Taking a break from church. AKA: Stop the Aspartame!

I’ve wanted to say most of these things for a while now, but I don’t for obvious reasons. A person doesn’t just go write what they feel about things like religion, politics, or vaccinations without realizing the very real affects that will take place immediately henceforth.

However, the thing I find most intriguing about this topic is that, while many Christians seem to be quick in posting links to their favorite pet sermon about why everyone should be going to church on Sunday, they don’t seem to have any real idea as to why so many of us are choosing not to. They make their best stab at it by posting something that largely feels like condemnation and the accusal of apostasy rather than just asking us why we, people with obvious spiritual life, are doing what we’re doing.

My theory is that they don’t really quite want to know. It’s like the woman who feels a lump in her breast and dutifully has it screened for cancer but then avoids her results with a certain fervor. “Do you want to know or don’t you?” Because if you want to know, I will tell you some very uncomfortable truth. If you have the gonads to take it, I’ll fill you in. But if you don’t – if you just want us to hear about how miserable we are for not putting on our pretty clothes and sitting in the pews for sixty minutes each week – then I would recommend you not offer the commentary and pre-packaged links to sterile arguments made by Facebook-famous pastors. It really only tells us that you really do not want to know.

But if you do, read on… with caution.

And as a disclaimer, please remember that you are reading “how I feel”. There is no “right” or “wrong” in what is below because it is the 100% accurate feeling of me. Of Heather. It’s not a book or a theory. It’s my thoughts and feeling. It’s not for you to try to dissuade me from. These are my observations and the way life feels in this pair of shoes.

So: read with care… and interject with even more care. Don’t tell me where I’m wrong and how your church is different. The test came back. We have cancer. Let’s face the results and start a treatment plan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About four years ago, I made some fairly extreme changes to my diet. Nothing processed, nothing refined, all whole, all clean. As time has passed since then, I’ve continued to tweak and add or remove as my body tells me that it really likes or dislikes something. I’ve sought out local farmers for my meat, and we don’t eat really anything that is conventionally raised anymore. I went on this quest because my health was failing and no one could really figure out why. At first, it was a diagnosis of food intolerances that triggered the change, but as time went on, the thing that made me continue to press on and learn more and more and make more and more changes was that, the longer I went without fake food, the better I felt. Things that had plagued me my whole life, simply disappeared. The eczema on my right foot that I’ve had as long as I can remember. The dark circles under my eyes that doctors have told me was “just genetic”. The brain fog. The lethargy. The mood swings. The thin hair. The belly fat. The constant headaches. The burning, aching stomach. The list goes on and on.

I found that the further I got away from anything artificial, the more things in my body began working as they were designed. And further, the more I delved into the world of healing with food, I not only saw bad symptoms disappear, I saw them reverse. Patchy skin was replaced with soft, young, beautiful skin. Thin, dull hair turned thick and shiny and soft. Constant indigestion turned into a calm belly. Headaches went away and my mind sharpened.

Living this way in the good ole USA is actually harder than one might think. So long as I’m eating from my own kitchen and pantries, it’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeasy. But the second I venture out, eating suddenly becomes really tricky. “Hmm, if I eat that, my head will hurt, but if I eat that my stomach will hurt.” Even still, after four years, it’s almost a guarantee that if I eat at someone else’s house or eat at a restaurant – even a good one – I will feel pretty crappy for the rest of the day.

I’ve discovered that the worst offender of all is artificial sweeteners. Boy oh boy do these little obnoxious freaks mess with my system. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they are neurotoxins. They are supposed to mess with me.

It used to be that I not only enjoyed, I actually needed the false high of artificial foods and sweeteners. My food was bland otherwise, and I had no “energy”. I put that word in quotes because I discovered that what was masquerading as energy really was not at all. Once I started cleaning my body out and discovered real true energy, I realized that what I’d been experiencing before was a hopped up feeling of synthetic, manufactured hyperactivity. Real energy is less up and down. Real energy is very calm. Real energy does not crash a few hours later or get shaky when a meal isn’t on hand every two hours. Real energy is steady and peaceful and rich.

Sure, there really is something about a big juicy fried chicken sandwich from a fast food joint. I mean, my taste buds go completely nuts. It’s intoxicating actually. One bite sets off an avalanche of desire for more and more bites even long after I’ve become satisfied and full. I’ve heard it called “food with no brakes”, and I believe that is about the most accurate way of describing it. Pop, coffee, fast food, pasta, bread, candy. It all does the same thing. It feels soooo good when I’m eating it that I can’t even help myself. I think I’m in heaven. I think that I just want more and more and more. But as time passes, not only do I have headaches and stomach pains, beneath my skin is a seriously malnourished girl. And it’s only a matter of time before that malnourishment shows up past my skin

But when I stick to eating rich foods that were grown and raised the right way, my body sings the praises of that nourishment. When I persist long enough, the receptors in my brain that long for the hyper stimulation of fake food are turned off and my body wants, nay craves, the calm peace of whole, healthy food. No additives, no stimulants, nothing to make me want to eat and eat and eat. Nothing messing with any of my senses. Just good ole nourishment. Healthy and rich and delicious.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Almost exactly two years ago, I decided I needed a break from church proper. And if you’re like me, you’re wondering why on earth I’d say “church proper” and then not capitalize the word “church. It’s because I made up my own little way of identifying the difference between “little ‘c’ church” and “big ‘C’ Church”.

“Little ‘c’ church” is that thing that Christians do on Sunday morning. It’s the building. It’s the place. It’s the pretty clothes and the hands raised high. It’s the vacant listeners while one person talks. It’s the cutting edge sermons and perfectly choreographed “worship” time – as if somehow the words “worship” and “singing” have anything to do with one another.

“Big ‘C’ Church” is that body that we who have died in Christ have joined ourselves with. It is not a place. It is not dressed up and fancy. There is no Aveda hand soap in the bathroom or flat screen tv in the sanctuary at “Big ‘C’ Church” because “Big ‘C’ Church” isn’t a place. It’s an organism. A living breathing people. A priesthood. An elected people who are all joined together in the replacement death of the One we call by many Names. We are not a some-thing or a some-place. We are a some-one.

When I decided to take a hiatus from “little ‘c’ church”, I did so without any noise or attention called to it. In fact, I don’t think I actually talked to anyone other than my husband about it for the first full year off. The people who have noted it since have often done so in ways that lead me to believe that they think that by not visiting a “little ‘c’ church”, somehow I stopped being part of the “Big ‘C’ Church”. Which is actually kind of silly considering that I can’t just quit being a part of that. Nor do the two give some sort of “proof of life” in the other. Just because a person attends “little ‘c’ church”, that is not evidence that they are a part of the “Big ‘C’ Church”. And just because someone is a part of the organism of believers commonly referred to as The Church, that does not mean that they will necessarily attend or regularly visit the small ‘c’ counterpart. And when I say counterpart, know that I mean it in name only. The two are as different as different can be. Sometimes Big ‘C’ people are found at little ‘c’, but sometimes not so much. And vice versa. The two have an annoying commonality in the fact that they go by the same name. Oh homonym, you are such a little stinker. Confusing us all with your same spellings and different meanings.

Leaving little ‘c’ has absolutely nothing to do with a hatred of or displeasure toward Big ‘C’, though, if I’m being honest, I must admit that I find a lot of displeasing people at little ‘c’. The kind that judge and the kind that really think they are quite spiritual. The ones now days that find “thinking outside the box” to be especially trendy are the worst. I even heard a sermon once about how Esther never really was a “Christian” (another tricky word that gets misused often). I found myself especially irked that the only person allowed to talk right then was the person at the pulpit. Because, ya know, I’ve studied Esther pretty deeply, and I think his “outside of the box” idea was hogwash. And if I could have, I would have spoken up and asked a question or two. If for no other purpose than to wake the living dead all over the sanctuary who were now writing Esther off as an apostate or something all because Big Man Up Front said so. I mean, I don’t really think anyone went home and tore that one apart like we’re supposed to. I don’t think a meeting followed wherein the Greatly Concerned sat said Big Man Up Front down and told him a thing ‘er two about dear old Esther. Nope, he cast them a worm and a worm they did eat. And no one thought another thing about it. Their chair was occupied, but the more important part of them was totally vacant.

It’s the same sort of vacancy I saw across the crowd during “worship” (ugh – I will have to pass over the urge to talk about that one). The very specific “church dance”, the swaying hand clap, the hands raised high with palms seeming to be asking to be filled. I can’t say that I feel completely right writing it off as ritual only, but one does not need a degree in rocket science or any other aeronautic specialty to see at least some falseness and cognitive absence in the group. It’s not that raising the hands or clapping or dancing in a certain Sunday-morning-approved way is bad. Not at all. I just find myself wondering about the mind inside the swaying body. Are you awake? Because if you just heard the bit about Esther and all you had was an earnest head nod, methinks thou be sleeping.

The plate passes and we put the money in. But where does the money go? I answered that question one Sunday morning about a year before my departure from little ‘c’. The sermon was another that was meant to be outside of the box, intellectual, and edgy. The rise and fall of the speaker’s voice in perfect synchronization with its intended moving of emotion made me wonder how many times these lines had been recited in the bathroom mirror over the past seven days to get each pitch just perfect. I mean, how does that work? I get it that it’s “public speaking”, but when did sermon delivery become an art form? Just tell me the truth plain and simple. Then let me poke my holes – like we are told to do – and then let me go home. Don’t mess with my senses. Don’t add music while you are praying. “I Surrender All” feels less hyperactive and manufactured when it’s the calm stirring of the Holy Spirit within me than the carefully calculated instrumental interlude during offering.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I was thinking to myself what an impressive structure the ceiling of this monster sanctuary is. Having spent just a small bit of time in the world of construction right after high school, I know more than the average about building such a monstrosity. I really loved how aesthetically pleasing it is with all the gorgeous beams and enormous fans. Then there was the cutting edge lighting and sound system, all intricately put into place without even so much as one cord dangling. The infrastructure of probably a million, billion wires were all tucked safely away from my eyes.

The massive movie screen fit comfortably in the secrecy of its little shell, only coming out when it was time to watch something that would likely move my senses and get me to write checks.

The chairs – hundreds and hundreds of them – were comfortable. I mean, really comfortable. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, nothing’s wrong with that until you ask yourself what they did with an entire church full of pews when they remodeled to this interior designer’s masterpiece. I’ve heard that a pew goes for about a grand. And I’m pretty good at mental math. Sooooo….. hmm. Yeah, not cool. And here I thought my tithe was dutifully going to the poor and to give salary to the Big Man Up Front.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all about business. I know all about what it takes to keep a corporation going. The dollars and cents that no one sees. What business does not struggle under the weight of its payroll burden? This isn’t news to me. But when I face that fact, I feel another fact pushing up against my brain just begging, nay demanding, to be asked. Since when did little ‘c’ become corporate? Since when did sharing the good news become something that required such ornate displays of modern wealth? Why such waste? Why such extravagance? Am I the only one who thinks that the idea of pastors in Escalades is a little disgusting? Haven’t we maybe strayed a bit far from the idea of one man dying for all? Haven’t we gotten a bit off track? When each minute of the weekly 60 spent in this room is perfectly choreographed – from the music playing when I sit down to the songs selected for “worship” to the rise and fall of the rehearsed sermon, I leave with all senses tingling. And this, I believe, is the intended response.

How many times have you heard a fellow Christian say, “Man, that was just what I needed,” or “Whew, it’s been quite a week, I’ve got to get myself to church.”

Why? Because the Holy Spirit who abides within you and goes with you wherever you go and is with you when you sleep and when you wake is not enough to instruct you through your difficulty and fill you in your emptiness?

If church – little ‘c’ church – was a little less… well, aspartame-y, would we all be clamoring for our weekly dose of “feel good”? I don’t think so. If little ‘c’ church was a little closer to what it was meant to be, I don’t think it would be the master soul-mover that it is.

And here’s the deal: I don’t think it’s supposed to be!!!!

Keep your artificial sweeteners, please. Do not “rock my soul” during worship. Worship is not a song. And even if it were, is it something that would likely be accompanied by drums and an electric guitar and a row of the church’s best singers? Or would it be a little less – oh, I dunno, artificially sweet?

And the sermon. When can I tell you that I do indeed believe that Esther was a Christian? Do I need to set a meeting for that? Or could we discuss it together as a congregation as we were meant to? Could we dialogue together and together rightly divide the word of truth? Because a lot of what you’re saying isn’t truth, and I’m afraid we just won’t get to the truth if we don’t all put our heads together and find it.

From sermon to song, from building to budget, the little ‘c’ church these days is filled with artificial sweetening. Things put in place with utter intention to be sure we leave 60 minutes later thinking that the “moving” we feel in us is the Holy Spirit and not just the masterfully woven-together production that just took place. I mean, come on, if you can have the same “knock my socks off” feeling after a rock concert, aren’t we smart enough to ask ourselves if something has gone awry?

I do not intend to continue my hiatus from “little ‘c’ church” till Kingdom Come. In fact, I’ve even said recently that I think I’m close to the other side of what I set out to do when I left in the first place. Much like my departure from the world of the Standard American Diet (appropriately acrostic’d SAD), my break from “little ‘c’ church” has calmed my senses and helped me return to the food that my soul truly craves. The food that is not infused with flavor enhancers meant to make me think that my walk with God is something that even should feel like fireworks and rockets every day.

I have remembered the ebb and flow of just plain, clean union with Jesus. With no gonging cymbals or fancy decoration, what is left is just relationship. Just the personhood of Him and the personhood of me. Just my need. Just his sufficiency. No loud guitars. No completely ridiculous or erroneous sermons taught to minds that have been put on auto-pilot. No offering plate passed and filled to pay the bills of our waste and extravagance. Just one Man who died in my place, who saved me not only from His absence after my physical life is over, but saved me also here and now, from the pain and chains of my sin and from the sadness and losses of life. I do not desire the crutches of an aspartame-infused Sunday morning experience anymore. I’ve retrained my taste buds.

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When I was a kid, my parents got rid of our tv. This meant a couple of things. #1. We were forced to use our own brains to think and be creative. #2. Our attention spans were longer than average. #3. Whenever a screen of any kind made its way in our line of vision, we would stand there, mouths agape, like mind-controlled fools.

It was just sooooo much stimulation. SOOOO much over activity. When a person is accustomed to calm senses and natural peace, being exposed to television can be somewhat alarming. Much like flavor enhanced food, it draws you in powerfully and tells you to keep consuming without abandon.

I believe that current, 21st century, “little ‘c’ church” can be likened to something similar. When the writer of Hebrews warned us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together with other Believers, I do not think he envisioned steel stringed guitars, wasteful luxury, choreographed sermons, or music selected to tantalize our senses. Just an honest, clean gathering of those who are joined by the death of Jesus is probably what he had in mind. A mutual desire to read and study God’s word. To live with each other and for each other. To not try to go it on our own.

I still have a lot of figuring out to do about what “little ‘c’ church” SHOULD look like, but I’ve landed square and solid on what it should NOT look like.

And I do not think the answer is to leave it. Even though I needed that for a while, to regain my own footing, to sort through my beliefs about “little ‘c’ church” and its purpose, to reevaluate my own ability to sort through the teachings of a human and hold them up against the absolute truth of Scripture, it isn’t a permanent departure.

“Big ‘C’ People” do meet in “little ‘c’ buildings”. And that does not need to change. But I do think that we will continue to alienate our own at alarming rates while proving ourselves utterly useless to those outside our fold if we keep on with the aspartame. I think it’s one thing to realize that the outside world hates us because we are doing the right thing. If they hate us because we’re being miserable, wasteful, judgmental, gossiping, slandering, two-faced, illegitimate replicas of Jesus, there isn’t a whole lot of glory or comfort in that.

There are a thousand more things that are wanting to be said on this topic. Things about our witness to the world around us and what true evangelism is and should look like. Things about the rampant moral decay of our Christian leaders in America – proven by sex scandal after sex scandal in the “Big ‘C’ Church”. Things about proper dissection of God’s word rather than the Big Guy Up Front. Things about the need to “assemble together”, but maybe not the need to mortgage our gathering place. Things about the pattern of decline that we see plainly taking place almost every time a church decides it needs a bigger building. Things about Escalade driving pastors and gossiping parishioners.

But that’s another blog… or hundred.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Taking a break from church. AKA: Stop the Aspartame!

  1. Jo Frazer

    Thank you Heather for your beautifully scripted analogy of health…both physical, mental and spiritual. I TOTALLY agree with what you are saying & am really enjoying being able to simply gather with others who have joined their hearts with Jesus’ in seeking to live in vital relationship with our Father & creator.
    The thoughts & musings….(of those who are becoming dissatisfied with the commercial systems of “the institution”)….. which speak of “relationship”, & demonstrate the art of forgiveness, the ‘practice’ of righteousness & the everyday expression of the love we can reflect from the Father to those around us is so wonderfully sustaining, gently refreshing & I’m quite certain much more the type of thing that the writers of the New Testament letters were pointing us towards. Being able to grapple with the difficult issues of life in the light of the Living Word, among folk who will help one find answers to the hard questions & uphold you in practical as well as “spiritual” ways through the storms of life seems to me a much more authentic way to allow the world to see the love of God in action.
    I have found the encouragement of resources at http://www.lifestream.org a real blessing. May God continue to enrich you as you seek to follow the narrow path He has for you to walk, in union with Himself. 🙂

  2. MK

    What you wrote here resonates with me. My family spent about 5+ years feeling uncomfortable in church settings. We wandered and tried, but ultimately felt alien in most Sunday morning settings. Finally, over the past six months since moving to a new city, my husband and I have been opting out of ‘little church’ sermons and instead we have been attending a Sunday School class for adults with about 25-30 people. It’s the first time I’ve been truly comfortable and connected in a church-specific setting for years. Instead of sitting in a big room and listening to a sermon and leaving with our thoughts, undiscussed, we go to a room where people pray for each other and follow each other’s stories. Sometimes we read a parable and then people chime in to talk about their different reactions to the materials. Or we discuss topics related to Christian living – such as imparting faith and not just religion, to our children. (I think that the leaders are sometimes a bit perplexed when they ask how many people attended the sermon before coming to class, because only a few hands tend to go up. Perhaps churches are actually fuller than we realize of people in this stage.) But now that I am connected to a living community, I find myself more inclined to occasionally stop in for the tradition service, as a way to connect with all the smaller communities of the church. I am not sure I ever want to go back to small church as a way of life, though…..

    • Jo Frazer

      This morning I woke to begin writing to our family. We are in crisis…sooo much damage…so much pain and Jesus helped me write to our grown children who have all left home now but are desperately wanting to learn, along with my husband and me, how to be family. Here is what I’ve written:

      I’m just a child whose tried so hard to learn to walk, but all the “foster-care facilities” I tried to live in were run by those who had no true paternal understanding of what was needed, so I grew up crippled. There was nothing in their systems, their “safe houses”, or the long dormitories; the “healthy meals” or the fun activities, which ever let me come to know the Abba who had placed the seed of my beginnings here on earth.
      I learned that each time I stumbled & fell, it was my responsibility to get up & try harder, ‘cos if I “did it this way” I’d eventually be able to succeed! When I mess up I still feel, I’m just a dirty, naughty little girl, viewed with disgust, sent to “the naughty-corner” (put in the too hard basket), shut out in the cold.
      It’s like I’ve been told a million times: “Just wait till your father gets home!!! You’ll get the hiding of your life!” (Not that my Mother ever said that) but …. HEAPS of “preachers” have – Mighty Evangelists – Teachers of “Righteousness”- men “sent out to show others the way”!!! For the most part, all that was achieved was the establishment of yet another new, or the re-enforcement of the thick, high walls of an already established “foster-care” facility. Here someone who didn’t ‘know’ me, or even want to ‘understand’ me, told me what they had found was a successful way for one to function in their “institution”! They justified it, & continue to do so, with …”this is what the Bible says”… All that ends up being is someone else trying to interpret to me what my Abba is wanting to say to me & once again I feel I have to jump “this high” & my heart is still empty & lonely.

      Like a child who was adopted, my orphaned heart has constantly been searching to KNOW the one that gave me life. I wasn’t satisfied that “confessing my SIN” & “accepting Christ’s sacrifice for me” was all there was to this deal… -there must be more-…. I didn’t have peace! I didn’t have joy! I was still a deformed misfit! I was still in the naughty corner & God was not pleased with this disreputable piece of humanity!!!

      BUT HE’S FOUND ME!!!
      He has broken through the great tangled hedges of lies & misconceptions
      He’s showing me the “distorts” from the sincere & well-intention-ed
      I realize now His been there right beside me every day,
      Through all the lonely desert trails – within the cloudy veil.
      And though He’s a consuming fire – that FIRE is perfect LOVE
      & nothing but HIS PERFECT LOVE can “buy back” all that’s lost.(Who I am)

      He’s not concerned I haven’t learned to trust Him in all things
      Sin angers Him, but just because He knows the Shame it brings
      I KNOW He fully understands my foolish, childish ways
      The fact I still need “cleaning up” a hundred times a day
      The pain I cause, the mess I make, sends me to hide & cover
      My SHAME emblazoned ‘cross the sky in day-glow techno-color!.

      That shame has kept me tethered to a life of condemnation
      Right now I am beginning to catch glimpses of salvation! –
      What it can mean to LIVE within His Kingdom, ..Rest in HIM
      There’s still an awful lot of “high-walled” fortresses within.

      I’m really, truly sorry that right now, as just a child,
      I still throw temper tantrums & I’m far from meek & mild.
      Like darling little Poppy, when waking from her rest,
      Needs time to lie secure in Mama’s arms, on Penny’s breast;
      I’m struggling to know how to take some tiny faltering steps
      On a “narrow way” I’ve not been before, to a place where I am kept
      Safe and secure in LOVE so pure that ALL FEAR is swept away
      I know that ONLY Jesus is the One to show the way.
      Like a damaged, frail human,in an earthquake after-math
      My eyesight gets distorted, often rocks obscure the path;
      And suddenly that IMAGE of an angry father looms
      Please pray the safety of God’s lap becomes a big safe room.

      I really hope the day will come when as we get together
      What God is doing in our lives is the topic, not the weather
      Those glimpses of “All-loving God” who upholds all creation
      Will be the joy and treasure of our gentle conversation.
      Until that day, I’ll try to hold you gently in my heart
      And ask Our Loving Father to repair each damaged part
      Of your precious heart, your broken life, the distortions & dysfunction
      Trusting God Alone to obliterate my arrogant compunctions.

      I’m soo grateful for an Abba Father, who hasn’t given up seeking to reach the heart of each precious person He created for relationship with Himself. May each who reads this know in reality that those who seek for Him will find Him. 🙂

  3. Heather, you have beautifully expressed what I have been feeling. I feel dissatisfied listening to a pastor-on-a-screen, and sitting by myself in a church with no interaction. I have been staying home for a few weeks interacting with my online “church” community on Sunday mornings. It’s so enriching to be able to discuss biblical concepts and God’s word with other believers who seek to uplift one another. It’s exciting and loving and Spirit-driven. Something I haven’t felt in “church” in a long time.

  4. G. Muñoz

    I literally, randomly stumbled across your blog via Micah’s Redemption Pictures and just wanted to say that it was a brilliant read. May God continue to bless you as you strive to walk the narrow path!

  5. Kelly

    This post really makes me sad. There are so many churches out there that do not have sanctuaries that cost a billion dollars, or watch their pastor on a big screen, or whose worship time has not become a carefully scripted concert…..I hope that in your quest to be back again in a church, that you will perhaps look for a small, intimate body of believers where the must important thing is that truth is taught from scripture.

    • Ruth

      I just stumbled across your blog today, Heather. You write beautifully. my heart ached as I read your newest post about your experiences in IBLP.
      In response to this post about church, I have a few comments.
      My husband is a pastor.
      I work fulltime. He works and ministers tirelessly. On top of that, he is now pursuing a fulltime teaching job. Why? Because there are bills to pay. Because we want to begin raising a family. Because our church, as loving and caring as they are, are not wealthy folk: they are farmers, retirees, widows, youth from broken homes, or unemployed. Basically, what I’m pleading for you to hear is this: Not all of the “big men up front” are throwing money away. Not all of the “little c” people are just there for a good show. At our little assembly of believers, we do life together. We are like family. I am not ashamed to say I need a close relationship with likeminded believers. Does my husband always say everything just right as he preaches? NO. But we all know we are free to go to him and disagree. Our foundation is Scripture. The world can keep their money, their fame, their lights and shows. I’ll take the warm love of my church family anyday.

  6. Keri

    I’m sorry. I know.

  7. My husband and I have not attended church in over 20 years…the reasons are many but mostly due to that of not “forsaking the assembling together”

    What if that scripture meant “assembling” not meaning gathering together for the purpose of worship but rather like assembling a model with many parts, putting together something, building up the individuals who attend the church, encouraging them in the faith?

    When we attended church my husband was put down, torn apart, by the music minister and others. He was asked by the pastor —“why does your wife hate you?” ( Meaning why did I ride horses, rescue cats and dogs, work outside the home, not keep the cleanest house, not want children, wore pants, instead of being that gothardized woman.) Yet my husband was put down by the members of the music team all the time. He was being disassembled, not assembled or built up in the faith. When the church split, we quit and never went back.

  8. Pam

    When my husband was going through a major depression, I “announced” it on Sunday morning and asked for prayer from the congregation. I could do that because I go to a safe church – so much support, love, listening ears – THAT is what church should be. Too often it’s just “pray for Joe, he has surgery tomorrow” and as far as you’d know, no one has any heart issues. Look for a church body that does life together; without judgement or condemnation. Are there any jail ministry churches in your area? – jail/recovery is full of people who’ve stopped “playing the game” Humility is the key and is what allows people to share their heart vs. pride centered performance. Hard to find.

  9. Pingback: Skipping Church | Audio, Video, Disco

  10. Rori

    Oh, Heather, your writing is wonderful…and you are a BRAVE woman in ways I don’t begin to know. God bless you!! I have another “Heather” who endured another, less prolonged but no less destructive, tenure under the toxic tutelage of BG…and writing like yours is what God has used to begin a deep healing in her–at 43 yrs old!
    As to the C-hurch/c-hurch assessment–most astute! My husband and I call what you are describing (and it takes varying forms) the “Church Show.” And honestly, I can become readily wearied by it, even it I genuinely love the Bride of Christ. We are not attending a particular church at the time…trying to figure this very thing out.
    Grateful to be in the Church, in the ecclesia, with you.

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