Monday, June 16, 2014

Leaving "church"

This weekend was lovely.

My brother, who I hadn't seen for two years, was visiting from Arizona. We all met up at my mom's house in Florida. It was good to be with family. We didn't do anything too terribly exciting, we played a board game, watched some television, swam in the pool a bit... it was just togetherness that was so nice. My brother and I were not terribly close growing up, but I really enjoy him now, which is a happy surprise.


He gave me a book, The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. I told him I'd read it and then we could discuss it. I managed to get about 40 pages read on the ride home, but had to start and stop several times because kids.

Speaking of which, I'm down to four for the week. Andrew and Riley are at camp, and Dylan, Josiah and Justice are staying with my mom this week. So I have Libby and the littles. It's messier this way because I don't have the older boys here to do their chores- dishes and laundry and such, but it's also a good deal quieter because there aren't the fights.

I'm tired today.

Trever is working late so he can help fix a friend's vehicle. I have some shrimp lo mein I can heat up for dinner and pizza rolls for the tinies. I'm looking forward to a soak in a hot bath and an early bedtime. Netflix will be my friend this evening.

The week will quickly get busy- tomorrow evening we are sharing Mexican food with our bible study group, Wednesday we have an out-of-town friend coming to visit, Friday we are grilling with friends and playing board games.

Sunday morning we will be sleeping in and then having brunch. We are not going to be attending church services anymore on Sunday mornings. There is so much that goes into that decision and I don't have the energy to write it all out here. Suffice it to say, after trying hard to make it work for a long time, it became clear today that we have reached the end of this leg of the journey. It is time to do something new.

We have been meeting with friends Sunday evenings, we fellowship and have bible discussion and corporate worship there. All our needs are met. We are content with that.

It is very difficult to have a honest discussion about issues within the church without appearing contentious or cynical, and I'm not sure I'm ready to attempt it yet. I will say this: Jesus never taught that we are to agree 100% on every doctrinal issue.

He selected his disciples from all different backgrounds, and I believe this was intentional. I'm sure they had to work through their differences. Jesus united them because of the mission he gave them. I wish we as His followers would keep this focus always at the forefront. To deliberately divide and separate over doctrinal issues is to cause wounds, to amputate limbs from the body of Christ. The body will never function in it's full capacity when this happens, instead it will be left to function as a paraplegic, as a disabled person, perhaps missing some eyesight or suffering hearing loss, when Christ intends us to work together as one healthy, whole, cohesive unit. He paid the ultimate price to make this possible. We are meant to be linking arms with other believers, yes! even from other churches and denominations, and getting to work to meet needs in our communities and spread the love of God far and wide. We can't get near the amount of work done alone as we could if we would work together.

I can't imagine how grieved his daddy heart is to witness his children hating one another, alienating one other, ostracizing one another...

We are liars if we say we love God but don't love our brothers and sisters. That's straight from the Bible. How do we keep missing that? Or worse- we convince ourselves that we ARE loving by refusing to embrace those we disagree with. Sigh.

Healthy leaders welcome questions, encourage discussion, and are quick to seek reconciliation. They sow peace and demonstrate love, they lead by example. They do not lord their position of authority over the people they are meant to serve, instead, they wash feet and pray their guts out. In short, they can say with Paul, follow me as I follow Christ. Good leaders teach themselves out of a job, they do not encourage dependence on themselves and do not stand in between a person and their Lord.

I am deliberately focusing on what comprises a healthy leader, rather than dwelling on all of the unhealthy behaviors I have recently witnessed, and I am intentionally not making this personal by refusing to use names. Nevertheless, I am sure it is possible this will be offensive to some. While that is not my heart, I do not apologize. The scriptures teach that those in teaching positions, those who lead, will be judged by God more strictly than those who do not. Teachers, leaders, pastors, elders... are not above reproach. The scriptures are the highest authority.

I regret to say that the institutional church is filled with false teachers and unhealthy leaders. It is more about money and buildings and statuses than about Spirit filled people living out the gospel in their homes and workplaces and communities. It is no wonder that people avoid religion. I'm also grieved to admit that the church is largely misogynistic. Strong female personalities are discouraged. A woman who has been gifted by God to teach or lead in any capacity is rarely given the ability to do so. Patriarchy is not God's heart for his church. I believe this to the core of my very being.

I suppose Trever and I will simply have to be open to "church" looking differently than we have previously envisioned. For now, pie and coffee and open bibles and uplifted voices singing to God from our friend's living room is working just fine.

And I think I really need to hit my knees, be willing to wash some dirty feet, and pray my guts out.

amy danielle




6 comments:

  1. Aw, Amy. Having recently passed through a similar season myself, can I just offer you a word of compassion?? Even though being outside of the traditional church can be difficult in its own ways, please know that it is not a "bad" place to be. The last thing most Christians need who find themselves in situations like yours is the condemnation that our religious culture tends to heap on them. So please, my friend, keep trusting the process. Nothing shall be wasted. God uses all for good.

    So much love to you.

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    1. Thank you Kelli. Your words are treasured in a quiet place near my heart. xo

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  2. Well said interesting read beautifully put.

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  3. I'm glad you had a nice time in Florida. Yes, the church thing. Tricky.

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