so you don't want to go to church anymore

this is a bit long so make yourself comfy!

I just finished reading this book today, by Jake Colsen.... wow what a book! I have been hungering for something deeper, been unsatisfied with what the "institution" has had to offer, and have been left feeling unfulfilled.

I have grown up in church. We went to one when I was a child that really was a family, we were close and relational and God was moving. It was a great experience. I cherish those memories.... it makes me know that it is possible.

What I have done as an adult is make church...the institution... an idol. I have looked to the church for my answers and my growth...programs for my kids that would help them learn grow and identify as a believer. When it wasn't up to my standards I wouldn't hold back to let anyone know how wrong they were doing things.... even gave suggestions on how to do it better. I have written programs, directed programs and bad mouthed programs. I have sinned in church. I have sinned in my home. Yet for most Sunday's in my life I have put on nice clothes did up my hair and make up and did my best.... which included yelling at my girls to put something on that matches and has NO holes....to get out the door in time for us to take our positions in the pews...all with smiles on our faces but anger and resentment growing in our hearts. It didn't matter if the week had been long and the children overtired....off we went cuz that's what we did and what we believed was right. At times when it was all too much we would "skip" and feel like teenagers skipping out of a boring class. Somehow guilt always crept in when this would occur and so next time we were tired and on the verge of not feeling good I would crack the mother knows best whip...even at my husband and march us all begrudgingly out the door. Had to keep up the appearance!

I think back to one of the churches that I spent most of my youth at and some of my adult married life at.....so much of my time there was proving that I somehow belonged...when all the while I did not. I don't see incredible growth in me when I look back to that time... just resentment and frustrations at unmet expectations. Now this church is going through yet another period of pain and I found myself wondering at it all.... disillusioned and annoyed.

The past year I have been in the depths of suffering I would have thought self inflicted because somehow I fell out of favor with God....thank goodness I met Super Mom and her husband as they walked J and I out of the condemnation we had hovering over us and introduced us to a deeper understanding of the Father we had always hoped was there. We stopped going to church. We tried several....all the while we felt more and more frustrated with the institution. Then we started to realize something....... the less we relied on the church to see us through the more we had to rely on Father. The more we relied on Father the stronger we grew together. The stronger we grew together the more we can see the evidence of Father working everything to good in our lives. Amazing.

We had to leave our parents and our spiritual parents to get through this stage of our journey with our Father. He wanted us to learn to trust in Him. To live in relationship with Him and that that was more important than what anyone else thought.

Now I don't condemn the church or the institution nor would I tell anyone to leave. I would and do say...ask the Father what He wants from you day to day and learn to live in relationship with Him.....everything else will fall into place in it's perfect timing! wow that is a hard one to learn. Even if it takes us to our last breath to learn it He will never stop loving us. He cannot do anything outside of love because He is love.

So will we go back to church? I don't know at this point to be honest, we are thinking about a home church but are not being anxious about it, hard to explain and I am not trying to step on any toes...was I angry?..absolutely ...am I still? no..... I am coming to peace with where I am on my personal journey and where our Father is leading us..... do we need fellowship? absolutely and I have it everyday with my husband, family, those I work with and my dear dear close friends that I can share everything with. When we get together for a coffee... that is fellowship. When we all get together at one of my friends house tonight....that is fellowship. Don't limit your understanding of fellowship to a building....cuz you will most likely find it empty...He is what you are longing for and in Him you will find what you are so hungry for.... He will bring others into your life that will help you in your journey and you will help them in theirs...just live each day in relation to Jesus and you will find that joy even in the suffering. I am.

11 comments:

Nadine said...

I'm glad you no longer walk under condemnation because that is not the Father's heart for us. I pray He will continue to reveal Himself to you daily Lala.

BehavenPaPa said...

coming into a personal relationship with the Father is one of the opportunities we have after accepting Jesus as Lord. Many Christians have spent much time and effort in having a relationship with Jesus but little with their Father. Jesus and the Holy Spirit both direct attention and praise to the Father, not themselves. Due to so many natural fathers leading a family in a religious manner, the children develop the wrong image of God. So it is good to see you have and are getting to know our Father in Heaven.
IN Genesis it is said" While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest,Cold and heat, winter and summer, and Day and night Shall not cease." There is a great deal thru-out the Bible regarding finances and directions about giving. About helping to provide for more than your own. There are tithes and offerings that I believe should not stop (seedtime) in order to have our harvest while we are on the earth. Now if the Father thought it best to not be part of an organized fellowship than He would through the leading of the Holy Spirit direct you in these matters so that you and your would not be without and you would enough to give unto every good work.
Your mom and I can attest to enjoying the harvest - not because God loves us more - but due to the giving (as we purpose in our hearts) - planting seeds (not throwing our seeds) and speaking over our seeds.
So whatever you do, don't shortchange yourselves by not planting and being that part of the body that others lack.
love daddio

Dawn said...

Your dad sounds like a very wise man!

MugwumpMom said...

Amen!! Loved this.
It was wonderful spending time with you this weekend...can't wait till we do it again. Just so you know, I felt a real sense of peace and unity in your home on Friday night...it was tangible and in the air and it was wonderful.
Love you miss you already.

Elle*Bee said...

What an insightful post! I was raised without any religious upbringing other than the idea that we believed in God. What that meant was left up to my sister and me. For 30+ years, I struggled with the whole idea of faith, religion, etc. In fact I had a fairly cynical view of organized religion until I took the time to develop my faith.

Once I realized there was a difference between faith and religion, I was finally able to open my mind and find my 'home.' I was baptized in 2000. Faith is such a personal journey and God will guide each of us children on our own paths regardless of our church affiliation.

MugwumpMom said...

Loved our talks as well...you're so right..as we "fellowship" and speak life into each, we each grow and are encouraged and that's why He said "do not forsake fellowship"...we were "one anothering" one another..encouraging, lifting up, speaking life, and that, indeed, is BEING the church! Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them...I liked BEING the church with you!
Have a great week..praying that you'll be strengthened and encouraged as J comes down here to work.

redheads said...

I think that fellowship is one thing but having a realationship where there is accountablity is another. Yes we need to be encouraged, but we also need to encourage, and to do that we need people to speak into our lives.

I have always been in church starting out catholic and just going because that it what our family did. It was when I came into relationship with Shash that I learned to that I had a spiritual father that wanted more for and from me than I could have ever thought..... yes that came from relationship but also from having Dave speak into our life as well as others in our church. If it wasn't for the people there my husband would not have come to know our Lord and Savior. It may not be the organization but the people in it. I love our church.... that is the people, not the building.

I understand where you are coming from when you mentioned the program aspect and one thing God dealt with me about is that if there is something your missing...see what you can do to add to it and help with it, rather then just complaining about what is wrong. Help find a solution not just be part of the problem.

I also agree with your dad, God does command us to give our tithesand offerings to our local church and I know that when we obey him, He will bless us richly.

I thank God that you have found a better relationship with Him and have been able to deepen your walk. I also pray that you will find a church family that you and your family can grow with.

Shash said...

I love reading books, we have a huge library at home but I always do a bit of research on the author first.

I know someone who knows one of the authors of this book, he wrote another book back in 2001 called, "I don't want to go to church anymore", and during an interview stated that he "probably wrote it out of hurt but only time would tell". This man caused major problems in his church and was viewed by his own close friends as "anti-church" who always blamed the leaders for things.

Just like with music, even if it is a Christian band... if they're not 'living the walk'... than I don't listen to them. As important as the message - is the spirit behind the messenger.

Lala's world said...

I had the neatest time last night at a friends house, she poured out her life story to me, it was amazing and I was able to share God's love to her in return.... that was fellowship...that was church!

Max said...

I'm came across your blog when I googled book reviews for this book. I haven't read it but am intrigued by it. I've grown up in the "church" but have found it hard to deal with as an adult. I can't seem to replicate that feeling of kinship that I felt as a teenager in a thriving youth group in the 80's. I found your post on the book insightful and will probably buy the book. As a sidenote, I just finished "The Shack" by William Young and found it awesome! Highly recommended! Peace and love...


Max

Melody said...

Thanks for your honesty. I grew up in the church...exactly the way you described it, but now I find myself in a season of being perplexed by the "machine" of church, as an organization. I'm longing to hear God's voice in it all, and wondering if I've let offense settle in, or if we've been designed for something different...to BE the church, not be IN a church.

We're finding deeper relationships with people NOT in our own church fellowship...and we find ourselves ministering-on-demand when we're out and about, NOT in the hallways between services. What it all means and how it all plays out, we're trusting God to answer the questions and fill in the blanks.

But in the mean time, thanks again for sharing the reality that MANY of us are struggling with in such a candid way. I love that kind of transparency...and I pray that we'll both lead a revolutionary life that will tranform the world...one relationship at a time!