I am about to exit what we call the Post-Evangelical Wilderness.
Over the next few Fridays I will be recounting parts of my journey both from the distant past, as well as from the recent past. I will also be discussing where I am heading and why. As a way of further introduction here is my post from three and a half years ago, when I officially entered the wilderness once again.
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I left a good church last month.
It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
Why do I call it good? It was full of people whose hearts were in the right place. The leadership was comprised of quality individuals. It was a church that wasn’t satisfied with the status quo and was seeking to evangelize and disciple. The people there were welcoming, caring, and loving. The music was consistently well done. I was part of an awesome small group (the thing that made it hardest to leave). I could go on and on about the different things I liked about this church.
When we first came to the church eight years ago it felt like home almost immediately. I recall a conversation early on in our time at the church. “How long have you been at the church”, one lady asked. “About nine weeks”, I replied. “Wow!”, she said. “It seems like you have been here forever.”
I have chosen not to elaborate on the details about why I chose to leave, other than to say that over time the church and I started heading in different directions, both philosophically and theologically. Well-intentioned people don’t always agree. Two sets of people with the same goal might come up with very different approaches to achieving that goal. Christendom is full of examples of that. In the past, on this site, I have shared much of my theological and spiritual journey. I have formed some strong opinions about many things, and many of these opinions have come as a result of me changing my mind about something I once believed. I also know that a good percentage of the views that I now hold will ultimately be proven to be wrong, which make me very hesitant to criticize those with whom I disagree. Who am I to say that my ideas are right and others are wrong? Maybe both sets of ideas are right, or both wrong.
The divergence of opinion reached the point where I said to myself. “I no longer fit. I don’t belong here anymore.” It caused me no end of anguish when I came to that realization. It took another two years before I could bring myself to write a letter of resignation. I am not a person who wishes to sow discord or dissension, but when I saw the seeds of that creeping in, I knew it was time to leave. I tried to do it as gracefully as possible, but I know that some people were hurt by my actions, and I am truly sorry for that.
I am not convinced that I will find a church that is a better fit and I am not convinced I will find a better church…
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Addendum: I still miss my old church. I miss the people. I miss the worship. I miss our small group.
I visit from time to time. I have also attended a few funerals for those who have passed on. Each time, the greetings I receive communicates quite loudly that we would be welcomed back. But I know deep in my heart that I still wouldn’t fit and that still makes me sad.
I am however at the point where I am able to start moving on, and I will be writing more about that in the posts to come.
As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome.