Leaving (the) Church

Today I had a look at the cathedral of the Reigning King Christ at La Spezia, in Liguria, Italy. An awful huge round building only build in 2015, but already showing signs of being in ‘decay’, materially but probably also spiritually, not receiving many congregants anymore.

It is something we can see all over Europe, churches running empty. Some may find it just a sign of the present modern times, others consider it as normal, people being fed up by the false stories of those churches.

Dan Foster last month asked

Is It Time To Leave Your Church?

Image by Thidarii on Shutterstock

He compares leaving a church as kind of like walking away from a long-term girlfriend or boyfriend. In a way he has good reasons to compare it to that, because often people have grown up with a church or have been affiliated for many years with a certain denomination.

Lots of time people have a history with a certain church and have shared memories — many of them good. Foster writes

You may have raised children together. You might have decades-long friendships attached to your church as well. And there is so much comfort in the familiar.

Though for some there is some awkward feeling. The fire seems to gone out. Previously everything seemed to go nicely and you felt you could even be active in that church.

Yet, at the same time, you just know it’s not working anymore. You have grown apart. Things are not what they once were. There might be conflict — words and deeds that leave you feeling detached a cold towards your former love. You are left with a lingering question,

“Is it time to leave my church?”

This was the situation that Dan Foster with his wife faced. He writes

We walked away from the church that had been my wife’s spiritual home for over thirty years. Imagine that! It was not an easy thing to do. However, we realized in the end that we could not remain in an environment that had, for the most part, turned toxic. {Is It Time To Leave Your Church?}

And for him it was not as such a matter of teachings, though people should better think more about what their church teaches and what is really written in the Bible. But when they come to see there is something not right or not conform of what is written in the Bible, lots of people do not dare to step away from their church … though they better should.

Dan Foster gives eight questions one should pose:

  1. Does your church use guilt, shame, or fear to motivate you?
  2. Does the church act like it has a monopoly on the truth?
  3. Does the church speak at you or listen to you?
  4. Does the church discourage you from asking questions?
  5. Does the church try to isolate you from your non-believing friends?
  6. Does the church preference certain kinds of people over others?
  7. Does the church care most about maintaining the system?
  8. Does the church berate other people who have left?

Strangely enough he forgets the 2 most important questions:

  1. Does the teaching of your church follows the teachings of Jesus Christ?
  2. Does your church worship the same God as Christ?

Because in Christianity we find lots of churches where there is worshipped another God than the God of Christ. That God of that Nazarene master teacher is a singular eternal Spirit Being. In such churches often there exist the idea that only clerics (priest or ministers) can bring and explain the Word of God.

Foster warns people

Often in churches, the pastor, priest, or minister does our spiritual homework for us. We come to rely on them to read, interpret and deliver the word of God to us in a form that is both palatable and entertaining each week. They do this with varying degrees of success.

However, if Christ came to be the one and only mediator between God and us, enabling us to have complete, unfettered access to the divine, then that ought to change the pastor-parishioner relationship from that of teacher-student to one where both parties have equal access to the revelation of God. {Is It Time To Leave Your Church?}

Each person can learn from reading the Scriptures and can help others to read it as well. As such a church should promote dialogue and joint learning. For centuries dialogue was already gone in the Catholic churches, but for several decades it has also dispeared in many protestant churches.

In several churches the leaders do not want to hear questions and tell their flock when they have such difficult questions their faith is weak.

If your pastor bristles when you ask him a difficult question, that ought to set off alarm bells. Mention that you support gay marriage and observe the reaction. Suggest that the earth might not be only 6000 years old and see what kind of reception you get.

Some churches have convinced themselves that discussing difficult questions like these is unhealthy. It is almost as if they worry that their faith will fade away when exposed to the light. If it’s tested, it may just shatter.

The reality is that if our faith is that fragile, it probably was never true. If our God is so easily defeated, he is probably not really the true God. Whether we have built castles of doctrine on flimsy foundations or have metaphorically curled ourselves up into a ball around the fundamentals of the gospel, avoiding the tough questions will never lead to any real answers.

So, if you find that your church shuts down, shames or freezes out people who ask tough questions and openly verbalize their reasonably held doubts, then you are not in a place that fosters and promotes the thinking that is needed for growth. {Is It Time To Leave Your Church?}

1 Comment

Filed under Lifestyle, Religious affairs, Welfare matters

One response to “Leaving (the) Church

  1. Pingback: Discouraged from asking questions | From guestwriters

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