Whenever you end something, it can feel hard at first. It’s hard to see past today. It’s hard to know if you’ll be ok.
About a year and a half ago, my family walked away from the church we were in for 3 years. It felt like I was betraying God. I wondered if I’d lose my faith. The problem was the church had misused its power and caused my family much grief. We tried other churches after we left but they all had hints of manipulation: guilt trips, key phrases used to shame you, and verses taken out of context. I couldn’t sit for another service in a place that used tactics to preach Christ.
We now meet 2x a month with a family and we do a home church, although it’s not like church at all. There is no pastor. There is no paid worship team. No leaders. We are all equals and all given equal time to bring up or address things from scripture. It’s much more peaceful. I don’t have to be quiet the entire hour and listen to someone talk at me. I get to engage and make points and raise questions with the text. I get to hear others and they get to hear me.
I never felt free to do that in church because it wasn’t welcomed. Even in times where discussion was promoted, it became a pissing match to see who could kiss up to the pastor and have the best answer. It was a huge turn off listening to all the theologians in the room discuss things that had no meaning for me personally. I got tired of being told what to think, how to worship, how to pray, and who to be friends with.
I realized that these things will flow naturally out of a heart that loves God. I don’t need to force myself into a pew, be told to raise my hands in worship, be expected to pray out loud, or be forced to like a creep just because we were in the same building together. In real life, relationships exist and we can live in them. In real life, I can worship in my car while dropping my kids off at classes. In real life, I can let the Holy Spirit guide me to those unlovable people that need a kind word. I don’t need a guilt trip from a pastor. God leads me everyday.
After I left the church, it took time to get my wings again. I ended up pursuing my creative side which was stifled inside the church. I’m slowly growing into my own because I feel real freedom in Christ. When I was in the church, I felt bound by rules and religion. Outside of the church, I am bound only by my relationship with Christ. It has freed me to pursue my God given abilities instead of being told I’m just here to serve my husband. In using my gifts, I am more peaceful and joyful than I ever was in a church building.
I have not neglected the church because the church includes all Christians, not just ones in a certain building. Further, not all people who attend church are actual Christians. The church attracts toxic people, many of whom aren’t saved. The church is no more Christian than people at the grocery store or those at a county fair. Sprinkled throughout are real Christians, but a whole lot aren’t saved at all and are merely trying to prey on others or mark off their “do good” deed for the week. This is why I find it laughable that anyone would chide me for not going to church. The church is a toxic place to be.
While I could say so much more about all of this, I will end here. I hope to write what I’m learning, not just bring up issues with the church. Stay tuned.