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July 12, 2011

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michelle

Hey Bri-
I go to church now (which is good cause I work there), but when I didn't go for some years it was because I didn't know if I believed God was good-I was angry at everything, especially sentimental Christianity that didn't say anything to the heartbreak of life or promoted deep joy, just nice feelings. Also, I didn't know if there was something real, supernatural happening at church or not- I think my question was "how is this gathering any different from a country club?-is it just a morality club of sorts?"
My dad stopped going to church 20-25 years ago because we had a bad experience with an overly-authoritative and controlling pastor who portrayed following Christ in a demanding, guilt/shame ridden way and expected a lot from those around him, including my Dad who was an elder. Also it was because Colorado Springs has regular examples on the News 5 of Christians being overtly hypocritical or attempting to propel forward the mission of the church in unhelpful and sometimes thoroughly opposite ways to a response of love to those who are not believers. The terrible feeling of being misrepresented is a powerful one and its easier to not associate oneself when that risk is high. I still feel that. (And moving to Nashville next didn't get me out of that scene)
Two cents,
Mish

A Bell

I stop going to church because I am an alcoholic in recovery and i found my self being torn between two fellowships. I decided that in order to stay clean and sober i needed to keep going to continue in the 12 step program i belong to. Because if im drunk i will have no desire to live a life lead by God. The second reason was because the way my brain works i would end up relating more to the religious leaders in the bible then the disciples. I needed to get back to the basics of a living relationship with Christ based on love and commitment rather than fear of doing it wrong. To this day i feel my relationship with God has deepened and became more of a light to people who have been hurt by religion and I can be a light of Christ in the rooms of the 12 step program I belong.

From Twitter

From twitter...

@brianjmoss In the words of Jean Vanier, it turned into a fortress instead of a fountain.

@stefanvanvoorst Can I quote you quoting him? I am trying to bring together a bunch of comments/responses on the old blog thingamabob.

@brianjmoss absolutely. However, to be fair, he said it as a warning. I made it an accusation.

Jackie

because when people make you feel unwanted or black ball you why attend?

Emily

We stopped attending church for a few reasons. One of the biggest reasons was that the few people we felt connected to at our church left and when they left, we realized that we knew nobody. We are a quiet couple and find it difficult to get to know people at times. That said, we worked to get involved and get to know people but it always felt fruitless. We just never connected with anyone. We have struggled to find a new church to attend. My husband was raised Catholic and while he'd prefer to attend a Protestant church, we find it difficult to find one that does not vilify the Catholic church on some level. We don't regularly attend the Catholic church near us because, as a Protestant, I find myself struggling with a few doctinal issues as well as the worship style. While worship style is not a good reason to not attend church, it unfortunately plays a large role in our decision making. When we attend church we go to the Catholic church that is affiliated with the school our oldest goes to, or we go to the church where one of our friends sometimes preaches. We'd love to find a church where we feel like we belong and are happy/fulfilled/satisfied with the worship style. We might have to settle for just going where we feel we belong and give up on the worship style, which would be the Catholic church.

Kelly

So many hypocrites in church...

Hope

I found many Christian people confused Jesus with a 'club' of 'special' members that would be rewarded. Jesus was inclusive, these 'clubs' were EXCLUSIVE. I finally found a church that is liberal and inclusive.

a true friend who still loves her Creator

We are all hurting. Even those who say "Enough, I'm done," are hurting. Church people judge. They look at the person who initiated an event and determine them to be "the bad guy" without, for a minute, stopping to think about all that transpired to bring the person to where they were willing to make that decision, knowing full well they would be judged by their church-going "friends."

I went to church without my parents, starting at the age of 8. I loved it. I'm not so sure I love it anymore, and for that, I grieve deeply.

Joel

I stopped attending church from about ages 18-22. I was going to a Christian university at the time and frankly I had a much more natural and healthy Christian community than anything I think I would have found by going to a church. It might have been different if I were part of a tradition where you just become a member of the local Catholic parish or the neighborhood Lutheran church or whatever, but as it was, I would just blindly flail about and look for a church that I liked, which never really worked.

I also did not attend church regularly for the two years I lived in China. I didn't go to the local church because I couldn't speak the language, and I didn't go to the international/expat church because I resisted the idea of getting "rooted" in a place where everyone was always coming and going. I use this as an excuse for a lot of things, actually. I think I tiptoed around faith a lot while I was in China just because I was never sure what I should or shouldn't be doing, legally.

Brian Moss

Thanks to everybody who posted a response here. I appreciate your openness and honesty! May you know the peace of Jesus Christ as you continue on the journey of faith.

cassie

Didn't attend church after I went to college and left home. Sporatically attended in my 20s. Wasn't until I was born again at age 37 that I started attending regularly. Until that time, I pretty much shared the feelings of the other comments here. Our pastor said your church should have all 4 of these things: You should be fed. You should fit in. You should be able to fellowship. And last you should be fruitful. You should have ALL 4 to be in the church that is right for you.

SZ

Below are the major reasons I stop attending various churches, not sure if I will join another one at this point in my life.

1). I experienced 3 Church splits in a row over three Senior Pastors not being able to keep their pants zipped and leave the ladies alone, if you get my drift. One also mismanaged the church funds to the tune of millions of dollars (similar to the Chrystal Cathedral, but not it's church is not the one I'm references here).

2). I thought people really cared and had the love of God in them, then I lost my job and my family was suffering. Not only did they not help after I had been generous and paid to support the church for years before my job loss but most of them even blamed me and questioned my faith.
The worst ones were those Word of Fakes. opps I mean Word of Faith-Prosperity clones who were smitten by too many Prosperity Pimps, oops I mean Prosperity Teachers on various Christian networks.
The Prosperity robots implied my job lay off was due to some secret sin because otherwise God would have blessed me with increase. They forgot to read all the sufferings the Apostles went through, esp. St.Paul Founder of the Gentile early Churches and writer of most of our New Testament bible. St. Paul was slain for spreading the Gospel. Too bad he did not have the Word of Fake oops I mean Faith message from these Prosperity Pimps oops again I mean Teachers (being sarcastic)so he could have been spared being a Martyr.

3). Too many Cliques,
If you were not the right color,have the proper education, income, material goods as in the expensive car, clothes, etc. You were nobody, unless you happen to have the good fortune of being related to the Pastor or relative of some prominent person in in-crowd, (inner circle)! There were instances were they didn't even bother to hide their bias against you by walking right up the the person you happen to be conversing with and butting in to invite them to lunch or private gathering as if you were invisible. Kinda like when the one raggedy or fat kid in grade school does not get the invite to the party, or the slightly eccentric family member is treated like an embarrassment, or if you check out the movie Mean girls you'd get the point. TOO bad some Church folks have a tendency to forget Jesus reached out to sinners and healed the sick lepers that the religious self-righteous crowd did not want hanging around.

4). Lying about the Old Covenant Tithe law and using guilt, manipulation and fear to keep you in fear of the curse to enforce the tithe law. For years I lived in fear of the Malachi 3 curse in the Old Testament before Jesus died and said Paid in Full. God allowed a curse on Israel for paying tithes,which they don't mention was food from the crops that God sent rain on to feed the Levite Priest and the poor who were never commanded to tithe under the Old Covenant. Not Funny how they never explained that God was speaking to a completely different group of people under a completely different covenant before Jesus died and that Covenant ended and a New Covenant began without one commandment to pay tithes or keep the law for favor from God in the New Covenant.
When I read all of Galatians with a bible commentary on Galatians in the New Testament esp. verses in Galatians 2:16, 2:21 Galatians 3:11-14 esp. that "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being cursed for us on the cross and that this was how Gentiles have the blessings of Abraham through Christ, I discovered I could not trusting second hand messages from behind Pulpits from fallible people, even baring the name Pastor or Reverend.

I still love Jesus and some of his people are okay to pray and fellowship with on rare occasions but I keep in mind not to count on them tome when in dire straights I look to God alone as my helper.

Trust in no man but God is a sad but helpful saying!

SZ


Correction on number Four in the fifth line it should have been God allowed a curse on Israel for NOT paying tithes. The word "NOT" should have been inserted.

Charlene

I have stopped attending the church we have been members of for nearly ten years. (This is a Protestant church my husband's family attends. I was raised Catholic but then did not attend any church for mamny years.)

The reasons I have stopped attending this church include: gossip among the church members; people treating the church as more of a social clique rather than a spiritual place; an "inner circle" of families and people have "taken over" and seem to exclude anyone who is not part of their group; younger and older members of the church badmouthing each other and members of the staff, often during Sunday School classes or church events nonetheless; feeling like I suddenly no longer "fit in" because of my quirky personality or outspokenness; the children's minister leaving in tears last year after months of other church members and staff ganging up on her and saying she wasn't doing a good enough job (although I thought she was gentle and wonderful); the people I connected with years back had left, etc.

The list goes on and on.

My children are young and I am most concerned about their spiritual development. I tried attending other churches with them but they felt odd about being in new environments.

I most recently have decided to go on "church hiatus" until further notice. I think I need to get away from the interpersonal noise created by the church members and be quiet with my family and do some spiritual growing on our own right now.

Jules

I answered this question on an about.com article, I titled it something along the lines of INSTEAD OF FREEDOM, IMPRISONMENT.
Here's what I said:
Maybe it's because I'm a preacher's kid, but every single thing I did growing up had to be perfect. I got tired of it. I felt that God didn't ask that of me, but rather an honest, loyal heart willing to be molded to his will & in his time. I found that going to church made the feeling of imprisonment worse. Everything became a "you can't do this because you're: a young lady, the youth minister, a Christian, a musician, a leader." It got to the point where I asked myself, "Well, what CAN I do?" Everything was so limiting, and the limits were things like wearing jeans, or bracelets, reading fantasy books, being close friends with males, going to sleep in shorts, putting on nail polish- even clear, dating my boyfriend who's a Christian, showing too much arm or ankle. I wasn't asking to be able to kill someone, or to cheat, lie, seduce or steal. I was asking to have some freedom to make my own choices based on the word of God; not what a group of people from church expected of me.

Quinton

Iknow is bean a long time since thees post bout here it gos
I stoped gowing to church wen my brother killed him self, six years ago my paster prayed for me at church 2day after he died when i went for gidence he told me i have to understand that my btother has no chance for salvation for wat he did. No scripters just my brothers damnation by him the thru the church and wen one off my friends studing to be a minister told me the same thing in a shop if god and church feels this way f*** em the bible sed when jessus did on the cross he went to hell to minister to the damd so six years on still angry love god but i just dont care the ideaer church and minister makes me maD.

Rose

I am thinking about finally stopping going to church after 27 years of trying to understand christianity and still failing. I still have all the same questions I did at the beginning and I don't seem to be able to get past them. I thought going to church would help me learn about God and how to be a Christian but I think churches only assume that if you are there then you already know God. I've tried doing an alpha course, praying, reading spiritual books, reading the bible and I just don't seem to get anywhere with it. I think the main problem is I don't feel guilty for my sins like other christians seem to - I just don't feel like I know Jesus or understand who he is but I have tried desperately to find out. I have decided to try and keep going until September and then I think I'm going to stop because it's so exhausting and I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. There doesn't seem to be any point.

K

My wife and I recently stopped going to church because after 2 years of working really hard to get to know people at the church, we hadn't clicked with anyone.

It is difficult to go to church each week and hear about love and friendship, give away lots of money, and feel like there is nothing gained (although I know that's not exactly the point). If I were really honest, I felt like I was being manipulated into supporting "the church" and its needs when it refused to take care of mine. And I can neglect my own needs on my own.

I've met lots of other young people who have stopped going to church for exactly the same reason - we are all looking for authentic relationships yet so many church-going Christians refuse to be anything more than Sunday-morning friends.

Guest

I still love Jesus but did not find him or his love in the church. I jumped in the deep waters of commitment from jump street. However, in a crisis the church failed me. When my mother died I got 3 cards & 2 calls from a bible study group I had been in for years & was sensitive enough to show concern for hurting people in the group but when I went thru hard times they avoided me like the plague. What really hurt was it was to discover how superficial it all was. Then after reading my bible I learned the Pastors were not beyond twisting the bible to collect their pay often by fear, manipulation or condemnation,
Instead of letting the Holy Spirit guide people on giving what they purposed in their own hearts they misused the Malachi 3:8,9,10 curse which was what God told the Nation of Israel under a whole different Covenant. After I read Galatians 3:13 that Christ has redeemed us from the curse, etc. I lost all trust in any sermons I ever heard unless I totally checked it out. I read my entire Bible for myself and now fact check every sermon I hear on Christian television or radio.
It broke my heart to learn how they twist bible scriptures, even more than Pastors I sat under that were fired for committing adultery. It's one thing to slip & fall but another thing altogether to purposely misrepresent the nature & character of God by telling people they will be cursed with a curse and God will send a devour on their health or family for not tithing ten percent on every dollar. If preachers don't understand Old Covenant vs New Covenant, Law vs Grace and what Jesus meant by Paid in full, It is Finished on the cross then they have no business being a Pastor!
I also hate how some of them sell the free blessing of God like Mike Murdoch or Todd Contz. They say they're not selling God's favor but teaching Principles of sowing & reaping, by giving but what do you call promising health & wealth if you send in money to their Ministries? No one has a right to sell the blessings of God. It is not theirs to sell. Jesus paid for us to go to God free of charge Romans 8:32
Here is what Peter said about trying to buy the blessings of God.
Acts 8:20 "May your money perish with you for thinking you could buy the gift of God with money"!
God gave his one & only Son free of charge and that was his most precious and valuable gift so why would God charge money for a healing or blessing as if this is more valuable than Jesus-- whom he freely gave to the world? They need to stop the business of selling God's favor or his daily grace period!

Guest

This is to the guy whose brother killed himself and the Pastor said his brother went to Hell.
They are not God and do not know whether your brother went to Hell or not. If your brother was not of sound mind then don't you think God has sense enough to understand your brother was sick and did not know what he was doing? If a person has a physical disease people understand this is not something they wanted but if a person is mentally ill the church has no understanding of mental imbalances which could even be caused by something physiological or an imbalance of the brain.
These Pastors had no right to act as God and tell you with a hundred percent certainty where your brother went after he died.

former church secretary

i was a church secretary until february. now that i've been away from church for about 2 months straight, i am enjoying real sabbaths, real rest, spending time with loved ones without worrying "i have to get to church"... i feel like overall it's been really good for me. not to mention that i also have a little bit of bitterness towards some of the people [really only one person - an assoc pastor i worked for previously for whom i have had no respect for quite a while, but the fear of seeing him and having to feign any warmth repulses me].

i have no desire to hurry back, but i have been very bothered by 'friends' who think i have 'backslidden' because i am not in a certain geographic location on sundays. this 'christian behavior' is definitely keeping me away.

Gladheart

I stopped going to church after nearly 50 years. It was a huge decision to make as it involved questioning very deeply the absolute foundation that my life so far had been built on. It wasn't an easy or lighthearted decision - in fact a very uncomfortable and disturbing place to be - and I'm still re-adjusting to life with a fundamentally different foundation and outlook.

I eventually came to a number of crunch questions the principle one of which runs along the lines of "How can a loving and compassionate God condemn 90%, maybe a lot more, of the people he created to an eternity in hell?". This is the logical conclusion of 'Jesus is the only way to heaven' and consigns billions and billions of people to eternal pain and suffering. I don't want to believe in and serve a God who does that. Some have argued that he has to because he is a god of justice, but isn't he also a God of mercy?

So there it was this huge question that I could no longer ignore. So much good is done through so many good people in churches across the world (fighting for justice and the oppressed, food banks etc) that I sometimes feel I may have thrown out the baby with the bath water (and maybe demolished the bathroom too!).

I've had a lot of discussions with a close friend who was doing a Theology degree (at a well respected college) but that just seemed to unearth many more areas with inconsistencies or difficulties that you have to overlook(i.e. put your brain away and just accept). I took this route a couple of years ago. I am happy that I did and still don't see another option.

If I am wrong, what will God do? Will he judge me for asking questions for which I can't seem to find answers? Has he (the Potter) made a bad pot?

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