Thoughts on Leaving Church

This post is by my friend Josh Graves is about folks leaving the church, and not just 20somethings but 40somethings too:

2. The real issue is being skirted. I think the real cause of disillusionment with church is self-disappointment. Pain birthed anger, now solidified in cynicism and apathy (funny how those two always go together). Frustration with “the church” is first about frustration with self. We tend to, in the wisdom of Donald Miller, judge others based on actions while judging ourselves based upon our intent. We are harder on “the church” so we can be “easier” on ourselves. This is why some Christians literally demand more from their church than they do from their own family, their own personal lives (money, time, etc.).

3. A heavy dose of entitlement and self-deception is present in many of these conversations. Boomers, much to the admittance of all generations, are perhaps the first truly consumer generation in American history. Their kids (of which I’m guilty) are even starker consumers precisely because we were raised in the milieu of “gaining, acquiring, achieving, and consuming” to our heart’s content. I now look back and see the simple practices my parents instilled (hospitality, simplicity, generosity with money) to challenge these larger temptations. Honestly, it’s something I’m trying to reevaluate as we are watching our two boys grow and emerge.

Barbara Brown Taylor wrote a provocative and controversial book several years ago, Leaving Church. It created a stir because it both resonated with so many and, at the same time, served as an example of what happens when you actually do leave a church. If you have not read it, I think it embodies the tension I’m naming in this post. The tension we must live in: critiquing the church without excusing our own dysfunction.

How can you change something if you won’t stay and fight for what you believe? I know some will say, “Josh, you are 32. Talk to me when you are older and understand things a little more clearer.” Maybe that’s true. But I pray, God help me, that I will love the church enough to speak prophetically while, at the same time, realize that God’s love for me is far more gracious, risky, illogical, loyal, steadfast than any paltry and minuscule love I might offer the church.

I really believe that the local church is part of the genius of the kingdom.

And I’m going to add one clause to this last sentence:

I really believe that the local church as it is is part of the genius of the kingdom. Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s great line about learning to surrender our cherished expectations of the church.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.greekingout.com Refe (@refetuma)

    Committing to a church is like getting married – you want make sure you’re committing to the right one, but at some point you’ve got to be willing to stick it out even when the relationship gets hard.

    By the way, which of Bonhoeffer’s works is that quote from?

  • http://potscrubbersjournal.blogspot.com Dorothy Bentley

    Great post. I am a forty-something person struggling with church. I’ve never completely left, and now find myself enrolled in a Bachelor of Ministry degree, so need to deal with church on a whole new level. It is a painful process, dealing with my own sin, as well as acting somewhat in a prophetic fashion, helping my church get where it needs to be.

    Blessings!
    Dee :)

  • Rob

    I would offer that the reason why I left church was not to excuse my own self reflection. Quite the contratry. The deeper I continue to go into the depths of my psyche, a sometimes painful journey, the more that the ego-centric activites of most churches I was a part of no longer resonate.

  • Pat Popre

    Well, I haven’t completely left the church, but this 47-year old has checked out to the extent that I left the church where I was serving as elder after 12 years of enduring ignorance and insensitivity. Through that time, I did self-evaluation and made attempts to work on me. I still did not feel largely accepted in the predominantly white, conservative church. Oh sure, I was elected elder, but there was much I had to endure in the way of insensitvity because largely it was an environment in which it was assumed that everyone believed the same thing. There was not a lot of room for independent thinking or oppenness to the “other”. I’m not simply attending a church that is theologically open, ethnically diverse and inclusive. It’s a welcome respite on many levels. I’m not serving, just attending and taking some much needed time to heal after giving much of my time, hear and soul to advancing the Kingdom through this local church. Now it is time for rest and recuperation.

  • Pat Popre

    By the way, my last name is “Pope” not Popre. :)

  • Dan

    It might be good to define ‘local’. It also might need to be clarified if folks are dropping out of church altogether or just going to another congregation.

    One of the big issues I have wrestled with over the years is breaking into the cliques. Sometimes it’s like high school all over.

  • http://www.kingdomroundtable.blogspot.com Dru Dodson

    Thanks Josh, read the whole post. In my life I’ve never experienced anything more difficult or more worthwhile than living in churches. Except for one thing, my marriage. And when you stop and think about it they are similar. Both do better when you don’t go into them as a shopper-consumer-customer.

  • Scot McKnight

    Refe, Life Together.

  • Kat

    I don’t think Josh gets it … and I doubt most pastors do — they are consumed by other very real problems. As a 40-50 something church can simply become draining and damaging to spiritual health. It is not consumer mentality at all … It is more like “how long should I stay in an abusive relationship?”

    Sure – it should be like family, like marriage; but for a marriage to work both parties have to listen and adapt.

    Instead of church being a community, it is the focal point of the visionary leader’s church growth ambition. It is like being part of a dysfunctional family where one learns to cope by not caring. Even within the church one learns not to count on anything, one learns not to trust, not to expect anything, and certainly not to depend on anything.

    Like that Sunday school class? Tomorrow the “visionary leader” may come in and declare that it is not in line with the future of the church… a few weeks later it doesn’t exist.

    Found a place to contribute and serve? Tomorrow the “visionary leader” may declare that for the good of the church we need to put younger people into that position instead … or it doesn’t fit with his or her vision for the future. Two weeks later you are looking for your next “service opportunity.”

    Try to discuss it with the leader(s)? … well, you know, we can’t please everyone so we’ll just have to do what we think best … and in the process eliminate any opportunity for real feedback. Leadership means never admitting you may have been wrong … strong leaders, so we are told, cast a vision moving forward and inspire followers to make things happen.

    This isn’t community and it isn’t a functional family. And I am not sure that it is worth destroying one’s spiritual health by sticking it out.

    If pastors or leaders actually listened – instead of trying to build consensus to achieve their visionary growth we might have something that approached family in our churches.

    Oh … and “family” or community isn’t the goal because it gives a church an “insider feel” and discourages growth. The goal is converts who grow by self-feeding elsewhere.

  • Shepherd’s Dog

    Many of the churches I have participated in had leaders who never should have been leaders.

    Josh – first rule of leadership: don’t blame the troops!

  • Arnold

    1 Sam.22 NASB : “1 So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. 2 Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.”

    Maybe a little strange, but this scripture came to my mind reading this post. I’m a 48-year old churchlover-hater. I often came close to quit, but then some years ago I read this part of the Bible and it reminded me of my wish to be more like Jesus. He didn’t leave the ‘church’, but all kinds of sinners fell in love with him, including me, and became part of his crew. No wonder there’s so much turmoil in a crowd like that. It takes sacrafices to be involved in the local church. But I have experienced, with pain, that God uses these difficulties to grow in the denying of self, without losing identity. To me it seems that people like Bonhoeffer aren’t very popular these days (at least in Holland that is), because many people visit church merely to be consumers and not to be more like Jesus. When the words of Jesus like in John 13:14 were part of our ‘Church-DNA’ things would be more clear for everyone. I hope people will ask their questions on this level before leaving a church/relationship/friendship/community.

  • Michael

    But what about when church doesn’t work anymore? Not just for me but for us all. Far from a selfish thing it’s a fundamental paradigm shift that means the church is a step behind many of us. When the church is able to embrace postmodernity as a reality there will be many eager and ready to partake in this “marriage.” In the meantime we are the big C Church and we are finding ways to circumvent the local gathering that doesn’t work for many.

  • http://www.suzielind.wordpress.com Suzie Lind

    Josh, I’m 37 and share your views whole heartedly. Consumerism took it’s root in the church under the emerging leadership of the boomers. To stay and fight for what we believe to be right, true and the original intent of Jesus to make Himeslf known through the Church and to advance His Kingdom takes courage, grace, wisdom and perseverance. I’m with you in praying He will sustain us throug it and bring back those who have left but also add to the number daily. I often think of Ezekiel 34 when it comes to this topic and pray God strengthens and imparts wisdom to the shepherds and leaders of His church today. Thanks for the post.

  • JohnM

    Not quite sure what we’re talking about. Leaving A church (for another), or leaving THE church? I’ve done the former. The latter is inconceivable to me, basically = apostacy and analogous to separation of body and soul, if you accept believers ARE the church, rather than the church is something that works, or not, for believers.

  • http://donttakemyword.blogspot.com/ Scott F

    “By ‘church’ I mean an intentional community that worships, studies, and lives the person of Jesus.”

    Pop-psychological babble aside, where do you find these intentional communities among the ten steeples per square mile that most people end up choosing from? Ninety-nine percent of congregations are closer to country clubs. Before berating folks for becoming disillusioned with the slop that passes for church, one needs to apologize for allowing it to get to this point. The Reformation turned its back on what it saw as dead Roman Catholic parishes but the current protestant landscape is only marginally better.

    My wife is in the middle of a struggle over whether to leave a UMC congregation. Unless the Holy Spirit rolls in with some tongues of fire, I see no chance of this 1000 member congregation doing a 170 degree turn and “living the person of Jesus”. Do you really stay and fight for a spiritually dead church? Perhaps we could get backing as missionaries serving the members of mainline churches? ;)

  • http://godswordourwordsandtheworld.blogspot.com Lee Wyatt

    The issue is not really whether to leave the church or not. FOr many of us it’s finding a way to be and do church that does not encumber the church with as many hindrances to embodying community and solidarity with the poor as the current institutional form does and does not bore the hell out of people with its “gospel”. At least that’s how it seems to me.

    Peace,
    Lee

  • Vicki

    @ Kat – I agree with you. Sometimes staying within the church is like staying an abusive relationship. Can we grow through our ability to deal with it? Absolutely. But sometimes the growth that takes place means that we cannot stay but must instead move forward.

    I do agree that we need to continue to be a part of the big C church but I disagree that doing the right thing means staying within a particular church. I believe sometimes the healthy and appropriate thing to do is to leave.

  • Douglas McCall

    As I understand it in the word, that the church is not the church until we as His people are filled with Him,and Him with us. Until then these buildings will never be the real church.

  • http://www.redeemchristianity.org Redeem Christianity

    Great post! committing to a church is certainly important, especially when our culture is feeding us so much garbage on a regular basis!

  • rjs

    John M,

    I agree, leaving The Church is inconceivable … But leaving a church is not, for a variety of reasons.

  • http://www.alanallard.com Alan Allard

    I am 55 years old and “left the church” (not attending or serving in any local church) seven years ago.

    Concerning Josh’s comment that the real problem with those who leave the church is their frustration with self, not the church:

    How do you think a church leader would feel if the were dismissed with the very black and white statement of “Frustration with those who leave the church is first about frustration with self,” Really? So, church leaders aren’t really frustrated over the people who leave and why they leave. If they were really honest with themselves they would see they are really frustrated with self?

    That viewpoint or Josh’s perspective simply blames the other group and there is no room for self-reflection or room to learn.

    Josh’s statement and the one I offered about leaders would shut down any further communication. Why communicate when one side thinks they have the other side all figured out.

    Jesus was masterful at connecting with the “outcasts” and the non church goers. Without rapport there is no connection, without connection there is no communication and without communication there is no relationship.

    Where does that leave things?

  • http://www.pastormattblog.com Pastor Matt

    I think Hugh Halter is right that the problem is that leaders like myself are too busy building churches instead of making disciples. If we focus on doing the latter, church as King Jesus envisioned will happen naturally.

  • http://keithbrenton.com/ Keith Brenton

    Well, I tried to leave a comment and got the flag “Your location has been identified as part of a reported spam network. Comments have been disabled to prevent spam.”

  • Chris

    Pastor Matt has it right (#22). When discipleship is optional or non-existent, the believers–no matter how well intended–are not prepared adequately to deal with the temptations of their old man, the beat-down by the world system/culture with its seductive and subtle redirects and the evil one enjoys it all.

    Things are being done in the local churches, good things–but the internal struggles and misguided efforts seem to swamp the average church WORKER, while the idle ones are reassured that they are in the kingdom because some time back they made a decision to acquire the benefits of heaven without any real commitment.

    My suggestion is to develop relationships with other like-minded believers within your church community and begin discipling each other–taking the Bible’s call on our life serious and encouraging, exhorting, rebuking, teaching the Word of King Jesus. It won’t just happen.

  • Chris

    And if you are a church worker–you are way too busy doing all those good things–seriously. I know you have invested much time in those projects, classes, boards or committees, picnics, pot-lucks, plays, musicals, fund-raisers, children’s activities, prayer meetings, ushering, nursery, mailings, and more—but your spiritual health is very important.

    Cut a lot of those things out and get into some serious peer-to-peer discipleship–spending time in prayer and the Word and being in the counsel of others. It will be hard and some of the activities you were in will suffer greatly and the other workers may not understand–but for you to excel beyond mediocrity and repeated ineffectiveness you need to connect to the Source of all good things–not a weak connection but with all wires intact. You and I need to have that inner community within the community so that we can focus properly on what we have been called to do–not just doing everything that needs (someone or tradition requires) to be done.

    Father–may your kingdom be expanded as we do your will.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I don’t want to give up my expectations of the church! Darn.

  • Taylor

    The thing that most convicted me when I was considering jumping ship was one very simple realization.

    Leaving the church meant that I was in some way superior to everyone else there. Yet leaving was saying that I couldn’t be bothered to love my brothers, let alone my neighbors.

    How could I have so little love and yet think myself somehow above them?

  • mick

    If the Holy Spirit inhabits God’s people, and we find ourselves more disillusioned, disatisfied, cynical and cynical. What does that say about our response to the Spirit among the congregation? Either he has vacated the premises for a season or we have become dulled and bored with the Holy Presence, trading him in on lesser idols.

  • phil_style

    Reasons I basically stopped going to church:

    1. Controlling leadership. “this is not a democracy” was a phrase often uttered by leaders who were autocratic.
    2. Deceptive leadership. On two occasions I recall being called to meetings under false pretenses in order to ambush me with “issues” which needed to be discussed.
    3. Theology. Some stuff just didn’t make any sense, and no one seemed at all interested in discussing it.
    4. Bible understanding. Little to no scholarly engagement and no engagement at all with the sciences (archaeology etc) which can help to provide context to the scriptures. Quote mining in sermons and making stuff up was pretty common too.
    5. “worship”. I’m a musician, and I love music.. but I can’t stand the “love songs to Jesus” worship thing and all the emotionalism that’s built into it
    6. Money. I had an elder demand that I set up an Automatic payment for my tithe because they expected people in the “worship team” to tithe and they wanted to be able to monitor that tithe.
    7. Beer. I was told off by the church leaders because they found out that I had consumed a beer with lunch one Sunday afternoon.

    Josh asks “How can you change something if you won’t stay and fight for what you believe”
    The problem with that is, as soon as you start fighting for change you become a pariah and a spreader of “dis-unity”.

  • http://scriptedscriptures.ning.com Loo

    Very poignant post, and interesting responses.
    I find myself wanting to belong, but on the fringes of an exclusive club, I work shifts and cannot join in on rota terms.
    I go, I worship, and stopped expecting anything out of it.
    The typical ‘gift relationship’ is one way. I will have your tithe, but give you little back.
    I have a social justice, service vision for the Church, but it cannot deliver.

  • TSG

    We are struggling with ecclesiological change as much as we are with theological, soteriological, or Christological. The stages of growth analogies of Fowler, Jameson, et al. are, in the end. a call to a change in ecclesiology(Notice the ending chapters of their books). You have to create an environment for the different maturities to interact. I doubt the pew structure, or even stage presentations will suffice. The small group strategy(discussed last week) and organic church are attempts at correction, without sacrifice of larger assembling. Notice also Webber’s ancient/future approach. Notice, also, that much of what is called emerging could be thought of as expressions of ecclesiological change, because when analyzed, they aren’t theologically anything new. Within the ideas of ecclesiolocal change, are also study of the roots of Calvin’s Institutio, and also looking at the church in a pluralistic cultural context(Newbiggin,et al). This responder feels that the changes we will help implement go deeper yhan just our traditions of meeting times, places, and structure. Be honest and we have become too doubtless, exclusive, repressive, shallow, and overprotective.

  • waylon

    Who was it that said something along the lines of “the church is a white, but she’s my mother.”?

    Reading these comments, it sounds like people are frustrated with a very specific flavor of the local church, namely the evangelical, business model, church. Maybe the answer is to plant yourselves in a more liturgical church with a high view of the sacraments?

    I’m only 30 and have only been a preaching minister for 2 years, but I can say that I would have quit 18 months ago had i not started reading sacramental theology (ie “for the life of the world” by alexander schmemen). Church isn’t so much about what I can do for God, or what God can do for me, as it is about Christ being physically present and bringing redemption through His Church, dysfunctional as she may be.

  • waylon

    Correction, should read “the church is a whore, but she’s my mother.”

    My Droid seems to be a bit of a prude :p

  • Susan N.

    We talk about “church” as though it is a one-on-one personal relationship, subject to the typical dynamics of interpersonal (human) relations. In a spiritual sense, yes, church is symbolic of the Body of Christ. At a down-to-earth, practical level, however, “church” is a complex organization/institution with a hierarchical structure. The “Church” is an even more complex network of organizations with varying doctrines and structures.

    A desire to “make a relationship work” should not be a one-way affair. It takes two who are fully committed to carry a healthy relationship.

    When I left a church a few years ago, it was an awfully painful decision that I grieved for more than a year. It certainly wasn’t anything that I took lightly, or without deep reflection and prayer. Did I feel like a failure? Yes, even though I knew my reasons were sound and I didn’t see another way, I mourned the loss, mostly of the unrealized potential.

    It did me good, personally, not to jump straight into another church, but rather to take time to heal and think through what should come next. Of course in my case, it wasn’t just me — it was my whole family involved in the process of healing and beginning again.

    Leaving “the Church?” In the sense that that means the invisible, universal Body of Christ, the only way I can understand leaving “the Church” altogether is to renounce faith in the person of Christ.

  • Fred

    phil_style

    Not beer! You didn’t. ;)

    I would also add just plain boredom. Uninteresting music along with uninteresting sermons along with uninteresting interactions with people after the service, et.al.

    These things are not uninteresting because I am a product of a visual age but because they make no sense. The sermons are pointless and rambling, personal interactions revolve around the weather or whether we should build a football stadium in the state or conservative political ideology. And the music, well, you know better than I do.

    I would be interested in hearing more about music from you.

  • Dan

    Waylon, you might want to rethink tossing around that quote about the church being a whore. Christ knew better than all of us and it’s inconceivable He would agree with the statement, despite her flaws.

  • phil_style

    Fred, I could go on all day about music – specifically worship music. But suffice to say the following;

    1. Music is art. Bad art is bad art whether is has “i love jesus” in the lyrics or not. Most worship songs are lyrically lame and tonally/rhythmically limp. Once, christian worship was at the cutting edge of music as an art. Now….
    2. Music is highly emotive. Music controls our brains in ways few other things do. I wish worship leaders would stop pretending that “the spirit” was doing things though music when clearly what is going on is that music is doing things through music. I’m happy to accept the idea that music can be used to create an atmosphere that helps us to shut out distraction (much like architecture etc can) but too often folks forget how powerful music is (even “bad” music), just by itself.
    3. Worship music writers/musicians seem unaware of the difference between music design to be sung corporately (i.e. hymns) and music to be listened to – in one type the lyric. An important distinction.
    4. Covers of secular songs (change a few lyrics) are neither witty nor engaging. They are cringe worthy and patronising.

  • Richard

    @ Dan 36

    The quote is attributed to Augustine. The line of thinking could be traced back to Hosea. Waylon has some serious tradition to stand with here.

    I’m a pastor that took a position with a church locked in a lawsuit because people made power plays during a move to leave their denomination. I turned down a parachurch position overseas (a dream job if there was one for me) because I felt commanded by God to stay in a very rural, conservative, christendom-filled community and call the local congregations in our community (especially the one I lead) to a deeper obedience to the life of Christ. Its hard and I hear so many stories that reflect the frustration and hurts that have been shared on this thread so far. It took me little time to realize that if I was going to be a different sort of pastor, I would have to be willing to suffer the sins of every pastor that had ever hurt the people I was called to serve in our community.

  • Dan

    Richard, you’re not the only one to have been in churches with problems.

    Interesting about Augustine. Even more interesting about Hosea considering he predated the formation of the church by 700 years.

    Be that as it may, you go ahead and call the bride of Christ a whore. Christ didn’t and neither did Paul, at least from what we read in his letters. I wonder why.

  • http://kansasbob.com Kansas Bob

    I think that I said similar things when I was 32.

  • http://abisomeone.blogspot.com Peggy

    Wow … I’m restraining myself from getting our my ruler to rap the knuckles of this young man. Whew … okay 8)

    Passing this kind of judgement on others whose journey is unknown to you is just not right. There are certainly many who are selfishly immature are shallow who leave for the reasons you state. But there is a growing number of brothers and sisters who have agonized and, out of obedience to the Spirit, have chosen to walk away from the institutionalized, “man-oriented” church (the one that matches the OT references of Israel as whore). Many of them have already left comments. I’ll leave that there….

    Those of you who want to know the other side of folks who love The Church enough to leave the church … need to read two books: iMonk’s “Mere Churchianity” and Jake Coleson’s “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore.”

    It is a much tougher call to be the church than to participate in programs run at a church. So much of the programmed church is just not representative of the King Jesus Gospel….

    After having been gone from my former church (where my pastoral position was “downsized” in a very dicey way) almost four years, I finally have someone from the leadership who is able to hear my concerns … and who has said that the church paid a huge price for what they did. She hopes that I may return someday. If that is what God asks me to do, I will. We will see….

    The older I get (moving toward the later half of the 50s now), the more I am aware that we need to be better at communicating the truth with love and grace and mercy (you know me, I’m a cHesed girl!) … and a lot less self-righteousness and certainty.

    Scott Peck, among other things I am thrilled to remind myself as I re-read his books), really hit it on the nose when he said that simplistic thinking is the plague of the world. Something can be simple yet very complex and difficult to implement. It takes humility and diligence and obedience to the Spirit and walking the Jesus Creed after King Jesus.

    I didn’t even mention the amount is spiritual abuse going on in many local congregations — although some of that was alluded to in earlier comments.

    I love The Church … and I love the church, too. I am just getting over “the form” that so many require in order for the church to be The Church. ;)

    Peace….

  • http://abisomeone.blogspot.com Peggy

    hahahah … me, too, Kansas Bob!

  • Bev Sterk

    Some of what you write resonates and some of the replies do as well, but I think there are deeper issues here. Btw, where’s #1?

    Please test this as I will use this as a bit of a prophetic table. Oh, wait, that’s the first thing… we don’t have prophetic tables/gatherings at the local church level. This forum might constitute as an unintentional one, but we need intentional gatherings to share what God is putting on our hearts as we spend time with Him. Please pray into this with me.

    Next. We’re very good at doing, and Miss Martha really resonates with us. I believe He is converting us from Miss Marthas to Miss. Marys, so that we spend more time with Him. Then when we do have “Martha” work to do, He helps us in amazing ways that are far more effective than we could ever achieve on our own (I experience this often).

    Connected to this is that we’ve been doing His work, our way. When we do it His way, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, the results are out of this world. Mind blowing!!

    Third, the business model of “doing” church. I just read an interesting book called “Leadership and Listening” by Don Zimmer (2011). He talks about giving the Holy Spirit, His place as director of the church meetings instead of Sir Robert and his rules. I would encourage you to read this book, share it with others who might be like minded in your area of influence, and pray into this concept of using more of our time “listening” to His leading. I believe we will see night and day difference, when we do things His way, instead of leaning on our own understanding.

    I believe the LORD is testing us, as citizens of His Kingdom and part of His Church and asking us, “Are we willing to fight for His Bride, the Church?” When we do, He will make Her beautiful, but we need to step up and fight as led by YHWH Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts.

    Ps. I’m a 40 something, and a few years ago, when we were struggling with church as we know it, the LORD put on my heart to “stay and pray”! I wouldn’t give up what I’ve seen Him do over the last several years for anything. Very cool, very amazing! Praise God! He is working, but He is also expecting us to partner with Him through prayer and obedience.

  • Sara G

    C.S. Lewis wrote that God “seems to do nothing of himself which he can possibly delegate to his creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what he could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye.” There is no greater illustration of that principle than the church of Jesus Christ, to which God has delegated the task of embodying God’s presence in the world. Al of our efforts are examples of God’s delegation.

    Yet the church fails in its mission and makes serious blunders because the church comprises human beings who will always fall short of the glory of God. That is the risk God took. Anyone who enters the church expecting perfection does not understand the nature of that risk or the nature of humanity. Just as every romantic eventually learns that marriage is the beginning, not the end, of the struggle to make love work, every Christian must learn that church is also only a beginning. Philip Yancey’s book, Church: Why Bother?

    I highly recommend Yancey’s little book about his personal pilgrimage with the church. It has sustained me for years.

    I continually struggle to trust God’s wisdom about the church, but somehow, God has remained faithful to me and involved in my life even though I’m a big selfish mess most of the time. I’m trying to extend the same grace to the church that God has extended to me. Many days, I want to give up, but when I am weak, I know that God has made me strong.

  • http://www.DrSam.tv Samuel Lopez De Victoria

    I meet with a few other former leaders like myself. I did a 25 year stint, started half a dozen churches, and more. Got the T-Shirt. I have come to realize that the model of “Church” as we know it attracts the greatest of narcissists and creates more narcissists because becoming a Superstar is the goal of the Christian life. The system rewards that… spiritual arrogance.

    I teach on the secular campus besides having my own private practice. I went back and retooled myself because I was socially irrelevant to this generation and churches with Gen-Xers and Boomers are showing signs of dying. Millenials in my classes don’t care about this form of church typically. Those who grew up in it tend to leave and are not coming back. It seems that those churches that have young folks in it are the second generation children of Believers. That’s a bad specter hanging over the future.

    I left that system. I am trying to figure out how “Church” is suppose to be now… that looks real.

    Check out my article on “Narcissists in Ministry”
    at http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=123961


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