Why I Left … “church”

A bunch of people keep asking my why I do not go to church any more, so I thought I would try to type it out here on the blog.

After 10 years of attending the first church I visited when we moved down from the Chicagoland area, there was something chomping at my foundation.  It was bugging the piss out of me.. it was like when you get a popcorn kernel stuck in your teeth and you just cannot get it out even though you keep trying and trying.  Well, as I perused the church halls during the last year I was there, and it was like that popcorn kernel, it was going nowhere.  

No matter how hard I tried to be involved within the church, there was something that kept eating at me inside, and afterwhile I could not ignore anymore.  I (and my family) did everything within the walls “church” had to offer … we consumed small groups, Adult Bible Fellowship classes (where I almost ended up leading a class of 50 couples), bible studies, precept classes, growing kids God’s way, discipleship classes.. ect.  

After my first 2 years taking the discipleship program, my insides started to hurt.  Then it was after I co-taught another 2 years of discipleship class with a group of 12 guys is when I started to really wonder … what in the world am I doing?  My wife, who had to listen to me for weeks and months as I tried to explain why I have the need to leave the church, finally saw what was in my heart.  As we shared thoughts together we came to a question that needed an answer.  Isn’t there something more?   

After many months of thoughts and prayers, I came to the decision to leave the institutional church.  No, I never left Christ and The Body (which really is the Church), and it has been the best decision I have made so far in my life. 

The church I attended provided us plenty of “activities” to keep us busy all the time.  But, over the years the longing was for more than programs, meetings, and being recognized.  The sorry thing is the system that runs the church is built up to push people into that type of environment (a bunch of converts, but no disciples).  I just was not receiving what I was reading in my bible studies, which is Christ (you know, the Body that is to love one another more than ourselves).

I craved the life believers shared with one another in the Book of Acts and throughout the 1st century church.  The so-called “Christian” life needed to be much more than what I was experiencing.  Jesus died for so much more than repetitious, organized, non-participating meetings, and relationships that seemed superficial and even forced.

Please do not get me wrong on this.  We love the people we were “going” to church with.  I am sure they meant well, and we even had some fellowship when we attended (but mostly surface stuff.. no heart issues).  I became aware that the structure we were in did not lend to any sort of depth of relationship I read about in the New Testament.

There is a bunch more to the story, and I did not leave because the “church” hurt me.  I left because the more I dove in to be more like the Church (Christ), I felt convinced to walk away from the human made “church” structure. 

Interesting though.  I was not hurt prior to leaving, but I tell you what, the church sure did a good job once I left to make me feel like a piece of shit and that I did not matter.  After 10 years, no one from the congregation called us after we left to check up on us to see if everything was ok (and there is over 18,000 members.. you think someone would at least call).  When we called a week or so later to cancel our so-called “membership”, we never got a person.. we had to leave a message, then poof.. we received nothing more in the mail.  Just erased from the list… see ya! 

Even after 4 years of in-depth study with two groups of guys, I do not think many of them even remember my name anymore.  It is sad how the church is built to consume knowledge, but is not even close to building relationships with one another.

This is why a lot of what goes on within the walls is a bunch of BS.  I found out I was allergic to bullshit and had to get out quick and stop taking all the medicine the church offers that hides the symptoms.

I hope and pray others find relationships with others regardless of where you are.  I just tell people who go to church to really ask themselves … What in the world am I doing?  You could be surprised on how it gets answered.

(Note: the second main reason I left was because the “what we believe” as a church had a statement in it that I could not be a part of … I love those doctrinal “rules” to be a member that separates the Body … what a joke.)

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9 thoughts on “Why I Left … “church”

  1. Thanks for sharing this story. I am always interested in knowing the stories of others who left the Institutional church.

    It really is amazing (and sad) that when you left, and even when you cancelled your membership, nobody ever called.

    1. Jeremy- yeah, we found it quite odd we got no phone call or anyone stopping by. I never left Christ, but I feel bad for the people that leave that church and are lost without Christ and get no phone call.

      There is so much more to my story i could write a book with the stories I could tell.

      Later

  2. Swanny,

    I think posts like this can be helpful to those who are in the same place where you found yourself. I know there are many who are thinking to themselves, “What in the world am I doing?”

    I also think that it would be incredibly helpful for you to answer that question for us now: “What in the world are you doing?” You’ve told us that the programs and activities were not satisfying what was in your heart. But, what is in your heart now and what are you doing about it?

    I know that I, for one, need to hear and see examples of what people are doing.

    -Alan

    1. I echo this same question; Part of the reason I finally made the decision to get re-involved with a church is because I just wasn’t doing much of anything helpful to *anyone* when I didn’t have that spiritual and relational support. All I did was hide from the world with my anger and misery (unrelated to church issues, mostly).

      I think a lot of times, people start feeling this way about their particular church, and then go on to assume ALL “institutional” churches are like this. However, I also know from personal experience that it can take time….usually years…to finally realize not all congregations are like that, and that we have more power to change things in those churches than we thought we did. It takes time, too, to forgive the church for being human, and thus fallible.

      1. Lady Tam Li – I tend to lump all “institutional” churches in this group because any institution that man calls “church” is not going to be what God intended, it would only be what man intended.

        I am not ever talking about the people that make up a congregation. The institution (which is man-made) is different from the people that make up Christ’s church. I can never judge the heart of people that make up the assembly, but I sure can poke holes in the “institutional” rules that man places in front of the congregation.

    1. After 3 years post church I am back wandering the wilderness trying to figure how I fit in The Body. The group I was meeting with for 2 years busted apart because a couple families lost their focus of Christ, and it became more of a problem between the families. Sad, the gathering we were in stopped meeting, and with a lot of effort to keep the body together it just did not work.

      The gatherings we had were great. They were “open” meetings where people shared stories, sang songs, played instruments and just talked about Christ all the time. i really do not understand what happened, but I did.

      No I am scattered Being church wherever I go, but I do crave to be with other families… I just cannot find any.. they are either too busy with their programs, or at church on Sunday.

      Just praying and thinking it through. Its a bit lonely out here in Louisville, but I know God has lans for me and my family…

      Thanks.

      1. Hey dude. 🙂

        A few months ago I ran into an old friend from my old church. I had been feeling kind of lonely as well, when he told me about a “home church” group made up of people mostly from my old congregation that meets every Sunday evening. It’s a little different from regular Sunday evening small groups, in that we take communion, have dinner together, etc. That being said, all of my old church’s small group meetings were exactly what you described: A chance for folks from the congregation to get together and talk about spiritual matters on a more personal level. It was really awesome, and was one of the things that drew me to stay with that church for as long as I did. Even though it was a large church, the small groups made it feel more like a family.

        If the folks you are interested in are busy, perhaps you could suggest starting a “small group” of your own, or joining one of theirs..? It’ll be a LOT less intimidating that pews and sermons. It doesn’t just have to be folks who go to their particular church, either; it can be anyone whom you’d like to join.

        Or maybe offer to meet someone for lunch one Sunday? Or Saturday? Or weekday? I’ve done that before, just met with someone from church for a quick Tuesday lunch just to talk and fellowship. 🙂

        There’s ways to do it, but it *can* take some juggling. You just have to be persistent, and also open to radical ideas. ^_^

        Good luck!!

      2. Lady-Tam Li – I get together with some people I used to attend “church” with. I have started groups in the past for the wrong reasons (I have grown tremendously from my mistakes). I have also attended many other groups, and they tend to be just smaller versions of the larger “institution”.

        I am part of the Church wherever I go and whoever I come in contact with. I tend to hang around more unbelievers than I do believers.. I just live life in my community and love on others the best I can, all in the name of Christ!

        Thanks for posting!

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