Why I Have Left Church

Dear “Church,”

With all of the recent articles and blog posts describing why “youth” are leaving the church, I thought it necessary for me to put down my own ideas. To be entirely honest, it was my wife who wanted to write out why it is that we have decided to leave “church” and never go back. After reading many of these related articles, she has decided that she doesn’t want to write & address this ‘nonsense’ (in her own words), and so I’m taking the task.

In all honesty, I want to give reason to why I have left without giving any kind of hook or rude/offensive statement about church. There is absolutely nothing in me that desires to be mean or vicious, even though there have been many vicious articles written about me – since I am one of those “youth” that has left. This journey started a long time ago. I went to church, and I got burned. I think that this is true for many people that leave. Unlike many, however, I didn’t leave because I got burned. I left because I realized that the system will only use and abuse, and will never allow someone like me to flourish.

How about I start with some basic thoughts?

For someone that grows up in youth group, they are taught the same truth that they learned in the nursery. By the age of 13, they have exhausted the faith. By 16, they can lead Bible studies. By the time they are 20, they are probably youth leaders. Is this all that Christianity has to offer? When you have figured everything out, you go to seminary to learn original languages, what others have written, and maybe relearn everything that you already know? Is Christian life about relearning over and over again because humanity is too stupid to learn the first time?

But the truth is that this isn’t even necessarily the reason that we are leaving. The whole thing is cheap, and it seems like what others are offering is so much more authentic… That isn’t to say that we need something more intellectually stimulating. The show must go on, but we aren’t here for a show. We came to your “church” to hear reality. We came to hear the words of God. We came to hear what it is that God might be saying to this generation, but all that seems to protrude from the pulpits are “we can worship our way into heaven.” Other times, we only hear a pre-packaged message. I have yet to be to one church that gives reality instead of falsity. By reality I mean a reiteration of the resurrection life. Falsity, therefore, is a life lived out of our own ability.

Generally, the objections that are being raised in these articles are fallacious. “Kids are just liberal. We didn’t really let them “go to church.” All they got were nursery and youth group hours. They think we’re hypocritical, judgmental, and insincere. They think we’re shallow. We’re antagonistic to science.” The list goes on of things that really are surface issues.

These issues that people are writing only go to show the true problem. The real problem is that the articles describing how they out there who are leaving just don’t understand us who are here. It is completely the attitude. It is as though there is no problem with church as we know it, and the entire problem and blame lies on they youth. They are perverts and desire materialism and carnal pleasures. They want their gay friends to come and feel comfortable. They want to live like hellions and still have heaven. They want, they want, they want.

The real issue is the very core of what we call church. The system itself does not allow for truth. There is a remnant Church that has ever and always been present, but the vast majority of Christian “fellowship” is really only there as religious exercise. We don’t need “hipper” worship, or more powerful sermons, or to be able to answer difficult questions. We need reality. We lack honesty and truth. The Church at the beginning met daily, going from house to house breaking bread. They lived according to their convictions. By and large, we “put faith” in our convictions, but we do not live from them.

You didn’t need to tell the people in the first century to sell their possessions; they did that naturally. You didn’t need to tell the people in the first century to meet daily; they did that naturally. You didn’t need to tell the people in the first century to lay down their lives for their brethren; they did that naturally. The law of love that was shed abroad in their hearts caused for them to live and move and have their being in a very unique manner. Their lives were transparent before one another. Truth reigned supreme. And they engaged the culture by the reality of their lives.

Why are the “millennials” leaving? It can only be because the “church” is seeing them go, and telling them, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken with where they start by saying, “I would love to believe, but…” Too many of these articles only seem to talk about how great we are, and how those rotten kids don’t understand. They call it a “lost” generation, and they really believe it. There is no point in trying to save them, they’re a lost cause. The problem is not that we need to be more relevant. We need to be more authentic.

Paul said that he was crucified with Christ – it is no longer he that lives, but Christ that lives in him. The extent that we say that this is only rhetoric and playful word games is the extent that we have forfeited the faith. We have an entire Christianity that is based off of applauding Paul for his faith, but then rejecting that anyone today can possibly achieve such a state in God today. Perhaps there are simply too few who have witnessed or seen the reality of the crucified life.

The whole of the Christian life is to be lived out of the life of God. We do not perform out of our own ability, but instead lean not on our own understanding. The beauty of Christianity is that when we lose self (Luke 17:33), we actually obtain it. The paradox is that when we forfeit self, we find self. True humanity is the marriage of spirit and flesh, male and female, Jew and Gentile, black and white, slave and free – that they be one as God is one.

Christianity has nothing to do with “doing,” and everything to do with “being.” Ultimately, the reason that I have left “church” is because there is the lack of “being.” All of the things that are applauded and accepted as truth are typically displayed as symbols, metaphor, and sometimes sentiment. Sometimes you can find a “church” that tries to put these things into practice, but even in these circumstances they fall short for reasons that I’ll address later.

The majority of church-ianity has only allowed and applauded far too often the religion performed out of our own ability. We have not truly died, and therefore we have not been brought to a place of resurrection. To defer to myself instead of trusting in God – in any moment – is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God is eminently and always a resurrection phenomenon.

Speaking for myself, it is the lack of that glory that has caused me to leave. When we are starving for truth, and all that is given are cheap cliches and forgeries of truth, it is time to leave.
In conclusion, I want to say that I have not left God. I have left “church” to find God. I have left “church” to find The Church. What is desired is reality. Our lack of reality and conviction in what we say we believe is true has driven the youth away. They see through our false identity. They watch as we say that we believe the Bible, but then live lives completely contrary to that Bible. It doesn’t have to be something abominable. When we set up church services so that we can be done in time to go home and watch sports, we have lied to God.

God desires that we be progressing toward an ultimate end. There is a time that He desires to call upon us, as His Church, for ultimate purposes. We cannot fulfill those ultimate purposes if we are busy playing games and singing songs. If our Christianity is known by our Sunday services, then we have become apostate. But there is a reality that the youth are searching for, and I don’t believe that the fat woman has started singing yet.

In love, wishing you grace and peace,
Tommy Comer

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21 thoughts on “Why I Have Left Church

  1. Powerful words… so many valid points. I couldn’t agree more… though I do, of course, believe the body of Christ is extremely important and that we shouldn’t separate ourselves completely from the Church. I left the “church” myself, and have instead found a community. I’m thinking though… how will all of those hearts in the “church” be changed if they are never able to witness a soul truly lost in the depths of The Lord? It’s all a part of your calling, and where you feel -God- wants you to be… For instance, I feel Him calling me back into the “church” as a stealth-fighter and breaking those religious spirits in people…. Thank you so much for sharing this. Glad I found your blog 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, you’re right. I left rather reluctantly. When people ask, I tell them to stay in their congregations until the Lord specifically says to leave. I’ve found that there are many both inside and out that just happen across my wife and I’s path, and I praise God for that opportunity. We’re currently in the place where we’re transitioning to a new place, and we hope that when we move we can begin to reach out to those that have been hurt and need healing. I’m glad you’ve ‘found’ my blog too 🙂
      Grace and peace in Christ

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” –Acts 18:9-11 NIV

    “Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
    He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’
    The Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.'” –1 Kings 19:14-18 NIV

    The Lord has community for all of us, no matter where we might be in location or life. Many years ago, I was a young girl looking for Truth amidst a lot of emotional turmoil, hopelessness, and, to put it in biblical terms, sin and paganry. I cried out for reality; the Lord heard that cry, and surrounded me with people who, though “gritty,” “messy,” and at times, hard to be around, loved the Lord sincerely and were searching for Him in the best way they possibly could at the time. The Lord decided to answer that prayer through a group of friends from a congregational youth group.
    While that group of people did not last forever, and in some ways was fractured because of sin, the Lord has always been faithful to lead me to a body of believers who Love Him, and therefore, Love me. Pray that simple prayer: that you find men and women who truly Love Him and who will Love you because of it, and follow the Lord wherever He leads you. I know He will be faithful to bless you with rich, authentic, Christ-Loving community.

    I’m praying this, and will continue to be praying this, for you and your family as well. Praise Jesus; may He continue to use you right where you’re at for His glory alone.

    In Christ alone,
    AnnaLee
    (writer for Hephzibah Prayer Ministry, Isaiah62blog.wordpress.com)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andy

    Sir, I came to your blog via one you recently commented on. I think I understand where you are coming from in terms of frustration at the phoniness that exists in so much of what passes as christianity. That people say they hold convictions, but fail to live in light of them. It may be that the vast majority of churches are just goat pens, but there are pockets of solid churches out there. They aren’t the big, showy places, but they exist. They’ll still have flaws, but being less driven by business models for “growth”.

    Our family recently moved church to a far smaller church (with a longer commute) to get someplace that is respectful in the way worship is conducted.

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  4. I understand where you are coming from. I am 17 and the fact my family is one of those “radical” families. I believe that God has called us to so much more than what is being taught, and I do see the phoniness that is what many people call “Christianity”
    God has called us to lay down our arms, and abandon the stands, no longer being fans, but being followers. Even if it means giving our very life, it is all to share God’s amazing love and grace.

    However, I do want to ask you about Hebrews 10:24-25 ” And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    I do not want to get nasty, but rather I want to further understand your view.

    All glory be to Christ our King!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m open to answering questions 🙂
      One of the things that I would say right away is that the particular verse in Hebrews that you quoted isn’t so much about forsaking the church buildings, but forsaking all connection with the brethren because of fear of religious persecution. This is why when the author of Hebrews finishes the thought in verse 31 that he goes straight into remembering their sufferings and persecutions in verse 32.
      Also, this verse goes back to Hebrews 3:12-13, where we read that we should not depart from the living God, but should exhort one another DAILY. Daily exhortation doesn’t seem to take place in the church buildings either. At best, you might be able to do what I did in college, which was to have a different Bible study or prayer group that you were a part of every day, but that doesn’t nearly reach the scope of what our author is telling us to do.
      This brings me to a third thought: I don’t see in the New Testament anywhere that would tell us a local church is smaller than a city. Paul writes to the church in Rome, the church in Ephesus, the church in Colosse, but never the churches in Corinth (or wherever). Galatia was a province with many cities, so we read “to the churches in Galatia”, but that is the only one. As far as the church that met in Nymphas’ home (Col 4:15), I think it is important to note that in those days many didn’t have homes, and those who did were selling them (Acts 2:45, 5:1-2). It wouldn’t have been uncommon for there to be several homes that people would gather in from day to day throughout the city, and Nymphas just seemed to be one of the homes that Paul knew of.
      I hope that helps? Grace and peace in Christ, and love and blessings from Ohio.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That did help, thanks. I understand the fact that in those times(and still in other places today) churches are often held at homes or in other areas, not necessarily their own church building. Yes it is important to encourage one another daily, that is why I have e-mail and facebook, so I can talk to, encourage, and continue to sharpen my friends, and my friends also do the same for me. So when you say you left the church, you mean that you left the building, but you are still getting connected with fellow believers and still growing in the Lord, correct? That to me brings up one important point to me, and that is community. We are a body, an army, one big family. We are made to need one another, no one can live the Christian life alone, it is impossible, you need that help and encouragement. My family started foster care a year and a half ago, I never knew how much I relied on God and His people before then, but I know I need it now. The Cliche saying is true “A lone ranger is a dead ranger”

        All Glory be to Christ our King! Blessing from Michigan

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      2. Okay, good, I just wanted to check. I have known people who just leave the church altogether and I believe that is against what Hebrews 10 says. Thanks, just wanting to make sure you were not falling away.

        Grace be with you

        All glory be to Christ our King

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  5. I think your comments are very perceptive. I think what you are reacting against is the institutional church as it developed in the late 19th Century, and it can be argued that this modern, institutional church really isn’t very biblical when compared with what we see in the New Testament. I am glad to see that you still recognize the Body of Christ and want to be an active part of it.
    For myself, I am currently part of a house church fellowship. It is still very much a work in progress, but I think that there is some real potential there. I also think, that with the upcoming Supreme Court decision about gay marriage that there is going to be a seismic change in the entire church scene. Churches and individual Christians will have to decide where to stand on the issue, and those who wish to remain biblically orthodox may have to prepare to go underground (it’s not to hard to see them losing their tax-exempt status). Hopefully this will have the beneficial result of groups of believers reorganizing on a more biblical basis.
    Have you ever given any thought to starting a more biblical, non-institutional fellowship of believers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To answer the question at the end, it depends on what you mean by “fellowship of believers”. In one sense, I certainly think that any gathering is a non-institutional fellowship of believers. In another sense, I do have hopes of one day homesteading with multiple families together, going from house to house daily, living life together, inviting anyone and everyone who desires truth. At this time I don’t have the community that I would like to have, but I do thank God for the people I get to at least see multiple times a week.

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  6. If you get a chance you might want to get a hold of a copy of “The New Testament Order for Church and Missionary,” by Alexander Rattray Hay. The book has long been out of print, but you might be able to find a copy on EBay. Hay was originally from Scotland, and was a missionary for many years in Argentina and Paraguay. On the mission field he was confronted with the question of what kind of churches should the missionaries be planting. This led him to investigate what the New Testament had to say on the matter, and he came up with some interesting conclusions.
    As for theology, read the Puritans! They were good at what the older writers sometimes called “Experimental Divinity,” by which they meant a kind of theology of experience. It was all biblically based, of course, but they really explored what it meant to have a meaningful relationship with God.

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  7. I have left the Church too. The Lord Jesus led us out and now we have a group of believers meet with us at our place twice a week. We eat lunch together, pray, sing and fellowship together. Generally the people who come to us are all outcasts – the mentally ill, the poor and the drug-addicted.

    We are certainly not perfect, in fact sometimes it is just plain hard, but God is very gracious to us. Previously I had been in institutional church all of my life, literally since I was born. I can honestly say I have never felt so free as I do now. It is so lovely to be free of religious spirits.

    I can also honestly say my family and I have never been attacked so much by Satan before as we have been over the last 3-6 years we have been doing this. But God is ever teaching us, leading us, conforming us to the image of His Son and drawing us closer to HIm through this and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

    May God bless you to be surrounded with the ones He has hand-picked for you.
    Belinda

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  8. Thank you for your honest comments. My wife and I (she is the pastor) recently began a fellowship because we feel much as you do. We both know God has given each person gifts to help His church and this world, but not many people are taught how to discover their gifts or how to use them in a practical manner. We hope to change that.

    We are reading a book right now by the Barna group called “You Lost Me”. The book gives much information on why millennials are leaving. You have confirmed a great deal of what their research stated.

    Be encouraged. There are many people in the body of Christ who are working to see that this generation fulfills its place in God’s kingdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There is an incredible amount of respect and reverence for your bold words and honest emotions. Oppositely, I would not be able to support a decision to leave all “church” settings. As humans who are completely flawed by sin, made dead in our transgressions we needed something. We were given Jesus. Jesus, as you know, was 100% man and 100% God. He is perfect, He is the standard. When we observe Jesus and the life He lived one thing is for certain, He had community. Jesus established what our communities of believers are to follow. Jesus knew that Mathew was a money hungry tax collector, he knew that some struggled with pride, some struggled to see their sin. They only had one thing right, Jesus. They knew that Jesus was the risen King. What good is that? You know Jesus is the King, the Son of God. Jesus knew that no man is an island. He knew that without one another the enemy would quickly corrupt His precious name and His loved friends. The early disciples mirror the churches. “How? These guys today want our money, to be hip, to dismantle the church as it was created.” Well, as a body we tend to allow our mouths to do all of the speaking. What portion of the Christian body are you? Are you a servant? If you are the hands or feet of the church then do as we teach children, place your hands over the mouth of the church and allow the head (God) to speak. Churches are much more than pastors, elders and worship leaders. Churches are community. The community of the church needs to step up. It is NOT enough to blog, complain and attend church if we are not contributing. It starts with ourselves, with raising up our children to be Christ followers before Christians.

    The body of the church each plays a unique roll. We are told- if a part of the body causes you to stumble cut it off. Leaders in the church are people too, they fail, they are flawed and they are sinful. They need the other portions of the body to assist them . Some people struggle with greed, others do not. Some struggle with pride, others do not. I encourage you to find your spiritual gift and use it to help your church. Someone with such love for the Lord as to leave in protest surely is a benefit for the church .

    Also, there is often a time to leave a church if you sincerely feel that it is contrary to the Word of the Lord. If you and your family are in this place I encourage and will be praying that you two “be still and know” that He will guide you to the church where He can receive glory. I pray that you are able to lead your family in a Godly way.

    thoughts?

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    1. I do appreciate the concern, but the truth is that I probably won’t be going back to the buildings. While I’m certain that many desire to not fellowship, not be confronted with their sin, not have the struggle of life with other believers, this is not the reason my wife and I have left. It was actually the opposite.
      When I said that the youth can only be leaving with the words, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”, I speak from experience. There are some who are genuinely following Christ that meet in the buildings, but the majority are just there for obligation and religious duty. The fact is that I simply don’t believe that meeting a couple times a week for a couple hours is what constitutes ‘church’. Church is about daily living together, that when you ‘leave church’ you don’t go home; you are home. It is about going from house to house breaking bread. It is about speaking the truth in love, and confessing our sins one to another.
      These things aren’t embraced within the Sunday culture. There is a degree of desire to come to that, but it typically stops at the desire. When actually finding others to practice this with, and finding that we were all growing tremendously in our walk with Christ, (almost) every congregation that I’ve been a part of has then stepped in and run us all out. I’ve been excommunicated for simply holding Bible studies that weren’t condoned by and/or filtered through the leadership.
      Ultimately, I have discovered that the buildings are nothing more than systems and institutions. They have their own goals and ambitions, not the least of which being the perpetuation and survival of that system. Anything that might come against that perpetuation is vehemently opposed. Sometimes, all that is necessary to ‘come against’ is to simply not go with the flow, not be one of the boys, ask simple questions of why we do things the way we do, or say something that they don’t doctrinally believe in. Anything that suggests that you are in the slightest disagreement with the leadership or the way they do things shows that you must ‘diabolically’ oppose everything about them. Not true, but it certainly leads to many stories and many wounds.
      Over the congregations, the principalities laugh and mock. We claim unity, we claim love, we claim Scriptural integrity, but yet we go against the very Scripture in forsaking fellowship with any other congregation or community of believers. If we do have fellowship with other congregations, it is only within our own denomination (maybe beyond if it is Nazarene, Methodist, and Wesleyan). Certainly the Baptists will ever and always wage war against the Pentecostals, and the Protestants against the Catholics, and all of us are against the Orthodox and Anabaptist. That kind of forsaking of fellowship and building up the wall of hostility in the Body of Christ is anathema. Anyone who claims to be of Christ and does it is a liar and doesn’t know the truth.
      Once again, I know there are many people in the system that are not of the system. Yet, to support the system at this point is something I’m unwilling to do. I’ll be the guy outside the camp sitting next to the Tabernacle in hopes that I might get to see the glory of God from afar. If that purposeful dwelling outside the camp is something that makes many upset, then so be it. For others it will draw them, wondering what it might be that leads me to join Christ outside the camp and weep for those who are within. My wife and I haven’t left Church, nor forsaken fellowship, but have been banished from those buildings. We still meet with people, we still live life with believers, we still witness, we still hold the sacraments, we still pray, and we still spend hours of our week talking via face-to-face with the brethren. With all of this, it caused my wife to ask, “Who left the what?” We’re very much part of the Church, only we’ve been forsaken by the many buildings we’ve been to of all different denominations and styles.

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  10. Cherie Morse

    I love what you say, truly I do. And as a fellow “youth” of the church I know exactly the feelings of being left out. Of being pushed out, as I was pushed out of a church family that I still love with all of my heart, but their “leader” doesn’t love me. Everything that happens in the church, all the things that you see going on, start with the leader. It starts with the people that are most involved, or have the biggest vision or loudest voice. And I’m telling you, it’s harder the it looks to try and get what the young people are looking for.

    I’m 18, just graduated high school and in my first semester of college. I’m also an intern at the Methodist church in a small town not far from the city. Yes, I’m 18, interning at a church, and loving every second of it. See, we cannot blame the church as a whole, and I know you aren’t and I’m not trying to say you are, but we have to look at the church as pieces. If you have a leader that doesn’t want to admit there needs to be change, there won’t be. If you have those influential people in the congregation that don’t want change, we won’t get it. We need more people willing to express honest thoughts!

    My mentor is more then a mentor, she is family. And the way she does ministry is amazing, and I’m blessed to get to be apart of it. I’m telling you, the church as a whole isn’t rotten, or sick, or anything else. It’s trying to survive. The reason we “youth” are leaving and walking away, because all they see us as is children. The people of my congregation think I’m 25. I’ve told them I’m not, but it doesn’t seem to change anything. I promise, I’m 18, and my understanding of the Methodist church in small town America is truly growing and changing, but they are some of the hardest places to keep a church alive.

    What I’m trying to say here is we need more people like you. More people willing to stand up and express what they truly believe is wrong with the church. I truly believe that you have made some very valid points, and in my journey through ministry I will surly keep them in mind. I’m inspired by your boldness. May you continue to be a blessing in your community and be that spark to the fire of someone else’s relationship with Christ.

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    1. Thank you. I’ll keep you in prayer, as I remember. One thing that I’m sure you’ve already experienced is a good ole fashioned “ruining”. When you experience something beyond what you see others, or hear others, expressing, it ruins you for anything less. So often, what I’m nervous of is that there are too many who have experienced salvation, but have then either been blocked or refused to enter into anything deeper. The prophetic perception, which is one of Zion, heaven in all its magnanimity, cannot stand for anything less. To some, this is an offense beyond repair. To others, it is life everlasting. What so often is true for my wife and I is that we get pushed out and away before we have any chance of “building and planting”. The teacher and pastor’s heart are of the flock, which is exactly what its supposed to be, but this will sometimes hinder the prophetic or apostolic function that seeks nothing short of the glory of God in the Church. Everything less than that glory is opposed, sometimes seemingly ferociously. The best thing that the ministers of this generation can do is to seek to understand the eternal perspective, and to live and move and have their being from that perspective.
      Grace and peace in Christ, dear little one. May God fill you with all wisdom and understanding, that you might know and live in the reality of the New Jerusalem, who is our mother.

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  11. Anonymous

    Dear T,
    I was reading your commentary on Leviticus 15. I found it quite enlightening. Kudos.

    I stumbled into it from a cross reference in Matthew 15:2 where the Pharisees are asking Jesus, “Why do your disciples transgress the teaching of the elders.” I’m sure you well know that they had the law of Moses which were direct commands from God, but they also had the “oral law” or traditions that were added as each generation of elders contributed their thoughts on the Law of Moses. They were holding these oral traditions in higher esteem than the revealed Word of God.

    As I was reading your reasons for “leaving the church” I was moved by your chronology of a person who is raised in the church, comes to know the Lord, teaches bible studies, figures it all out, goes on to seminary and learns from a bunch of other people… is that all there is?

    What I found in your commentary in Leviticus leads me to believe that a lot of people you met, in that chronology of faith in your own life, spent a lot of time and resources helping you become as knowledgeable and articulate about the word of God as you are, including the help you got all through it from the wisdom of God Himself for without Him we would have no knowledge. God would ask, “Why do you now act as if you have achieved a higher level of understanding than others as if what you’re preaching now is something you have achieved on your own?

    If a person thinks that fulfilling the mission of Christ as He set out in Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission, has somehow become meaningless, then Matthew 15:2 covers that in my mind. To lose the glow of being honored by Jesus Himself, to not cherish being His ambassadors to the world every day, to not look forward to bringing an eternally life-saving message to others who would otherwise face eternal death…what would make someone tire of that? Could it be it became something they felt obligated to do instead of a reason to walk the face of the earth every day as more than a conqueror? Maybe the lessons they taught didn’t get the response they were expecting. Maybe they didn’t get the attention that someone might think their insights deserve.

    Meeting gnarly Christians is something else that can wear on a believer. Jesus has called some pretty ugly people to Himself. They are people whose sins were as red as blood. In the eyes of God they were darkness itself. They are now saved but not yet perfected. They fail to live up to all our expectations but they are not lost. They do not always give more grace to others than they give to themselves for committing the same wrongs. Yet, they are covered by Christ’s grace. I am one of those believers? Are you one too Brother T?
    You mentioned the first church in the book of Acts, how they went from door to door breaking bread? How they met in their homes? Are you doing these things now? I’m not asking to be critical, I’m asking because when you say “I left the church” it can be misconstrued. If you are a true believer in Christ and following Him is your greatest desire, you can’t leave the church. The church of Christ is you. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, another great honor bestowed on us that is constantly exhilarating in my opinion. So, the commission of Christ commands us into four activities: 1. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. 2. Baptize others in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 3. Teach them all that Christ is teaching us (raising up disciples) and 4. reach the world and help others to receive Christ for salvation.

    So I commend you on what appears to me to be the ongoing fulfillment of Christ’s mission in your life. If you are a believer you aren’t leaving the church, you are just expanding it to other horizons, as long as you’re still operating the same four commands of Christ: believing, remaining in fellowship, teaching and sending folks out. That’s all a corporate church is, a church that has grown and has taken on financial responsibilities to retain their fellowship in facilities that will hold a large group of people comfortably. My current church is a big church and we reach people around the globe and locally. Is it better to meet in a home than a big church? I’m not going to judge others in Christ. They are His servants. I do know a massive amount of human aid is sent out across the world by big churches like ours. A lot of otherwise empty bellies are filled; a lot of otherwise naked children are clothed. There is no equivalent to Christian charity in the whole world. I don’t think as Christians we can turn our backs on that and call it wrong can we, as it is the fulfillment of God’s mission.

    Can a church grow stagnant? Yes. Matthew 15: 1-2 again, or as the song says…not really believing, just “going through the motions” of church. That doesn’t sound like you Brother T.

    Finally, there is the point of leaving the fellowship. I went to many churches in my younger days. I used to see the hypocrisy in people. I used to see the lack of understanding in others. I used to feel there were too many people just looking for a handout instead of wanting to do the work of God in the church. I went from church to church to church and my search went unrewarded. I was like the Energizer Bunny, I just kept moving on and moving on. When I was a child I thought as a child.
    When I first learned of the Great Commission a great thought came with it. If I saw hypocrisy in the church, that wasn’t a reason to leave it. That was a reason for me to be a living example of not being a hypocrite so that others could learn from that. If I saw people out of the fruit of the Holy Spirit it was because God had placed me there to show others by my example how to live in the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23). I jumped right into it.

    I showed people I could always be counted on, I would always do what I said and I would always do it right when I said I would. I would never let anyone down. My responses were always love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. There was only one problem, I didn’t always do those things. It wasn’t in me. That is the fruit of His Spirit, not mine. My spirit is dead, killed by sin. It is His Spirit and His grace within me that allows me to be of the greatest amount of service to others, no matter how imperfect or illogical that may be at times.

    When I wanted something to be changed because I couldn’t stand it, God was always quick to seize the most important element of the problem and correct it immediately. He seized and corrected me first.

    In this, the strength of God living His life through us, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us, is the power to stay the course regardless of circumstances. It is the power to be grateful for what God has provided us and not being discontent with what we don’t have and not being discouraged by who we are not. It is the power to walk as more than a conqueror among the many pitfalls the powers of darkness put in our way. We can escape the landmines of the gnarly Christian, the missiles of the gossipers, and the lack of encouragement of the prideful around us because, without the Spirit of God, there goes I.

    Let this knowledge be our new tradition, building up the fellowship and maintaining it and thanking God for the great honor of being His servants and workers. It is the getting together of those saved by Christ that show His glory, perfected in our weaknesses, as we stand on His strength alone as one body, trusting in God, believing that Christ’s resurrection has brought us to eternal life.

    In His spirit, I see all of that in you Brother T. Remain faithful, remain in Him, and bless your loved ones wherever all of you may be. I pray for Christ’s protection and guidance for all of us.
    .
    You’re brother in Christ, David

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    1. I thank you for the comment! Leviticus is an interesting read, and usually causes boredom. But I love it.
      Ironically, it was when I broke away from the buildings that I began to more fully comprehend and appreciate the message of Scripture. That isn’t to say this is the norm (I’m not sure what is…), but that while the mantra has often been recited that you can’t change things if you’re outside, you won’t have fellowship, you won’t grow, etc, it’s been quite the opposite experience that I’ve had. Leaving the buildings is a personal choice, and I’m not going to say that everyone should. However, I did notice the bait and switch. The church is the people, and everyone is trained to say that. Yet, when you ask someone about their church, they talk about programs, sermons, worship music, etc. What about the people? Yes, I’m a part of the church, and I thank God for that. It’s impossible to leave “church” in that sense. However, I have indeed left the buildings called “church”.
      Most of the people I interact with are also discontent. I’m a lot like David in that way (1 Sam 22:2). I came to Christ at 17, and by the time I was about 19 I had my pastor’s entire theology outlined. It was Pentecostal, and so there were a lot of things that contradicted (as with many theologies). I spent about 8-10 hours a day reading the Bible and praying daily. I just recounted a time with my wife when I was part of a prayer group who kept accountable to one another. We went around and said what our morning devotion was, and I was embarrassed when I said that I read 40 something chapters of Isaiah that morning.
      I was an atheist before Christian, and to me, this wasn’t a game. I had met the Christians who lived casually, and that was what caused my atheism (in part).
      In regard to the buildings, what I’ve found is that it’s really a system of religion. Often times there are good hearted and genuine people in the congregations, but that isn’t the measure by which we’re to assess whether something is truly “church”.
      Like the Catholics in the Medieval age, too often God and Church are put so close together that the only way to serve God is at church, through church, and in church. If you’re not in the system, then you’re not truly fellowshipping, worshiping, teaching, discipling, evangelizing, etc. You might be authentic, but often times that doesn’t matter. For those who are sold on the buildings, however honest they may be, often they are serving two masters.
      Grace and peace in Christ,
      Tommy

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