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.

A Hop…Skip…Jump…

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.

– Andrew

I gave my life to Jesus at age 15 and attended a Southern Baptist IC (institutional church) during high school and by the end of senior was ready for something different as I didn’t connect with anyone there and didn’t get anything out of the messages. I attended a large state college and got involved in a interdenominational christian organization. This would prove pivotal in my life as everyone had different backgrounds and beliefs but we all loved Jesus and the Lord used this group of believers greatly to teach me humility, discipleship, and freedom in Christ.

At the time I attended a family oriented non-denominational IC. When undergrad was done (I continued for four years in grad school for mental health counseling), I thought I was to leave that group and invest more in a different church and not just attend.

So I went to a large charismatic multi-racial IC for about 5 yrs. During that time I learn various things such as hearing the Lord’s voice more clearly, the importance of knowing him vs performing for him, and so on. Unfortunately, I also learned about the consequences of what happens when one person has complete control over a congregation. The pastor was the final word on everything (it wasn’t part of a larger denomination) and what he said went. Also, the paradigm there was that church was family and just like God hated divorce, he also hated when a Christian went to two different churches within the same city. If a member thought God wanted them to attend a different institutional church, the pastor would only give his blessing if the person was actually moving to a different city and traveling would not be practical. So when some of the pastors left unexpectedly and the main pastor didn’t talk about it, it was a huge deal and lots of us left during that season because of the hypocrisy of how it was handled (if we are a family, then lets talk about the problems that our family has and not ignore them).

So then I went to another IC in town and volunteered in the kids ministry and generally had a good experience for a few years with them. I read Pagan Christianity? one summer and didn’t have a “eye-opening heavy revvy” experience with it that some people have.. I had more the mentality of “well sure I can see that, but at this point the lord uses the IC and I know I’m being used in the kids ministry, so whats the big deal?”

A year after that, I was working the night shift at my job and therefore not attending Sunday morning services. Also by this time, the small group that I had been involved with for years disbanded (amicably; there wasn’t any fight, it was just clear to us that the season for it was over) and so the only connection I had with my IC was the Wednesday night service I went to to help with the kids. I was invited by a friend of mine to go to his new church Saturday night. I had no idea it was an organic house church; I just wanted to hang with my friend as well as go to a service.

Needless to say, I was surprised when I discovered what it was. For a few months, I went to both the house church Saturday nights while still helping with the children on Wednesday nights. After 4 months of this, many other circumstances were changing with my life (I went back to school for nursing) such that it became clear I was to end the kids ministry. The kids pastor and I were friends and he gave me his blessing to leave the kids ministry.

This was the last tie I had with the IC and it was obvious to me Jesus wanted me to fully devote my energies/commitment to the organic house church. I was done with church! So that is what I did…

– Thomas

Oswald Chambers once said, “Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us.”

Several years ago, I realized that I was bothered. It bothered me that I got paid to do what I tried to inspire others to do without pay, that churches would spend big bucks on “things” but turn away people in need for lack of funds, that I kept hearing more and more about character and principles than about this Christ, and that I embraced this mentality as what God wanted of His people, His church.

In 2007, I had a cushy job on staff with a church making decent money playing my guitar, singing, reading my Bible, praying, and spending time with people. Then God said, “Move.” He flipped our world upside down. We could stay in our house and church with our friends and cushy job, or we could go on spiritually.

So, we quit the job, sold the house, and moved in with my parents. I worked for mere peanuts. I wouldn’t have chosen that as “right” for us. But Christ is more.

In 2009, He asked us to step out of institutional christianity entirely. (Not easy, by the way. Especially when He asks you to keep quiet and not defend yourself against the lies, and rumors being spread about you.) We were definitely done with church in the traditional sense. But Christ is more.

Then He asked us to move again. This time, away from family and security and across the country to strangers and uncertainty. So, in 2010, we moved from Oklahoma to Florida, breaking families’ hearts along the way.

In Florida, I was constantly asked why I moved. I finally started answering that I moved for another woman, house, family, and better body, none of which were mine.

One day, I asked Christ why He moved us to Florida. The following is the answer I received:

“To strip the seeming beauty from the idols of the earth. To show you peerless worth. To fellowship with you, so you would have nothing else to do with those idols. To draw you, win you, and fill you completely till your cup overflows the brim. To capture your heart and unveil Mine. To pour out My grace on you so that sin won’t deceive you anymore. For you to hear Me, see Me, and know Me like you never have before.”

“For what purpose, Lord?”

“So that My Bride is made ready, My House built, My Family made complete, and My Body function under My Headship.”

Dear Brother/Sister “Done”,

I know you want to go on spiritually. From experience, I can tell you that it isn’t always easy or comfortable to rely on God to choose what is right for us. But I can tell you that He will always choose His Son. And His Son is the only right there is. May you rely on Him to work in you for His purpose. Amen.

– R.C.

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