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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Leaving Church

I feel like I have been sat in the doorway of church for a long time gazing at the open door and the possibilities that lie outside but have been afraid to step out because so much of my identity is tied up in the institution of the Church.

Over the past couple of years my confidence in the Church and Christianity has been slowly chipped at and eroded. Rather than dealing with this dilemma and tension I have tried to find an accomodating position so I did the ministry in the pub but gradually I came to realize that the doubts that I was supressing meant that I couldn't talk to anyone about my faith and beliefs until I had sufficiently understood them for myself.

I haven't been to church in quite a while and I can't see a way back. I studied at Bible College and was ordained as a pastor and, however much I tried to deny the fact, I have realized that so much of my identity was tied up in this role and in the evangelical Christian community and so I feel that I have to go through a grieving process as I seek to find a new identity that I can own with integrity.

I can't believe in the literalness of much of the Bible story and that bothers me because I uncritically accepted the Biblical narrative for so long and preached and counselled others in believing and confessing the Christian story. I don't know where the future lies for me or my faith. I know that there are no easy answers but I am just putting this "out there" to seek friendship and care as I make this journey.

8 comments:

Guy said...

I am not sure why I am following yo on Twitter but I am. As a Christian the title of your post caught my eye. After reading it I am feeling a little sad, but not surprised.

I think trying to make Christianity fit into the box that organised Church tries to make it fit into castrates it/Him of the authenticity and accessibility that was/is the balls of the gospel.

For what it's worth I hope you find yourself back with Jesus/God, but ultimately I hope you find peace.

g.

http://www.twitter.com/guydavidcross

Anonymous said...

I have found that many of us, myself included for a time, have an idea of God and faith that, eventually, has to be questioned. At this time it is easy to feel disoriented, lost, 'disenfranchised', somehow empty, even unloved. It's a lonely, exposed place.

However, I also know this can be a good thing...It's a good thing to discard the caricature of God we have held onto for so long. I think God cheers us on. The prophets were not afraid to shout their anger and disappointment at God. Eventually that led to understanding and faith. Perhaps you too are about to leave the two-dimensional world for something much deeper, more satisfying, and more relational.

Here are some books that helped me: Jaded - Hope for Believers Who Have Given Up On Church But Not God, A.J. Kiesling (Baker, 2004); Healing Spiritual Abuse - How To Break Free From Bad Church Experiences, Ken Blue (IVP, 1993); Toxic Faith, S. Arteburn & J. Felton (Waterbrook, 2001); Toxic Churches, M. DuPont (Sovereign World, 2004); Reading the Bible Again for the First Time - Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally, MJ Borg (Harper, 2001). I also found it helpful to read a contemporary version of the Bible (Message, NIV, Living, etc).

Terry

Anonymous said...

When I say, "I am a Christian"
by Carol Wimmer

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting, "I’ve been saved!"
I'm whispering, "I get lost!
That's why I chose this way".

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I don't speak with human pride
I'm confessing that I stumble -
Needing God to be my guide

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak
And pray for strength to carry on.

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting that I've failed
And cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
Asking humbly to be taught.

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are all too visible
But God believes I'm worth it.

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache,
Which is why I seek His name.

When I say, "I am a Christian"
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority...
I only know I'm loved


Terry C

THE BIBLE LOVER said...

Jesus is the One who initiated Church and Church is the Bride of Christ. Paul even wrote about Jesus dying for the church as should the husband loves the wife. It is from the Church, ministry flows out and it is a beautiful thing. One thing though, there is no perfect church. That's where we sharpen one another to face the hostile world! It's easy to do what we want but harder to work in a group with accountability. Anyway, tks for your honesty! God bless you, Bro!

David Gladson said...

Les, I really relate to your post especially the part about looking out the church door so often (and the pic is mesmerizing). I am now visiting around to different traditional churches, but I feel more like what Trucker Frank calls being a "free range Christian". If it wasn't for the emergent cohort group we started here, I am not sure where I would end up. Even now, i still find myself looking out the door and asking myself, "where do I belong?"

MysticalJase said...

Good on you mate, it's hard I know but you'll get there.
Trust yourself!
Choose wisely the people you surround yourself with. The ones that zapp the life out of you are probably the ones to keep on the periphery of your life for the time being.
I believe and pray that God will look after you, his Spirit will guide you. God speed.
Speak soonish :)
J.

Matt Stone said...

Sad to hear this. Do you think any of it was worth it?

One of Freedom said...

Les it sounds like you are asking good questions. I think it takes a real erosion of everything so that something new can spring up.