This may shock some of you who know me well. In the past, many friends of mine knew the church as my “second home.” In fact, I was so “committed” to my local church that some people have even called me a “nun.” (I find that funny now.)
What?! Why?! What happened?!
These are the questions I’d get from my friends when I’d tell them that I don’t go to church anymore. (Or should I say, the institutional church that is.)
Well, nothing bad happened just to make things clear.
But here is a list of 10 reasons of why I left the institutional church.
1. Same old, same old. Opening prayer. Worship. Offertory. Announcements. Sermon. Communion. Closing Prayer. Closing songs. Go back to daily life. Next Sunday. Predictable. Nothing wrong with that per se. Just going in circles. Routine, for me, is a killer.
2. Cell group. Debate sessions or open discussions? Seems like everybody knows all the answers. Real friends or cell group mates? Ironically, people seem to know me; when in reality, they don’t.
3. Service. Obligation or excitement? Why can’t I be like David and “rejoice when they said, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’?” (Psalm 122:1)
4. Ministry. People or performance? Was I more burnt out or satisfied? Was I known for who I was or what I did? I can’t please everyone.
5. Go to see your friends or to seek God? (I’ve been told that people should go to church for God and not for their friends.) Why does having a relationship with someone, like in marriage, family or friendships, be any different than the relationships within the four walls? If we can relate with people naturally, doesn’t that say something about God? I think He feels loved when we love each other.
6. Follow God or follow your dreams? Is there a difference? Am I servant or a daughter?
7. “Christianese.” Why did I have to look or act different to be holy? Do all Christians have to sound alike? (Looking back, I think I sounded funny.)
8. Drawing near or becoming distant from God? Do I really have to do so much to get closer to Him? Doesn’t He live in and through me?
9. Preaching. Lesson plan or heart stuff?
10. Falling away or finding God? Why is one accused of falling away from the faith or even being rebellious when they don’t go to church?
Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to attack the institutional church. Nor am I encouraging anyone to leave it if one experiences life there. I loved it for what it was growing up. And now I just came to a place in my life where I couldn’t deny my feelings that I kept hidden for so long. At the time, I never really allowed these things to surface because I feared that I’d lose my faith by questioning it. And I was also comfortable with where I was at…until I became honest with myself.
Surprisingly, my faith was strengthened as I allowed myself to question. And now I’ve transitioned from an “institutional” to an “organic” one. I found so much freedom and love in being the church instead of going to or even trying to do church (whatever that means). I’m not saying that everyone should follow this transition that I made but this seems to work for me at the moment.
I’m fully aware that not everyone feels this way about the institutional church. Life can still flow within an institution. But, I believe, there is only so much a person can grow within such a place because not all people can grow within the same flow. Life also can flow beyond the institution.
Know that everybody’s experience is different whether good or bad. The majority may have had good experiences within the institutional church but it does not invalidate the minority who’ve felt differently and so have left, just as I did. You know, wherever you are “[Jesus] will travel any road to find you.” (pg.184, The Shack)
But what about you? Do you have a similar story to share? I’d love to hear about it.
Here are some other posts you might want to read:
- Why I Don’t go to Church Anymore by Darin Hufford
- REVIEW: “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” by MizB
- My Nine Month Sabbatical and Where it has Brought Me by June Melanson
- 15 Reasons I Left Church by Rachel Held Evans
- Being The Church by Joshua Tongol