Following Jesus While Struggling With Church
As a former pastor who loves Jesus with all of my heart, trying to reconcile my faith while distancing from organized Christianity has been quite the journey. Throughout this journey, I've had incredible conversations with people from around the world who are in the same boat. While I wouldn't consider what I'm about to write extensive, I would say that there are some deep truths embedded in this conversation that are continually unraveling. And my hope is that you'll find yourself leaning on Jesus while processing your own journey, and that some of my realizations will be hopeful for you, even while struggling with church.
For those who still find themselves in the organized church world, please don't receive this as an attack. My hope is that we'll walk with Jesus with open eyes, understanding that a problem in how we fulfill His great commission is not the same as having a problem with Jesus.
For those who have walked away from both Jesus and the church, I sincerely pray that you'll view this conversation as a distinct separation of the organization and following Christ. While representatives of Christ are supposed to be direct proof of Christ, that is unfortunately not always the case. And I hope that this will free you up to some degree to begin separating the two conversations.
12 Steps For Those Who Have Walked Away From Church-Organizations, but not necessarily Jesus:
1 - We realized that paying for a relationship is actually the definition of prostitution. If my money (and my service) guarantees the continuation of relationship, then I've put a heavenly seal of approval on something that is illegal in our natural world.
2 - We realized that Jesus’ call to preach the Gospel was a call to preach His good news, not an organization’s specific doctrine. Jesus' Good News is exactly that: no bad news attached!
3 - We stopped feeling guilty for choosing to rest with our family on our days off instead of furthering the weekly mission of an organization. We chose authentic relationship over volunteer employment. That doesn't mean that we isolated ourselves, it simply means that we built relationships with people for the sake of relationship - not for the sake of building someone else's kingdom.
4 - We created meaningful opportunities to build relationship with people who agreed and also disagreed with us - on any number of issues. We saw this as a direct reflection of how Jesus experienced relationship. He was often drawn to those who found themselves in opposition to the organized religious traditions. His first priority was loving them, loving them so much that they found safety and hope, and in that safety and hope they determined to walk with Him.
5 - We realized that because Jesus is perfect theology, we no longer needed to hold onto modern, traditional or ancient creeds that were developed outside of the Biblical narrative. We determined to hold onto Jesus.