Out into the Desert: Thriving Outside Organized Religion

Out into the Desert: Thriving Outside Organized Religion February 14, 2021

Photo by Tomáš Malík from Pexels

Over a year ago, we stopped attending church.  After our deconstruction, we immediately started attending a large church.  It was a good church, but after about 2 years, we made a conscious decision to step away.  There were too many triggers and we realized we had internal work to do and we both agreed to first go to a smaller church, then to stop attending all together.

We were not angry at the church, we didn’t want to punish it, we were just very disappointed in what happened in our 20+ years of ministry and were hoping to have a discussion about what we saw and experienced.  But, every time we tried to discuss this inside the walls of organized religion, we met resistance and defensiveness.

So, shortly after leaving the church, we began to write down our thoughts.  We began to think about the validity of the church as it stands now.  The first part of our writing is our analysis after 20 years of ministry.  We detail much of our pain while we pastored in 3 different churches.

The second part the book is our attempt to adapt and refocus outside the walls of organized religion.  For some reason, we took a fresh look at the Beatitudes and it led us to some of the areas we were rebuilding like: Finding our Voice, Finding our Vision, and Finding Community.  We found 12 areas that we are rebuilding.

Karl and Laura Forehand

We weren’t trying to bash the church.  We were just offering our assessment of the current state of religion to hopefully start some discussion or give others some language for what they are feeling.  If organized religion is working for you, I would first encourage you to take an honest look at whether it is really working.  If it is, then we are happy for you.  If it is not, then I hope you can give yourself permission to take a break and examine things.

It really is easier to get perspective from the outside.

We were going to publish the book, Out into the Desertwith Quoir.  But, with all the other projects we have going, and because people need a break during Covid, we decided to release the E-book for FREE.  We hope that people will digest this book and give us some good feedback.  Maybe it will start some discussion in your circles so that we can move toward a better solution.


We are being very vulnerable by releasing our story and feelings, so please be kind in your criticism.

You are allowed to feel how you want to feel about this topic, but I hope you will give us a few minutes to share ours.

Be where you are, be who you are, be at peace.

Karl and Laura Forehand

Click here to download the book – please consider subscribing as you go there!


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Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and the soon-to-be released Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary and Too Many Podcasters podcasts. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!

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2 responses to “Out into the Desert: Thriving Outside Organized Religion”

  1. Well, I have to say that I have pastored one church for the last, well, coming up 19 years, in a very small community. No one who was here at the start is still here. I have had some get very close, only to have them leave, often with no given reason, and I am suddenly out of their lives, both as a pastor and a friend. I know a little.about disappointment. I have gone through times of depression and sorrow, but the bottom line is, we do what we do for the Lord, not the church, not our family, notnourselves. We keep our eyes above through it all, or we fall apart.
    3 churches in 20 years? Maybe stay put in one place and serve God. Have no expectations except to expect to serve as a servant, both God and His people. And the term “Organized Religion” is just a term for ‘churches I dont like.’ The alternative is ‘Disorganized religion’s, and that is far worse. Stop looking at yourself and get your attention back above. it’s not about you.

  2. I appreciate you input, but you guessed wrong in your assumption of my situation.

    I was faithful the churches I served, but when I searched for truth, I realized some things were wrong. Read the PDF of the book and you’ll understand better what we discovered and what we went through. It’s not simply a matter of dedication.

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