Why I Don’t Go to Church*

*Ha! I totally got you! That, my friends, is called clickbait. Of course I go to church. I just am not very good at it.

 

 

image from here.

image from here.

 

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Yesterday I did not go to church. I did not feel well at all, and usually we come to the ends of our week ragged both with the good things and the incurably mundane. I read a Walter Brueggemann sermon instead (suggested by a dear friend) and cried my eyes out. I watched a video of a prophetic demonstration, and cried some more. I listened to a podcast while I cleaned my kitchen and–you guessed it–the tears came again.

A few times a month we go to a little Mennonite church in our neighborhood. We started going there because we could walk to it when the weather is nice. Before we started attending, a year and a half ago, we had never been inside of a Mennonite church before. We really like it. It is so peaceful (a result of their theology, perhaps?) and I sit and listen to the songs I didn’t grow up singing, the four-part harmonies that spill so easily out of the lips of my neighbors. I am lost, but I enjoy it. I sit in the pew and soak up what I do and do not know.

Before the Mennonite church we were in a beautiful little house church. People coming together to share their gifts and their crockpot casseroles, everybody has a job, everyone has something valuable to share, the children run around and wave prayer flags, there is shushing and nervous silence and awkward sermons and it is so empowering to be reminded that all the church is are people. We are it. And we are enough.

Before that we came from churches where the music was gospel, the music is one white boy with a guitar, the music is non-existent, the music is projected onto the 3 large screens up front. We come from churches where the pastor tells us what to think, where he tells us how to live a better life, where all are supposedly welcome, where only some are. I have a bit of charismatic in me, a little bit of conservatism, a tiny bit of anti-intellectualism, a dash of anabaptist with a sprinkle of old-school evangelicalism. A lifetime of Bible Studies centered on the rapture, of pentecostal Bible colleges, charismatic conferences, Baptist professors, church of Christ doctrines, a non-denominational pastor dad. I can’t leave any of it behind. Nor can I forget all of the ways I have grown in the love of God that have happened outside of the doors of the church: friendships and relationships with those that would never feel comfortable stepping inside a traditional church. The uneducated. Those experiencing poverty. People of different religions. People who can’t bear to be marginalized again.

So we don’t really belong to one particular church. Oh, we attend somewhat regularly and are involved in the “body”, as it were (volunteering for nursery, serving on the mission committee). But no matter where we are, what season of life we are in, we always have one foot out the door. The question of my whole life has started to thrum louder and louder until it becomes hard to hear anything else: who isn’t here? Who is excluded? Who are we missing out on being in relationship with? And no matter where you go, there are always so many who are missing.

We’ve got to start broadening our definition of church; perhaps our unwillingness to be forthright about the exclusivity that undermines nearly every element of every Sunday service in this country is a reason why some might feel less than thrilled at the prospect of a traditional church. The world is too beautiful and varied and wide for us to fiercely hold to one pastor, one building, one sermon series. Whenever someone is a bit too gung-ho about their particular location/brand/sermon podcast I always have to wonder: that all sounds lovely, but surely you know that this isn’t all there is? That none of us, on our own, ever truly figure it out?

I have been changed, in the best way possible, by my experiences and interactions with everyone in my life. The fundamentalists, the progressives, the charismatics, the un-churched, the Baptists, the mennonites, people of different cultures and ethnicities and spiritual backgrounds.

I’m all for supporting and encouraging the local church. But I’ve got two eyes in my head and I see that God’s dream for the church is nowhere to be found in my neighborhood. It’s always one tribe, one tongue, one nation over here. So until we have the imagination and the wherewithal to bring God’s kingdom down to earth, I guess I will continue to keep one foot out the door, always looking for who isn’t here. I will of course continue to go to church most days, support it, love it, learn from it, push it, and prod it. But may I never fully belong there, may I never fully be satisfied. May I never, ever stop asking: who isn’t here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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90 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Go to Church*

  1. Karissa Knox Sorrell says:

    Beautifully said. I haven’t been wanting to go to church lately, you really articulated why here. Why does church – or God – have to be closed in my those walls? Bittersweet thoughts, certainly.

  2. Karissa Knox Sorrell says:

    BY those walls. 🙂

  3. I’ll have to push back a little here. We have walls, exclusivity, rules, etc. because they protect people and nurture growth. Eugene Peterson once said that tradition was like the bark on a tree- it’s dead, but it protects the things that are alive inside. When you trust your pastor and learn good doctrine, it’s a lot easier to reject Creflo Dollar or answer your neighbor in crisis or know where you can call when you’re the one in crisis. When elders have authority over people, they can discipline wolves feeding on the sheep, call people back from unrepentant sin, and have a greater responsibility to pray for the sick. Church is, in many ways, a way of stating our belonging to one another and our commitment to life together.

    Briefly: I don’t think there’s any other social setting where privileged people like you & I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the less privileged and worship/pray/listen in such a way as to erase the distinctions between us (of course, this requires good thought & planning on behalf of those leading the service.) Every other interaction (they’re all important nonetheless) still has the potential for those microaggressions to creep in. But Sunday mornings we stand side-by-side and sing, pray, & hear at the foot of the Cross together.

    No church can be all things to all men; although we are part of a worldwide body, we are necessarily called to a particular place and time. Someone will always feel excluded– maybe for good reasons, maybe for bad reasons. Certainly, every church should reflect its surrounding demographics to the best of its ability and pay attention to how it treats marginalized groups– but if that isn’t the case and you want to see that change, you have to have ownership, responsibility, and membership in that church. There are only so many people that any one person or any one family can love; that’s why we work together and trust the Spirit to bring people He wants to church when we are worshiping in Him. Similarly, no one church can do racial reconciliation, supporting missions, community development, preaching, teaching, discipleship, fellowship, etc. etc. perfectly (I am fairly that *isn’t* what you’re asking for here, but that’s what it sounds like.) I think one can be unsatisfied with what one has but still fully belong, and I think one’s efficacy is limited with one foot out the door.

    Anyway, that was a long comment and I hope it’s helpful.

    • I appreciate the feedback! but i do think you are writing from a place where you are standing side by side with people who are different from you. that, sadly, is not most people’s situation. of course i expect push back, i wrote this as an inflammatory blog post!!!!

      • I think there’s more class diversity in churches that we give them credit for, at least– though we still have a long, long way to go in terms of racial diversity.

        I think “the church” is indeed rife with microaggressions, which is why I focused on corporate worship.

    • also i think the church is RIFE with microaggressions. do you disagree?

    • Kim says:

      It’s really Satan’s deception that we should not belong to any local church. The more every local church is united and focused on their particular places to reach out, the more work can be accomplished. I don’t have much to say but the comment of this guy here says it all. 🙂

    • mewhoami says:

      Well said, Matthew.

  4. Cindy Brandt says:

    I love this so much!!!! I agree, as I wrote here in this post:

    http://cindywords.com/what-saved-my-faith/

    I need to have all of the beauty, and I’m afraid there is tremendous beauty outside of the church we miss out on if we don’t always keep an eye out for it. I’ll straddle that doorway with you, sister, and keep that look out for who isn’t here.

    Thank you for not being afraid to write inflammatory. Click-bait forgiven. 🙂

  5. The fourth paragraph is superb. I mean, I obviously enjoyed reading the entire thing but that sketch of your influences that you can’t and don’t want to leave behind is evocative of where many people find themselves.

    As I read this, you articulate a very evangelical understanding of the catholic church: It is wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name. I resonate with this and I think you are entirely right that denominationalism or whatever weird abomination it has evolved into under the pressures of capitalism is something we must be suspicious of. So when you say “The world is too beautiful and varied and wide for us to fiercely hold to one pastor, one building, one sermon series”, I want to respond “Preach it!”

    I do wonder about the exclusivity/inclusivity thing though. One of the lovely consequences of trusting that God has called out people in diverse ways is that the church takes form in response to reality on the ground. An intimate exclusivity is an ingredient, to some degree, in all community (friendship, marriage, family, even soccer club). Each church doesn’t have to be universal, because the universal church answers every need. That frees us up to be committed to a single local place because the universal truth always comes into contact with reality in a specific parish.

    I agree that the universal church is bigger and wider and more varied than any academic ecclesiology or doctrinaire conviction can do justice to, but I also think it matters that we are faithful to specific people who get to call us their own.

    • thanks so much Kevin. yeah, this was a quick, non-nuanced blog (which makes me never want to read my own writing again!). i really like what you are saying in terms of how the universal church can carry us. i always have this struggle–do i really have faith? do I really believe the Spirit is at work in all of us messed-up people? I think obviously my views are young and a lil’ uninformed but the majority of my relationships are with people very outside of the church (Muslims, etc) so maybe this is just a coping mechanism.

  6. bernasvibe says:

    Reblogged this on Berna's Vibe~The Way I See IT…. and commented:
    This is one of the most interesting pieces I’ve EVER had the privilege to read & pass on in a re-blog..It resonates with me for several reasons & I get it! I hope my readers not only READ the initial post ; but also READ the comments..Later tonight I shall drop my comments on why I attend church. Mass. But the condensed version? (which I don’t often do well..) The connection with the PEOPLE at my church. I find myself in a phase of life that I’m seeking a closer relationship to God..My maker & creator! There are PEOPLE in my church(including my parents, my spiritual advisor, and my GodMom) that are helping me to get closer to God..However? I’ve also met people who do NOT attend church ; who I see the face of God in as well..By their actions ..I could add more now; but I won’t..Open minds will enjoy this read.

    • thank you so much. i LOVE your line about seeing the face of God in people who aren’t at church, and I also love that you find so much joy at yours.

      • bernasvibe says:

        Pleasure is mine..Your sincerely expressed insight so properly nailed how I feel about church..Isn’t it funny how others can verbalize(or pen…) things we wish we could?? I think there are some that feel we can get all we need spiritually from attending church..Or, better yet, that attending church is the gate to heaven..I , on the other hand, can’t agree with either of those beliefs..I’ve had “church” with friends in prayer over something during a lunch break..I’ve had “church” with good friends who don’t attend church but have deep ponderings about life, our existence, love of family…etc…It is said where 2 or more are gathered….& I’ve found that to be true also. Kudos, again, for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  7. Christie says:

    Wonderful. Challenging. So glad I took the bait. 😉

  8. This is so well written. Bravo, D.L.Mayfield!
    I can relate to this in many ways. Growing up in a Lutheran family from both sides, our presence was expected in the same predictable pew each Sunday. I say “presence” because I came to learn that the fact that I was there had not as much to do with me as it did with my parents making sure their parents were not questioned as to our whereabouts. Despite their deep faith and dedication to the church (or maybe because of), many members wore blinders to the real world. We sent money away to missions but when my sister was virtually homeless and had nothing, they did nothing. When infidelity occurred in our family,the wife was told to just go home and be a good wife. When my deaf and blind grandmother was crying in a nursing home and needed comfort in a spiritual way, the present pastor said it was a “hassle” to use the microphone that would help him communicate to her and stopped visiting her. Really???

    We are human with all our faults and we need to remember that humans invented religion. We do not need a group to have faith. We do not need a group to love and honor God. We do not need a group to follow his word. We do not need a group to share God’s word. We need God…in our hearts and if God is in our hearts, we will reach out to the homeless, the atheist, the mentally ill, the sinner, and the strangest people we think we have ever met. We will hold the door open for all of them.

  9. annlpowell says:

    Thanks again. I forwarded this to Justin and Jen. They will totally be able to identify with this! Ann

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. I can relate with your description of a a varied church past, and what sounds like, a love for each of those experiences even with an awareness of their challenges or limitations. I think desiring more people to be part of our community is a good question to be asking, and that doesn’t always mean a specific building or worship service. I also recognize the beauty that comes from sticking with a group for a while, whether a church or a more informal version of Christian community. Thanks for your words on this tricky topic!

  11. Thanks for this! Thanks for daring to look outside the traditional church box to look for God wherever He is!

  12. […] Why I Don’t Go to Church by D.L. Mayfield and […]

  13. I so hear you! I wish I could at least find somewhere that feels anything close to home or family.

  14. Rose says:

    Wow, I loved this. You put into words some of my struggles right now. Hate to be a nit-pick but just noticed a little maybe typo: People who can’t bear to marginalized again. Should be “bear to be?” You can tell me to mind my own beeswax if you want!

    • Apphiaone says:

      What? I so took the bait…enjoyed this article…lol..but my dear I found out years ago, I am the church….I know some would chuckle here, but I am the church going to join myself with the other churches in my community…which ever ‘church’ community I choose. ♥jjf

  15. 509majesty says:

    I envy someone who wants to believe in something greater than themselves. I stopped going to church 20 years ago after they refused to perform last rights for someone I knew due to them not attending church in some time. What they failed to recognize was he was dying of cancer at the time. It was hard on his family and harder to understand why.

    I don’t know about God or some Higher Authority, but I do believe in the power of being surrounded by good friends. All different people who believe different things, it helps me understand the world around me.

    Too bad right now I’m having my own meltdown, existential and deeply personal and could use those same people.

  16. You said it! It is always so heartwarming to hear a kindred heart and mind. Thank you for writing this!

  17. This is a good article. I recently had an experience with a family who stepped outside. I wrote about it in a post called Mennonites, Rebirth, and Hymns in the Tetons here http://wp.me/p3BzWN-f1

  18. Caroline says:

    my thoughts? ….oh they are swirling around. usually I am the one to write the “the church has let me down” post but then there is this big BUT. I was waiting for that in this article. i have no clue how you believe, and of course i am only going off this one article. I don’t know if you want a little bit of each religion, a little bit of each denomination, or what. so…that might be a whole different conversation. so: yes, I do believe it is important to develop deep relationships. yes, i do believe that the body of christ is the most diverse group in this world. no, i do not believe that the American church (the four walls and the people within them on a sunday morning) represent that very well. so, while i do want a little bit of this culture and a little bit of that culture and a little bit of your style of music and a little bit of my style and every color in the world and yada yada….what i want all of is Jesus, what i will not compromise on is Jesus. while the church, in so many ways, has let me down, while the church is not and never will be perfect, Jesus is perfect and there is my BUT. i want to worship with every race and every kind and every everything BUT i want to worship Jesus. ….if you are asking me. beautifullifewithcancer.com

  19. Wilson says:

    Only time I go to church issues when I’m scared.

  20. Jim Grey says:

    I had been looking for a church that checked all the boxes I had in my head but instead found one that didn’t look like anything I imagined. It’s an inner-city church where the problems of poverty are pervasive. I don’t fit. It doesn’t look like official church. But there is so much opportunity to serve. That feels right. So I’ve stayed, for three years. And I learned that maybe church isn’t about what I want, but what I can give.

  21. maryangelis says:

    This is good! What a warm affectionate look at your tradition and the beliefs of other people at the same time. Kind of rare to find that. And reassuring.

    And when it comes to faith and sincerity and giving our hearts to God and one another, it is beautiful to have a faith tradition and to also get up & go visit other churches where things are done differently. It always gives me something good to take home. I wish more people peeked in at more different worship doors.

    Now I want to go find a Mennonite church. 🙂

    Visitor story:
    On a weekday morning, a grandma brought her little grandson (2 years old? 3?) to Mass in a mostly empty church. Clearly he had never been in a Catholic church, or maybe any church. Good good little guy; for the whole service he had various dump trucks and bulldozers set up on their pew, and made soft little vroom vroom noises.
    But then, it was the consecration. As the priest held the transubstantiated host up to us for veneration, the church was perfectly silent.
    The little boy looked up in surprise. He looked around at the adults. He looked at the priest. He KNEW that something was going on, and that the adults took it seriously.
    So standing on the pew, he held out his arms and in a soft piping little voice carrying out over the whole church with great devotion sang out, “Happy Birthday Dear Dumbo! Happy Birthday to you!”

    Take care,
    Mary

  22. Beautifully written. I think that the Church is only really being The Church when it has one foot out the door. The church that Jesus saw was birthed with the word “go”. It’s well past time that we look outwards to see who isn’t here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  23. Great post. I’ve been to several different kinds of churches in my life. Right now, I’ve pulled back to try and find my own center and beliefs. It’s a long process sometimes. I don’t want to have to hate or reject influences in my background or sell out 100% to someone’s idea of the whole absolute truth based in man-made theological systems to gain acceptance. Like you, I’ve come to the conclusion that knowing more than one point of view is good. It can be confusing and alienating, but it really does open your eyes. Sounds like your spiritual journey has been full of wonderful experiences. I hope it will continue to go well for you.

  24. Nice! I enjoyed that! i find people are very opinionated about religion church rules etc…. i find it difficult to express to them that i am open to the whim of attending church without being focused on religion if I so wish. The spiritual community both attends church and don’t ….and i like meeting them all!….of course i get accused of sitting on the fence a lot…but I find theres a nice view from there!!

  25. daphrwa says:

    Your title sucked me in 🙂 and I showed up armed and ready…

    I do agree… Your fourth paragraph – sick! You capture it so profoundly.

    I am a bit confused though, are you saying we are not called to be rooted in Church?

  26. madblog says:

    We used to be non-joiners as well. But what we found is a church that we wanted to commit to. It’s a FAMILY in perhaps a realer sense than blood, because it’s the brothers and sisters truly loving one another as Christ commanded and as God gives lessons in.( I Thess. 4:9-10). When we found that, we wanted to join, to make a commitment that we see almost as binding as a marriage vow. It’s the model God gave and it works whenever it’s tried for real. I believe that Scripture teaches that we ought to be willing to be vulnerable, willing to commit to a body of brothers and sisters in Christ without reserve; if you read all the “one another” passages it’s pretty clear what our attitude ought to be. I hope you keep looking for this, and I hope you find one!

  27. Roben Viljoen says:

    Hi! I enjoyed reading your post. I loved how you describe the little church where you go now. One of the biggest reasons I didn’t want anything to do with Christians for a large part of life was because of what you describe in this post. Yet, I have come to learn that the church is often more sick than the world that we live in, and that there is so much work to be done with the folks in it. O well, the irony of it all! I will be following your blog!

  28. Michelle Slate says:

    That was such a joy to read!!! I have experienced a lot and moved a lot throughout my Christian journey. It is really hard for me to go to a church regularly where they go through a sermon series… It’s like I know too much or something. There is something beautiful about the coming together of Gods people and it often makes me cry just to experience a group of true believers loving Jesus and open to what he wants to do… But I long for what isn’t there. For the hurting and those who would never go to church… But most of all for the medicated, going through the motions types. I want to shake them up!!! Don’t they know there is more!!!

  29. Beautiful! To really value one’s affiliation to God,one needs to lessen focus on other affiliations.

  30. messyjoyful says:

    I felt like you wrote from my head and heart! I’ve been struggling with that very question the past couple of years. alot. And this Sunday, again. thank you for expressing this, and so beautifully.

  31. megangilley says:

    Loved it. Thank you for sharing!

  32. I love my church I just no have one here in NC to go ,

  33. I am a beauty blogger, and I stumbled upon your post on the Freshly Pressed page. It’s unusual for me to comment on posts that aren’t related to beauty, but I’ve got to say – this post hit home with me. It sounds like the story of my life. As a Christian, I have found myself wandering aimlessly from church without actually finding a church home. There’s always something that keeps me searching, because I never quite feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. God isn’t confined to any one religion or church; he’s everywhere. Great post!

  34. Britt says:

    Beautifully written, thoughtfully constructed, and just brimming with God. Yes and yes and yes and yes. I am one of those passionately devoted to my Church and it’s physical home and the people… but I’m aware of what you’ve explored here. This is an excellent springboard for discussion. Certainly, I fell for the click bait! Well done, you. xoxo

  35. Mike Andberg says:

    In my humble opinion, your statement, “God’s dream for the church is nowhere to be found in my neighborhood. It’s always one tribe, one tongue, one nation over here” says it all – it will be that everywhere one goes. It’s the nature of religion, period. … Great post with food for thought. This is my first look at your website and I plan to return!

  36. deawehbenson says:

    “It is so empowering to be reminded that all the church is are the people. We are it. And we are enough.” This is a fact that is too often overlooked. Thanks for sharing!

  37. I don’t go to church either. I mean, having a relationship with God is not about being at Church but the solitude you build with him as you grow as a person. 🙂

    • Marc Nelson says:

      Luke 17:20-21, And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.”
      One day I realized that Jesus and religion are two opposing forces, and as it is with all opposing forces, they are in conflict one with the other; and that, “Religion is the darkness against which Jesus struggled, and against which he commanded his disciples to strive.” (Leo Tolstoy, My religion (1884)
      Four years ago I stopped going to church, and I stopped listening to all the voices emanating from the church; I stopped listening to preachers, gospel radio and television, and I stopped reading material written by anyone in the religious system of the church. The only material I read was written by Christians who had already broken free of religion.
      When I first abandoned the religious system, organized, maintained, and promoted by the church, I had a feeling of guilt as though I had turned my back on Jesus, but in hindsight I now realize that forsaking religion actually enabled me to draw closer to Him, as many other Christians have also found to be true.

      • Indeed! ♥ Like it! I mean going to church is not that necessary at all because I do make sure that my relationship with him is tight enough for me not to turn my back at Him. He’s all everything I need. I’m thankful that I’m not afraid to actually say I don’t go to church because that’s the truth and my relationship with Him is really personal and intimate. Xx ♥

    • Marc Nelson says:

      Thanks for your encouraging reply. Nice to communicate with enlightened people. To break free from religion one must first understand that most all of Christendom is indoctrinated (brainwashed) with the false teachings of Saul/Paul and look to him for spiritual enlightenment, and revere him as a great person of faith, when in fact the teachings of this charlatan/wolf in sheeps clothing have caused more strife, discord, division, pain and misery than any other body of work since the begining of time. And just as the Isrealites were in physical bondage to Egypt, so too is the Church, the body of Christ, in spiritual bondage to Saul/Paul’s false teachings which have been poisoning the pure Gospel of Jesus for 2000 years. But there is hope. Many are coming to an understanding of this deception and are abandoning the apostate religious system, and are no longer attending church or supporting preachers who ignorantly perpetuate this deception. This is bringing about a quiet reformation, fueled through the internet, by people who have abandoned religion and have been freed from spiritual bondage. Yet every week millions attend their golden calf where they are led astray through indoctrination by a man in the pulpit as he heaps condemnation to himself; all the while completely unaware that they too are heaping condemnation to themselves. For the religious system of the Church is just another part of the Babylonian system that God commands us to forsake when He says, ” Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins; and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Rev. 18:4 For all who are bound by religion have simply fashioned to themselves another god. God Bless:)

  38. tkbeyond says:

    I’m a bit late to the party, but just saw this in my mobile WP reader.
    I enjoyed your post and like your eclectic background. I can relate though a few decades ago.
    I wonder if the concern for who’s not there is simply God’s longing that should be in every believers heart?
    I think the idea of commitment to a local church body (whatever it’s form) isn’t the issue, but contentment with the local body as is.
    Commitment and loyalty aren’t bad things, but can be shortsighted and non-inclusive.

  39. ladiolu says:

    This is what I have always been afraid of: the post-evangelical, post-pentecostal, multi-generational church where the spiritual becomes mundane. But this is also the true test of who and where we are.

  40. etenwa says:

    I can relate 😉

  41. mahreia says:

    I took your bait! Why? because I don’t go to church anymore and I guess I just wanted to know your own thoughts about it. I’m glad I did. Some good points you got there.

  42. oldtimeman says:

    Great post. I am in agreement with you. It seems that in our Christianity we forget about those who aren’t at church or who should be hearing the word of God. As modern Christians it seems many churches are stingy with the word and it was meant to be an outpouring of word and mostly to those who need those encouraging words the most. The hurting, the broken, kids lacking parental love, and the trampled.

  43. thissystemisbroken2013 says:

    I heard a lot about you in your post, but not a lot about the God you serve. Who is He? What does He require of you, instead of the other way around?

  44. Why I don’t go to Church – Because God is not an institution …

  45. Lonegun says:

    Appreciate your thoughts. Yes, some churches are as you describe them. But I think you will find that those churches exist mostly in the first world. It’s hard to focus on loving each other when we are distracted by Starbucks, what’s for lunch and who is playing in the big game. JOHN 13:34 & 35

  46. Mark Spencer says:

    As a preachers kid and a one time preacher, youth pastor, worship leader and militant Christian, I must say this article eloquently articulates my feelings. Too many churches have become religious country clubs instead of maternity wards or emergency rooms for the hurting and the broken.

    Let us never become so comfortable that we lose focus on the mission, to love others as Christ love us.

    Great post!

  47. anthparkin says:

    I wish there was a society in the uk that respected and cherished the church. Sadly its something that you would be relidiculed for here in the uk. By society I mean. Im no different. I didnt go to church. Although we did assemblys every morning at school etc. But no sunday service etc. Sadly it contrives to the lack of morals and respect in our youth of today. I respect the amount of young people in Canada and the USA who embrace church. We in the UK generally follow the trends set across the ocean. Sadly. I can’t ever see this one catching on.

  48. I enjoyed reading your post. I’m new to the whole blogosphere, but yours popped up on the “freshly pressed page.” Your post made a few things come to mind,

    I grew up in a church culture really similar to you, and today I work in a church similar to that. We have been working hard at leading our 50 year old church into a community that is more reflective of the kingdom of heaven… its a tough gig. I think theres a reason the NT Epistles have SO much to say about unity in diversity… because Zealots and Tax Collectors, Romans and Israelites, Barbarians and Greeks…. They don’t tend to mesh really well. The beautiful thing is that the church is the only people in history with the potential to find that kind of unity in diversity… but it takes a whole lot of work, and it’s all our responsibility… We are “ministers of reconciliation” after all… And without God’s Spirit none of it’s possible.. of course.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and for creating a space for dialogue.

  49. mdriskill48 says:

    Hey ya caught me fair and square with the title. I’m a pastor who continues to struggle with what church is and isn’t. I resonated with everything you said in this blog. I’m kind of a bapticostalite (Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonite with a few other things sprinkled in.) Thanks so much for this blog. I look forward to reading more.

  50. Blissurosity says:

    A church without walls! Lord willing we may one day see it come to fruition.

  51. kimgarbi1999 says:

    Thank you! I belonged to my great-grandma’s church until I got married and moved away. I’ve (we’ve) kind of stumbled around for the past 20 years doing a “hit and miss” with churches. I was always afraid I was wrong if a church didn’t fit. It’s comforting to read blog posts that say we’re not alone.

  52. mistyefree says:

    I will be returning to read more of your religious blogs. I appreciate the transparency

  53. SwanDancer says:

    Yup, you got me! And it’s a great blog. I go to different churches myself and haven’t really found the one I wanted to consider belonging to. I hope to find a universal one that sees all the different sects and religions as parts of a whole body (because that’s the way I see it).

  54. LisaMartinez says:

    Good reading/writing, very thought provoking.

  55. heatherann1974 says:

    Well girl, kinda hit home for me. I have recently stopped going to church, somewhat… I still go on occassion, and help in non-ministry ways… I am a saved christian, I prefer non-denomination churches, but in my area we have 1 baptist church, 1 catholic, and about 3 or more LDS churches. So I chose baptist, as that is what I grew up with. I don’t know if other churches are doing this, but my church has changed. It’s not the same church I started going to a year ago. Since this whole recent world crisis thing with terrorismn and such, the church has become pushy with salvation to the point that it would scare an unbeleiver, and all throughout the bible, the disciples never pushed salvation, rather they walked with them first and took the time to show them who God is rather than say you have to do this or you wont go to heaven. You can’t help somebody get saved and leave them. I will say having 1 foot out the door, though I understand what you are saying, is a dangerous place to be. It is more dangerous than having both feet out the door. You said in 1 of your comments “do I really have faith” girl if you need to question that, then the answer is yes you do. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain move from here to there, and it will move. (Luke 17;6) You have enough faith to question weather or not you have faith, which tells me you do have faith. Don’t lose that. I am very torn with my confusion of church right now, and when I first started feeling this way, I questioned my faith, I questioned God, I questioned Jesus, and I questioned the bible. Last night my 11 yr old very grounded (in Christ) daughter started in with exactly the same thing. Then this morning I read your lovely heartfelt blog and I can’t help but consider Satan is attacking everybody with the same exact thing. Faith. The church has to be your choice, just like it has to be mine, and the rest of us as well. But Faith, that is something totally different. Grab onto your faith, never ever let your faith go, hold onto it for dear life.

  56. lrigop says:

    The clickbait worked well… Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the church you articulated it very well. I think it is the faith that counts.

  57. thejourney says:

    Ha! you got me, clickbait! I liked your post.

  58. hiccup says:

    I’ve struggled with going to church all my life. It was tough…and messy; rich with experiences. I haven’t gone for a long while now. My choices say more about me than about the church, really.

    The only kingdom I really know about is the kingdom between my ears. So, I make sure God is front and center…and all family and those I long to be family (everyone)…they’re just part of a continuing conversation I’m having with…Him.

    Church is Family. Dad sets the tone…and He’s sooo loving and patient with us all. Thank goodness.

  59. kamiflack says:

    Beautiful!

  60. David Nanna says:

    You so got me with your title. I was just looking through some titles before calling it a night with my eyes so tired I can hardly keep them open. Then I saw your title and I had to take a look. Ha! We are not too different in out church experiences. My experiences and takeaways are eclectic as well. You made my night! Thank you.

  61. polaris299 says:

    Click bait indeed, I was caught. Well done
    A very interesting tale and as for the last question… the only person who should be there is you.
    Be well in your search

  62. Hey, Cuz. I googled “Why I don’t go to church anymore” trying to find Donald Miller’s posts about the subject, I stumbled upon your blog. I was studying up on Rob Bell and his own current ideas of church attendance. I myself do go to a church on occasion, a strange gathering of hip millennials that is strangely liturgic and progressive at the same time.

    I don’t go for the sermons because frankly, my old church had a much better preacher who gave 50-minute long talks that really hit home but that church is now an hour away from me. I don’t go for the music because I’m not that hip on hymns or non-hymns that are so slow and dirge-like, they make me seriously consider showing up for church 45 minutes late so I don’t have to endure their drudgery. I go because I have some community there. That is the only reason I go to church.

    And even then– even then, I find community in the every day as such to nearly make my church attendance obsolete. I am a case manager with a non-profit and as such, I am in constant communication with the people on my case load. People who tell me day in and day out that the LORD has blessed them and they are alive and isn’t God good? Yes He is. All the time. I pray for them. They pray for me. I visit them in their homes and we talk about how God has blessed them or I and how our lives would be different without His grace.

    Is that not church? Is that not the church at work? These people. Living in the worst parts of the city. Homes crumbling. Bars on windows. Sons in jail. Husbands who hurt them. Wives who cursed them. But here they are, praising God. Black and latino men and women and this one white woman— me– praising God together.

    That is the church.

    • love this so much. how funny that you found my post instead of Donald Miller! yeah, when you see Christ in your neighbors/neighborhood it really opens up your idea of what the church is and how we have so tightly constrained it.

  63. Defining the Church in these last days has confused many folks. Those of Christian faith and the lost grapple with the purpose of church. I propose that Acts 2 is the timeless paradigm of Church life. To simplify, the Church is God’s presence on earth as energized by the Holy Spirit (not confined by walls or attitudes). But meeting with others Christians for the sole purpose of worshiping Him is scriptural. That’s where we find encouragement to nurture own faith and to be an encouragement to someone weaker than ourselves. It is the idols of this godless culture that distracts us from worshipping God in spirit and truth.

  64. Just Mallory says:

    Neither am I 🙂 and I totally clicked looking for an excuse to regurgitate!

  65. honeydc23 says:

    The fact that you feel unsatisfied, like you don’t belong, and you always wonder who isn’t there….is a good thing. Staying hungry is good which keeps you living, and I don’t necessarily mean that in literal terms. Feeling that way keeps you wanting more, not settling for less, and hopefully expanding your ground with open arms of love share the good news with more people besides the ones u are already with. We have got to keep moving and not stay stuck in any particular comfort zone. If you go to church at all it must mean you want to be closer to and be like Jesus. The direction is to be and do as He did.

  66. jane arney says:

    I’m a little late to the party here, but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your post and that it really resonated with me. As a recovering/returning Catholic I’ve also tried various Evangelical/Charismatic/Progressive/Mega/Denominational/Spiritual churches, but I always seem to come back to The Church (heavy capital letters there!) despite the fact that some are not there. So it’s always refreshing to hear from others whose journey has also zigged a zagged a bit!

  67. There is certainly something to be said about Churches today being exclusive. I agree with you there but personally I find that investing my time into one body is not my way of casting out the rest of the body. Instead, I can focus ministry on a select group of people and really be able to dig in and see development in my own heart and those God has blessed me with to serve.

    I do firmly believe that our version of “church” today is vastly different than that of Paul’s or Peter’s. I do believe that we have gone so very wrong in our methodology of reaching the world. Our churches are meant to raise up disciples of Christ and send them to other places to preach the Gospel and raise up new disciples who then reproduce in the same manner. Unfortunately, as you have stated, the Church has long forgotten this goal and it now stands ready to drift into the night rife with exclusivity. Being a college student studying to become a pastor, I hope to be the change that God calls me to be.

    Thank you for your thoughts! God bless you!

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