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The Truth About Leaving Church

Oct 12, 2016

Caroline Bellemare

Making a decision about leaving church is usually a very difficult one. No matter how much you wish to go, it can be quite hard. When you go to church, you are a part of a community. Much of your life probably revolves around habits and a system of beliefs and actions. Leaving it all behind is nothing short of a loss.

For full disclaimer, this article is not about encouraging you to leave church. I’m actually hoping you will find healing and a new church through those words you are about to read. It is only because I have been on the receiving end of spiritual abuse that I feel like I can talk to you about it. Bear with me, this won’t take very long.

I’m Done, I’m Leaving Church

When I gave my life to the Lord, it was in a small, very tightly knit church of people just like me: young, broken, and poor, both spiritually and financially. We had dreams of a better life, and found hope for it in the marvelous person of Jesus Christ. Our small church was thriving, and God was transforming all of us quite miraculously.

Then one day, without our realizing it, the general atmosphere began to change. The pastoral authority became a bit more controlling, and the messages started revolving a bit more around money. We were spiraling into spiritual abuse without even knowing it. Of the core group, I was the first to leave and to never go back.

Because of my habit of going to church, I simply moved to a different congregation, a mega church where I wouldn’t be in leadership, where I could be just another unknown face in a sea of people with no one to try to control me. There, I was able to retreat and lick my wounds, and of course, the Holy Spirit did the healing. I was way too hurt and tired to even try to love those people again.

Why am I telling you my story? Because I am like you. I’ve been way too hurt to stay there, even if it hurt all that much to be leaving church. Only, I didn’t leave it all together, and I would love to invite you to consider doing the same. God is not the one to blame for depraved minds that seek to diminish others to feel better. I beg you, don’t be leaving church just yet.

Don’t Let Spiritual Abuse End It For You

Spiritual abuse is one of the most vicious forms of abuse because it runs so deep. Church should be the safest place on earth, and so, spiritual abuse can be especially hurtful. It is confusing to experience it in a place where love should be extravagant.The Bible does say, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV.) So why is it that one can get hurt that much in the house of God?

I love the model of the Early Church as displayed in the New Testament. We can see that the Apostles are very much at work in visiting and keeping the churches in check. When we read the letters of the Apostle Paul, they are often aimed at correcting certain behaviors so that Christlikeness and love can be at the center of their communities.

That is why I have a hard time with stand-alone churches with a leader that has no authority over them. That is just not the biblical model, and how things often go wrong. Nowadays, you can get ordained online at a low price, and start your religious meetings so long as you get proper documentation and permits. That is not how they did things in the Bible. And if the Bible is not our model, what kinds of beliefs do we hold? Not Christian ones.

If you have been hurt in a church, consider praying about finding one where you can heal, and be renewed in your relationship with God and with His people. Don’t leave God just yet. We do have a spiritual adversary that would like nothing more than to isolate you to better destroy you. Leaving church altogether is not the solution.

To read more on how to recognize spiritual abuse, read this.

Five More Reasons Why People May Be Bored With Church

The Church is Full of Hypocrites

I agree. Yes, I agree. I can’t pretend like I haven’t noticed the acting of some. Don’t worry we all see them. We have all been them at a moment or another. Should we be leaving church because that’s where they are at in their lives at the moment? Weren’t we ever there? I think perhaps the issue is with our judging and criticizing others. And that leads us to our second reason.

People in Church Are Judgmental

“I’m bored with church, people are way too judgmental.” That is a behavior that is absolutely not unique to church goers. My husband likes to say that we always form an opinion or judgment about things. What we do with it is key. If we realize that our whole culture revolves around performances and success, perhaps we are all guilty of expecting too much from ourselves and people around. To be fair, it sometimes seems more accepted within Christian circles. How about you and I become the change and stop accepting it for ourselves?

The Church Wants to Control My Life

As discussed above concerning spiritual abuse, you may have a very good point here. If that is the case, seek help. But if you feel like the preacher has been reading your mail on Sunday morning, and what He talks about makes you uneasy, that may just be the Holy spirit trying to guide you toward or out of something. It’s not the preacher’s fault, rather you might be the one that needs to obey God. Leaving church won’t help you on this one.

I’m Spiritual but I don’t Need Church

Of course you are a spiritual person, that is our design whether we acknowledge it or not. That said, demons are spiritual too, you know? Jesus himself calls us to form a body, together. It is His desire, that His precious children would get together and be the light of the world. The body of Christ is like one big happy family. I don’t know any human family that is perfect.

The Bible Says the Holy Spirit Teaches Me So I Don’t Need Church

Okay. Since you’re going there. The Bible also says that the Holy spirit affirms and confirms the works of Jesus. The Holy Spirit teaches us God’s very Word. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” I could go on and on, but this statement alone suffices to make my point. If Jesus said to build the church, the Holy Spirit won’t think it’s cool to boycott it.

Why You WANT to Go to Church

Bottom line, the reasons for leaving church or wanting to can be many, and are usually pretty common. If this is what you have done or plan to do, it is important to ask yourself the real questions. What really is the reason behind your wanting to make such a move?

I don’t mean to be insensitive here, but your healing may actually be found in church. Maybe not in the same church, but right in the body of Christ.

Church is where you’ll find people just like you, who do their best to love on God and others. Also, you may have noticed that doing this faith thing on your own is quite hard. No need to play tough here, we need others.

You might have felt like you didn’t belong before, but it’s okay to take a minute to find a home church that is right for you. There is a place where you can grow, find a faith family, and be at home.

People are not perfect, true. But I think you’ll agree that most people do their best. Find people like them, you won’t regret it. Dare to love trust again. Dare to love again.

Please note this post contains affiliate links and ads,  please read my full disclosure here.

Philip Yancey delivers his personal story about his relationship with the church. There might be quite a bit for you to relate with within the pages of this book.