When You are Done with Church

How Do You Respond When Someone Talks to You About Your Lack of Church Attendance?

st basils

Kathi here. For many years my family and I attended church. We faithfully went to Sunday service, Wednesday nights, gave our money and spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours volunteering. At one point, though, we realized that we were exhausted and disillusioned with “doing church,” so we decided to leave. We found our Sunday mornings to be more relaxing and stress free. It’s been nice.

Even though we do not attend a church, we have never lost our faith in God and we have found that the church is not confined to Sunday mornings in four walls. We now have relationships with people that we never thought we would because we no longer spend our free time with only church people. Actually, we never really left church. Church is different for us.

But that’s not enough for some people. Because I live in the same town where I used to go to church I inevitably run into someone that I spent many Sundays with. And, after chatting for a few moments I am always asked, “So where do you go to church now?” Which leaves me telling them, “nowhere.” Which leads them to saying, “Oh, you should try our church,” or “That’s too bad,” or “The church is really different now. You should try coming back.”

Then, I explain this blog, how I have met so many people here and how we are a church that supports each other. I am told that it’s not the same. And. they’re right. It’s not the same, it’s just different. You know what? I’m okay with different. I know that no matter how much I try to explain why we don’t go to church, I will never be understood.

If you are someone who is done with church, how do you respond when someone asks you about why you no longer go? Do you find that it is a source of contention between you and someone you know or love? Have you ever had to explain that your salvation is not dependent upon whether or not you go to church?

Photo credit – Kathi, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

88 comments on “When You are Done with Church

  1. I was asked that on May 29 when I was out picketing Mark Driscoll’s church. I refused to discuss my religious beliefs because, frankly, they have no bearing as to why I am out there. (And, in fact, I try to keep my criticisms of Driscoll to things like his plagiarism, the misuse of church funds and the treatment of women, among other things. Yes, I have a list.) These otherwise very nice Christians said, “You answered our question.” Which I took to mean that they took me as a stone freethinker or atheist or gee, someone who just decided that the 21st century church world isn’t for me!

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  2. “Do you find that it is a source of contention between you and someone you know or love? Have you ever had to explain that your salvation is not dependent upon whether or not you go to church?”

    Yes and yes!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I tell them that my church was overrun by thugs who kicked our favored pastor out, behind our backs, and destroyed the church. And when I went looking for a new church, they were overrun by authoritarian, heirarchical pastors and staff members who bullied and enslaved the congregation to the point that it’s not safe here spiritually or emotionally anywhere in my area. Other denominations are teaching poor theologies that I cannot abide. So I’m done. I give up. But my faith is still intact.

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  4. Hi Kathi

    Me too…
    I am always asked, “So where do you go to church now?”

    I’m a “None,” and a “Done.”
    And a human, learning to be “ONE,” – With Jesus.

    So my answer depends on if I’m in my wise guy mood – or NOT. 😉

    If I do NOT want to explain it all, I simply answer…
    “I’m part of a small home fellowship.” And often change the subject.

    (Yeah, real small. Me and Jesus.)

    “So where do you go to church now?”

    If I have the desire to get into a conversation, I’ll might say…
    Hmmm? GO to church?
    I can NOT GO someplace that I am.
    I can NOT GO someplace that we are.

    You often get some funny looks. And interesting conversations. 😉

    Then I’ll ask…
    “Do you know what the word church means in the Bible?
    Did Jesus shed His Blood for a building? An organization?
    A denomination? An institution? A business?
    A 501 c 3, non profit, tax deductible, Religious Corporation?
    That the IRS calls church?

    NO, Jesus shed His Blood for you and me, His Body, His Church.

    God that made the world… dwelleth not in temples made with hands.
    The Father, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, now lives in WE, His Sheep.

    Many folks are in bondage to “The Religious System” of today. In bondage to The Commandments of Men, The Doctrines of Men, The Traditions of Men, that Make Void the Word of God. Mark 7:13

    Pro 20:17
    Bread of deceit is sweet to a man;
    but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    THEIR shepherds have caused them to go astray,

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as sheep going astray;
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  5. “So where do you go to church now?”

    Or, I’ll answer this way…
    Hmmm? GO to church? Interesting question…

    Was wondering – In the Bible…
    Did any of His Disciples ever GO to church?
    Did any of His Disciples ever JOIN a church?
    Did any of His Disciples ever LEAD a church?

    Seems, in the Bible, GO to church, JOIN a church, LEAD a church…
    Was NOT a requirement for one of His Disciples. 😉

    Did any of His Disciples ever…

    1 – Go to Church?
    2 – Join a Church?
    3 – Lead a Church?
    4 – Plant a Church?
    6 – Tithe to a Church?
    7 – Look for a Church?
    8 – Teach Go to Church?
    9 – Bring their friends to Church?
    10 – Become a member of a Church?
    11 – Call themselves Leader in a Church?
    12 – Build, or buy, a building called Church?
    13 – Give silver, gold, or money to a Church?
    14 – Become, Paid, Professional, Pastors, in Pulpits,
    Preaching to People, in Pews, in a Church? 😉

    If, in the Bible…
    His Disciples did NOT do any of these things 2000 years ago?

    Why do WE?

    Why do WE, His Sheep, His Kings and Priests, His Ambassadors…
    His Servants, His Bride, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Body…
    His Called Out Ones….

    Do these things If WE, His Sheep, desire to be like…

    One Of His Disciples? In the Bible?

    Learning directly from Jesus? NO middle man?

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  6. For a while I said I was still looking for a new place… and I really meant to look, too!

    But… I felt I had to work through my faith issues on my own first, otherwise wherever I went would complicate my problems. I wanted to go in sure and certain of what I believed. How else would I know what I was looking for in a church?

    Aaaand then a few months later, I became an atheist. People have given up asking me about where I attend, but I’m a little scared for the next time I have to field the question. Especially if it comes from a friend: I don’t want to lose their respect just because I lost my faith. We’ll see what I say when the time comes!

    I love hearing your thoughts though Kathi; you’ve found peace and strength in a more non-traditional religious experience. People always think they know what’s best for you but I love how you aren’t letting it faze you 🙂 I’m still working on that, myself.

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  7. There’s a really interested book I read recently, called, “How to Be a Christian without Going to Church.” I liked it so much that I was actually interested in visiting the church of the gal who wrote it (kind of odd, having a pastor write a book helping people quit going to church). But it was too far across town, so I never did.

    Kathi, you should try her church! It’s in north Portland!! (Joking!)

    I’ve started attending a lovely Episcopal church, the more liberal of the three in my area. I live in a very small-feeling, large suburb, and have been asked many times where we’re going to church now. I have always, without exception, received very strange looks when I tell them.

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  8. If the person is someone of goodwill I usually say that we’re exploring being the church outside of the institution. If they’re just trying to guilt and shame me I get more blunt and say that I find the church system both toxic and unbiblical.

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  9. In my personal experience, some were very glad to see me go and they made that fairly clear along with the dont ever come back. From the organization, I spent so many years with I became part of the invisible people. Eventually, we made up and I dutifully apologized for being alive and breathing and we get along now. They actually asked me back but why bother? I am looking for a church and to be honest most folks dont ask and when I am at church I think I have that damaged good looks, old, single, drive an old car etc. so there is no upside to even bothering. I get that. Its not a pity type of thing its more like a mutual understanding. I do miss what my hope was for fellowship, never really had it but I had a dream of it.

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  10. No one really asks my family. I think they are afraid too. Actually we have been more at peace since we left; the guilt of always “doing, being, saying the right Christian word” is diminished; family life is more comfortable. My husband and I rarely argue anymore, so I feel that we have grown more being out of the church and has produced more fruit in our lives. I focus now more about my relationship with Jesus then on my performance. “God has no need for performers, His sole desire is to perform in us instead”. I have learned patience and long-suffering since I have been “quote on quote – out of the church” and my demeanor is more of one to be a listener instead of a talker. Sooo…….if all these things have happened WHILE I have been OUT of the church why is there any need to go back to something that actually stunted my growth? Why in heavens would I want to trade what I have now for whatever a man’s idea of what church is? We have actually included people in our Sunday fellowships at home who are going through rough times and would never get that attention in “church” right now.
    Yeah sure sometimes it gets a little lonely but my fellowship with Jesus is much sweeter. I also have learned that if someone does go to the “church” building then that is OK too- I am learning not to judge that also.
    I wish people would ask me why I don’t because I would tell them what a blessing it has been for me to have this sweek and restful time with my Father.

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  11. Kathi,

    For a long time it was “I don’t go to church but do go to a Bible Study small group. That dissolved last year. In the mean time, a disciple ship group that a bunch of friends started 4 years ago started meeting more than 2-3 times a year (Monthly) and a few of us were recently inspired to meet on Sunday nights and do some liturgical worship.

    Through this we are gaining more “life together” time than most churches do in a month.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just started back to church after a long long break. I think family had stopped asking so I don’t remember what I was saying and occasionally I would visit somewhere – like Christmas and Easter 🙂

    But I never felt my salvation was contingent upon attending church.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Last time I was asked I responded that I have found that I can be dedicated to “church” or I can be dedicated to Jesus, but I cannot be dedicated to both at the same time. Once before, when the questioner was being pushily persistent, I explained that I have come to believe that the great whore sitting on many waters is organized religion, and that organized “churches” as we know them are her prostitute daughters.

    While I have some confidence that the great whore of The Apocalypse stands for organized, authority-wielding religion, I do allow that not every organized gathering of believers is a member of her brood of prostitute daughters. Still, any regular gathering of supposed believers that seeks to impose its authority on a growing number of members, that engages in building projects, and/or that endeavors to achieve public admiration is a prostitute. Such “churches” are the modern practitioners of the sin of Babel, which set out to build a city and a tower and a name for itself. A good litmus test is whether a religious organization, like a prostitute, charges for services, typically in the form of mandatory tithes.

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  14. A. Amos:

    “I can NOT GO someplace that I am.
    I can NOT GO someplace that we are.”

    I have said that too. I often get back, “You know what I mean.”

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  15. I think not going to church has been harder on our parents than on us. We still hear from them about how they wish we went to church, how God wants us to be a part of a fellowship, etc. It makes visits awkward sometimes. Even though I love and respect both sets of parents, we are too old to be living our lives to please them.

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  16. We were part of a church years ago that went through a split and there was a long time where we didn’t go anywhere and it was just fine. When asked by friends what church we were going to, and answering truthfully that we weren’t going anywhere at the time, we would get the “shame on you” look. I finally just gave up telling the truth and just tried to give the kind of answer that would avoid the shaming.

    So for years we just had a small group that met in our home. We did outreach together in the community and are still in contact with most of those folks and are good friends. We actually still meet, irregularly, for fellowship and a meal ☺

    Right now we like to meet on Sunday’s with a little church we attend, but it’s really not your typical group. Most of us have “been there and done that” and thankfully it opens up a chance to fellowship without all the “baggage”. It’s small enough that we can pipe up and share our own thoughts/ideas/concerns.

    Things are changing in “Christendom” and I believe it’s of God drawing us back to our first love and a deeper walk with Jesus.

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  17. After 27 years in a mega church my wife and I left almost 3 years ago. We had been involved in many areas of church activities. We never joined another church however we did start attending the church our sons and daughter-in- law go to. We attend 1 to 3 times a month. I doubt we would ever “join” this or any other church. When people ask me where I go to church now I tell them I go where my kids go.
    At this church are some people from our old church and some former coworkers. When they ask are you in a home group (big deal in this church) I say no but maybe someday. Although not members we have been asked by church leadership a few times to volunteer to lead one day mission projects. We decline the leadership role but have on occasion helped with the project.
    In the past we would have felt an obligation to be involved with many things. Now we are trying to be wise and balance the rest of life with church life. Besides I think we are starting to get old and tired and want save energy for those future grandkids.

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  18. I did find that we experienced “church” best when we were involved with small groups. So, for a while we tried a house church. That didn’t last very long either because one of our kids was getting bullied by another.

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  19. When I left the denomination I grew up in, I e-mailed my family and said that I wasn’t interested in talking about it yet. I do still go to church, but it’s a “liberal” church by my family’s standards.

    So far, the only people who have asked are people that talked with me before I left, but my answer for others who ask is going to be: “another church” or “I don’t really want to talk about it”.

    I kinda take mental notes on whether I think people care about me as a person or as a conquest. The conquest people get nothing or snark and the caring people might get a little more. But… the caring people in my old denomination are still supporting the abuse that happens through their presence and tithes, and they shut their ears when anyone talks about the “bad things” that happen, so they’re usually not worth talking to either.

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  20. This is a wonderful discussion to have. The truth is that we ARE the church, which has nothing to do with whether or not we go to one.

    When people ask what church we go to, i tell them we stopped trying after growing weary of pastors getting all warm and fuzzy with us at first meeting only to sense the air changing when they find out 1) my husband I were both divorced before marrying, and 2) I have a ministry to women in abusive relationships. We see it in their faces and in their demeanor – a low-level measure of panic. Church people seem to immediately presume that I run around encouraging people to divorce. The conversation ends abruptly, and these people who were so warm with us suddenly detach themselves as quickly as possible.

    Yet, since we decided church wasn’t for us, every aspect of our walk has been more powerful and profound than when we played the church game. There is no agenda, no program, no checklist, no sign-up list, no schedule, no shame. We feel no compulsion to try to find a church and, in fact, are certain we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

    And I appreciate that this blog keeps people like us connected.

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  21. Like Steve Scott, I never get asked that question either. That is because as a single man, I am not a member of the ideal demographic (family with beautiful children). Every singles group I was in felt like a waiting room where you were twiddling your thumbs and biding your time. Sure, churches like to pay lip service to the “gift of singleness” which allows you more time to serve the Lord. How do you “serve the Lord” when the church has no place for you?

    But as I survey the train wreck that is the institutional church and hear stories of spiritual abuse, I am finally seeing the gift of singleness. Pretty ironic. Getting ignored has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I didn’t have to subjugate myself to all the weirdness like homeschooling, submission, Growing Kids in God’s Way, Gothardism, Evangelical Stepford Wives etc. etc.

    I have been a part of a house church for over 5 years now. There are no leaders. We believe in the priesthood of ALL believers. We gather together to sing and praise. And then anyone can share from Scripture. The funny thing is, when I did go to church, I couldn’t remember what the sermon was about the moment the pastor gone done droning on for an hour, but I do remember almost everything people from my house church shared from the previous week.

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  22. Cindy:

    pastors getting all warm and fuzzy with us at first meeting only to sense the air changing when they find out

    Classic! I know the look of dismay as they see that you don’t fit in the box.

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  23. I always answer to that person, “If I find a real church of Jesus Christ that is fully based on the Bible, I will go. If you find one, let me know.”
    Really… If I have to go and worship in a government created church/”Jesus franchise”, I may as well spend that time in a coffee shop….Business is business.

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  24. Voice of Reason,

    Absolutely. They are government churches. Here is a blog written by my friend.

    Gotta love Christian Culture’s anti-government rhetoric while taking advantage of the tax exempt status. You can’t have it both ways. You cannot serve two masters, yo!

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  25. Kathi, Thank you for posting on this topic! I live in the Bible Belt, churches on every corner. I grew up in the church, led Bible studies, did the short term mission thing, helped with children’s church and my husband was often away at night rehearsing with the worship team (pianist). As I got older, I saw so much “behind the scenes” manipulation. Staff was fired on the whim of the pastor whenever his “vision” changed. Our denomination changed twice, again because the pastor wanted to. This is a large church in Charlotte, NC.
    After attending and serving 19 years, we moved back to my hometown (6 years ago) and close to my “God Squad” relatives. I finally spiraled into a place of doubt, confusion and anger. Now we rarely attend church and I am finally finding my way back to God. Fortunately my family has learned not to cross me over church attendance. I believe God is wooing me in a different way. This blog has helped me, along with a few others. I have met a few older Catholic women who are an example of God’s love. I just don’t know if I can play the church game again. I appreciate everyone who comments here. Thank you Kathi and JA.

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  26. Brenda, yes, that’s the book. I felt too lazy to cross the room and take a look at the bookshelf last night. 🙃

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  27. Persephone – North Portland is a bit of a drive for us (unless we’re checking out coffee places). Thanks for the invite, though! 😉

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  28. I believe God is wooing me in a different way.

    I love that, Ann! Thanks for sharing your experience and your kind comment.

    PS – sorry, your comment got stuck in moderation for some unknown reason.

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  29. “Last time I was asked I responded that I have found that I can be dedicated to “church” or I can be dedicated to Jesus, but I cannot be dedicated to both at the same time.”

    I might steal that one.

    Spending on who it is, I have become more confident in responding that I love Jesus Christ way too much to be involved with anything I know to be corrupted.

    They usually respond with, “There is no perfect church” as they now want to stop the conversation. But I ask if perfection is character, integrity, transparency, equality and basic decency toward each other?

    I had this convo just last week when I ran into a member of my last church who was being a bit smarmy about my absence. That church was taken over by the Neo Cals and is coming apart at the seams. The SBTS guys have taken over and are plundering the place. Deception is the name of the game there now. And people are at each other’s throats….in a nice deceptive way, of course. No one wants to look mean by pointing to the elephant in the room.

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  30. I quit going to church years ago after being told in 2 churches I needed to be in submission to a man an d since I was single that was the pastor and told in another I was deceived by Satan as I am disabled and not healed and finally too many other churches were telling me how to vote as well as extremely authoritarian. I am much more happy to fellowship with believers outside a church environment. Perhaps if I see genuine change in American evangelicalism I’ll go back. Until then…

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  31. I should add people have long since quit asking me why I don’t go to church. Some consider me lost and some respect my position.

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  32. I was asked that by a friend recently, and when I said “Nowhere”, she looked really puzzled and said, “Well, I guess you can be a Christian and not go to church”.

    Nothing against her, she was raised in a Christian home and church was where she always went. Not an option not to go. For us, not going became the only option. As I listened, really listened, to the messages, to the verbage, watched the relationships, it was just not what we need right now. Authenticity is preached everywhere, but shown nowhere. Churchgoers want to know why you weren’t in church, but not how you are doing. How is life. Everyone is too busy with work, activities, schedules, to care for or about anyone. I didn’t go to church to warm a seat for an hour. I went for people. I found none. So we left.

    I am building better relationships with people outside the church than I ever did within the walls. It makes me kind of sad I couldn’t get that there.

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  33. As a Catholic who can’t live without Jesus in the Eucharist, I can’t (personally) imagine not going to church. However, I have friends who have suffered severe spiritual abuse at their churches and stopped going. Some get together with friends for food and fellowship at restaurants on Sunday mornings. When asked “Where do you go to church now?” one friend jokes that she attends the Church of the Holy Cracker Barrel.

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  34. one friend jokes that she attends the Church of the Holy Cracker Barrel.

    That’s great. I used to joke about people going to ‘the church of the lake’ as attendance dips severely in the summer months 🙂

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  35. If I could just find a church around here where “Christians” demonstrated as much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as I see in the average atheist or agnostic, perhaps I’ll go back.

    Not saying my atheist/agnostic friends are all that great, they’re just people with warts like anyone else, but as a general rule they don’t seem to have completely obliterated the image of God in which they were made, and they seem capable of doing some little act of kindness to another without there being some underlying scheme or expected quid pro quo or without me getting the strong impression that they care absolutely nothing whatsoever about me as a human being but only want to use me and my family to bolster the attendance at their church.

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  36. Kathi, I was totally joking. It’s too far for us, too, and I was poking fun at how everyone invites you to their church now. 😉

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  37. Kathi,
    I have been pondering this for awhile. How timely and relevant your words are to me. I can completely relate to what you’re saying. A year ago, I woke up one Sunday morning and decided I wasn’t going to go anymore. I remember lying in bed and making one of the hardest decisions of my life. After 50+ years of church involvement, I just stopped. I decided that I wanted to get off of the merry-go-round of “faithful serving”. I had been experiencing long-term health problems and too exhausted. I know I’ve heard sermons about people who “burnout because they were serving for the wrong reasons” (guilt-tripping and shaming those who apparently “didn’t do it for Jesus, but for themselves”), but I know I loved serving and didn’t do it for the wrong reasons. I’ve also heard sermons about “those people who stop attending and gave up their walk/faith journey/it’s a marathon, not a race, etc.” and I knew I would be one of “those people”. Nobody has called to check on me. I have a lot of feelings to sort out, but for now, I’m done.

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  38. I wonder why people ask where we’re going to church now? Is it because they’re curious if there’s somewhere better than where they’re going? Or maybe it’s an opening to brag about their church? Or maybe they’re just curious because we haven’t been around where we used to be. Or they’re checking up on us to make sure we haven’t “fallen away”?

    Do people ever ask how you’re doing, like how are you really, spiritually? Like how your walk is going, what you’ve been learning/reading lately, stuff like that? Like out of genuine interest? And then just listen with interest?

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  39. I think the most difficult thing for me when this question comes up is that I truly would go back to church if it could be the church I went to 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago, I would go back. But then EVERYTHING changed. My husband and I decided we would stay so we could keep what had happened to us from happening to other people in the congregation. THAT didn’t work out. It was so glaringly obvious that we were not wanted. I quit going a year before my husband did. I’d gone there my entire life. Nobody cared. Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. One elderly lady drove her bike over to our house one day, just to tell us that she missed us and that she believed we had been treated unjustly. But that was it. A lifetime there, and that was it. So next time someone asks this I believe I’ll respond with; “Why, do you care?” Because I really don’t think they do.

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  40. Having read all these responses, I think I’ll ask someone nosy, “Why do you care?” just to see what they’d say. However, I’m with Kathy. This is harder on our parents than it is on us because they just don’t understand and can’t see why, when they’ve brought us up “in the way that we should go”, we’ve departed from it.

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  41. My father was a Done for several years, and when people at the mega-church asked my mother, she just said he wasn’t feeling well.

    When we left the mega and started attending a small friendly and loving church, suddenly my dad felt much better and now attends every week!

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  42. Kathi, we had a string of church disasters. Each time we stopped attending for longer periods of time, the last was 2 1/2 years. About six months ago, a friend connected us up with an “organic” church. We rotate meeting between most of the people’s homes. We practice mutual edification and every member participation in our meetings (like in 1 Cor 11-14.) and the kids are welcomed and encouraged to contribute.

    This church group is the very first to ever accept our kids as real people (we have a couple with special needs) as opposed to parental failures. It is also the first to support our family in raising them. The people actually want us there, and actively engage in super incredible things like wanting to do stuff with us. The adults actually talk to our kids about things like life…and even video games on occasion. I still consider myself a Done with respect to the typical American church structure.

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  43. Steve, That sounds like the best church ever. We need more like that. Believers that want to be together and up uplift one another. Who would have thunk it?

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  44. Hope we can find something like what you’ve found, Steve, that sounds like an actual fellowship, not an organization formed primarily for the glorification of a man and the abuse of any who refuse to glorify him.

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  45. I tell them ‘spiritual sounding board’ is a deceptive way to attend church service so I quit attending to the needs of social upright bigotry that comes from false judges. I quit feeding the pigs money and they quit oinking.

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  46. I have no problem with Christians who opt not to attend church, and it’s ridiculous to assert that a person’s salvation is connected with whether or not they attend church regularly.

    What I would say is that a church community offers some benefits that are more difficult to find on your own. At its best (an important qualifier), a church community is able to reach out to its surrounding area more efficiently, through good organization and the combining of resources. Also, because church communities are open, you are pushed to love those who are hard to love — an important part of Christian discipleship. On your own it tends to be more difficult to engage with those who are different than you.

    I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do these things independent of a church, but healthy churches offer those and other advantages. Unfortunately it seems there are a good many churches that don’t exemplify Christian community at its best, and I suspect we will continue to see a heavy pruning of the institutional church in the coming decades. But there is value in regular Christian gatherings, both for Christians and for faith-seekers, and it will be interesting to see the form and style these new gatherings take. I think there are a lot of DONEs waiting for a new form of Christian community.

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  47. Mike, you said, “On your own it tends to be more difficult to engage with those who are different than you.”

    To be honest, I have found exactly the opposite. As a former leader, I always felt like I had to toe the part line and represent the institution ‘faithfully’. These days, I feel real freedom to just meet people where they are at and see what God brings out of that engagement 🙂

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  48. Mike I would have to respectfully disagree also. I feel that I am more of an evangelist now then I ever was in the church. In the church I felt inadequate and was encouraged to witness by using a formula instead of God performing through me with the power of the Holy Spirit. Since i have been out of the church I come across unbelievers all the time. The other thing I learned was going where God wanted me to evangelize – most of the time members of a church will mainly witness in areas that are poor or disenfranchised (which is awesome!), but God wanted my husband and I to serve or witness to those who think that wealth is the answer to a happy and fulfilled life. We have seen though that many of these people are just as broken and “poor” as those who live in the slums and usually this segment of the population are ignored and put away as those who don’t want God, so why bother.
    I would encourage anyone to take a little time away from the church just to listen to God; sometimes the clamor and noise (worship music, pastor preaching, Sunday schools and conferences) can cloud and clog our ears from listening to voice of the Holy Spirit only. Sometimes it is a good thing to take a sabbatical from church , even for just a season.

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  49. Steve Scott speaks of every member participation like in 1 Cor 11-14. This is something I used to lobby for back before I joined the ranks of the Dones. The only time anything like it ever happened was when the “church” I was attending was between Pastors. In retrospect, I can see that Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is in many ways allegorical, not just of the Russian revolution, but of much of what calls itself “church.” Certainly, when it comes to the relationship between “pastors” and congregants, it can be said, in true Orwellian fashion, that all believers are equal, but some believers are more equal than others.

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  50. I haven’t been asked where I go to church in years. The last person who asked me that, called my sister after our conversation, she told her that she would be praying for me because it was obvious I was backslidden. Sigh.
    If someone did ask me that today I might say, my cathedral is anywhere outside in Northern MI. I fellowship with ppl who have never stepped inside of a church and are not intoxicated with heavy doctrine.
    It is such a weight off my shoulders to be church free and guilt free for not attending. I love the space of being a done & hearing the tender voice of the Holy Spirit instead of all those whipping words of control & authority.

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  51. I began to realize the extent to which I was subject to spiritual abuse within multiple churches, at the hands of multiple pastors and ministry leaders, a number of years ago. I was able to put some distance between my life and my last instance of spiritual abuse, and started recognizing the need for me to set some healthy boundaries between myself and the church.

    While I contemplated no longer attending church at one time, that lasted about a week. I realized that, while the church is not a perfect institution, it is Christ’s willingness to sacrifice His Life for the church that compels me to continue attending.

    At the same time, I began to recognize in a more personal context how I needed to relate to the church, in order to both guard my own heart and do my best to glorify God in my own life. Here’s what I have come up with for myself:

    If I am going to regularly attend a church, I have a responsibility to support the church financially, as I am led by the Lord. Whether I like it or not, the Senior Pastor of the church I attend has demonstrated repeatedly that he has a better understanding of God’s Word than I do. In addition, if I want others to know Christ as Savior, and I cannot evangelize on that scale myself, I need to provide support to those who can.
    I do not have the responsibility to become a member of a church. In my experience, the times during which I have embraced church membership have been the times during which the spiritual abuse I have experienced has been the most insufferable. I’m grateful to God that, unlike many others who have endured spiritual abuse within churches, I was able to walk away without looking back each time I discerned that I was being made subject to spiritual abuse.
    I get to choose to whom I will be “accountable”. Many of today’s small group ministries are much less about people “doing life together” than they are about implementing the corporate strategies decided upon by church leaders, which doesn’t serve as much of a basis for any sort of spiritual intimacy in my experience.
    I do not have a responsibility to “reconcile” with those I now regard as “Gentile[s] and tax collector[s]” (Matthew 18:17(b)). I sometimes encounter people with whom I will more than likely be in unresolved conflict for the rest of my life when I attend church, and the most God-honoring response I can think of is to avoid those people.
    My decision to attend church, or not, needs to rest on a foundation of the calling I receive from the Lord for my own life. I attend church today because I need spiritual guidance and greater understanding of God’s Word, and while I can place healthy limits on my association with the church based on my prior experience, I still need the church.

    One day, I may decide to become a member of a church again, and may even decide to participate in church ministry or other level of commitment. I’m not ready for that today, and have discerned in the Holy Spirit what I can offer in terms of reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

    What I have also discerned in the Holy Spirit is that, if I am to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life, I have to accept that Jesus is married to the church, and sacrificed to the point of death for His bride. Whether I like it or not, regardless of the healthy boundaries I need to prevent further spiritual abuse, I can’t have a relationship with Christ apart from the church.

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  52. Sean, good comment. One quibble in that I would contend that the church for which Messiah died is not an organization. Rather, it is simply all believers. By all means fellowship where and how you are called. It’s just that many are being called out of organized religion. Actually, some of us have been and are being driven out, much as early believers were driven out of the synagogues of their day.

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  53. Sean, you said, “I can’t have a relationship with Christ apart from the church.” This really astounded me… Then I see that you clearly have Churchianity as opposed to Christianity. I have Christ and him alone wheather the world or any church still stands or not. We should be very careful that church doesn’t become our idol. I dare to say that if you can’t have relationship with Jesus apart from church, you in reality, may not have relationship with him at all. Judge it to yourself. Where does it say such thing in the Bible? Nowhere. At the best, it says that we should not forget fellowshipping with other believers. But this doesn’t even mention or imply church. I was in church 22 years and never had better fellowship with other believers than now when I am out if church. Which church did Jesus, Abraham, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul or host of other saints fellowship in?

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  54. “Churchianity” implies that a person is worshiping the church as opposed to Christ. What I am positing here is the exact opposite of that; having fallen into worship of the church, or pastors, or ministry leaders, a time or two in my own life, I now realize the extent to which I need to guard against that worship of idols. This would be a potential concern for me regardless of whether I am speaking of the church, my employment, family or involvement in the community.

    By the same token, organized religion is not worship. Regardless of whether a church is “organized”, what is relevant to my relationship with the church is not how an individual church chooses to function, but rather my response in the Holy Spirit when I am called to worship. If I were a proponent of organized religion, I would insist on church membership and ministry participation for everyone; I now do not even insist on that for myself.

    The bottom line is, Jesus Christ did not sacrifice His Life in the abstract; He sacrificed for those who believe. The church, in any abstract or organized epistemological sense, represents the Body of Christ, and to deny that fact is to deny reality and to deny Christ Himself. How each chooses to worship Christ is ultimately a function of the personal relationship each has with Christ, still further evidence of His Holiness.

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  55. Sean

    I’m a little concerned when you say @ JUNE 11, 2016 @ 7:07 PM…
    “I can’t have a relationship with Christ apart from the church.”

    My relationship with Christ improved tremendously after leaving…
    Through much pain, tears, and spiritual abuse…

    The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporation…
    That the IRS calls church.

    In those dark days, I got to know Jesus. And how much he loves me.

    Found out… I did NOT leave The Church of God, where Jesus is the head.

    I left the church of man, where Mere Fallible Humans want to run the show.

    Have you tried? NOT attending? Leaving? The 501 c3? For awhile?
    Just focusing on, following, and talking To Jesus?
    Learning how to be One of His Disciples?
    Learning to learn Directly From Jesus?
    Learning to Hear His Voice?
    Just reading The Gospels?
    Getting to know Jesus?

    John 10:27
    My SheepHear My Voice – and Follow Me.

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets,
    And they shall be ALL taught of God.

    John 14:26
    But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
    whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things…

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to Hear His Voice,*
    that **He might instruct thee:

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  56. livingliminal said “To be honest, I have found exactly the opposite. As a former leader, I always felt like I had to toe the part line and represent the institution ‘faithfully’. These days, I feel real freedom to just meet people where they are at and see what God brings out of that engagement:)”

    Yes, this is exactly my experience, too. I can speak for myself now, I feel so much more free, a weight off my shoulders. For instance, it’s ok if I have doubts and I can speak to others as another human being, who has faith in spite of doubts, instead of trying to parrot the “party line” while shoving my own personality underground. It is so much more real.

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  57. Sean, I am intrigued by your statement, “Whether I like it or not, the Senior Pastor of the church I attend has demonstrated repeatedly that he has a better understanding of God’s Word than I do.”

    You imply there is something not to like about this. It leads me to question, are you sensing something there, a legitimate reason not to like it? In what way has the pastor ‘demonstrated’ this better understanding? Is he bringing things out of the word that are blessing you and helping you to grow? Or is he just more skillful at using the word of God to keep you in bondage?

    What are you doing to grow in your own knowledge of the word of God, meantime? There are so many resources today beyond the doors of a church. Biblegateway is a great one. I always recommend just reading the Bible through, just knowing what it says is the foundation for everything else. Reading chronologically through, like you’d read any book you want to understand. After you are really familiar with what it says, you’ll begin to connect dots between what it says in one place and how it relates to what it says in another. Over time you will get to the place where someone will have a hard time twisting words out of context because you’ll know too much. I recommend being careful reading other peoples’ commentaries before you know the Word well yourself, they all seem to be making a great case but oftentimes we end up finding they were wrong and we have a bunch of error to unlearn.

    Don’t rush yourself to commit to what it means before you just know what all it says. God is not in any hurry. I like Miles Stanford’s analogy, when God wants to grow an oak, he takes many years. When he wants to grow a squash, he takes weeks (paraphrasing). Which do you think God wants us to be?

    Anyways, I think you may be mistaking the invisible church, made up of all believers everywhere, with the church organization, but you’ve come to understand a lot and God will lead you on in your understanding. May God bless you as you continue to grow and seek him!

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  58. Sean… Read John 4 for yourself regarding the place and manner of worshipping that is required…
    John 4…
    19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

    21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    I haven’t seen a word church in this passage? Hint, hint.

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  59. When I didn’t go to church for a while I was just honest that I needed a break. Church burnout, we have work burnout etc. I am going back now to a great church which puts no pressure on us to serve or give. You know what, I love it ! Right now my 12 year old son is playing ultimate Frisbee at youth group with people that love him! I love serving my community, we are there to help and love people. Try it if your going no where, those churches are there.

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  60. I left the church 8 years ago in May and didn’t go back until last year. A pastor and his wife were killed in a car accident. I graduated from high school with the pastor, and did volunteer work at their inner city center for three years. I so wanted to go to the funeral, but the closer it got, the more I feared and dreaded being back in a fundagelical church again. Thankfully, they decided to broadcast the funeral online because they knew with would be so huge. (3800 attended at the church, and another 2200 were live online that day.)

    So I went to the wake instead. They had left the megachurch and were working at another. I was able to make it through only because I knew I could leave at any time, and no one would think it strange if I were quiet or in tears.

    As it happened, I had to explain to six or seven people how I was treated like crap at the three churches I’d tried because I was a divorced, single mom, and I gave up after the third church. The last people I explained this to were a pastor and his wife who’d been good friends, and who had flown back from Scotland for the funeral. It was great to see them, but the church conversation was very depressing. I left n tears — not only for the couple who died. I also was grieving the loss of my dream of finding a church family, and never finding it. Now I know I’ve found it online in communities like this.

    On the way to and from the wake, I knew I HAD to listen to music that wouldn’t make me cry. My choice? The soundtrack from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” And it worked! I made it most of the way home OK. But I stopped to get Chinese food, and the music switched over to my regular playlist. “Let It Go” came on, and I just lost it. I was sitting in the drive-through line crying my heart out and singing along with Elsa: “I’m never going back, the past is in the past!” And I never will.

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  61. TLC3,
    I so want to give you a hug right now. There are many of us out here in similar situations. I am still a member of a Bible church, but question every week why I am going. There is a wide variety of beliefs in the church, but I am not ready to admit defeat. I don’t feel that you are defeated and gaining CORE (Leslie Vernick’s website is encouraging) strength without the ignorance of the churched that feel they know better than God. You are divorced and a single parent. You should be welcomed in the church and they should be looking out for ways that you need help.

    I didn’t go to an organized church for over 15 years. I have been back in for 6 years. For whatever reason I felt that I could help by speaking out against unbiblical teaching. I don’t seem to fit in anywhere, but I speak up as often as I can. I have a few people who I speak to and 2 women that I meet with outside of the worship service. It saddens me that single people are set outside the camp, whether by divorce or never married.

    I so wish that we could meet together as a group of single people that love Jesus. I know that HE is not turning us away and is not happy with the way conventional churches treat us. I know that you are a loving person with much to give others. I am sorry for your loss.

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  62. Nearly two years ago, I walked out of the church I grew up in. It was about a ten year process of slowly recognizing persistent abuse and being at a loss about how to respond. I finally realized I was at a fork in the road. I could keep the peace for the next 40 years. The result would be not growing in the faith, and never letting my voice be heard. Or I could walk out the door. My wife and I tried to find a “compromise” church, but I could listen to one sermon and tell that the church wasn’t for me. I started thinking about what a true church would preach, and how the people would act and I ended up finding pretty much that church.

    I don’t think exiting is an option for me because I feel my gifts are along the lines of helping organizations see the effects of their actions and helping them to make small changes to make things better. When I talked with the pastor about some issues I was seeing, instead of the rejection and defensiveness I got at my old church, the response was sincere thanks and actual change.

    It is interesting, though. Those close friends who have asked me why I left had the same “fork in the road” experience. For whatever reason, they consciously chose to give up their spiritual growth and gifts to stay in the church.

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  63. This happened to me for the first time since we stopped attending church a couple years ago. We ran into one of the elders’ wives at the grocery store. And of course, one of the first questions out of her mouth was, “Where are you attending church now?” I said, “Nowhere,” and she gave a surprised, startled flinch. Honestly, it was kind of funny to me. Because I don’t think anybody ever dared say that to her before. Then I got nervous and rambled about how we are in a different stage of life now and how I spend time in my garden and God meets me there, yada yada yada. She changed the subject really fast. We were in that church for over 20 years, and I worked one Sunday a month in the nursery for most of that. Yet despite our best efforts, we never felt connected. Nobody seemed to miss us when we were gone. So after 2 years, someone finally asks about us, and it’s only because we ran into them in the grocery store.

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  64. What a great topic, thanks again. It is very disturbing on how religious businesses have again put finances in front of service which if you study the history of religious organizations this has happened many times and leads to ineffectiveness, It is no secret that religion is big business around the world and in the United States it is very lucrative with tax free status. Here is a link to the form 990’s https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/953846510 for a religious business in California called Grace to You which is one part of the MacArthur chain of religious businesses. I am not singling out this particular religious business you can search others. I wonder if the business of religion has become more about money than meeting the needs of others

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  65. Great comment Brent! Methinks you are on to something. Take a look at this: New SBC Prez @bellevuepastor: Tithe, or God will make your kids sick, will poke holes in your purses. Amen! http://ow.ly/vWxL301iag2 #sbc16

    I haven’t give a dime to a church in years and my purses doesn’t have any holes in it.

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  66. hey thanks gm370 I believe it important to examine all aspects of a “ministry”. Another report from the same site giving Pell, affordability and graduation rates of one of MacArthur’s other business interest’s called The Master College and Seminary. https://projects.propublica.org/colleges/schools/the-master-s-college and-seminary If you read the report the college is not friendly to students who cannot afford the $ 40,000.00 per year, The College spends approx $7500.00 per student of the $ 40,000 per year tuition cost per student. At Masters a underprivileged student will receive a max deduction of 51% if a student chooses Masters and uses Pell grants it is highly unlikely they will graduate only 39% will and of those who use Pell grants over 6% will default. Overall The Masters College graduates only 53% of the student population in 6 years.

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  67. Here is the some info on Liberty University a division of the Falwell family religious business https://projects.propublica.org/colleges/schools/liberty-university brief overview, cost per year $31,000 with 26% discount for low income, Average spent on each student is $2167.00 for instruction(hope the food is good) median fed debt at graduation is $25,000 with overall grad rate of 50.2% the non repayment rate on debt is 31% with 68% of its 45000 students using federal loans….. its expensive to be a Christian

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  68. Kathi, you wrote in a comment: “Even though I love and respect both sets of parents, we are too old to be living our lives to please them.”

    Have you ever told them that? Respectfully, of course. Perhaps they need to hear it from you and your husband.

    And, I think that is your answer in general when asked that difficult question about where you go to church. Why not tell people that you are doing what you believe God wants you to do? If they try to debate that – as in, “But God said you have to blah, blah, blah” – you might just point out that you are not living your life to please them but to please the Lord and follow where He leads you. You could even remind them that it is their job to stop worrying about you and follow the Lord where He leads them. Remember when Peter saw John and asked Jesus, “…and what shall this man do?” Jesus said, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me.” I think there is a time to just tell people to stop worrying about what we are doing and follow the Lord themselves. I know that is easier said than done, but with prayer and determination and practice…

    (Just so you know, while my husband and I are presently more or less attending meetings of a church where we feel the Lord wants us right now, we have some close family members who are not, or who gather with a very tiny group. He and I have both been part of very small house church groups before we were married.)

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  69. @trust4himonly (too bad there’s no inline comments here; just catching up on the conversation now…)
    I never said that personal evangelism is better/easier/more effective in a church community; in fact I agree that it’s probably easier done when you are spending a season not attending church regularly, since you would have more opportunities to spend time with different people.

    I like your suggestion of taking a season to spend time away from church. For me personally, I’ve also found it incredibly helpful to have seasons in different churches/denominations — you learn what is important and what isn’t, and you don’t hold onto things too tightly because you know there are always options if things go sideways.

    My main point is that healthy churches have advantages over individual Christians. This doesn’t mean you have to go to church to be a Christian; it just means that in terms of things like impact, engagement, and the discipline of learning to love and “disagree well” with all kinds of people, a church community creates those opportunities more readily than going it on your own.

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  70. “As it happened, I had to explain to six or seven people how I was treated like crap at the three churches I’d tried because I was a divorced, single mom, and I gave up after the third church. The last people I explained this to were a pastor and his wife who’d been good friends, and who had flown back from Scotland for the funeral. It was great to see them, but the church conversation was very depressing. I left n tears — not only for the couple who died. I also was grieving the loss of my dream of finding a church family, and never finding it. Now I know I’ve found it online in communities like this.”

    TLC3,you have my empathy. I am sad that this was your experience. I can relate very well because I attended evangelical churches here in the UK and gave up- one of which was heavily influenced by the Go$$$pel Coalition. It is great to have online community, we need each other and can support each other. I had hoped for a church community and family but struggled to find any fellowship in any of them. I live on my own and went through several months of unemployment, very few people had time to meet up with me. A few years later I went through a period of illness and got no contact from anyone. To put this in context, I was living on my own because I trusted a few people in the leadership to help me live a “celibate life” because of my “same sex attraction”. They said that I should church my primary family and find true, loving fellowship in the church. I made all the effort but the effort was not reciprocated by them. When I made the effort, some people replied “we are busy at the moment” and kept giving the same excuses month and after month. Others just did not reply to a text or phone call. I gave up and left. I knew a widow in her 40s and she experienced similar frustrations and said “if you are single and over 35, you do not exist as far as the church is concerned”. Thankfully I have found a small local Anglican church which is very warm. They just preach the gospel and the subject of “homosexuality” never comes up in conversation nor in sermons. They don’t campaign for or against gay marriage, they allow me the freedom to make my own life choices without judgment, they allow women to preach and they reach out to the poor and the refugees in our community. It is a great blessing to have this, and the work of this blog, along with the Wartburg Watch, is a great blessing also.

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  71. I’ve been reading this discussion and this morning thought about how I’m going to be helping with a project at a house of worship that is not even Christian. The thought occurred that if any of my friends reacts in panic about me leaving the Christian faith, my response to reassure them will be: “I’m a doer, not a joiner.”
    I’m still on the rolls at a suffocating congregation and don’t plan to join anything else. Even applying for associate membership (can’t vote, can volunteer) in my sons of —– group! It’s better this way. For me.

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  72. Mary Stephens – Sorry I haven’t responded sooner. Life has been hectic. We have had conversations with our parents and have basically said that we will have to agree to disagree. We do tell them that we are happy that they have found places of worship that work for them. And, both sets do go to churches that do some great work in the community and the world. But, you know, religion – just like politics – tends to still come up in conversations.

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  73. @Mike. I agree that healthy churches are a great advantage. Maybe some of my theological upbringing is getting in the way, but I’ve found it very difficult to find a healthy church that is also Reformed. For most churches, I read the “about” and “beliefs” section in the website and I already know that they are authoritarian. For some, I listen to a sermon or two and that is enough.

    I’m hooked on the church I go to because they are Reformed, the pastors have a good idea of how ministry works in the church, and they actually recognize that good Christians have to work through deep emotional wounds. That said, it’s been a real struggle for me because I came to the church to heal, and because I’m apparently one of the few people (in a church of 500+) who is willing to step up, I feel like I’m getting asked to do things I’m not ready for yet, but I want to be an encouragement to the pastor and not just someone who expects to be fed every week and not minister.

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  74. Mark – I’m really struggling with a pastor role described in the New Testament that looks anything at all like your suppositions. You want to be an “encouragement to the pastor”?

    Why not be an encouragement, in general, to all other believers who, as co-heirs and co-high priests, are there to be both sharpened by and sharpen your iron?

    Why single out this thing that you call “pastor”?

    Where does the word “pastor” appear in the Pauline letters?

    Is there a description of a role there in Ephesians 4?

    Is there anything there that would indicate this is some special person you should hold up and single out as one you seek to encourage?

    Look throughout the New Testament and find for me that special person(s) in the church who has a good idea of how ministry works above all others. Where does that exist?

    What does the New Testament say about leadership? Do you care enough to seek it out on your own? Or will you take the word of those who think they know best about how ministry works?

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  75. Actually, I see nothing wrong with encouraging pastors, so long as you’re encouraging them to repent–to repent of having assumed an elevated position that entails lording it over others.

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  76. Ummm, where in God’s Word does it say that pastors know more than the rest of the sheep? The last pastor man I sat under in a Pentecostal/charismatic church was finally “caught” chasing a married woman he was ‘counseling.’ The ‘church elder board-made up of males, along with the deacon and deaconess board-made up of highly spiritual (in their own eyes) males and females, desired that the pastor man “go through as season of counseling, then be reinstated back to his pulpit leadership program.” And right before he was caught by a teenager, who turned the bum into the church board, the pastor man pulled out all of his spiritual weapons in calling many of us ‘jezebels.” This is the code word of pastor men who perceive those of us women who do not worship, nor bow down at the alter of the pastor man’s charismatic charm, good looks, and striking personality as a means to control, manipulate, and steal more money from our pocketbooks.

    Side bar, this same pastor man preached the tithe concept of giving throughout the year, even bragging that he and his wife tithed on all of their insurance policies! Wow, impress me some more why don’t you, Mr. Pastor wolf man, as you lie and steal from God’s sheep.

    So, up until now it’s been a pleasure to remain silent on this issue; and it’s also been an absolute joy in knowing that as believers, we can read, study and meditate upon God’s Word for ourselves, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach and show us what He desires us to know……..no seminary degree required, no leadership title needed, and no praise and applause from man…..just the LORD Jesus Christ and his sheep; one on one as well as in fellowship with other lowly sheep.

    Psalm 23…..”He (the LORD) restores my soul.” ‘Nuff said.

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  77. The one question I have come to loathe is, “So, where do you go to church?” I hate that question because to give a truthful answer, I have to essentially say that my family and I were so hurt, lied to, and manipulated by three pastors, several elders and part of the flock at two different churches, that we just can’t go there anymore. And we’ve tried. Several times. But it is all so fake. Or so rigid, or dry, or too loud, or whatever.
    But what I do know is that since we have distanced ourselves from the evangelical church, and focus just on God and His Son that we are more content than we have been in years. I don’t need to study the bible daily. I don’t need to set aside time to pray daily, or give or sacrifice or anything. I am saved by grace through faith.
    We do miss the community. I am not opposed to the church. I just don’t see my need for it anymore.

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  78. Thank you for these insights. When I run into someone who used to go to church with me, and it comes up, if they say they’re not going anywhere, I often say they’re welcome to come back anytime; maybe mentioning a Bible study group related to their walk of life.(single women, for example) It can be a hard topic. But in the moment, I want for my words to be of wanting the best for them. If I knew them well, we might talk on more deeper things, but if the conversation seems to take a defensive turn, I make an excuse to get going, wishing them a good day, and praying for them on the way, if they hate being told you’re praying.(yes, some hate it; they say it feels like they’re being patronized) I’m glad this place seeks to be community to those who, for whatever reason, can’t do church community anymore. Hopefully it leads to in-person meetings where possible, because we all need that too; even if it’s in a 1 on 1 setting, or 2 couples, or 3, or what have you. Blessings to all.

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  79. ” If I knew them well, we might talk on more deeper things, but if the conversation seems to take a defensive turn, I make an excuse to get going, wishing them a good day…” – JPU

    I know that previously I might have tried to rope non-church goers into coming to church. Now that I’ve been through an abusive, authoritarian bad church experience, I have repented of my…arrogance. And I was arrogant. So I am speaking just for myself. Now I understand why so many people refuse to go to church and how dangerous so many churches are for adults and children alike.

    I am now interested in who people are for just being them, no Scripture verses, no hard sell, no judgment. Just loving them and being grateful right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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