losing your faith

losing your faith cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

My mission is to empower people to be spiritually independent and happy about it.

I used to think I help people who’ve left the church or are having difficulty staying. Actually, people who’ve left the church haven’t necessarily changed their thinking. So my mission has become even more focused. Who I really help are people who’s belief systems are crashing down around them and are losing their faith. As a result, the church has become meaningless or even harmful to them.

I want to help you consider that “faith” might have become for you a restrictive word and a limiting concept, and that losing your faith might be a necessary and healthy step towards finding your own spirituality.

This is probably confusing and even offensive for some of you. But for those who are experiencing this, it makes perfect sense.

Because of this, I’m starting another site that I’m launching very soon. It’s going to be a members-only site that is dedicated to the mission above. It will be a safe place of discussion, encouragement, support and fellowship for those struggling to become free and spiritually independent. I am going to provide webinars, hangouts, teachings and resources for those transitioning spiritually. Nakedpastor will continue as always with my daily cartoons, art and writings. But my other site is going to be devoted to helping people transition spiritually in a secure setting.

You’ve heard the saying that a good sermon should “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”? Well, nakedpastor will continue its notoriousย “afflict the comfortable” emphasis, while my other site will emphasize “comfort the afflicted”.

Stay tuned. I’m excited about it.

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  • Richard Lubbers

    I love it!

  • Mary Ellen

    I love this, David, and would love to be a part of the new site. I would appreciate a safe space with out the snipers coming by to rub salt in my own and other people’s wounds….it does suck, and I’m glad there are people like you who understand this…

  • exactly mary. it will be kept free of snipers, etc… i will moderate it heavily to protect valid members.

  • Laura Crow

    Wow, David this is fantastic! And I love your new website idea. Recently I interviewed several friends who had left the church and presented some of their thoughts in a sermon on 1 Cor 13. It was the first time in my memory a sermon got applause. Thank you for what you are doing. Wish the church as an institution were more in tune.

  • thanks laura! sounds interesting.

  • Cindy

    A safe place to discuss…I welcome it. In the midst of all this craziness, I was called out for “liking” something of yours of Fb. And then asked, ‘Who is this guy? he’s not even a real pastor.” Ummmm, as opposed to…? And not even asked to my face. Oy. In fact they have a stack of “print page” Fb stuff from us. Is it any wonder it’s crumbling? Looking forward to it. Not the crumbling. Your new site. Does secure/members, mean pay? Which would be fine. Just asking. So I can save my pennies. We may not be staff worship leaders much longer. Aimless in a small town, with no job opps. Oh Chicago, you are my Egypt. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for being you.

  • Syl

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. David, this brings tears to my eyes (in a good way).

  • yes there will be a small nominal symbolic fee for basic membership of just $7/month. not even 2 lattes. it’s a way to ensure people who join are serious about the site’s mission and values.

  • tears to mine too Syl. i’m excited about it.

  • Susan

    It makes me so sad that a site like the one you are planning is so desperately needed – but I am encouraged that you feel up to providing what I think will be a hugely useful resource. Praying for wisdom and insight for you as you embark on the next stage of journey in pastoring. God bless!

  • Hi Sue… actually it’s not necessarily sad. Maybe the sad part is that, generally speaking, the church doesn’t provide this permission or resource to people. i appreciate your very kind thoughts and wishes.

  • actually cindy, i was a “real” pastor for over 25 years. i still have a pastor’s heart. i still feel called as a pastor. this is my vocation. i’m like a pastor without borders. that’s my story and i’m sticking to it.

  • Susan

    That’s what I meant by sad – not that folk are doubting and questioning – I actually think that’s a sign of a very healthy spirituality – but that people are having to leave churches because their doubts and questions are unwelcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • June Melanson

    What a great idea David. I would love to be a part of this. I’ve been out of the church for over two years now and although I feel I am good with everything, I think what you are doing will be a great place to just communicate and share with like-minded people. I don’t think I have issues, but maybe after becoming a part of this site I will discover things that I didn’t realize were still buried. I am excited about this David. Actually, I am from Saint John and I have often wondered if you would start something up again, and I think this is a wonderful idea.

  • thanks june. it will be nice to connect on a more direct level.

  • well said Susan. we’re on the exact same page.

  • roger flyer

    Food for thought…
    A young woman came to the great theologian, Karl Barth.
    “Dr. Barth, I’m afraid I’m losing my faith.”
    “My dear”, said Barth. “What makes you think it’s yours to lose?”

  • I was wondering when you were gonna get around to silencing the voices of opposition.

    You’ll be turning into that which you decry.

    No dissent.

    That’s how it works. I’m actually surprised you made this far.

  • Typical Steve! You missed my point. Nakedpastor will continue as a venue where you can continue your dissent. The other site will be a place, like a counseling room, where dissent is totally inappropriate and therefore unwelcomed. But you are unable understand that yet.

  • Beth

    That is wonderful David. I love coming to this site but do feel the salt rubbed in every once in a while. I know some believers like to think it is their job to ‘sharpen iron with iron’ and other such nonsense, but it is difficult to be already going through a tough transitional period and have to deal with that attitude too. Can’t wait!

  • Well, *someone* needed to demonstrate on this thread why such a new site is needed. Fitting, actually. How many of us had Steve for the one to do so? (Didn’t really take a crystal ball…)

  • Steve: do you realise what your cynicism says about you?

  • The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

    Members only.

    Many people can’t stand any criticism or ideas that are contrary to their own beliefs. So they shut down or shut out those other people.

    Hasn’t that been much of the focus here on this blog over the years, to point out that truth?

    You can be upset with me, that’s fine. I’ve never had a problem with that. Freedom.

    But to shut someone out because they don’t agree with you. Yoiu have just become the beast you hated.

  • Again Steve… you are trying NOT to understand. Why are you so angry about this? What’s wrong with a safe place for like-minded people? Nothing’s changing. Only something’s being ADDED for those who need it! When you go to your pastor for counseling, would you want others welcomed into the room to cajole you through your session? Of course not. Same with this other site. It will be a sanctuary of support. You can continue your attacks here.

  • Beth

    Steve, would you want someone coming into the sanctuary at your Lutheran church and start disagreeing with your beliefs and criticizing you? Of course you wouldn’t, because that is a sacred time and a sacred space for you. That is what David is going to create for us.

  • Kris

    David – Thank you!

  • Beth

    “But to shut someone out because they donโ€™t agree with you. You have just become the beast you hated”

    Funny, Steve, that’s what Missouri Synod Lutherans do regularly when it comes to communion. (and gay marriage and female pastors and on and on).

  • Caroline TOO

    y’know… I tend to find that when folk tell me that they’re losing or have lost their faith, what’s actually happened is that they’ve lost someone else’s faith…what someone else told them to believe.

  • you’re welcome Kris.

  • David, it reinforces my suspicion that Steve is your alter ego – his abrasive and loveless attacks will just drive up business for your new site ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bobby

    WHere do I sign up?

  • actually godfrey that’s a great idea ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • i’ll show you bobby in a couple of days.

  • Emily

    Yes, dissenting voices are important. Absolutely, there should be robust conversation around important issues by people who disagree with one another. But hearing dissenting voices all of the time can be wearing, particularly if you have no place where your voice is heard and accepted. Most Christians have that place in the Church, but those who find their beliefs straying farther and farther from the accepted party line, who ultimately leave the Church to embark upon their own spiritual path, have no such place. Like in the parable of the sower, a seedling faith cannot grow in the midst of constant adversity–it must be in a place where it can find nourishment. I commend you, David, for providing such a place.

  • Julia

    This is happy news! I need a safe place to go through this change.

  • awesome!!

  • Syl

    “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” – Love this! Now you’re making me chuckle, David.

  • kevin

    i was about to get excited about the new site until i saw the seven dollars a month thing; i subsist on ssi, long story, and cant see incurring another bill….still i must find a group i can grow with!

  • Gary

    Wow Steve. Your reaction to this sure calls your motives into question.


  • Christine

    This sounds great! Your blog has been very helpful to me as I stumble around trying to figure out life after Christianity, and I think having a dedicated safe place for spiritual sojourners would be wonderful. There are so many things to figure out now that I no longer am going by someone else’s rule book…

  • This is such a great cartoonโ€”it brought a smile to my face and a bit of relief to my soul, as well. It’s a great reminder for all of us that we all go through periods of doubtโ€”even Jesus experienced it! Thank you for tackling this serious topic in a light-hearted way. I know that my youth ministry students will get a kick out of it.

  • David, this is great. I hope I am able to join when the time comes. I have stopped reading the comments and commenting here because it gets wearing on the soul to have self-righteous people consistently attempt to tear another person’s choice, belief, non-belief, point of view – whatever – down over and over again simply because it doesn’t mesh with their narrow minded point of view. And I was never quite sure when that would happen or when there might be a reprieve. Now with the members only site, there can be some peace and room to breathe and think and feel without worrying about having to look over my shoulder. It will be an expansive experience to be sure.

    And I couldn’t care less, quite frankly, whether the self-righteous understand that or agree with it or not. If they’re so upset about it, they can go to their members only group and complain about it there.

  • Jeannie

    Looking forward to it.

  • Beautiful, Emily. A church substitute for those of us who need it, run by our very own pastor-by-vocation-not-title, fully-naked David as one of us.

    And good point, Beth. Who in the church doesn’t (rightfully) require a certain degree of decorum, save-your-abrasive-dissent-for-coffee-hour protocol. Steve even has fiercely defended such rules here before. “Coffee hour” stays here, and there we get a space for “the rest” of us, like other Christians everywhere already have.

  • thanks tana. perfectly stated.

  • David, are you going to be pastor, guru or therapist? Are you going to offer forgiveness of sins or is everything just going to be everyone else’s fault–like it sounds here a lot. You see, everyone will be taking themselves with them, and in the end you will still be a bunch of sinners, together–however much you may hate the word.

    This is not cynical. We need safe friendships and peers and understanding and if it is some kind of AA meeting of those hurt by their churches, I can see the point. But what is the behavior that needs modifying? Something in you? Will it be a place for writing and artistic expression to let out the feelings and experiences? What are the goals, methods or means? Or just let it flow and see what happens? Will it be a support group? Support groups are nice, I think, though I’ve never made it in one very long. (Two or three sessions usually was what I was most interested in.)

    The church service is a public place of worship and teaching and preaching, so what you will have will not be a church substitute. What will it be?–??? And Steve’s questions are fair. How will it not be a leader-centered exclusive club? How will eventual disagreements be dealt with, since dissent is discouraged right from the beginning in the name of healing? How will people not go through the same kinds of disappointments, again? When will the need arise to throw somebody out? What will be the criteria?

    The problem is that we place our faith in something and someone other than Christ. Just like the fellow in your comic. He is placing his faith in faith. And truly, there is a huge segment of North American Christianity which does exactly that. “Believe! Believe!” And if you believe strong enough and surrender enough and change enough and do whatever enough (which is not the same as taking a member-ship class, Beth), love Jesus enough, and speak in tongues possibly, and what-ever the “full” gospel demands, and dress right and whatever else, to show that you really are born-again — it will all be faith in something other than Christ’s mercy, which is the very thing we should throw ourselves upon.

    I hope your friendships go well. They will need truth and they will need mercy and grace.

  • Brigitte: It seems that Lutherans have a problem with what I’m doing. That’s obvious just from this site alone, but this other one I’m starting even more so. But, like I said in the post, “This is probably confusing and even offensive for some of you. But for those who are experiencing this, it makes perfect sense.” This obviously doesn’t make sense to you. But it obviously does to so many others.

  • David, I mentioned you here. You don’t need to post this to the thread. Just so you know. It’s not negative.


  • Cindy

    Hey David. I knew you were “legit” and the “real deal” with or without the four walls we commonly mistake for church. It was a very rude, uncalled for comment at a witch hunt of a meeting. Oh dear, I fear, I has also slipped into the same judgement of our accusers.. Oh Thee, forgive me… I best stop here. *wink, wink*

  • cool brigitte. thanks. that was very fair.

  • Cindy

    Hey David, I knew you were “legit” and the real deal with or without the four walls we have mistakenly come to call church. It was a rude uncalled for comment at a witch hunt of a meeting. Thanks for the background in case I need it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi Cindy: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Can you fill me in?? Please. I’m dying of curiosity here ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Cindy

    Oh man…where is my safe place? a crumbling church. financially and spiritually. (The finances are just a symptom) Yet no yieldedness by the supereme position of authority to address the real issues… As worship leaders the blame has been turned to us. Even though it was a pattern of discarding and disposing of people long before we came. Every other worship leader left in two years or less. We have stayed for 6 after we gave up so much to come here. In those 6 years, without the distraction of the new music people every 2 years to take the focus off the Main Problem, wonderful dear people have been able sit in an awakening and begin to come forward and express frustration, if not timidly. But, they have all been taught not to think for themselves. And so, it is of course ALL OUR FAULT. Oops, not a safe place. What? My “watchers” are here too? “Print page” works well for the mediator. But save yourselves some ink. Try black ink, grayscale.

    david, I have been trying to guard my heart, which hasn’t really been angry until this past week. Previously it was for all the hurt and lost people discarded by the side of the road (church?). Now the anger is for our family personally and how it has messed up our lives. It feels like we are living in the Land of Loss. K, that’s it in a very small nutshell. I’ma go float in our little pool with our son and crank up some Motley Crue, Kick Start My Heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Belenda

    I anxiously await this, sounds promising.

  • thanks belenda. yes it does ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Cindy

    Man, sorry I feel like I hijacked your news with the details of said curiosity! We are looking forward to your new site also! Your insights have been a breath of fresh air.

  • Hey David,

    I don’t know that I’m in that ‘transition’ phase any more, but I’m excited to see where this goes!

  • well we could certainly use the expertise, experience and wisdom of those who have gone through it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Syl

    To Steve and others who are put off by Davidโ€™s announcement today:

    There’s a place and time for open, spirited discussion, all comers welcome. But also, in certain circumstances, it’s appropriate and even necessary for people who are working through serious issues in their lives to come together in a non-public forum, group, or meeting for sharing, discussion, support, and counsel – out of the public eye and free from judgement, ridicule, harassment, or the well meaning but distracting exhortation or โ€œcorrectionโ€ of those who don’t share the same struggle.

    There is a reason why certain types of groups are, as a rule, not open to the general public. For example, in support of my now clean and sober friend, I’ve attended open AA and NA meetings with him. But I don’t expect to attend his closed meetings or begrudge him the private support of others who are also recovering or the healing opportunity to share his own story in his own way with others walking a similar path, free of the scrutiny of those who have not walked in those shoes. The same principle holds true of group therapy sessions, family counseling, and a host of other support-type groups.

    So, in addition to his regular, public blog David is also hosting a private group for individuals with a specific need for that type of safe space. I am one of those people and am immensely grateful for the prospect of finally having the kind of safe haven I wish had existed many years ago.

  • Thanks Syl. Perfectly said!

    I am all for dialog and even argument. Heck! I wouldn’t have nakedpastor still up and running like it is if it wasn’t for that. I enjoy a good fight. A good one. I love diversity of voices and apparently opposing views. And this is the place for it. However, I also have experienced the power of a group which offers support. They are invaluable. I’m providing that also. Simple.

  • Ooh, two Christines and two Cindys… Well, blog links can distinguish us. Still, any way we can get unique user names on the members only site?

  • sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  • “Typical Steve! You missed my point. Nakedpastor will continue as a venue where you can continue your dissent. The other site will be a place, like a counseling room, where dissent is totally inappropriate and therefore unwelcomed. But you are unable understand that yet.”

    “Dissent is totally inappropriate.”

    It’s ok for you…but not for churches. OK …I get it now.

  • No you don’t get it Steve. I’m building a safe environment for sharing, encouragement and support and you are calling it a church. Those are two totally separate things.

  • Mar

    I’m intrigued … So few true safe places … Best wishes on keeping it that way ๐Ÿ™‚

  • @ Naked Pastor
    This is exciting !
    I shant be joining, of course. Your new site is not for people like me who are not struggling with spiritual issues — I did that decades ago. Where the hell were you then? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And when you told Steve Martin that “Dissent is totally inappropriate”, I think you meant different than your words, because we know that you nurture doubt and criticism. I think you meant that it will be ‘totally inappropriate’ to “Doubt Squash” or “Condemn others Journey”.

    Yet, even with a closed membership, it will be tough to know how to manage open dialogue. But if anyone can do it artfully and supportingly, you can.

    Keep up the fine work!

  • Connie

    Hi David,
    I’m very glad you will be providing the haven for those making a transition in their spiritual lives. If I hadn’t found such a place online a decade ago, no telling where I’d be.

    If you want to know about this man’s site, email me and I’ll share it with you .

    Good luck with everything you’re doing! And I would like to be a part of what’s happening. I can’t wait to see how it progresses. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • James

    I’d be interested to check out the new group. I’ve only recently been through a transition in my understanding and expression of faith. It’s pretty much a ‘done deal’ but it’s fresh enough that I still feel slightly insecure sometimes. I’m hoping that you’ll be posting the link on your Google+ stream.

  • i will be james. i want a mixture of people on there… from people contemplating entering transition, to those in the middle of it, to those who have survived it and can lend a hand.

  • Sophie Nussle

    David, I lost my faith 25 years ago. It was all the more troubling that I was at the time studying theology at university and seriously thinking of becoming a pastor of the Reformed Church of Geneva (Switzerland), following in my grandfather’s footsteps.

    There followed a transition that lasted many years and wore many guises. Only in 2005 did I start to find my way, spiritually. I am still a ‘work-in-progress’, but have accepted uncertainty and discomfort as useful learning tools and ways of opening up to spirit.

    I think such a group would be very useful. If my experience can be of any use to anyone, I would be glad to contribute, and of course, I have a lot to learn from others. I have to be open with you, though: my current spiritual path is not very standard.

  • neither is mine sophie. and you are totally welcome! it sounds like you’ll bring a wealth of wisdom and experience to the group.

  • Sophie Nussle

    Thank you. Yay! I love the nakedpastor ๐Ÿ™‚

  • he (i mean i) love(s) you too.

  • Sophie Nussle


  • KatR

    Is this site only going to be for people who are Christians? I left Christianity, but am still working out questions of spirituality.

    And for those of you freaking out, there will be plenty of other places on the web where you can berate, harass, lay guilt trips on and pour salt into the wounds of the spiritually abused. Calm down.

  • Sophie Nussle

    I hope not, Kat, because I have also left Christianity. But as I understand David, all experiences will be welcome, as long as they are shared in a spirit of nurturing and kindness.

  • Mar

    Connie I would love it if you would name the other site here, if OK with David ….

  • KatR and Sophie: It is certainly not for Christians only, but for those who are experiencing transition post-church and post-christianity… including me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Brigitte: No one said it would be church. For some, it could be a substitute (maybe in way that nicotine patches aren’t cigarettes…), but that depends on what a person wanted from a church in the first place. If we were all seeking what you expect of a church, maybe we’d still be there.

  • Rhonda Sayers

    I am so happy that you will be offering a new site soon. I have really enjoyed most of your posts and the comments that followed,but occasionally the dogmatic, unloving and strife generating comments really get to me.
    I find myself conflicted because I really want to be tolerant of opposing voices…but then again I really want the comfort of like-minded seekers.

  • Rhonda: That’s why I’m doing another site. Nakedpastor will continue to supply us with the chance to tolerate opposing views. The other site will supply us with the opportunity to enjoy the company of like-minded seekers.

  • Sophie Nussle

    Both are important in a spiritual life. The one to nurture, and the other to challenge and allow a review of our development and prejudices in the light of opposition.

  • Syl

    What Sophie said! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kathleen O’Brien


    I don’t know if I qualify as someone who “left church”, “survived the transition” or not. I have come to believe or not that faith is a very fluid thing and that the best thing and the worst thing that can ever happen to someone is “losing their faith” It is a hard, painful and necessary journey. It is my belief that the Church today doesn’t exactly make room for those of us who have been so wounded that “faith” that is preached, taught, written about etc. doesn’t make sense. And to be honest, that kind of “faith” isn’t suppose to make sense. I suspect that Jesus would tell us the same thing. Our faith must fall apart one day for it to be real at all or for us to be of any service at all. Grateful for your willingness to create a safe space for those of us who left our faith to find it.


  • looking forward to launching it Kathleen. Tuesday ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Char

    I feel this transition for me is quite like the transition period of childbirth. I am screaming, cussing and losing sight of the imminent birth. I wonder if there really is birth ahead. I don’t understand where I am or where I am going – only that I am on my way. I have never felt so close to God or so far away (Really? Can a person *really* feel this way?)

    I would like to visit your new site. Maybe I can find a few answers.

  • sure char. looking forward to getting to know you better!