Rachel Held Evans left her church (but not Christianity) when she was 27. Now, she’s 30 and trying to find a new one.
She wrote a great post explaining 15 reasons she left her church years ago:
3. I left the church because my questions were seen as liabilities.
4. I left the church because sometimes it felt like a cult, or a country club, and I wasn’t sure which was worse.
5. I left the church because I believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that humans share a common ancestor with apes, which I was told was incompatible with my faith.
9. I left the church because I felt like I was the only one troubled by stories of violence and misogyny and genocide found in the Bible, and I was tired of people telling me not to worry about it because “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”
13. I left the church because I had learned more from Oprah about addressing poverty and injustice than I had learned from 25 years of Sunday school.
15. I left the church because one day, they put signs out in the church lawn that said “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman: Vote Yes on Prop 1,” and I knew the moment I saw them that I never wanted to come back.
None of that’s going to change anytime soon. The churches promoting those archaic views are outnumbering the “liberal” churches in number and membership. Rachel’s not the only person who left a church because it refused to deviate from a certain vision of what a Good ChristianTM looked like, and she won’t be the last. If only more people had the courage to leave.
But there’s a theme to that list. Many churches will never change. Maybe younger Christians have changed. If they can’t correct the church from the inside, they’re going to walk away. At least until they find a church more accepting of their views.
That’s when you get to the list of 15 reasons Rachel didn’t leave Christianity and why she’s looking for a new church…
3. The fact that when somebody gets sick or dies or has a baby or loses their job, it’s the church ladies who are the first to show up at the front door with a casserole and a hug…
12. The Biologos Foundation, and especially Karl Giberson, who was the first to reach out to me and tell me that I didn’t have to choose between my intellectual integrity and my faith
14. Friends with whom we gather each week for movies, food, conversations about God, and the occasional (slightly awkward) church visit
15. Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace
Basically, it sounds like she’s trying to find a new church because she misses being part of a close-knit community and creating the bonds that form when you’re around people in that type of setting. Those things seem *far* more important to her than anything specifically “Biblical.”
Sure, she begins and ends her list with things about Jesus/grace, but you get the feeling she just *had* to put those things in to remind everyone she’s still a Christian It’s not like her old church ever said, “We don’t care about Jesus.”
Rachel will disagree with me on this, but here’s the takeaway I’m getting from her posts: Community matters more than faith. Jesus is just a means to an end when it comes to that.
It’s a lot easier to bond over a specific person (I <3 Jesus) than a set of ideas (Go science!) but if we can offer a setting where people can experience that sense of belonging and they feel like they're part of a larger movement, they won't need to go back to a church to find it. That's why it's vital for us for invest in campus groups, parenting groups, and online communities. Even if it's not for you, a lot of people want to be part of those fellowships. We don't need to adopt irrational thinking in order to give people that.