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No, I don’t miss going to church….in fact the attendance at church when necessary (family/friend events like weddings, christenings) is as much as I can face!
When I first left the church I indicated to a women’s organization (Women Aglow) that I was leaving but said I was a worshipper and would ‘need’ to continue to worship when I was ready. That has never happened and it’s been 5 yrs. I have lots of Christian CD’s hanging around and they are gathering dust….I never in my wildest dreams thought my life would take this detour.
I occasionally find myself at a loose end when I am experiencing something exception (like a happy moment/event or hear something that is very sad and I then find myself deferring to god)…but that’s not worship I guess.
Anyhow, my hubby is not a Christian and never went to church with me and it is now lovely to be able to do as we please on a Sunday instead of restricting my life to church morning and evening and 2-3 hours at each service!
That is all….motormouth strikes again….
I’m going back today for the first time since I left 3 years ago. It’s just a visit to show my support and gratitude. It’s a very special day for someone I love very much. It’s a special day for many of my old friends there as well. I was never made to feel bad by anyone there. On the contrary I felt guilty for leaving because of my own stuff. I don’t feel guilt over leaving anymore. I’m feeling some fear about going back and I’m not sure why. I don’t even know why I’m posting this but it helps for some reason. I figured you guys would understand.
Mike, if you didn’t leave your previous church under a cloud then it’s very likely you will receive a great welcome on your return…it can be overwhelming though as people crowd around you to say they’re so glad you are there etc. So just be prepared for that aspect of your return today.
Your friend will appreciate your being there, possibly more than you realize and it is a very brave (in my eyes) move on your part to support.
I hope the experience goes well for you, your friend and the congregants. The fear is totally understandable and I think NP’s post today has come just at the right time for you.
I miss my congregational worship when not around, but I came to the Anglican tradition only after 35 years of Pentecostalism. I don’t the free-form liturgy of my upbringing.
Sounds like your life is full of worship. Our entire lives are lived in worship, it ends up how we perceive it. You have chosen the better part, as Jesus said to Mary.
Your friends would be glad to see you. Be happy and glad you can fellowship with them on this special day.
Blessings to all.
Jacquie, your story is familiar… And I agree with Douglas – living with gratitude and empathy for others can be, itself, an act of worship – for those who believe in a literal god, I think that is a much more meaningful way to honor the divine than a once a week meeting or other activities commonly referred to as worship. And for those who don’t believe in a literal god, what better way to honor their humanity and that of their fellow travelers through this universe?
Mike – good for you! Seems to me the anxiety is just a normal reaction. Let us know how it goes.
Thanks to all of you! I’m sure it will be cool. I’ll let you know how it goes for sure.
yes mike, thanks for sharing that with us. i too look forward to hearing how it went. you are all so kind
Thanks for your encouraging words…and I too will look forward to your comments, Mike, following your attendance at church today.
Blessings all. x
My Sundays are so cool now.
No psycho-spiritual gymnastic displays for all to see.
No prophecies to perform for the Charismatic crowd.
No long sermons with the obligatory nodding head as the preacher goes on and on.
No coffee afterwards with accompanying fake smiles and handshakes.
No need to keep God happy through loyal attendence.
Just happy to be a Divine kid in the Light of Day.
I do miss not being able to go.
No gathering with other believers.
No being able to encourage those there who are in need of support.
No corporate confession of sin. No absolution.
No preached word of law (not to prod us on to become better – but to expose us)…and no preached word of the gospel to lift us agin to new life and freedom.
No Lord’s Supper for the assurance of our salvation apart from how we feel about it.
No gathering afterwards with brothers and sisters in Christ to share a meal and have some laughs and enjoy each other’s company.
I’ve only missed a handful of times in 15 years…but I really miss it when I can’t be there.
To be honest I would miss church, I go to St John’s Hillingdon and even though I’m gay I’m loved and accepted there. It’s an awesome church. They have no idea how much their love and support has affected my life.
I don’t miss the guilt the preacher piles on your head with stuff I don’t believe in. I don’t miss the church talking about THEIR building plans or THEIR missions plans and why the congregation should give. I don’t miss the church publishing in their bulletin how much in offerings they took in last week. I don’t miss having to be there every time the church doors are open. I don’t miss being worn out on Sunday before I have to start the week on Monday. I don’t miss the church adding on a ridiculous number of activities around the holidays. I don’t miss the church wasting money on unnecessary building projects while begging for money to fund missions. I do miss the people though, in some ways. Living in the bible belt, the only ways really to meet people in this town are either through church, the bar district, or the college. It is a very black and white religious culture here. You are either in or you are out. I have contemplated going back to church to for the relationships. But then I wonder, would I even have anything in common with the people there? Do you ever hear stories of other people feeling lonely after leaving the church? I left the church when I was 10 so I have been out of it a decade and a half. A friend recently asked me why I wouldn’t join a church. I replied that I had not been in a church since I was 10 and every time I tried going, I ended up walking out before it was over. When you have been out for so long, you just can’t swallow what the church is feeding its people. It feels so counterfeit since I have experienced life outside of church. But on the flip side of that, it seems much harder to not feel isolated and lacking relationship. But I guess that is perhaps an illusion as well. The last time I visited a church I had been going off and on for 3 months when a church staff member welcomed me ans asked me if it was my first Sunday. It is true that you can still feel alone in a room of 400 people.
loneliness is one of the greatest ramifications of leaving the church
Well, to tell the truth, I do miss going to church occasionally — when the call of my garden is a wee bit too strong, or when I oversleep, for example. But mostly I don’t miss it, even if I don’t hit the bull’s eye every single time…
For some reason a winter’s saying from old Ukraine comes to mind this beautiful mid-July afternoon:
The church is near, but the road is icy. The tavern is far, but I will walk carefully…
On another topic: I am much taken by your beautiful carving “Recept”… has it already been spoken for?
Hi John: thanks so much. “recept” is still available.
Following the Spirit of God Right Out of our Christianist Church
We couldn’t take it anymore. After a lifetime of faithful church attendance, my husband and I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit right out the door of our Christianist Church.
You don’t know what the word Christianist means?
Specifically, Christianists are linked with another “ism” – “dominionism” – a political ideology that interprets a passage from Genesis (1:26) as commanding Christians to bring societies under the rule of the Word of God.
Or, in other words, Christian Fundamentalism.
You know who they are.
Those Christians who take the Bible literally, in a selective way, to justify their theological positions on homosexuality, abortion, Israel, Marriage, and the exclusive right to call God a “Christian”.
Following the Spirit of God Right Out of our Christianist Church We couldn’t take it anymore. After a lifetime of faithful church attendance, my husband and I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit right out the door of our Christianist Church.
You don’t know what the word Christianist means? Specifically, Christianists are linked with another “ism” – “dominionism” – a political ideology that interprets a passage from Genesis (1:26) as commanding Christians to bring societies under the rule of the Word of God. Or, in other words, Christian Fundamentalism. You know who they are. Those Christians who take the Bible literally, in a selective way, to justify their theological positions on homosexuality, abortion, Israel, Marriage, and the exclusive right to call God a “Christian”.
We didn’t purpose in our heart to leave. It was the Spirit of God that opened our eyes through people He put into our path. He showed us a better way as we interacted with those we thought were rejected by God. All of our fundamental Christian theology was blasted out the window of our protected and absolute spiritual house. A house built on the literal interpretation of the Bible. A Bible we worshiped as God’s Word!
Now, before any of you start objecting, your objection should not be with me. As I stated above, we didn’t ask to be removed. The Holy Spirit did the moving and shaking. So, go talk to the Spirit if you have issues with what is said in this article.
As a result, here we are, in a desert. A spiritual desert. Not fun. But, freeing. Free to love our brothers and sisters (black, yellow, red, gay, blue, pagan, wiccan, and atheist). The fear is gone. Fear of other religions. Fear of those different from us. Fear of the end of the world. Fear of never being able to please God. I’ve never physically walked in a desert, alone. But, pictures say it all. It is a lonely and isolated place.
Although we didn’t realize it at the time, we’ve experienced a Faith Shift. Kathy Escobar writes a terrific article called 10 things to remember when you’re healing from faith shifts.
Healing. Perfect word. Healing from the abusive teachings that told us we were special because we chose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and all those other people who didn’t make the same declarations were going to Hell. Again, if you have a problem with that statement, talk to the Spirit. Maybe you need to do a little research on that word “Hell”. Seriously! That word has been used by those standing at the pulpit to control and condemn. They, and they alone, will have to answer for their responsibility in turning people’s hearts away from God.
So, I guess we are pioneers. So says David Hayward.
He is a talented artist and his cartoons speak volumes about the struggles of other ex-Fundamentalists. Check out his Facebook Page if you get a chance. nakedpastor
One last thing. We’ve found an oasis in our desert. An oasis filled with others just like us. Thirsty for ex-Christianists that get it. People trying to keep their Christianity without associating themselves with the 21st Century Christian. I honestly believe that Christianity is evolving. I heard someone say that Christians who don’t believe in evolution don’t believe in it because they never evolve. If you are looking for others who are recovering, you might like this new Facebook Group called Christians Struggling to Stay Christian.
God Bless you and know that you are not alone out there.
Posted by CToBM Administrator – jc
Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented
Yesterday I watched my brother speak at a University Church online. It was well crafted and I like my brother. I know that he hopes that one day I will once again become a believer. What I noticed is that few people smiled. It was almost surreal to watch people sing these passionate words about a god they claim to believe in and yet there was absolutely no passion. It is further evidence to me that people don’t really believe what they think they believe. It’s pretty hard to lie with your whole body. It gives people away most of the time.
It reminded me of the relief I have of no longer having to sit through that every week. I reminds me that I lived my life split from my authentic self to try and make all that work. In a way it was sad to watch the ritual and the obvious disconnect many people have.
And passion doesn’t really solve it because I see the same thing in people who appear passionate about their belief. It tends to come off more as desperation. “It has to be true because I’m so happy about it.” I tried that one too.
Eventually I woke up to the fact that I had absolutely no evidence for what I believed and much of what I believed was oxymoronic and was only being sustained by fear of authority.
That fear gives you away every time.
that pretty much nails it richard.
I still go, but I can tell you I don’t miss the involvement in leadership and maintaining the machine. I go, hear a good sermon and leave to live my life.
Wow! I’m not alone.
It’s been two years since I walked out of my church for the last time. I haven’t felt like walking back through those hallowed doors since. The first few months were difficult because I was in praise and worship and it meant a lot to me. Church was the only place I played my musical instrument, and I had no interest in playing anywhere else. God had led me to play for him, and I expressed my love for him through my music. Secular music didn’t have the same pull for me ( not that I don’t listen to secular music because I do) and so I let my music die a natural death. It was time to let it go.
Two years on, and I feel as close to God as I think I ever did. He isn’t exactly coming through for me with my prayers these days, but I’m not in control of what he does or doesn’t do. Isn’t that what we call surrender?
Yes, sometimes I miss a particular circle of friends, but they had moved on long before me, so it was simply a matter of, what took you so long to see the writing on the wall, so to speak. I’m only in close touch with one of them at the moment. Some are attending church, most have dropped out completely, like me.
God isn’t contained within four walls anyway. He’s everywhere we are.
I’m waiting for David to reveal more of his path pursuits for the future. He’s hinted at some new thing, unless I’m mistaken.
No, I’m not alone, although I must admit, sometimes it does feel like I am.
i’ll be announcing my new plans soon crystal.
You and me together – that’s church.
I was just reading through the responses. Wow. I can relate so much. My visit back yesterday was fine. I was greeted with much love as was my wife. It was really good to be there for the person I told you about.
It was very interesting though. It was almost like it was not a coincidence that the service started with a video about creation and the “literal 6 day creation” and how sin entered into the world …you know the rest. The sermon was very well put together and ended with much hope.
It was good to see old friends… to feel the love. I get a lot of that in my 12 step fellowship too.
But I could not help but feel relieved as we walked out.
I could not help but feel……