Monday, March 26, 2012

A response to Rachel Evans "15 Reasons Why I left the church" Part II

This is a continuation on Rachel Evans' blogpost "15 Reasons Why I left the Church."

While I don't think there is any reason to abandon the church altogether, local churches have much to learn from her reasons for leaving. I'm thankful for her honesty and specificity. There is much to learn from her.

Here are Reasons 6-10, and my takes on them.

6. I left the church because sometimes I doubt, and church can be the worst place to doubt. 

Isn't that a sad thing? The church can sometimes be the worst place to doubt, but it really shouldn't. In fact it should be the opposite. Doubt in community, don't doubt alone. Doubt your doubts, but doubt your doubts with others. Never alone. Doubts don't look so scary in community. And if we're all honest with one another, we have varying degrees of doubt. Little known Jude 21 even reminds us, "And have mercy on those who doubt..."  We probably need to do a better job of not freaking out when people say, "I don't know if I believe _______ or believe at all." Christians will people outside the church not freaked out about that. So let's relax. God isn't too busy to deal with all of our doubts. He's not scared of them and we shouldn't be either.
7. I left the church because I didn’t want to be anyone’s “project.” 

Some folks are sensitive to being projects. I was exposed to this in college, when some lass found out that others were "targeting" her. She wrote about it in the campus newspaper. I'm not sure if she was/is a believer or not. I had no problem with people intentionally discipling or evangelizing me. But I know both unbelievers as well as believers can be sensitive toward this.

I think this is all in mentality. We have to be intentional in evangelizing, discipling, and mentoring. Whether it's someone else saying, "Go and disciple so and so" or me deciding "I need to disciple so and so," there's always going to some intentionality. I don't know how you follow the Great Commission without intentionality. You can't make disciples without making a disciple out of this person or that person.

However to me (and I don't know what "project" means to her-maybe I'll ask her!) it's often in the intent. When it comes to outreach, the goal is to really develop friendships that are gospel centered (moving towards the gospel). However, if that person never becomes a Christian, I have still gained a friend.

I have a feeling that becoming someone's project perhaps means the expectation that the person becomes like you or becomes like X with this and that quality.

But we all need discipleship in some sort of community. Many people are content hiding on Sundays. That can't be the case.

8. I left the church because it was often assumed that everyone in the congregation voted for Republicans.

You don't have to vote Republican to be a Christians. You don't have to vote Democrat either. Some denominations or congregations have de facto candidates. We have to vote our conscience. I'm in a primarily Republican congregation. I haven't asked everyone, but I've listened to them talk. They're Republican. There's an assumption that I always think like they do. I don't always. But that's OK. That's just part of living in community. Church members however should make sure that there is no church "party line." And in conversation, it's probably wise to makes sure you know AND respect the politics of another before assuming them. That can be a bit unloving, and reinforce "you must vote this way" mentality even if you don't explicitly say it. In the end, both sides have to bear with one another in love. If you're a Democrat or Republican and feel alone, please don't leave. Then you close the door for a more diverse congregation in the future.
9. I left the church because I felt like I was the only one troubled by stories of violence and misogyny and genocide found in the Bible, and I was tired of people telling me not to worry about it because “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”

It's OK to be troubled by violence. We should. If the violence in the OT doesn't make us do a double-take, we may be de-sensitized. But there are good resources and answers to questions like these. We should not be afraid to ever answer with "God's ways are higher than our ways." But I would probably put our answers in this order: 1.) I don't know, but here may be some good resources on _____ 2.) I personally don't know why, and it's hard..... 3.) God's Ways are Higher than our ways.

 10. I left the church because of my own selfishness and pride.

I love this one. Honest. Some people are "driven" from the church. Many are not. Many just leave because of these two reasons. The preacher didn't do _____. The music was not contemporary or too contemporary....Most of the time its just these two things: selfishness and pride. A desire had become elevated to the level of a "need," and it wasn't met. As a result, it OBVIOUSLY made the person become angry. That's what happens when desires are elevated to the level of needs. 

This is a gal who recognizes that she plays a part. I can work with that. Most churches can work with that. If more folks would recognize how much pride and selfishness they bring to the local church the SECOND they step in the door, we'd see fewer people leaving. And we'd see fewer "reasons" for them to leave. Remember the Seinfeld break-up line, "It's not you it's me." Before you break-up with the church, remember this line, and that may stop your break-up.

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