I wasn’t raised in a Christian home and only attended church with my family on Easter or when we were visiting my believing grandmother. Even with such limited exposure, I was continually drawn to thoughts of God and had experiences that made me certain He was real, but it wasn’t until my husband and I were in our late 20’s that we found Christ. Although we began following Him at the same time, God had been speaking to us individually and without the other one knowing until we confessed it to one another.

The church we started attending quickly introduced us to all the different spoken and unspoken rules that came with being part of an organized church. One older church member even mentioned our enthusiasm for Christ and told us we’d get over it eventually. We were restless and dissatisfied in each of the different churches we attended over a period of 30+ years. Although they were different denominations, we found much of the same thing in each one: They were run like a business, most members had no voice at all, the budget and programs were more important than people, the well-to-do were practically courted, those in need had less value, and cliques abounded. In the middle of this, we experienced nine very difficult years of what we eventually recognized to be spiritual abuse, and it took quite some time for us to find real healing. In addition, I always felt like I was never really accepted, and that I was always on the fringes, on the outside looking in, despite the fact that both my husband and I were leaders in the churches we attended.

Remember the church member who told us we’d get over our enthusiasm for Christ? He’s right — those experiences quenched our passion quite thoroughly. However, the desire for Christ never left us. We were certain that our experience wasn’t what God intended for the body of Christ, and everything we read in the New Testament about the church confirmed that in our spirits.

In the last organized church we attended, I had been asked to teach in adult Sunday School on a portion of the book of Acts. The more I studied the passages and read of the life of Christ the early church had, the more depressed and dissatisfied I became. There was a fullness of Christ’s life described in those pages that I had never experienced in church. On the way home from the last Sunday service, I told my husband that I was convinced that God never intended for me to leave church more depressed than when I got there, and that I was done. He agreed and supported me in my decision to leave, although he wasn’t ready to leave and remained in the church for a while after that.

About this time, the wife of a couple we had known from the time when we had been under spiritual abuse invited me to gather with them. She told me some about the organic church and suggested some books to read that explained it further. I was intrigued and agreed to get together with them at least once. I admit I was somewhat hesitant to meet with this couple, partly because there had been a break in relationship with them while we were all under the spiritual abuse, but also because it would be pretty noticeable if I didn’t go back.

The first time I sat down in their home and they began sharing what little they knew about the organic church, a great sense of relief swept over me, and I knew I had finally found the spiritual family my spirit had been craving all those years. We embarked on that journey together several years ago, with my husband joining us after a little over a year. (I’m glad to be able to say that my husband and I were not only completely reconciled with this couple, but we’ve grown into a richer and sweeter relationship with them than we’d ever had before.) Others have also joined us on this journey. It’s not been easy, but we’ve seen clearly that the fullness of life in Christ involves being in deep relationship with Him AND His body.

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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