My done with church story starts out very typical. I was raised in the Midwest. I attended church all throughout my youth. To be more specific, I was at church whenever it was open, including Sunday morning and night, Wednesday night and Men’s prayer breakfasts. I was active in youth missions and traveled around the world participating in short term mission trips.
I did rebel in college and remember questioning my religious roots. I did not want to attend church and believe just because my parents told me that was what I was supposed to do. At some point, I resided that they must know what they were talking about and that if it was good enough for them it was good enough for me.
I find myself a missionary in West Africa. There were glorious times and not so great periods during this adventure. Building relationships with the locals, working along side them and empowering them to teach each other things of the Lord were invaluable. Bickering with the other missionaries over agendas, finances and control were regrettable. When the tiny West African country was thrown into a civil war with constant conflict I returned my family to the USA.
As my wife and I were raising our children we took a keen interest in what they were learning in Sunday School. We combined what we were showing them at home and saw a disconnect between that and what the church was teaching them. While the children enjoyed going to church, it became clear that the entertainment and candy was what was drawing them. They did not have to bring a Bible, use critical thinking or get to learn about a living Christ. The focus was on fun and stories that happened in history but had little relevance for today.
Related to what the children were learning, there was a direct reflection of what the adults were learning in big church. The entertainment was on a professional scale with lighting, music and decorations. While the sermon was Bible based, the attendees did not need to read the Bible for themselves. This performance did not impress upon the spectators that Christ was alive today and was more than capable of speaking to each one of them without the props.
I should mention that I was on staff at this large church. Most of my time was spent teaching adult Sunday School classes and being involved with the leadership team. There certainly were good things happening in the community. But, the life of the church was very mechanical. The church was being run as a business. I was convinced I could change the church from the inside. I fought against the institution fervently. I was unable to change the direction of the machine.
I had to leave with my family to preserve and explore more of what the Lord was teaching us. It was a difficult decision, but I believe that Christ has gained more and brought us further in Him. We were definitely done with church!
Now I desire to connect those who feel like they are being called to something deeper together in community.