Divorcing your church

Let’s have a little courtesy please.

I made sure to take a day before I wrote these words. I wanted to be thoughtful, helpful and composed, not reactionary and all FaceBooky. But, I really do think there is an issue of etiquette and courtesy that should be addressed.

Yesterday, I got totally snubbed at Wal-Mart. No worries, happens all the time.andy no

  • People who don’t believe in God think I’m a fool and blow me off… I get it.
  • People who don’t appreciate my church (style) think I am a heretic and must keep their distance or they might get something on them… I’m used to that.
  • People who disagree with my theology and politics think I am an ignoramus who couldn’t even understand them if they spoke in grunts… ugh, ugh.

I’m not talking about those relationships. I am smart enough to know and a big enough boy to accept the fact that I will never be everybody’s favorite. In fact, if you ever are loved by everyone then you either are an incredible actor juggling a massive volume of deceptive relationships, a looney toon with a variety of multiple personalities, or you’re the anti-christ… honestly, any of those are bad, right?

I’m talking about fellow church members, or well, former church members.
It happens. People move on and go from one church to another, it’s a reality and we’re grown ups. We can deal with it!

Let’s not argue the merits of long term commitments, the value of community loyalty, or the damage of flippant relationships and decisions. We’ll save that for another time, and just concede that people take the leap and move from one church to another.

  • Maybe all their friends go somewhere else and they really need church to fulfill a social need that Twitter just wasn’t meeting.
  • Maybe music is so important God can only be where Gaither music is sung… you know they both start with G.
  • Maybe the last sermon totally offended them because they finally realized the Bible was talking to them and not everyone else.
  • Maybe they came to the conclusion that they wanted a church that was bigger, smaller, more medium-sized… no… just right… and found a new home at St Goldilocks.

There are a thousand reasons people move from one church to another, but can we just be grown ups and admit… for whatever reason… that’s why we left!

What I have experienced over the years is that people struggle with feelings of guilt or embarrassment when they leave a church. Maybe they feel a little selfish, or maybe they feel like they are leaving their ‘ex’ in a lurch. To cope with it, they deny the real reasons they chose to separate and justify themselves by demonizing their former church and pastor.

It happens in churches of all sizes, styles and denominations, because it’s not a church thing, its a people thing. A psychological and sociological phenomenon called blame shifting.

Junior high students do it with their homework: “The dog ate it.”

Young adults do it in their dating: “It’s not me, it’s YOU!”

And, church members do it in transferring their membership: “That pastor’s just not deep/spirit-filled/caring/pastoral/entertaining/biblical/friendly/accessible/handsome enough”

(Okay, I’ll actually give you that last one… sorry… nothing I can do about it)

Here’s the point: you shouldn’t deify your pastor when you’re there, or demonize him when you’re gone. Because if you put him on a pedestal he will fall, and you don’t have the right to send him to hell, agreed?

I’m just asking that we all grow up a little. If someone moves on, then move on, but don’t shake the pastor’s hand one week to say good sermon and then convince yourself he’s the devil when you find another church the next week just because you don’t know how to handle running into his family at the store.

Don’t invite people to church one week because you love the Lord and then call them all up after you find another church and say… “Don’t go there anymore, I think they are a cult, my bad”
God uses all kinds of churches, peoples, styles and ministries. Just because you love what you like, doesn’t mean you have to hate what you don’t.

I know my humor here is a little passive aggressive and I apologize, but the intent is sincere. We don’t have to worship in the same place to continue being friends.

“Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Let’s be good siblings in Jesus name, and when I see you at Wal-Mart… chill out… Jesus loves us both the same.

He just thinks I’m more fun… just kidding! It was a joke!! Calm yourself!!!

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *