We haven’t gone to church in a long time.
We didn’t have a lot of choices for English-speaking churches in Germany.
There’s the military base chapel, which is pretty vanilla since they have to cater to a broad audience and abide by military rules.
There are a few charismatic churches that just don’t appeal to us.
There are a few very conservative churches that are legalistic and cliquish.
I don’t want a rock and roll, laser show kind of church and it’s unfortunate that so many rely on these churchtainment distractions to get people through their doors.
We had attended a small general Lutheran congregation for the past year or so. Service began at 8:30 in the morning. Do you realize how hard it is to get everyone up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and out the door to drive 20+ minutes to church by 8:30 AM? We did it though. We went to bed early on Saturday nights in order to get up early for church.
We’re moving back to the States this summer and I don’t have great hopes of finding a church where we’ll fit in.
Before writing this, I researched “Why Should I Attend Church“? Many of the answers were interesting and even shocking to me. I expect the typical “Because the Bible says so” answer, but “Because you’re single and may meet someone” takes the cake.
I expect more.
I won’t lose my salvation. I still love Jesus.
I realize many will think I’m selfish for not dragging my family to church.
I do feel selfish.
We missed Easter. But I don’t like how most churches celebrate Easter.
After many years of trying to discover God in church, I’ve just had enough. I need a break.
I need a break from Christians.
I can worship God – in the forest, at the beach, in a museum, while reading, while cleaning, while cooking, during meals, at the movies, listening to my children.
I am amazed by His creation and by people’s creativity, love, and kindness.
I don’t like church.
I’m a leader. I’m a teacher. I’m a counselor. It’s hard for me to just sit back and be lectured to, read to, talked at…It’s especially hard for me to keep my mouth shut when the pastor, teacher, deacon, elder, leader, board member expresses false doctrine. It’s exhausting holding it all in because it doesn’t seem to ever matter anyway.
As an introvert, I don’t like fellowship time, potlucks, events, programs, meetings, VBS, AWANA, or Wednesday night service. I shouldn’t have to apologize for my personal preferences.
I think too many churches and church leaders allow and perpetuate abuse – of women, children, people of color, others on the fringe of society and the evangelical system.
It’s very unpopular to love Jesus and not attend church.
But I think faith is a private thing between me and God. I shouldn’t have to explain my reasons to anyone.
We stopped going to church for a variety of reasons:
New leadership. The German American pastor moved away to another calling. The American interim pastor and his wife were less than welcoming. They are micromanagers. They are exclusionists.
Sinful behavior. My young son’s teenage Sunday school teacher was in a sexual relationship with his girlfriend and this was apparently well-known and accepted by his and her parents, the homeschool community, and other church members. I was glad when he and his family moved away so I didn’t have to confront anyone. I am not a prude, but I didn’t feel it was appropriate behavior for a teen church leader. I have seen lots of abuse from adult church leaders swept under the rug.
Sunday school. Sunday school wasn’t about Scripture or Christian living. It often took 30 minutes or more to corral people from the coffee and cookies into the three classrooms. There was no curricula. My three daughters’ teacher led inappropriate discussions about astrology and pop culture. The adult class often derailed into discussions better suited to the Discovery Channel or a New Age seminar. Most teachers go either legalistic or extremely liberal, no in-between.
I miss the organ music. I miss singing hymns. I miss the Eucharist. I miss the stained glass window behind the altar.
What we do instead of church:
Read the Bible
I read the Bible with my son and middle daughters most mornings and we have a little discussion about the passage. I write Scripture every day from monthly guides.
We read liturgical selections from Psalms, the Old Testament, and the New Testament, with writings from church fathers every evening with the Pray Now app.
We have lots of books about church history. We love biographies about missionaries, martyrs, church fathers, and other important people impacted by their faith. We usually coincide our readings to our chronological history studies.
Act Out Our Faith
We look for opportunities to act out our faith. We practice kindness, empathy, and love. We learn about our fallen world. We pray. The church isn’t a building. We are the church.
We enjoy God’s creation on nature walks. We are fascinated by the creative plants, insects, and animals that God made just for our use and enjoyment.
Church should be more about discipleship and less about programs and opportunities to socialize.
We as a family came to the decision to take a break from church after many weeks of prayer. I am not encouraging anyone to leave church.
We will seek a new fellowship after we settle into our new home. I seldom enjoy church, but I want my children to have that experience growing up that I never had.
I no longer use the word Christian or evangelical. Those words just mean hate these days.
If you feel led to pray for me, be careful that you are not cursing me nor my decision in your heart. Maybe look at yourself and your church and ask why people don’t feel welcome. You may not agree but you should not judge what you don’t understand. You don’t know my history. You don’t know the long and difficult road it took for me to even love Jesus. You do not not know the blood-like drops of sweat as I prayed over this difficult decision. Do not take Scripture out of context. Do not spew your hate and call it loving admonition.
If you still feel led to pray, then pray this:
Pray for church leaders that they may be more including and welcoming. That they not be vanilla and safe but speak boldly the Truth and social justice and be inclusive of all.
Pray for pastors, Sunday school teachers, elders, deacons, lay leaders, ushers, music directors, worship leaders, pastoral counselors…and whatever other titles of a church leader I may have missed. Pray that they have discernment. Pray they preach and teach Biblical Truth. Pray they are not swayed by the world. Pray they are not tempted by money, fame, media, or other people.
Pray for church fellowships to be loving, kind, welcoming and inclusive, and careful with their words to newcomers and seasoned parishioners.
Pray for the parents who are raising children in this fallen world, trying desperately to navigate these tumultuous waters of postmodernism, sexual and gender revolutions, social media, integrity issues, and political scandals.
Pray for the children who are growing up in this 50 Shades of Grey kind of world, confusing sex and social media likes for Love and Truth. Pray they find godly role models to guide them to Truth and they become world-changers for His Kingdom.
Pray for everyone who was and is abused by church leadership.
Pray for the people of color and indigenous people who are excluded from white evangelical church.
You might also want to read my statement of faith post.
An interesting article: A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches
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