Why I Left “the Church”, but Not Jesus
I grew up in “the church” as we called the church attending members of the Christian faith. Until the last 4 years, I was a regular attender. I taught Sunday school, worked nursery, sang in the choir. I did Bible study and MOPS. I tithed. My kids attended a private Christian school. I was part of “the church”.
As Gen X and Millenials came of age, there became a growing concern “in the church” as people in these generations fled and stopped attending. I’ve read many articles from people still in “the church” attempting to explain (rarely to actually understand or accept accountability) why these generations are just leaving “the church”. The lack of self-awareness or humility among “the church” has just shown over and over 1) why our generations our leaving and 2) how much they just flat don’t get it.
So here is my take on where we, the generation of Jesus-lovers and church avoiders, sit. You aren’t showing us the love of Jesus. We love HIM. We reject you because “the church” isn’t where we find Jesus anymore. In fact, I’m not sure for our generations that it ever really was…
“The church” only loves and offers charity to those people who fulfill an unwritten list of standards. When you are part of “the church” you are subconsciously aware of these standards. I grew up wondering why we only helped certain people and ignored others. Just in the last 12 months I’ve personally experienced the ostracization and judgement from Christians who are still in “the church.” In my experience, the following will disqualify you from any sort of empty or charity from “the church”:
a. Divorced Women. You can be a divorced man and still get acceptance from “the church” since it is ultimately a patriarchal organization. However, divorced women are almost 99% out of luck. Unless your husband commits adultery – and you have undeniable proof -like it was on Facebook Live – you are a now a pariah. Abuse get you back in the circle because Bible cherry pickers will only allow for adultery. Even if you are a woman who gets the jackpot of proven adultery from your ex- you will never be fully back in the fold. You will always be slightly outside the center and it will be evident when you are no longer asked to teach Sunday school, when your children aren’t included on the PK’s birthday parties, etc.
b. Anyone with mental illness. You see the issue is that you just aren’t praying hard enough for “the church”. You will be told that God only gives us what we can handle. So if you are depressed, anxious, bipolar, etc, you are just not praying enough. You won’t qualify for any empathy or help from “the church”.
c. Non-church attending Christians. You aren’t real Christians as far as “the church” is concerned. You don’t deserve any love, support, empathy, charity or help regardless of your circumstances. They have catty nicknames for you – biannual christans, C&E Christians, Chrieastians, we really are really clever in our judgement. It would actually be better in “the church’s” view point if you didn’t call yourself a Christian. Non-Christians are more likely to get support from “the church” than people in this group.
d. Drug Abusers/Criminals/Prostitutes. All sins are not equal to “the church”. They say the are – but actions would show this is a total lie. Some churches do have outreach programs for people in these groups. However, they are usually on Tuesdays at like 11a when you are least like to be seen or dishonor any of the “real” members of “the church”. If they can get away with it, they will even hold meetings/groups for these people completely off church campus as to not taint “the church” with their presence.
e. Parents with special needs children. I mean going back to the whole “God only gives you what you can handle” this is a real problem for the church. No societal group probably needs MORE help than those with special needs children. But their desperate need is really off putting – because God gave it to you, so you should be able to handle it. Also, our cherry picking Bible friends will love to refer to the sins of the father being passed on to future generations. Soooo….I mean….for “the church” your child with special needs is a pretty strong indicator that you or your forefathers weren’t “real” Christians and thus you deserve to be punished with this child’s special needs.
So, while I really don’t want this to be a bash “the church” post…I do want to challenge church leaders to really seek first to understand. To love. To offer aid, empathy and help to the very people that seem least deserving. It’s easy to help and love people who meet our standards.
However, I think we were called to something greater.
We were called to love.
I’m waiting to see that from “the church”. I see it regularly from people in my pariah list. Why not “the church”?
Until we see it, we will continue to leave you and your buildings.