Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore Revisited

I got this desperate plea to a recent blog about a conversation with someone on my article Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore.

Why is it when I consider really speaking to my current pastor about this whole idea that is totally in my heart…I cant??? He will NOT understand it. There are so many things that are just WRONG with the old way and so many possibilities of really LIVING for Christ are limitless. I am excited to begin to BREATHE and LIVE the life. I was just called into the pastor’s office because he was concerned with my “absences” from attending in the last few weeks. I just cant bring myself to sit and listen to the elementary oatmeal. Hubby is not sure if we really should LEAVE. If I stay there I will “die”. If he decides that I “leave” and he “stays” then I will not have time or energy to do both. I just don’t know how to tell the pastor that I am seeing God moving in a direction OTHER than the institutional church and there are places in my heart that are screaming YES! THIS IS WHAT IS SIGNED UP FOR when I knelt at the cross and became a Christian—not pew sitting and routine! Any advice?

MaryAnn, my heart goes out to you. I know you’re in a tough spot and I don’t have near the details or firsthand knowledge to know how to advise you specifically, but I can give you some things to think through:

  • God wouldn’t put this passion on your heart and let you see what you see if he did not have a way to lead you through this to greater freedom. Get alone somewhere and lay it all at his feet. Ask him to show you what to do and when to do it and watch him make it clear to you as situations unfold. Don’t look for others to tell you what to do, but for him to lead you step by step.

  • The reason we often aren’t honest with people is because we’re afraid—of their reaction, of the consequences, or the position they hold in our lives. This isn’t easy, but Paul said the only way we will grow up as the body is to speak the truth lovingly to each other. The reason people keep doing the stupid things they do in God’s name is because people are afraid to speak out and usually only do so when the anger builds up enough that they have no choice. This rarely yields the fruit of the kingdom. Better to do it when love for the person overcomes our fear, rather than our anger at feeling trapped. It’s amazing what being honest with our hearts will do to put us on paths we never considered before and even limit our options so we can more clearly follow Jesus. The path to follow him is often painful. He warned us it would be and that some of our closest friends wouldn’t understand. But the freedom to be true to ourselves and what he is doing in us is one of the greatest freedoms he offers.

  • I applaud your desire to walk with your husband through this. Keep talking and praying and see what God does to make your hearts one. Don’t push him, but also let him know that this is a critical issue going on in your life and you’re hopeful that you will be able to find a way through this together. Too many spouses end up on different journeys here because they don’t know how to invite the other along without manipulating them. You do want to go together as much as you both are able through these things and even stay where he is a bit longer until God makes it clear as well. There is grace for these things.

  • I know you see these issues of church life as black and white. I do too! But when I talk about them with others who don’t see what I see, that kind of language puts them on the defensive and closes the door to effective communication. Even about things I’m most certain about I’ll say something like, “I know I could be nuts here, but this is what I think Jesus is asking me to do;” or “I’m feeling called to something a bit different here.” That way they get to listen to what I’m saying and consider it without feeling that I’ve taken a superior position and judging them. Only in very rare instances of God’s direct leading, will I make a definitive statement of right and wrong because in the end I know that hardens more hearts than it softens. I don’t want to harden any hearts God isn’t hardening. I know people can’t see the incredible freedom that Christ has made available to us until they see it. I can live it, without making them do so as well, or feeling judged by my actions.

I don’t know if that helps, Mary Ann, but I know God is big enough to sort these things out in you and lead you in his path. And to that end you have my prayers.

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14 Comments
  1. maryann November 27, 2004 at 11:06 am

    wow! you blogged just for me!

    thank you..that is alot of wisdom.

    it is an incredibly BIG journey that is taken step by step. I know I have come a FAR way in a short amount of time in coming to this truth…i think my husband is "with" me on this, its just I have done lots of reading and online research and spent lots of time talking with my friends who are also seeing this new turn of where God is leading.

    The possiblities are endless.

    Servant Evangelism thrills me! Small Group involvement delights me! Getting out THERE and "doin the stuff" is utterly fantastic!

    Thank you Wayne for blogging just for me!

  2. Wayne November 27, 2004 at 11:52 am

    MaryAnn,

    After I wrote this blog I was reading Ephesians 6 in THE MESSAGE. Paul wrote, " And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time."

    A great prayer for us all, no?

    Wayne

  3. maryann November 27, 2004 at 2:06 pm

    wow! you blogged just for me!

    thank you..that is alot of wisdom.

    it is an incredibly BIG journey that is taken step by step. I know I have come a FAR way in a short amount of time in coming to this truth…i think my husband is "with" me on this, its just I have done lots of reading and online research and spent lots of time talking with my friends who are also seeing this new turn of where God is leading.

    The possiblities are endless.

    Servant Evangelism thrills me! Small Group involvement delights me! Getting out THERE and "doin the stuff" is utterly fantastic!

    Thank you Wayne for blogging just for me!

  4. Wayne November 27, 2004 at 2:52 pm

    MaryAnn,

    After I wrote this blog I was reading Ephesians 6 in THE MESSAGE. Paul wrote, " And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time."

    A great prayer for us all, no?

    Wayne

  5. maryann November 28, 2004 at 7:15 pm

    yes..

    its that courage and discernment.

    thank you so much.

    all this blogging…I finally took the leap too!

    maybe i can put all these questions and things I think about down and get them out of my head….

    thanks Wayne for your encouragement.

  6. maryann November 28, 2004 at 10:15 pm

    yes..

    its that courage and discernment.

    thank you so much.

    all this blogging…I finally took the leap too!

    maybe i can put all these questions and things I think about down and get them out of my head….

    thanks Wayne for your encouragement.

  7. Kent December 3, 2004 at 6:47 pm

    Mary Ann it is very freeing and helpful when we find a place to talk about these things going on inside us. My prayer for you is that you and your husband find the simplicity in following Christ in this awsome journey that will truely produce a freedom that can not be denied. Wayne is so right about the road ahead being difficult at times. You will be misunderstood and it can be very painful. I know all of this first hand. I can also say that through it all when asked to explain why I have gone this way the first thing that always comes out is IT IS FOR FREEDOM. It is also in those moments, several years into this journey, the reality of the freedom I feel is so apparent. I’m no longer afraid or really concerned about their disapproval or as a matter of fact, even their approval.

    kent

  8. Kent December 3, 2004 at 9:47 pm

    Mary Ann it is very freeing and helpful when we find a place to talk about these things going on inside us. My prayer for you is that you and your husband find the simplicity in following Christ in this awsome journey that will truely produce a freedom that can not be denied. Wayne is so right about the road ahead being difficult at times. You will be misunderstood and it can be very painful. I know all of this first hand. I can also say that through it all when asked to explain why I have gone this way the first thing that always comes out is IT IS FOR FREEDOM. It is also in those moments, several years into this journey, the reality of the freedom I feel is so apparent. I’m no longer afraid or really concerned about their disapproval or as a matter of fact, even their approval.

    kent

  9. Steve December 4, 2004 at 6:54 am

    Maryann,

    I understand your surprise when Wyane responded directly to your blog. I felt that way too when he began communicating with me by e-mail a while back. But doesn’t that show what a poor perception we have of Christian leaders and of ourselves. Wayne has a heart that is more concerned with peoples lives than with accomplishing things. I think that Fathers most effective ministers understand that to minister is to serve those who have needs. In a sense we are all called to minister to one another. Frequently we have been accustomed to seeing ourselves, laypeople, as inferior, maybe not even worthy of the time of those busy with Father’s business. Even the disciples thought this way, But Father is just as interested and concerned with the issues of your heart as He is any other human being regardless of their place in the body of Christ. He also cares just as much for your husband. One more thing. I don’t think that you will die whether or not you worship traditionally or in a more relational way. I just simply believe that Father loves you way too much to permit that from happening. Your live is in Him apart from ANYTHING else. The future will produce many troubles but He will carry you through them all. I pray that you will not be manipulated by the opinions of others and that you will be gracious enough to not manipulate them. God bless you.

  10. Steve December 4, 2004 at 9:54 am

    Maryann,

    I understand your surprise when Wyane responded directly to your blog. I felt that way too when he began communicating with me by e-mail a while back. But doesn’t that show what a poor perception we have of Christian leaders and of ourselves. Wayne has a heart that is more concerned with peoples lives than with accomplishing things. I think that Fathers most effective ministers understand that to minister is to serve those who have needs. In a sense we are all called to minister to one another. Frequently we have been accustomed to seeing ourselves, laypeople, as inferior, maybe not even worthy of the time of those busy with Father’s business. Even the disciples thought this way, But Father is just as interested and concerned with the issues of your heart as He is any other human being regardless of their place in the body of Christ. He also cares just as much for your husband. One more thing. I don’t think that you will die whether or not you worship traditionally or in a more relational way. I just simply believe that Father loves you way too much to permit that from happening. Your live is in Him apart from ANYTHING else. The future will produce many troubles but He will carry you through them all. I pray that you will not be manipulated by the opinions of others and that you will be gracious enough to not manipulate them. God bless you.

  11. denny December 12, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    We have been a part of a fantastic fellowship for 30 years, but it just came apart at the seams last spring. We couldn’t take the questions and frustrations of trying to move in a new direction that the new pastor was taking. After months of hurts, anger and frustration, we "left". We still want to get together with old friends that have left also. Any suggestions on staying in fellowship without going back to the "church"

  12. denny December 12, 2004 at 6:45 pm

    We have been a part of a fantastic fellowship for 30 years, but it just came apart at the seams last spring. We couldn’t take the questions and frustrations of trying to move in a new direction that the new pastor was taking. After months of hurts, anger and frustration, we "left". We still want to get together with old friends that have left also. Any suggestions on staying in fellowship without going back to the "church"

  13. Wayne December 13, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    Hi Denny,

    I’d encourage you to stay in touch with any of your friends that were friends. If friendships end just because we don’t hang out in the same place on Sunday mornings, then they weren’t really friendships to begin with.

    As far as staying in fellowship, you might want to read the December 2004 BodyLife article on The Church That Jesus Builds. That may be of some help. If there are a number of people who would like to sort some of this out together, especially the where-is-God, what-went-wrong, or where-to-from-here questions, it might be helpful to have someone come in for a weekend to help you process some of this who has been through it and who has no program to sell you on…

  14. Wayne December 13, 2004 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Denny,

    I’d encourage you to stay in touch with any of your friends that were friends. If friendships end just because we don’t hang out in the same place on Sunday mornings, then they weren’t really friendships to begin with.

    As far as staying in fellowship, you might want to read the December 2004 BodyLife article on The Church That Jesus Builds. That may be of some help. If there are a number of people who would like to sort some of this out together, especially the where-is-God, what-went-wrong, or where-to-from-here questions, it might be helpful to have someone come in for a weekend to help you process some of this who has been through it and who has no program to sell you on…

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