Why I’m not in Church on Sundays

I haven’t been to a church service in 8 months. And I can tell ya, I’m not going to be attending one anytime soon. 

If you have a church that builds you up spiritually, and fosters your Christian growth– good for you! You can keep on Churching for the both of us!

It isn’t that I haven’t tried out enough churches (lifetime number of different churches I’ve attended: 16)

It isn’t that I haven’t given the churches I’ve tried a chance (I attended one the Seminaries of the last one, remember?)

It isn’t that I dislike Christianity, Or even Christians (in general…).

It’s that I find the people I meet within church organizations tend to be much more flighty and/or disagreeable than the people I meet outside of church. 

Besides, at the end of the day, I don’t need someone to read the Bible to me (I am quite literate, thank you; and I own like, 12 Bibles). 

I don’t need someone to explain what the Bible says to me, nor do I need someone to tell me how to live. ( I’ve got the Holy Spirit to do that, and the Spirit doesn’t let me fall asleep during their ‘sermons’)

I don’t need someone asking me for money — we tithe the equivalent of an entire income! Because that is what we gave up when God led us to homeschool our kids. That’s like, a lot more than 10%, right? (Don’t worry, my husband is in charge of teaching math…)

Why did I even go to church in the first place? 

Well, I went to church to give back to the Body of Christ…

…But what I got was much heartache– the spread of horrendous lies, a dizzying amount of harassment, and an attempt to destroy the reputation of both me and my Woodsman. 

And we both did nothing wrong. 

I’m serious. 

<sigh>

I thought if I could become a Pastor myself, maybe I could like church. Maybe I could help church be more like what I believe Christ wants it to be. And help people on the fringes of society feel a part of the family of God. 

But, some things are not meant to be. Me in the role of a traditional pastor is one of those things. 

Which, is fine by me. The institutional church is dying. And it’s dying because of experiences like mine, and the experiences of millions of other Christians like me. 

Before Seminary, the dying church made me sad. After Seminary, the dying church makes me feel vindicated. Because I’m not the only one spending my Sunday mornings on my deck, sipping a cup of coffee… 

Is there an alternative to traditional church involvement?

That’s what I’ve been praying about as of late. I would love a way to assemble with other believers like me– ones that see church as a way to collectively serve and gather with those Christ would serve and gather with if He was humanly present. 

I haven’t found anything like that yet. Our one attempt at joining a home church was short lived… It took one meeting to realize that we are even further outside of the Christian box than the home church trend. 

Well, this one’s on You, God. I’m theologically  over-educated and burned out on church. What else You got?

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33 thoughts on “Why I’m not in Church on Sundays

  1. You’re not alone. I’m church-less at the moment as well. I don’t like how Christianity is dead set on destroying dreams. So many young people have fresh ideas, ways to serve, things to do, how to upgrade or make things more efficient, only to be shot-down by elders whose default response is ‘no’. Then there’s rampant complementarianism, poisoning any hopes for breaking out of the box and coloring outside of the lines. And most people are just ‘fine’ with it all. Sometimes it just suits them to not have to make the decisions or to be the one who has all the final say on everything. Sometimes they just don’t see it or they just feel that it’s ‘wrong’ somehow for a woman to open up the Bible and preach the Word and they can’t even say why or how other than that all women are like Eve and all women will deceive them. So I’m taking a break from it all, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie,
      Thank you for your comment:)
      All too often, those of us outside the church are seen as the problem. Somehow, our leaving behind what is dysfunctional, is seen as contributing to that dysfunction. At least, that was the message we got (via an inappropriate confrontation by a member of our former congregation. In line at the town gas station….).
      You are so right… Churches silence the voices for change. Then turn around and lament their dwindling attendance.
      If God wanted to save this incarnation of the institutional church, He could. I think, from my own experience, He’s tried! If it dies entirely, it’s not God’s fault, lol!

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      1. It doesn’t help that many churches say things like: “as dross is refined from silver, ‘cultural christians’ are being removed so that real, true Christians remain and are purified into the most holy church.” It’s sort of like a fancy way of saying: “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!” It leaves the regulars with the impression that everyone who leaves isn’t a faithful as everyone who remains.

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      2. Does the church really say such things about the “removal of dross”? If so, whoever says such things should look into the Donatist schism that divided the church in the early 4th century. I’ve found that there’s typically a correlation between this sort of unfortunate statement and an ignorance of church history. Church history will reveal all sorts of movements such as the Donatists as well as the majority of Gnostics (the Cathars particularly) who cannot accept that it consists of a mixture of both saints and sinners, as Augustine would point out. Leaving aside for now the issue of what precisely the church is, the simple fact of the veracity of free will with which the persons who comprise this church are graced, this reality must necessarily force us to reject a stasis of both saint and sinner.

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      3. You’re talkin’ with an ex-Seminarian here… Christian Church history is an embarrassment to the Gospel of Christ.
        But I think we need to make an important distinction here– are we talking about the Ekklesia, a concept introduced by Christ in Matthew 16:18, and expounded upon in the authentic Pauline letters? Or are we talking about the institutional church, furthered by this ridiculous idea of Apostolic succession –which mysteriously appeared after Constantine erected the first dedicated Christian church buildings mid-4th century CE and introduced a dysfunctional (and anti-Christ) organizational heirarchy?

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      4. Nice to know you’re an ex-seminarian. I’m currently completing the writing of my PhD dissertation in theology (specializing in Greek Patristics).

        At the risk of being ostracized, I should state that I am a Roman Catholic, so I don’t find the notion of Apostolic succession to be a ridiculous notion. But as per your enquiry, I am speaking of both the “hierarchical” and non-hierarchical; I think the reality is that there are to be found sinners and saints in both the hierarchical and non-hierarchical expressions of Christianity.

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      5. Hey, no fear of ostracization here! I’m an EX-Seminarian;)

        As much as I am a daughter of the Reformation, I have a great respect for the Roman Catholic
        Church.

        And I totally agree with you on having room for sinner and Saint in the Universal and Institutional Church– when it comes to understanding ourselves as Christians, ‘Simul Justus et peccator’.

        Love that you referred to Luther in your comments… His writings changed my much of my theological perspective.

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      6. Thank you for your kindly clarification – it is much appreciated. As per the Luther comment, perhaps you can help me. I originally heard the quote from a professor under whom I studied for my Master’s degree, and unfortunately he wasn’t able to find the actual reference source. And since that time there have been many occasions when I’ve wanted to use the quote in several things I was writing. If there’s any chance that you think you might help me to pin down this quote – perhaps you have the acquaintance of a particularly encyclopaedic scholar of Luther – please let me know.

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      7. That, my friend, is something I can help you with!
        One of my nearest and dearest friends studies Theology in Germany, and has written extensively on Luther. I’ll message him about it. If he doesn’t know, I’m confident he has an acquaintance that does!

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      8. Thank you for this additional kindness. I wonder if perhaps your scholar friend has access a digital database of Luther’s corpus with which the quote could be located – if so, the word would perhaps be “Ungerechtigkeit” or “Skandal” as in “It was the greatest of injustices (die Ugerechtigkeiten) that the Word of God came to be written.”

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  2. I’m in the same boat. I’m tired of seeing young people leave the church because they’re afraid to change and listen to this generation or use them. That’s why I attend church online.

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    1. We did that for awhile! We streamed Northland’s church services. Then I just started downloading their podcasts. I really admire Pastors like Joel Hunter and Andy Stanley. And yet, I am still missing something by only tuning in to their sermons. I long for authentic, Christian community.
      I have several friends that are Pastors or are studying to be Pastors– they feel the same longing! What is wrong with church when church fails to be what every soul needs?

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      1. That’s a very good question. A lot of people will give you the answer of that you moved away from God but I believe that God moves you out of situations because you outgrown them.

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  3. I agree! I am contemplating if we should return. I want my kids to have friends and I want community but not a phony one. We all were so burned last time. I feel like I am not sure what to do. There’s a rather small church that meets in my city and then gathers in a home on Sunday evenings to study scripture. We thought about that. As an introvert, I don’t naturally find people and community so that’s hard. But I know I need it. I am not sure what we will do, I just know I will never be 100% committed like I once was. I will not burn myself out for people who wouldn’t do the same for me. We serve I other ways like helping our siblings who aren’t Christians with yard projects, buying groceries for my sister when she’s going through a financial rough spot, sending cards to people in a hospital. There’s so many ways to love if you just look, but I am not being encouraged by other believers except through blogging. My husband has literally no Christian friends except me! It’s very hard.

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    1. Elle! I’m so glad you commented here– I’ve wanted to high five you for your posts this past week. But your comments must be turned off, and I imagine that has something to do with your former church. Anyhoo….

      I’ve found that many times Christian friends are only that in name. Only your “friends” for the sake of that particular grouping of people. A true friend wouldn’t dump you for leaving a church. I know I wouldn’t do that to someone I considered my friend. I’m still connected with several people I’ve met over the years through church. Some are no longer practicing Christians. A few are still very active in their church homes. People change, jobs and locations change… True friendship endures those changes.
      I’ve been known to pray for new friendships. I think God loves those kind of prayers… Because He seems to send me the most unexpected people with which to cultivate new friendships. And I imagine He steps back and watches to see if I’ll realize that this person sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee with me, is His answer to my prayer.
      I think a lot of Christians are out there, not going to church, just like you and I. Not all Christians put there personal faith out there for all to see. (I still feel uncomfortable doing so, but I blog about it, so my Internet cover has been forever blown)

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      1. My comments are turned off?! Yikes! I better check that out. I have gotten comments from others…I think you are right. I honestly feel as if I have no friends. My sister in law is the closest thing I have to a friend because our common bond is our the inlaws which we often just need to vent about because they are insane. But I find that I get the most thought and encouragement from writing. The other day, a former homeschooling mom that is fb friends emailed me. She has another friend who attended the same church–but before my time. I knew this person has left but just assumed it was because of something else, not spiritual abuse. But she told me she shared one of my posts with this friend and she too had the same problems. It made me so sad. I wish I was just an isolated incident. Anyway, I feel like God does that kind of stuff to remind me that I am ok, that I do have friends out there who care and make an effort. It’s just a different type of friendship than what I envisioned.

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  4. Church. Or more specifically, the New Testament church. A small gathering of believers studying the Bible and singing praises to God. If you look at the modern church, we do not see that. No. It is entertainment based. It is a matter of “how worldly can we make it?”. Rocky music with repetitive lyrics. Sound systems, lights…all a part of the world. Church is supposed to be for the sanctification of the saints. What happened to church? What we see is not church.

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    1. Very true. In Acts, we read that the first generation of the Ekklesia sold all their possessions and held money and property in common. Basically, what we would call a Commune. The Shakers managed to live in a similar way– but their whole rule of mandatory celibacy resulted in a rather short-lived movement.

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  5. I’m glad to have found your blog.
    To all: please don’t be to disheartened. “Church” was never meant to be the way we see/experience it. While it is sad that so many have been hurt by this establishment, just focus on Him and live for Him. Walk the walk not just talk the talk.
    Best wishes to all here.

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    1. I bristle whenever people tell me that what I should do. Maybe it’s an artifact from years of spiritual abuse, and not yet knowing the refreshing truth of Christian freedom.
      There is no reason we cannot talk and walk at the same time, is there?

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  6. You mentioned that you would love to assemble with other believers like you. Have you considered the possibility of hosting meetings in your home? Sort of like the early Church did…. I don’t know if that’s feasible for you but the idea popped into my head as I was reading your post so I thought that I’d throw it out there. 🙂

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  7. Interesting discussion – that’s for certain. I tend to be attracted more so to those who are seeking, than those who feel they’ve found. That’s what’s heartening about some of the sentiments expressed here in the comments, and in the blog itself. Thank you all for much nourishing food for thought.

    On the issue that’s generally at the crux of both this post and many of its comments, I’ve found it helpful to consider to which of these two statements my heart is drawn:

    1) The Church is what the Church does.

    [or]

    2) The Church does what the Church is.

    Thanks for a great blog.

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    1. Thanks for you comments here!

      I’m of the opinion that, perhaps, it’s a both/and? Both statements can inform each other, and, as an open system, the Church becomes both stable and relevant:)

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