1. I don’t need to hear a Sermon.
I know you think I do, but I really don’t. I am an adult. I can read and research on my own. Plus, after a lifetime of going to church and sitting under sermons and Sunday School lessons, I truly have heard it all. Ask me what I need, and I’ll tell you that a sermon, or sermon notes, doesn’t help or heal at 2:00 AM when I’m bawling my eyes out, when the world has collapsed around me, and when I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
2. Small Group is MORE Important than ANYTHING ELSE WE DO IN CHURCH
If church leaders are so full of desire to help others, and to share God’s message, and I believe most are, then why do they undermine this desire by focusing on an activity which does nothing to build relationships?
Today’s ministry is upside down – one, or a few people, doing most of the work, because too much focus is placed on large group worship. One person cannot help everyone else in a church, community, or city, not really, not realistically, not deep-in-the-dark-night-of-the-soul-timely, so: Why does the church’s main event mirror this?
3. I need to hear a Woman’s voice.
Male dominated, Freudian ministry has to stop. NOW. There was more equality in the church of 2,000 years ago than there is in the church of today. Both men and women need male and female voices speaking into their lives, and they will sacrifice correct theology to get it.
Next. I am more than a Spiritual Person.
I am also a physical, emotional, and thinking human being. Ministers put a HUGE emphasis on the spiritual aspects of life. In my first 20 years of Christianity, I neglected other aspects of my being until God used an illness to correct this broken belief. I am soul, mind, and body – three aspects of the human being that God created and called “VERY GOOD.”
5. I do not have to be perfect.
Struggles in life are RARELY the result of willful, rebellious, ‘sinning’. One merely has to be a somewhat active participant in life to encounter struggles. How many successful people can say they always followed the rules? Creativity and thinking outside of the box is necessary to SURVIVE in today’s job market and economy. Adding perfection to the mix complicates and confuses everything. Life is hard.
6. Brokenness is a part of every story.
Ministers highlight the Christian growth IDEAL which emphasizes the end product of a lifetime of godly living. I have labeled this “White Haired, Wise Old Woman” Christianity and it means anything that gives the impression that all elderly, white haired church members are paragons of virtue. It sounds something like this: One day, if you live a godly life, follow all the rules, and mind your manners you will look back on your life with zero regrets. You will have white hair, which is the symbol of wisdom, as a gift from God to show the world how godly your whole life has been. Your children will be perfect, your house will be clean, and your dog will never poop on your carpet. (Just get cocky and insert for yourself any picture of a happy, perfect family with at least one aged family member who has white hair.)
This theory/teaching works until you meet that group of happy, aged, white haired swingers who relish stories about the good ol’ days when they smoked pot and danced naked at Woodstock, and Pastor, it sounds like SO. MUCH. MORE. FUN.
As a young Christian, I was so afraid of making that wrong decision, and creating a ‘regret’ for myself, that I could not make any decisions. In a time of my life when so many important decisions are made, I sat on the bench, watching others play the game, worried about making the wrong move.
A girl can follow the rules and still have regrets. One of my regrets is that I followed the rules. Besides this, pastors need to accept that most of us cannot conceive an imagined end goal so far down the road that it includes old age. We need something that works right here and now.
And. It’s all about the Journey.
Church became a stumbling place for me because I am very literal, and fall into all or nothing, black or white (I’m not referencing skin color here), type of thinking very easily. I’m very sensitive and easily affected. Someone told me it’s because I’m dysfunctional. I don’t mind. Everyone else I know is just like me.
There are more ‘dysfunctional’ people in your church than you realize, Pastor. Church has become a stumbling place for them, the same as it had for me. If we did not create dysfunction for ourselves, someone else created dysfunction for us, and we view everything you say through this filter of ‘on/off, black/white, all/nothing’. Accepting everything I’d heard preached in church out of this sense of absolutes has harmed my Christian growth more than it has helped it. I had to leave church, in order to heal this aspect of my life, because Church contributes to all or nothing thinking.
8. I NEED people in my life; I don’t need you.
Which holds more substance: A one time ritual, or long-term relationship? Which is more necessary: A baby dedication ceremony, or a group of supportive friends who will listen to my rants, frustrations, and fears, who will cry, pray, and laugh with me through all of the ups and downs, the good and bad of parenting, and celebrate the joys year after year after year?
You, as a Pastor or Minister, are not supposed to meet my needs, and you’re not even supposed to try. A ritual is fine to seal the deal. It’s comforting, but it doesn’t offer much support for the long haul. For the long haul, we NEED other people.
9. I still love God very deeply.
Not being “an active member of a church”, has nothing to do with my love for God, or my desire to be a good Christian. You might be surprised to learn that my faith and my relationship with God grew after I quit going to church. .
We put too much emphasis on church attendance when “Church” means going to a building where people meet to participate in an event. Faith is not meant to be a once a week, large group, emotional upheaval, building up to some finale of grand spiritual decisions. It is a daily, left foot, right foot, leaning on the shoulder of a friend while being a friend for someone else to lean on, and when I can – carrying my own weight, holding the hand of God, stumbling through wilderness, sometimes mountain-tops, sometimes valleys, boring and exciting, rain and shine, happy and sad, freaking crazy FAITH WALK.
Lastly. I believe you care.
I am thankful for the ministers in my life who taught me about God and how to study the Bible. You could have chosen any path in life that would have been easier, but you followed God. You might think I’m jaded or disillusioned, but I feel like someone who has come alive, like someone finally awake and aware, and I’ve cast off anything that hinders me in order to chase after God. It bothers me that church was one of the hindrances. That is why I’m taking the time to write this.
Maybe I am jaded, but I’m not the only one. I just cared enough to take the time to write all of it down and put it out there for others to read. I want to see change, and be a part of that change. All the Sunday/Wednesday pews are full of jaded Christians who continue to attend church for many reasons other than a love for God. I’m not the only person who feels this way, I just had the guts to say it.
Do you agree or disagree with what you’ve read here? I often wonder if other people feel the same way as I do. Maybe you feel jaded with ministry, or church, or would like to share your own thoughts on the subject. Feel free to post comments below. If you’d like, you can follow me by email, too. Don’t forget to hit the Like, or Follow button below. If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it with friends.