The Church is Out of Space

The Church is Out of Space November 18, 2022

Photo by Ron Lach

Recently I listened to a discussion about a book I’m involved with called Parenting Deconstructed. It’s a great book for people that are making changes in their spiritual life and exploring different options, commonly known as deconstruction.

A couple of the authors that I love talked about making space for their children. What they meant is that when they addressed their inner issues that were taking up all their attention, then they had space to spend time with their children and help them with their issues.

I can relate to this because as I was raising my children, I had unaddressed trauma. As a pastor, I was so busy with the issues of the church that I didn’t have time to address my trauma, and subsequently, I didn’t have enough space for my children. I was a decent father in my children give me grace, but like many come out our relationship wasn’t all that it should have been.

Organized religion has a similar problem. Most of the time and energy goes into producing the show. It’s slightly different in different religions, but it’s mostly the same. The special person delivers some kind of lecture. Also, then the concert or liturgy is presented as rehearsed. There is a limited chance for people to respond, but even this is quoted accepted and only had a certain time.

70% of the money in the church and most of the energy is geared towards staff and building expenses and keeping the organization running. The show is planned, rehearsed and performed. There is an emotional response that quickly fades leaving the participants wanting to come back.

Most churches generate a tremendous amount of activity. Most families today are the same way–they are extremely busy. But the real family and the faux family called “the church” have the same issue that my friends were talking about in their families. They have no space for the wounded.

Laura and I wrote a book called, Out Into The Desert, where we tried to open up the discussion about issues like this. We get accused of bashing the church, but we’re really just trying to open up and discuss issues like this, just like my friends did about their families. There is generally no space for woundedness in church

But what about small groups?

I would admit sometimes people find healing and small groups, usually that even smaller groups when people talk one on one. Spiritual directors and counselors have some success because, in all its simplicity, this type of activity is “making space” for one another.

My question about small groups is why don’t we just do the small group, and cut out all the other unnecessary activity the church is engaged in? We don’t really need clergy to supervise our spiritual lives. And we don’t need multimillion dollar buildings, a lecture or a concert. Where we really need is to make space for each other.

I invite you to do a few simple things:
– join the conversation
– find space to address your trauma, even if it means taking a break from some things like church
– make space for other people to deeply listen to them
– help others get the help they need

The church always intended to help people, it just never did a very good job. Running the organization and organize religion takes up most of the time and the money. Give yourself some time, maybe take a year off, and get the help you need to make space for others and yourself.

We believe our book is a good place to start having these discussions around this issue.

Be where you are,
Be who you are

Karl Forehand

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