I Love the Church. I Hate the Church

by Sarah Markley


Last night I Facebook stalked someone we went to church with long, long ago.

“Did you know the Smiths* just sent their daughter to Holy Spirit Supernatural Gifts Camp* this summer.” I asked Chad. We were lying in bed after the kids had retired to their room, summer twilight still seeping through the shades. We were all beat.

I raced through my phone, this woman’s posts read like an anathema against everything from gay marriage to Obama’s “plan” and a manifesto for all things American and “biblical.” Plus she was bragging about sending her kid to some fringe Christian camp for a week that no doubt forced kids to speak in tongues and perform healing miracles.

He looked over at me. “I don’t know Sarah. All the crazy Pentecostal stuff just seems so odd to me now. I just can’t do it anymore.”

And he says that because we’ve lived among not just the normal signs gifts church-goers, but also the people that send their kids to Holy Ghost summer camps and force people to speak in tongues. And we’ve lived among equally as abusive church situations no where near the Pentecostal side. Church hurt and abuse happens everywhere, Pentecostal or not, Catholic or Baptist, Episcopal or Presbyterian.

Manipulation. Coercion. Verbal abuse. Shepherding. And worse.

I have a collection of stories from my growing up years, and if you were to sit down with my husband and a glass of single malt, he’ll tell you  his stories too.

We’ve all been wounded by the church. God’s church.

God’s beautiful church.

Most of us have a story or two (or maybe we have a hundred) where somebody or some people or some group in the church takes a low blow at us, our hearts, our trust or our innocence.

We have choices to make: we can walk away. Or we don’t.

And because we’ve chosen to stick with church, I feel like I live in No-Man’s-Land.

So many people, I feel, are drawing lines and taking sides. It’s “okay” to either hate the church or to never see any fault at all with the church. I feel like I live in a place somewhere in the middle. Somewhere in a no-man’s land where I love the community of God’s people but I also know that at times it can be like navigating a minefield.

I love the church. I love the music and the gatherings and the food and the children. I love the at least once a week get-togethers and the love and life shared with the old and the young. I love being able to give back to families by loving their children and I love the public forum and the different personalities and the pastors and the friendships. I love the serve-days and the youth group bowling nights. I love the beauty of the bread and the cup and simplicity of coming to Jesus in front of an altar.

But I also hate the church. I hate the commercialism and the tie-a-bow-on-it mentality. I hate the way people can’t be honest with struggle and hide behind the I’m-Okays and the Don’t-Worry-About-Mes. I hate that the church is a breeding ground for manipulation and abuse and I hate that the church so often over-works it’s leaders in the name of Jesus. I hate the way the people beside whom you have served for so long can, on the turn of a dime, become an enemy. I hate they way that some preachers twist Jesus’ words to say what they think he said.

I love and I hate the church. Thus the no-man’s land.

Let me suggest this: that we all begin moving more toward the middle. If we land on closer to the love side, let us keep our eyes more open toward the ways in which the church needs some serious triage. She needs change and tolerance and more love. So much more love. And if we land closer to the hate side, let us open our hearts to see the immeasurable beauty in what Christ has rescued with His blood.

And maybe I need to stop the Facebook stalking and recognize that everyone, even our old church friends, has their own story filled with perhaps their own hurts and that they need just as much grace as I do.

Where do you fall? Do you love the church? Hate it? Are you somewhere in the middle? 

55 Responses to “I Love the Church. I Hate the Church”

  1. Christina July 10, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    Sarah…Yes we have all been wounded by the church but also healed by it. I heard an awesome sermon by Matt Chandler the other day titled What is the Church? Will post the link here when I’m at my pc. Thanks for your honesty…a friend and I were discussing this very issue the other day

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      thank you so much Christina!!

  2. Christina July 10, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Hmmm, my first commment disappeared…may have something to do with the phone I’m still getting used to. Anyway, heard an awesome sermon by Matt Chandler the other day title “What is the Church”..here is a quote from it and the link to the podcast follows “Be quick to extend grace to those who harm you and forgiveness to those who harmed you in the local gathering of the saints, because there are babies present, and there are a lot of babies who can shave. Spiritual babies can be 50 or 60 years old. Spiritual babies…hear me…can have a church background that goes back two decades or three decades. Spiritual maturity has little to do with length of time doing religiously rote things that don’t stir affection or build relationship with Christ.” Matt Chandler from this sermon: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/what-is-the-church/

  3. Christina July 10, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Oh, my first comment is showing up now:)

  4. Lisa July 10, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    THIS speaks directly to the core of deep concern and distress that I feel about the church. Extreme hate based ranting or blatant disinterest in humanity’s struggles beyond the church doors. Neither position mirrors Jesus’ example. I applaud your intent to dialog about the faults within as opposed to singularly pointing fingers at forces outside of the church.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      yes. i agree. thank you lisa. =)

  5. Lore Ferguson July 10, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Love this!

    I was JUST going to comment about the series Matt is doing right now at my church, but I see the commenter above beat me to it =)

    I have the same story as you, Sarah, so much banging around in me about the Church. It’s exhausting. My church does video testimonies every few weeks and they’re not full of beautiful people with perfect things to say, but broken people with beautiful stories. They asked me to do a testimony for the end of “What is a Covenant?” in the series Matt’s teaching right now ON the church. At first, I’ll be honest, I was like, “Me? Are you sure you want me? I’m still pretty banged up inside.” But it’s healing to be able to say the Church isn’t perfect, but Christ’s righteousness is what endears us to the Father. There’s something really liberating about that. Anyway. I’d encourage you (or anyone) to give The Dearest Place series a listen. It’s been deeply encouraging for our church to just clear away some of the clutter of church and see it more as Christ sees it.

    Love you girl!

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      ooh. clearing away the clutter. well said, lore

      • Christina July 11, 2013 at 8:10 am #

        Matt and Tullian Tchividjian’s sermons are changing my life. Sarah…just love this “I hate the way people can’t be honest with struggle and hide behind the I’m-Okays and the Don’t-Worry-About-Mes.” For so long I thought something was seriously wrong with me because it seemed like everyone had it so together. Love love love your honesty!

  6. Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    It took me years to get over my Baptist upbringing. So many wonderful memories of the people and relationships built, but THE RULES. O.M.G. I still remember the first time we had our quarterly “Lord’s Supper” after I started my relationship with Christ at age 6 or 7. The deacon serving refused to let me have communion because he hadn’t seen me “walk down the aisle.” He also said since I hadn’t been baptized and wasn’t officially a member of the BAPTIST church I couldn’t have communion. I snuck back in the sanctuary after the service and took communion by myself. In my own way. Just me and the Lord. It was beautiful. No one knew about that until right now. I knew something was wrong with so many rules at age 6. I still have problems going to church with my parents when I’m visiting them. Because I’m not BAPTIST I can’t have communion? Please show me that in the Bible. Praying that they’ll someday get it.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      what a story Jackie. I can’t imagine a deacon refusing a child communion. it breaks my heart. it reminds me of the disciples rebuking the children when they came to jesus. wow. thank you so much for sharing this.

  7. Chad Harms July 10, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I completely understand where you are coming from in this post. However, I think we do a disservice to the Kingdom when we use the word “hate” in regards to the church which is the bride, temple, body, and family of Jesus (www.CreeksideBibleChurch.org/churchas). It seems that what you actually hate is the evil that sometimes exists in the church. I hate spiders, but I don’t hate the trees in my backyard in which they often make their home. The church has far too often allowed itself to be the home of evil, but despite this we ought not direct our hate at Jesus’s bride.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      I don’t know, Chad. I hear what you are saying, and I won’t retract my use of the word hate. I believe that our relationship with the church is a convoluted one at best, at least for some of us. And I don’t believe I’m dishonoring the bride by saying that. I’m speaking with honesty.

      and to be honest further, i think i’m saying what a lot of people are both saying and thinking. but this post is a call to grace on both sides. hoping you see that.

      thank you for your comment. =)

      • Shaunie Friday July 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

        I completely agree with you, Sarah. I share your ambivalence for what the “church” has too often become, and I have, and continue to, experience both the love and the hate ends of the spectrum. It’s not the Bride of Christ we hate, but some of the hardest, ugliest, most painful episodes in our lives have occurred in the “church.” And I’m not talking about the really off-the-charts, aberrant kind of evil some people have experienced; I’m talking about the stuff that seems to happen by degrees in every church everywhere. I have often said that, for me, the most difficult requirement God makes of me is to stay in the community of the church. It would be so much easier to worship God in the tiny community of my own family and to avoid the naysayers, the music police, the pious, and the proudly humble. Bleh. It is a miracle of epic proportions that my children still love to worship God with their musical talents–many, many church experiences could and should have snuffed it right out of them. But God! Somehow, in spite of us, God still shows up, and that is the only way I can accurately say that I love the church. I love it because He is there–I could love it even more if we would get out of each other’s way so all we could see is Him.

        • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

          yes. i love this Shaunie!! thank you!

        • Chad Harms July 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

          Well stated Shaunie!

      • Chad Harms July 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

        Sarah, let me state more clearly that I agree with your overall point. It appears that almost anyone who has been dedicated to the church has been hurt or disappointed by it. We are on the same page there.

        I’ll stand by the fact I think it does a disservice to the church when we talk of hating it. Augustine famously said, “The church is a [prostitute], but she is my mother.” I hate the prostitution of the church, but shan’t hate my mother. Instead, I love her unconditionally.

        I don’t often comment on blogs, but think I have felt the need here because of the wide-spread slander of the church in our country today. My generation (I’m 30) has made it a habit to point to the failures of the church and Christians have taken up this cause without much thought. For the most part I find myself agreeing with much of the criticism that is pointed towards by mother, but it worries me when we (Christians) make statements about her without considering the veracity and ramifications of our words. When Christians hate their mother does it make others less likely to accept the gift of adoption offered by Our Father? I’m not sure, but I think it is something we must consider.

        Thank you for writing and responding to my first comment. I do think we will all be better for the dialogue!

    • Suzanne July 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      Well said Chad. :-)

  8. Olivia Brant July 10, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Yes, yes, yes! I love how you articulated this! My husband and I also have a church abuse story. And I have such a hard time with the commercial perfection and the forced ‘moves of the Holy Spirit’. My husband has completely turned away and is now an agnostic. I am more sure than I ever was before how much I need Jesus. Not church. Not works. Not perfection or a self help program. Just Jesus. And although I love my church home and am so thankful for my church family, I am a Jesus follower, not a poster child for a denomination’s or a man’s agenda or ministry.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      thank you olivia! i appreciate your perspective. =)

  9. Karisa July 10, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    I always look forward to reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing. Please don’t ever stop. God has used your story of healing and redemption to heal my bitter heart. Your articles always pop into my email right when I need to read them.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      ha! that’s awesome! thank you karisa!! =)

  10. Lindsey Sampson July 10, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    This is an amazing article – I have been thinking about this and just wrote an article about it on my blog (It’s super new. Just barely getting my feet wet in the blogging world.) http://moreawesomer.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/how-do-i-reach-these-keeeeds/. I haven’t experienced abuse by the church, but as a millennial I have felt a bit of spiritual neglect. God’s people are looking for real faith, deep faith, and sometimes the church looks over that need in favor of traditions and commercialism.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      hmm… very insightful Lindsey. neglect. that’s rough and so true. I can see that. yes.

      and welcome to the blogging world! =)

  11. Laura Krämer July 10, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Well said Sarah. All of it.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      thanks Laura!! =)

  12. Jessie July 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    So good, Sarah. Thank you. I have had generally very positive experiences with the church but there are many times when going to church causes me (and many others, I’d imagine) anxiety. I so appreciate your honesty and have enjoyed reading your beautiful writing here and on your blog in the last few years!

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      yes. i understand that jessie! so well. thank you so much for your honesty!

  13. Suzanne July 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    I’ve been so mad on certain Sundays throughout my entire Christian journey that I’ve stormed out the church doors vowing never to go back. Yet when I do that I always run into the same problems. I miss the music, I miss singing, I miss public prayer, group bible study, and it’s the only place I know to go where I can meet and befriend fellow believers. I would be lost without God’s house.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      yes. i am right there with you. there have been sundays i sat in the car in the parking lot.

  14. Mel @ Trailing After God July 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I agree. The church abuse has to be the hardest thing because it rips relationships apart and is completely heartbreaking and devastating. If it’s an abuse case, I’d leave that church and pray for those who are abusing and those who remain who can’t see it (BTDT). We’re all such broken vessels but why does it often seem those very broken and controlling people manage to get themselves into positions where they are in leadership? That is so frustrating. People are the same though, you could be part of the PTA and still deal with a lot of the same issues, those difficult people issues. It’s harder in church where we are “supposed” to be loving, grace-filled, and kind to each other…

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      so true. people are people are people. everywhere.

  15. Carol LeCompte July 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Your post has obviously touched a tender place that exists for many of us. Years ago, I came across this quote from one of the desert fathers. Timeless. Thank you for your vulnerability.

    How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you!
    And where should I go? You have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, though not completely…
    -Carlo Carretto

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      i love this so much. i wish i had had this before i wrote this!!

  16. Susie Klein July 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    I guess the “No man’s Land” isn’t really full of no one because you will find a whole lot of us out here, wondering and wandering. After 20+ yrs fulltime ministry I have now been home very sunday for the last 2 yrs. Still shocks me to realize this. I LOVE the social, sweet, relationship part of church and that is what I miss. Not sure what is next for me, but have learned that God is still right HERE in me, with me, even when I do not have a church to attend for now. That’s a beautiful lesson to catch.

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      oh yes! i guess it isn’t really no mans land if we are there together =)

  17. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect July 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Sarah, one of the things I love and respect most about you is your honesty – and this post is a prime example of that. Thank you for sharing here. I actually think a lot of us fall in the same no-man’s land that you describe. I know I do. And so does my husband.

    One of the other commenters mentioned that the Church that has hurt so many has healed as many or more. And I’m thankful that’s a large part of my story. After being so dreadfully hurt by the Church, we’ve been healed in so many ways – so much so that it’s moved me toward forgiveness and peace about the things and people that hurt us in the first place. God does mighty, amazing, grace-full work despite and through His Church!

    • Sarah Markley July 10, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

      love you girl =)

  18. Greg July 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Iv’e tried to find the middle for all 40 yrs Iv’e followed the Lord. Getting saved off the street as a 17 yr old kid, I guess my radar intuitively steered me away from the several ‘leaders’ of churches I visited. Reminded me of teachers in school. By Godcident, I fell in with a bunch of other kids who were also uncomfortable with hamster wheel church, and we hung out together in close fellowship for 30 yrs. There’s a lot of ground to move around in if your in the middle. There were no maps, leaders or creeds, until recently, as many leaving the churches have begun to regroup, rename and regain control of Gods people.
    Its always about control isn’t it?
    Anyway, even house churches can become hamster wheels, or prisons of abuse and neglect. We had to leave our beautiful fellowship 13 yrs ago in order to protect our 4 kids from being gradually anesthetized to feeling Jesus pulse in the other members of our fellowship. Even my own mother, sisters and their families have fallen under the spell of ‘leaders’ who have emerged to save us from dangerous doctrines and wolves.
    The cure has been much worse than the feared disease.
    Today, we grasp fellowship from anywhere we can, across a wide landscape of believers who love the Lord, by loving people in word and deed. My kids 25,21,18 & 14 all have open hearts, un-judgmental minds and love the truth as it is in Jesus.
    It occurred to me recently that the Achilles heel of churchianty is the pastor system, which is upheld by a cabal of bible colleges churning out ‘leaders’ for hire.
    For our kids sake, we should vigorously condemn this Pope-ish style pedagogy and demand that all leaders must grow up and emerge from within our local churches?
    The secret sins and hidden weakness of leaders is tearing the church apart from within, and destroying our testimony without.
    But if we adults won’t take this bull by the horns, the next generation of kids will, by abandoning us altogether, for a more digital, and egalitarian relationship.
    Kudos to you for risking loving honesty among God precious people.
    I think all that’s needed to get a general admission about our sad condition is for a few mouthy prophets to collectively call for a showdown in the street at noon. (probably came up with that cuz we just watched The Lone Ranger)
    Not everyone will abandon their temples of comfort and ease, but I think many will when they come to see that our traditions and idols have kept us from experiencing life in the land flowing with milk and honey.

  19. Sarah Eccles July 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Ah! the dreaded subject or should I say the love hate relationship of the church. I loved church for a long time, I never grew up in a church and for a while had a hard time fitting in the church for the lack of understanding who I was and where I had come from. Then I found the church wanted to use my testimony but felt like it was a show for the church so I dropped out of Alpha. We really like church in the USA went to one in the South for a while but found them very religious after a while. We finally found one in a small town in the USA where they invited guys from the local prison and my husband and I sat in the middle of the guys incredible poeple and we miss them so much. We do not attend any church here we cannot find the right one so I listen to Life Church TV online. Would love to find that right church again.

  20. Christine Mendoza July 11, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I am someone who has been hurt in the church and as a pastor someone who has probably hurt others. It pains me to think that because of my insecurities while pastoring there may be people who have left God. BUT – I try to make amends and grow closer to God all the time distancing myself from my former “right” self.

    I stay in the Church as a missionary to those who have been hurt. If I hate anything, it’s the format and paradigm we have chosen. Our western methods of presenting God to others is extremely different from what I see Jesus doing in scripture. He empowered all he met. We have chose to empower one to lead and the rest must follow. And yes, as a pastor – I don’t think I agree with that. I am desperately trying to empower all in our church, making us all equal under Jesus. So I chose to stay, trying to dismantle it from within.

    Loved the post – Thank you.

  21. RebeccaTheArtist July 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Thank you. I feel like I have this discussion in my head, with my husband and with those around me. I am desperately trying to function in grace, forgiveness and understanding not just with the world, but with the church as well. I don’t have too many horrific church experiences in my background and for that I am grateful. As I grow up (which I continue to do everyday, hopefully!) though, I have been shocked at what I have seen and heard come out of the mouths of believers, and even things I remember coming out of my own mouth. Thank you.

  22. Geno July 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ll simply say that “church” as we know, see and experience it in our modern-day world is light-years removed from God’s purposes and plans.

    I’m not saying that nothing good is going on anywhere, but that there is so much that’s amiss with “Church”, it’s frightening, but the scriptures foresaw it all.

  23. Mark Allman July 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    I think the church ends up being what family is for me. I hate some things about my family but I love them all the same. I wish I could change some things my family does but I’m sticking with them even if they don’t. The more in depth we know our church and our families the more our love will cover over the multitude of sins. I want myself and other family members to work on being better people and better family members. I want us to love richly; to share sincerely; to judge NOT, to listen with our heart to each others stories. I want us to praise the best in each other and to encourage others in areas of want. I want that in my church too. I want it to be ok to not be my best; I want others to know the dark and the good. I want to be able to be honest without pressure to explain. I want to know and be known but I know that only happens if we trust and are willing to be hurt.

  24. nikkie July 12, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    great post, sarah.

    i see church through the same sort of eyes.

    continually seeking the balance, hoping to keep pressing on in love, remembering that most folks operate from some sort of wounded position, be it from the church or otherwise.

    always nice to hear i’m not alone in the no-man’s land.

  25. Diana Trautwein July 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    What a great conversation this good writing has sparked, Sarah. Thank you. I like the analogy to family that one commenter used – I’ve had to apologize for a whole lotta distant ‘cousins’ who embarrass the heck out of me and I’m sure others have had to apologize for me, too. But church community is home for me, the good the bad and the ugly.

  26. Mary July 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm #


    I love this post. The church I was a member of for 24 years, disowned me when I left my emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive husband.

    I had to start all over, with no friends. Nobody to lean on but God.

  27. Allison Inwards July 30, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    Hi Sarah

    My husband sent your post to me. I am in a position – well actually my family and I are in the position of not attending church now for about 2 years. I recognise the abuse you speak of and have experieced it, as I feel has my husband and to a certain degree my son. I don’t “get it” now. Everything about church feels unreal to me. The singing, the talking, the social time. I honestly think it’s due to a lack of authenticity brought about in part by a resistance of revealing our true selves for fear of rejection. I get that.

    What I struggle with is that while awareness of problems of the nature you describe are increasingly recognised by folk in church, what is or can be done to counter this? Step 1 is clearly just to see the problem – but then what? Confused ….

  28. Andrea July 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    My husband and I were very wronged by the pastor of a church that we had poured our lives in to. At the time, I felt like, “their loss” sort of thing about it. As the years have gone on though, I can see that that was the point where a seed of disappointment and distrust in me.

    7 years later, and many close-up glimpses to the inner workings of now 2 different churches, and I am burnt out.

    I tell my husband pretty regularly these days that I just don’t think I can get over all the church JUNK, and the pure hatred spewed by so many who proudly (disgustingly ) proclaim their “Christianity”.

    I never used to understand people who did “home church”, but I can say now that home church seems a hell of a lot more appealing these days…. No mess. No insanity. No fakeness. No junk. Just real and simple.

  29. Kelly August 8, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    CHURCH! I have a love/hate relationship with it as well. UGH!! I wish I could make it all come together and just make sense. I wish I could go back to the good ole days before we were hurt. I cannot for the life of me now walk into a church and not wonder about the people there, when will they turn on each other or their pastor? I no longer feel safe inside of a church. I feel so much more comfortable and safe around the ones that Christians like to hate on. I get how they feel about us now because I too kinda feel that way about Christians, even though I am one!! I have more questions about church than I do answers. I grew up in church, spent the first 1/2 of my life in an abusive baptist church and the other 1/2 as a pastors wife. Both had it’s good points and bad points. But I do remember sitting on that front pew one Sunday, overhearing members beat up on my husband and I just told God…there has GOT to be a better way to serve you, tell me there is a better way than this!!

  30. Jen August 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    “I hate the way the people beside whom you have served for so long can, on the turn of a dime, become an enemy”

    Yes. That sucks. I’m praying it doesn’t screw me up for life.

  31. Courtney L. August 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Oh! There ARE other people out there in No Man’s Land! I have been struggling with my feelings about our church for awhile now. I’m not completely happy there but afraid to leave out of fear that I will miss it and some of the people there. I have shared my feelings with my husband, but I feel that it would disappoint him if I wanted to make a change. I live in a rural area and there aren’t many churches to choose from… we live right across the street from ours, and right next door to our Pastor & Associate Pastor’s homes, but sometimes I feel like I would be closer to God sitting in my living room, in my pj’s, with a cup of coffee and my bible. (Actually, I DO feel closer to God that way.) I love the opportunities for fellowship with other believers, but aside from that, I feel very disconnected from my church. I don’t like the “rules” and the pressure to conform. I don’t like that it seems to be all about the numbers and how we had 48 in Sunday School this morning but we could be doing better if we would all just invite more people. (I am NOT against sharing God with others and inviting them to church, just saying that there seems to be more of an emphasis on growing the church than on the people who are already there.) Ok, Ok, I’m done complaining… I am just very saddened that my heart doesn’t feel at home at church anymore, and very confused about what to do next.

  32. Amanda September 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    I grew up in a similar church, and I really never questioned any of it until we were on the verge of leaving: the Apostle (no longer called “Pastor”) had received a “timely” message from the Lord about giving financially and doing something you had never done before, by the end of the month, to prove to God something-or-other that I can’t remember. {Being a broke teenager I cross-stitched a Bible verse for our youth pastor–I was keen to point out that going without a pattern and using dark aida cloth was something I had “never done before”} I remember thinking, “I have to tell [my best friend] before it’s too late!” then after a few moments pause realizing how ridiculous and cruel it would be of God to give my church an important message, moreover one that might not make it to “other” churches in time! This was the turning point for me to consider other things such as why you weren’t really worshiping if you didn’t raise your hands, were deceived if you left the church, should be able to speak in tongues after you were baptized, and other practices which are unessential to salvation.

    It’s been a few years now, and I’m continuing to forgive when emotions creep up–as they do when I, too, Facebook stalk or encounter a situation at church which reminds me of something. I am definitely “somewhere in the middle.” I can no longer take a church culture for granted… I question things and try not to question things too much. I recently read a great book: The Core of Christianity by Neil T. Anderson. I really helped me understand and appreciate the diversity among churches, while emphasizing the need to put Christ at the center.

  33. Sandy September 16, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    I have moved alot and attended many different Churches and more than a few different denominations. I have seen the love of Christ among His people and His power and I have seen the sin..the distortions in every group. I have been wounded badly by a few. It made me draw back. It’s not the Lord handing out that kind of wounding and I found myself in good company.. the company of many ..saints, now and in the Spirit all time past. I thought, how awful.. I’m staying out here and proceeded to live along amongst “the world” ..no rules, how refreshing. Some peace..for the moment..and then the Lord showed me the rest . When the world goes after you, it goes after the Spirit of God in you..as Jesus said it would. The Church I learned all those years ago will surely break your heart, guaranteed.. but the world ..wants to take your life, your body and your soul.
    The Fellowship of the saints. One Spirit in prayer against the principalities and powers we are truly fighting against. Draw near to Him. Regain your focus on Him. Walk in that Spirit and watch Him work. Look for wait for listen to His calling for you. Let Him change you and then watch Him change those around you. The Church is not a club, but living stones. There will never be a perfect one until He comes we see Him and become like Him. In fellowship or out, draw near to Him..you will be in good company.

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