The Loneliness of Those That Leave Church

The Loneliness of Those That Leave Church April 4, 2016

CulpeperBaptistby Bruce Gerencser cross posted from his blog The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser

From your earliest recollection you remember the church.

You remember the preacher, the piano player, the deacons, and your Sunday School teacher.

You remember the youth group and all the fun activities.

You remember getting saved and baptized.

You remember being in church every time the doors were open.

You remember everything in your life revolving around the church.

You remember praying and reading your Bible.

You remember the missionaries and the stories they told about heathens on the other side of the world.

You remember revival meetings and getting right with God.

You remember…

Most of all you remember the people.

These were the people who loved you. You thought to yourself, my church family loves me almost as much as God does.

You remember hearing sermons about God’s love and the love Christians were supposed to have for one another.

Church family, like blood family, loves you no matter what.

But then IT happened.

You know, IT.

You got older. You grew up. With adult eyes, you began to see the church, God, Jesus, and the Bible differently.

You had questions, questions that no one had answers for.

Perhaps you began to see that your church family wasn’t perfect.

Perhaps the things that Mom and Dad whispered about in the bedroom became known to you.

Perhaps you found out that things were not as they seemed.

Uncertainty and doubt crept in.

Perhaps you decided to try the world for a while. Lots of church kids did, you told yourself.

Perhaps you came to the place where you no longer believed what you had believed your entire life.

And so you left.

You had an IT moment — that moment in time when things changed forever.

You thought, surely, Mom and Dad will still love me.

You thought, surely, Sissy and Bubby and Granny will still love me.

And above all, you thought your church family would love you no matter what.

But they didn’t.

For all their talk of love, their love was conditioned on you being one of them, believing the right things.

Once you left, the love stopped.

Now, they are praying for you.

Now, they plead with you to return to Jesus.

Now, they question if you really ever got saved.

They say they still love you, but deep down you know they don’t.

You know their love for you requires you to be like them.

You can’t be like them any more…

Such loss.

Time marches on.

The church is still where it has always been.

The same families are there, loving Jesus and speaking of their great love for others.

But, you are forgotten.

A sheep gone astray.

Every once in a while someone asks your Mom and Dad how you are doing,

They sigh, perhaps tears well up in their eyes…

Oh how they wish you would come home.

To be a family sitting together in the church again.

You can’t go back.

You no longer believe.

All that you really want now is their love.

You want them to love you just as you are.

Can they do this?

Will they do this?

Or is Jesus more important than you?

Does the church come first?

Is chapter and verse more important than flesh and blood?

You want to be told they love you.

You want to be held and told it is going to be all right.

But, here you sit tonight…



Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Bruce Gerencser blogs at The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser He writes from the unique perspective of having been a pastor for many years and having seen it all in churches. His journey out of being a true believer and pastor has been an interesting and informative one. He is also a kind and compassionate man who seeks to help others understand how best to leave and recover from toxic belief.

Bruce Gerencser spent 25 years pastoring Independent Fundamental Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Christian Union churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. Bruce attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. He is a writer and operates The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser blog. Bruce lives in NW Ohio with his wife of 35 years. They have six children, and eleven grandchildren.

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  • Abigail Smith

    Well said….I didn’t leave the church, I switched back to Catholicism, which I was more comfortable with but because I was called a “pagan” or a “papist” I left for baptist churches…UGH….I haven’t told my friends who don’t know where we go to church now….it is so true…you are “friends” if you are in the same denomination….and that line “we are praying for you”…UGH again…like you are a stupid little kid who can’t make a decision.
    Live and let live, I say.

  • Jenna

    I’ve learned over the years that telling someone you’re praying for them is often a form of insult. I’m not, of course, referring to those times when you’ve lost a family member or are sick and someone is truly sympathetic. I’m talking about those times when someone decides they want to comment on your [insert lifestyle choice or belief here] and suggest that you are less saved or less Christian.

    For example, I had the audacity a few weeks back to stick up a bit for Candace Cameron Bure in some comments regarding a dress she was wearing in her new show. It was too darn short! Oh, the humanity! How could a CHRISTIAN wear such a short dress?!?!

    Honestly, I saw nothing wrong with it. Everything was covered, and the gag was that her character though it wasn’t modest enough. She looked good in it. I’ve seen more skin exposed on a family friendly beach. But I did comment with something akin to how it’s sad that Christians can’t seem to love each other for knocking each other down all the time. What followed was speculation on my own position with God, and how dare I point out the righteous judgment and state that there were bigger spiritual fish to fry than a damn dress. I was quickly informed that Christians are in fact SUPPOSED to judge each other. (What was I thinking, listening to Jesus and all?) And all of this was of course accompanied by several promises to pray for me.

  • Abigail Smith

    Only too familiar…it’s happened too many times to me to count…I’ve learned to not answer those “holier than thous” because there is nothing you can say that will change their mind or make them listen to you…their mind is made up that you are “not a real Christian”…my question…why are they watching such an “ungodly” show (snark). I actually like Candace Cameron Bure…better than her brother Kirk who’s very phony….I think Candace is actually more “modest” than Jessa Duggar (who is not even an actress), who may not show as much skin, but she sure shows alot of attitude and thinking she’s ‘all that”