I started reading a new blog several months ago…one that intrigued me. The bloggers name is Rachel Held Evans and she wrote a book called A Year of Biblical Womanhood. The book details her year of living exactly as the Bible dictates. I have not read the book yet, but I was curious to know how she came out of the experience. Did she decide that the Bible taken too literally was bad for modern women? Did she decide that it affected her faith?
So I started reading the blog and found some of her thoughts challenged me to see my faith differently. Some I agreed with – some I did not. That to me is the whole point of reading materials like her blog – to give me time to digest different ideas and then work through the answers and my own prejudices for and against them.
This month, she posted an article called “15 Reasons I Left Church”. I saw her reasons and I wanted to spend a little time responding to them. I won’t bother talking about all 15 of them, but a few peaked my writers mind. You don’t have to agree with me, or her, but I would love some honest dialogue about it.
So here are some of her reasons:
“1. I left the church because I’m better at planning Bible studies than baby showers…but they only wanted me to plan baby showers.”
I see a couple of issues here. First if you are attending a church that places more importance on social fellowship and less on Bible study – you may need a new church. However…there are a lot of churches that miss the opportunity to provide for the social needs of its congregation. This game goes both ways – you need balance.
It also seems to me that there is an inherent arrogance in that statement. I worked in the church women’s ministry for years. I know my own strengths and wanted to work within those strengths. But there are times when there is work that needs to be done that may have fallen out of that purview. I either accept the job, or I don’t. But it is not my place to whine about the lack of work I want to do. (And I can say this with all honesty as I lived it myself – I was the whiner once).
“6. I left the church because sometimes I doubt, and church can be the worst place to doubt.”
I have to agree. There is a culture in many churches where you fall on one side of the fence or another…you either believe or you don’t. And if you believe you can’t doubt. Which is dangerous. I believe that God has used my doubts to teach me…it would have been nice if I had been able to discuss those doubts openly and started a dialogue.
“8. I left the church because it was assumed that everyone in the congregation voted for Republicans.”
This is a particular pet peeve of mine. I can’t tell you how many uncomfortable conversations I have been in or overheard in the church, where anyone who did not vote Republican was decried as evil, stupid or delusional. I don’t believe that political talk belongs in the church. But the nature of people is that they talk about what is important to them. But when we get to the point where the potential President of the US is called the Antichrist (as Obama was when he was running last time) we have reached a level of political talk that is uncomfortable and is better left to your own homes. You can’t assume that everyone will feel the way that you do…not should you…and can you imagine how that conversation would have sounded to a visitor?
There are others – and she has a post about the 15 reasons that she went back to the church eventually. You can read that one here. She says she went back for Jesus, and grace and communion, and connection You see, all of her 15 reasons to leave had very little to do with God and everything to do with man. They were reasons that stemmed from a fallen world and the people that inhabit it. But a good deal of her reasons for going back were about the God that she should have been trying to connect with all along.
I hope you will take this as an opportunity to see why you choose to stay at a church or in the Church (know the difference?). I did.