I wrote this in response to a very sincere question about why the "faithful" are leaving the church. I posted it anonymously...cuz I am a chicken. I post it here now because I am trying to be braver.
Read it fast because I may take it off in a moment of sanity.
Dear Concerned Pastor,
I am going wayyy out on a limb here to answer you because you said you really want to know.You said it in a way that seemed sweet and honest and I just felt compelled to answer. So here goes.
I am one of the faithful that has chosen not to attend church.
(wait right there…I could put in so many quotation marks it would make your head spin so I am going to try to write this without “…”. )
I am not going to blast you. I think you have a right to your belief and opinion. I just want to tell you briefly (or not) why I no longer go to that place on Sunday that people have taken to calling church. I simply do not believe that the things that happen within that organization are the things that the Lord intended when He spoke of the body and our need for it. I believe that the church exists. I believe that it is the body of Christ. I believe that I am a member of it. I love getting together with believers and talking about God. I also love getting together with unbelievers and talking about God. I love talking to God. I love talking with God. I love it. Every day. Every way. I do not buy any talk about wearing certain clothes…acting with certain reverence…or setting aside special time to be my Lord. (whew…that was really hard to type without quote marks) He is with me. I am with Him. Constantly. He does not care what I am wearing or how I am physically positioned: ie kneeling, standing, bowing, or waving. He does not care what day of the week it is or if I am dedicated enough to be with him before a sturdy breakfast or long-suffering enough to stick with Him even if it means cutting into an even sturdier lunch.
I see the need to be with my family. My church family. I really see the need for that. I want to build relationships. I want to know people on a heart level. What I get in Sunday-go-to-meeting is back of the head relationships. I want to help people in a real way that sees to their daily needs. What I get by giving to the organized church is a real time face lift to the big building fund. I get tired of funding the marble sink ministry. Wow. That even shocks me to see that typed out. Harsh.
I want real fresh bread. The Word given from a heart that has been asking for and rolling around in a current love affair with the Father of creation. What I get are sermons that tell me a million ways that I do not measure up to the God that loves me enough to change me into something better than the way I am. Yet He is the one who made me? ! I know, sin, blah blah blah….I totally get that. Separation…yeah. No. I don’t buy it. I do not go to the thing we like to call church because I found that I would come home every Sunday and spend the afternoon de-toxing my children from the garbage they had stuffed into them about God and how unreachable He really is if we are honest with ourselves about how despicable we really are. Yes I said garbage.
Just to be perfectly clear here…I believe in Jesus. The one and only Son of God. He is the only way. Truth. He is the only way. I cannot get to Heaven on my own. Only by claiming the Truth, His truth, am I set free from the power of sin. Whew! I looove that. Freedom. I breathe it in deep. And I reject the things that “church” as we know it has come to stand for. Namely, pulling yourself together enough to gather once or more a week with other of the self proclaimed worthless faithful to be shepherded by a strict code of pseudo scriptural ethics into a legalistic highway of superiority and right. All this…I reject.
I could write so so so much more. Any little topic here could be batted around for hours. Do I think you are going to hell and leading others there? Probably not. I don’t know you. Who am I to say anyway. Am I going to hell for not being in church every time the doors are open (I used to believe that was the only way to fly.) Am I? Not if Jesus has anything to say about it. Breathe it in. Freedom.
I know this was harsh. I sincerely mean it when I say that I could look you in the eyes and say this to you with love. (even tho I don’t know you) I come from a family of pastors and church-loving-go-every-time-the-doors-open-folks…I love them all. I think they need to do what they think is right. No slamming. They get freedom too.
Aren’t you glad you asked?
ps...Here is a little part two…(don’t be scared)
You point blank asked…so I point blank answered. I realize that because we have no relationship you do not have the benefit of knowing my lifelong history of going to church and my lifelong process of searching for the truth.
I do not have the benefit of knowing you and where you are coming from. I just have a blog entry. And I responded in anonymity. That is not fair to you or your readers.
Ultimately…I stand by my words. But I stand by them in love and acceptance of you and I being in different places. I think the church organization is in a bad place. I think that it needs to be addressed. But it should not necessarily be taken on without the love relationship that comes from walking beside one another. Bless you in your journey for truth.