According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reasons Why I Left the Church & Why I Returned to the Church

'Church' photo (c) 2007, silent shot - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

15 Reasons I Left Church


by Rachel Held Evans
March 20, 2012


Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and it seems like everyone is trying to figure out why.

Last week, Christian Piatt offered seven reasons here, and four more reasons here. David Kinnaman recently authored a book entitled, You Lost Me, which details the findings of Barna researchers who interviewed hundreds of 18-29 year-olds about why they left the church.

I left the church when I was twenty-seven. I am now thirty, and after trying unsuccessfully to start a house church, my husband and I are struggling to find a faith community in which we feel we belong. I’ve been reluctant to write about this search in the past, but it seems like such a common experience, I think it’s time to open up, especially now that I’ve had some time to process. But let’s begin with fifteen reasons why I left:

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.

2. I left the church because when we talked about sin, we mostly talked about sex.

3. I left the church because my questions were seen as liabilities.

4. I left the church because sometimes it felt like a cult, or a country club, and I wasn’t sure which was worse.

5. I left the church because I believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that humans share a common ancestor with apes, which I was told was incompatible with my faith.

6. I left the church because sometimes I doubt, and church can be the worst place to doubt.

7. I left the church because I didn’t want to be anyone’s “project.”

8. I left the church because it was often assumed that everyone in the congregation voted for Republicans.

9. I left the church because I felt like I was the only one troubled by stories of violence and misogyny and genocide found in the Bible, and I was tired of people telling me not to worry about it because “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”

10. I left the church because of my own selfishness and pride.

11. I left the church because I knew I would never see a woman behind the pulpit, at least not in the congregation in which I grew up.

12. I left the church because I wanted to help people in my community without feeling pressure to convert them to Christianity.

13. I left the church because I had learned more from Oprah about addressing poverty and injustice than I had learned from 25 years of Sunday school.

14. I left the church because there are days when I’m not sure I believe in God, and no one told me that “dark nights of the soul” can be part of the faith experience.

15. I left the church because one day, they put signs out in the church lawn that said “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman: Vote Yes on Prop 1,” and I knew the moment I saw them that I never wanted to come back.

“I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals.” – Evolving in Monkey Town, p. 207

“We aren’t looking for a faith that provides all the answers; we’re looking for one in which we are free to ask the questions.”Evolving in Monkey Town, p. 204

In the weeks to come, I'll be sharing more about why I stayed with the Church--with a capital-C-- and about our search for a local faith community.



'44. the elements and candles' photo (c) 2009, Cathy Stanley-Erickson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

15 Reasons I Returned to the Church

by Rachel Held Evans
March 21, 2012
 
So yesterday’s post, 15 Reasons I Left Church, generated a massive response, which I was not expecting. (Must have struck a nerve.) Thank you so much for your comments. They were honest, encouraging, challenging, and true.
 
As I mentioned yesterday, I left church when I was 27, and for a couple of years, I really struggled with my faith. But as many of you pointed out, sometimes leaving church is the best way to find the Church, and that’s exactly what has happened as I’ve encountered the goodness and grace of God’s people at the Catholic church down the street, at the local church that rallied to bring food to my mom during her cancer treatments, through our quirky, grace-filled (but sadly now defunct) church plant, among friends and neighbors and fellow searchers, and, of course, with you.
 
Dan and I are still in search of a faith community that feels like home, but at the risk of sounding cliché, “not all who wander are lost.” So in that spirit, here are 15 reasons I’ve returned to the Church—with a capital-C:
 
1. Jesus

2. The Book of Common Prayer

3. The fact that when somebody gets sick or dies or has a baby or loses their job, it’s the church ladies who are the first to show up at the front door with a casserole and a hug

4. Anne Lamott

5. Communion

6. Connecting with other searchers who may not be part of a church, but are part of The Church (this includes many of you!)

7. The first sermon I ever heard from a woman

8. Sucking up my pride and embracing the fact that, like it or not, I need community...and real community isn’t about surrounding myself with people just like me

9. Liturgy that reads like poetry

10. Madeleine L’Engle

11. My parents, who, though we don’t always agree on all the political or theological details, have modeled Christian compassion and grace better than anyone I know and who have supported me through every “evolution” of faith

12. The Biologos Foundation, and especially Karl Giberson, who was the first to reach out to me and tell me that I didn’t have to choose between my intellectual integrity and my faith

13. The Mission (our church plant), which even though it failed on paper, changed my life and gave me hope for the future of the Church

14. Friends with whom we gather each week for movies, food, conversations about God, and the occasional (slightly awkward) church visit

15. Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace



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