It doesn’t matter what flavor—conservative, progressive, or something in between.
I wish it were different, I wish it wasn’t true.
I’m taking the card out of the deck.
Not playing, not going to be played any longer.
This is where I exit.
My need for you has healed, my trust in you has been educated, my respect for you has opened its eyes.
I’m sorry church, my hope in you is gone. And I’m thinking, this time, it’s gone for good.
It’s not that I ever worshipped you or let you take the place of Jesus. Stupid me, I just believed that “church” could truly be a place or a people where loving well is the highest value and exercised commodity. Yet, as inclusive, loving, and accepting as even the most beautiful ecclesial wrapping paper may appear, underneath, there is always a lurking spirit of Empire building at the heart, overshadowing all the good people. Slice it, dice it, cut it wide open—at the core, I’m sorry, I’ve tasted and seen, and it isn’t good.
I deeply wish my experiences proved otherwise, I wish I could come to another conclusion. I’ve tried—even after all we have been through, I’ve held out hope. But I can’t turn off what plays out right in front of me over and over again. What we have in so much of American Christianity is beyond simple human error, imperfection, or oversight, but a callous lust for personal gain and all the blatant disregard for people and integrity that comes with it.
Who has the fanciest facilities, the latest technology, the most inspiring worship, the best sermons, the slickest branding, the most followers, the highest attendance, the greatest programs, the fastest growth, the largest book sales, the most podcast downloads, the most speaking engagements, the coolest look, the best theology, the purest doctrine, the strongest scholarship, the most attended events, the highest influence.
Church is big business—progressive or conservative.
Sadly, its darkened fruits dangle clearly in the wind, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.
We have become experts at gathering in exclusive tribes with shared creeds as the inside handshake. Cool pastors lunch tables where few are ever allowed or invited. Ideological forts where conformity is the bridge to the door and the key to enter in. Celebrity leaders dressed in the latest fashions with polished appearances and presentations to impress and entice the masses. Little pink spiritual houses for you and me, as far as the eye can see.
No real place for the misfit or the in between. The prophet, the questioner, or the one lagging behind. No bigger tables, just bigger egos wrapped in inclusive spirituality and sprinkled with unconditional love glitter. Looks so good on the outside, but tastes of death in the middle. There is always something more at stake, a deeper lure underneath, than loving simply to love, and that being enough–period, end of sentence and sum of aspiration.
Perhaps it really is true, there is nothing new underneath the sun. All is meaningless, especially what church has become, conservative or progressive.
Good men, women, and children rarely win, even within, of all things… church. Instead, to survive and stay the course, your hands must become callous, your heart quickly attuned to self, your ears oblivious to honesty, and your mind unshakably focused on more, better, and further. These are often the drugs one must take, the humanity within that must be turned off, and the integrity that must be subdued to survive and participate.
“But not my church” is the pre-prescribed opioid that keeps things from ever getting better. Surely, not that blogger, not that pastor, not that speaker, not that author, not the group, not that leader, not the person in the mirror.
The bar my family attends for food and drink, the cubicles in which I work to live and breathe, the nature in which I roam, the secular in which I live, all are far more spiritual, holy, and pure, at least for me.
I’ve cursed you, spit at you, praised you, believed in you, and died a thousand deaths for you. But now, as I follow Jesus towards the anew He is creating of me, I must leave you as I acknowledge the lamp going out deep inside of me, not because darkness has won the day, but because Dawn has come and awakened my entire being.
Today, I resign from being a guinea pig in the emotional and spiritual slaughter house of gaslighting Empire Christianity.
It’s all yours—take it, have it.
I’m done. Never coming back. Never looking back.
I’m sorry church, my hope is gone, because my life is finally beginning.
I’m breathing for the first time, and with all due respect and love, it’s oh so good.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.
In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.
It is a sad day when we lose our faith in our church. I thought at one time too that this square peg could fit in the Methodist round hole until I was told at my “ordination” process I was too catholic and didn’t “Jesus” enough in my papers or in my language. I finished out my pastor year and then retired. One of the most depressing times in my life, the realization that church was not Jesus Christ but a foundation of pharisee’s. It has become all that Jesus detested. I have walked away and grown in faith and a relationship with God. Hang in brother the light shines!! out here there is a lot of JESUS out here.
Thank you Candace, your words are healing, encouraging, and affirming. So grateful!
I popped this article link off to my conservative brethren who have also left the “noisy church growth model” – maybe you’ll appreciate it Chris.
A Progressive Left Wing Christian is Done with Churchianity
Finally some hope for this lad, as I see it. The 2016 election ramped him up, his anger kindled against conservative Evangelicals and his disillusionment now seems exhausted – I pray perhaps he now has time to listen to instruction from the Lord as many of my progressive and conservative friends who have also ‘epiphanied’. America is not ours and neither is this westernized churchianity.
This “exit churchianity” movement is becoming epidemic and I consider it a bonafide Move of God. Two decades ago when my anger kindled against the churches and I advised anyone who saw the troubles that all the “church buildings” should be burned to the ground and the believers cast out into the streets where they belonged!!”
The Lord took me sharply to task for my growing angry isolation back in 2004 – – and began to show me “What Is Church” – and it is far smaller, far more organic and dynamic for me – even nomadic in practice.
I know that both Gregg and Rick are experiencing the same ‘Abrahamish Call’ – to “go out from among them” and “follow Me”. Your journeys, like mine are leading you to just a few others on the Road to Emmaus where the disputes are open, the road long and Emanuel teaches us – rather than the noise of surging altar calls, tinder dry liturgies and sweaty, animated preachers.
Welcome to The Path.
May we follow Him
Best Chris! May we meet again!
Thanks Dean, such interesting perspectives. Thanks for reading, sharing, and commenting!
I completely agree. I’m finding that what I had before was never “true christianity”. It was churchianity made to suit the whims of those who sought power and money above all else. Because I’d that my image of God was so severely warped that I cannot, now, rightly say if it exists. If that group is supposed to represent it, then it contradicts its own existence. A group that has come to represent racial, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle, moral, income, and even ideological inequality cannot represent a God that is the embodiment of the opposite.
Ministry made me an agnostic. The church makes me want to be atheist. Freedom is found outside the walls of a church no matter the building.
Beautiful Miguel, beautifully said.
Sadly, after a profound spiritual call in 1992 that took me into graduate study at seminary/theology school in 1993. I left a company in the private business sector as one of its vice presidents. A few clients were stunned that I would take such a bold step at age 48.
Initially upon entering graduate study, a few professors predicted I would “never make it”. Well, guess what! I graduated with a 3.45 GPA. After receiving my Master’s, I opted for a 2nd level Master’s on my way to a doctorate. The world had different plans for me.
I was praised by clergy for my “orthodox theology”. I was cautioned by other clergy not to get into the “organized” church. “You are too profound. You have too much to say. They will shut you down.” So, I remained in the private business to this day.
I received accolades from family, friends and colleagues for my powerful and profound faith. Today, have lost most of that belief. I have weaned away from God. I don’t like the God of Israel. If one reads Scripture, he is a nasty and mean idol. I have gained over time the understanding that it was not “God” talking to
Abraham, or Moses, or whomever. Those men were prophets who leaned upon a myth to justify their own misdeeds. Oh, I can hear the screams of “heresy” and “blasphemy” ringing through my walls. Scream all you want.
Modern day self-defined Christians are not followers of the Teachings of Jesus. They are for the most part spiritual separatists who want to allow only those who will side with them theologically, spiritually, morally and dogmatically. The Christian faith has been corrupted and contaminated by the very ones who beat their breasts as “proud” Christians. My Jesus would disdain them. But they would once a crucify Jesus.
It is painful for to say that I hardly believe anymore. But the shame that has been brought upon the authentic people of faith is why so many of us no longer lay claim to that Faith.
Wide words of experience and perception, Vincent. Thanks for reading and commenting.
‘Me too’. 50 years and I’ve come to the same conclusion. Walked away 2 years ago and no one came to ask why …. Since then our whole family have got closer and stronger, so has friendships and our ability to work with those in need. No baggage no guilt trips no being stretched or cut down to fit a box none of us fitted. Relationship with our wonderful Creator deeper and so real. Finding time to be and even hear bird song and time to watch rain fall and sunshine. So many I know have been told your called to serve it’s vocation only to find it’s coercion and exploitation. No longer! Now I walk in life and live with eyes wide open and a heart willing to follow to where I am led and to be me. I am loved and free.
Janice, that is inspiring!
Yup, I’ve reached the same conclusion a long time ago. There is nothing there. No morality, no justice, no integrity, no values, no honesty and so no meaning. Style but no substance. Your post is a cry of frustration, pain and anger. Question is; Now what?
Dick, that is always a good question. I am walking that out.
I look forward to reading about that journey. Even more than I “enjoyed” reading about your struggles.
Investigate Wicca, or Traditional Witchcraft, or any type of paganism or polytheism. Abrahamic religions are man-made, for men, and utterly sterile.
Wow, you have nothing better than this. Seems Lyr is right at least in your case. Utterly sterile.
Lyr, I feel ya. Where I love all expressions of faith and spirituality, I still find true connection and truth with Jesus. Just my journey.
Reading this has been so helpful in pushing me finally to accept that the church will not provide what I am looking for. So, thank you, Chris, and commentators, for this setting free. I have long held on in some kind of desperate hope but found myself disappointed again and again. Time to accept that Jesus is no longer the focus there and it’s high time to let it go. I still seek spiritual fellowship centred in Jesus but have not found it so I cherish articles like this which encourage me in the path I have chosen. Thank you.
Jeremy, well said, and I am grateful for your journey and wisdom within.
I love this. I love it because it’s totally true. I, too, have left the church. I’m 70 and have been part of the church since birth, but no longer. I’m done with pseudo-christianity and “churchianity.” I’ve been conned for a long time, but no longer. I’ve walked away from the church and I’m better for having done so. I’ve learned that I don’t need the church. What I thought I needed was the emotional/spiritual security that the church promised (but never actually delivered). I was wrong to think that a religious institution could actually deliver true spiritual sustenance. It doesn’t, never has, and never will. That’s why I left the church and why I won’t be going back.
V2787, thanks for sharing a but of your experience. You are not alone!
Thank you for your courage, Chris. I feel like we as people of faith are in the days of Jeremiah–it’s as season of destruction for church as we have come to know it– as in “tear down, uproot, destroy and overthrow”….but I believe there will come a time, maybe not in our lifetimes when it will be a season to build and plant… I heard Elie Weisel speak some years back. One person in the audience asked him how he and other Holocaust survivors could go on, maintain mental stability, and live meaningful lives after experiencing such horror–how to recover from such trauma. I will never forget his answer, and somehow I think it speaks to the season…he said, “…because our hope lies in a God who can build upon ruins.” For the church, this is our only hope.
Great thoughts JC, there are faith communities that are giving their best to chart a different path and go against the Empire mentality of Christianity. GracePointe Church in Nashville is one such church trying to break the mold and making strides in doing so.
Seems kinda hypocritical – calling out church and leaders for their self-aggrandizing and self-promoting and then, at the end, is an ad for Chris’ new book thst’s getting rave reviews on sale from Amazon!
Mark, I believe there is a big, obvious difference. Thanks for your concern.
Walking away is easy. Anyone can do it. What takes strength, guts, courage, and love is staying. Finding a good group of sincere, flawed people (and, BTW, we’re all flawed, even you), and fighting the good fight, against all the mean and nasty tendencies that sin engenders in ALL of us, is what we are called to do.
As my dad used to say, “if it were easy, anyone could do it.” Love people, even “the church”, in spite of how hard it is.
It’s all we’ve got.
Raven, I appreciate your words. I don’t see those who disconnect from church as giving up, nor do I see church as, “it’s all we’ve got.” For me, the entire world is my sanctuary, humanity my faith community, and loving my act of worship.
I don’t even like referring to myself as a “Christian” anymore. To me, it’s a word as ugly as the ugliest profanities. Fortunately, we’ve found a like-minded community who follow Jesus with all we have, yet refuse to become part of the conservative/liberal divide. Most of us would be considered heretics by the “Christians”. All are welcome, the only “rule” is that you be human. The rest…all incidentals. Come meet the one who lived and died for us…come see he is good. Let him judge us all…none of us have enough wisdom, mercy or justice to judge as he judges.
Well said, Caroline, thanks for sharing these thoughts!
I feel like you do as well. I had found a good, loving church but my pastor’s were called to another city, in another state. I started going there because I was lonely and wanted to find a church that would accept me as I am, a Christian who is gay and loves God and Jesus. I found so much more and still have faith that I am doing what God asked of me. I see the hate and those who call themselves Christian and I can’t help be mortified that some would think that a Holy Man chosen by God sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How can anyone truly stand by and exalt his person to anything but a foul, failure. But, mine is not to judge, I pray some will see the light before it is too late. I could be wrong on many things, but I am willing to stand in front of God and be judged for my misdeeds and mistakes. This walk with God is mine and mine alone and it will not mean the same for someone else.
Richard, yes indeed! The personal journey of faith is key.
I wonder if the “human condition” leads us into the very behaviour that’s described here. If we look in Acts, in the latter chapters, there already signs of institutional behaviour. For example when Paul returned to Jerusalem to report of the works that God had done among the Gentiles. However the early church behaviour was much influenced by Jewish synagogue traditional practice. Likewise it’s not unreasonable to assume that Gentiles would have brought their own theological “baggage”? If so, are we stuck? Are we going to endlessly repeat our mistakes? Isn’t that a sobering thought, that we can turn into this? I wish I could think of a good suggestion right now, but I can’t. My hope is in Jesus and that at the last we will know as He already knew when “we were knit in our mother’s womb”. May God bless and keep us all.
Good thoughts Tim, thanks for reading and commenting.
I Love you Chris. My thoughts have gone that way also. God is not and never has been contained in the “Holy-of Holys” of the temple or any other church steple on top or not. I continue to honor God on Sundays walking amoung the trees. I have read lots of Thich Naht Hanh Buddist Monk lately. I don’t fit the label of a Buddhist. The meditation and communicating with the Holy Spirit inside me is my church. I may even search for inspirational speakers online. I ask you to please read Living Buddha Living Christ. I have read it several times given copies. All have been awed. REcommending because I love you brother.
I saw this blog post on Facebook this afternoon, read it, and promptly bought your book for my Kindle. I just finished reading the book now, and I am feeling so relieved. Six weeks ago, I finally said, “I just can’t do this anymore,” and walked away from my church of 22 years where I had been ordained and served as an elder and a teaching minister. For the last five years, I have been in a spiritual wrestling match with what I believed in my heart was the truth but could not reconcile the teaching of my church with this truth: that God loves people unconditionally and the vitriol pouring out of pulpits against the LGBTQ+ community was contradictory to the message of the Cross. While my religiously trained mind was trying to tell me I was just being a carnal Christian, my heart was broken and in intercession over the vile condition of the Church in America, which has become so inwardly focused that they cannot even fathom the words of Jesus to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” For five years, I’ve been appalled that this same church can blindly support the most corrupt and appallingly immoral politicians, claiming that those men somehow are speaking on their behalf and standing up for the Gospel. Sitting on the front row with people looking at me as a leader in the church, I could no longer stomach the hypocritical message I was sending, that I was somehow in agreement with the right wing, conservative, evangelical message of bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny and racism when I knew that I was not. So, I left, and I’ve been hurting, and feeling guilty, and worried about what to do next. I want to belong to a community of believers, but not if they are following the loveless dictum of the right-wing evangelical church. Your book expresses every thought I’ve had over the last 5 years, and then some. I know it will take me some time to absorb and to know what my next steps should be, but I am feeling a sense of peace wash over me that I am not alone in my conviction of the redemptive, healing, life-affirming power of Grace. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Linda, thanks so much for sharing your story, your bravery is inspiring! If we are not connected on social media already, let’s make sure to do that. Additionally, please email at email@example.com so that we can set up a time to talk by phone. Would be honored to hear more of your journey.
Hi Chris, I love reading your posts even though the truth you speak sometimes causes me to wince–because maybe I haven’t had the courage to speak something similar. But when I read what you write/wrote it feels like I can breathe deeply again.
I love too, reading about such a church trying to find a new way in Nashville (Cross Pointe, I think you mentioned). But I live half way across the country. And for others who post responses of finding a group of like-minded followers of Jesus, I wish I knew where you were. I wish I were close enough to join with my experience, to walk with others on the path. Does anyone know of a list somewhere of such places?
Thanks for reaching out. If we are connected on fb, go to my groups section and there you will find many groups to connect with online that can give you information on other churches and resources that will help you build a sense of community along your journey.
This. Yes. I have finally found the words that describe why I haven’t even looked for a progressive church to attend. This post really helped me process my own feelings and now I don’t feel so badly about not going to any church building at all. Thank you ♥️ Keep up the good work!
What about no creed ? What about a faith community that aspires to live by shared principles. The first one: The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Where we don’t believe in sin and the LGBTQI Community is not accepted but loved and celebrated.
“In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches.”
In other words, this person wants to throw out the Bible and decide for themself what is good and bad. Newsflash! People are fallible, that’s why we have this unchanging standard to keep us going in the right direction. If you can’t stomach some basic standards, it’s more likely the problem is with “you”. When people pull away from basic standards, they’re saying “My personal comfort level is more important than right or wrong”. Jesus is famous for saying “Go forth and sin no more”. God doesn’t care what your skin color is. He doesn’t care if you’re male or female. He cares if you’re doing right or wrong. He cares if you tell the truth or if you try to lead others into lies and sin of their own as well as indulging in yours. God knows the difference between what is mere difference and what is actual sin. People trying to break down barriers of right and wrong don’t.