church has the right interpretation of this or that passage, but not much about practical living as God’s children.

    Of course, part of that was that there was a split between evangelism being dragging your friends to church to listen to the professional and evangelism being trying to convert people using one of the conversion formulas.

    So, there seems to be a pervasive spiritual apathy in the church today. People want to be a light to those around them, but they are paralyzed. Their shepherds don’t model love and grace, and others around them don’t either. People that show any gifts get sequestered and whisked away to seminary to become a pastor somewhere else.

    I don’t think people are malicious, they just got sucked into the mind-numbing religiosity and they are afraid of being stricken with leprosy by touching someone unclean. When people leave, somehow they feel that they need to rationalize why they stayed and you left, and that means deciding that something was wrong with you. Also, the more cultish the church and the more people sacrifice on behalf of that church, the more they need to rationalize and thus perhaps even treat you with hostility. At least that is my experience.

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  39. It makes me feel duped. Because every leader I’ve ever known in bible study or small group has claimed to represent God on some level. They are who we are to look at as ‘examples.’ And if those same people do things thatcare blatantly hurtful, well, that’ll wreck a pers’s faith a bit I think.

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  40. I hope this is helpful Herman Bavinck a theologian wrote this letter to a friend where he discusses his concerns with the Church, I want to thank Julie for creating a space for all to express our covenant desire. I believe the meme to be narrow minded and petty and worst of all it was done in the name of piety. Because of the memes use of human emotion it may not allow all of us to be the children of God we were meant to be.

    Bavinck writes

    “Sometimes I perceive in my own soul an unspoken desire that Scripture might not be true, that the newer criticism might be right, and in this I see something of that secret enmity that the sinful heart feels against the Holy One and that can only be overcome by faith and prayer. . . . Exactly this experience of the soul, in connection with others, ties me to Scripture and confession, although I feel in my mind
    the objections that can be brought against Christianity as deeply as you do. As for me, primarily heart and conscience prevent me from being modern and liberal. . . .
    You will certainly have received my oration [The Catholicity of Christianity and the Church]. Remember when you read it that it is especially meant as some
    medicine against the separatist and sectarian tendencies that sometimes show up in our church. There is so much narrow-mindedness and so much pettiness among us, and, worst of all, this is counted as piety. I know, the ideal which I strive after is unattainable here, but to be human in the full, natural sense of that word and then as a human to be a child of God in every respect—that seems me to be the most
    beautiful of all. That is what I strive after”

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  41. Daisy wrote: “I’ve also read a lot of people say that church people were friendly to them so long as they went to church, but if they stopped going to church, or left the faith, their former Christian friends from the church dropped them like hot potatoes.”

    This is such a common experience, it makes me think that some christians are only interested in relationship as long as you hold up your side of the (unspoken) bargain. In other words, as long as you make ‘my’ church look good I’ll love you.

    It’s even worse if you leave because you’ve been abused. Then you quickly become persona non grata.

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  42. ‘If being hurt by the Church causes you to lose faith in God then watch out Church there is a punishment, worse than a large millstone being tied around your neck and you being thrown into the sea, coming your way’. says Jesus in Mark 9:42

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  43. I have a slightly different take. I agree a meme is inappropriate for such a large topic. But let’s face it, this is really a free will and fruit topic. Are people responsible for what they say and do?

    God has nothing to do with evil. We do ….because WE allow it and then politely blame God for it, indirectly. Why can’t we expect people to do right? Because they are sinners –so we should expect to be harmed by Christians? If so, what was the point of the cross/resurrection? To be forgiven so we can keep on doing wrong to others?

    We need more survivors who tell the world this rot has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. My brothers and sisters don’t harm each other. And I am not talking about disagreement but harm. They just don’t.

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  44. In my case, being hurt by Christians opened my eyes to all the contradictions in my belief in God. Why was I loving and serving a God who said he loved me but held the threat of eternal punishment over my head until I said I loved him too? Didn’t that mean he was abusive, just like his people were to me? In the end I decided the Christians who abused me were only acting like the God they – and I – believed in, and I lost my faith completely. It was actually a really positive experience for me in the end; I don’t feel upset that I’m no longer a Christian. I am sad though when I think of how long I was abused by the church, who were – I firmly believe – just doing the best they could to be like their abusive God.
    So anyway, THAT’S how I lost my faith. But I’ve realized a lot of Christians don’t like to hear that; they’d rather assume my faith was just in people.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Hi lydia00 are you saying the meme was inappropriate and the person who posted probably isn’t Christian and we should be on guard against that type of free will which produces no good fruit ?

    Like

  46. Because being hurt by the “church” caused me to lose faith in its false teachers, then my faith was in God, not people.

    If being hurt by religious people causes you to lose faith in their (likely false) god, you will become an enemy of the church, but not of Jesus.

    If being hurt by the “church” causes you to lose faith in its people and/or false god, then your faith is freed to grow more and more in Jesus–in which case, however, you will likely find yourself becoming more and more an enemy of the “church.”

    “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (Matthew 5:11 ESV)

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Sounds like an excuse for bad behaviors, invalidating those that have been seriously harmed (like sexual abuse, fleeced financially, mentally tormented etc), being irresponsible for behaviors, and don’t bother calling for accountability in the church, especially leaders.

    God uses people to reach others. We should take our privileges very seriously I believe. Too many are flippant in the church and think grace has them covered no matter what so they don’t even try to reach any Godly, Biblical standards. They don’t even care how they affect others in churches. God asks us to love Him then love others. How does this reflect either? It is a trap door to escape. This makes me cynical I am afraid.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. I didn’t read all the comments here, but I will say at first, this doesn’t bother me. I know that following Jesus is a lot different than following a church. I do take personal responsibility for getting sucked into a cult. But only the parts that I am responsible for. “own what is yours and only what is yours” — that’s a quote I live by. I don’t own what the church did. But I will own up to the fact that I wanted to be loved, accepted, and embraced by other people. I did love them too much. I loved them more than God and valued their opinion so much that I lost myself. I lost my freedom in Christ.

    I will say though, if I had seen this right after coming out of that experience, it would have pissed me off. It does feel like victim blaming. I think the reason why people walk away from God is because Christians are representatives of Him. When they hurt us and wound us so deeply, we will question and doubt if God even loves us. That’s on the church for the abuse they doled out. That’s not on the abused person. Nothing does more damage to Christianity than wolves in sheeps clothing. I will never put my faith in a man again. It wasn’t Jesus who left me wounded and hurting. It was a man with a seminary agree. I will put the blame where it belongs.

    Liked by 4 people

  49. Here were 3 more tweets from Sheepstrong:

    Wrongly conveys that if you let yourself get hurt in church and leave, you don’t have real faith in God or you wouldn’t be hurt and leave.

    This accusatory meme is negative. How about sharing how faith in God can actually grow after being hurt by church and leaving?

    Subtly uses fear to say that church equals faith in God, and being hurt and leaving equals you might lose your faith in God and be lost.

    Liked by 3 people

  50. There are so many good perspectives here. I think Sheepstrong summed up my feelings better than I could:
    wrongly conveys that if u let urself get hurt in church & leave, u dont have real faith in God or u wouldnt be hurt & leave

    I was thinking about this post and I started thinking about how important trust is. You cannot have a relationship without trust. People who cannot trust at all are not healthy people. We are supposed to have relationships in church, right? We can’t do that without trust. Yet how many of us have found out, it isn’t safe to trust others in church.

    Liked by 3 people

  51. It always amazes me when some people think they have the human experience mastered to such perfection that they can make such sweeping, catch all statements about how other people should feel about their personal experiences. Then to expound on their extreme arrogance and inability to compassionately evaluate other people’s pain, they come up with these stupid little saying that get repeated over and over again until they are viewed by many foolish christians as immutable truth. A few of my favorite stupid christian sayings: ” If GOD doesn’t judge America, he will have to apologize to sodom & gomorrah (yeah sure, God the creature of the universe and all people will HAVE TO APOLOGIZE to a certain group of sinner). In their confronting or answering the homosexual or lesbian folks (who mostly just want to be left alone) ” God didn’t make Adam and Steve, he made Adam & EVE.” What a crazy thing to say to someone who hasn’t even accepted Christ as savior yet or may not have even heard the true Gospel message.

    I also find it astounding when sexual offenders that ply their perversion within the church, raping and beating children (some of whom latter KILL THEMSELVES) cover up such abuse, enable such abuse and I hate to say it sometimes do things even more disastrous to the victims than physical rape have the audacity to showcase themselves as the victim. Worse they suddenly feel entitled / qualified to play the combined role of psychologist / counselor and HOLY SPIRIT in the injured party’s life WITHOUT BEING INVITED TO DO SO.

    Recently I heard a brilliant 30 something survivor respond to criticism of lack of church involvement (she goes maybe 15 times a year). She simply said, ” well some of us are in a different place right now, please be patient with us”.

    Her holier than thou assailant then continued, well you can’t use bumps along the road in the Christian life to keep you from doing the LORD’S work. YOU SHOULD BE WORKING IN SOME MINISTRY, everyone needs a ministry !

    Her reply: like I said sir, we are all in different places and have had different experiences with church and CHURCH PEOPLE. Let me ask you, did any of your teachers at the church school pull your paints down and beat you with a whip made of cord ? Did any of the church people you were around digitally penetrate you or insert their fist into your body ? Did your high school sweetheart kill herself over church abuse at age 16 ? Well if you want to come to my recover group I can introduce you to people who have experience this level of horror and more. They don’t see church as a safe place, honestly because of people like you who have had a better experience growing up in the church and wrongly believe everyone else did too.

    They guy was speechless and his little bubble just burst right there. I believe we MUST be in the bubble bursting business until every last Christian or church person has been confronted with the truth effectively enough that continuing to attend a sovereign grace church, Fairfax community , Vineyard church, Calvary Chapel … etc etc AND PAYING THE FREIGHT ON SUCH PLACES THROUGH CONTRIBUTIONS will be totally revolting to them.

    EXPOSURE IS THE KEY.

    Liked by 5 people

  52. In the interest of clarity, YES I categorize people who cover up sexual abuse and in doing so enable it to continue across a broader pool of victims SEXUAL OFFENDERS ( yes CJ I mean YOU ).

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Shy, I love your comment about trust. We trust and then people let us down. This is life. This is Humanity.

    Daisy wrote: “I’ve also read a lot of people say that church people were friendly to them so long as they went to church, but if they stopped going to church, or left the faith, their former Christian friends from the church dropped them like hot potatoes.”

    These comments make me so sad but I think two things…1. It takes a long time to form real bonds with people at church. (I think they say if a friendship lasts 7 years it will be for life?) But I am still friends with people from my childhood church long after we all left it. And this leads to my 2. It is only a certain type of cultish church that shuns former members. A friend had that issue when she left the Pentecostal church. True friendships are true regardless. It’s determining what is real and forming those bonds outside of church that takes time.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Oh my goodness!!!!!!
    Change the words a bit and see how idiotic, harmful, and insensitive this is…
    “If you were sexually abused and it causes physical intimacy in your marriage… you don’t love your spouse”
    “If you were beaten as a child and find hugs difficult, you don’t trust your friends.”
    “If a teacher calls you an idiot and emotionally abuses you every school-day of your life, and you fail your classes. You must not believe in learning.
    “If you were teased and bullied as a child and now you have no friends, you are socially awkward, lonely, and keep to yourself; you must not believe in companionship.
    WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP!
    WE ARE PEOPLE AND THINGS AFFECT US. WE DO NOT LIVE IN LITTLE BUBBLES.

    Liked by 3 people

  55. I totally understand the misrepresentation here… But when the church is the body… the hands and feet of Christ himself and we get “slapped” and “kicked”… what do you expect?!?
    There’s a whole lot of responsibility and blame being shifted here.. as though the victim is at fauld for his own abuse… facepalm and the cycle continues….

    Liked by 2 people

  56. GovPappy,

    Oh way up there…..THANK-YOU for posting that blog piece from back in December. Appreciate the reality you presented there.

    Like

  57. I had a few other thoughts I wanted to express.

    I already explained in a post earlier yesterday some of my reasons for souring on the Christian faith.

    But I do want to say if someone has left the faith or a church purely because of the people, that is totally valid.

    I don’t understand how or why anyone feels it’s okay to judge a person’s reasons for rejecting the faith (or quitting church).

    I don’t think it’s really anyone’s place to shame someone for whatever reason they give for rejecting the faith (or leaving a church). Their reason is their reason.

    I think leaving because of having hurt feelings, or because you were treated poorly by other people, are just as valid reasons as anything else.

    And really, if you are talking to Christians who are still happy with being Christian (and ones who tend to be very judgmental and/or who are living in the Christian bubble), and you’re explaining why you left the faith (are thinking about leaving it), there is never going to be a reason that is good enough for them, anyway.

    I had a few other thoughts I wanted to share that escape me at the moment. I’ll ponder on them and maybe make another post or two if I can think of what the other thoughts were.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Lea said,

    But I am still friends with people from my childhood church long after we all left it. And this leads to my 2. It is only a certain type of cultish church that shuns former members. A friend had that issue when she left the Pentecostal church. True friendships are true regardless.

    I’m not disputing that happens as well, but just to clarify: the stories by people I read on other blogs and Facebook groups was that their church friendships faded away because church people are not interested in being your buddy unless they see you almost every week in a brick and mortar building that has a steeple on it.

    The people’s stories that I read weren’t being shunned due to cultic like, or doctrinal beliefs, that quitters should be shunned.

    Though I have read some churches are into that sort of thing as an official policy…. but it can hurt about as bad to be tossed on the trash heap of life in an un-official capacity too, all because some church-going Christians equate being friends only with seeing your face every Sunday at a building with pews in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Before I could forget again, I jotted down another thought or two I was having about this topic.

    I think I’ll do this in a Part 1 and Part 2 format. Here’s Part 1.

    In my own case, it’s not just church or a church environment that played a role in my faith crisis. It’s the entire enchilada. It’s Christians in generalregardless of the location where I met them, got to know them, or confided in them.

    It doesn’t matter if these are Christians I met in a church, or in my neighborhood grocery store, or where ever.

    One of a few things that precipitated my faith crisis was the death of my mother several years ago (there are other factors that I don’t want to get into here and now).

    I tend to be an introvert, so I’m not comfortable being around people IRL (In Real Life), but books I read about grief after my mother’s death, including Christian-authored books by psychiatrists, said it was not healthy for me to keep the grief bottled up.

    The authors of the books advised that I go to local churches and open up to other Christians about what I was going through.

    So I tried that. I went to my dad’s church for a few month and opened up to a Christian or two there who seemed trust worthy and sympathetic. I went by myself to a different church in the area, too. (I also went to another church by myself for a few months before I had to move to this new area.)

    I also phoned and e-mailed various extended Christian family of mine, some of whom live an hour or longer car drive from where I live now. (Many of these Christian family attend church every week, or very often. They read the Bible daily or weekly. Even the one or two who don’t attend a church claim to love Jesus and believe in Jesus.)

    My experience was not only that Christians I met in churches let me down, but also other Christians in general.

    You’ll sometimes see this on the internet, too. I have been vulnerable on other Christian sites about some difficulty I’m in, or some disappointment I am struggling with, and some of the Christians who respond to me on those other sites are un-loving little jerk faces about it.

    So, Christians producing atheists and agnostics and ‘almost-agnostics,’ or hurting people deeply and turning them off to church or the faith, is not just a phenomenon that happens in a church setting only. I felt like that was important to mention.

    My one small ray of light or hope that does’t cause me to totally throw the Christian faith in the trash can have been the small number of Christians who seem genuinely caring on blogs, such as this one.

    Which isn’t to say I haven’t been beat up a little bit, and hit back a time or two when smacked around on this blog or others, but overall, I’d say my experience here and the other blogs has been pretty positive, or certainly a step above most Christians I’ve met or known IRL, or in churches around town.

    Like

  60. @Paul
    Excellent post on your blog, points well represented. Would it be safe to say then, if John Calvin’s evidence of a soul’s salvation lies in the very act of water baptism, how then can it be that Jesus declared the one thief on the cross to be with Him in Paradise? This thief who acknowledged our living Savior is with our LORD and King in Paradise as we speak……without water baptism and without church membership, and without all of those ‘evidence of works salvation;’ the church braggers and boasters answers to the ‘fruits theology, regardless of how Jesus addressed doing good works without the big band of applause.

    I have actually discovered in the real world, that it is so delightful and deeply humbling to sit amongst a few and visit about what Jesus is showing us through His Word. Acturally talking about Jesus, how He treated people, how He loved people, how He corrected the religious folks of His day, how He had mercy and grace upon the defenseless, the poor, the sick and dying, the orphaned and widowed, the woman caught in adultery, etc………actually TALK about Jesus. In churches, I find that visiting about Jesus and His Wonders involves continuously be corrected, criticized, eye balls a rolling around the block several times, and being told that I didn’t know as much because I wasn’t a Christian as long as these people. How dare I read the Bible for myself and how dare we speak of Jesus and His Ways; that was reserved only for the spiritual elite!

    The Kingdom of Jesus, perhaps, is much, much different than mere man makes it out to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  61. but it can hurt about as bad to be tossed on the trash heap of life in an un-official capacity too, all because some church-going Christians equate being friends only with seeing your face every Sunday at a building with pews in it.

    Oh absolutely! As I said, I find this very sad.

    I guess what I mean is that it takes a lot of time and effort to build a true, lasting friendship. Sometimes you meet people and just click right off but in my experience in adulthood that is rare. Actually making friends as an adult is more difficult it seems.

    I think the type of friends who forget about you once you are not immediately in front of them have never developed to that deep lasting level. And it takes more effort to maintain friendships when you used to see them regularly and now you don’t. I think it’s sort of like when people retire or change jobs. You have to work to maintain those things and some people aren’t willing to do that.

    I’ve been going to a church for 6 months and I think all of the non family contact I’ve had had been fairly shallow. (Well there was one guy I went on a date with but that’s sort of a different thing) Maybe five years down the road I will have a different answer.

    And in case I have been unclear, I moved back home after a number of years away and I feel like j had to basically relearn how to make friends entirely. So I get it and it sucks. And it’s sad that you might think you’ve found a friend and then find that it was not at all what you thought. I hope my rambles make sense!

    Liked by 1 person

  62. My opinion is that a majority of Christians have forgotten what a New Testament church is for and a majority of Pastors don’t teach them. One of the evidences of being a Christian is having love for your brothers and sisters. Love is a hallmark of a NT church and this is what “wows” the unbeliever. You have an ex-drug addict loving on a rich businessman. You have an prostitute getting mothering from Aunt Sue. You have the strong in faith coming along side of those that are weak in faith and struggling. You have those Christians slipping, and sliding, in life that really can call a guy at 2AM to get help when temptation is knocking at the door. This is something the world doesn’t offer and one can’t fake that kind of love.

    Sometimes I think, in some churches, I am a backdrop for promoting the Pastor on TV so he can sell whatever, or a backdrop for a brand. I can recall visiting one megachurch and they had cameras everywhere. It was hard to even see the Pastor because of a huge camera on a crane that swayed back and forth to catch close ups of the Pastor. I was in a smaller church when this guy was Pastor but honestly, I doubt he even remembers those days. I never bothered to walk up to him and say HI after the service.

    Church, and ministries, seem to be about numbers these days and the better the numbers the higher the numbers one gets in $$$. The more numbers the more book deals, speaking engagements and getting a photo with your local politician or maybe a president. The whole goal seems to reach that quota in one form or fashion. If one can’t do it honestly then fudging a bit is OK. Anything works for that brand so it is OK to sweep the garbage under the rug.

    Liked by 2 people

  63. Shy1’s posts above and posts by Justin Boulianne were right on the money.

    Like I said before, a lot of people will judge the Christian faith or Jesus by how Christians behave; that’s just the way it is, no matter how much Christians wish that wasn’t so.

    I periodically visit some sites and blogs by ex-Christians, or sites that draw a mixed crowd – not just this one here and T-W-W, but a few other sites – where you get atheists, Christians, agnostics, and some of these people are ex-Christians.

    And a lot of them said the only, or one of the biggest, or maybe one factor of a few, that propelled them to question and leave the faith was how they were treated by Christians.

    I sometimes wonder if it’s not just being hurt by Christians that does it – but that if you bring it to a Christian’s attention, they will brush it off like it’s nothing.

    Or, if you say you have rejected the church or the faith due to being hurt by Christians, most Christians won’t simply validate that and say, “I am sorry you were hurt by Christians,” but will try to shame you over it or argue you back into the faith.

    I think if more Christians just validated the pain and anger and said, ‘You were wronged by Christians; I am so sorry,’ that attitude and approach alone might cause some of them to reconsider and take another look at the faith.

    Another thing that comes up a lot in testimonies on Christian TV shows: people base their ideas of God the Father on their earthly father.

    I watch a lot of Christian TV programming (sometimes it’s “hate watching” – I find it entertaining at times), and it seems like every third testimony has a man or woman saying stuff like,
    “I was afraid of God since I was a kid,” or, “I thought God was angry at me and hated me from the time I was a kid,” – all because their earthly father was an abusive jerk to them when they were young.

    They had to come to some epiphany as adults that ‘Heavenly Father’ is not like ‘Earthly Father.’

    Some of these people don’t get this epiphany until they are in their 40s or older, while some might reach it in their late 20s or their 30s.

    But in-between the feelings of fear or rejection by God and the epiphany they later get that maybe God isn’t as jerky as they thought when younger, they might end up for years dabbling in illegal activity, abusing drugs, etc.

    Whether Christians like it or not, a lot of people do in fact form their ideas about God and what he’s like based on people they know on earth.
    They might base their ideas on what God is like from their earthly father, for example – that comes up a lot in these Christian programs I see on television.

    A lot of Christians want to brush this fact aside like it’s an annoying gnat, and tell the confused, fearful, or hurting believers (or ex believers) to only look to Jesus and not people who claim his name. It’s not that easy for some of them to do this.

    My thing is, I can’t get past how so many who claim to follow Christ don’t seemingly even try to consistently live out the bare minimum of what he taught (and I really do not expect absolute perfection from Christians, either). So… I’m left wondering, what is the point at all?

    But anyway… for a lot of people, they do get their views about who God is and what He’s like based on their experiences with people who say they believe in God.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. One of the evidences of being a Christian is having love for your brothers and sisters. Love is a hallmark of a NT church and this is what “wows” the unbeliever.

    Kay, there is a song…’they will know we are Christians by our love by our love’. Maybe they should start singing that one a little more?

    Liked by 2 people

  65. @ Lea, yes, your ramble made sense to me. 🙂

    I do think it’s harder to make friends as you get older (and to get dates).

    I saw a comic that captured this pretty well some time ago (this is on Neat-O-Rama, the comic is under the video at the top of the page)

    _Making Friends As An Adult Vs. Kid_

    I think it’s totally weird that some (a lot?) of Christians will only be your friend if they see you at a church building every week and act as though you no longer exist if you stop going.

    I’m the type of person, if I were to make a friend during church services, I would be okay hanging out with them outside of church, like meeting them at a movie theater to catch a movie together, going shopping together, or just chilling at my place and theirs (like, to watch a movie on cable).

    For the life of me, I don’t understand why someone would want to cut someone totally out of their life just because they don’t show up to the same church (or any church) anymore.

    I guess it can be a god-send in some situations, though.
    I mean, I was hurt by a Christian or two at my dad’s church, so I stopped going to that church, and I had little desire to hang out with either person ever again in any context or location.
    I would have found it stressful if any of those church people continued to track me down outside of church to want to hang out with me. I would’ve found it awkward to explain why I no longer wanted to share their company.

    At least back then that would’ve been the case. Now that I’m better at expressing myself, I would feel more comfortable being forth-right and telling them that they said stuff that hurt my feelings, so I find it best if we don’t associate any longer.

    Like

  66. (I apologize if I seem to be dominating the comments here, that is not my intent. This is another topic that sets me off, I guess. I don’t want to put anyone else from commenting, so please don’t be turned off by me or my posts.)

    Add on to my previous post, where I said:

    I mean, I was hurt by a Christian or two at my dad’s church, so I stopped going to that church, and I had little desire to hang out with either person ever again in any context or location.

    About that. This jogged another thought related to Julie Anne’s original post, about the meme.

    My dad found out that is why I don’t go to his church anymore, that I was hurt and offended by a church lady or two at his church.

    My dad chided me and ridiculed me over it. He thinks it’s silly and laughable that I would stop going to a church (or where ever) because someone there hurt my feelings or offended me.

    My dad also made fun of some guy at that church who did the same thing as me.

    Some guy at my dad’s church got offended or hurt because other church members criticized his tattoos (I do not think my dad said anything to the guy either way about his tats – it was other people at the church who did this).

    So, Tat Guy stopped going to that church, but continued to hang out with my father outside of church (like they would go on fishing trips together, or my dad would give him lifts to doctor appointments when he was really sick. This guy died a year or two ago. Anyway).

    My dad was telling me in private he basically felt it was ridiculous for Tat Guy to drop church because a few butt-heads there were judgmental about his tattoos.

    My dad also felt it was ridiculous that I “allowed” an insensitive lady or two to run me off from church.

    In a way, I get my father’s point, but it also bothers me.

    It adds insult to injury: I’m hurt or insulted by “Person A.”
    Then, when “Person B” finds out I was hurt by “Person A,” “Person B” mocks me for changing my behavior due to “A’s” actions.

    I’m like, for real? You can’t just empathize and say, “I’m sorry Person A hurt you, that was terrible.” -?

    It’s not just my father. I’ve seen other Christians do this very same thing.

    I’ve even seen preachers on TV criticize Christians who quit church over this stuff. They will sit there and criticize of mock you on TV for quitting church because “Brother Joe” or “Sister Bertha” at “XYZ Church” hurt your feelings or made a snide comment.

    I think that takes a lot of nerve for them to chide people over quitting church over stuff like this (or worse). I refuse to subject myself to a rude environment, where I am abused or treated poorly.

    Now that I have better boundaries, if I went back to a church and a Brother Joe or a Sister Bertha made a snippy or insensitive comment to me or about me, or about my opinions, or about my life, I would likely let them know in no uncertain (and maybe even profanity-laced) terms exactly where they can stick their judgmental or un-kind comment.

    If you’re the type to shame or criticize someone like me for quitting church over being hurt or offended by a Christian, do you REALLY want me to go back now, now that I’m not so reluctant to confront people to their rude faces and tell them exactly what they can do with their nasty comments?

    I would probably let go pretty bad on such a person now – even if it’s inside a church building. Even if it’s a pastor or someone else in a leader role on a Sunday, I do not care – they put their pants on one leg at a time like I do.

    The other person might break down in tears by the time I got done ripping into them if they were rude to me. I refuse to sit there in silence and take crud off people anymore, whether it’s in a church building or where ever.

    In the meantime, another one of my boundaries is to decide I don’t want to subject myself to environments or groups or people who treat me like doody.

    I’m just sort of surprised and annoyed that my father, or other Christians, think I should continue to subject myself to crummy treatment from people I don’t much care for. I get to decide when and where I go, not them.

    I have no desire to show up to a building once a week to sit around and get snippy or judgmental comments from other people (who claim to “love the Lord.”). I’d rather spend that time sleeping in and watching re-runs on TV, thank you.

    Like

  67. What Kay said in her post of MAY 20, 2016 @ 8:20 AM is right on the money.

    Yeah, my understanding of what the NT says about church is that Christians are to support other Christians. And many churches are goofing that up in a big way.

    Many church-going Christians either set church up to be about supporting the pastor (and his “vision,” if we’re talking about those trendy seeker-friendly mega churches) or, a lot of them are, IMO, too pre-occupied with stuff like converting Non-Christians, or helping the severely downtrodden (such as orphans in India, or homeless people in town).

    Certainly, two functions of the church body include spreading the Gospel (convert the unconverted) and to help widows and the hungry and so on, and that’s all well and good. I don’t dispute that at all.

    But somewhere in there, that stuff has taken precedence over Sally the Pew Sitter helping Mary the Pew Sitter.

    When I began opening up to various Christians I met at my Dad’s church, for example (mostly about my mother’s death and how it was affecting me) – one lady in particular, Church Lady – her big thing was helping homeless people at a church-sponsored homeless shelter, which is fine (I volunteered there a few times).

    But. When I tried getting some kind of encouragement from her in regards to my mother’s passing, she would instead brush off my loss by yakking about how horrible the women in the shelter had life.

    As if to say, my mother dying was no big deal. I should look on the bright, sunny side of life, because Mom may be dead, but, hey, gee will-ikers, son of a gun, at least I wasn’t in a homeless shelter look those poor homeless ladies were!!(*)

    It’s like a lot of Christians only think some types of problems (homelessness, for example) are worthy of compassion.

    If you are just some garden variety person, such as me, going through a tough time (e.g., death in the family), it’s like with those Christians, you and your pain don’t matter, so you need to suck it up and get over it all alone on your own resources.

    (That attitude conflicts with stuff I’ve read in books by Christian psychologists who say you should be able to count on other Christians for emotional support or encouragement.)

    But yes, a lot of Christians don’t want to be a support or blessing for another hurting Christian. They only want to do stuff like volunteer at soup kitchens or raise funds to send sandwiches to orphans in Africa.

    I am so, so confused by that attitude that only some people or some types of problems are worthy of help and compassion, but not others.

    (*)BTW, I ran this story past an online friend of mine who I did NOT know used to be homeless herself, until I shared that story with her, and she told me she used to be homeless, and she was appalled on my behalf.
    She told me she used to live on the streets for several months or a year or a bit more (she was homeless for a time), and she was completely appalled and rather infuriated that the Church Lady acted like my mother’s passing was really no biggie because some people are homeless.

    Like

  68. Regarding this earlier comment of mine:

    A lot of Christians want to brush this fact aside like it’s an annoying gnat, and tell the confused, fearful, or hurting believers (or ex believers) to only look to Jesus and not people who claim his name. It’s not that easy for some of them to do this.

    My ex fiance’ told me that he almost became a Mormon (he eventually later became a Christian).

    I found that intriguing. I asked him what turned him off from Mormonism?

    My ex told me that the Mormons told him that using caffeine was wrong, so, they taught that Mormons were not to drink soda or coffee (I think they were also against smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, if I remember correctly?)

    And I was like, yeah, and?

    My ex told me he was turned off from Mormonism and thought it was a bunch of hooey because over the year or more he was friends with this Mormon family or two – he’d hang out with them at their homes and stuff – they would sit around chatting….

    While drinking Pepsi soda, Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola, or sipping coffee or tea.

    I think he said some of them smoked cigarettes, too.

    There is a lesson in there for Christians who think all they need to do is tell the disgruntled Christians or ex-Christians to look to Jesus only and not the people who claim to follow Jesus.

    The reality is, if you are a Christian, and whether you like it or not, some people are in fact judging Christianity and its truth claims and/or Jesus by your behavior or by Christians en masse.

    Maybe the intellectual thing would be for the disgruntled to divorce the two concepts, but how Christians behave can still be a big stumbling block for some people.

    I do get that Jesus claiming to be the way, the truth, and the life must stand on Jesus himself and the proofs he offered, and that “Brother Fred” or “Sister Mary Sue” acting like rude blockheads to you doesn’t invalidate the veracity of Christ’s claims or how accurate the Bible is and so forth…

    And I cannot articulate this for you very well, but the behavior of professing Christians such as “Brother Fred” and “Sister Mary Sue” do never-the-less get into the mix when a disgruntled person is making decisions about the faith and whether they want to stick with it or not, or if it’s worth sticking with.

    And a lot of Christians (who are peachy with the Christian faith and NOT having issues with it or with other Christians) online chaff at that, which isn’t helping persuade the hurting to stick with the faith.

    Like

  69. (I apologize again for so many posts, I just keep thinking of various things I’ve read about all this stuff and would like to share.)

    I said above:

    And I cannot articulate this for you very well, but the behavior of professing Christians such as “Brother Fred” and “Sister Mary Sue” do never-the-less get into the mix when a disgruntled person is making decisions about the faith and whether they want to stick with it or not, or if it’s worth sticking with.

    This reminds me.
    In one book I read about why people leave church or become ex-Christians, there was this story about a journalist that is an example of this.

    I might be remembering some of the details wrong here, but you’ll get the gist.
    I think the guy started out as an agnostic(?). He then came to believe in God, and he became a Roman Catholic. But, all the pedo scandals in the RC and the cover-ups turned him off of the RC. I think he then became a Protestant.

    At some point, he was assigned, by the paper he was working for (the LA Times, or some other big paper) to cover religious stories.

    He did a series of exposes about crooked or greedy Protestant preachers and/or tele-evangelists.

    He was disheartened to see how many Christ-professing swindlers are out there, bilking people in the name of Jesus, such as tele-evangelist Benny Hinn, and I forget who all else he brought up.

    However, he didn’t toss in the towel on Christianity at that stage. He figured every group has its bad apples, so he wasn’t going to stop being a Christian just because of the greedy swindlers like Benny Hinn, and whomever claimed to be Christian too.

    What finally caused this journalist guy to leave church (and I think he became an atheist too(?)) was how, when he went to many Christians and Christian groups (really famous ones, ones whose names you’ve heard of), and he brought it to their attention how these other Christian preachers or groups were greedy, dishonest pond scum, expecting these Christians to correct the bad ones and so something about it, these other Christians or Christian groups did nothing about it.

    They were too afraid, or maybe too vested (like they had money tied up in the dishonest ministries, or whatever), to want to do the right thing, or to act as whistle blowers.

    I think his feeling was, how true or how good is Christianity, really, if all these people who claim the name of Christ aren’t consistently living out their professed beliefs, and are not standing up and calling out abuse or misdeeds done by professing believers?

    The Christian faith must not be true if nobody, or next to nobody, who claims it is doing the right thing. (The guy became very disillusioned and left the faith, I think). I share that sense too. I get where he’s coming from on that.

    This gets back to the fact that sometimes, the actions or behavior of Christians can turn people off to church or the faith.

    This particular guy even jumped entire denominations (RC to Protestant) before he gave up on God and all of it. He wasn’t finding any, or many, believers who acted like they really, really believed in Jesus and what Jesus taught.

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  70. I am not sure if this still goes on in churches but a huge problem for me was 1) seeing church folk talk about how many people they led to Christ, like it was a competition. It seemed like they were not interested in relationship, but saw a non-believer as a potential notch in their witnessing belt!
    2) A certain group in the church (mostly women) got involved in multi-level marketing and would accost people at church to sell product and try to recruit them to work with them. Of course they said product X was a “proven”, “one of a kind”,” Christian” product. Usually they would work into their spiel how it helped them become a Proverbs 31 woman who could stay home with the kids and still bring in an income. (Usually they had nothing to show for it). It appears that the new “Christian” products are essential oils.
    I hated how they used the church community to make money. They would rationalize that they sold a needed Godly product therefore it was okay to try to recruit on Sundays at church. I saw it as a huge scam that took advantage of financially struggling people. I hated how they dropped the person once they were no longer useful, the same way they dropped new believers after they had been “saved” and move on to the next “Mark”. I do not want to be an item on anyone’s check list!!

    Liked by 2 people

  71. It appears that the new “Christian” products are essential oils.

    Better than plexus! (I know so so many people selling plexus). I actually do use essential oils but they sell them at whole foods, the vitamin store, Amazon..seems like a silly thing to sell.

    Like

  72. Oh Ann! Just switched over to Facebook and Babylon bee had a joke about mlm in church (Mary Kay vs Avon). Apparently Christianity today had an article last year as well. I haven’t noticed this at church but I know so many people selling things like this.

    Like

  73. Thanks for bringing the ‘essential oils’ scam to our attention. This scam is alive and well within Christianity as a way and means to a ‘holistic approach’ to healing the body, mind and soul. It is ALL new age, age old methods of divination designed to heal the human being without taking so called secular medication or receiving additional medical treatments. I had a strange, very strange conservative older woman in one of the Pentecostal churches our family attended invite me over to her home to ‘educate’ me on the holistic lifestyle as I had health issues that wouldn’t go away. I did the Pentecostal/charismatic thing of prayer, praying against it, praying away my illness/loss of blood, then tried a few ‘holistic’ things believing that I would receive healing, attending a few ‘healing revival’ conferences hoping this would be the answer to my healing….then finally…..

    Went to my amazing doctor, received the diagnosis, had a abdominal tumor surgically removed by a born again Christian woman surgeon, went home the next day needing NO pain killing medication, and have been healthy and well adjusted ever since. No more continuous bleeding here, praising our LORD for the modern medical procedures offered to us lowly folks in this day and age.

    Even the NAR apostles who preach and teach that we are little gods and have conquered death….die eventually here on this earth. It is Jesus who has conquered the grave on our behalf. Been there, done all of that, never for the life of me, going back. Alleluia!

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  74. had a abdominal tumor surgically removed by a born again Christian woman surgeon, went home the next day needing NO pain killing medication, and have been healthy and well adjusted ever since. No more continuous bleeding here, praising our LORD for the modern medical procedures offered to us lowly folks in this day and age.

    So glad things worked for you!!!

    Let me clarify that when I say I use essential oils, I mean I use them to make bath salts smell good not to cure cancer.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. I meant to put a few links in here when I was here earlier but forgot.

    _Religious Trauma Syndrome: How some organized religion leads to mental health problems_

    _One Woman’s Experience With ‘Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome’_ (on Huffington Post)

    I just found this page. I suspect the author may be left of center, whereas I’m more right of center, but I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he said:
    _When religion makes people worse_ (by David Gushee, on Religion News Site)

    Snippet from RNS page:
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    When religion makes people worse by David Gushee

    Worst of all has been my discovery in recent years of versions of Christianity that actually make people worse human beings than they might otherwise have been.

    Here churches, pastors, or individuals interpret Scripture or faith in such a way that they do harm they would not do if they were just good old-fashioned pagans. I never anticipated that I would think:
    “If we could just keep people out of (this version of) church, they would be better people.”

    Christian leaders often puzzle over why Christianity in America is declining so badly. Here’s a reason: some highly visible versions of Christianity are so abhorrent that reasonably sensible people want nothing to do with Christianity or the people who practice it.

    Liked by 1 person

  76. Regarding Ann’s post,

    I hated how they dropped the person once they were no longer useful, the same way they dropped new believers after they had been “saved” and move on to the next “Mark”. I do not want to be an item on anyone’s check list!!
    Yes, I’ve been made to feel like a project by other Christians, and it’s not pleasant.

    And/or – The only reason they were helping me was that they felt they HAD TO (God was expecting them to, out of obedience), not because they actually cared about me and WANTED TO help.

    I saw a story on a blog by a Christian woman who went to church with a Non-Christian friend, from I think, India. Her friend spoke with an accent and had brown skin.

    She had been going to that same church for months, or a year or more.
    She said what was so glaring and hurtful is that when she brought her foreign friend to church one day, and he straight-up admitted to the Christian women there he was not “saved,” they acted like his long-long best friend.

    They were very sweet to him, and very huggy and touchie, and would put their arms around him.
    The church ladies started stopping by her home to drop off home-baked goodies for her to give to him. He gots lots of home-made pies, cakes, goodies. The friend from India enjoyed the attention and told her he found it all rather amusing.

    She said, that’s funny, these Christian women have NEVER shown me this must friendliness or interest (and she had been wanting them to). She said that was a real eye-opener to her.

    They never brought her home-made pies or cakes. She felt hurt by the whole experience. It made her sad that some Christians are more interested in showing kindness to a potential convert than to someone who is already Christian who’s been going to their church for X months or years.

    About selling stuff at church, or to other Christians.
    A few months after my mother died, and I moved to this new city, I bumped into a Christian lady at a shop here. She seemed nice and friendly and we got to talking.

    We exchanged phone numbers and became friends (or so I thought).
    She eventually invited me to her home for a Christian-based jewelry party. I was still a tad naive at the time, but looking back, I am hurt and slightly miffed to think the only reason she invited me to her Christian Jewelry Party is that on the way over, in the car, (she had to pick me up as I did not have a car at the time), that she needed ten people (10 party guests) to qualify for a free pair of earrings…
    I now suspect that the only reason I was invited was that she wanted those free earrings – not that she really valued my friendship.

    She stopped contacting me after that party, or shortly after. She wouldn’t reply to my e-mails or anything.

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  77. One of the main points presented in evangelism is that by becoming a Christian you’ll receive the Holy Spirit that will work in you and through you to make you a different and “better” person. Once in the religion, when that isn’t reflected in the members of the church and they often are as bad or worse than outsiders, you’re told “Christians are people just like everybody else.” You can’t have it both ways. Really, you can’t.

    I also want to commend poetrymafia’s post above and encourage everyone to read it. Several posts here by me and others have consistently pointed out that people don’t “leave God” because they were hurt by the church. So, while the meme is insensitive, more importantly, it’s flat out inaccurate. poetrymafia’s post illustrates this perfectly. Hurt caused by church members can start you on a path toward leaving God, but the reasons for leaving are much deeper than that. Someone’s reasons for leaving God may be different than poetrymafia’s, but people don’t leave a faith they’ve had for decades because their feelings were hurt.

    I keep reiterating this point because the impression left by many of the comments that followed is that people believe hurt feelings are a primary reason people leave God. That is virtually never the primary reason or even one of the primary reasons. It seems unkind to say that’s why they left when the people themselves would say otherwise.

    Additionally, it’s inconsiderate to say they left because “they weren’t doing it right because they….(Pick one) put their faith in man or were too works based or they didn’t do enough works or they didn’t believe the right doctrine or….etc.” It’s a never ending list of possibilities. “No matter what you did, you clearly didn’t do it right.” It’s a way to dismiss another person and ignore interacting with the real reasons they left. It’s also a form of saying, “It’s your fault it didn’t work for you.”

    I realize I’ve probably said too much in all of this, but I feel it’s important to try to correct that misrepresentation of those that have left the faith. I can only encourage you to really talk to some that have done so. They don’t leave because they want to sin. They don’t leave because someone hurt their feelings. They were real Christians who did the “right” things. They decided to make a hard choice to leave. Give them the dignity of at least listening to their reasons why.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. She said what was so glaring and hurtful is that when she brought her foreign friend to church one day, and he straight-up admitted to the Christian women there he was not “saved,” they acted like his long-long best friend.

    They were very sweet to him, and very huggy and touchie, and would put their arms around him.
    The church ladies started stopping by her home to drop off home-baked goodies for her to give to him. He gots lots of home-made pies, cakes, goodies. The friend from India enjoyed the attention and told her he found it all rather amusing.

    Classic Love-Bombing.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. It appears that the new “Christian” products are essential oils.

    Amway — The Next Generation.

    Better than plexus! (I know so so many people selling plexus).

    What is “plexus” in this context?

    Like

  80. What is “plexus” in this context?

    I can’t tell if you’re really asking what it is or making a sly joke of some sort that I’m not getting through the fog of this cold I have!

    If you have never heard of plexus I envy you. It is some sort of ‘pink drink’ that I have been aggressively invited to buy or sell by half my family, people I knew from high school, etc. I just like excuses to complain about it.

    And daisy, I know one of your Christian Jewelry salesman too and have been dragged to a couple of those parties. This stuff is a menace! I don’t think men have to suffer from so much of this nonsense, although maybe they have more buddies offering stock tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  81. outsidelookingin722 said,

    So, while the meme is insensitive, more importantly, it’s flat out inaccurate. poetrymafia’s post illustrates this perfectly. Hurt caused by church members can start you on a path toward leaving God, but the reasons for leaving are much deeper than that. Someone’s reasons for leaving God may be different than poetrymafia’s, but people don’t leave a faith they’ve had for decades because their feelings were hurt.

    I keep reiterating this point because the impression left by many of the comments that followed is that people believe hurt feelings are a primary reason people leave God. That is virtually never the primary reason or even one of the primary reasons. It seems unkind to say that’s why they left when the people themselves would say otherwise.

    But there are a lot of people (including me) who are having a faith crisis because their feelings were hurt by the church and/or by Christians (and there may be other reasons as well).

    I don’t like it when people discount having hurt feelings as a reason to leave the faith (or to quit going to a church), as though that’s grounds to brush aside their rationale, as though having been hurt means nothing.

    If you know folks who left for other reasons, okay, that’s fine. I certainly don’t think that everyone’s reasons are identical to mine or necessarily find their reasons any less valid than mine.

    I was brought up in a Christian family that taught me stuff like – my feelings do not matter; other people’s feelings matter more than mine; if someone does hurt my feelings, I am ridiculous for “allowing” myself to feel hurt by what someone else said or did.

    So I don’t appreciate anyone minimizing my concerns by saying, “They’re just hurt feelings, get over it.”
    I had that line of thinking crammed down my throat by my family since I was a kid and have had non-relatives in churches shame me like that well, even as an adult over the last few years.

    If other people have other reasons for why they became agnostic, atheist, or dropped out of church, I recognize that, but I am commenting from my own experiences or perspective is all.

    Liked by 1 person

  82. HUG said,
    “Classic Love-Bombing.”

    It might be a form of that, but I’ve seen this before.

    Even on Christian TV shows – there is usually an emphasis on loving and helping Non-Christians in 3rd world countries (like converting them to the faith or digging them water wells) than there is helping everyday, regular Christians in the United States who are having a hard time.

    Many American Christians are more concerned with only unconverted people, or extreme hardship cases (such as poverty in 3rd world nations, or homeless people in shelters), but they don’t give a rip about “Joe Smith” or “Mary Roberts” who are undergoing a job layoff, a divorce, or other “less exotic” life problems* here in the USA (*from the typical evangelical view, anyway).

    If you are the one going through the job layoff, divorce, or whatever, it’s a big deal TO YOU.

    But good luck at getting “John and Susie Christian” at your corner church to give a flip and help you out.
    They’ll tell you to shut up and go volunteer at the local soup kitchen instead, while they are skipping along the street to tuck a check in the mail to send to some TV evangelist who will use the money to provide rice bowls to orphans in Africa.

    I swear to goodness I cannot figure out why so many Christians are like this, but I kept running into them after my mother died, and I see them on Christian shows constantly.

    Like

  83. Lea said,
    “because he was a man”

    I suppose that could be a reason why those ladies were so attentive, but my impression from reading the woman’s post is not that the ladies wanted to date the guy or flirt with him, but that he was the exotic foreign dude who was OBVIOUSLY “un-saved,” and it was their religious mission and pious duty to win him to Christ.

    -Which meant, to them, to suck up to him, be extra special nice, bake him cakes, etc.

    I can just imagine how awful that lady felt, who wrote that post about it.

    She had been going to that church for a few weeks, or a month or two, when that happened. The church people knew she was already “saved” when she began attending, so they didn’t bother kissing her rear end and rolling out the red carpet.

    I read a similar story about a woman who had never married. She went to the same church for one or two years.

    The church people never took much notice or interest in her until one Sunday, she had her parents over as guests, a married couple.

    Suddenly, this woman was VISIBLE. The other (married) Christians flocked to her parents and chatted them up before the church service and after, they were very animated and sociable, and then they paid attention to her as a result.

    This woman’s reaction was like ‘W.T.H.? I couldn’t get noticed or get friendly attention until and unless I was with a married couple? Up until that point, it’s like I did not exist to these people.’

    Like

  84. “If being hurt by the “church” causes you to lose faith in its people and/or false god, then your faith is freed to grow more and more in Jesus–in which case, however, you will likely find yourself becoming more and more an enemy of the “church.””

    Gary, you always say it better than I can!

    Like

  85. “Hi lydia00 are you saying the meme was inappropriate and the person who posted probably isn’t Christian and we should be on guard against that type of free will which produces no good fruit ?”

    Hi Brent, I believe we are responsible for our words/actions. I am not a determinist. I am not interested in debating determinism. I want all victims to eventually become survivors and champions of Justice. I want them to be strong and heard and that is a long process and we must have each other’s backs. That is hard to do when we attach ourselves to what we are told are ‘godly’ leaders.

    We are all priests in the true priesthood. Jesus Christ has little to do with most of what we see out their claiming His Name.

    Like

  86. Hi Daisy, just a few clarifications. My comments were not necessarily directed toward you at all. Additionally, I had no intention to minimize your feelings and I apologize for leaving that impression. Only you fully know your experience and no one (including me) can say otherwise.

    As best I can tell, my comments didn’t minimize hurt caused by churches and the feelings that they cause. The hurt that comes from those painful church experiences is absolutely real and can be very scarring. I’ve definitely also been exposed to the minimization of my feelings by churches and family. So I too have, through the years, had to learn to get in touch with and listen to my feelings. Our feelings are one of the most important guides we have in life. Everyone’s feelings are important and they absolutely matter.

    I do want to make a distinction between leaving church and leaving God (which is what is said in the meme). Those are very different things. I have no doubt that lots of people have understandably left church and questioned faith because of painful experiences. My claim is that it is an incredibly rare exception for someone to completely leave God (=become an atheist) solely because of hurt from church experiences.

    Here’s why: If someone believes that the basic tenets of Christianity (e.g. God exists and is creator and ruler of all, sin exists and separates us from God, hell is real, Jesus is the only way to avoid hell, etc) are all true, then that same person is unlikely to leave God solely because of painful church experiences. In fact, if someone believes those things, then they’re clearly not atheist. To “leave God”, someone would need to no longer believe those things that they once held very dear and those reasons go beyond being hurt by the church. Abuse in churches can absolutely be a starting point for that process as it may lead to asking deeper questions (e.g. why don’t I see the changes in people outlined in the Bible? Why didn’t God stop the abuse? Why do they get away with it? etc.)

    However, I do stand by my claim that if you talk to those who were Christians for years who are now atheists, then you’ll find that their reasons for leaving will be far deeper and more complex than “I was mistreated by church people.”

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  87. I have felt like for years and years the church has it’s mission backwards. The church should be for Christians. A place of support, comfort and friendship, a place where needs are shared and burdens are lifted.

    But the church sees itself as the mobilization center for evangelism. Evangelism is something I believe happens naturally as people share the faith they hold dear with those they come in contact with, and some are called as evangelists who dedicate their lives to sharing the good news. But the church does not see that as enough. It wants to grow bigger, faster. It needs to feel big and important. It needs to have a presence. So it becomes a place where Christians are manipulated and used, to that end. Their purpose is not to worship and learn to know God together, their purpose is to be saddled with guilt and pushed to produce. It changes the whole atmosphere and it changes relationships. Look at Mary and Martha. Everyone knows this story! But we are pushed to imitate Martha, not Mary!

    My husband and I were once invited to a neighbor’s church. We were already Christians and attended church but they were so friendly about inviting us, we agreed to attend church with them that Sunday. Imagine our feelings when we stepped into the sanctuary and there on the back wall was a big bulletin board where there were placed construction paper “fishing rods”. There was one with our neighbors’ names on it and when we went in, they went over and clipped 2 more construction paper “fish” on the end of their “line.” It was a competition and we had just helped them get ahead a little. It was so tacky, we were stunned! Needless to say we never attended there again and avoided those people like the plague after that. What were they thinking?

    I don’t think many churches would do it in such a tacky way these days but the bottom line is the same. It’s all about those numbers. Once you’re in, you don’t count. Well, after all these years as a Christian I look back and I don’t see much value that I got out of going to church. There were a couple times we lucked out and had an excellent pastor who really taught the Bible, and that was worth it. But a huge percentage was just basically a waste of time.

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  88. Shy1 said,

    I have felt like for years and years the church has it’s mission backwards. The church should be for Christians. A place of support, comfort and friendship, a place where needs are shared and burdens are lifted.

    But the church sees itself as the mobilization center for evangelism.

    I totally agree.

    With a lot of the big-name celebrity mega church pastors, this is very intentional.

    A couple of years ago, I saw a video online of mega church preacher Steven Furtick yelling at his congregation about this very thing. He was yelling at them that their church was all about winning new converts, not meeting the needs of the already-Christian.

    Furtick said if you come to his church a Non-Christian this week and become a Christian, then next week, this holds true for you to: he expects you to get off your duff and win even more converts.

    Furtick conveyed in the audio I heard that his church will not be about YOU or FOR YOU (that is, the ‘Already Christian’ person) , but only about reaching the un-Converted. (He’s just one example of this: I’ve seen other Christians and preachers who hold the same view.)

    This goes against this verse in the book of Galatians:

    Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

    It doesn’t say “especially to those who are un-converted,” but a lot of Christians these days are behaving as though it does.

    Why would anyone be attracted to a church where they are told up front (or can plainly see on their own) that if they are hurting or in a crisis, the church people will refuse to help them?

    Funny enough, I’d say that one appeal of belonging to a church from the perspective of Non-Christians (as well as the AC (already-Christian)) is to see a church where it’s obvious if you are in a bind, they will help you out.

    Why would I, or any Non-Christian, or any AC (Already-Christian), want to attend a church where, if we are undergoing a trauma or heartbreak, the reaction of the pastor and other members is basically, “Screw you, we’re only here to try to convert more newbies to the faith, Get lost. Go deal with your problem on your own.”

    (I actually got a lot of that attitude from various church going people when I approached them seeking emotional support after my family member died.)

    Jesus Christ told Peter to “feed my sheep,” not, “entertain the goats, cater to the goats, and hope the goats convert.”

    The incident of the church with the construction paper fish and fishing reel/rod made me cringe. I’m sure that the people at that church didn’t mean anything bad by it, and it was probably only meant to motivate the members to evangelize more, but to the recipient of it, it comes across in a bad way.

    It just sounds so tacky. It’s like they’re more concerned with driving numbers up, and not about you as an individual.

    (continued in Part 2)

    Like

  89. (part 2)
    Shy1 said,

    Once you’re in, you don’t count. Well, after all these years as a Christian I look back and I don’t see much value that I got out of going to church. There were a couple times we lucked out and had an excellent pastor who really taught the Bible, and that was worth it. But a huge percentage was just basically a waste of time.

    This has been my observation for a few years now.

    A lot of churches act like once you join them, or become a Christian, you no longer matter. They cease showing you kindness but only want to move on to a new “target.”

    Looking back on my more limited time in a handful of churches I’ve been to, I didn’t get much out of it. It was a waste of my time.

    A church should be like your second family.

    But in the churches I’ve gone to since re-starting in my mid 30s, people don’t really take note of me. (I’ve read similar accounts by other people as to what I’m about to share about my experience.)

    Oh sure, during the “meet and greet” time at the start of the church service (which is a typical practice in most Baptist churches), people I don’t know will come up and shake my hand and say hello, but beyond that, church people didn’t bother getting to know me.

    Nobody asked my name, if we could trade phone numbers, nobody said, “Hey great to see you here, will you return next week?, I would like to see you again.”

    Nobody invited me out to lunch or coffee after the service.

    At one church I went to in my mid-30s, for like about two years (and I went alone), I went to many Sunday morning services, but I went to every single Wed. night service.

    Only after I had been attending every Wed nite service after like a year and 3/4th did the preacher bother to walk up to me one night and say, “Hey, I see you here every week, how are you?”

    Well, good on you for saying hello to me, but pastor dude, it took you over a year and a half, and he was the only one to ever talk to me at those Wed. night services.

    I went to one of their church- sponsored holiday picnics. I went alone. Everyone else at this shin dig was with their family (mostly married people with kids, etc).

    One church guy waved at me as I walked up in the church parking lot to the fair ground area – and that was it.

    Even though it was obvious I was there all alone, not a single person hung out with me, offered to sit with me, to ask me to join their group…. and I was there for like two hours.

    It was so difficult for me to go to that church event alone. Back then I was incredibly shy and a total introvert (I’m still an introvert).
    I had to get out of my comfort zone and swallow some anxiety to go to that church social function on my own. I felt unwanted. I felt so deflated after having gone to that thing, and while I was there.

    As soon as it became obvious to me none of those church people seemed to notice or care I was there at their church picnic/ entertainment thing, and nobody invited me to come sit with them, I was just appalled. I still am. I was also pretty hurt (and disillusioned).

    I thought that Christians are supposed to be welcoming and make people feel included. That was not my experience at all.

    I’ve read similar experiences from other Christians and ex Christians – mostly by never married adults, but also divorced folks who show up to a church alone, and by newly widowed adults.

    Sometimes Christian women marry atheists who refuse to attend church with them, so these Christian wives go to church alone, and they feel excluded by the rest of the church.

    Many churches seem to be doing a lousy, lousy job of making people feel valued, noticed, or wanted.

    I’d rather stay at home on Sunday mornings than walk into a place expecting to be included and loved but instead go ignored and snubbed.

    Like

  90. In my post above I said,
    “But in the churches I’ve gone to since re-starting in my mid 30s, people don’t really take note of me.”

    That wording is a little strange.

    I meant – that was true when I was in my mid 30s. I am in my 40s now.

    I started re-going to church for a bit in my mid 30s (I had only attended very spottily, hardly at all, while in my 20s), then stopped going to church for a bit, then re-started in my late 30s (two different churches) and haven’t been back to church since then.

    My Mom used to force me to go to church every single Sunday when I was a kid.

    Like

  91. There is this guy who is a “mystery church shopper.”

    Here is a page about him:
    _Rating Church? ‘Secret Shoppers’ Helping Pastors_

    He brings to light some of the problems with churches some of us have brought up on this blog.

    Snippet from that page:

    “There have been occasions, honestly, where I have entered the worship facility excited and no one has spoken to me,” he added.

    ….With that in mind, Harrison always pays close attention to how church members greet and treat guests. After all these years, one story still stands out.

    “During the fellowship time where everyone is shaking hands, a woman behind me leans over past me to shake the hand of the woman in front of me, and in the process doesn’t say hello, you’re in my way, or anything,” he recalled. “So I feel abandoned and while everyone else is shaking hands, I’m just standing here. And prior to that I had been bumped from my seat two times.”

    Harrison urges churches to make reaching people who are new to the church experience a top priority.

    I’ve seen that guy, or one similar to him, discussing churches on other sites (and he’s been interviewed on TV about this).

    He walks into churches alone and rates the churches afterwards, on various criteria, including how welcoming they are to new-comers. He says a lot of churches are horrible at including and greeting adults who walk in alone.

    He says he’s been intentionally overlooked and ignored many times when he shows up alone to new churches, even during the “meet and greet” thing.
    This has happened to me as well.
    You do not want to return to that church, or to any church, any more after this stuff happens time and again.

    Like

  92. I thought some of the stuff on this page was relevant to things that were brought up here:

    Interview with a Christian preacher who became an atheist:
    _Why a Pentecostal preacher gave up on Jesus and became an atheist activist_

    This is a question/comment to that preacher from the interviewer, named GC:

    GC: Reading your book, I’m struck by how easy religion makes it for one person to dominate and control the people around them.

    When a preacher has convinced people he speaks for God, there’s no way to prove him wrong.

    You were terrified when Brother Goodwin told you that you’d be possessed by the devil if you left his church.

    Even fairly ordinary churches can have a very cult-like quality. And yet, obviously, people do leave churches, or ignore their teachings, or find churches with teachings they like better. How did you reconcile that when you were a believer, and how does that work for other people?

    Another quote:

    GC:
    It sometimes seems to me that the believers who become atheists are often the ones who took religion most seriously: the ones who really thought about it at length, until they couldn’t reconcile its contradictions anymore.

    That certainly seems to have been true for you. Do you think that’s true? How has that played out in your experience working with the Clergy Project?

    Another part I found interesting:

    GC:
    I was surprised to learn that, when your ministry shifted from focusing on religious doctrine towards simply helping other people, you got so much resistance from so many of your congregants. When you wanted your church to help Katrina victims, you got serious pushback from people who thought Katrina was God’s judgment.

    Do you think a focus on doctrine and supernatural belief often interferes with people’s impulse to help each other?

    Or is it just human nature—some people are more compassionate, and some are more judgmental, regardless of whether they’re believers or atheists?

    And:

    GC:
    What do you say to people who say that people only become atheists so they can be selfish and ignore God’s rules?

    JD: I say, they don’t know what they’re talking about, at all! There is just as much selfishness within religion as there is in the secular movement or any other movement.

    Human nature is human nature. For some, there may be even more selfishness hidden behind the piety of religion.

    Secular people are at liberty to express their desire for pleasure and happiness without having to cloak it with twisted biblical justifications. One extreme example is the Prosperity Gospel movement.

    Liked by 1 person

  93. @Daisy:

    Furtick conveyed in the audio I heard that his church will not be about YOU or FOR YOU (that is, the ‘Already Christian’ person) , but only about reaching the un-Converted. (He’s just one example of this: I’ve seen other Christians and preachers who hold the same view.)

    From my experience with the attitude in the Seventies, it’s for selfish reasons worthy of Ayn Rand. The idea back then was that the ONLY thing you’d be rewarded for on J-day will be “How Many Souls Did YOU Save?” And the ones with the best sales records (most notches on their Bibles) would get the high positions at God’s Right Hand. (Like getting to the Top of the List in a Pyramid scheme.) The more Fire Insurance you sold, the more brownie points at the Bema. “SELL THAT FIRE INSURANCE!! WITH THE COMPLEMENTARY RAPTURE BOARDING PASS!!!! DON’T BE LEFT BEHIND!!!!!”

    And once you’re Saved, the only thing you were permitted to do was Save More Sheep who will only be permitted to Save Other Sheep who will only be permitted to Save Other Sheep… The resemblance to an MLM Pyramid Scheme is obvious; the more downline generations you have, the higher you get up the List.

    Additionally, for a mega-MoG like Furtick (who has one of the biggest mansions and estates in his state), the more “Un-Converted are Reached”, the more butts in his pews and tithes to expand the Furtick Mansion. And spread his VISION(TM). And more Tithes.

    Like

  94. HUG, what’s really funny is that I read about 4/5ths of your post, logged in, and was about to comment on the whole “butts in the pew” thing, when I saw this last part of your post, after I logged in:

    Additionally, for a mega-MoG like Furtick (who has one of the biggest mansions and estates in his state), the more “Un-Converted are Reached”, the more butts in his pews and tithes to expand the Furtick Mansion. And spread his VISION(TM). And more Tithes.

    That is what I was going to log back in to say, if you hadn’t said it!!

    I suspect that the driving motivation (by Furtick and others) behind wanting more rear ends in the pews is that people in the pews tend to tithe more (based on a few articles I’ve read, and Lydia has said so – she’s worked in mega churches and knows how this stuff works), so these preachers are driven by greed.

    My mother was a very loving, giving type of Christian. She would not only give money to people who were financially strapped, but she’d run errands for them, or clean their homes for them if they were sick, and that sort of thing.

    That was my example, so over my life, I have done the same thing. I have helped people when and where I can. (I’m not in a position to help people financially now, though.)

    Anyway, doing practical gestures of help for others was one picture of Christianity my mother painted for me.
    So imagine my shock after she died, and I went around looking for emotional support from other Christians, and I was smacked upside my head (figuratively speaking) for it, and none of them wanted to help me.

    And the ones who brushed me off? Some of them are into treating people like projects, or about evangelization (winning souls), or they care about digging water wells for orphans they’ve never met in Africa.

    Ever since my mother passed away, I have really, really had my eyes opened to how awful or hypocritical some Christians are (which would sadly, include people in my own family).

    Like

  95. Daisy, I don’t like that atheists guys comment that the people who turn atheist are the ones who ‘really think about religion’. Bah. People can think about things and come to different conclusions.

    There is this guy who is a “mystery church shopper.”

    I think that’s great. I have had probably both experiences, too much attention and not enough, but I think what they need to teach is not just chatty talking to newcomers but something proactive like inviting newcomers to sit with them, come to Sunday school, etc. sometimes I get annoyed if too many people bother me 🙂 but the reverse is not good either.

    I just decided to go to my family members church, so I sit with them and am meeting people gradually. Someone who works for the church wants to have lunch next week so I can pick her brain about the church before joining…

    Like

  96. P.S. HUG said,

    “And spread his VISION(TM).”

    That’s not all he’s spreading.

    I’ll try to keep my language clean, but he’s also spreading a lot of Fertilizer. If you know what I mean.

    Fertilizer, as in,
    Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand

    Like

  97. Oops. The letter “S” in the surnames in my post above were supposed to be bold too, like Bruce Springsteen, for instance. 🙂

    Lea said,

    Daisy, I don’t like that atheists guys comment that the people who turn atheist are the ones who ‘really think about religion’. Bah. People can think about things and come to different conclusions.

    I don’t know if I agreed with everything in the guy’s interview. There were a few points I disagreed with, maybe a lot or a little.

    I just found some of what he said resonated with me, because I’ve noticed some of the same things too, or have been through them too.

    Like

  98. In our last-ditch effort to stay in church we went back to one that we had helped start up several years prior. Our last Sunday there was when the elders were talking about the financial situation at the church and how they were addressing it. They ended the talk with asking people to invite others to church because “statistics show that when people come to church they’ll stay. Then once they’re plugged in they’ll start tithing.” I couldn’t believe that all they could do was equate people to money. Such as sad commentary.

    Liked by 1 person

  99. “I suspect that the driving motivation (by Furtick and others) behind wanting more rear ends in the pews is that people in the pews tend to tithe more (based on a few articles I’ve read, and Lydia has said so – she’s worked in mega churches and knows how this stuff works), so these preachers are driven by greed.”

    About 3% of mega church members “tithe” regularly. And they can’t operate on that.. It is not like it was years ago for churches. People used to tithe weekly or monthly. They brought their checks in envelopes or mailed them in. (I have a few aunt’s who did books for churches around while also being music Ministers). People don’t tithe anymore so many pastors have dropped the language. It is about giving now.

    They know that people will give IF THERE. It is a peer pressure thing when the plate is passed. And it works. Nickel’s and Noses is the name of the game. And they rake it in. You are paying for the show. It is all emotionalism whipping it up with music trendy vids on the IMAG, a self help sermon delivered by the cool guy sitting on a stool.

    And when you are in a decent zip code the average amount per unit giving is much higher. Therefore, you open satellite campuses in an empty Walmart in those zips and put the celeb on an IMAG. Presto.

    Millions flow through monthly. Its a racket. Most mega churches have vaults. The money is counted on Monday with armed guards there then the Brinkers guys haul it to the bank.

    Everyone should remember that next time you see someone in need. The local mega needs another building or more staff pastors making 6 figures.

    Like

  100. Daisy, your posts really resonate with me. It seems like we’ve had some similar experiences. I’m so sorry you lost your mom. We each have one mother in this world and no matter how old you are when you lose her, it is hard. I wish your fellow Christians had been there just to sit with you and listen and comfort you. I got a picture of your mom from your description as being a gentle and kind hearted person.

    My curiosity was piqued when you mentioned some people look at others as a project. I’d like to hear more what you mean by that.

    Like

  101. I have read about half of the comments so far, and I’m encouraged by all various views expressed here. This is why I like reading this blog. Thank you, Julie Anne.

    With that said, this meme sounds very much like something I used to hear Christians say when a person turned away from the faith: He/she must not have been saved in the first place. Such a viewpoint is based upon a certain theological belief system, and does not take into account the reality of persons who had genuine faith actually turning away from God. Such a viewpoint is quite arrogant in that it assumes to know the inward motivations of a person’s heart, and it dismisses their experience, no matter how abusive their experience might have been. Let’s hope this person IS NOT a counselor!

    Another thought that comes to mind is that the person posting this meme really doesn’t strike me as one who is interested in communicating with victims of spiritual abuse. Rather, their rebuke comes off as telling those who have been hurt to man up (or woman up if that is the case) – basically get a stiff upper lip and stop wailing. I’m familiar with this kind of delivery because it was the way members treated each other in the Christian cult to which I once belonged. If anyone had legitimate complaints about leadership, or requirements that were laid upon us (supposedly from the Bible, but which I later found out was not the case), one would hear one of the following mantras: You’re complaining against God. You’re just acting like a rebellious sheep, because you don’t want to submit to the truth. You’re either working or wailing. There were many pious slogans and catchphrases that came down from the leadership and which we then used on and against each other. This meme reminds me of those slogans that were devoid of compassion and loaded with condemnation.

    Like

  102. Sad indeed. On top of that the church refuses to show where the money goes and what the Pastor, and staff, get paid. If finances are such a secret no one should give to that church, or ministry. There is no excuse for not letting donors know where the money goes. Pastors are getting 6 figure salaries and still pressure wealthy members of the churches to give a “love gift” to him. Considering the Pastor gets many perks like free housing, cars, expense accounts and even clothing allowances all that money is free and clear. Pastors also get tax breaks as well. Where there are secrets there are no checks and balances.

    Liked by 1 person

  103. @Mark You have articulated something chronically deficient in the church. We need to understand hope better. We need to stop reducing sanctification to mere purification (or toxic purity culture). We need a better teliology. I’ve a half-written blog in my head that criticises holding up Jesus’ self-denial (exercised for the purpose of fulfilling his mission) as the goal to which we are to aim. It isn’t. Our aim is the weight of glory, unspeakably wonderful. Our hope is for resurrection, the complete salvation of our identity – body, soul and history. If we do not understand our hope HOW will we ever share it in its fulness? And how will we ever console those who suffer?

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  104. @ChrisW, I don’t mind the idea of giving things up as an aim, but I do have a problem with giving things up based on what other people expect me to give up. The same people who claim that their position of authority is really to be understood as an incredible sacrifice. It’s amazing how much the modern evangelical church parallels “Animal Farm”. The pigs eat the best food and live in the farm house, but have everyone convinced that they are doing that only in the spirit of sacrificial service. Meanwhile, the farm animals work longer hours nearly starving, because they are deluded into thinking that the pigs really have their best interests at heart.

    “Servant leadership” is, as far as I’m concerned, the buzzword of the pigs and our authoritarian Christian leaders.

    Like

  105. I think what you are describing is being a Christian leech. We need to be wary of that mindset. Another buzzword I have found among leaders is “iron sharpens iron” which really means you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. I don’t think God meant for His Word to be used for destruction.

    Liked by 1 person

  106. Daisy wrote: (5/19 2:07 pm)

    “I think it’s fair, to a degree, to judge Christ based on how those who claim to his name behave and treat other people.”

    So, if the church is Christ’s body, then it is part of Christ? If Christ is “in us” and we are “in Christ,” and the church is Christ’s bride and the two shall become one flesh, then I think you might have a point.

    Another thing to think about is that those who claim to lose faith in “God” because of the church might actually be losing faith in the false idol that the church worships (i.e. a god whose people neglect and abuse their own). The one who leaves the church becomes a wandering sheep. If you read Ezekiel 34, you might notice who God blames and doesn’t blame for wandering sheep.

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  107. “Servant leadership” is, as far as I’m concerned, the buzzword of the pigs and our authoritarian Christian leaders.

    Servant leadership makes (some?) sense as a business type contract, because there is no question that the President/CEO/what have you is actually the boss. It’s just about how they be the boss.

    Jesus did not call pastors to be the ‘boss’ of a company. They are supposed to be actually servant like, not servant leaders. A church shouldn’t be run like a business. That’s sort of the bottom line here, I’m thinking. All this other stuff is meant to mask that it’s all a business, and money is the goal. That’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

    Like

  108. @Lea, the thing that is interesting is that leadership in the workplace works the same way. When managers think that they are better equipped to make decisions than their employees, then bad things happen. Instead, the manager has certain input, but their employees are often better situated to make the decisions.

    I think the underlying problem is that we equate position with ability. So, the manager believes himself to be superior in all ways to his employee, just as the church leaders believe themselves to be superior. This leads to the idea that those who are underneath you are inferior, and that leads to the “submit to every command” thinking that is prevalent in church today.

    I have more education and management/leadership training than any manager I’ve had, and generally know more about their job than they do, but I just don’t have the desire to be a manager.

    Like

  109. Christian magazine has this deeply empathetic, sensitive advice for any of you who have ever felt hurt by church or Christians:

    We’ll make it simple: Grow up.

    Yes, that is what their web page says.

    What to Do When You Stop Liking Your Church

    by Tyler Edwards.

    We’ll make it simple: Grow up.

    Based on his tiny profile photo on the page, Edwards (the author) appears to be pretty young, like his 20s, -MAYBE- early 30s. His profile blurb says he’s pastor of a church somewhere.

    Like

  110. I always found this argument strange, because the type of people to make this argument are never actually the type of people who are okay with rogue Christianity. They wouldn’t find someone saved if their faith was 100% percent based on God a reading of scripture and nothing more. If you have beliefs that deviate from the norm of American Christian culture (or a particular church’s Christianity) then of course you’re not saved.

    And people rarely mean their church when they say these things, they always mean vague, broad-scope, capital C Church (as my former pastor liked to say), because that’s soft, and that allows people to think that the problem always exists at all those other churches. If you were hurt by the church of the person who posted this meme, it would then be that you have a problem with God because their church only speaks the truth about God.

    It reflects a problem I see an awful lot in Christianity, which is the tendency to make problems in Christianity broad stroke problems, that always exist in some other church, with some other people, and those churches are probably not saved anyway, so it doesn’t real count. Meanwhile, the Real Church would never have those problems, and of course, every single Christian believes themselves part of the Real Church. So problems are always out there, over there, somewhere else.

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  111. We’ll make it simple: Grow up. (Based on his tiny profile photo on the page, Edwards (the author) appears to be pretty young, like his 20s, -MAYBE- early 30s. His profile blurb says he’s pastor of a church somewhere.)

    Of course he’s a pastor. That sounds just like Jesus, right? If you stop liking your church, leave. Hopefully find one you like better.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve ever thought a church was ‘to[sic] deep to reach non- believers’.

    Like

  112. Daisy, I’ve read the article. What a mess.

    First, the guy says ‘Community is not just a suggestion: It’s a command for all Christians. We are expected to engage in the community of the church.” [A command! Typical.] And apparently the point of community, is a mission. And he’s decided what the mission is of course: “Non-Christians or immature Christians are our mission.”

    Wrong. That’s not the mission of church, imo. That’s the great commission, maybe. But it’s not the point of church.

    And honestly, why do all these people think ‘loud’ music will draw in unbelievers? Have they heard non-Christian music ever? Has a non-Christian ever been brought to church by the rockin’ three-four chords played loud, with repetitious lame lyrics? Do they really think non-Christians spend a lot of time listening to k-love? I kind of doubt it. This is all about their personal preferences, not what brings people to Christ. Some people, non-Christians even!, appreciate well written, beautiful music like hymns. Amazing grace will be around long after the latest loud fad is gone and it’s because it’s beautiful and inspired.

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  113. @Lea, I think you have a point. The church I left sang psalms only. That was a huge reason I stayed for so long, because the psalms have an amazing breadth and depth of emotion. It was frustrating that people, myself included, sang them like robots and didn’t really appreciate them. The church I attend now has the rock band and happy songs with no depth.

    It’s so out of keeping with the messages, which are amazing – that we don’t have to hide our anger and other “bad” emotions from God, and that we are called to HELP others in a broken world. That God’s heart is for us to reach out and pull people up, not stand there and tell them all the wrong things they did to deserve what they got. But, then we sing some Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. I think they work harder to pick appropriate songs, but there just isn’t much to pick from.

    Like

  114. @livingliminal

    “That’s funny, it was the fact that I did grow up that made me realize how toxic churchianity can be.”

    Amen! Drinking from the cup/chalice of religious poison can be intoxicatingly deadly as far as one’s faith in Christ goes. Do the lives/behavorial patterns of the ‘churched’ look any different than the lives of those we label as unbelievers? It was extremely difficult to live under the rules and regulations of authoritarian leadership when in fact, the pastor/his family and the leadership/their families could not even abide by their own lofty, pious, religious standards. When double mindedness/double standards combined with wicked hypocrisy rule the church, the lower laity folks like me, become the Old Testament standard of the ‘scapegoat,’ for false religious lords loves to have someone else to blame instead of taking responsibility for their own sins. I no longer call those who have left organized Christianity ‘scapegoats’ or ‘goats’ in general as some wicked pastors love to call these individuals (to my own shame, my tongue was also used as a sword in labeling those hurt by church attendees as ‘goats’ – may God forgive me) , but have adopted a more compassionate belief system as the Gospels come alive in my faith, but instead, now call out these precious souls as “scapesheep.”

    In fact, the most trustworthy people that I can confide in and that actually PRAY for me and my family, are “unchurched” people who love Jesus as their own, and actually desire my/my family’s well being. There was not one single trustworthy person in the last church that I attended, not a one, that I could confide in confidence, without it being discussed at the church board meeting as well as whispered around the whole congregation. The burdens that we are to bear, for and towards one another, here again, come from those I formerly labeled as “unbelievers”
    for they are more loving, caring, and actually lend a compassionate ear and lift a hand to help me when I have needed help in many areas of life. The churched folks in my former abusive church, actually worked very hard to destroy what God, the Holy Spirit, does in the lives of believers, myself included, because folks like me have chosen not to have another human being be the lord of my life.

    I find it shocking how men and women in most churches desire to become that mediator between the believer and our Father, who art in Heaven, instead of allowing Jesus to fill that position of Mediator/Savior. It is a form of antichrist (in place of Christ) system. I love how Jesus came to set the captives free, free indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  115. Katy, I love your word, “scapesheep”! It’s perfect 😀

    It’s sad to think that you also experienced abuse and betrayal in the ‘church’, but it sounds like there are some true and loving people in your life. I hope you remain free – free indeed! 🙂

    Like

  116. Thank-you livingliminal for your kind words. One would think ‘the c’hurch’ is supposed to be the safest place for rest for the soul. In my youth and college years, there was this event called “Lamb Lead” to promote the wool/sheep industry. The contestant was to sew/model an outfit made out of 100% wool as well as stitching/designing coordinating blanket placed on the back of the animal while leading the haltered lamb around the show ring in the presence of the audience and the judges. Prior to the contest, we spent hours training our animal to follow obediently. It took some time for the sheep to become comfortable with the halter on its head as well as being led by a rope, for like any other animal, they too, have a mind of their own. And some days, it was not uncommon to find our sheep a quarter of a mile down the road eating grass because we lost our ‘grip’ on the rope; feisty wooly critters! Having grown up on a sheep farm, I love the analogy of Jesus and
    and His sheep.

    It is He, Jesus, that is supposed to be leading and guiding us, making us lie down in His green pastures and leading us beside quiet waters. It is He that is to restore our soul as the Psalmist quotes. But instead, churched men and women come along, throw that cumbersome halter on our heads (mind, body and souls), and pull and tug on that stiff rope, guiding us by force to follow their vision/ways, leading to that animal pen/prison of religion done their way (hence the reason for so many denominations….they all have the market on a jesus of their own pet doctrines cherry picked from Scriptures.)

    I am thankful that you are free too, in Christ, and that you can freely minister to those of us on this site who are enjoying the freedom that only Jesus can give us in daily living.

    Liked by 3 people

  117. It’s interesting that you chose this meme for your blog post… I was really bugged by it and had written the following (private message) to a friend who “liked” the meme: I’m going to push back a bit.on that quote you liked. The quote seems to absolve the church of all responsibility if they behave in an unChristlike manner and cause more hurt to wounded abused women who are looking to them for help. The church is to represent Jesus and when they drive people away with their cruelty, they will be held accountable. Yes, the person who loses faith is also accountable for their choice. But Jesus had pretty harsh things to say to religious peeps who tied heavy burdens on people and didn’t lift a finger to help. Sorry for the rant!

    Liked by 4 people

  118. To be honest, to my great discredit I once used a similar cliché when I was a Bible study leader in my ex-church’s youth ministry, eight years ago now. It was when it was revealed that South Australian AOG pastor & worship leader Michael Guglielmucci had basically tricked the collective Australian Pentecostal community with a fabricated tale of his terminal cancer and imminent death, which racked up huge sales in copies of his album and saw him speak at many huge conferences. Some of my husband’s family and friends knew Guglielmucci through their involvement in the huge Youth Alive ministries here. We were in a non-denominational Pentecostal church that is similar to AOG, known locally as ‘Australian Christian Churches’ and under the headship of Hillsong’s senior pastors, but our church was autonomous (and proud of it!).

    Very long story short, when it came out that this pastor was a fraud and my youth group girls expressed sadness, I told them to stop engaging in the sin of idolatry etc etc. Now I look back on it, I should’ve listened to their concerns. I should’ve been one of the voices that called on our own church’s pastors to be more diligent in who they allow to speak… Though I did, eventually, start speaking out in subsequent occasions when toxic guest preachers came to our church and found myself not deliberately shunned or excommunicated, but most definitely pushed to the margins as one of the dissenting troublemakers.

    I now think that memes like this is just one of the many cruel and creative ways fundies silence reasonable discussion and questions.

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  119. I will also add that a year or two ago I started really noticing just how much mine and my friends’ worldviews were shaped by memes. Any topic that deserves thoughtful, reflective and intelligent analysis simply can’t be condensed to a meme without losing the nuances and complexities of human interaction.

    Like

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