You think I don’t go to church because I simply had a “bad experience.” Like I had eaten an off-putting meal at a restaurant. So you shame me for not trying again, as if I’m just lazy or over dramatic, while you insist that not all churches are bad.
Perhaps, that’s true. Not all.
But, what you don’t seem to understand is that, respectfully, I don’t go to church because so much of it has become so far removed from the heart of God that I can’t even breathe inside and Jesus is virtually nowhere to be found.
In fact, I can tell you for damn sure, it wasn’t just one meal that’s put a bad taste in my mouth, it’s the entire menu. From your interpretations of the Bible to your condemning attitude towards others. From the sexist patriarchy to the self-centeredness. From your elitism to your appetite for power and control over people and society. In my experience, it’s the cancer, not the cure. The more I attended, the more empty I became. None of it worked. I became less like Jesus and only better at pretending. At first, I thought it was me that was missing the Spirit, but then the Light within revealed that it was actually much more you, all along.
I’d like to say it’s your beliefs and system of faith that keep me away. It makes it less personal and less confrontational. But, the truth is, you’re the one who brings those beliefs and that faith system to life. Without you, it’s all just words, buildings, and creeds. But because of you it’s so much more.
See, it’s not only what you believe, it’s that you actually believe it. And not just believe it, but act on it, live it, and then demand others do the same, or else.
All the judging, hating.
All the greed, self-righteousness.
All the violence, bigotry, and harmfulness.
The problem isn’t that all of that is in your Bible, it’s that it all now lives in and through you. And then you dress it up with spiritual lipstick and call it “church.”
So, if I’m honest, it’s you.
You’re the reason I don’t go to church. It’s not that you aren’t perfect, it’s that you kinda think you are. Like you have all the answers. Like your truth is the only one. And the world won’t be better until everyone is just like you, and you hold all the seats of power.
Yes, I don’t go to church.
Thanks for the concern.
Instead, I’m finding Jesus in all the places you told me I wouldn’t.
I’m meeting Jesus in all the people you send to the curb.
And, I’m experiencing Jesus in all the faiths you say aren’t true.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
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My UCC church does not judge, is racially and ethnically integrated, is open to and affirming of LGBTQ people and it believes in applied Christianity. If it’s not compassionate, it’s not Christianity.
Chris…..who are you addressing when you say ‘you’ or ‘your’? Exactly who are you talking about?
Who is Chris talking about?. . . the people telling him that he should go back to church or to their church: The people who can’t believe that they are the problem. The people who have changed Jesus’ view of the “church” and made the “church” into one that fits their view.
You paint all churches with the same broad brush, yet there are many churches the espouse the love of Jesus Christ and reject the evangelical conservative tenets you criticize. Gross Pointe Memorial Church, for one. My question to you is how you justify your blatant monetization of your website? All because you are so altruistic and Christlike?
Nowhere in this post do I paint all churches into any one category. All and any financial resources this site gains are used to pay the costs of my writing ministry. You’re going to have to use your imagination far more to discredit my writing and avoid its truths.
By the way, I actually say that not all churches are bad in the post. Reading the words of a post is important before criticizing it.
Thank you for bravely sharing this perspective. Many things you said hit close to home for me. I attended a rather progressive, reconciling UMC for over 20 years, and walked away shortly after the pastor who was meant to “save our church” threw in the towel after 9 years, tired of pulling the congregation in a direction they weren’t actually willing to go. You can’t just talk about it, you must also walk the path. After being so heavily involved in trying to change that culture, I felt too defeated to try going anywhere else. When the people who pad the donation plate are needed just to keep the doors open, there is little hope for steering church in away from the business of running a business instead of sharing God’s love.
Chris, Mark makes a valid point. The churches that you are talking about are all part of the Christian Right, which is I like to say are neither Christian nor right. These are the churches that get played up in the press, because they represent a constituency, not a Christian congregation, that bows at the altar of the far-right Republican party. Power is more important to them than principle. However, there are many of us who go to churches such as mine, which is multi-ethnic multi-racial, open and affirming to LGBTQ people, welcoming of all strangers and act out their Christian faith with deeds of love and mercy. As you expose the madness of far-right non-Christianity, why not lift us up as the alternative. Allan Eickelmann,D.Min.
You seem to make a lot of assumptions and projections as to who this article is and isn’t addressing. It feels like you are determined to miss the point and bypass the truths written. Let’s let each reader come to their own sense of how this article may or may not be addressing them or giving voice to their plight.