The Faithful Dones: Continuing the Conversation

“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned link

Tulip
Tulip

I have to admit that I was startled by the response to Monday's post The Dones: Faithful Church Refugees and the DeChurched Project. The number of new commenters was particularly interesting. I have decided to compile all of the comments into a document and send them on to The DeChurched Project. However, I also want to write a future post based on the comments received. 

We are at almost 700 comments and I think it could grow higher! This conversation is nowhere near finished. This is the first time that we have ever continued the conversation in this fashion.

I decided to see if we could get all of you *Dones,* *former Dones* and *on the brink of being Dones* to list the top 3-4 reasons why you are in one of these categories. (Don't worry, if there are more, list them all.)

The following categories are just some suggestions off the top of my head. You can put whatever reasons you wish into your comment. This is for those who have already told their stories as well as anyone else. You also can continue to share your stories without these categories.

I am just trying to wrap my head around this fascinating outpouring.This morning I spoke with with one of our readers on the phone who said she had cried over many of your stories.  

So, here are some suggestions. These are only a few suggestions and by no means scratch the surface.

Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done

  • Secondary issues being stressed (please let us know which ones)
  • Authoritarian leadership
  • Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones)
  • Too much emphasis on judging outsiders
  • Mishandling of child sex abuse
  • Mishandling of domestic violence
  • Pastor doesn't know my name after x years
  • Church money being spent on buildings, etc.instead of on ______ (fill in the blank)
  • No one talks to me
  • To much emphasis on giving
  • Music
  • Judgmental members
  • No one called or helped me when ____________ (fill in the blank)
  • Boring sermons
  • Bad theology
  • Church discipline/Church abuse
  • I feel like my talents are ignored
  • Science was denigrated

Why I stopped being a Done

  • I missed fellowship (Define)
  • Wanted to participate with others in worship
  • Friends invited me back
  • I wanted my kids in a church
  • I felt guilty
  • I needed support (What kind)
  • I missed the music
  • I missed the teaching
  • I was worried that people would think I wasn't a Christian
  • I was lonely

Finally, if there are some of you who have suggestions for alternative means of fellowship, feel free to share your thoughts.

If any of you would like to share your story as a post, please let us know. My heart has been touched by your stories, and I feel like the sharing should continue. Feel free to comment under either post.

Comments

The Faithful Dones: Continuing the Conversation — 528 Comments

  1. Enough of the “Who’s On First?” and let’s get to the actual commentary Dee was asking for.

  2. Funny about your quote, I finally just got round to reading the Beautiful and the Damned and am currently about halfway through. Love FSF

  3. 1. Authoritarian leadership
    2. Bad theology
    3. A pastor who was willing to lie to maintain his status and authority–while calling me a liar

  4. I haven’t decided how to self-label with the ever-growing list of terms available. But I will say that there is more to it for me than just being a survivor of spiritual abuse by malignant leaders and their toxic systems. Key issues for me about conventional, contemporary approaches to “doing” church include the following:

    I endured a series of churches over decades where almost all of them were “cultures of consumerism.” Paid staff and select volunteers carry out the ministry, everyone else just sort of plugs into what they do. This is the DNA for passivity among disciples. Whyever would I want to link anyone into such a corrosive culture that will stifle their spirit and turn them into perpetual dependents and not equip them to be robust disciples?

    So-called “ministry participation” slotted people into program-oriented roles that usually had nothing to do with exercising their individual spiritual gifts but instead relied on general service that just about anyone could do.

    These churches had no mechanism for equipping and releasing attenders/members to start up new ministries based on their gifts, passions, and relational connections — and leaders indicated absolutely no interest in changing that situation. So the entire ministry structure was dictated by management and used imported programs and methods, and there was little about it that was developed by local people or was sensitive to local cultural issues. Their systems were institutional, not organic. From what I understand of paradigms and organizations and cultures, these were set up for self-perpetuation, which means they are monolithic entities that are unsustainable in a world of multiple cultures and of constant change.

    Here’s the big-picture glitch in how those churches functioned as organizations: We are personally responsible for how we steward the gifts and opportunities God gives us. So, I can’t stand before my Lord and Savior and whine about, “The pastors wouldn’t let me or anybody else do anything!”

    So, it came to the point where it was clear that I couldn’t contribute more to such churches than occupy a chair, give financially, and do what I was told. That might have been their preferences for “church,” but it certainly wasn’t much of a vibrant community. So, I have been using my giftings and abilities where they are (as best I can discern) wanted and will make a constructive impact, and where there is one-anothering involved so parties involved both give and receive.

    One such space has been online among other survivors of spiritual abuse, to participate in learning communities where we help one another process not just our experiences of abuse, but many other aspects of life and ministry, so we can keep on a trajectory of transformation to become more like Jesus. I also continue in a number of mentoring relationships that go back 10 to 15 years. I’m also involved in ongoing life-uplifting relationships that aren’t often face-to-face, but include regular contact with emails and direct messages and phone calls and such, so that I spend more time with these fellow-travelers on the Way of Jesus than I used to spend with people from a local church. Altogether, these are the primary “church body” where I am connected for meaningful relationships and service.

    My hope for those who are “done” with those kinds of institutionalized churches is to find opportunities to use our spiritual gifts, Bible knowledge, and experiential wisdom to take up missional ministries that make a difference in the lives of people around us, especially through mentoring disciples.

  5. #1. A False Witness.

    Example: True Christians are to be a witness for our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptising in the NAME of God (Matt 28). A False Witness, as an example(which is “witless”), teaches people are sinning against Jesus if they don’t TITHE (this is what PDI/$GM did). So it is a mix of Authoritarian (false) leadership, Bad (pin-head) theology, and people who want to live a legalistic life, rather than the TRUTH AS IT IS IN THE REAL JESUS!

  6. Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done

    Authoritarian leadership

    Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones) I believe politics doesn’t belong in the church. I am not a Repub.

    Too much emphasis on judging outsiders and insiders.

    Mishandling of child sex abuse

    Mishandling of domestic violence. I was bullied into apologizing to my abusive husband.

    Pastor doesn’t know my name after 2 years

    Church money being spent on buildings. Varied acording to church.

    No one talks to me.

    To much emphasis on giving

    Judgmental members

    No one called or helped me when_my parents died.

    Boring sermons

    Bad theology

    Church discipline/Church abuse

    I feel like my talents are ignored

    Science was denigrated

    I have attended many churches over the years. Some were better than others. Only one out of maybe a dozen churches would I go back to. Unfortunately, I now live on the other side of the country.

  7. I forgot to delete the why I might become a done. The church that I would go back to was the opposite of many churches. They were more Jesus like than almost all the churches I ever attended. They spent most of their money on helping the poor people in the neighborhood. When it came time to take the offering they would say God doesn’t need your money but if you want to worship him be helping them serve the community then you are welcome to do so. There is much more I could say about this church but if I could find a church like that in Florida I would dive right in.

  8. We left charismania (what is considered early IHOP) 25 years ago. We searched and searched for a church that understood the power of preaching and holding to the Gospel and ended up doing house church, off and on, for 15 years. At one point, after much searching, finding so much foolishness in the church, and just plain busyness, we inadvertently joined the “done” crowd.

    During this time, I began to listen to Mark Driscoll, et. al, and found myself gravitating towards the Reformed crowd. They appeared so much more sound in their doctrines. It’s been quite an eye-opener watching major ministries implode in these circles over the past few years.

    So, wanting to steer away from the reformed mega-church venue, about two years ago we began attending a small non-denominational fellowship. It is now beginning to show warning signs of authoritarian leadership. They are patterning their missional communities on the SOMA family of churches, with YRR leanings, church covenant agreements, etc. All of this may just throw us right back into the “done” crowd. Which we really don’t want to be in…but we simply can’t stomach all the foolishness that’s creeped in. I thought we’d dodged a bullet leaving charismania…but this is beginning to feel a bit “out of the frying pan, into the fire”.

    It appears our next stop will be liturgical fellowships. I, however, am weary of trying. The Lord has faithfully given us plenty of fellowship and opportunities to serve outside the camp. Too many man-made rules to follow inside, IMO.

  9. Reasons I’m nearly a” done”
    (1) the Child Protection Policy was not implemented
    ( 2) controlling / micro management style of leadership
    (3) no accountability to the church members ‘re finances
    (4) emphasis on how things look rather than integrity
    Reasons I stayed so long
    (1) I loved the leaders , they helped me through difficult times therefore admitting to what was wrong was difficult
    (2) I was reluctant to uproot my family and start again
    (3) I struggled to distinguish between the normal ups and downs in relationships and recognising spiritual abuse
    Reasons I am trying to find another church
    (1) there are children in my family, evangelical Christians are in a minority here , the kids need community
    (2) I fear drifting away from the Lord

  10. In no particular order, though my first one is a pretty big deal and rightfully sits at the top of the list, here are some reasons why, although I’m not yet “done,” I’ve pretty much checked out at my current church. This covers things I’ve dealt with at this church, so it doesn’t include any abuse cover ups, though those issues would shoot to the top of the list if they were in play. My “almost done” status doesn’t preclude me becoming involved at another church should one present itself that avoids many of these pitfalls. So, here we go:

    * Treatment of women as second-class citizens
    * Sky-is-falling attitude toward culture war political topics (LGBT people getting equal rights, abortion, anything deemed “socialism” i.e. anything not far-right politically)
    * Rejection of [straw man of] “evil-lution” (with that spelling, need I say more?)
    * Unabashed anger, shown by yelling and intensity during sermons, toward liberals of either political or religious stripes
    * If a person is LGB or T, they will be under constant suspicion, but if a person shows clear and constant hatred toward LGBT individuals in their words and actions, the leadership may cluck their tongues, but will do nothing to address vile comments (leaving me to wonder, do they agree? So much for “hate the sin but love the sinner”!)
    * The view of “community” is three services / sermons a week, plus Sunday School, with hesitance to add small groups or other activities because it might “take away from sermon attendance.” So, in other words, no real community unless you create it yourself outside of church.

  11. This is the first time I’ve posted. I couldn’t resist. My top 3:

    1) Elite Pastoral Team who don’t associate with members. After 10 years, most of the pastors didn’t know my name, those that did rarely gave me eye contact and didn’t say hello when I passed them in the hallways. Once I bumped into my assigned pastor at Starbucks and he pretended he didn’t know me (i.e. looked away real quick when I walked in the door). Many of the pastors would hang out at Starbucks during the day.
    2)Unapproachable/unavailable pastors who delegate the care of members to non-paid care group leaders who have full time jobs, long commutes, and family responsibilities. I was very thankful for our faithful care group leader who sacrificed so much of his time for the members in our group. It was almost impossible to get an appointment with our pastor since he didn’t like to meet after 5pm. His Saturdays were booked well in advance. When we did meet, he was pretty ineffective. Since we didn’t have a relationship with him, we relied on our care group for support/care instead of our assigned pastor.
    3) Cliques among members/youth group, especially those who are in leadership positions;
    4) All of the above created a non-friendly, non-loving, non-Christ-like culture that was oppressive.

    I was a “Done” from a church with a celebrity pastor. Now I’ve found another church with loving members and a humble pastor who loves and cares for his church members.

  12. I dropped out decades ago but 3 things will keep me from coming back:

    Lying for Jesus seems to be OK with a lot of so-called Christians.

    Lying about the theory of Evolution is especially OK. In fact it is required to be a True Christian(TM).

    I was raised UMC and have had no quibbles with them until they decided to discriminate agains LGBT people.

  13. Why I’m Currently a Done

    1)Boring sermons – I find more inspirational sermons on-line that focus on Jesus

    2 Bad theology – Misinterpreting scripture to fit an agenda

  14. 1. I was tired of hearing the message that we weren’t good enough. God was always mad at us. That shit made me suicidal at one point. 2. The manipulation and control. 3. Grace not being taught. 4. Realized most people were pretending. Not so much because they were hypocrites, but because it was safer than being eaten alive by the pastor. 5. The cover ups(I was a witness to sex abuse cover up when I was about 15) 6. Political affiliations. 7. Inequality for women
    8. Their stand against homosexuality
    9. The doctrine of Hell
    10. The hypocrisy of the leadership (like learning that 1/3 of all pastors are addicted to porn). 11. Creationist doctrine.
    12. The bible says some crazy f***d up stuff. Like if you love me you’ll kill your first born. WTF. I recall The God Journey folks saying, “If you wouldn’t have a friend like that, why would you have a God like that!” Seriously.

  15. Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done

    Secondary issues being stressed (complementarianism, at the top — women are told they are “cherished” but in actuality they are “second class” citizens of heaven; mode of baptism; homeschooling; quiverfull)
    Authoritarian leadership
    Too much emphasis on political issues (abortion, anti-gay rights, women in the military)
    Too much emphasis on judging outsides
    No one talks to me
    Bullying/shunning of children, especially by leaders’ children
    Too much emphasis on giving (not a whole lot of sermons on tithing, I can recall one, specifically, but a whole lot of social pressure to tithe and give sacrificially above the tithe, and much humble-seeming pride on the part of those who gave more)
    Music (in the end, music could only be led by males, even though there were more-qualified females who could have done so)
    Judgmental members
    Bad theology (God created some people to be saved. Others he created *just* for the purpose of throwing them into hell, destroying them. It makes him sound like a toddler given to tantrums. If scripture really says this (and it seems to) then I’m not sure I can continue being a “done” — I might end up as “none”. It no longer salves my conscience to think, as I’ve so often been told I should not fret at the idea of God creating people for destruction, but rather bask in the idea that he deigned to save some, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.)
    Church discipline/Church abuse (we watched the abysmal discipline of “wayward teens and twenty-somethings” in the church with sorrow and dismay, and then it was our turn…)
    I feel like my talents are ignored (I’m a woman. Need I say more?)

  16. refugee wrote:

    Secondary issues being stressed (complementarianism, at the top — women are told they are “cherished” but in actuality they are “second class” citizens of heaven; mode of baptism; homeschooling; quiverfull)

    I know the popular term is “Secondary issues,” but I gotta tell you nothing makes me see red more than using this term (not by you personally refugee) to describe women’s issues!! The other term is “non-essentials.” grrrr….

    Aren’t these terms the equivalent of relegating women to a subservient position?

  17. Why I’m nearly done

    1. No place for participation: Communion is rare, the music is designed to be performed by a team and not sung in congregation, very little opportunity to express feedback.
    2. Bad theology: No women elders (written), no women speakers (unwritten), overall neo-calvinist vibe, dispensational eschatology.

    Why I stay so long.

    They’re family. There’s a genuineness and a real love there.

  18. I could easily become a “done,” but I didn’t know there was a *term* for the frustration I’m feeling.

    Reasons why I was ready to leave my church, before I found out we were leaving the area:

    1) I was horribly sick while pregnant, and couldn’t afford childcare. This meant my 2 year old was often babysat by the TV while I threw up into a bucket. I tried explaining this to church members, and not a single person offered to help. I had to be at the brink of premature birth, willing to beg, before people stepped up.

    2) Even though I asked for prayer at the front of the church, from all the elders, for my daughter’s eating disorder, not a single person has called to follow up, or check up on how she’s doing, or offer support of any sort.

    3) No one helped us move, even though (again) I was pregnant, puking, and we don’t have family in the area. After getting desperate, two very over-worked families w/ five kids of their own (each!) helped.

    4) We still worked like dogs on the worship and technical teams.

    5) A family who clung to Mark Driscoll’s teachings told *two* different women to go back to abusive husbands, even going so far as to support the husband in joining the church, despite the fact that the abused woman had *fled* there. I brought this to church leadership both times. That family is still in a prominent leadership position. Only my relationship w/ Dee and Julie Anne, and my reposting two of their articles on **Facebook** was able to change one of the family members minds. But, the abusive husbands of both families still attend the church. The wives are nowhere to be found. 🙁

    6) Childcare was horible for Bible studies. We had to find and pay for our own, despite having a $100,000 sound system.

  19. 7) Church leadership expressed sympathy and “forgiveness” for Josh Duggar on social media, talking about God’s ability to restore anyone.

  20. Posted this on the other thread, but it could better go here, I suppose. All of the reasons I gave pertain to our situation.

    E.G. wrote:

    On the other hand, I don’t get the “done” phenomenon either, because the vast majority of small to middling churches out there are not unloving, uncaring, uncommunitarian places. I attend a smallish church that generally works hard to exemplify love. If this church went south for some reason, there are at least two or three more in this town (and I live in a small town) that would also be fine. I’m not stuck on the church or the denomination. I’m stuck on love lived out in fellowship.

    You have to understand, more than one reason can be in play:

    – a “done” has been so hurt, as not to want to risk any further hurt

    – a “done” who is an otherwise competent, intelligent person, cannot believe that s/he went along with it as long as s/he did (or even got drawn in, in the first place, though that might be explainable. Why, oh why, did it take so long to recognize the falsehood, and then having recognized it, why did this supposedly intelligent person question *self* rather than the perpetrators and others who’d had the wool pulled over their eyes? Surprisingly apt expression, in this case.) In any event, this particular kind of “done” doesn’t trust his/her judgement to choose a healthy church.

    – a “done” keeps hearing about abuse in other churches, or when going on word-of-mouth from seemingly contented christians, looks at their friends’ churches and finds ties to A29 and 9Marks, for example.

    – a “done” might have attended a mainline church in the past, and found it “dead”. Oh, it might be a social club, a place to go on Sundays, even a place with people who do some good (fundraisers, for example, to benefit the poor, or a weekly dinner for the homeless), but the worship is all form (“smells and bells” I’ve heard it called) and you hear people in charge talking about things like not believing in the virgin birth.

    – a “done” might have been accused of “church shopping” or “church hopping” in the past. Or worse. Won’t go into detail, but the accusations that happened in our final interview at the church we left last year were vile and disheartening and manipulative — I suppose they expected us to stay in that church to prove that we weren’t the type of people they were insinuating.

    – in our case (before we got sucked into hyper-calvinism), we came out of a liberal church where grace abounded, but the sermons talked about such things as “the myth of Adam and Eve”. That was off-putting for me, anyhow. If we start throwing out parts of the Bible, then who decides what parts are worth keeping? As a matter of fact, if only parts are worth keeping, then what’s the use of *any* of it? There’s a lot of wisdom literature out there. I was blessed, in college, before I got “saved”, by the writings of Kahlil Gibran, for example. And that poster with the “Desiderata” on it — I knew people who set their moral compass by that piece of writing.

    I could go on, but any or all of the above might apply. Depends on who you talk to.

    Specific reasons that led to us being “done”, that I didn’t mention above:
    – No matter how we tried, we were never accepted. We could never quite crack that invisible code that enabled one to be welcome amongst the in-crowd. (“in-crowd” sounds so… unbiblical)

    We spent two decades at that church, and yet our friends were mostly the other unfavored ones. Not that we wanted to become accepted as “in” and then would have ostracized the “other” people — we believed everyone was a part of the Body, that there shouldn’t be factions. But we felt tolerated, at best, by those that everyone there would have called “the leading families”. Sort of like Junior High all over again.

    – the elders’ children decided that our kids were not worthy of associating with. Why? I haven’t a clue. The stories I heard after we left, of cruelties and back-biting, make me weep. No wonder our kids didn’t want to go to church. No wonder they kept to themselves during the social times before and after services. What makes this acceptable christian behavior? How could those kids — *elders* kids, at that! — possibly believe that this is the right way to treat *anyone*???

    – we watched other families’ “rebellious” teens and twenty-somethings disciplined — *not* discipled, but disciplined — and then when ours became completely detached from the church (who could blame them?), it was our turn, except that we chose to leave the church instead of staying and letting our kids be excommunicated for their “rebellion” (which was actually *hurt*).

    – when other families left, we contacted them because we were troubled and wanted to know why. In so many cases, it involved a woman questioning the leadership and being labeled “divisive” or “rebellious” or “a gossip”.

    – when I questioned the elders, citing my perceptions of “second-class citizen” status, frankly in despair at the emptiness I felt inside, I was first accused of speaking sarcastically, and then when I convinced them of my sincerity, I was labeled rebellious. It was all my fault, and my husband’s, for not following the “biblical” way that the elders taught and demonstrated in their own lives. (Though, talking to our kids, I learned how behind the scenes, their lives and their families were not the perfect picture they presented to everyone else.)

  21. Victorious wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    Secondary issues being stressed (complementarianism, at the top — women are told they are “cherished” but in actuality they are “second class” citizens of heaven; mode of baptism; homeschooling; quiverfull)
    I know the popular term is “Secondary issues,” but I gotta tell you nothing makes me see red more than using this term (not by you personally refugee) to describe women’s issues!! The other term is “non-essentials.” grrrr….
    Aren’t these terms the equivalent of relegating women to a subservient position?

    I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I also understand why they’re called “secondary issues” — primary issues having to do with the deity of Christ, if I’m not mistaken. At least, by my understanding, He has the pre-eminence in this discussion, and everything else is secondary to that.

    I could be wrong, though.

  22. The reasons on “Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done” appear to be about issues with the church leadership and/or congregation… they don’t offer the possibility that the “Done” person was “done” for selfish and unrighteous reasons.

    “Why I stopped being a Done” reasons continue that underlying premise.

    Reading this article one could draw the conclusion that no one ever leaves a church for the wrong reason.

  23. Reasons I hold all things loosely when it comes to church, though wanting to belong to a local community of believers:
    There is a tendency in many (not all) evangelical churches I have attended towards
    1) cliques
    2) bullying
    3) perfectionistic thinking about life (purity culture and yet hypocrisy, intact family unit idealized, lack of willingness to welcome the foreigner-which I have been all my life)
    4) knowledge puffing some up while love being choked out.

  24. We have been in 8 churches over the last 40 years. 1 was great, 2 were good, 3 were OK, and 2 were horribly bad. The defining moments in all of the churches but the horribly bad were when new leadership came in and wanted to change the vision of the church, it was always at the expense of equipping the church for the work of the ministry and forsaking the leading if The Holy Spirit. It became more of building up the men of gawd.

    My husband and I have always been I terested in ministering outside the 4 walks of the church. Most churches did not like that. My husband has been an elder, deacon, Christian school board member. . He would never compromise in what he felt was the right thing g to do. He was made so miserable when he was an elder that he resigned to protect the ministry we had( outside the 4 walls). It was interesting when I heard several people refer to him as the conscience if the elder board.

    If we ever go back to a church, it will to one that cares about the poor, homeless, widowed, fatherless etc, rather than about church attendance the building fund.

    I do have to say that throughout the years we have met 4 exceptional Pastors. They were all humble men who cared more about the people in their care than they did about themselves. And they hated being looked up to, preferring to point people to God.

  25. refugee wrote:

    I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I also understand why they’re called “secondary issues” — primary issues having to do with the deity of Christ, if I’m not mistaken. At least, by my understanding, He has the pre-eminence in this discussion, and everything else is secondary to that.

    You are correct, in my understanding, refugee, however I hear the term most often when the subject of women comes up in any discussion.

  26. refugee wrote:

    Victorious wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    Secondary issues being stressed (complementarianism, at the top — women are told they are “cherished” but in actuality they are “second class” citizens of heaven; mode of baptism; homeschooling; quiverfull)
    I know the popular term is “Secondary issues,” but I gotta tell you nothing makes me see red more than using this term (not by you personally refugee) to describe women’s issues!! The other term is “non-essentials.” grrrr….
    Aren’t these terms the equivalent of relegating women to a subservient position?

    I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I also understand why they’re called “secondary issues” — primary issues having to do with the deity of Christ, if I’m not mistaken. At least, by my understanding, He has the pre-eminence in this discussion, and everything else is secondary to that.

    I could be wrong, though.

    I struggle with this too. Comp/Egal is not a primary issue regarding salvation, the deity of Christ, etc. But I find it hard to lump it in with modes of baptism and schooling choices. It is far more important than that. Most of my friends are comps and I would never break fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ over the issue. But many people have broken fellowship with me or stopped reading my blog once they realized I was not a full-on complementarian but instead believed in mutual submission.

  27. With my physical disabilities its just to hard to attend church right now. The megachurches with their hands always out to you for your money but not to help others out in the community is a big issue for me. The fact that many churches believe that women can’t be in leadership position is also another. I believe that women should be ordained ministers, and in fact know some of them. When the church is to busy spending money on every kind of activities that are possible, including a minister of those activities, gets to me. When they won’t help out those in the church who are ill and need help, and the poor who can’t even afford to tithe, it really bothers me. I come from a family of giving people. My grandfather was always the first person to help someone out in church. He helped out at the church, he visited the sick, he did things for those who needed it done, and left this legacy on to his family. We all are like him. Whether I am going to church or not, I will always help my neighbor out, my family and my friends. I will be there to support them however I can The church is supposed to do this, not have to be told to do it. These are my reasons. I guess you could say been there, done that, got the t-shirt for it. Like many who post here, there has been a lot of hurt experienced in churches.

  28. @ WillysJeepMan:
    Oh, yes, of course there is the possibility that people leave church for selfish reasons.

    I’m very selfish. I left the church because I couldn’t stand to watch my teens being hurt. Isn’t that stupid and selfish? I didn’t leave over doctrine. I didn’t realize until we’d been gone for some months how screwed-up the doctrine at that church had been.

    Certainly CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll left their churches for selfish reasons.

    Yes, people can leave churches for the wrong reason (maybe they want to continue molesting children and the pastor says it’s evil; on a more serious note,I knew a woman who left a church because she divorced her husband and married another man, but since I didn’t know her reasons or what went on behind closed doors at her house, I can’t really say if she was in the wrong, or if it might have been considered a “biblical divorce” by theologians), but this forum has been discussing people who have left for reasons of spiritual abuse, so it’s no surprise (to me, anyhow) that the bulk of the discussion is assuming the people had sound reasons for leaving.

  29. Why I am a Done:

    1. Bad theology – not about the love of Christ and co-labouring of the Holy Spirit, instead works based
    2. Don’t agree with how American church structure operates- don’t see the need to sit in a pew like a lump of clay listening to someone speak for 1-2 hours on a Sunday. Want more dialogue with others about life together as Believers.
    3. Talents not being used
    4. Never felt wanted- just a third wheel
    5. Always felt fear and guilt in church- wanted that to stop
    6. Wanted to reach out more into the world for Christ without the stigma of a denominational tag
    7. Do not like the tax exempt status of the church and heavy emphasis on tithing
    8. Pressure to do more and more and more
    5.

  30. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    refugee wrote:
    Victorious wrote:
    refugee wrote:
    Secondary issues being stressed (complementarianism, at the top — women are told they are “cherished” but in actuality they are “second class” citizens of heaven; mode of baptism; homeschooling; quiverfull)
    I know the popular term is “Secondary issues,” but I gotta tell you nothing makes me see red more than using this term (not by you personally refugee) to describe women’s issues!! The other term is “non-essentials.” grrrr….
    Aren’t these terms the equivalent of relegating women to a subservient position?
    I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I also understand why they’re called “secondary issues” — primary issues having to do with the deity of Christ, if I’m not mistaken. At least, by my understanding, He has the pre-eminence in this discussion, and everything else is secondary to that.
    I could be wrong, though.
    I struggle with this too. Comp/Egal is not a primary issue regarding salvation, the deity of Christ, etc. But I find it hard to lump it in with modes of baptism and schooling choices. It is far more important than that. Most of my friends are comps and I would never break fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ over the issue. But many people have broken fellowship with me or stopped reading my blog once they realized I was not a full-on complementarian but instead believed in mutual submission.

    And, of course, the CBMW is making comp/egal into a primary issue. A salvation issue, actually, right?

    (and yeah, I get you… it’s why I put it *first* on the list, but it really is galling, isn’t it. Except that I knew at least one very outspoken judgmental person at our old church — and there were probably more who were “nicer” about their bigotry — who elevated secondary issues as almost an art form. I remember debating with her about whether non-homeschooling families could be welcome at church (I kid you not).

  31. Reasons we left our former PCA church:

    1. diatribes against the “government schools” with no regard for those who can’t afford private schools or homeschool

    2. right wing, constitution party politics sometimes appearing in the pulpit

    3. heavy pressure for wives not to work outside the home (aside from some approved exceptions, apparently), regardless of the family’s financial situation

    4. too much doom and gloom about our country’s trajectory, not many reminders of our hope in Christ

    5. if you are not firmly a young earth creationist, best keep your real opinions to yourself

    6. influence of the major Federal Vision guys and other patriocentrists–including importing the Bayly brothers’ men’s ministry curriculum from Clearnote churches

    7. the difficulties involved with bringing an autistic son to a family integrated church with no nursery or Sunday school

    8. head of household meetings (which in their case really meant male heads of household)

    9. an annual ball (costumes optional) with a number of rules for the young adults, which I’m not inherently against, that included no young lady allowed to be by herself at any time (including the bathroom?)–no such restrictions on the gents apparently

    10. a church body comprised of far-flung people who really couldn’t see each other that often except when somebody was hosting a potluck

  32. Jazmin wrote:

    1. I was tired of hearing the message that we weren’t good enough. God was always mad at us. That shit made me suicidal at one point. 2. The manipulation and control. 3. Grace not being taught. 4. Realized most people were pretending. Not so much because they were hypocrites, but because it was safer than being eaten alive by the pastor. 5. The cover ups(I was a witness to sex abuse cover up when I was about 15) 6. Political affiliations. 7. Inequality for women
    8. Their stand against homosexuality
    9. The doctrine of Hell
    10. The hypocrisy of the leadership (like learning that 1/3 of all pastors are addicted to porn). 11. Creationist doctrine.
    12. The bible says some crazy f***d up stuff. Like if you love me you’ll kill your first born. WTF. I recall The God Journey folks saying, “If you wouldn’t have a friend like that, why would you have a God like that!” Seriously.

    Well, Jasmin, I agree with most you say, except that the Bible doesn’t say anything “crazy” or “bleeped up”, it’s just sometimes filtered through the eyes of the type of people who like to use phrases like “WTF” who are ignorant of the culture in which it was written and who in their prejudices and modernistic chauvinism are unwilling to further investigate and wind up tossing the baby the way of the bathwater. Just sayin.

  33. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    that no one ever leaves a church for the wrong reason.

    What is the “wrong reason” and who gets to define it, and please provide biblical references for your response. Thank you.

  34. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    The reasons on “Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done” appear to be about issues with the church leadership and/or congregation… they don’t offer the possibility that the “Done” person was “done” for selfish and unrighteous reasons.
    “Why I stopped being a Done” reasons continue that underlying premise.
    Reading this article one could draw the conclusion that no one ever leaves a church for the wrong reason.

    Nice try, but your attempt at an incisive point falls apart on examination.

    This was not a poll to determine whether the reason people give are valid, it was a poll to determine what people’s reasons were. People are quite free to say they left a church for stupid reasons, I doubt seriously that D&D would strike that comment.

    WJM – Have you ever opined that vocal leaders within the institutional church typically draw the conclusion that no one ever leaves a church for the right reason?

  35. I would love to write about this at my blog but some people I reconciled with would be hurt I think if I did. But get this…

    When I was approaching people in mass to ask for forgiveness and work things out I had a couple of Christians who told me to stop, let it go and move on. Don’t try and fix things or work them out. Leave it be and move forward. That is what grace is for. I purposely ignored them…but had I listened I wouldn’t have worked things out with 137 people.

    How sad….

  36. I’m done, but not quit yet. Speaking from a Southern Baptist perspective:

    (1) Bad theology
    Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist denomination in America is proceeding at break-neck speed. Reformed theology is aberrant Christian teaching. Traditional SBC belief and practice is hanging on by a thread, as reformed influence comes in the back door by stealth and deception. New Calvinist leaders already control 7 of 11 SBC entities (lead seminaries, publishing house, home and foreign mission agencies).

    (2) Authoritarian leadership
    With Calvinism, elder rule polity will gradually replace congregational governance in the SBC. It is already the ecclesiology of choice by YRR pastors in SBC’s new church plants. Traditional churches will drift into that model within a generation as older members pass from the scene. SBC’s theo-politics at the national level are in the hands of a relatively few authoritarian leaders who are out and about shaping the 21st century SBC into the image of Calvin. Ye shall know them by their arrogance … control and manipulation are not fruit of the Spirit.

    (3) Church discipline/Church abuse
    There are too many horror stories of elder rule gone bad (Acts 29, Village Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, etc.). Women members are oppressed in spirit; their spiritual gifts are not recognized or encouraged. New Calvinism preaches to men. In SBC church plants, 30 year old pastors with 20-30 year old “elders” is a recipe for disaster … the youth group doesn’t need to be in charge of church.

  37. These are the things that keep me away from many churches

    1. Gospel Coalition/Acts 29/9 Marks connections
    2. Neo Calvinism
    3. Seeker sensitive
    4. Authority
    5. People like Mark Driscoll and John Piper being pushed as the answer (puke)
    6. Let’s grow, grow, grow especially when we can’t take care of the people who attend.
    7. Pastors who feel a sense of entitlement and live in a bubble that don’t know what is happening to their congregation.
    8. Divisive secondary issues becoming primary…complementarism, young earth creationism, rapture, etc…
    9. The purity façade backfires in so many ways. I in admitting my struggles with regular porn from time to time got hammered. It led other people to lie or be dishonest. The culture punishes honesty and encourages dishonesty.
    10. Selective about what is sinful. I’ve never heard topics like greed, gluttony, etc… tackled and addresses. Do you want to know how many times I heard sex hammered?
    11. Cliques, and insider groups
    12. Environments hostile to doubters.

    I’m currently writing a post at my blog about a church in Fairfax, Virginia that pursued a church plant and growth when they can’t take care of people who attend there now. Church growth is needlessly divisive and it compounds problems of people getting connected or serving.

  38. A few of my reasons.

    1. Christians, especially of the regular church going variety, are not willing to expend time, energy, or effort to personally help another hurting person, even when asked to (whether financially, giving emotional support, other practical assistance)

    2. Adult singleness / childlessness / childfree.

    Many churches continue to put too much importance on marriage, children, the family, and meeting the needs of married couples.

    While they simultaneously either ignore adult singles, or, the churches that pay them any attention, demean and denigrate singleness and/or being without children

    3A. Gender complementarianism (also known as biblical womanhood and manhood),
    in which sexism is actually passed off as being God’s design for humanity, with a few cherry picked or misinterpreted verses for support.

    In this system, women are not permitted to utilize their skills and talents, or to pursue areas of personal interest (where they feel drawn), but get relegated to roles, such as babysitter in the church nursery, that they may have no interest in nor aptitude for.

    3B. Continually minimizing domestic violence if they bother to address it at all;
    Putting the burden on the abused wife to change or fix the husband via her behavior / pressuring the abused wife to stay with the abusive spouse no matter what

    3C. Divorce.
    Either treating the divorced like the unpardonable class, and insisting there are little to no legitimate reasons for people to divorce (not even abuse).

    4. Ignorance and/or disdain about mental health problems.
    Treating people who have mental health problems like failures, or giving them ineffective advice, such as telling them to just pray about it, read the Bible more, or go volunteer at a homeless shelter to deal with it.

    5a. Too preoccupied with attracting the kids and college crowd.
    Anyone over the age of about 35 is ignored. But churches will do back flips to get kids in the door. Which results also in point 5b.

    5b. Too much concern with being Relevant and with image.
    Churches spend large sums on rock band equipment, a 55 year old preacher tries to dress and act like a 21 year old on stage, churches have to have a slick web site, etc.

    6. Authoritarian preachers – and they aren’t held accountable.
    Preachers like Mark Driscoll bullied the people he worked with and for at his church for years.

  39. BTW…here is my latest post.

    David Murray from the Gospel Coalition and the Free Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan critiques Brian William’s interview with Matt Laurer on NBC.

    My question is this…why is The Gospel Coalition so quick to jump on others yet go silent on CJ Mahaney or Mark Driscoll. Why are they silent on support Matt Chandler’s repentance to Karen Hinkley? What kind of Gospel are they promoting?

    I emailed this off to David Murray after finishing it.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/david-murray-on-brian-williams-the-most-painful-blog-post-i-ever-read/

  40. Top reasons for being “almost” done:
    1. Spiritual abuse of many in former church.
    2. Cover-up of child sex abuse without rebuke or consequence.
    3. Lead pastor in new church says he doesn’t usually meet with members of the congregation.
    4. Pastors of new church hire staff person to focus on caring for the congregation because they believe they have too many other responsibilities.
    5. New church leadership refuses to implement kid and youth protection policies – they believe nothing will happen in their church.
    6. Invasive Neo Calvinist movement

  41. Basically done after going to our last church by myself and the kids for two years. My husband is a biker and this was reformed type church and he never felt comfortable from the beginning, everyone being very "straight laced." I guess because I wasn't attending with my husband that made it okay for the elders and pastor to ignore me. So I quit going because there was really no breaking into the cliques without my husband and therefore no fellowship for me. I certainly don't blame my husband, he was just quicker figuring out what was really going on. We have since moved to a different state but haven't really made any huge efforts to find a church here because its basically the same story everywhere; silly rock and roll sunday, boring sermons, cliques, overly family centric, authoritarian, you name it. Also many churches are not clued into special needs people, as my younger daughter is, and they tend to leave the families somewhat sidelined. I could go on but I won't, its just a little bit of my reasoning for being "done".

  42. WHY I AM CURRENTLY A DONE (and will probably remain a done…)

    1. Secondary issues being stressed
    (a) complementarianism “worshipped” as primary doctrine
    (b) nouthetic/pastoral counseling always promoted; little, if any, pastoral
    recommendation to seek Christian professional counseling

    2. Authoritarian leadership
    (a) complementarianism at all costs
    (b) a low view of beyond high school education for girls/women
    (c) a high view of the SGM pastors’ college

    3. Mishandling of child sex abuse
    (a) an absolute refusal to take a stand against SGM leadership for the culture that
    now surrounds SGM
    (b) an apparent disregard for the pain and suffering of victims and families by
    disregarding the brave voices in the congregation calling for accountability on both
    the local level and top leadership level

    4. Church finances
    (a) the formation of a finance “team” as nothing more than window dressing (rarely
    took the counsel of the “team”)
    (b) under funding ministries other than the music ministry

    5. Music
    (a) too loud
    (b) appeared to be more like an entertaining concert than able to draw the congregation
    in to worship with them
    (c) too heavy of a reliance upon songs produced/composed by SGM/the “elite” songwriters

    6. Sermons
    (a) too long
    (b) too much reliance upon “quotes” from esteemed sources
    (c) sermons seemed to most always be pointed to the men

    7. Bad theology
    (a) elevating complementarianism/patriarchal/authoritarianism as primary doctrine
    (b) pastors unable or unwilling to explain how they could simultaneously desire the
    Holy Spirit to be manifested (as in the gifts of the Spirit) but relegate
    expression of the Holy Spirit to be redefined (reading a scripture or giving an
    exortation to the congregation is not prophecy)
    (c) buying into the notion that the “preaching event” is the central point of meeting
    together

    8. I feel like the full range of my talents were curtailed. [See #1a & #2a above]

  43. I am not done with ‘church’ but I am so done with the baptist tradition into which I was born because:

    1. Worsening theology the more they get into calvinism and the more they listen to only their own ‘thinkers’ and theologians and the farther they get from where they used to be.

    2. Different priority of values. Doctrine uber alles for example is not #1 on my list.

    3. This sounds superficial, but it got to where we had nothing in common at all and no basis for any sort of interaction. I found myself simply smiling and being mute. That is an effective way to get along in that situation, but it is a pathetic thing to have to do.

    Why I am not done with ‘church’ in toto:

    1. Found something far better in my opinion. I believe that it is objectively better, but I know that it is better for me.

    2. Quit trying to force myself to hang around a religious system which I had long since come to disrespect just because of some erroneous sense of fidelity to goodness knows what.

    3. Chose family over inertia and forced myself to give it one more shot when we as an entire family migrated to a different christian tradition. This is not easy but it is rewarding.

  44. Andrea wrote:

    I guess because I wasn’t attending with my husband that made it okay for the elders and pastor to ignore me.

    Many churches do that for anyone who walks in alone, like in your case, or with divorced people, or widows, the never married adults, etc.

  45. @ Rosie:
    Rosie, your church experience sounds hauntingly similar to one our family attended for a while. It was an SBC church plant in a college community; we thought we could support the fledgling work by using our gifts to reach into the lostness on that college campus. A few months after joining, it became clear that the young pastor and his young hand-picked “elder” team were more interested in planting reformed theology in college student minds, than planting a church. As far as numbers, the work was successful in attracting a large college crowd, due primarily to free coffee and pastries, cool band, and a hip preacher on a stool spewing “grace” bullets. When we decided to leave, we were essentially shunned by church leadership with awkward encounters of the sort you mention when we would bump into them in the community. It was indeed a “non-friendly, non-loving, non-Christ-like culture.”

    Praise God you have found a church with a humble pastor who loves and cares for the church God has entrusted to him. May you grow in the goodness of the Lord there, be equipped to do the work of the ministry (we are all ministers), and be free to use the gifts God has given you to further His Kingdom.

  46. refugee wrote:

    Bad theology (God created some people to be saved. Others he created *just* for the purpose of throwing them into hell, destroying them. It makes him sound like a toddler given to tantrums. If scripture really says this (and it seems to) then I’m not sure I can continue being a “done” — I might end up as “none”. It no longer salves my conscience to think, as I’ve so often been told I should not fret at the idea of God creating people for destruction, but rather bask in the idea that he deigned to save some, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.)

    That is what it seems like Paul is saying when it is taken out of context by these guys. Paul was making an “even if” argument. I am so sorry this is put on Paul and on God, and I’m also very sorry that this kind of scripture twisting has made you distrust the goodness of God. That is certainly a rational response to this very flawed teaching.

  47. Why I’ve been seriously tempted at times to drop out of our current church in spite of some wonderful people:

    1. bad music, at least to me

    2. still worry about the autistic wonder bothering people; ministering to disabled people in general is something some churches get, but not all–it’s a crapshoot

    3. it’s a tiny church with no Sunday school or other programs

    4. As a person deeply aware of my shortcomings and sins, sometimes I wish I was Lutheran instead of Presbyterian, as I might hear not just what I -should- do, but what Christ has done for me, hear not just the weight of the law, but the invitation to repent of sins and receive the free forgiveness and love of God in Jesus our Lord. I don’t get to hear that very often.

    Maybe I’m slowly moving that direction, I don’t know. I’ve long thought that if I ever did switch denominations again, I only want to do it one more time. I’d like to finally put down some deep ecclesiastical roots and settle in. At the present time I just feel blase about going to church and I’m sure our kids have noticed. Being spiritually famished stinks.

  48. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    Reading this article one could draw the conclusion that no one ever leaves a church for the wrong reason.

    I’m pretty sure that most of us have mixed motives even on the best days. And I think that most people realize that we can all do things for the wrong reasons. But nothing is gained from that observation. What can be gained is insight into very valid reasons people have left or are contemplating leaving. Dismissing those with the objection that there are also selfish or sinful reasons misses the point of the post, IMO.

  49. Leslie wrote:

    I do have to say that throughout the years we have met 4 exceptional Pastors. They were all humble men who cared more about the people in their care than they did about themselves. And they hated being looked up to, preferring to point people to God.

    Thank you for that reminder. We have also known some humble men who only wanted to serve and to point people to Christ.

  50. @ Victorious:
    At least some are now frankly acknowledging that they believe that the subordination of women is a Gospel issue. They used to talk around that and say that it is a secondary issue like mode and subject of baptism and polity. Now we know the truth, and it is really a first-tier issue in Al’s triage.

  51. Leslie wrote:

    If we ever go back to a church, it will to one that cares about the poor, homeless, widowed, fatherless etc, rather than about church attendance the building fund.

    Leslie, you have a Biblical basis for looking for that sort of church:

    “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

    While some 21st century churches may be reaching out to the fatherless and widows, they are having some real problems keeping themselves unspotted from the world. The church of the living God used to be counter-culture to the world; now it is a sub-culture of it in far too many places. The comments on this and the previous associated TWW piece give evidence of that.

  52. I commented before, but forgot to mention the mist important issue for me, Church doesn’t seem Holy anymore.i remember part of an old hymn I used to get chills down my back from , ” We are walking on holy ground” in the mega churches I do not feel the presence of God.

  53. Why I no longer belong:

    I. It is an authoritarian system:
    a. Many don’t see me as a human of full value, insisting on relating to only a small portion of who I am, simple because I am a woman. That is insulting. I find no thrills in being around people who insult me.

    b. Some think they carry more authority from God than the rest of us, even though it’s been proven over and over and over to be a silly idea. I am not interested in indulging the ridiculous.

    c. Authoritarian systems always revert to power-wins, inevitably resulting in rejection of the poor, abused, old, disabled, outsider. Yet Jesus called the latter groups first in his kingdom. Jesus was correct!

    d. I can’t handle the general lack of encouragement to be honest about what life brings and to grapple openly with the problems of being human. Part of this is because of the top-down pontification, and part of it is because…

    (con’t)

  54. (con’t) …

    II. Evangelicalism is generally more about maintaining middle/upper class white systems than it is about taking the path of love/truth, following Christ’s example. If I am not going to follow Christ, I see no reason to call myself a Christian.

    a. These middle class values are underlined by current neo-lib market capitalism, with its just-world theory via work ethic and business chutzpah, and its fantasy of the self-correction of market economies. This emphasis creates an odd sort of currency-based logical positivism, showing in over-emphasis on corporate structuring, inability to grasp nuance, shallow artistic values, and denigration of the humanities (psychology/sociology, history, educational theory, etc). IMO, the strange logical positivism reverts to literalism towards the Bible. It also distorts understanding of the Holy Spirit, tending to either ignore or over-emphasize via charismatic spiritism. It also contributes to a lack of intellectual rigor, making it difficult to process the complexities/limitations of such theories as evolution and functional political pluralism.

    b. They maintain separation from the Black and Latino Churches, as well as from other denominations. It is delusional to talk about “engaging broader culture” (much less “missioning other nations”) when they can’t even bridge these narrow differences.

    c. They overvalue money and yet undervalue it’s effectiveness in helping the disenfranchised. It is dishonest to point how much they give to charity when the bulk of their giving goes to themselves through buildings, accoutrements, and the hiring of more staff. It is simply nasty to work to dismantle national aids programs “because the church should take on such functions” when they don’t even fill the current unmet needs.

    Apologies for the rant

  55. Max wrote:

    Women members are oppressed in spirit; their spiritual gifts are not recognized or encouraged. New Calvinism preaches to men. In SBC church plants, 30 year old pastors with 20-30 year old “elders” is a recipe for disaster … the youth group doesn’t need to be in charge of church.

    Spot on, Max. (Your ending comment made me laugh!

  56. Patrice wrote:

    Why I no longer belong:
    I. It is an authoritarian system:
    a. Many don’t see me as a human of full value, insisting on relating to only a small portion of who I am, simple because I am a woman. That is insulting. I find no thrills in being around people who insult me.
    b. Some think they carry more authority from God than the rest of us, even though it’s been proven over and over and over to be a silly idea. I am not interested in indulging the ridiculous.

    Well said, Patrice.

  57. I’ve seen a lot of comments saying that only married couples and families were valued or cared for. I’ve noticed that in my situation, married women were expected to care for all of the children, be incredibly frugal in the home (if they worked at all) and not need care, or “bother” anyone. We were simply expected to handle all the kids and whatever church work we were handed, and it was really, really, really nice of them to cover babysitting for any ministry work we did. Other than that, we were on our own. 🙁

  58. Also, I was called “A Feminist” for suggesting that a woman *should not* return to an abusive husband. After that episode, I was intensely ostracized in our church. It’s as if caring about the needs of the women, other than encouraging their submission, was the equivalent of Vashti refusing to come before the king!! 🙁

    I later realized that our church had many Gothard-loving homeschooling families. 🙁

  59. @ Sallie Borrink:

    Just wanted to say that I enjoy hearing your voice again on the blog. I’m sorry you find yourself in the done camp with so many others. It really isn’t what I want at all (to be a done), probably you either. It is actually sad to me.

  60. XianJaneway wrote:

    I’ve seen a lot of comments saying that only married couples and families were valued or cared for. I’ve noticed that in my situation, married women were expected to care for all of the children

    I think child care is expected of women in general, whether married or single.

    But single women are assumed to have more free time than married ladies, so it seems that the singles usually get the greater expectation to get involved with children in church.

    Overall, I’d say that most churches offer the most help to married couples with kids than singles / childless. It depends on the particular church.

    In evangelical propaganda, marriage is valued more than singleness. Procreation is valued more than being childless; maybe in your church, they did not practice what they preach.

    They probably attach more significance on to marriage and parenting than they do singleness but don’t do much to actually help married couples.

    There are a lot of other churches where the single adults are expected to be play a butler or maid role to the married couples (e.g., perform free baby sitting for children), but the married couples in such churches are not expected or asked by church leaders to help the singles.

    There are actually books by evangelicals which promote the view that the only thing adult singles are good for is supporting those already married with kids.

    You can read more about that and some of these other topics in the book “Singled Out,” by Bonnie Field.

  61. (Done) Just Watching wrote:

    Your ending comment made me laugh!

    Re: “the youth group doesn’t need to be in charge of church.”

    Just Watching – If I don’t laugh about some of this madness, I will cry. The whole New Calvinist mess reminds me of the story of King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. Young Rehoboam had just assumed rule of Israel and needed some advice, but “He forsook the counsel of the old men (Solomon’s advisers), which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him.” He rejected Solomon’s advisers?! (just think how smart those guys must have been to advise the wisest man who ever lived!) As the story unfolds, it didn’t turn out well for either Rehoboam or Israel. It’s not wise to leave the church in the hands of young rebels … these new reformers who believe they have to restore the gospel that the rest of us lost! Which, of course, is the gospel according to Calvin. What arrogance!

  62. XianJaneway wrote:

    Also, I was called “A Feminist” for suggesting that a woman *should not* return to an abusive husband

    I don’t classify myself as a feminist or use that word, but it doesn’t matter with gender complementarian Christians.

    They automatically assume that any point of disagreement with gender complementarianism is feminism. They either think you are a feminist or have been influenced by (secular) feminists.

    They have a very hard time accepting or recognizing that a person can reject gender comp views but still hold conservative views on other subjects, including the Bible.

  63. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    many people have broken fellowship with me or stopped reading my blog once they realized I was not a full-on complementarian but instead believed in mutual submission

    That has been a big problem for me as well. When I quit following the completion party line, women started distancing themselves. It’s as if you suddenly have the plague.

  64. Max wrote:

    What arrogance!

    I once asked my former pastor why SGM was sending out 20-somethings to lead church plants at such a young age. His response: No problem, they’ve been trained under mature leadership and are ready to go.

    A lifetime ago I served as the associate pastor to the 25-or so “senior” pastor. I learned first hand that serving under a young pastor (yes, I was young as well) could be a recipe for disaster. While he could preach up a storm, his character was of immature recklessness. Arrogance ruled the day.

    Someone said that it would be good for would-be pastors/elders to work 10-15 years in positions outside of the church to gain real work experience. I tend to agree. I also think it would be refreshing for pastors to be tentmakers. Who would have time to be a “celebrity” pastor then? 😉

  65. Max wrote:

    I’m done, but not quit yet. Speaking from a Southern Baptist perspective:

    (1) Bad theology
    Calvinization of the largest non-Calvinist denomination in America is proceeding at break-neck speed. Reformed theology is aberrant Christian teaching. Traditional SBC belief and practice is hanging on by a thread, as reformed influence comes in the back door by stealth and deception. New Calvinist leaders already control 7 of 11 SBC entities (lead seminaries, publishing house, home and foreign mission agencies).

    (2) Authoritarian leadership
    With Calvinism, elder rule polity will gradually replace congregational governance in the SBC. It is already the ecclesiology of choice by YRR pastors in SBC’s new church plants. Traditional churches will drift into that model within a generation as older members pass from the scene. SBC’s theo-politics at the national level are in the hands of a relatively few authoritarian leaders who are out and about shaping the 21st century SBC into the image of Calvin. Ye shall know them by their arrogance … control and manipulation are not fruit of the Spirit.

    (3) Church discipline/Church abuse
    There are too many horror stories of elder rule gone bad (Acts 29, Village Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, etc.). Women members are oppressed in spirit; their spiritual gifts are not recognized or encouraged. New Calvinism preaches to men. In SBC church plants, 30 year old pastors with 20-30 year old “elders” is a recipe for disaster … the youth group doesn’t need to be in charge of church.

    Yes yes yes yes yes to the above. I hope to have time tomorrow to write a coherent post about why I’m currently a Done

  66. 1. The eviction of the Holy Spirit from the church and the embrace of human laws and rules and systems. When the Spirit is not welcome, it is only a matter of time for the church body which will decay. People will fear God or fear men. They will love God and so love one another or they will love men and not love one another. There are men, including but not limited to the Gospel Glitterati, who desire for us to fear them and to fear one another rather than to love us and to encourage us to love God and one another.

    2. The requirement that the Eternal Son be forever a subordinate Person within the Trinity. Combined with #1, there is no longer an orthodox Trinitarian theology being taught in Gospel Glitterati churches.

    3. The abandonment of the authority of the Biblical texts in favor of ad hoc interpretations which advance an agenda that has nothing to do with the agenda of God revealed in the Bible. This is functional liberalism masquerading as conservatism. Again, this includes but is not limited to the Gospel Glitterati.

    4. The addition of essential practices and beliefs to the simple Gospel message which effectively neutralizes the power of the Gospel and replaces it with letters of death.

    5. The replacement of Jesus the Christ as King by usurpers who claim authority that belongs only to him. And they do that in his name and claim to be doing it for the sake of his name.

    6. All of the corrosive and toxic and soul-deadening doctrines and practices which flow from these.

  67. What made me a done? It wasn’t any one thing; it was many, and over a long period of time, at different institutions. Here are a few.

    1) Worked 5 years for a Christian charity and discovered a long history of sexual harassment and coverup. Resigned. It set my career path back five years at least.

    2) Lack of pastoral care. Felt used. Closer I got to the leadership the more I got burned. This seemed to be a pattern. Example: A leader calls me when I am checking out from the hospital after two days and two cardiac procedures and only wants to know how long my recovery will take and if I can still head up the event I committed to help organize three weeks hence or should they call someone else. The pagans at my secular job were more accommodating, compassionate and caring.

    3) Bad theology. Example: only your soul is saved, not your body, which is the source of all your sin. Can anyone say gnosticism?

    4) Right-wing politics viewed as inevitable if you are a true believer (one pastor said he didn’t think someone could be a democrat and a Christian). I’m politically moderate to liberal. That’s as good as being a rank pagan in a lot of people’s books.

    5) Worship as entertainment. A stage, lights, powerpoints, slick videos, etc. And sometimes outsized egos as a result.

    6) The effort to split the church by age / worship style (contemporary service for the younger, traditional for the older) rather than challenging all to have the grace to accommodate one another. The younger lose the wisdom of the older. The older lose the vibrancy of the younger. Neither has to serve the other. This should not be.

    7) Assuming that we dones are faithless sinners. We’re not, and claiming we are doesn’t exactly make one want to go back.

    After almost five years as a done, I’ve started occasionally attending a mainline church, cautiously. I like it as much for what it’s not as for what it is. It’s not showy. It’s not political. There don’t seem to be many egos. It follows the church calendar. The pastor makes an effort to remember my name. People seem genuine. There’s no band. There is the Eucharist every week. There is no pressure. There are all ages.

  68. Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done

    • Authoritarian leadership – The pastor’s wife has repeated quite a few times, “My husband does not do counseling”. The pastor says very little to his members, he is “above” them all. As a lay person, I do not feel that I could ever go to the pastor for any concerns about doctrine or anything else. Not to mention, those that have, with sending letters and such have had their private letters passed around as church gossip. It is abusive and authoritarian in many ways. I do not feel “safe” around the leadership. You must live your life a certain way, believe a certain way, vote a certain way.

    • Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones) – It is assumed that everyone is a right wing conservative republican. One cannot sit through a sermon without Fox News mentioned and other republican issues. Somewhere someone once told me that the bible mentions helping the needy and marginalized in society 2500 times. Never once have I been able to find in the bible that corporations need tax cuts. Not to mention too much emphasis on “It is the end times, and it is Obama’s fault”. Etc. I do not feel welcome due to the mixture of unbiblical political issues being indicated and preached from the pulpit and all the members assuming that everyone is a conservative republican. Jesus was neither a republican or a democrat. This is abuse of the pulpit in my opinion. Politics have been allowed to hijack the church. There should be room for all political beliefs in the church, not just one.

    • Too much emphasis on judging outsides – You should fellowship with other Christians only, or you are opening yourself up to satanic attack and influence. But I ask, how do we reach those outside the walls of the brick and mortar church, if we stick to only those within the walls or with the same beliefs. The only time one is to reach outside those walls are with church approved activities to evangelize to people (preach) which in many cases, does little to reach people in need. People want to be heard, and understood, not have the bible rolled up like a baseball bat and beat them over the head, to get them to come to Christ.

    • Mishandling of domestic violence – Women are to submit to their husbands. The husband is the ruler and spiritual leader of his household. This includes when men abuse this and manipulate scripture. The pastor at the church will NOT marry anyone that has been divorced. Someone else must do the ceremony.

    • Pastor doesn’t know my name after x years – He knows my name, but simply does not care. I am simply a body in the pews, with access to an ATM machine and checkbook. That’s it.

    • Church money being spent on buildings, etc.instaed of on ______ (fill in the blank) – Money is seldom spent on things where money is taken in for whatever purpose. The pastor takes it upon himself to purchase more million dollar properties and place the burden on the flock. This is to “grow” the church, although there has been a decline in membership. I can remember many many times where the plate would go around 4-5 times during a sermon for various reasons. Once was for the benevolence fund and I watched as people filled the collection plates with money. Then the following Wed I received a long list of things we were supposed to purchase with our own money for benevolence, prior to bible study, and drop off these groceries at the office the following week. As a young obedient Christian in my walk, I went out and purchased everything despite not being able to afford it, and we ate ramen instead at home. I asked about “what happened to the money given during service for this fund?” and it was denied that there was even a collection. Things like this were common. The pastors lived like royalty with constant vacations, expensive cars, clothing, etc. etc. Where was all this money going?

    • No one talks to me – Well, they talk to me if they are passing by with a fake church smile. Beyond that, I am excluded. In 6 years I never made a single friend, NOT ONE. This despite going out of my way to be friendly and make friends and volunteer at every opportunity I could. The cliques and church royalty had already been defined. I was not included and never included unless it was an event where I could bring a gift for a member or whatever. (i.e. housewarming party, etc.). Since I did not act/dress/behave like a Stepford wife (A stepford wife shuts up, looks pretty, dresses in certain ways, and does not question her husband, is always adoring, good housekeeper, and her life rotates around her children and husband and has no worth outside of that) and am single, with no children, there was no room for me. I could have made more friends if I had spoken in more “churchanize” dialect instead of the common English speaking language that I do speak in. I found them more friendly if I used words that made me “sound” more holy. Throw in the word “anointed” and such, in the middle of sentences and you might win a few “fans”. But, I would rather be myself than a fakey Stepford wife clone. Because of this, other than the passing hello church smile, I was excluded. I was spoken to in bible study classes, but mostly because I did my homework and could fill in the blanks. Outside of this, no friends.

    • Too much emphasis on giving – Every time you turned around! Hold on to that checkbook! It was not uncommon for the collection plate to pass quite a few times during services, guilt about tithing doctrine and manipulation of the widows mite was common in order to get the poorest to give. “Forget about that light bill, you owe God the first 10% of your income, it belongs to ME… errrr, or I mean God!”.. “God will provide for you if you pay the church FIRST, and your rent will magically appear and God will bless you double” and on and on and on…. Then when folks can’t pay their rent because of their faithful giving, being turned away at the church for help. I witnessed this time and time again.

    • Music – Good grief, I love to rock out from time to time, but I think I went to a Rolling Stones concert in my youth, that wasn’t nearly as loud. The music was 7-11 music and would go on and on for ever, and would actually send me into panic attacks. I would have to retreat to the bathroom (often) in order to escape it.

    • Judgmental members – I think some of them bring Hate to a new level. Hateful, Mean, Judgmental and certainly not showing the fruits Jesus spoke about. I can’t even begin to repeat some of the things that were said to me in the name of God, by some of these “upstanding holy souls”. Not only Judgmental, but whisper campaigns about people with the worst character assassination I have ever seen. Yet, all doing this will a smile on their face. Because it is OK to be toxic and mean, as long as you have your church smile on your face. I have seen people almost destroyed by these types. Yet, these people will ask something and another person will start to open up about their struggles, and be shot down, lectured, unsolicited advice without them even knowing the whole story. Extremely uncompassionate folks.

    • No one called or helped me when____________ (fill in the blank) Never once! I can say a few did offer rides to bible study and a few did come through since it is a long way to walk and my house was on the way. But, I can’t count the times I was stood up too. Where I would get up in the morning, shower, dress, sit and wait, and no phone call, no show, nothing. No one called or helped during some serious struggles, partly because I was just told to “pray about it” or “Call someone about it” (despite not having anyone’s numbers because I was not with the “in” crowd), and partly because when something serious/bad did happen, I found out it was just best to keep my mouth shut and not even confide in anyone if I was struggling, because if you are struggling, then you must be living outside of the will of God and it is him allowing you to be punished for sin XYZ. The only people that deserved compassion and help, were those within the inner circle of the church and their friends. If you fall outside of that, you are on your own.

    • Boring sermons – No, I would not say “boring” as much as manipulation of scripture and bad doctrine, in order the fleece the flock.

    • Bad theology – Prosperity Gospel, Speaking in Tongues, Personal Prayer Language, Faith Healing, and on and on…

    • Church discipline/Church abuse – I am not sure if it is church discipline or just that since I was not a Stepford Wife, that I was unworthy to speak to and was being shunned because I did something “wrong” or I just did not fit in. Well, I am sure I did something “Wrong” as gossip was rampant. I am sure I am being disciplined by members for something I never did and don’t know what is being said… Although, I have never formally received any sort of letter. Sometimes the members take it upon themselves to discipline other members on an unofficial level. But, it is like fight club where one does not simply speak about fight club, it is just there. Most people that are being shunned, have no idea why they are being shunned, just that they are. I can’t count the amount of folks that will walk right past me in the grocery store, then on Sunday have their Howdy Doody Smile on their face in front of the congregation.

    • I feel like my talents are ignored – I have lots of talents and how can they know them, if they never take the time to get to know me, or what they are? I am to the point where I seriously don’t care if they are ignored. I have reached the point where I am happy they don’t know them, so I can’t be taken advantage of. I can reach out to those that need me with my talents on my own and touch lives. I am fine with that at this point.

    • Science was denigrated – Young Earth Society! Nuff said…

    Pretty much, I have reached the point where if half of these people came to make amends, I simply would not care or be interested in striking up a friendship with them at this point. They have only shown me wax, or plastic fruit. I will simply move on. Be nice, but the walls of protection are up around me. I am still licking my wounds and have found more love and compassion from my secular and agnostic and humanist friends than I ever received in the church. I still have deep faith and will continue with my relationship with God. I will be meeting with other believers that are “dones” in my home for bible study, together so we can heal and still meet with other believers, and have fellowship.

  69. Law Prof wrote:

    except that the Bible doesn’t say anything “crazy” or “bleeped up”, it’s just sometimes filtered through the eyes of the type of people who like to use phrases like “WTF” who are ignorant of the culture in which it was written and who in their prejudices and modernistic chauvinism are unwilling to further investigate and wind up tossing the baby the way of the bathwater. Just sayin.

    I understand Jazmin’s anger. The noisiest Christian circles adhere to narrow on-the-face readings of the Bible. Many have no conception of the Bible as a compilation of various literary forms gathered over thousands of years.

    When read in that way, the Bible says a lot of horrid things. Who’d want to be obedient to a god who promoted genocide so that his favorites could have the land? What kind of a father would ask one of his children to kill their own child to prove that they love him?

    Who could possibly respect a god who would eternally burn tiny creatures he made, just because they rebelled against him for a tiny blip in time?

    The Bible also asks the question, “what father would give a stone to a child who asks for bread? And also says, “God so loved the world that He gave his only son so that none would perish…” And, “Love your enemy and do good to those who hate you.”

    These are contradictions unreconciled by a flat reading of the Bible. People who insist on such flat reading believe terrible things and it shows in how they treat each other and particularly those who don’t believe.

  70. Why I was a Done:
    1. Mishandling of my DV situation.
    2. Mishandling of sexual abuse in the church.
    3. No one called or helped me when my husband walked out on me and the children even though we had attended that church for 20 years.
    5. Unapproachable authoritarian leadership.
    6. Discounting me because I am a woman.
    7. Not being able to use my gifts in the church (because of #6).
    8, Long and boring sermons.
    9. Cliques among the leadership and the membership. I felt like an outsider.

    I think I have found a church where the pastor seems to “get it”. He grew up in home where his father walked out on his mother, worked in the real world before becoming a pastor, has a tender heart, and wants the church to remain small enough for him to effectively pastor everyone. He cares about me and is concerned that the church be a place where I can heal. I have not detected any gender issues or authoritarian attitudes. I don’t agree with all the doctrine but it seems to be okay that I disagree. How did I find this church? My son and his family go there. My son was (and still is) friends with the pastor’s sons and, when my husband left, the pastor reached out to my son. My son has been lovingly persistent in inviting me to visit but it has taken me many years to be able to go to church again.

    Why I might have stopped being a done:
    1. The pastor knows me and cares about me as a person.
    2. The pastor is sensitive to and knowledgeable about abuse.
    3. I respect the pastor’s character.
    4. I have missed worshiping together with others.
    5. I would like to use my gifts in the church.
    7. It’s not a megachurch.

  71. Charity wrote:

    Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones) – It is assumed that everyone is a right wing conservative republican

    One thing I wanted to add about this is that I am a right wing Republican and a social conservative.

    While Christians or preachers talking about things related to these views didn’t bother me too much before, they did start to bother me as I got older.

    I have heard other people who quit conservative (right wing) churches (or denominations) for liberal (left wing) ones who say that some of the left wing ones can be just as bad, only they are on the other end of the political spectrum on issues.

    I think people are bothered by too much emphasis on politics in a church setting period, regardless of what those politics are.

    I’m just bringing this up because I know that a lot of other conservative / right wing Christians who vote Republican will read over a thread like this, and see all the
    “I am so tired of conservative values / politics being pushed in churches” comments
    and assume everyone here saying this is liberal or a Democrat, and perhaps reject your comments out of hand.

    I am a Republican / conservative myself and think emphasis upon politics goes on too much in some churches.

    (I’m not a liberal or Democrat, so it’s not just people in these groups saying this, is what I am getting at.)

  72. I became a done because:

    1. Burned out from leading worship and feeling that the other pastors only cared about my musical contributions and very little about my own needs
    2. Tired of seeing dishonest pastors tell me one thing and their congregation another
    3. Tired of the talk about caring for the poor and seeing very little done by those taking the collections and living high on the hog
    4. Arrogance of church leaders and pastors
    5. Tired of seeing people with problems ignored or condemned instead of love and patience
    6. Tired of having my child’s mental disablilty ignored or minimized
    7. tired of all the buzz words and Christian double-speak
    8. Tired of hearing about doctrine and yet seeing no love. A doctrine of love is different than actual love.

  73. Totally forgot to mention that I hated….absolutely hated the misogynistic, man-child rantings of insecure men who disregarded and abused women and children.

    SGM took it to a whole new level, but also saw some the same stuff in many other churches as well…..

    The whole women are to be silent and submit is what made me an agnostic….but that’s another story.

  74. After years (6 1/2) where I currently live and trying different churches, always hoping for the best but continually being frustrated by the mega-church complexes and lack of theological discernment, I settled in to the church where a friend goes. But when the pastor (who was sound of doctrine and dedicated to equipping the saints) retired, and the new guy was voted in, it all went to crap.

    The straw that broke the camel’s back was:
    1. A pastor who was a complete lying sociopath.
    2. Lack of discernment regarding false doctrine.
    3. Shallow sermons that occasionally were plagiarized from other sources.
    4. A deacon board that were nothing but yes men.
    5. Almost complete disregard for the older Scripture-based hymns.
    So basically I am tired of fighting that battle. I want real fellowship with like-minded Christians in my area but have no clue how to make that happen other than this one local Bible study I go to.
    Frustrated!

  75. One of my dear friends went on a women’s retreat. She came back in tears. What she got from the retreT was that if you are not a republican , not only are you not a Christian but you are also going to hell.needless to say she was devastated.b she is a better woman than I am however. She is still looking for a church where she will be accepted. I have given up.

  76. Daisy wrote:

    Charity wrote:
    Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones) – It is assumed that everyone is a right wing conservative republican
    One thing I wanted to add about this is that I am a right wing Republican and a social conservative.
    While Christians or preachers talking about things related to these views didn’t bother me too much before, they did start to bother me as I got older.
    I have heard other people who quit conservative (right wing) churches (or denominations) for liberal (left wing) ones who say that some of the left wing ones can be just as bad, only they are on the other end of the political spectrum on issues.
    I think people are bothered by too much emphasis on politics in a church setting period, regardless of what those politics are.
    I’m just bringing this up because I know that a lot of other conservative / right wing Christians who vote Republican will read over a thread like this, and see all the
    “I am so tired of conservative values / politics being pushed in churches” comments
    and assume everyone here saying this is liberal or a Democrat, and perhaps reject your comments out of hand.
    I am a Republican / conservative myself and think emphasis upon politics goes on too much in some churches.
    (I’m not a liberal or Democrat, so it’s not just people in these groups saying this, is what I am getting at.)

    I understand that, and that is fine. That is why I stated that Jesus was neither a republican or a democrat. But, churches need to get out of the business of preaching politics and alienating members regardless of which side of the political spectrum they come from. I don’t agree with all democratic issues, but I do believe we should get back to teaching Christ, not what MSNBC, CNN, FOX NEWS or any of the other news agencies come up with. 🙂

  77. Why I am a done:

    1. Partisan politics (campaigning for specific parties or candidates and hatred of “the others”) has become almost as important as the gospel in too many churches.

    2. Rigidity of theology on issues that aren’t salvic. Open discussion and theological disagreements became “rebellion”.

    3. The increasing level of hate directed toward the LGBT community and other minorities such as Muslims – all equated as “loving them”.

    4. I used to be respected in my areas of ministry but found more and more I was being written off as a woman, then a woman out of submission.

    5. I’ve been in numerous denominations and 2 international missions organizations, but faith healing is becoming popular across the board. I’ve been dragged out my wheelchair or out of a church pew by well meaning, but ignorant people who are convinced they can heal me. (I now push the chair 2 isles away from me if I go) I’ve been accused of being deceived or possessed or just plain “in sin” because I haven’t walked.

    6. Stabbed in the back by a few who were either friends or in a position of authority.

  78. Charity wrote:

    That is why I stated that Jesus was neither a republican or a democrat.

    Agreed 100%. It just boggles my mind that Christians think God is for one party or the other or that He cares about keeping ANY country in power. The OT Jews made that mistake when they were looking for a Messiah and many missed Him when he came.

    Being GOP or DEM will not change hearts – only Jesus. And it is the love of God that leads us to repentance, not condemnation.

  79. 1. Authoritarian leadership broke the cord and allowed me to see clearly,

    2. churches that substitute pastors and organizations for Christ, the organization becomes more important than Christ and each other,

    3. church leaders who want people to invest in the organization and not each other, they stress we should give to the organization rather than those in need, they emphasize we should care for the church but not for each other,

    4. church leaders with an inability to listen, do they care?

    5. and finally young arrogant CEO pastors.

    I’m not a done but these are things that drive me to the edge.

  80. I think “Done” could be defined more tightly. Is the category limited to certain forms of Christianity? If so, which ones? Would it include those who have drifted away from religion (or to some other religion) long ago, or is the idea that they have been actively seeking a congenial church but given up? Does the concept imply some degree of burnout?

    And now that you are distinguishing between “Faithful” and presumably Unfaithful “Dones,” this raises more questions about what is meant by “faithfulness” in this context. For example, would it include someone who abandons churchgoing but attends New Age groups, believes in Christ in a more or less eccentric way, and continues to identify with Christianity?

  81. Daisy wrote:

    I am a Republican / conservative myself and think emphasis upon politics goes on too much in some churches.

    I’m likely of the same stripe. About fifteen or twenty years ago I helped craft a policy to keep partisan politics, that were primarily conservative, out of the church I formerly attended. I had support from some in the church whom I believed were of a like mind.

    Unfortunately fast forward to a decade later and I found those who I thought were of like mind, keep politics out, were just partisans of the other stripe and were bringing their politics in. When I similarly opposed their efforts all of a sudden I was the one being political.

    So yeah, I can add that to my list, people who can’t leave their politics behind and believe it is more important than Christ and community.

  82. The Nightowl wrote:

    I should add when being grabbed from my chair it was always without my permission.

    Nightowl, that is horrible. I believe that could legally be considered assault. I’m sorry that happened to you.

  83. The Nightowl wrote:

    Being GOP or DEM will not change hearts – only Jesus. And it is the love of God that leads us to repentance, not condemnation.

    Amen!

  84. The Nightowl wrote:

    Why I am a done:
    1. Partisan politics (campaigning for specific parties or candidates and hatred of “the others”) has become almost as important as the gospel in too many churches.
    2. Rigidity of theology on issues that aren’t salvic. Open discussion and theological disagreements became “rebellion”.
    3. The increasing level of hate directed toward the LGBT community and other minorities such as Muslims – all equated as “loving them”.
    4. I used to be respected in my areas of ministry but found more and more I was being written off as a woman, then a woman out of submission.
    5. I’ve been in numerous denominations and 2 international missions organizations, but faith healing is becoming popular across the board. I’ve been dragged out my wheelchair or out of a church pew by well meaning, but ignorant people who are convinced they can heal me. (I now push the chair 2 isles away from me if I go) I’ve been accused of being deceived or possessed or just plain “in sin” because I haven’t walked.
    6. Stabbed in the back by a few who were either friends or in a position of authority.

    Wow! You really can be my twin (as per you stating we could be twins in a previous post). Just know, through all the hurt and pain, that there is someone out there that understands. Truly, and really understands. I hope this offers you some comfort. Sometimes, that is all that is needed, in helping one to heal. I hope this helps you on your journey.

  85. Have to say I am Done, why because all I see are Christian leaders who are hypocrites. They claim they love Jesus yet they continue to abuse the authority and power they have over their members. How very sad that this is what we read day after day, nothing good, nones are dones.

  86. Final nail in the coffin for me in the last few weeks has been this,

    In Genesis 7:21-23, God drowns the entire population of the earth: men, women, children, fetuses, and animals. In Exodus 12:29, God the baby-killer slaughters all Egyptian firstborn children and cattle because their king was stubborn. In Numbers 16:41-49, the Israelites complain that God is killing too many of them. So, God sends a plague that kills 14,000 more of them. In 1 Samuel 6:19, God kills 50,000 men for peeking into the ark of the covenant. In Numbers 31:7-18, the Israelites kill all the Midianites except for the virgins, whom they are allowed to rape as spoils of war. In 2 Kings 2:23-24, some kids tease the prophet Elisha, and God sends bears to dismember them – See more at: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=682#sthash.4tnAWsP9.dpuf

  87. refugee wrote:

    Bad theology (God created some people to be saved. Others he created *just* for the purpose of throwing them into hell, destroying them. It makes him sound like a toddler given to tantrums. If scripture really says this (and it seems to) then I’m not sure I can continue being a “done” — I might end up as “none”. It no longer salves my conscience to think, as I’ve so often been told I should not fret at the idea of God creating people for destruction, but rather bask in the idea that he deigned to save some, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.)

    This being held by some Christians to be the true Christian message is the major reason I am also a ‘done’ & could be a ‘none’. If I could be certain this wasn’t true, things would change for me.

  88. I have attended about 5 churches in the last 10 years (“done” intermittently, and still so).

    Duplicity from the pulpit: “The church is NOT this building!” followed by recurrent emphasis on…the BUILDING. We need conscripted labor for Cleaning, Staffing, Maintenance and Expansion of the BUILDING.

    Pleas to contribute to the fund raising campaigns to pay off the BUILDING and the adjacent property (that is a valuable, capital ASSET the pastor OWNS). All the while, the mandated new testament “Widow’s list” is NON-existent.

    Care groups, Home teams, Small groups, (or whatever term is used now) exist primarily to support/defend the pastor’s “vision” and reinforce HIS sermon from the prior Sunday. God forbid we would allow the Holy Spirit to lead the discussion.

    More duplicity from the pulpit: “Do not love the WORLD!” followed by explanations regarding the means by which the pastoral staff determines its compensation package: “By referring to the 2015 U.S. Department of Labor occupational salary database” the average CEO of such-and-such fortune 500 corporation warrants six figures”.

    Pastoral Staff defines FOR you what “legitimate ministry” opportunities consist of, and amazingly, they can be found ONLY within the 4 walls of the BUILDING.

    Mature, biblically grounded independent free-thinking is NOT welcome! “Daddy knows best!” (thoughtful, gracious inquiry viewed only as threatening and non-compliant)

    Obvious selection of deacons/elders based upon demonstrated blind loyalty to pastor, versus biblical qualifications.

    Shocking lack of profound humility, sincere BROKENNESS from the pulpit. How is it that the apostle Paul could mourn his wickedness, and shed such tears of shame and guilt over the remaining stain of sin in his heart, yet so many men behind pulpits can pompously project an air of assured sanctification and persistent moral victory.

    The end game (in spite of assurances to the contrary), truly seems to be to KEEP the congregation perpetually DEPENDENT babes in Christ, whom only have the ability to digest spiritual milk. God forbid that we should mature to the extent that we listen for and obey the indwelling Holy Spirit, and possibly QUESTION what we hear from the pew.

    Membership Contracts. (“preemptive use of the LAW on a brother / sister in Christ”, to prevent the errant sheep from “going to law” against the pastoral staff).

  89. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I endured a series of churches over decades where almost all of them were “cultures of consumerism.” Paid staff and select volunteers carry out the ministry, everyone else just sort of plugs into what they do. This is the DNA for passivity among disciples. Whyever would I want to link anyone into such a corrosive culture that will stifle their spirit and turn them into perpetual dependents and not equip them to be robust disciples?

    This is a HUGE issue with me. It seems we were asleep at the wheel or something because that is not how I remember it as a kid. The end result is that the church belongs to the staff and they allow us to come but we are to pay them for the privilege. But this thinking has become so ingrained not sure how it can change within the current structures.

  90. Why I am ” Done”
    1. Neo-Calvinists
    2. Bad music
    3. Bad sermons all around.
    4. The treatment of anyone over the age of 45.
    5. The treatment of women.
    6. The money involved in churches today.

  91. To all the Dones, the Episcopal Church welcomes you! No screaming, no shouting, no fear mongering. Word and Sacrament. Short sermons. The world doesn’t come to an end if you miss a Sunday or two or six. You will be respected and treated like an adult. No membership covenants to sign. A few of things you might have to get used to: women in real leadership positions, gay folks in the pews and pulpits, and no fog machines. Try it, you just might be surprised.

  92. Clay Crouch wrote:

    To all the Dones, the Episcopal Church welcomes you! No screaming, no shouting, no fear mongering. Word and Sacrament. Short sermons. The world doesn’t come to an end if you miss a Sunday or two or six. You will be respected and treated like an adult. No membership covenants to sign. A few of things you might have to get used to: women in real leadership positions, gay folks in the pews and pulpits, and no fog machines. Try it, you just might be surprised.

    The the nearest Episcopal Church wasn’t 20 miles away. I would be there.

  93. Gram3 wrote:

    1. The eviction of the Holy Spirit from the church and the embrace of human laws and rules and systems. When the Spirit is not welcome, it is only a matter of time for the church body which will decay. People will fear God or fear men. They will love God and so love one another or they will love men and not love one another. There are men, including but not limited to the Gospel Glitterati, who desire for us to fear them and to fear one another rather than to love us and to encourage us to love God and one another.
    2. The requirement that the Eternal Son be forever a subordinate Person within the Trinity. Combined with #1, there is no longer an orthodox Trinitarian theology being taught in Gospel Glitterati churches.
    3. The abandonment of the authority of the Biblical texts in favor of ad hoc interpretations which advance an agenda that has nothing to do with the agenda of God revealed in the Bible. This is functional liberalism masquerading as conservatism. Again, this includes but is not limited to the Gospel Glitterati.
    4. The addition of essential practices and beliefs to the simple Gospel message which effectively neutralizes the power of the Gospel and replaces it with letters of death.
    5. The replacement of Jesus the Christ as King by usurpers who claim authority that belongs only to him. And they do that in his name and claim to be doing it for the sake of his name.
    6. All of the corrosive and toxic and soul-deadening doctrines and practices which flow from these.

    Excellent Gram 3! Yes I have noticed this quite a bit. Christ is usually relegated to the cross and that is where he stays for the most part (just like in Catholicism). It was always -“come to the cross” even as a believer. Why would I come to the cross again and again when the first time was enough (Jesus said “It is finished”!) ?

    Bad, bad theology! Calvinists get you in with the “grace bit” but keep you groveling at the cross – if not you have not “persevered”. Persevered can mean different things to a authoritarian elder/pastor. If you questioned authority then you must not have persevered; if you leave your spouse because of abuse, you have not persevered; if you break the “covenantal contract” of membership, you definitely have not persevered. They have the “keys” so they say. What a load of crock! Even though these were not the reasons I left and said I was done at the time I now see the “cr#p” (ed.) now and it makes me more DONE then I was from the start. And this is the thing, these Calvinists are going for the juggler- they are infiltrating many churches. My sister and brother-in-law are members of a Church of Christ and there is no way in the past that they would have accepted any Calvinist literature or teaching; but when I stayed at their home just recently I saw on their coffee table a book forwarded by Mark Driscoll and authored by some Neo. My BIL is also a deacon. So this just the beginning – they have a full and burning desire to take over, no doubt.

  94. 1. Emphasis on helping fulfill the leadership’s vision of ministry (always struck me as rather arrogant–any leadership vision different than a desire to see Christ formed in His people).

    2. Lack of conversational engagement with with congregation members–lack of value for the opinions and concerns of others.

    3. A belief that authority derives from position, rather than trust.

  95. Why I am (currently) a done:

    1. Too much cognitive dissonance and not enough room for discussion and/or. In other words, covert pressure to ‘toe the party line’. I worked for a spiritually abusive evangelical organization in Japan for about 2 years. Part of the fallout, for me, was that I had serious doubts (still do, actually; 5 years later, they aren’t resolved) about God’s character. In other words, if I was in Japan to love and serve people as Jesus did, then how could the people I was working with–who also ostensibly wanted the same things–be cruel, and how could God let it happen? I returned to the U.S. wanting to work out my issues, and knowing that I needed space to do so. Instead, I found that no one wanted to hear stories of bad experiences overseas, and raising questions about God’s character, or any aspect of “settled doctrine” was quickly shut down.
    2. I’m a PhD candidate, I’m single, and I’m female. There’s no place for me in evangelical churches. I’m too well-educated, I’m not typically feminine, I’m not married, and I don’t have kids. There is literally no place for me in the evangelical world. I think too much, I ask too many questions, and I can’t stand Bible studies about homemaking, hospitality, and being a “Godly woman”. Even if I wanted to go to a women’s Bible study (which, gag me), I couldn’t, because they meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. And I work. To be clear, my issue here isn’t so much explicit teaching–although I do take issue with complementarian teaching and the abuse of women more generally–it’s the cultural expectations of women that are present in most evangelical churches. The last church I was at, I was the only single woman over 25. Married woman without children had jobs, not careers, and they quit them if/when they had their first kid. Women with kids stayed home with them, and the only ones who didn’t either homeschool their kids or send them to a Christian school were the pastor and his wife. This was in Lubbock, TX. I can’t think of a more conservative public school district….(To be clear: I liked the pastor and his wife a lot. They were a big part of why I stayed at this church for as long as I did).
    3. The us vs. them mentality. (See above re: schooling). The world is not inherently evil, and the church is not inherently good. The desire to shelter in the church started to irk me, especially because it was often coupled with an inability to examine ourselves for our own issues.
    4. Biblicism. I saw too many examples of bad hermeneutics being used to justify bad behavior. This shook my confidence in the authority of the Bible, and in the ability of Christians to interpret it well. Oddly, living overseas planted the seeds for this one; we spent a lot of time talking about how to remove our own cultural blinders when approaching the Bible, and debating whether that was possible. This made me hyper-aware of uniquely American interpretations when I returned to the U.S., and made me doubt that we could reliably interpret the Bible. Then I read Christian Smith’s book “The Bible Made Impossible.” That pretty much brought down then entire system.
    5. Related to (1-4) above: After a while, everything came crashing down, and I had to reexamine everything I believed about Christianity, God, Jesus, etc. I couldn’t do this and go to church. This happened about the time I moved to MI for my PhD, and I couldn’t look for a church and deal with my doubts. I spent three Sundays visiting churches, telling my inner cynic to shut up, and feeling awkward the entire time. The fourth Sunday, I decided it wasn’t worth fighting that battle every week, and that I stopped making myself try. That was three years ago.
    6. I don’t think church should be a rock concert, and it’s hard to find a place where there’s room for pain, doubts, and questions. I don’t have a lot of patience for the upbeat messages that I’ve heard in the churches I’ve visited in the past couple of years. Granted, this is a small sample size, but sermons have largely focused on how God has delivered or provided, with little attention to what happens if God is silent, or if life is hard. This feels like a bait-and-switch to me, and I don’t have a lot of patience for it.

    Why I would consider returning:
    1. I miss liturgy (so I’d look at Anglican or Lutheran churches).
    2. I’ll move again in about a year; it might be a way to meet people (but I’m not holding my breath).
    3. I miss ‘fellowship’: having friends who are Christians and with whom I can talk about faith (and doubts). Not sure that church is the place to find this, though.
    4. God has a sense of humor or something, and oddly for academia, most of my friends at school/work are Christians. They’ve given me hope that it might be possible for me to make my peace with American churches. Maybe.

  96. In no particular order of importance:

    Failure to communicate, in particular find out what I actually believed rather than put me in a box with a label on it.

    Failure to listen, a leadership that was distant from the church itself.

    Church politics. The assumption of bad motives or wanting to stir things up without bothering to find out if this were actually the case.

    The ‘baptism in the Spirit’ – whatever it is, it disturbs us and we don’t want it.

    We would rather you lost your faith than for God the Holy Spirit to do anything in our church.

    With the two immediately above in mind, an obsession with the correct use of terminology.

    You spend hours studying the bible on something, only to find ‘they’ don’t care what the bible says.

    A church leadership that couldn’t discern the skin off a rice pudding.

    Narrowmindedness – leaders/members whose eyebrows meet in the middle! Don’t visit a church that does things differently.

    Immaturity – their immaturity and my immaturity!

    Religion.

    A church is always made up of redeemed sinners, I think when young we can have a false expectation of church life. Read the NT for insights into churches and their problems. But there does come a point where you have to move on. If there is little of no edification, a failure to accept people as they are (not their sins, but them as people), if the whole thing gets you down rather than lifts you up, there is no guilt in leaving. Personally, I think a lot of problems in my time were due to ‘mixed’ congregations, where some members were never really converted but lived out a Christianised lifestyle inherited from their parents. Their parents or grandparents may have actually been the last ones to have had a living faith. “Baptists first, Christians second if at all” as one pastor put it to me.

  97. Beakerj wrote:

    If I could be certain this wasn’t true, things would change for me.

    I’ve spent hours struggling with reformed theology and (pseudo?) calvinism – though now a long time ago. In my opinion, humble or not, what you are objecting to is indeed a caricature of biblical teaching. It is an accurate reflection of some of the truth of the NT, but not all of it.

  98. Ken wrote:

    It is an accurate reflection of some of the truth of the NT, but not all of it.

    Isn’t that how satan deceives? A little truth mixed in with a little error? Isn’t that how he deceived Eve?

    I know mistakes in interpretation are made and changed as we mature, but how can we excuse respected? theologians and scholars who should know better and obviously have twisted scripture out of context for the purpose of validating their erroneous agenda?

  99. So many of these comments are a love song and a lament. So many of us hurting, hungry, marginalized, used and discarded by the churches where we served and worshipped. SO MANY OF US. Lord, have mercy.

    A couple of years ago, I did an informal survey of church members over 40 with their local church, and heard this level of sorrow from respondents. As a follow up, I surveyed church leaders to find out about what their experience was with older members. While some appreciated the maturity (and financial giving!) of their older members, too many of the 80+ pastors who responded viewed their more mature members as whiny, obstructionist anchors who got in the way of The Vision Of The Church. Are we surprised that so many leave church schlepping baggage and insisting they’re done?

    Pastors, if you’re reading this thread (and I suspect some of you are!), what are you hearing when you read these words of hurt and pain from people who really love Jesus and want to follow him?

  100. Megan wrote:

    1. I miss liturgy (so I’d look at Anglican or Lutheran churches).

    My family have become episcopalians, two of the grandchildren are in a lutheran school, and one grandchild is in a catholic school. It seems that when we chose liturgy we fell off the diving board in the deep end, and found that we love swimming in the deep end so to speak.

    But let me say this. It is not just about liturgy. It is about a different way of being christian (praxis) and a different way relating to church, God and each other based, of course, on certain different understandings of both scripture and tradition. There is a lot more personal freedom on this path than on the path we came from. Who knew?

  101. Just have to say, that is one of my favorite PTX songs. “Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child. Heaven’s got a plan for you.” This is a perfect conversation to include it.

  102. Oops – typo. * “A couple of years ago, I did an informal survey of church members over 40 ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP with their local church, and heard this level of sorrow from respondents.*

  103. I’ve never posted here before.

    I left three churches because of the reasons listed. I also worked for a HUGE Christian ministry and left for many of the reasons you listed that would apply to a business as well as a church.

    I’m going to merge all of my experiences with the churches and the ministry to answer your question. Please know that my experiences are based on being heavily involved with the churches we attended, we weren’t just attendees. In two instances we were deeply involved from day one of the church plants. Some of these things aren’t as serious as others have experienced. But taken as a “big picture” perhaps some could understand our reasons for being so discouraged by organized religion.

    This is a blanket statement but it best describes how I feel: there is virtually no discernment left in churches and ministries. People follow the herd led by the pastor, the elders, and the inner circle, and no longer think for themselves on church matters, on politics, etc. If you don’t agree with everything they stand for, you’re labeled and ridiculed and eventually shunned.

    And while there is no discernment and people are sheep, the leaders attempt to run the church or ministry like a business. That often does not work very well.

    Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done:

    Authoritarian leadership:
    One pastor kept a “file” on elders and church staff to use against them when needed. Told us that if we didn’t like his style, we could leave. At the ministry I worked for, those at the top were incredibly elitist and people had to virtually beg for an “audience” even for important matters. One person I worked for called her staff “slaves” who must be obedient to the master. This boss made fun of people in front of others, ridiculed people for their weight and for being compassionate toward co-workers. She was moved around the ministry every few years when she got in trouble for her behavior, instead of being fired or at least disciplined.

    Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones)
    Oh yes. One church had a hate-filled, fear mongering “seminar” on Islam. They had politicians sit in the front row and introduced them during the service. Talked more about politics than Jesus. Assumed everyone was on the same page politically. Long-time inner circle church members sent out e-mails during Presidential campaigns persuading members to vote for so-and-so. No one was able to disagree without being shamed in public.

    Pastor doesn’t know my name after x years:
    Two out of three pastors knew virtually nothing about many of the members, only knew the inner circle. I tried to see my pastor to counsel with him about a niece who was getting into some bad spiritual things (Satanism) and was told that he only sees people who need to be saved.

    Church money being spent on buildings, etc.:
    Emphasis on building programs, going into debt to expand facility needlessly. Thinking that making the building a “showplace” would attract people.
    A huge amount of money spent to lavishly entertain the largest donors of the Christian ministry while lamenting about their budget to the employees.

    No one talks to me:
    Not exactly. More like: there are cliques, and don’t you dare try to join them unless you are invited. Stay within your own circles – i.e. within your financial level, or whether you are on staff or worship/drama team.

    Too much emphasis on giving:
    Tacky public displays of giving. Making way too much of tithing. Emphasizing tithing much too often.

    Music:
    Too much performing, not enough worshipping. Making the order of service, the music, drama, lights, stage props etc. the focus of Sunday morning.

    Judgmental members:
    During my time working at a Christian ministry I was judged for going through a painful divorce. I was told I was going to hell if I divorced. People watched me outside of work and gossiped about me. Someone reported to the upper management that I was having an affair. (not true.)

    In addition:
    Not being allowed to have a Sunday School class weekend retreat extend into Sunday morning because the Sunday attendance at the church would be reduced and people would notice.

    Being yelled at by the pastor because the service (performance?) wasn’t perfect.

    Being called “you” by the worship team for years while volunteering to help set up prior to service.

    Pastor insisted we go into debt soon after new building was finished because having two services was “too stressful.” Better to go into debt to expand building for one service.

    Being told we were being divisive for questioning their “flavor” of theology. Pastor denying he preached something, when it was on audio. He lied.

    Our Sunday school teacher begged to be accountable to elders or pastor because he was teaching, and was told “nobody has time for that.”

    Being told not to reveal personal things during morning communal prayer at Christian ministry because people could use that information against us.

    Never being contacted by elders after leaving a church where we were members/faithful volunteers/financial supporters for 10 years.

    I know that some of these things seem small and perhaps petty compared to some folks horrible experiences, but years of these smaller issues have worn us down and discouraged us. We have absolutely no desire to attend another church any time soon. I think we are done. Of course, we miss in-person fellowship, worship and teaching but we are too burned out by “Christians” to get involved again. Perhaps someday we will find a church and be quiet attenders. But becoming members and volunteering in the ministries or joining small groups is probably never going to happen again.

  104. Nancy wrote:

    But let me say this. It is not just about liturgy. It is about a different way of being christian (praxis) and a different way relating to church, God and each other based, of course, on certain different understandings of both scripture and tradition. There is a lot more personal freedom on this path than on the path we came from. Who knew?

    I think at this point a different praxis is exactly what’s needed. Habits are formative, and so is culture. I think liturgy allows for that. And, in my limited (mostly childhood, mainline Methodist) experience, there does tend to be a freedom in liturgy that’s hard to explain but is formative nonetheless.

  105. Why I am a Done:

    1. Secondary issues being stressed – check. If you’re not baptized in the Holy Ghost and baptized in Jesus’ name (not the “titles”) you’re going to hell. (Of course, those who believe this don’t see it as secondary at all.)

    2. Authoritarian leadership – check. My husband was disfellowshipped when he sought advice outside the cult for how to handle his business financial crisis.

    3. Too much emphasis on judging outsiders – check. Where to start? Anyone who didn’t uphold our holiness standards was subject to judgement. Also any woman who was too independent must be “wearing the pants” in that family.

    4. Mishandling of child sex abuse – check. They made the news for this, though there are many stories that will never be told.

    5. Church money being spent on buildings, etc.instead of on ______ – check. I would say the money was not only spent on buildings, but on new cars, vacations, electronics, and other “stuff” instead of being spent to truly help the neediest in our midst. And if one of the ministers had a medical need in their family, the church was asked for a special donation. This didn’t happen for the rest of the lowlife pewpeons.

    6. To much emphasis on giving – check. Not just monetarily giving, but giving of time. I used to “volunteer” 20 hours a week on the cult’s literature ministry after I’d already put in a 40 hour work week. We were also expected to be at 3 services a week which added up to a combined total of 10 hours.

    7. Judgmental members – check. Personally, I think the church has the “world” beat hands down on this one.

    8. Church discipline/Church abuse – check. (See number 2.)

    9. Science was denigrated – check. I knew someone who “treated” her cancer with vitamin C injections. She died.

  106. I am a (hopefully) temporary done. Right or wrong, here are my reasons. I’ll put the long version in parenthesis for those who want only the short version.
    1. 30+ years serving in an authoritarian church (my volunteer time had reached an average of 15 hours a week. When I told leadership I was tired and needed a break I was rebuked in several ways: that I should be refreshing myself in the Lord, that I should give up on my “Little House on the Prairie” dream for my family–it will never happen, I should be willing to be used anywhere the leaders needed me…. The leadership also didn’t give two hoots that I work at a utility company and spent many sleepless nights restoring power, only to drag myself to church because they “depended on me” so much.
    2. Bad doctrine (I have searched the scriptures for several doctrines that I was taught and can’t find them when reading in context. I am starting to see that bad doctrine can lead to bad behavior, especially for leadership)
    3. Relevance (I love all music, so I don’t really care about the style, per se. But that said, I am tired of hearing sports illustrations, watching movie clips, hearing messages from said movie clips instead of scripture. I asked my current pastor [new church for me] about some of the doctrines and he admitted that he should be teaching them from the pulpit, however, lots of people wouldn’t understand or go for that type of message, so he keeps it light. Of course, I should give up another night for small group and learn deeper stuff. From published books within the evangelical industrial complex. Also, I believe “relevance” has become more like a pep rally for the beautiful people than like a plea for human souls to come to Christ. Don’t believe me, look at who is on stage. [not sour grapes here, I was one of the people on stage)
    4. Rick Warren. (He has almost single-handedly caused evangelicals to trade the gospel for relevance, thus, making church attendance irrelevant)
    5. Independent (my 30+ years were spent in a Fundamental Independent Baptist Church. They bragged about not having to answer to a larger fellowship, so they were able to avoid large denominational pitfalls such as liberal politics, women in the pulpit, women running the church, homosexuality, and keeping the money at home. They were also able to follow the examples of any leader they wanted. They chose Rick Warren)
    6. Fundamental (in their independence and in their search for the relevant, they somehow remained fundamentalists and took people to the woodshed from time to time. I saw several young unmarried mothers leave the church as well as single women. It was apparently a tough place to be “loved”)
    7. Salvation is free to all who repent. But you’d better live right and stop sinning or you’ll never be sanctified. (Need I say more?)

  107. Not “Done” with church, but I walked out of a prominent evangelical ministry 2 years ago:

    1) “Family” politics. Most of their media switched from evangelism to “family” training years ago. Talk was about family. Books and interviews were assuming everyone being reached had two kids in the suburbs and mom either was home all day or wanted to be home all day. Guess where this left anyone under 20, anyone over 60, or anyone in some stage of singleness?

    2) The Leadership cult. Christianity Today wrote a prophetic piece a few years back about the obsession in evangelicalism with being a “leader.” Apparently few listened. We had Seminars, books, interviews with megapastors, webinars, inspirational posters. Biblical stories about OT prophets and NT disciples were turned into business leadership principles. Sermons were forwarded to us about leadership, and that’s the message we started spreading. Discipleship wasn’t an issue anymore. Even today, the phrase “Servant-Leader” sends me into a rage…maybe because:

    3) Leadership was manipulative. Managers came and went, people were fired with no warning, and donors were given weak answers when they asked what was happening. When donations plunged after a very public removal of a prominent spokesman, 6 people were let go in response. When my “position was removed” I was threatened with a written warning for asking too many questions. (and just to defy stereotypes: The supervisor who abused their position over me to take over projects they wanted? A diehard Democrat with Obama stickers everywhere. It takes all kinds.)

    Good people still work there. People not in leadership kept up relations with World Vision after the big scandal last year. I had workers there offer to find me new jobs. Others resigned later on after they couldn’t take it anymore. Former workers wondered how I kept on so long.

    Again, I never left church (in fact, they all stopped and prayed for me, tried to find jobs for me, sent me food), but I am going to be VERY slow to work at an evangelical ministry again without doing research on their leadership.

  108. Margaret wrote:

    When you read about all the Christian leaders that have abused their members, ie CJMahaney, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, Why would anyone continue to believe in a Christian God?

    Because we know that these men and the others are not like God. And we don’t blame God for sinful people. I think that God is displeased by what has been done in his name. It is also possible that God is working to expose the Big Men by the little women and the little men.

  109. Jazmin wrote:

    4. Realized most people were pretending. Not so much because they were hypocrites, but because it was safer than being eaten alive by the pastor.

    Oh, yes. My BIL called this “flying under the radar.” Results in very shallow relationships.

  110. Beakerj wrote:

    If I could be certain this wasn’t true, things would change for me.

    I think you could become certain by carefully following Paul’s entire argument. This snippet has been taken out of context and made to characterize God when that wasn’t the point Paul was trying to make. The people who teach this think Paul’s point is that God creates people just to destroy them. The actual point of the argument is *even if God did do that* there would be no place for people to complain because God is the creator of the people who are complaining and we all belong to him. That is way different than what the severe Calvinists are saying. They cannot read context beyond the verse numbers which are not part of the text anyway. You seem to be a sensitive soul, like me, and it is very hard to read what Paul says. But he is not saying what they say he is saying.

  111. Michelle Van Loon wrote:

    astors, if you’re reading this thread (and I suspect some of you are!), what are you hearing when you read these words of hurt and pain from people who really love Jesus and want to follow him?

    I agree and would add that the vocal ones aren’t the only ones feeling this way. I was a good authority follower and knew I “should never question god’s man.” But when the leader moves people around in “his” ministry like pawns, they all to some degree resent it. They may think they are sinning by resenting it, so they will stay humble and quiet. Then one day, they will abruptly disappear from the fellowship, never to be seen again.

  112. The false doctrine of tithing. I can count on one finger how many preachers I have heard preach that we should pay a preacher “whatever we feel he is worth.” He is not my pastor, but I send him money just for that.

    I added up our tithing. My wife and I have tithed in the neighborhood of $150,000 over the course of our marriage. I have a medium level labor positron and my wife has worked part time sporadically in between kids. We felt (from the IFB teaching of 30+ years) that she should remain at home with the kids. No regrets there, but ALL of the pastors wives that I have known have worked, many full-time. That was on top of their husband’s income that was better than mine. And his car allowance. And his housing allowance. They all had great excuses for it, even at times allowing the senior pastor’s wife to work Sundays as a nurse. Well, that was her MINISTRY!

    One time I was strapped for money but my wife wanted to go out to eat. We only could afford a cafeteria, so we went to the hospital cafeteria. Their food is actually quite palatable. The pastor and his wife were eating there as well (her lunch break) and they asked me who we were there to visit. Nobody, I said, just our for a meal. Pastors wife laughed and laughed at what a cheapskate I was for taking my wife out to the hospital cafeteria. What a sphincter!

  113. @ SJ:
    Welcome to the discussion, SJ! You’ll find yourself in good company here with lots of love and support.

    Until you decide to look for another church, you might consider EChurch at the top of the blog. Pastor Wade preaches and Deb and Dee host a beautiful service every week. I’m grateful to them for this ministry and I think you would be blessed by checking it out.

  114. These comments make me laugh and cry. I laugh when reading about the long and boring sermons. I grew up in a small Texas town and if the Cowboys played at noon, we better be out the door at 11:50. I remember a few times a new preacher had to be told the rules.

    I cry when I read about people not being supported in time of need. That was never a problem, and in fact there were times of too much assistance.

    I would add one other reason to stay away from some of the churches: Too much focus on the angry God of the Old Testament. What happened to preaching the Good News of the New Testament? Why so much focus on anger and punishment instead of love and forgiveness?

  115. The Nightowl wrote:

    I’ve been dragged out my wheelchair or out of a church pew by well meaning, but ignorant people who are convinced they can heal me. (I now push the chair 2 isles away from me if I go) I’ve been accused of being deceived or possessed or just plain “in sin” because I haven’t walked.

    Ugh! I’ve seen people praying grab the target by the arms and force them to jump just to make it appear that something was happening. I hate this stuff.
    Now that I’ve been removed from it for a few years I can suggest pretending to be slain in the Spirit and watch those around you have paroxysms of ecstatic prayer. It’s really sad to attend a church to find out you’re the sideshow.

  116. Victorious wrote:

    Isn’t that how satan deceives? A little truth mixed in with a little error? Isn’t that how he deceived Eve?

    Yes, heresy is often truth taken to an extreme rather than outright falsehood. I think as far as it goes, calvinism has grasped a central truth of the gospel, namely that God calls the shots as far as salvation goes; it’s not up to us to negotiate exemptions from what we don’t like. But it’s not the whole of the NT, and there are truths that modify this, or that when put side by side are difficult to reconcile.

    I now think we have to hold these truths in tension and accept we don’t have the whole picture, and don’t need to have the whole picture.

    I actually think Beza was behind what is commonly called calvinism more than Calvin himself, but it’s years since I was forced to have to gen up on all this. It’s very ironic that those who espouse the Doctrines of Grace can sometimes be very lacking in grace towards those who struggle with some of these concepts.

    And in keeping with this thread, this whole type of argument amongst Christians can be more than offputting in making you reluctant to attend a church, all the more so if exponents of the various views become militant about them.

  117. Note from Moderator:  We already have a 'Nancy', so we have changed the name of this commenter to 'Nancy2' so no one gets confused with which Nancy is commenting.

    ****************

    I’m just about “done”. I only go because of my husband. By standard defn., most SBC churches are not complementarian — they are patriarchal. I have been a member of SBC affiliated churches since 1978. They have men’s meetings and men’s rallies. Nothing for women.

    I have a degree in mathematics, and I used to teach grades 7-12. Because of health issues, I had to stop teaching full-time. While my husband was enrolled at a Bible college, I took 2 courses. Then I quit because I realized what a total waste it was for me to do that.

    At our previous church, I taught various ages at vbs, I taught grades 2-5 on Wed. nights, and I taught grades 4-7 in Sunday school. All classes were mixed gender. Some of the men chided me because they believed it inappropriate for a woman to teach boys, but none of the men would teach them!

    Anyway, my husband became discontent at that church, so we moved to another church. Women are not allowed to speak in adult Sunday school classes; women are not allowed to speak at business meetings; but, a nine year old boy can preach from the pulpit! Men teach the boys and women teach the girls.

  118. Gram3 wrote:

    Because we know that these men and the others are not like God. And we don’t blame God for sinful people. I think that God is displeased by what has been done in his name. It is also possible that God is working to expose the Big Men by the little women and the little men.

    This is my view. However, I am thinking how ingrained determinism really is in our lives in and out of church. What happened to volition? Is it coming alive again with the dones? I hope so!

  119. A couple of months back I wrote up a blog post at my blog that dealt with my experience with evangelical churches in the Washington, D.C. area. Two that people will recognize here are McLean Presbyterian and Crossway Evangelical Free in Manassas. This is my experience at showing up and church after church after church. I was in a full blown faith crisis and considered myself agnostic.

    While I dealt with many doubts I had one in particular that destroyed my faith. Why does a loving God allow evil? None of the churches could engage me intellectually.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/how-to-respond-to-a-faith-crisis-an-agnostic-tries-the-church-and-learns-the-church-cannot-help/

  120. Beakerj wrote:

    This being held by some Christians to be the true Christian message is the major reason I am also a ‘done’ & could be a ‘none’. If I could be certain this wasn’t true, things would change for me.

    Dearest Beaker, I think the fact you have a wonderful brain thinking and ruminating about this deeply is proof.

  121. During my faith crisis I was being invited to a Sovereign Grace church called Redeemer Arlington. I couldn’t believe what I was being invited to when I started researching SGM online. It led to fights between me and a 32 year old Air Force Captain and graduate from the Air Force Academy that I didn’t think were possible. In my case it also contributed to my faith crisis. How you ask?

    Being an agnostic speaking about the problem of evil and asking the question, “Why does a loving God allow a 3 year old to be sexually abused?” and then being invited to a denomination that was engaged in covering up child sex abuse. Go figure!

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/how-to-respond-to-a-faith-crisis-being-involved-in-a-church-that-is-feeding-the-crisis-or-justifying-atheism/

  122. @ Nancy:

    I did not write this. This is a different Nancy. I don’t know how to handle this sort of situation. Any advice would be helpful.

  123. Megan wrote:

    I don’t have a lot of patience for the upbeat messages that I’ve heard in the churches I’ve visited in the past couple of years. Granted, this is a small sample size, but sermons have largely focused on how God has delivered or provided, with little attention to what happens if God is silent, or if life is hard. This feels like a bait-and-switch to me, and I don’t have a lot of patience for it.

    I completely agree.

    In person or on Christian TV shows I watch, Christians only present the positive, happy endings. They seldom to never do interviews with, or stories about, Christians who did not get their needs met, or who were not provided for, or who were not healed or delivered.

    I’ve known Christians who prayed for decades for one thing or another, healing or whatever, and never received it. This is a topic that is hardly ever addressed by Christians in or out of churches.

    I think Christians really need to help people get through times when God is seemingly turning a deaf ear to their problems / prayers and not helping or not providing. Many Christians are very reluctant to do this, though.

    What do you do if you have prayed to God for many years for “X” (whatever X may be) and God is silent and not moving on your behalf? Churches don’t want to touch this.

  124. @ Ken:

    Unless I am mistaken, you are one of the guys on past threads who has defended gender complementarianism?
    If so, I hope you have noted the recurring them on here by many people (a lot of them women) who have mentioned how much gender comp has hurt them and turned them off from attending churches.

    (Or whoever the guy is that defends gender comp regularly. I hope he’s read through the responses on here and taken note of how destructive gender comp is.)

  125. @ Nancy:

    Welcome, Nancy. There is another Nancy who comments here. Would you mind putting a number after your name so we don’t get the two of you mixed up? I did that for awhile as their was another Bridget before me.

    I am sorry that you find yourself in the same fix as soon many of us.

  126. I refuse to do anything at church anymore. Backbone, brains, and education are worthless if you don’t literally have a pair of balls, too. Most churches are run by men, for men. Women are marginalized and kept on the outer peripheries. My husband’s relentless dedication to church combined with his completely shutting me out of all decisions, including decisions that directly affected me, almost led us to divorce court. We are working to save our marriage, so I only attend church to keep my husband happy.

    *There are men at our church who make fun of my husband because I usually drive when we go somewhere in my car.
    *There are men who make remarks about how women are not allowed to usurp the men’s authority every chance they get.
    *Last Sunday, our pastor (a truly wonderful man who is leaving, btw) remarked that we had great teachers in church … Another man said, “Don’t forget about the women.”
    *Last night, a man joked that there won’t be any women in heaven because Rev. 8:1 says there will be silence for half an hour. Hardy-har-har. He sooo funny!
    I can’t decide whether I should make a fashion statement by wearing a burka to church, or a collar and a leash!

  127. Anon wrote:

    Books and interviews were assuming everyone being reached had two kids in the suburbs and mom either was home all day or wanted to be home all day. Guess where this left anyone under 20, anyone over 60, or anyone in some stage of singleness?

    I wonder if these sorts of churches have picked up on the shifting demographics in American society yet?

    This is from 2014:
    “Singles now outnumber married people in America”
    http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-14/singles-now-outnumber-married-people-america-and-thats-good-thing

  128. The last “Nancy” comment was me “Nancy 2”. I was continuing my comment. Sorry — these buttons on my iPad are so small!

  129. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Now that I’ve been removed from it for a few years I can suggest pretending to be slain in the Spirit and watch those around you have paroxysms of ecstatic prayer. It’s really sad to attend a church to find out you’re the sideshow.

    When my sister had a broken leg ten or more years ago, her friend took her to her church, that was into faith healing type of stuff.

    My sister had a cast on her leg and a crutch. During the service, the church’s preacher came over and laid hands on my sister and prayed loudly for her healing in front of everyone.

    My sister told me she felt so uncomfortable with being the center of attention and didn’t want to embarrass the preacher, so that she threw her crutch aside and pretended to be all better (she wasn’t. Her leg was still broken, and she still had pain in her leg.)

    I felt even worse for her about that, because we went to Southern Baptist churches growing up, so “laying on of hands” and what all is totally foreign, weird, and a little creepy to us.

  130. Daisy wrote:

    This is from 2014:
    “Singles now outnumber married people in America”
    http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-14/singles-now-outnumber-married-people-america-and-thats-good-thing

    Here’s the money quote:

    “They have a chance for solitude, and kind of a productive solitude. We live in this moment of incredible hyper-connection and we’re always engaged with social life through social media. When you live alone, you have a little oasis in your apartment.”

    When sex is the only interaction that requires Meatspace instead of being done over 24/7/365 Social Media(TM), what other ways are there of getting away from that “hyper-connection”? You can withdraw, unplug, and do something that isn’t run-around-in-circles-screaming Urgent and/or requiring instantaneous online reply.

  131. refugee wrote:

    Bad theology (God created some people to be saved. Others he created *just* for the purpose of throwing them into hell, destroying them. It makes him sound like a toddler given to tantrums. If scripture really says this (and it seems to) then I’m not sure I can continue being a “done” — I might end up as “none”.

    John Calvin as filtered through Jack Chick.

  132. I lived and breathed Christian culture for a very long time, which started during my teen years when my parents decided we needed to go back to church. I was very involved in youth group, choir, and Bible study.

    I went to a Christian college where I was one of a handful of women who pursued a ministry degree (with a minor in Bible, of course). In the late 80’s-early 90’s it was all about church growth. How to attract people to and keep people in church. It was here that I learned that even in Southern California, churches were not open to women preaching and being called “pastor.”

    When we moved to Oregon we immersed ourselves for many years into a local church that was well-known in the non-denom Christian churches. I spent countless hours of time volunteering in children’s ministry, AWANA, and leading a homeschool group. We were faithful attenders, givers of money, and leaders in the church. Toward the end of our time there we saw how the pastor of the church aspired for it to become a megachurch – and, we were on our way there with running over 2,000 on a Sunday. It became all about money and programs. People were getting pushed aside and forgotten. We started seeing close friends leaving because they were unhappy and, after a long conversation with the pastor where recognized that we could not share the vision, we decided to leave. It was hard leaving close friends.

    Then began our search for another church. We decided to join a small church plant supported by our former mega. It was a younger crowd (we were in our late 30’s and we were the “old folks”). The music was interesting and we were learning a lot. The pastor and his wife had some marriage issues to deal with so he stepped down, which started the search for a new pastor. After time, we noticed that one of the elders had started strong-arming his way into the pastoral position. We made it known that we did not think he was fit to be the pastor, but the other elders made him pastor anyway. This was when we would go to church to be yelled at by the pastor. He was controlling and told everyone that he was annointed by God to be there. We left after that and then church closed within a year.

    Which started our search for another church. One made it known that it was important to invite people in to church because when people come, they’ll stay, then they’ll give. So, people = $. Another had some great programs for the city, but the pastor was non-existing. I called him the disappearing pastor. He would magically show up on stage to speak, then he would disappear after to never be seen again. I didn’t like that the pastor had no connection with people. Another church made it very clear that men were in charge and that women were to stand behind men. If you had a problem with it, too bad. That Sunday I said very clearly to my husband, “We will not be staying here.” We tried a house church were the pastor’s son was bullying our son. The pastor said, “Boys will be boys.”

    After that last incident, we were done.

    I still believe in God, although, honestly, I question a lot. I struggle with how not going to church affects my kids. They have found other ways, though, through Bible study with friends to stay connected to God. I struggle with narrow viewpoints of conservative Christians, but I am able to understand where they are coming from. I have worked through being angry about my experiences and have come to a point of being disinterested in church. I have found online communities such as Internet Monk, WW, and Spiritual Sounding Board to be a better fit for me.

  133. Daisy wrote:

    Unless I am mistaken, you are one of the guys on past threads who has defended gender complementarianism?

    You raise a fair point, and without rehearsing all the arguments about this yet again would offer the following comments:

    The wifely ‘submission’ or respect has it’s counterpart or complement in the duties laid upon the husband. These are agape love for the wife, giving, nourishing, cherishing, not to be harsh but bestow honour etc. This gives some shape to the meaning of being ‘head’.

    Now from what I have read on here, complementarianism means the counterpart to wifely submission is husbandly authority. He is in charge, it’s his job to lead; not only so, but he is the sole authority in the relationship, he makes all the decisions.

    Now I think you would agree my version and the version being complained about on here are not quite the same. I know devotees of wifely submission and husbandly authority often use the same words as my version as a cover for him lording it over her. They talk about love, but practice authoritarianism (“servant-leader”).

    Now I personally haven’t really seen the abuse of this teaching. It’s either been ignored or rejected outright, or amongst Spirit-filled believers who take the bible seriously on this that I have known they have tried to sensibly work out who is responsible for what in the marriage. Not ignored it or fought against it, nor forced it to extremes that go beyond the general principles laid down in the text itself.

    If this really is damaging people, then it’s not the teaching laid down in the NT that is to blame, but an abuse or distortion of it. I don’t doubt this happens. The teaching in the NT, even if strange to our ears, is there for our blessing, and that’s what ought to happen if it is correctly understood and put into practice.

  134. Dang! The marquee says 144 comments (12^2) on this thread and past the 800 mark on the other. It really does say a lot about what’s goin’ on out here.

  135. Bridget wrote:

    Sallie Borrink wrote:
    many people have broken fellowship with me or stopped reading my blog once they realized I was not a full-on complementarian but instead believed in mutual submission
    That has been a big problem for me as well. When I quit following the completion party line, women started distancing themselves. It’s as if you suddenly have the plague.

    I suppose I have that to look forward to, then.

  136. John wrote:

    I’m politically moderate to liberal. That’s as good as being a rank pagan in a lot of people’s books.

    You’re right. I’ve even heard a “christian” parent say that for their kid to date or marry a Democrat would be the equivalent of being “unequally yoked.” I kid you not.

  137. @ Zla’od:
    Thought-provoking questions. I hadn’t really thought about the implications. But the way it struck me was “faithful” Dones are those who wish they could go to a church, who miss church-type fellowship, who have an empty place inside that is not satisfied by personal worship or small-group discussion.

    That’s just my take.

    I suppose I’d be an “unfaithful” Done as I (at present, anyhow) feel as if I never want to go to a “church” “service” again.

  138. @ refugee:
    Guess I should add, “unfaithful” in my case also means I’m questioning everything I’ve been taught over my lifetime in various churches. I can’t even call myself a christian — the word has too much baggage. What do I believe in? Anything? Who do I believe in? (certainly not myself, or other people. Christ?) I honestly couldn’t tell you at this point.

  139. refugee wrote:

    I can’t even call myself a christian — the word has too much baggage.

    I usually just refer to myself as a believer.

  140. Daisy wrote:

    During the service, the church’s preacher came over and laid hands on my sister and prayed loudly for her healing in front of everyone.
    My sister told me she felt so uncomfortable with being the center of attention and didn’t want to embarrass the preacher, so that she threw her crutch aside and pretended to be all better (she wasn’t. Her leg was still broken, and she still had pain in her leg.)

    In my experience, so much of it is just for show. (Just like this preacher praying loudly in front of everyone.) I’m not against prayer. I just don’t think it should be a circus act.

  141. I didn’t comment on the first post, but as I began to read through the comments (I couldn’t get through them all; the response was crazy!), I found myself nodding my head over and over and over again. So…here is just a sliver of my story and journey toward “done-ness”…

    •Too much emphasis on political issues (which ones) I am tired of American politics being so central in much of American Church life. The same polarization we see in our political system lives and breathes in the church. Perhaps because I have been around it more, the Evangelical’s unholy alliance with the Republican Party is particularly odious to me. The way in which political issues are discussed in these circles misses the fact that real people with real lives and real struggles exist behind the rhetoric; and much of the rhetoric turns those people away from the Gospel, not toward it. This is especially true right now, as we wait for the decision to be handed down about Same Sex marriage.

    •Too much emphasis on judging outsiders – this piggybacks on my comments above regarding politics. We love to tell the heathens they are being heathens while we continue on with our own sinful shenanigans. When Paul was scolding the Corinthians about their handling of a man who was having an affair with his step mother, he did not fault them for their failure to point out how unbelievers act like unbelievers. He stated: “ I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11 NIV) When issues of sin by our so-called leaders are forced into the public, the concern is more about saving face than being faithful to God.

    •Mishandling of child sex abuse – the issue related to this topic is too painful for me to even discuss.

    •Mishandling of domestic violence – for me, this one is directly tied to church discipline/church abuse. I watched a church totally destroy a friend whose husband was mentally, verbally and physically abusive to her. She was told by the church that it was because she was not being “submissive enough”. They went to “marriage counseling” at the church (a major megachurch in the near Northwest Suburbs of Chicago) for six of their eight years of marriage. During that time, his behavior became worse and worse; he broke one promise after another and never followed through on the counsel he was being given. When she started realizing the damage being done not only to herself, but also their children, she left. He stalked her, had members of his small group stalk her to remind her that she was “sinning” for leaving and wanting divorce. When the divorce was finalized, the church excommunicated her for committing the sin of divorce without seeking reconciliation (really???) and approval from the church (this is the part of the story where I lose my ability to refrain from cursing). Meanwhile, he was been elevated to leadership in the church as one of the leaders of their Divorce Care ministry. My friend will not darken the door of a church right now. Her heart has been completely shattered by her ex-husband’s abuse and the betrayal of her church. And I have run out of ways to try to convince her otherwise; I’m trying to convince myself…

    •Church money being spent on buildings, etc.instead of on ______ (fill in the blank) – my former church launched a building campaign a year and half ago. A number of things about this campaign rubbed me the wrong way. First, their main motivation was to get more people into the church by building out the children’s ministry wing to appeal to young families in the community. The problem with that? There is nothing in place to care for the people that are already there. Unless you have been there for a while and have your “clique” – or have children – you are disconnected. Trying to get connected is difficult, again, unless you have kids. When every sermon, no matter the topic, began circling back somehow to giving to the building fund, reminding us of the debt we were in to go “all in” for God, I couldn’t go any longer. Especially when I knew of more couples than I cared to count that were on the verge of falling apart; children who were dealing with painful issues with no one to talk them through it; a youth ministry that was more about light shows and fun than training our children the basics of the faith. I left.

    •I feel like my talents are ignored – I am a childless, single middle aged Black woman with teaching, preaching and pastoring gifts. I have theological training. And I feel invisible unless something happens in the country that is about race – then I’m the spokesperson for every Black person in America. Or, if a group of women get together and decide to make me their matchmaking project because it is such a tragedy that I’m not yet married. My pastoring gifts are not affirmed unless they are directly applied to women and children. I feel minimized and misunderstood.

    I am not yet done. Much of the reason I hold on is guilt. I feel like I would be a bad Christian if I bolted from church. But my soul is weary.

  142. Why we were almost, ” dones “:

    * Church leadership hijacked.( Constitution changed from congregational polity, to elder board.)
    * Bad theology introduced. ( Calvinism )
    * Women removed from all boards, dismissed as deacons)
    * Church finances hidden from congregation.
    * Music ( all contemporary, loud, emphasis on talents of “praise ” team.
    * Elderly congregants patronized, dismissed.

    We didn’t go to church for a while, we felt spent, discouraged, purged.
    We started to make the rounds visiting churches and found one where:

    * Good teaching, non emphasis on Reformed, or Calvinistic doctrine.
    * Congregational polity. Women elected to boards, as deacons.
    * Finacial accountability.
    * Joyful congregational singing, both contemporary and hymns. Praise team leads but does not dominate the congregation.
    * Good fellowship among all age groups, singles, married, elderly, etc. Everyone is a necessary part of the congregation.

  143. Youth activities constantly revolving around playing, watching, or talking sports. Some sports is ok, but my boys (when in HS) weren’t much into ballin’ so they hated going to youth activities. Well, unless they had a girlfriend there. 😉

  144. @ Deb:

    Re: Nancy and Nancy2

    I can live with that, but I was rather considering ‘okrapod’ as a generic term for my name change. You may know about the okrapod terminology problem but others may not. I take no responsibility for the fact that the following may sound like nonsense, given my age related mental disabilities.

    In searching out the definitions and implications of the word Okrapod one might assume that it was a small extinct life form whose skeletal remains are found in some forms of sedimentary rock.

    Or one might think that the word okrapod was used for a small group of bottom dwelling creatures found in stagnant pond water in North Dakota. Checking the protected species lists might be enlightening.

    Okrapod sounds appropriate for the the name of a brain destroying parasite transmitted by mosquitos.

    Mostly the word seems like a perfect fit for a cuttting edge multipurpose personal robot which is programmed to wait in line for tickets mostly.

    These ideas would all be mistaken, though, because no consideration has been given to the use of the word in the original language and the whole issue of the cultural context in which it was first used has been ignored. That is sloppy thinking to say the least.

    In the meantime okrapod is something one chops and throws in gumbo or else cross cuts, dips in batter and fries in hot oil.

    But I can live with whatever. The next time, though, I am going with okrapod.

  145. Lydia wrote:

    This is a HUGE issue with me. It seems we were asleep at the wheel or something because that is not how I remember it as a kid. The end result is that the church belongs to the staff and they allow us to come but we are to pay them for the privilege. But this thinking has become so ingrained not sure how it can change within the current structures

    I think the issue of a “culture of consumerism” illustrates why this is a whole paradigm problem and not just a people problem or organization problem. What I mean by a “paradigm” is an integrated “mental model” that captures:

    * The ways we process information at the deepest “DNA” levels (for instance, if you mostly think in ways that are analytical–either/or, you come to different conclusions than if you think mostly paradoxical–both/and), plus our resulting values and our beliefs.

    * The ways we organize ourselves, including strategies and infrastructures at the big-picture level, and processes and procedures at the microscopic level.

    * The ways we interact that form our cultures, and how we do/don’t collaborate with others (e.g., participate as peers, or isolate/insulate ourselves, or dominate the culture).

    In my opinion, the deepest DNA level of “thinkology” (how we think that leads to what we think about) is where the biggest problem is. If you have a strongly black-or-white kind of thinking, then you always divide things apart. That’s the set-up for dividing elite from commoners in politics and culture and organizations like church. If nothing changes at the deep level in our paradigm, then everything else is just temporary cosmetics, and will eventually wear off and show the true face that’s been there all along underneath.

    And how to do that kind of paradigm shift — and what it should shift to, if we are to have a holistic, non-toxic way of living — is the subject of this seemingly never-ending curriculum project I’ve been writing since 2009. Thankfully, I am nearing completion on the first volume, which sets up the frameworks of paradigms, “thinkology,” cultural perspectives, and pathways toward transformation. (The series is entitled “Do Good Plus Do No Harm,” and Vol. 2 is how things can go terribly wrong with leaders, participants, and organizational systems — and how to do start-ups and transitions wisely to prevent the kinds of problems that many of us here on TWW have experienced. Vol. 3 is how to put together intercultural teams — and deal with the communications issues and cultural clashes — for projects, partnerships, and larger collaborations.)

  146. I’ve read through the 800+ comments in the 1st thread, and now I’ve read through the 150+ comments in this one.

    Many (women?) have commented that at least part of the reason they are DONES (although some seem to be more GONES) is that they felt their spiritual gifts were not allowed to be expressed.

    Could I ask for more specifics? What spiritual gifts did you have that weren’t either recognized or allowed to be used? And how could those gifts have been used if the church structure and/or theology were different? And if you’re a DONE, how are you employing those spiritual gifts now outside of the institutional church?

  147. “I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go”

    I like the Fitzgerald quote you have posted at the top of the page. While I don’t consider myself a “done”, I get very tired of hearing “Christianese” in response to real concerns.

  148. Boyd wrote:

    I’ve read through the 800+ comments in the 1st thread, and now I’ve read through the 150+ comments in this one.
    Many (women?) have commented that at least part of the reason they are DONES (although some seem to be more GONES) is that they felt their spiritual gifts were not allowed to be expressed.
    Could I ask for more specifics? What spiritual gifts did you have that weren’t either recognized or allowed to be used? And how could those gifts have been used if the church structure and/or theology were different? And if you’re a DONE, how are you employing those spiritual gifts now outside of the institutional church?

    Boyd, go back and re-read the comments. You are missing the forest for the trees.

  149. Did the church thing from the early seventies to early 2000.

    Done with the American mindet of what church is because of :

    Mini-popism: Authoritarian leadership (includes an infatuated dependence on leaders and their interpretation of the bible).

    Very low view of half the priesthood, namely women. This site and contributors like Dee, gram3, Nancy, Val, victorious, daisy, Leah (and others) have radically influenced my thinking in this area.

    Lack of dependence on the leading of the Spirit.

    My definition of what constitutes church has changed. See Wayne jacobsen’s fine book – Finding Church Awesome liberating read. Guilt is gone!

  150. Boyd wrote:

    Many (women?) have commented that at least part of the reason they are DONES (although some seem to be more GONES) is that they felt their spiritual gifts were not allowed to be expressed.

    I hope I am not misreading your comment because I’ve been unclear many times. The part of your comment that grabbed me in the quoted portion of your comment is “they felt.” I sincerely hope that you were not diminishing the marginalization of women that is elevated to Gospel truth in the Gospel Glitterati churches and others.

    Actually, it is a fact that the spiritual gifts of women are disallowed expression and exercise. The only way around that is to assume that the Holy Spirit does not gift women to teach people besides females and male children up to some magical age where it then becomes sinful.

    Now, let’s imagine a human body with all of its functions operating at less than 50%. How healthy would that body be? For how long would that body live?

  151. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I added up our tithing. My wife and I have tithed in the neighborhood of $150,000 over the course of our marriage.

    My husband recently had our former church contact him to do head shots of the pastors and elders. He asked me how much I thought he should charge. I told him to ask for our 8 years worth of tithing back. We have a kid (and one down the road) going off to college that could really use that money.

  152. Boyd wrote:

    I’ve read through the 800+ comments in the 1st thread, and now I’ve read through the 150+ comments in this one.

    Many (women?) have commented that at least part of the reason they are DONES (although some seem to be more GONES) is that they felt their spiritual gifts were not allowed to be expressed.

    Could I ask for more specifics? What spiritual gifts did you have that weren’t either recognized or allowed to be used? And how could those gifts have been used if the church structure and/or theology were different? And if you’re a DONE, how are you employing those spiritual gifts now outside of the institutional church?

    I don’t think I mentioned this in the other thread when I wrote about my experiences, but it is significant for me. I spent a few years in campus ministry with InterVaristy where women were not limited in any way, shape or form. I was able to utilize my gifts of teaching, leadership and discernment. Once you experience the Holy Spirit working through you, it’s very difficult to be relegated to a second class citizen in the church and told you couldn’t possible have those gifts because you are a woman.

    We were in an Evangelical Covenant church for a bit where I taught a mixed SS class and I did really enjoy that. (They ordain women so women are free to serve.) Otherwise, opportunities have been pretty much non-existent. At one Baptist church where we were members, I sat through totally ungifted men teaching SS because they were men. I was told I would never be allowed to teach the class because I was a woman, even if I was gifted and experienced. The leader of the class (a seminary trained deacon, no less) wouldn’t even discuss the issue with my husband and me because the issue was “too divisive.”

    I mentioned before that I will not take my eight year old daughter to a complementarian church because I want her to see gifted women involved in the church. I believe it is critically important for her to see women freely exercising their spiritual gifts. There is no way I’m taking her to a church where the men do everything and the women aren’t even allowed to read the Scriptures during the service. (This is what John Piper teaches so you can imagine how that has filtered into many churches.)

    It’s funny you asked this question because last week I mentioned in a note to a Christian friend that part of the discouragement I feel at times lately is that I’m a leader with no one to lead. I’ve been a leader since middle school. I don’t even seek it out. It seeks me out. I’m the one who ends up the jury foreman, organization president, etc. It’s clearly how I’m wired and people pick up on it.

    I use my gifts now online with my websites. I try to encourage others with my writing and sharing information that I hope Christ uses to set people free.

    I would give up my Done-ness in a heartbeat if there was somewhere healthy for our family. But if I have to choose between exposing my daughter to what I believe are damaging teachings about women and not being in a church building each week… I choose following Christ outside of the institutional church every time.

  153. Boyd wrote:

    What spiritual gifts did you have that weren’t either recognized or allowed to be used?

    I will restate what K.D. and Gram3 said. only I will be a bit more blunt.
    Boyd, the answer to your question is, “NONE!” Women are NOT ALLOWED to have spiritual gifts.

    “Quench not the Spirit”, unless, of course, there’s a woman involved.

  154. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    Youth activities constantly revolving around playing, watching, or talking sports.

    Just like High School.

    I experienced something similar during my Christian Singles fiasco. The vast majority of Social Events they did were Dances. Just like High School. (I don’t know about their High School careers, but mine brought me the closest to suicide I’ve ever been in my life. Quite a distance between the Alpha Male and Omega Male.)

    I got out of High School in 1973. Why did they keep trying to pull me back into it? Did Edward Cullen (sparkle sparkle) put the bite on them so they can stay in High School forever just like him? Is Eternity going to be a never-ending compulsory High School as well as never-ending compulsory Bible Study?

  155. @ K.D.:

    Boyd, I was stuck in the nursery where my gifts were more in the line of discernment and knowledge. I wanted to work with college and young adults. Outside the church- ahh yes, there is quite a bit of opportunity to work in any venue. Wherever the HS leads one can go- right?? Or does this have to be checked out by those who hold the “keys”?

  156. By the way I want to clarify “being stuck in the nursery” is NOT being stuck for some who love to be with little ones. That is a precious place to be if you were called to be there. So forgive me if that sounded crass.

  157. @ Boyd:

    A quick reply:

    Women could not teach.

    Woman not allowed to administrate.

    Woman not allowed to lead worship team.

    Woman could only lead women (and the pastor’s wife was the only trusted person) or the young children.

    No one could teach any material that was not approved by elders.

  158. Eagle wrote:

    Pastors who feel a sense of entitlement…

    I’m not a done, yet, but this one rings true for me. Pastors are so careful not to burn out that they don’t give more than a 40-hour week to the church. Meanwhile, the people in the pews put in their hours at the job, and are asked to donate ($ and) time to the church. I guess it’s no biggie if I burn out…

    We should all be in this together, as laborers together. If the people are asked to volunteer their time, then the pastor also needs to volunteer above and beyond the regular working week.

  159. Eagle wrote:

    The Gospel Coalition

    ISTM that the “Gospel Coalition” is a hopeless case. The problems start with the misleading name which suggests a coalition of all or the most important (evangelical) churches and denominations, when in fact it is (Neo-)Calivinist-only.

    That’s as if you find out that the “automobile coalition” represents BMW exclusively and is open to drivers of BMWs and Minis only. Or the “health-food coalition” representing Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonalds only.

    I’d call it the hopeless coalition, on the Dante principle: “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.” (from the 3rd canto of the “Inferno”) – “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.”

  160. – The church becoming more and more closed, the theology more fundamentalist, with biblical literalism, when I was moving in the opposite direction.
    – Simplistic non-answers to real questions.

  161. Nancy2 wrote:

    Boyd, the answer to your question is, “NONE!” Women are NOT ALLOWED to have spiritual gifts.

    “Quench not the Spirit”, unless, of course, there’s a woman involved.

    We women, every single one of us, have the gift of hospitality and only that gift. That’s why we all can cook/bake, soothe children and twinkle sociably at everyone. It’s never given to men, which shows how speshul we are.

    This is just how the Holy Spirit rolls in the US of A. Like it or leave it.

    w00t

  162. @ K.D.:
    I am actually considering the Episcopal church and will be visiting one this weekend. I need the stability and reassurance of the liturgy. And I need to receive communion – something the most recent church I was attending only does once a quarter or so…my spirit is parched.

  163. @ Sallie Borrink:
    Perhaps you would fit better in an entirely different kind of church than ehat you’re used to, in a denom that ordains women. But i would take time on that, to thoroughly explore posdible options, lots of time. (I am Lutheran, from a synod that ordains women, but by no means do i think that is THE place – so much depends on the individual parish, for starters.)

  164. @ I am almost done:
    Weekly communion is nice! More than “nice” – quite profound, and so vety different than the emphases in the evangelical world.

    I wish you all the bedt in your search. Much depends on the individual parish, too, so if the 1st one serms not right, don’t throw in the towel.

  165. @ Patrice:
    Depends on whose roof you’re under, re. gifts. I’m not saying there are any perfect places; rather, that that is not true of all denominations or all individual churches.

    Still, i hear you.

  166. @ Nancy2:
    I would add to that comment: a woman can have spiritual gifts in some churches as long as they only apply to other women or children. Or, if they are gifts like “hospitality”, or “faith”…you can’t have a gift that might usurp male authority. And if you say you do, you have misunderstood God and your own abilities. This is what I’ve encountered.

  167. numo wrote:

    Weekly communion is nice! More than “nice” – quite profound, and so vety different than the emphases in the evangelical world.
    I wish you all the bedt in your search. Much depends on the individual parish, too, so if the 1st one serms not right, don’t throw in the towel

    Thanks Numo! There are two Episcopal parishes in my town. I liked your comment about perhaps needing to move beyond that normal circle of churches one would usually consider. That may be what I am being led to do.

  168. numo wrote:

    @ Sallie Borrink:
    Perhaps you would fit better in an entirely different kind of church than ehat you’re used to, in a denom that ordains women. But i would take time on that, to thoroughly explore posdible options, lots of time. (I am Lutheran, from a synod that ordains women, but by no means do i think that is THE place – so much depends on the individual parish, for starters.)

    The problem is that I’m more toward the conservative end of the spectrum in many ways so I wouldn’t fit in most denominations that ordain woman.

  169. Thank you for the gracious feedback.

    My 1980s Done status was not due to the things many here have indicated caused them so much pain. And if I am Done Again, it will not be due to comp/egal issues, so I simply wanted to be sure I was not misunderstanding many of the comments I was reading.

    My own childhood experience with church (before I was Done back in the 1980s) was were where women taught children AND adults, served on committees alongside of men, labored both inside and outside of the church alongside of men, gave counsel to women AND men, whose voices were heard and respected, and my own mother was a Deacon. These things probably had much to do with the fact that it was a small church and money was scarce. The authoritative issues many here speak of simply didn’t have the ability to exist—work needed to be done, and there were only a limited number of people, so gifting dictated how things were done.

    Again, thank you for the clarity.

  170. @ Bridget:
    Women aren’t allowed to have good ideas, either. That drove me nuts when I was in the Missouri Synod Lutheran church. I’d say something and receive glazed politeness; a man would say it later to enthusiastic reception.

    A woman with good ideas challenges the principle that females always support/follow and are not given directional gifts. So when it happens, it is simply does not compute.

  171. @ Sallie Borrink:
    Like i said, much depends on the indibidual parish. There actuwlly are “conservative” congrgations in most of tjose denoms, whether Lutheran, Episcopal, United Methodidt – whatevet. Finding a good fit might not be easy, butmplease don’t rule out all of the supposedly “liberal” churvhes. As with everything else, there is a spectrum. (Speaking from perdonal knowledge/experience here.)

  172. @ Patrice:
    They do not ordain women. Inerrantism is a thing with many jn the LCMS, as is closed communion.

    It is not just women who get shut out.

  173. numo wrote:

    Depends on whose roof you’re under, re. gifts. I’m not saying there are any perfect places; rather, that that is not true of all denominations or all individual churches.

    Yeah, numo, I’ve decided to commit to trying the mainlines, after I’ve resettled. I now know where there is an episcopal, united methodist (where a couple of my friends go), and Friends. I will also search out your Lutheran denom, which I’m sure is around, too.

    I will be patient and slow. Don’t need much: just want to worship God with others, have communion sometimes, and sing.

  174. @ I am almost done:
    Glad thst i was able to be of some help. I really do understand a lot of whst you’re saying, as i am a rdvert to my own childhood background, thoughmi don’t currently attend church. If i had never left for evsngelical circles, i would have bern much better off (I’m assuming, because you never know). Over the past 10+ years I’ve been unlearning the things that were thought to = xtianity in evangelical circles.

    It ix not always eady to find a good congregation (one that’s right for you personally), and i,pray that it is sooner for you, rather thsn being a long, drawn-out process.

  175. @ Patrice:
    Just fyi, the Friends do not practice communion, or at least, most don’t. And i can’t imagine singingmin a meeting, though i guess some do, these days.

  176. numo wrote:

    @ Patrice:
    They do not ordain women. Inerrantism is a thing with many jn the LCMS, as is closed communion.
    It is not just women who get shut out.

    Yeah, my ex chose the place and I went along because they had a grade-school for our daughter. Not a good idea for either her or me, in the end. I’ve followed a lot of un-good ideas in my life. Thank goodness I learned a few things along the way. Age has real benefits.

    They had marvelous stained glass windows, though (3″ thick glass in cement) and that almost made it worth it.

  177. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    The problem is that I’m more toward the conservative end of the spectrum in many ways so I wouldn’t fit in most denominations that ordain woman.

    Sallie – I have had this same struggle as I consider how to approach my church search going forward. I agree with numo – there is a spectrum in every denomination. After much prayer and consideration, I have come to conclusion that in this season, I am more in need of the dependence upon established liturgy that rehearses the Gospel story each week than anything else. That is what is so appealing to me about TEC, and even ELCA. Before I declare myself “done”, I have to try every conceivable possibility. That said, ultimately it is a decision only an individual can make within their relationship with the Lord. Be encouraged as you continue on your journey, sister.

  178. @ Patrice:
    Just avoid the WELS (and aforementioned midwesren synod) and I’m sure you’ll be ok. Though it will likely take time.

    Having a fresh start per location might be very much in your favor, too.

  179. Boyd wrote:

    Again, thank you for the clarity.

    And thank you for responding with some additional context for your comment. That is helpful. If I may ask, what caused you to be a Done back then?

  180. @ Patrice:
    I get the love of the windows, but as for the rest… not to slam all of yhe LCMS, as dome are not like the stereotype at all. Still, no women ministers…

  181. @ numo:
    They’re just on my list because who knows, I might get all I need sitting in silence with others. But I’ve not heard great things about this particular bunch, so likely won’t be more than once.

  182. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I am a (hopefully) temporary done. Right or wrong, here are my reasons. I’ll put the long version in parenthesis for those who want only the short version.
    1. 30+ years serving in an authoritarian church (my volunteer time had reached an average of 15 hours a week. When I told leadership I was tired and needed a break I was rebuked in several ways: that I should be refreshing myself in the Lord, that I should give up on my “Little House on the Prairie” dream for my family–it will never happen, I should be willing to be used anywhere the leaders needed me…. The leadership also didn’t give two hoots that I work at a utility company and spent many sleepless nights restoring power, only to drag myself to church because they “depended on me” so much.
    2. Bad doctrine (I have searched the scriptures for several doctrines that I was taught and can’t find them when reading in context. I am starting to see that bad doctrine can lead to bad behavior, especially for leadership)
    3. Relevance (I love all music, so I don’t really care about the style, per se. But that said, I am tired of hearing sports illustrations, watching movie clips, hearing messages from said movie clips instead of scripture. I asked my current pastor [new church for me] about some of the doctrines and he admitted that he should be teaching them from the pulpit, however, lots of people wouldn’t understand or go for that type of message, so he keeps it light. Of course, I should give up another night for small group and learn deeper stuff. From published books within the evangelical industrial complex. Also, I believe “relevance” has become more like a pep rally for the beautiful people than like a plea for human souls to come to Christ. Don’t believe me, look at who is on stage. [not sour grapes here, I was one of the people on stage)
    4. Rick Warren. (He has almost single-handedly caused evangelicals to trade the gospel for relevance, thus, making church attendance irrelevant)
    5. Independent (my 30+ years were spent in a Fundamental Independent Baptist Church. They bragged about not having to answer to a larger fellowship, so they were able to avoid large denominational pitfalls such as liberal politics, women in the pulpit, women running the church, homosexuality, and keeping the money at home. They were also able to follow the examples of any leader they wanted. They chose Rick Warren)
    6. Fundamental (in their independence and in their search for the relevant, they somehow remained fundamentalists and took people to the woodshed from time to time. I saw several young unmarried mothers leave the church as well as single women. It was apparently a tough place to be “loved”)
    7. Salvation is free to all who repent. But you’d better live right and stop sinning or you’ll never be sanctified. (Need I say more?)

    Re: 6 & 7 Don’t forget, if it’s the pastor caught sinning, we all need to forgive & move on! 😛

  183. I am almost done wrote:

    @ K.D.:
    I am actually considering the Episcopal church and will be visiting one this weekend. I need the stability and reassurance of the liturgy. And I need to receive communion – something the most recent church I was attending only does once a quarter or so…my spirit is parched.

    My church does the quarterly thing. Some have asked for more. I know my pastor means well, but he put the communion off to the side and it is now self-serve. I never partake. It is just crackers and juice over there. But it sort of shows how far we have strayed from the early church. Most of our needs have found self-serve solutions (do your own bible study, get your own communion, listen to your own favorite music at home, find your own meat in the scripture). What’s next, self- baptism? Lol. It all goes along with what I have seen as a law/works based religion.

  184. @ Patrice:
    It depends on the individual Meeting. There are good ones, and not so good ones, and some that are hidebound. An acquaintance told me about a crazy visit to a Meeting in NJ where all of the older men attending were very pro-war in Iraq, which freaked her out. I eould have had the same reaction, I’m sure, since Quakers are supposed to be pacifists.

  185. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    The problem is that I’m more toward the conservative end of the spectrum in many ways so I wouldn’t fit in most denominations that ordain woman.

    Yes, that is a huge issue for me and Gramp3, too. Having a male or female pastor/elder is not the problem. It is the reason why only males can teach. I hope that if I were in a liberal denomination that I would object to female quotas in the pulpit, too.

    Being conservative, for me everything that is held firmly needs to be firmly grounded in the Bible texts, and authoritarianism and is subtype, Complementarianism, simply is not. If it were, 9Marks/Acts29/CBMW and Crossway would not need to exist to spill all the ink and kill all the trees and pixels they do to make Complementarianism *seem* like it is somewhere in the Bible.

  186. I am almost done wrote:

    Sallie Borrink wrote:

    The problem is that I’m more toward the conservative end of the spectrum in many ways so I wouldn’t fit in most denominations that ordain woman.

    Sallie – I have had this same struggle as I consider how to approach my church search going forward. I agree with numo – there is a spectrum in every denomination. After much prayer and consideration, I have come to conclusion that in this season, I am more in need of the dependence upon established liturgy that rehearses the Gospel story each week than anything else. That is what is so appealing to me about TEC, and even ELCA. Before I declare myself “done”, I have to try every conceivable possibility. That said, ultimately it is a decision only an individual can make within their relationship with the Lord. Be encouraged as you continue on your journey, sister.

    We’ve watched friends and family members in denominations that were/have been/are splintering over various issues where they were in a more conservative church than the denomination as a whole. I don’t have the emotional or physical energy for that after observing their experiences.

    I think it is the Baptist upbringing in me. The idea of an outside identity (denominational hierarchy) having control over a congregation is just so foreign to me.

  187. @ Gram3:
    @ Boyd:

    Public speaking, expositional teaching, any kind of voice in decision making–heck, if I made any *suggestion*, it was only valid if my husband agreed.

  188. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    I think it is the Baptist upbringing in me. The idea of an outside identity (denominational hierarchy) having control over a congregation is just so foreign to me.

    I hear ya! I was raised a Baptist also, so I know this struggle. I still feel that pull. I’m going to take the plunge and see what happens.

  189. @ I am almost done:

    Dear God, yes. Don’t have ideas, don’t ask questions, and for sure don’t disagree. But if you can decorate, write, or work w/ kids, go for it!

  190. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I know my pastor means well, but he put the communion off to the side and it is now self-serve.

    I’ve been to services that have the self-serve communion. This makes no sense to me. It empties the sacrament of all meaning. Don’t like it one bit.

  191. Boyd wrote:

    Could I ask for more specifics? What spiritual gifts did you have that weren’t either recognized or allowed to be used? And how could those gifts have been used if the church structure and/or theology were different? And if you’re a DONE, how are you employing those spiritual gifts now outside of the institutional church?

    I was a trained Precept leader, for some years, before we came to the church where we spent a couple of decades before leaving last summer. “Precept” studies weren’t recognized by our reformed church as “right” doctrine. As it turned out, the only women allowed to lead bible studies ended up being elders’ or deacons’ wives. And this would be women-only studies, because a woman can’t teach a man anything.

    We had an amazing choir at our former church, but the man who volunteered his time to organize and direct the choir left when the church split. A highly qualified woman remained (university degree that involved voice production, directing, etc.), but she was told it would not be proper for her to direct a mixed choir. Any choral efforts at that church have to be organized and directed by males. Even if they’re teenagers, or just out of their teens, they’re considered more qualified than this music-educated woman.

  192. @ refugee:
    Those are just a couple of examples. I could cite many more.

    Just one more thing, personally. I used to write music. I used to be quite skilled at writing music. Somewhere in the last two decades, I lost my joy in music. Several months after leaving our former church, I began to write again. Sporadically, not every day, but at least I have the ability once more. I think my creativity was stifled along with my spirit in that place.

    They talked there about reclaiming the arts for christianity, that people would write new and beautiful and god-honoring hymns, create breathtaking artwork, write relevant fiction. But somehow the culture and atmosphere there was more quenching (as in putting out a fire) than encouraging.

  193. Why I’m not yet Done:
    Currently part of a small non-denom fellowship that’s doing it as close to right as I’ve seen. I’m a younger chap, and have yet to work my fingers to the bone like many other Dones here, but in seeing what they’ve dealt with, I’m not hopeful of change and I’m even more scared of following their example in wearing myself out in service just to go through all that the Dones have gone through. That said, I’m still part of that small decent community, and unless it implodes I’m not moving on.

    Why I would be Done (no particular order):
    1. Been a part of 2 awful churches (one for the first 18 years of my life that I’m still scarred from), and almost stepped into another authoritative mess in a local 9Marks establishment. Subsequently, if the current church situation ever falls through, I don’t know if my wife and I will be able to summon the courage to commit to another brick and mortar.
    2. General focus on maintaining “the work”, not caring for people. The means becoming the end. The structure becoming the substance.
    3. The clique (whether denominational or whatever) isolation that’s occured in almost place I’ve been. In other words, the lack of desire to work with and help other bodies of local believers that don’t quite conform to the “right” image. Almost every church I’ve been around has seemed entirely unaware of the presence of other local bodies, except to snipe at them as they see fit. Otherwise they might as well not exist. And I won’t even get into the TGC neocal-style clique madness.
    4. Passive worship and preaching services. Discouraged audience interaction. No spontaneity. The dead formalism of listening to the same man Sunday after Sunday, even if he’s worth listening to. The model is broken and unscriptural, if not always unhelpful.
    5. Pastors who are over churches so big they can’t even pretend to their title anymore yet still keep it – others do their work for them. Pastors who don’t know their members, but still think they can slap a bible verse on their problems (I could go on for days there).
    6. The life of the “ordinary” working layman/woman is not valued – if you don’t bring some skill to the church table, you’re largely ignored. Simply praying, encouraging, and performing menial tasks is treated as second class, even if the opposite is loudly stated. You must be busy “doing” something at all times.
    7. The spectacle. The stage. The performances. The canned theatrics of preachers, from preaching voices to signature moves. The celebrity worship. The spectacle of thousands of heads nodding in agreement to the word of a powerful personality.
    8. And here is where I lump in the stories of ignoring abuse, pedo-pastors and deacons, financial scams, and the rest that has been covered here at TWW and other places ad nauseam.
    9. Prevalence of comp doctrine, deification of church membership and covenants, exalting of the office of pastor.

    I think that’ll do for now.

  194. XianJaneway wrote:

    @ I am almost done:
    Dear God, yes. Don’t have ideas, don’t ask questions, and for sure don’t disagree. But if you can decorate, write, or work w/ kids, go for it!

    Oh, I dunno. Writing? Only if your audience is women, and maybe children. And only if it’s “spiritual.” And only if you don’t earn money from it. Because if you earn money by writing, well, women aren’t supposed to work outside the home. (I caught flack for being a home-based professional writer. It made people look at me funny, for starters, and went downhill from there.)

  195. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I know my pastor means well, but he put the communion off to the side and it is now self-serve.

    Are you sure he means well? I would hate to hear what he would do if he did not mean well, then.

  196. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    My church does the quarterly thing. Some have asked for more. I know my pastor means well, but he put the communion off to the side and it is now self-serve. I never partake. It is just crackers and juice over there.

    Self-serve crackers & juice (WalMart or Costco?) over there on the side.
    Four times a year.

    Try getting away with that at any Catholic church.

    (“Yo, Jesus! Want to come over to this side of the Tiber where we actually put You front-and-center?”)

  197. Through a glass darkly wrote:

    I’m not a done, yet, but this one rings true for me. Pastors are so careful not to burn out that they don’t give more than a 40-hour week to the church. Meanwhile, the people in the pews put in their hours at the job, and are asked to donate ($ and) time to the church. I guess it’s no biggie if I burn out…

    DILBERT: Why are you throwing the last batch of Temps into the dumpster?
    POINTY-HAIRED BOSS: They’re too big to flush.

  198. Ken wrote:

    It is an accurate reflection of some of the truth of the NT, but not all of it.

    I also have wrestled with this, with blood & tears. Which bit do you think is accurate? I’ve not been able to find anything – anything- that makes any of it bearable or balances it out.

  199. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I added up our tithing. My wife and I have tithed in the neighborhood of $150,000 over the course of our marriage.

    Furtick Mansions are SOOOOOO expensive…

  200. At church we used to belong, the building had had to be rebuilt. When the presentation for the new building was given at a business meeting, I quickly realized (with a bs in math) that a portion of the proposed new building would overlap onto the county right-of-way for the highway. I tried to whisper my realization to my husband so that he could point that out. But, since women are not allowed to speak at business meetings, my husband shushed me! The proposal was voted through. Then, a few months later, everything had to be redone. The building permit was denied because of the right-of-way.
    Yeah, I just stay out of church business altogether now. I’ll use my mathematical abilities for the fine art of doubling recipes for the dishes I bring to fellowship meals!

  201. Gram3 wrote:

    I think you could become certain by carefully following Paul’s entire argument.

    Gram, I will be doing this again one day. I did look at it on & off for 20 years, with much prayer. Currently I’ve lost all faith that Biblical language means what it says, rather than having some secret special meaning only understood by few. I will also have to take valium in order to sit down & look at this stuff…my nervous system doesn’t like it much. It’s all the more hilarious when you consider I did a structuralist analysis of poetic metaphor & wrote poetry for my undergraduate thesis. But then that has no penalties/consequences for getting it wrong. It odes help me to know that others with a linguistic bent don’t believe the common Calvinist script.

  202. I kept waiting today with baited breath for SCOTUS to drop a few shoes including one that is going to be an earthquake in some churches. Maybe tomorrow, but what I am thinking is that more than a few people who feel strongly one way or the other about the issue will find themselves in the minority at their church and there may be quite a game of going-to-jerusalem with folks switching churches. At which point some folks will change some priorities as to what they have to have in a church and what they can live without in order to find a different church. I am not so sure that is entirely bad-that revisiting of values and re-arranging of priorities. When we made the big move as it were we had to take the bad with the good, assuming of course that our ideas of good and bad were worth much, and it is not easy to compromise like that. I, for example, am uncomfortable with women priests, but I sit on an episcopal pew none the less and have no plans to do otherwise. Probably some folks will decide that compromise is the best overall way to go at this point. Not everything is a hill on which to die.

  203. Beakerj wrote:

    some secret special meaning only understood by few. I will also have to take valium in order to sit down & look at this stuff…my nervous system doesn’t like it much.

    I totally get that. There are some things I cannot handle well, and that is part of the reason I was in and out at TWW yesterday. I hope you find a place where you can find some peace on this.

  204. refugee wrote:

    I used to write music. I used to be quite skilled at writing music. Somewhere in the last two decades, I lost my joy in music. Several months after leaving our former church, I began to write again. Sporadically, not every day, but at least I have the ability once more. I think my creativity was stifled along with my spirit in that place.

    I am so glad you have your music back! I am a visual artist and have had dry-as-bones times, a couple of them due to church-atmosphere. It crept in slowly, without my noticing…

    Good art demands mystery and uncertainty, a willingness to sit quietly and openly with “what is”, a child’s ability to explore/imagine/play.

    I doubt these conditions will happen any time soon in the Evangelical world.

  205. Left a sov grace church after teen group basically shunned my daughter bec she didn’t dress or talk their particular brand of Christianese…. Tried myself to join band…. Was told no bec I wasn’t in a care group…. In the whole 5 yrs we attended not one pastor called to make a home visit…. Couldn’t attend any outside missions trips…. Must be through sov grace…. I could go on and on…. Very very cliquish…. Dave Harvey would preach twice a year and pastors were very close to C J mahaney…… Hmmmm

  206. I’m wondering if the flocking away from churches is, maybe in part, about the true Body of Christ, perhaps without fully realizing the truth of the situation, inwardly following the Lord’s admonition to “Come out of her my people…(Revelation 18:4).”

    After all, even the Lord vomited out that monstrosity of a church — the seventh listed in Revelation 3. Rather than being that group’s first love, front and center, He is portrayed as knocking to get IN to individual hearts there.

    I feel like I’m seeing a tremendously wonderful phenomenon: that of believers who, whatever their stated reasons, truly cannot abide the ever-more worldly, oppressive, ridiculous church entity. After all, who wants to be involved in a congregation if the true and wonderful and all-that-is-righteous-and-good Lord Jesus isn’t there?

    Hearing about the places where He still is, where His love and truth are tangible in real life, is also wonderful and encouraging.

    Just my 2cents’ worth.

    My computer is kaput so I tune into the blogosphere only intermittently.

  207. I hope I haven’t gone to meddling, but how about Pastor appreciation week or month or whatever it is. I feel we should appreciate our pastors for sure. I try to encourage mine often. But in my large church, we have been asked to donate extra for pastor every year on that special Sunday. The gifts have been quite elaborate IMO. The last one was the last straw for me. It was a several thousand dollar Honda scooter. After church, I sometimes see less fortunate people taking a taxi home.

    Also, I am questioning all of the missions trips that young people are taking, asking all family and friends to chip in. Some of my relatives have traveled the world (Austrailia, Capetown, China, Korea…) on my dime (as well as others’ money). I haven’t been out of the country since the 1980’s and that was all paid for by me and my parents. Mission trip “prayer letters” hadn’t been conjured up yet. Also, what’s up with New York City mission trips? Are there no Christians in NYC already sharing the gospel? Oh, there are a lot of things to see? Let’s stop calling them missions trips and get real. They are tourism, paid for by others, made legit by passing out water bottles for one afternoon.

    If you know that I am wrong, please say so and tag me. I want to know.

    End of rant.

  208. refugee wrote:

    the only women allowed to lead bible studies ended up being elders’ or deacons’ wives. And this would be women-only studies, because a woman can’t teach a man anything.

    Thanks Refugee. They do that so they can both control their wives and the other church women with the “right” message. I forgot to include that important item on my list of how to have a successful New Calvinist church posted on the earlier “Done” piece. They are as follows in case you missed them there:

    locate your church plant in a yuppie area (to help buy expensive sound equipment);

    put a coffee shop in the foyer (with Internet access, obviously);

    get a cool band (with loud acoustics, female vocalists with tight pants, fog and laser lights);

    put members into bondage by getting them to sign a membership covenant;

    provide free ESV bibles (ESV Study Bibles are even better);

    have communion and baptism occasionally, but don’t make a big deal out of it;

    recruit other like-minded young rebels as “elders”;

    sit on a stool with a spotlight on you to deliver your “sermons” (very important);

    drop TULIP on everybody as soon as possible, memorize and repeat numerous Piper Points, use books and videos by reformed leaders, use the word “grace” a lot;

    preach to men … ignore the women;

    corral the members into LifeGroups that minister to each other so you personally don’t have to come off your throne to talk or minister to members;

    post numerous selfies on social media (hairdo style is critical or shave it off);

    retweet one-liners by the reformed who’s who (you must master social media);

    shun those who question your theology and/or leave your church;

    don’t hang up a cross in the building (it’s offensive to some people); and

    build a stage over the altar (you don’t need altars in a New Calvinist church, but you will need a stage).

    There are other elements to doing church without God, but these are essential.

  209. @ Boyd:

    I can’t give full details about myself, because one skill area I have is related to my career field, and I don’t want to say what that is.

    The flip side of women not being allowed to use whatever their skill or gifting is, is that many of these gender complementarian churches will allow women to serve, but only in a narrow set of roles.

    A lot of gender comp churches will assign women to do things like work in the church kitchenette or work in the church’s nursery or other child-centric capacities.

    Not every woman is material, enjoys babies and children, or is comfortable around children, so they don’t want to work in kid-related areas of church.

    So this doesn’t have to be discussed in terms of “what won’t churches allow women to do” but “what will churches allow women to do.”

    And under the heading of “what churches will allow,” it’s usually a very short list that rotates around cooking, cleaning, and children.

    Julia Duin has many anecdotes in the volume “Quitting Church.” She interviews women (and men) who quit church. The woman in the chapter on how women get the short end of the stick talk about leaving church to work in Hollywood. One woman works as a movie producer or something, while several work in para-church groups.

    One church asked a woman who is a lawyer to work as the church secretary.

    You have women who are highly educated and who work in lofty or important jobs in secular work life, but when they step inside a gender comp church, they get a cookie sheet pan shoved in their hands, or a baby, or a broom.

    The church is not utilizing women as much as it could be, all because they want to keep the women in their place.

  210. Mishandling of domestic violence – Even though my childhood church had even brought in psychology, they still ignored my mother’s plight, and mine with it. My dad was too good at slandering my mother to the good ol’ boys’ club. The pastors themselves often were adulterous or abusers, just like my father. The Christian psychologists we used for counseling were clueless as to how to deal with this. Is there some huge gap in domestic violence training for psychologists? What’s going on? I thought these people were the professionals? Or is their perverse ideas of Christianity interfering with their professionalism?

    Church money being spent on buildings, etc.instead of on ______ (fill in the blank) – People. They should spend it on people within their own flocks who are hurting, whether for long term or short term, depending on the person’s situation.

    No one talks to me – I haven’t made one true Christian friend all my life, after so many attempts at trying. Same with my Mom. She’s disabled. Where’s the love of God toward her? She needs a friend. Dear God, what happens if I get hit by a bus and am no longer there to take care of her? She’ll go homeless! As someone who has looked homelessness in the eye after my Dad abandoned us, I know first hand that that will be her fate, because few cared enough to do anything that truly mattered, and even those blessed few who helped in the little ways could not or would not offer us shelter.

    Bad theology – Yes, many people have different definitions of what constitutes good vs. bad theology. But you know the theology is bad when the emphasis is all about serving the building and the institution rather than God’s kingdom. Members don’t love one another, nor are they truly admonished to do so. They think that grudgingly saying hello fulfills this mandate, but it doesn’t. James’ epistle says to show our faith by our works, and yet so many church goers have nothing to show that they have any real faith at all. It is no wonder that James is the least taught book in America’s churches. Because, God forbid, they might actually start obeying Jesus in a practical way, and then the pastors won’t have enough money anymore for a new sound system or for a nice Christian vacation, er, “mission trip”. Real faith does righteous works. It doesn’t cover up abuse and call evil good and good evil (i.e., blaming victims while codepending with the abuser). Real faith loves the way Christ loves, giving up our lives for others. Good doctrine would teach these things. I don’t care how great their knowledge of Hebrew and Greek is, or how they go verse by verse through the Bible. That’s great and everything, but if they have all this knowledge but have not love, they’re just a clanging symbol to me. Good doctrine spurs us to love, not to be self-absorbed, theological eggheads. And such real faith that really loves, gets to know God first hand anyway, rather than just knowing about God. Yes, solid doctrine is great, but it does no good when Christ’s commands are not obeyed. Lack of obedience tells me there is something sorely missing in our doctrine.

  211. Anon wrote:

    The Leadership cult. Christianity Today wrote a prophetic piece a few years back about the obsession in evangelicalism with being a “leader.”

    I sat in on my kid’s youth group a few weeks back.
    The question was asked “how does worship(TM) overflow into your life”.
    The first answer (from the pastor’s kid) was “leadership.
    The youth group leader just let that stand and moved on.

    **I** don’t even know what that answer is supposed to mean…

  212. @ Beakerj:
    While i could have done my undergrad degree in English, i chose differently, but havd always, like you, loved language. And i do not see Calvinism in the NT, though it certainly is possible to pull,out proof texts and comd up with just about anything…

  213. Daisy wrote:

    One church asked a woman who is a lawyer to work as the church secretary.
    You have women who are highly educated and who work in lofty or important jobs in secular work life, but when they step inside a gender comp church, they get a cookie sheet pan shoved in their hands, or a baby, or a broom.
    The church is not utilizing women as much as it could be, all because they want to keep the women in their place.

    I don’t know about the church secretary thing, frankly how could she practice law and work at the church at the same time. That whole thing is odd. Was she unemployed, or was this just taking the minutes for some business meetings?

    But about the second sentence above, I have a slightly different take on it-not some philosophical position-just an observation. My daughter in law is an attorney. She is also the mother of two children. At church she is in the episcopal women, and in a mom’s group, and sometimes takes food for Wednesday night, and helps with VBS and is in a group where they (mostly couples) visit each other’s homes for meals and conversation. She partly loves that because she is an awesome cook and likes to share that skill. She is also a lector. She loves all of it. Why should she be denied doing the ladies and mommie stuff just because she is a lawyer?

    So, yeah, this gets kind of personal. I used to get the reaction of ‘but you are a doctor and that is different.’ No, it is not different. We are not any less than or more than we would be if we were in some other line of work. On the receiving end of this idea of some people being different based on occupation or education it feels very different than perhaps it looks from a different perspective. People used to call me ‘Doc’ all the time. Never, Nancy. I hated that. Either Doc or Mom, like you become a function and not a person. Bad stuff there. Some people think you quit being a woman at some certain level of education or professional attainment, and that becomes one more problem that has to be dealt with. That is a terrible thing to do to people.

  214. I have been “done” since late 2008 from a 20 year membership in a neo-Calvinist/Willow Creek/Tim Keller NY Redeemer model church. While enduring the 6th or 7th or (who remembers) capital stewardship campaign, I realized the Kingdom of God the pastor claimed to be “building” perhaps was not the same Kingdom of God Christ talked about in scripture, which sent me back to reading scripture for myself. My reasons for leaving were theological, though massive manipulation and authoritarian leadership was always present, and continues to be, for those who remain have recently built Warrior Sports Complex for the associated Christian school with their tithe money, all for the Kingdom of God, of course.

    As one of the leaders in the Reformed “Contemporary Grace Movement” the pastor does not preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins as much as salvation by “realization” of who Christ is and what He has done for us. Sin and repentance are rarely mentioned, again theological…. but deadly for the unsaved. But they put money in the plate, so….

    Just what might tie all these 700 and counting comments together? We ALL have our stories to tell, don’t we? Perhaps the “church” as we have all known it and as far back as we can recognize is NOT the church Christ established, not the entity He had in mind when HE was speaking of the church. I suspect that in order to understand how we got here we need to dig into church history and continually compare what we read to scripture. This is going to be a monumental undertaking. I certainly don’t know if I am up for it.

  215. Not done, just…disconnected. Here’s why:

    1. An obsession with rigid, narrowly-defined gender roles.
    2. Preference shown to families with children.
    3. Overemphasis on theology. Where’s the love? We’re so worried about “getting theology right” in our interactions that we end up coming across as cold. Jesus had perfect theology and was never cold. Even when he turned the money changers out of the temple he was hot– just with righteous anger.
    4. The blind allegiance to the Republican party. Filter their tenets through the Bible and see where you end up. Christians are supposed to reflect Christ, not a political party that has co-opted Christians for their votes. Fellow believers, don’t sell your votes so cheaply.

  216. muzjik wrote:

    **I** don’t even know what that answer is supposed to mean…

    Fuehrerprinzip?

    And as “the Pastor’s kid”, did he figure on inheriting the church from Daddy? Some of these churches are as dynastic as any Royal Family of old. (With all the accompanying Game of Thrones.)

  217. Beakerj wrote:

    Currently I’ve lost all faith that Biblical language means what it says, rather than having some secret special meaning only understood by few.

    “Sekrit Speshul Meaning” = Occult Gnosis.
    “Only understood by few” = Inner Ring of Speshul ILLUMINIATED Few.
    Because “Gnostic” means “He Who KNOWS Things.”

  218. I know this is long and slightly off topic, but could anybody give me some advice? I’ve read the previous article and comments, and a lot of what the ‘dones’ and ‘nearly-dones’ were saying really resonated with me… However, I had to stop because it felt like my head couldn’t take it any more.

    I’ve spent nearly 30 years of my life in church in one way or another. Since I was 7 until I was 29 years old I was in the Seventh Day Adventist church, which I decided to leave due to serious disagreements with various beliefs and doctrines. The last 2 or 3 of those years were spent investigating my doubts and issues, and after an exhausting struggle within myself I decided to moved away, convinced that I was doing the right thing. I still stand by that decision.

    For the last 6 years I’ve been attending an evangelical conservative church in the UK whose leaders sometimes tend toward positions not dissimilar to those of TGC… It is a church renowned for its teaching – and a lot of it is not bad at all. However, the reason why I stayed in it wasn’t that. It was because many of the people were very good to me and provided a lot of support as I transitioned from my previous church.

    In the beginning I accepted everything I found there very enthusiastically, as if it were the only available truth… However, as time passed I learned more and became aware that ours weren’t the only existing interpretations. I also discovered more about other churches, such as the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, than what was defined in the ‘party line’. Finally, I learned about the many issues with doctrines and praxis that exist in evangelical churches similar to mine, such as those discussed at TWW.

    All of this has made me quite disillusioned and it’s affected my faith very deeply. I still love a lot of the people I’ve found in the church, but I’ve become rather apathetic toward the church itself… I have tried to find ways to harmonise everything, but it is tiring. Exhausting. I was already exhausted of all the mental gymnastics I did for years in my previous church, and I don’t want to be trapped into that again. I stopped reading Christian books because I reached a point where it just wasn’t working any more… My ‘spiritual life’ is very irregular at best. There is a lot of tension in my mind about this, and sometimes I feel like something has to give in just for me to stay sane. Something has to break.

    Is it bad of me that, often, I just would like to stay away from church for a while? That I feel that I want to be ‘in the world’, so to say, and to stop thinking of those outside as evangelistic projects or potential adversaries? At the same time I don’t want to be unfair to my church and to other Christians, and I wonder how much of all this is just my own making and if I should just forget about it all.

    What I certainly know is that faith has never been an easy thing for me. Not as an Adventist, and not now. Accepting this, and recognising the importance of being honest with myself as much as possible, have been essential steps for me to feel a bit happier with myself.

  219. Martos wrote:

    Is it bad of me that, often, I just would like to stay away from church for a while? That I feel that I want to be ‘in the world’, so to say, and to stop thinking of those outside as evangelistic projects or potential adversaries? At the same time I don’t want to be unfair to my church and to other Christians, and I wonder how much of all this is just my own making and if I should just forget about it all.

    I don’t think it would be bad of you to take a break, but perhaps that is premature since you are still connected to the people there and they have been good to you. Have you been able to have a reasonable conversation with people in the church about your concerns? I don’t have a good idea what the church environment is in the UK. But just generally, a good church sometimes makes mistakes, just like people do. The important thing is how do they deal with problems? Because there will always be problems. How is their thinking shaped? Primarily by the scriptures in the sense of people having the freedom to discuss “what does the Bible say” or is it primarily by particular interpretations or particular men or movements?

  220. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I hope I haven’t gone to meddling, but how about Pastor appreciation week or month or whatever it is. I feel we should appreciate our pastors for sure. I try to encourage mine often. But in my large church, we have been asked to donate extra for pastor every year on that special Sunday. The gifts have been quite elaborate IMO. The last one was the last straw for me. It was a several thousand dollar Honda scooter. After church, I sometimes see less fortunate people taking a taxi home.
    Also, I am questioning all of the missions trips that young people are taking, asking all family and friends to chip in. Some of my relatives have traveled the world (Austrailia, Capetown, China, Korea…) on my dime (as well as others’ money). I haven’t been out of the country since the 1980’s and that was all paid for by me and my parents. Mission trip “prayer letters” hadn’t been conjured up yet. Also, what’s up with New York City mission trips? Are there no Christians in NYC already sharing the gospel? Oh, there are a lot of things to see? Let’s stop calling them missions trips and get real. They are tourism, paid for by others, made legit by passing out water bottles for one afternoon.

    Taking a taxi home? Heck, I have to walk home, 2 miles! Who can afford a weekly round trip taxi ride, yet when I see these elaborate gifts (of which I am supposed to contribute) it hurts, a lot. I do think that pastors should be rewarded for their hard work but sometimes I think this is taken to game show levels, if you know what I mean. “You won a new car!” (to go with your other 4 nice cars and Harley collection)

    Regarding missions and handing out water bottles, I donate to organizations here in the USA like the “I Am Waters Foundation” or similar organizations. Some of them are even secular in nature, but they reach out to those in need, locally, instead of money being spent on tax free vacations. They give bottled water out to homeless people and displaced people free of charge, right in their own town.

    There are a lot of wonderful pastors here in America, that do work hard and barely are paid, and can barely survive. Those are not the pastors I take issues with. The pastors I take issue with are those living like royalty off the backs of the poor and marginalized in society.

  221. Martos wrote:

    I also discovered more about other churches, such as the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, than what was defined in the ‘party line’. Finally, I learned about the many issues with doctrines and praxis that exist in evangelical churches similar to mine, such as those discussed at TWW.

    A couple of things. Certainly I am not an apologist for some of the doctrines and practices of the Gospel Glitterati churches. However, it is also true that there are many faithful people–the majority of people, IMO–in those churches who only want to be good and faithful members of the body. If there are no deal-breaker doctrines or practices, maybe it would be wisest to stay where people have been supportive of you.

    I say that because you have apparently been through some trauma with leaving Adventism, and maybe you have not totally processed that yet. Only you can know that. Since the people at your church were supportive of that change, they may be able to understand your questions now. In addition, your awareness might help to bring awareness to people there. I don’t say that lightly because many, many people have no idea what the trajectories lead to. Maybe your pastors think that theses are good ideas and they are persuadable by information. Perhaps they are too tightly connected in some way to the Gospel Glitterati and so they cannot be persuaded. I don’t know.

    The main thing is, IMO, not to make a decision that you cannot easily change before you have to make that decision. For me, the decision was made by others, so it was basically moot and basically I did not have to make a choice. But even in that circumstance, some leaders in my former church are taking a look at some problem areas and re-thinking some things. I think they are probably talking to others in that church as well.

    We just cannot know how the Holy Spirit will work these things out, and as best you can, just try to exercise wisdom and talk with the people you trust who have a handle on the church situation there.

  222. @ Martos:
    One other thing. When we are faced with difficult situations, the tendency to thing “if A is bad then non-A is better.” That may not be true, and you might not know that until you are well into non-A. There are problems in all the church traditions of which I am aware, including the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic and many Protestant denominations. The problems are very different, but there are still problems which you may find even more troublesome. If there is no rush, then maybe it is wisest not to be in a rush to make a decision.

  223. Martos wrote:

    What I certainly know is that faith has never been an easy thing for me. Not as an Adventist, and not now. Accepting this, and recognising the importance of being honest with myself as much as possible, have been essential steps for me to feel a bit happier with myself.

    I’ve studied SDA quite a bit and if you were SDA for 22 years and spent a number of years wrestling with the decision to leave, I am very sure you were exhausted by the time you were done. Being a lifelong SDA and leaving is a big step. Much bigger than deciding to go Methodist after being Baptist or Presbyterian after being Lutheran.

    If the people have been good and supportive and that hasn’t changed, I would not ditch the church at this point. Going through theological gymnastics for an extended period of time is exhausting. I’ve been there. It’s very difficult when you cannot find peace and comfort in the Bible when it has become an overwhelming academic exercise. That will end in time. It truly will.

    If you know you are secure in Christ, I would put aside all the studying and thinking. Your brain and emotions need a real break. I personally would not rush into any other faith tradition when you are already exhausted. Are there ways you can simplify your faith and church attendance where you are now? Or maybe put your faith into action in a way that means something positive to you, but doesn’t involve overthinking?

  224.   __

    “Lifting Up Holy Hands Together, Our Lord Jesus Be Praised in the Hills and the Plains?”

    huh?

    hey Kind Folk,

    Just kind note ta say I think you are remembered before our God and Father, – your work produced by faith, – your labor prompted by love, and – your endurance inspired by ‘hope’ in our Lord Jesus Christ!

    …have courage!

    May you ‘endure’ in “His Name”, 

    May your cup over flow!

    hmmm…

    Ya know, I was think’in…the last time I checked, Jesus’ “church” is/are made up of those who ‘believe’ in Him as spoken of in the “Holy Scriptures” ™:

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life…” -Jesus

    “This is the work of God, that you ‘believe’ in Him whom He has sent.”  -Jesus

    “For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’ ” – Apostle Paul

    …For the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for ‘all’ who call on Him…” – Apostle Paul

    “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen…” 

    “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you…” -Jesus

    Participation is ‘voluntary joy’,

    (grin)

    …for those washed in the blood of the Lamb, where ‘Kindness’, ‘Care’, and ‘Others’, are important watch words…

    Yep.

    The meeting place is not really all that important, but the quality and the group dynamics are. 

    I remember, New Testament churches in the first century were begun & started by interested community members of both sex, sometimes outa-towners as well. 

    Gosh!

    These gatherings were informal, and many times met in secret due to opposing prevailing ideology, political, or religious convictions. (i.e. your life was a ‘bit’ at risk.)

    Fellowships ‘of the Way’ as it was then called in the first century, did not necessarily have pastors. 

    What?

    SKreeeeeeeeeeeeeetch !

    (super-natural stuff goes here…)

    The Saints, those separated ones to God’s service whom Apostle Paul (who penned most of the New Testament) spoke of so tenderly, met in community to break bread and worship the Lamb of God who had graciously taken away their sins, rising from the dead, Jesus who now posessed the keys of Death and Hell, who’s blood had covered them, who had gone back to His Father’s house in ‘Heaven’ to prepare a place for His precious little ones: here they will spend all eternity with Him, where the leaf withers not, where the waters of life are freely given, where the very ‘light’ present, is made manifest by His (Jesus’) own presence. 
    This is not a place of pain anguish or suffering, as He will wipe away each and every tear. (A promise)

    Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven?

    (datz what da Master sayz…   😉  )

    (smiley face goes here)

    Our Lord Jesus, has bruised the serpent’s head?

    Yep.

    So look up, Saints, your ‘Salvation’ draws near…

    Please take courage; your faith in Jesus, God’s precious Son shall make you well…

    ‘Meeting where the Lord’s freedom rings!’ ™

    I pray for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, that you will engage your faith, champion again, and strengthen your brothers and sisters,

    The Lord be with you!

    ATB 🙂

    Sopy

  225. @ Martos:
    Martos, my advice, FWIW. Tthe burden Jesus lays on us is light, not heavy. If it feels like heavy exhaustion, if you feel like you could break under it, you likely need a good long vacation. Those kind church people will be there if/when you decide to come back.

    Anyway, God is everywhere in the world He made, not just in the church community. I’m constantly delighted by the unexpected places He shows up. All goodness is from Him and goodness is everywhere.

    You might not need to practice constant discipline to have a spiritual life. I find it best to simply talk with God throughout my day. Something happens and I talk it over with Him. I see something lovely and thank Him. I see something awful that a human has done, and I bring my chagrin and anger to Him. Etc. God is along with me as I go, and that is simple fact, since the Holy Spirit lives within.

    One doesn’t need to read endlessly to find out about God or how to live. Books are useful but they are mere supports for living, not where life is lived. You’ve read a great deal and it’s stopped being useful—good! You know enough now to get on with!

    I don’t know if this is true for everyone, God speaks to me in the secret desires of my heart. I love Him and want to do what He made me to do, and therefore I can trust that love and His making, and listen to my heart. I’d be surprised if that isn’t true for you, too, once you clear out the chaos and find enough silence to listen to that soft voice.

    I wish you well, Martos, whatever you do.

  226. Why I might become a done:
    Mrs A A can’t get out much– in pain 24/7/365. In our current church she’s made it to our first visit and one service and one prayer meeting — in 3 years. They understand. They pray for us. They offer to help.There’s communion every Sunday, great for irregular attendees like myself. This church has little in common with so many of those experienced by so many dones, or with our former YRR/9Marks/Acts29 one. I’m really blessed. But every service or activity I take part in– takes me away from my wife. Internet activities, TWW, etc do not. I seriously need to increase e-church fellowship with my local brethren and sistren as I foresee my “attendance” further diminishing. IF this church goes the way of all flesh– either closing down, or in the way Paul understood the flesh– I may be done. I can’t imagine having the energy to seek out a new one.

  227. Nancy wrote:

    Why should she be denied doing the ladies and mommie stuff just because she is a lawyer?

    I’ve seen you bring this point up on previous threads.

    I’m not against a woman choosing herself to bake cookies and scrub church floors, if that is what she wants and chooses to do.

    If a woman wants to stay a nurse and not go back to school to become a medical doctor because she is happy enough being a nurse (another example you raised on prior threads), that is great too.

    What I am getting at is that women are not given a choice in churches.

    The only choice women are afforded are “wife and mommy” and nursery-related roles.

    Obviously if you are a woman who is into that stuff, you will be thrilled with 99% of the evangelical churches out there, but for the rest of us who aren’t into that stuff, we really have no place to go.

    Some women do not want to be a wife and mommy, or cannot achieve those roles (I’ve simply not found a Mr. Right), sweep floors, or bake cookies.

    Even if I get a Mr. Right eventually, I have no interest in serving in a “June Cleaver-ish” sort of way in a church.

    When or if women offer up their skills (which are not pertaining to house wife type duties), churches either flatly refuse (because only men are allowed certain roles in churches in their view).

    Or churches are very apathetic and cannot be interested in getting creative and figuring out what and where to place such women.

    Even when I came up with recommendations at the last church I attended of how they could put my skills to use, they didn’t take me up on it.

    I don’t recall the specifics in the book I read about the woman lawyer.

    All I recall is that she worked as a lawyer in secular life and wanted to do more than secretary work as her volunteer contribution to the church, but her church wold not or could not come up with anything else for her to do.

    And for women who are not into being wife and mommy at church, that is extremely frustrating. They want to do more, or do something different, and churches are not giving them those opportunities.

  228. Nancy wrote:

    She partly loves that because she is an awesome cook and likes to share that skill. She is also a lector. She loves all of it. Why should she be denied doing the ladies and mommie stuff just because she is a lawyer?

    Ahhh…but there it is. She loves that and no one is going to deny her that based on her gender…win/win.

    But what if, say, as a lawyer, she felt her passion and gifting leaned more toward, say, conflict resolution within the church or teaching teens (boys and girls) to study Scripture with a appraising eye as to context and unbiased/varied interpretation? Would she be encouraged to do something she loved if it didn’t fit in the ladies and mommy box?

  229. @ Martos:

    If you are at an in-between spot and are unsure about how committed to be to a church, but don’t feel ready to totally stop, maybe you could try an approach where you cut back?

    Instead of going to church every single Sunday, pick some other schedule, like only attend two Sundays a month, or one Sunday ever three months, or whatever amount floats your boat.

    That way, you’re still kind of there, but taking a little bit of a vacation from it, too.

  230. muzjik wrote:

    Would she be encouraged to do something she loved if it didn’t fit in the ladies and mommy box?

    Yes, that was what I was getting at in my post above, but it took me 20 pages more to make the same point. 🙂

    For women of whatever background who love to bake cookies and do stereotypical girly girl functions, regardless of their education, employment, or personality, they will not have a problem with most evangelical or Baptist churches.

    Because most churches are gender complementarian and already force and cram all women of all educational levels, careers, and temperments into child nursery roles, doing wife and mommy sort of things.

    The problem is not for lawyer women who would love to bake cookies at their local church, because they will already fit in with the church’s gender template.

    The problem is for lawyer women who have zilch, zero, zippo inclination to want to bake cookies at church. Where are those lawyer women supposed to go? The churches tell them, “we don’t know, and we don’t care.”

  231. @ XianJaneway:
    When I was in my early teens, we were going to a medium sized church of a small denomination. On Mother’s Day the minister announced from the pulpit he was having affairs with several ladies of the church. He would “visit” with the ladies while their husbands worked. Needless to say this was our last time going to this church. We had only been going there about 4-5 months at the most. The minister asked everyone to forgive him, which is Biblical, but then he wanted everything to go on as usual. Thank God my parents were wise enough to take us to a different church. My mom was also a working mother, so I knew she wasn’t one of them. This made a big impact on my life in a negative way.

  232. These are the reasons I have no interest in trying again:

    1) Too many narcissists drawn to the pulpit. This is a serious mental disorder. Much of the church’s dysfunction stems from NPDs being destructive individuals and petty tyrants.
    2) Pastors too removed from flock. They can’t be bothered learning the names of the giving units, not even the folks volunteering week after week for years. They visibly treat acknowledging members as an annoyance.
    3) Obscene levels of nepotism and cronyism. At Gateway virtually all of the 200 pastors got their job due to birth right or friendships. Most have no formal theological training. These people were never called into ministry. Head pastors treat the church as a personal family business where tithes are used to put family who do little to no work on the payroll for life.
    4) Sister churches agreeing to pay large tithe funded honorariums to each other’s pastors in order to funnel church cash to pastors’ private bank accounts. This form of personal enrichment at tither’s expense is unethical and wrong.
    5) Mandatory tithing and constant nagging about extravagant giving to the point of being coercive and abusive.
    6). Lack of financial transparency. Real financial statements should be made available to members who are your shareholders.
    7). Elaborate and wasteful expenditures. Yesterday two Gateway pastors with their wives posted fashion ladened selfies inside London’s Heathrow Airport. One of those pastors had an affair yet still gets rewarded with very high paid positions for the whole family plus regular trips to Europe. A third pastor posted “I bet there is a Gateway Pastor in that airport almost daily : D”. That’s right. GW tithers pay for pastors to go to Europe 365 days a year! Paying for pastors constant European vacations is disaffecting. How does this further the Kingdom?
    8). Relevance. All performance geared at the world. Hair gel, age inappropriate clothing. 50-60 yr olds dressing like 25 yr olds. 35 yr olds dressing and acting like skate board punks, using absurd slang that doesn’t belong in a night club let alone a church. You people are ridiculous. Leaders trying to desperately relive high school with the mean girl clique groups. This is repulsive and ungodly. I never want to see an overweight 55 yr old in whiskered skinny jeans with an embroidered untucked Buckle shirt and spiky Rogained hair again.
    9) Fakey-ness. Teaching the worship team to fake their worship experience using pre-choreographed hand movements, fake expressions, dramatically timed fake fall to the knees and the wiping away of non-existent fake tears. Hang out back stage some night. You will be sickened by how scripted this stuff is. They practice and teach this. Fake “atmosphere teams” fall under this. And the “spontaneous” baptisms. You can find more real emotion in a strip club. This is pure manipulation for profit and is unforgivable.
    10) Merchandizing God’s word. Pastors claiming God gave them godly insights that they have crafted into books, study guides, CDs and DVDs but they are charging cash for these. If God “gave” the word to you freely shouldn’t you give it to others for free as well? Pastors becoming millionaires off the backs of their congregants I will never get over. That is from Satan.
    11) False teaching. Twisting scripture for shameful gain. Taking the Word of God and perverting it for your own purpose. Adding to scripture as though it is truth. Saying things like “we don’t teach word of faith” then rolling straight into the “declarations”.
    12). Extra biblical direct revelations – pastors claiming God speaks audibly to them, giving them special messages. Teaching this as coming from God is heretical. This goes for vision casting as well. God already cast the vision. I will never attend a vision casting church.
    13). Politics. Putting Presidential candidates on the pulpit. Putting voter registration booths inside the church itself. Telling (scolding/shaming) members how to vote.
    14). Surrendering the pulpit to actors, politicians, entertainers, sports stars (especially the drug and sex addict ones) and professional comedians. Put that in a classroom if you must but not at weekend service for the sermon.
    15). Pastors who preach and pray in weird comedy voices, especially men trying to be black females or flamboyant black gay men. That’s racist and sexist. Medea should not be leading corporate prayer. That is blasphemous.
    16). Jumbotrons. There should never be gigantic screens featuring the 30′ face of preachers and singers. That is idolatry.
    17). Christanese. This is the worst of the poser syndrome. It is cultic and intended to be exclusionary. Why should such principles ever belong in a church?
    18). The leaching in of mysticism via contemplative prayer and much worse. Charismatics and Pentecostals push the boundaries closer to Satanism than Christianity. The eroticism of Jesus in these movements’ women’s ministries is just creepy. No, I don’t want to have sex with Jesus in Paris.
    19) Entertainment focus in specialized ministries. Men’s, Women’s and Youth services are all about the entertainment and the party. How about the hookup single (divorced) adult hotel retreats – wink wink. Churches claim they do this in order to be more accessible to the unsaved. But what do the unsaved learn from this? There is no God. Just professional comedians, naughty little jokes and bawdy door prizes and lots of party music and food. Again, this is just creepy. As the slope keeps slipping you have to wonder where it will end. When did church get so nasty?

    Note to researchers: Losing the boomer Dones is more important than you realize. It’s easy to get young parents to go to church as they desire to put their kids into children’s church so they feel like they are doing the right thing. But what happens in ten years when their kids are out of junior high? You have no older parents role modeling service and commitment to those young parents. No older greeters or organizers or mentors or group leaders. Kids who grow up with divorced parents tend to be more susceptible to divorce. Young parents who see the older parents bailing in droves will follow suit. Your millennials won’t see any long term benefit in investing in corporate church life. No offense but college kids don’t want to hang with harried mothers with screaming kids. Let’s face it, the young parents lean towards the more resource draining end of the spectrum during that phase of their lives. Your singles and older (40’s) parents, empty nesters and seniors take up a lot of that tithing and volunteering slack because young parents are generally burning the candle at both ends. If you don’t fix this you will see the end of the church as you know it. From where I stand that’s not a bad thing. The American church has evolved for the worst into something corrupt, worldly and largely godless.

  233. I forgot obsession with demons and teaching that saved Christians and their children can be demon possessed. That’s fear mongering.

    The Moses Model. This is where it all goes awry. The head pastor hand picks a bunch of golf buddy cronies as his elders. Then he is free to do anything including receiving compensation in excess of a million a year and basically act with complete impunity. This is how outrageous things end up happening in churches. The head pastor should not be able to have complete control over his elders. Elders should be elected by the members and have the authority to remove a bad pastor. Bad things inevitably happen where no accountability exists.

  234. I want to comment on one of the fundamental flaws in the modern church growth movement that I haven’t seen crystallized. I hope and pray that future leaders read this, get this, and change how church is being done.

    The cause: The church governance model I call Entrepreneurial Monarchy. This is a blend of a corporation ruled by a king.

    The organization is formed in startup mode. The founding pastor doesn’t really invest much cash, but he invests time and effort in the early days. The small group of early adopters know each other well. When the time comes to select “elders” the tendency is to pick men who are experienced in trades and businesses, who are employers and decision makers, but typically very short on theology. This assures the senior pastor that only men who will be loyal to him will ever be an elder. Therefore there is, and will never be, an independent board who could take steps to remove him. It’s a “given” that the congregation has zero power to vote on anything, especially and including no power to ever be able to force discipline or removal of the senior pastor.

    The senior pastor takes all the power, so his salary is that of a CEO. Soon, he gets control of all the money, When the senior pastor veers off course theologically, the congregation has only two choices: stay and endure bad teaching, or disengage their entire family and leave for good. There is no going back. There is no course correction. The king makes all the rules. The people must serve the king.

    As the organization grows, more family members are put on the payroll. Most have little or no theological training or background. Eventually the pastor gets into his 50’s and his male children, who often failed in college, failed in business, and have no merit and no theological background, are given six figure salaried positions, where they work 10-20 hours a week with no accountability, and the congregation is told that this “heir to the kingdom” will be their pastor for the next 30 years. Because the senior pastor was there from the beginning, he feels entitled to the “founders stock” of this company (money, power, fame, and control of who occupies those in the “King’s Court”) when the organization grows.

    Over 230 years ago, Americans fought a War of Independence to get free from the British monarchy. We won our independence, our right to vote for our own representatives in the legislature that determines the laws we all will live under, because the King of England was a corrupt, selfish, money-grubbing tyrant.

    The issue, dear planters, is that your form of Entrepreneurial Monarchy is putting the citizens of America back under the rule of tyrants, including the taxation without representation. This model is distinctly un-American.

    Jesus called pastors to be the servants, and the modern pastors treat themselves as the masters and the congregation as servants. They have it all backwards. This is not Christ’s church. This isn’t a church at all. They use churchy words, but it’s an untaxed corporation run by a king. And that’s why I’m a Done.

  235. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    I was a good authority follower and knew I “should never question god’s man.”

    Why not? And who says they are God’s men, anyway? They do! What a racket!

  236. LT wrote:

    The head pastor should not be able to have complete control over his elders. Elders should be elected by the members and have the authority to remove a bad pastor. Bad things inevitably happen where no accountability exists.

    Well, as long as we’re talking ‘shoulds’, people should be smart enough to just stay away from this stuff. Remember, the congregation enables ALL of it. Just as long as people put up with this evil nonsense, so long it will continue.

  237. LT wrote:

    At Gateway virtually all of the 200 pastors

    200 pastors? WT#? (ed.) That's not church. That's a machine. What is this fixation on gigantism?

  238. Top three reasons why I am done:

    1. Bad leadership which springs from bad theology/polity
    2. Membership contracts and coercive attempts to control behavior.
    3. Passive aggressive methods of motivating attendance and commitment.

    To add some commentary to the last point… Being a happily married, consistently employed, responsible professional means I do not have to put up with someone tracking my attendance in a home group. That was the last straw so to speak. Having grown up fundamentalist and then “escaping” to a YRR mega mecca I soon realized that they were all fundies at heart and would not be able to break the cycle of joining, getting excited, burning out, quitting and getting harassed about it so I said enough was enough. Ironically I do not miss it one bit and observe from the outside thinking the whole time “bullet dodged”.

  239. Nancy wrote:

    In the meantime okrapod is something one chops and throws in gumbo or else cross cuts, dips in batter and fries in hot oil.

    And is super, super, super yummy. Is my second favorite vegetable after asparagus.

  240. Harley wrote:

    @ XianJaneway:
    When I was in my early teens, we were going to a medium sized church of a small denomination. On Mother’s Day the minister announced from the pulpit he was having affairs with several ladies of the church. He would “visit” with the ladies while their husbands worked. Needless to say this was our last time going to this church. We had only been going there about 4-5 months at the most. The minister asked everyone to forgive him, which is Biblical, but then he wanted everything to go on as usual. Thank God my parents were wise enough to take us to a different church. My mom was also a working mother, so I knew she wasn’t one of them. This made a big impact on my life in a negative way.

    A somewhat less severe version of the hypocrite was the church my wife attended as a teen in Florida, Brandon Tabernacle, it was the place where she first had legitimate Christian fellowship. The pastor, a proverbial Dynamic Young Man in the Marjoe Gortner mold, would teach things like “You ain’t even givin til ya give OVER ten percent” or this gem “You don’t give at least ten percent, that’s stealin’ from God!”

    To the surprise of no one who knows how these stories typically go, it was the pastor himself who later had to tearfully confess that he was embezzling the funds. The church fell to pieces and it took years for my teenage wife to recover from the shock.

  241. roebuck wrote:

    LT wrote:
    At Gateway virtually all of the 200 pastors
    200 pastors? WT#? (ed.) That’s not church. That’s a machine. What is this fixation on gigantism?

    Compensation for other shortcomings, I suppose. Possibly embarrassing physical ones. Like the guy who just can’t help revving his heavily modified hot rod, as if the ladies ever really dug that.

  242. @ Mike Green:
    Excellent analysis… I see same phenomena happening in other aspects of American culture as well.. Unfortunately, “average Joe” does not want to think independently; consequently many people want to just follow the leader which feeds into this creation of “kingdoms”…

  243. muzjik wrote:

    Nancy wrote:
    She partly loves that because she is an awesome cook and likes to share that skill. She is also a lector. She loves all of it. Why should she be denied doing the ladies and mommie stuff just because she is a lawyer?
    Ahhh…but there it is. She loves that and no one is going to deny her that based on her gender…win/win.
    But what if, say, as a lawyer, she felt her passion and gifting leaned more toward, say, conflict resolution within the church or teaching teens (boys and girls) to study Scripture with a appraising eye as to context and unbiased/varied interpretation? Would she be encouraged to do something she loved if it didn’t fit in the ladies and mommy box?

    Or what if she’s quite the go-getter entrepreneur in the Proverbs 31 mold? A Proverbs 31 woman would be branded a Jezebel at some of the churches I’ve attended.

  244. @ Dave A A:
    That must be very difficult for her and for you. I’ll be praying for her, and of course you already know that there are several of us with chronic health issues who understand what that is like though we may not have exactly the same issues. I so enjoy your posts and the way that you track the Usual Suspects around the internet. Blessings to both of you!

  245. You should really link to some of Steve Taylor’s videos from his Squint album. The CD has a really good an anti marketing of Christianity grit to it.

  246. __

    “Fore & Aft? : Discharge The Lines?”

    hmmm…

    We can be nones, 
    We can be dones,
    We can be half dones,
    We can be half baked,
    We can be half cocked,
    But Jesus remains the same,
    “My Word will not pass away…He said,”
    Delight thyself in Him,
    And He will give you,
    The desires of your heart,

    What?

    —Thats a Heavenly promise,

    From the Guy that said, “I Am that I Am, 🙂

    (grin)

    Faith is the ‘Substance’ of things hoped for,
    The ‘Conviction’ of things unseen.

    “Bet your life!”

    ATB

    Sopy

  247. Mike Green wrote:

    As the organization grows, more family members are put on the payroll. Most have little or no theological training or background. Eventually the pastor gets into his 50’s and his male children, who often failed in college, failed in business, and have no merit and no theological background, are given six figure salaried positions, where they work 10-20 hours a week with no accountability, and the congregation is told that this “heir to the kingdom” will be their pastor for the next 30 years. Because the senior pastor was there from the beginning, he feels entitled to the “founders stock” of this company (money, power, fame, and control of who occupies those in the “King’s Court”) when the organization grows.

    When the shareholders become stakeholders, it all becomes about benefiting those already in power. And it’s a mess. I haven’t personally been in the kind of Empire model you’re talking about, Mike, but have seen plenty of cronyism and nepotism in supposed-to-be Christian non-profits, churches, etc.

    You might find this post of interest, on the “Pyramid of Responsibility.” The top tier, just under the Dictator, is usually full of the Dictator’s family members and friends.

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/responsibility-for-spiritual-abuse-part-2b/

  248. Law Prof wrote:

    “You don’t give at least ten percent, that’s stealin’ from God!”

    The last meeting I had with a leader of my former church, I tried to emphasize how disaffected many people were with the leadership. He was not a staff person and was someone I had respect for. I related that at least a half dozen people told me they no longer gave to the church or had severely cut back their giving because they didn’t believe their money was well spent. These were people of integrity, not picky and quarrelsome types.

    I had expected him to step back and consider how people had lost confidence in the leadership, instead he told me I should go and confront these people that “they are with holding the tithe from God”. It wasn’t immediate, it took some weeks or months to completely sink in. Eventually I realized I had been speaking in an unknown language to people from a different planet.

  249. I am not a done, but I had an encounter a number of years ago that is relevant to this thread and some of the posts in it.

    I was flying from Colorado to California, and sat next to a man in his early 20s. In the Mandatory PreFlight Conversation, we exchanged pleasantries. He said he was a college student. I asked him about it: turns out he was studying at a small Christian college in California. He elaborated that he was going to be a pastor. I responded happily to the news, being a Christian and all…told him, “Oh, I’m a Christian, too.” He looked at me with scorn in his eyes and said, “Oh, no religion for me. That’s not my speed. I’m in it for the money. You do the charisma thing, the spiritual talk thing–start a church; that’ where the money is.”

    I don’t remember any conversation after that. I was stunned.

    That was about 20 years ago…just about the right time to catch this mega-wave and make all his dreams come true.

  250. ___

    “If any man lack wisdom, let him of God.”

    “If anyone be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.”

    hmmm…

    The bible is true on both accounts.

    Yep.

    ya know, church organizations and establishments, they come and go, rise and fall, some just f-a-d-e away,

    But the Word of our God will last forever.

    (chances are you may have a copy)

    If not you can obtain a physical copy from just about any local Christian church, many free of charge.

    There are many versions online as well.

    “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” ,

    Please open it’s pages today!

    You will be glad you did!

    *

    “Jesus, you are my sunshine,
    you are my sunshine,
    you make me happy,
    when church sky’s are gray…”

    Hum, hum, hum…

    ATB

    Sopy

    🙂

  251. @ Gram3:
    @ Sallie Borrink:
    @ Patrice:
    @ Daisy:
    Thank you all for your kind comments and advice. I sense that a lot of what you’ve said is true and reasonable, so it will be good to consider it seriously.

    I have discussed a few of these issues with some Christians from my congregation and from others, and responses have generally been supportive. However, I’ve never talked with anyone in ‘leadership’ in my congregation. I usually need to feel very comfortable with the other person to open up in that way.

    The church environment in the UK can vary quite a bit depending on the background. There is a sector of the evangelical church which is strongly influenced by ‘TGC and friends’, and names like Piper, Grudem, Carson, Keller and others are promoted through books and conferences. I’ve visited the church of a friend a couple of times, which then I discovered is affiliated with Acts 29. My church is a bit into all that stuff, although my impression is that it is more at a leadership level and the doctrinal convictions are less homogeneous at the congregation level. And no kooky covenants to sign. My theory is that being an Anglican church makes it somewhat less prone to those excesses, although we still have to see what happens if they decide to install a woman as a bishop in my area… There were discussions about leaving and going independently if that happened. Apart from that, in the UK you’ll find a relatively large number of other churches. And I certainly know that the problems are not exclusive to any particular traditions. Not far from my house there’s another Anglican church, more Charismatic in their approach, who were notorious in the 90s for the abuse issues of one of their leaders (Think Nine o’clock service). In my opinion, although all those issues were finished a while ago, that particular church often tend toward some kinds of ‘extreme’ ideas. So, yes, churches can also be quite varied on this side of the ocean.

    Regarding the impact that leaving the SDA church had on me, I often find myself discovering new ways in which it has affected me. It certainly has painted the way I see church now and I think that a few of my current issues probably are heavily influenced by that. Initially I thought I ‘had done it’ after I settled into the new church, but after a while things started to pop up again and restlessness began anew.

    I don’t have much time to comment any more at the moment but, once again, thank you very much for all the advice!

  252. Beakerj wrote:

    I also have wrestled with this, with blood & tears. Which bit do you think is accurate? I’ve not been able to find anything – anything- that makes any of it bearable or balances it out.

    A 95 theses question! I’ll try to keep it short.

    Out of TULIP I think total depravity is more important to the gospel than say predestination. Since some have run off with the idea, I’ll define my understanding of this is that everyone is tainted with sin in all of their life. It doesn’t mean everyone is as bad as they could be, nor that no-one is ever capable of doing good. It does entail being dead in trespasses and sins, and therefore utterly dependent on God to intervene – to give grace – to be able to respond to the gospel. To me it is antidote to seekerism, which grossly underestimates the effects of sin and tries to persuade people to make a decision for Jesus because God loves them.

    Limited atonement – everyone but universalists believes in this, it is why it is limited that is the issue. Is it because God doesn’t choose to save some, or because he allows us to reject the offer of mercy contained in the gospel? This is the whole calvinist issue in a nutshell. I do believe God has the right to save one and not another, he doesn’t owe us mercy, but I’m not convinced he actually operates this way.

    I have some presuppositions on this issue. I believe predestination is in the NT as a source of encouragement and blessing. If it only gets us down, or if we can only spend 400 years arguing about what it probably means, we must have lost the plot. It’s not intended to become some sort of curse – and I fully understand that it can. It can do your brain in if you let it, even become something of an obsession.

    As far as ‘difficult’ passages like Romans 9 – 11 go, we have to be prepared to let our thinking change to conform with apostolic teaching rather than insist on only accepting how we think God ought to have treated mankind. Read widely of the various views and understanding of this those who have gone before us have left us this is nothing new, but if this only makes you depressed, leave it alone. Leave off those parts of the bible and read elsewhere (which I’m sure will confirm my status as heretic with some, but I’ve had to do it myself before now).

    Sola scriptura means you cannot add Secondary Standards and sundry Catechisms to your doctrinal stance. The latter may be good summaries of the NT, but I don’t think we should ever accept or reject people who love the Lord who don’t happen to agree in every detail with our stance on this issue. Danger of group think here, or majoring on minors. What matters is we have put our faith in Christ and walk in the light, not the mechanics of exactly how this came about in the first place.

    I don’t believe we contribute anything to our salvation, but I don’t have any problem with the idea of divine-human cooperation, and can’t understand why some people do.

    I wonder if some people are attracted to calvinism as they see proponents taking the text of the NT seriously, even where is says things we don’t like. What I don’t like is interpreting some passages (especially the warning passages in Hebrews) to make them fit a theological scheme like calvimisn, rather than taking them at face value in context.

    Arminianism in its popular expression can underplay the seriousness of sin, and tends to over-emphasize the love of God, a subject not mentioned all that often in the bible.

    I don’t believe for a single second that God has created people only to choose to damn them for all of eternity for his glory. It’s not an uncommon objection, but I just don’t believe God is like that, this is a caricature (and I don’t mean when you said this earlier you were deliberately caricaturing the NT). Surely For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him is alone the end of any such notion of such a God.

    FWIW my current position on all this is that those in ‘heaven’ will be there soley because of the grace of God, and those who are not because they chose as an act of the will to reject the gospel in favour of personal autonomy. How do these two ideas fit together? Does it really matter?!! There will be no Calvinists in heaven, nor Arminians, nor egalitarians or complementarians, nor those who never knew the difference – only believers.

    So much for keeping it short!

  253. Has anyone shared or commented about this website and podcast?

    http://thegodjourney.com/

    Description: About The God Journey Podcast

    The Life of Jesus for the Rest of Us

    The God Journey is designed to facilitate an ever-expanding conversation with those who are thinking outside the box of organized religion. Our primary desire is to encourage people on their spiritual journey by sharing our own and by providing insightful commentary on what it means to grow in a relationship with God. We’ll discuss the realities of other people’s journeys, cultural trends, current events, and the Scriptures as well as fielding questions related to the challenging issues of life.

    A related website: http://www.lifestream.org/

    I just found this recently and cannot vouch for the contents but the first podcast is interesting. If someone here has more experience with the author/host that would be interesting.

  254. muzjik wrote:

    The first answer (from the pastor’s kid) was “leadership.

    It sounds as if dad needs to spend more time indoctrinating junior if he expects him to someday take over the family business. We all know the complete answer would have been “gospel centered” leadership!

  255. @ raswhiting:
    I frequent his site often and even met him personally at a home fellowship about a few months ago. This site really helped me in the healing process and God used it to dissipate bitterness that was rooting in my heart. I would highly recommend anyone to go on and peruse. He had a few interviews with Josh Packard (Church Refugees) just recently.

  256. Dave A A wrote:

    Why I might become a done:
    Mrs A A can’t get out much– in pain 24/7/365. In our current church she’s made it to our first visit and one service and one prayer meeting — in 3 years. They understand. They pray for us. They offer to help.There’s communion every Sunday, great for irregular attendees like myself. This church has little in common with so many of those experienced by so many dones, or with our former YRR/9Marks/Acts29 one. I’m really blessed. But every service or activity I take part in– takes me away from my wife. Internet activities, TWW, etc do not. I seriously need to increase e-church fellowship with my local brethren and sistren as I foresee my “attendance” further diminishing. IF this church goes the way of all flesh– either closing down, or in the way Paul understood the flesh– I may be done. I can’t imagine having the energy to seek out a new one.

    Sorry Dave A A……I too have serious health issues. ( two forms of cancer. I might miss all church activities for months at a time, due to chemo treatments.
    Our former church used this against me in many ways. Mostly by suggesting I couldn’t have an opinion on the way the church was being run because I was absent too much. ( had attended for 26 years)
    Anyway, we left the church, broken hearted and bruised. We were very leery, sceptical about ever finding another church who would understand our haphazard attendance. We were afraid to expend the emotional energy of finding a place to worship.
    We ended up visiting a church, cold turkey, we knew no one, and we are seniors on top of it all. Long story short, the church embraced us, sickness, age , and all. Last winter I didn’t attend any service for four months. My husband missed some services as well because my sickness required his help. Instead of being dismissed, or ignored the Church, they were understanding of our situation and have been most kind, encouraging.
    Anyway, I know our stories are different, but I want to encourage you not to give up…there may be a blessing down the road yet.

  257. I was driven out of leadership, then ministry, and finally the church because I wouldn’t submit to the bullying and abuse I was experiencing. I can’t see myself becoming a ‘church attender’ again because the system itself is so toxic. The power plays and politics I’ve experienced have nothing to do with following Jesus. I am just so over seeing men (and occasionally women) build their own empires and call it ‘church’.

    The bottom line for me is that the institution – with its scramble for power and prestige – has become more important than the people within it. Too often we have made the ‘church’ itself our god, and we have been far too willing to sacrifice our brothers and sisters on its altar.

    So, yes, I’m ‘done’, but only done with the institution. I’m still part of the church that Jesus said he would build!

  258. Gram3 wrote:

    When we are faced with difficult situations, the tendency to thing “if A is bad then non-A is better.” That may not be true, and you might not know that until you are well into non-A. There are problems in all the church traditions of which I am aware, including the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic and many Protestant denominations. The problems are very different, but there are still problems which you may find even more troublesome. If there is no rush, then maybe it is wisest not to be in a rush to make a decision.

    Those are wise words. Let me add an ‘also’ comment-not to take away from anything you have said. There is a saying but I don’t know who said it: ‘Man is made of many needs. He feeds the one that gnaws him most.’

    In light of the comments here it seems apparent that certain particular things bother some people more than they bother others. Like complementarianism for example and the effect of that thinking on women’s opportunity for participation in some aspects of the church. For other people the really big issues are something else, like some who have children whose needs are not being met and a huge issue if the needs of the child. When an issue or two or a bunch become that important and necessary to deal with sometimes a switch to a different set of problems can be a life saver.

    Nobody should forget the ‘grass is greener’ tendency and the trap that presents. But nobody should pass up the good opportunity (job, marriage, friendship) just because it is not perfect. And no, you can’t know for sure until down the road perhaps quite a way from when you did it, made the change.

    In my experience, I had a huge problem with the religious tradition in which I was born. So I made a huge switch. It is of course not perfect. But the thing is that I as so much better able to cope with issues now that the big issue, the religious elephant in the living room, has been driven off. I can see where somebody who needed a good and safe place for their children, for example, might be better able to cope with other issues once that one was adequately addressed. But if people’s issue is one that they are going to take with them, like difficulty dealing with people, or perhaps having unrealistic expectations of how other people ought to do, then maybe the church down the road would be no different that the current church.

    People can escape the music and the show by making a move to a different kind of church. People can escape one particular set of ideas about women by making a change. People can most certainly find a better place for the children in making sure what they are taught and how they are treated. People can move either toward or away from certain charismatic beliefs and practices. If the current church is not to be trusted with the money, then one can get away from super rich and super irresponsible mega and solve that. And there are huge differences in faith and practice between some traditions and others, and sometimes that has to be addressed by severing the ties that bind and being radical in the process.

    I am with you on this due consideration issue. At the same time I am definitely not thinking that just staying and enduring is the right answer, not when it comes to big kingdom issues. I believe we have responsibilities to follow Jesus, listen to the Spirit, pursue truth, act in the best interest of those in our care, and act bravely once we think we know what needs to be done, always remembering that we are yet this side of the resurrection and nothing is perfect and we ourselves are limited in understanding.

    And the church says ‘how long, O Lord, how long?’

  259. I’ve been perusing this site for several months (found it during a search on neo-calvinism), but I’ve been too busy to post anything. This topic finally pushed me to post. I was a done for two years. Here’s my story

    When I was in my 20s, I was a member of a church in the midwest for a couple of years. I still have a good memories and long lasting friendships from there, but the Calvinist theology messed with my head, and my run ins with some of the fundamentalist-home schooling wing of the congregation ruined me.

    One incident was when me and my pastor tried to form a youth group, but it got shot down by some of the fundamentalist families because 1) I went to public schools, so I couldn’t be trusted to teach sound doctrine to kids, and 2) A youth group might attract public school kids, which could corrupt their own children. (I kid you not). My pastor, facing pressure, abandoned the idea–which I don’t fault him for. (He’s still a good friend of mine). But the whole thing left me deeply hurt. I used to be a much more proactive christian, and I haven’t touched a church ministry since.

    Another incident happened when folks from my small group ganged up on me one night at a pot luck. It was right before the 2008 election, and people were complaining about abortion and politics. I announced that I was voting for neither Obama or McCain. I got insulted by the father of one of my friends in front of everybody listening. I was humiliated and furious. After that, I was mentally checked out of church. I still attended, but I went through the motions.

    After seven months, I moved to North Carolina (The Raleigh area) to get a teaching job and basically stopped attending church. I went sporadically, but the desire wasn’t there anymore. I felt guilty at first, but eventually I didn’t care. In fact, it was pretty liberating. Nobody making me feel guilty, nobody “lovingly” correcting me, no ministry obligations. But my relationship with Jesus suffered, and I could tell I was drifting away from the faith.

    Two years later, (in 2011) I returned to my home state, not too far from where I used to live, and decided I needed to go back to church. I knew I’d reject the faith if I didn’t. I found a great church that, despite being Reformed-ish (the library has a lot of TGC/YRR authors), had a lot of non-calvinists, and the theology wasn’t pushed hard by the leadership. So I stayed and made some good friends, but refused to get involved aside from warming a pew.

    For three years, it was like this, and even though I enjoyed the people, I wouldn’t form deep relationships with them, thinking that any one of them could burn me. I went mostly out of duty, and put up with church so I could see Jesus. And my pastor’s sermons were graceful, humble, and very un-reformed. They helped me see Jesus again, but I still had to wrestle with theology/church issues from the past. Finally, last summer, in August, I had a breakthrough, And things have been much better since. I’m now an usher at church, which is perfect for me, and I’m getting to know more and more people, and I’m no longer afraid to know them on a deeper level. This is a BIG step for me.

    I’m really glad I’m no longer a done, but after my experience I can totally understand why people are. I used to be dutiful church goer, and look down on those who lived on “the edge” of fellowship. My experience has given me so much more sympathy toward the dones and almost dones, and the stories I’ve been reading here have been heartbreaking.

    I shared this story so that some of you can be encouraged. Encouraged that you can again enjoy Church fellowship–for those that still want it. It’s possible I never thought I would enjoy church again, and I’m incredibly thankful that I can.

    God Bless. 🙂

  260. PaJo wrote:

    I was flying from Colorado to California, and sat next to a man in his early 20s. In the Mandatory PreFlight Conversation, we exchanged pleasantries. He said he was a college student. I asked him about it: turns out he was studying at a small Christian college in California. He elaborated that he was going to be a pastor. I responded happily to the news, being a Christian and all…told him, “Oh, I’m a Christian, too.” He looked at me with scorn in his eyes and said, “Oh, no religion for me. That’s not my speed. I’m in it for the money. You do the charisma thing, the spiritual talk thing–start a church; that’ where the money is.”

    Wow. Just wow.

    And it explains so much.

  261. Condescending pompous preachers and other worshipers of religious organizations who insist that one have good reasons to leave; whereas the real question is whether there are good reasons to stay.

  262. @ Sallie Borrink:
    Sallie, I keep popping in and out, but when I read your earlier posts I could empathize with your experience. I’ve had a blood condition for decades that has a significant affect on my energy level. With work responsibilities, and family responsibilities I have little energy to serve in the church which pretty much leaves me on the fringe. I’ll be praying for you!

  263. raswhiting wrote:

    Has anyone shared or commented about this website and podcast?
    http://thegodjourney.com/
    Description: About The God Journey Podcast

    Not sure if I did this right.

    I have been to Wayne Jacobsen’s sites on a regular basis and find the conversations very informative. It started with the book “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore” and a few other books and videos on his site. I began letting go of some ideas about “church” and “god” as my relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit deepened.
    Other books and websites have also helped me to see the bible differently -as a story of God’s love breaking into human history.

    Andre Rabe from South Africa has an insightful perspective on his site http://alwaysloved.net/ and book “Desire Found Me”
    http://trinityinyou.com/ This site in Australia is another great place to read or watch videos.
    Felicity Dale also has a site and books on simple church.

    I infrequently attend a small church (15-20) where at 60 I am one of the young ones. It is very discouraging to me to hear about sin all the time and it seems like kindergarten as we are told to sit, stand, sing, pray, and no talking. We do have a fellowship time afterwards but no one talks about doctrine of spiritual issues. I think as we mature we should graduate and follow Jesus out where he is working in the world. I come back there because they supported me through my cancer treatments with prayer and cards and they also need my prayers in what they are facing. There are only 2 people I see outside of the Sunday service.
    I have been reading here at TWW for a few years and have come to see the institutional church as a man-made club where they collect dues from the members and set their own rules, build their own empire and seem in competition with other clubs. However the individuals listening to Jesus and letting his love flow through them can be found everywhere. It is truly inspiring to see what Dee and Deb are doing here and read the stories of people recognizing Jesus’ voice in the middle of all the church “noise”.
    Thank you to everyone for having the courage to tell your stories.

  264. I’m still in church right now, but have thought about leaving. There are people I really appreciate in this church. However, being relatively new, I am finding it very difficult to have conversation with anyone, much less build a relationship. It is either limited to the usual “Hi, how are you?” When you pass in the hall. Bible studies are monologues with a brief time for questions. I feel like people are mostly talking at me instead of to me which is frustrating, but nothing new. As I said I have been a part of 6 different churches over a thirty year period and only had one church in which I made close friends. That was because I was a stay-at-home mom and actually had time to develop friendships. Now with work and ever increasing family responsibilities including an aging parent, plus my own health problems I feel like it is not going to happen.
    I could endure that, but I hate the feeling of being judged because of the values communicated in the monologue. Consistent church attendance is a big one for me. I have to be on guard all the time which makes it tiring.

  265. Another data point for “Dones” – why I am mostly a “Done”, although casually attend a church on and off:

    1. Realizing that much of what the pastor is saying is FALSE. And he either knows it, or should know it. Not just that he is “abusive”, or a pompous ass or a slick fund raiser. His teachings are for the most part false. Tough coming to this conclusion after decades of believing what is dished out, hook, line, and sinker.

    2. The harm that comes to marriages and families when one party has their eyes opened on the phoniness of it all. The blame, the shame, and the discounting of all the good a person has done in past decades just because of what they think in their brain about religion.

    3. The freedom that comes releasing yourself from the culture of modern evangelicalism and teachings of the “man of God” is wonderful. Don’t miss the “fellowship”, don’t miss the blow-hard sermons, don’t miss the judgmentalism. It is WONDERFUL being a “done”, but still having your faith in God.

  266. Mae wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:
    Why I might become a done:
    Mrs A A can’t get out much– in pain 24/7/365. In our current church she’s made it to our first visit and one service and one prayer meeting — in 3 years. They understand. They pray for us. They offer to help.There’s communion every Sunday, great for irregular attendees like myself. This church has little in common with so many of those experienced by so many dones, or with our former YRR/9Marks/Acts29 one. I’m really blessed. But every service or activity I take part in– takes me away from my wife. Internet activities, TWW, etc do not. I seriously need to increase e-church fellowship with my local brethren and sistren as I foresee my “attendance” further diminishing. IF this church goes the way of all flesh– either closing down, or in the way Paul understood the flesh– I may be done. I can’t imagine having the energy to seek out a new one.
    Sorry Dave A A……I too have serious health issues. ( two forms of cancer. I might miss all church activities for months at a time, due to chemo treatments.
    Our former church used this against me in many ways. Mostly by suggesting I couldn’t have an opinion on the way the church was being run because I was absent too much. ( had attended for 26 years)
    Anyway, we left the church, broken hearted and bruised. We were very leery, sceptical about ever finding another church who would understand our haphazard attendance. We were afraid to expend the emotional energy of finding a place to worship.
    We ended up visiting a church, cold turkey, we knew no one, and we are seniors on top of it all. Long story short, the church embraced us, sickness, age , and all. Last winter I didn’t attend any service for four months. My husband missed some services as well because my sickness required his help. Instead of being dismissed, or ignored the Church, they were understanding of our situation and have been most kind, encouraging.
    Anyway, I know our stories are different, but I want to encourage you not to give up…there may be a blessing down the road yet.

    Mae, sorry, but I have to go here….what denomination?

  267. @ Sean:

    Sean, thank you for sharing your story. Even Jesus sometimes felt overwhelmed for various reasons and removed Himself from the crowds for some solace. I don’t think people should feel guilty for taking time for whatever reason they deem necessary to evaluate the circumstances they are in. I’m glad you’re faith has been strengthened and you’ve found a church and ministry once again!

  268. Mike Green wrote:

    As the organization grows, more family members are put on the payroll. Most have little or no theological training or background. Eventually the pastor gets into his 50’s and his male children, who often failed in college, failed in business, and have no merit and no theological background, are given six figure salaried positions, where they work 10-20 hours a week with no accountability, and the congregation is told that this “heir to the kingdom” will be their pastor for the next 30 years.

    And when Pastor/Apostle/Founder Daddy kicks off or retires, the Game of Thrones begins between all those Pastor Juniors. For only ONE can sit on the Iron Throne of the Mega. Dagger and poison, everyone!

    This is how my diocese got their new cathedral (the former Crystal Cathedral). Schuller wasn’t even dead (just retired) and his heirs ran it into the ground. Us Romish Papists had the high bid at the resulting fire sale.

  269. Ken wrote:

    Arminianism in its popular expression can underplay the seriousness of sin, and tends to over-emphasize the love of God, a subject not mentioned all that often in the bible.

    I like a lot of what you have said but disagree with this. There is, for example, Jesus himself who came because of God’s love and who embodied God’s love. That is because we are told that God *is* love. Now, what people mean by that love may vary and some may exclude aspects or implications of God’s love, but God’s love is all over the NT, and I would argue it is all over the OT as well with respect to his people. And anyone could join with his people in the OT, so it was not a matter strictly of ethnicity.

  270. Sallie Borrink wrote:

    PaJo wrote:
    I was flying from Colorado to California, and sat next to a man in his early 20s. In the Mandatory PreFlight Conversation, we exchanged pleasantries. He said he was a college student. I asked him about it: turns out he was studying at a small Christian college in California. He elaborated that he was going to be a pastor. I responded happily to the news, being a Christian and all…told him, “Oh, I’m a Christian, too.” He looked at me with scorn in his eyes and said, “Oh, no religion for me. That’s not my speed. I’m in it for the money. You do the charisma thing, the spiritual talk thing–start a church; that’ where the money is.”
    Wow. Just wow.
    And it explains so much.

    Sounds like the underground church (avoiding obvious physical facilities) needs to start sooner than later. And may the profit centers run themselves into the ground… Let believers be as wise as serpents and not just as gentle as doves.

  271. @ Ken:
    No, Ken, on your parsingmof who believes in limited atonement. In my tradition, limited atonement is just not part of the picture, and my denomination is far from being universalist (even though I’m sure there are quite a few members who are).

    No offense, but please do not generalize in this manner, if only because the numbers of those who believe in, say, limited atonement are not what you say. The millions of members of the RCC, for example, the Orthodox churches, plus some of us high church Protestant types.

  272. @ Nancy:
    Thanks for those comments which are very true. I think there were some very good responses to Martos’ questions, and I hope they are helpful in the situation.

  273. @ Ken:
    Btw, none of the dnoms i mentioned in my last are Arminian. A lot of us aremoutside that Calvinist-Arminian spectrum entirely.

    Just sayin’…

  274. LT wrote:

    14). Surrendering the pulpit to actors, politicians, entertainers, sports stars (especially the drug and sex addict ones)….

    But then how can all the RESPECTABLE Church Lady types get their JUICY JUICY JUICY fix of Vicarious Fun-filled SIN SIN SIN and still remain RESPECTABLE(TM)?

    15). Pastors who preach and pray in weird comedy voices, especially men trying to be black females or flamboyant black gay men. That’s racist and sexist. Medea should not be leading corporate prayer. That is blasphemous.

    I’m not quick to go “racist and sexist”.
    CLUELESS, definitely. And/or Dumb.
    Trying for comedy relief and ending up with Jar-Jar Binks.

    16). Jumbotrons. There should never be gigantic screens featuring the 30′ face of preachers and singers. That is idolatry.

    That is Big Brother on the Telescreen.
    Especially when simulcasted to all the “franchise campuses” a la Mars Hill.

    17). Christanese. This is the worst of the poser syndrome. It is cultic and intended to be exclusionary. Why should such principles ever belong in a church?

    To stroke the egos of the Inner Ring with their Speshul club language.
    To act as an IFF recognition code.

    18). The leaching in of mysticism via contemplative prayer and much worse. Charismatics and Pentecostals push the boundaries closer to Satanism than Christianity. The eroticism of Jesus in these movements’ women’s ministries is just creepy. No, I don’t want to have sex with Jesus in Paris.

    There has been a continuing mystical tradition throughout historical Christianity. But the Protestant Reformation got away from it, and now you’re seeing those of a mystical bent breaking out using Shirley MacLaine as a model because they didn’t have an established Christian mystical tradition. Groping in the dark.

    Not to say that mystical tradition didn’t have its own problems on occasion. “The eroticism of Jesus in these movements’ women’s ministries” sounds like a revival of late Medieval “Bridal Mysticism” (and not today’s watered-down CCM “Jeesus is My Boyfriend” variety), where cloistered nuns vowed to celibacy since age six expressed religious ecstasy using highly-erotic language. (“Thrust me through with Thy Divine Love! Fill me with Thy Holy Spirit as with child!”) In the extreme cases, it was like Driscoll of Mars Hill “Seeing things”, with forbidden sexual fantasy breaking out in Church-acceptable forms. (The universal idea of the time that the only REAL Christians practiced Celibacy and Virginity led to a LOT of priests, monks, and nuns who were NOT cut out for it taking the vow.)

  275. numo wrote:

    No offense, but please do not generalize in this manner, if only because the numbers of those who believe in, say, limited atonement are not what you say. The millions of members of the RCC, for example, the Orthodox churches, plus some of us high church Protestant types.

    Indeed so. And what Ken says about lack of appreciation for the seriousness of sin is the exact opposite of what I saw during the years in which we were Free Will Baptist. I am thinking that his base of information is limited to looking at things from one direction only. I am also thinking that to ignore the bodies of teaching of the vast majority of christianity (RCC, orthodox, and various liturgical and high church denoms) is, well, poor thinking at best. It has been said that everybody is entitled to their own opinion but nobody is entitled to his own evidence. Just saying.

  276. Off-topic Alert:

    MSNBC newsfeed headline “SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF GAY MARRIAGE NATIONWIDE”.

    Three guesses what’s going to be SCREAMED from a lot of pulpits this coming Sunday? You near-Dones might want to stay home or go full-honk Done over the next two days, because there’s going to be some real Bad Craziness reactions coming down the chute.

  277. numo wrote:

    the numbers of those who believe in, say, limited atonement are not what you say.

    I think the people who believe in Limited Atonement are relatively small. But there are some who really believe that this is one of the critical parts of God’s plan. There are some in the SBC, like Tom Nettles, SBC who are into what I would call true hyper-Calvinism because he believes that the atonement is sufficient only for the elect rather than the traditional formulation of sufficient for all, effective for the elect or something similar. It’s another example of riding one’s hobby horse right over the cliff, IMO.

  278. numo wrote:

    A lot of us aremoutside that Calvinist-Arminian spectrum entirely.

    Impossible! 🙂 I don’t think Ken meant it that way, but it does seem to come down to that in the places I’ve been and maybe where Ken has been.

  279. The #1 reason I am a done: Church ceased to be time well-spent.

    2. church took up too much of my time and energy.
    –it took it all. I had nothing left for anything/anyone else, such as where I live — my neighborhood and other communities i’m a part of (like the families of the schools my kids attend). It’s as if church sees itself as the only thing that matters in anyone’s life. This can’t be right, and it is patently untrue.

    3. content of sermons and small group studies amounts to ‘life coaching’.
    –It is amazingly dumb, poorly written. It is all selected based on trends, fads, what’s popular. I’m starved for intellectual study of bible/history/context, and to do it with others in a group setting. I’ve waited long enough. And I can accomplish this myself. No salaried professional Christian required.

    4. implicit male headship

    5. church exists to perpetuate itself.
    –at the end of the day, it’s nickels and noses. to maintain jobs and pay their salaries.

  280. @ K.D.:

    The church which gave us the “boot”, was actually non demoninational. The church which we have found refuge, is an American Baptist.

  281. Gram3 wrote:

    numo wrote:

    A lot of us aremoutside that Calvinist-Arminian spectrum entirely.

    Impossible! I don’t think Ken meant it that way, but it does seem to come down to that in the places I’ve been and maybe where Ken has been.

    Hee Hee. In my neck of the woods you are either Calvinist, Arminian or Heretic. I told one YRR it reminds me of the USSR where you were either an Imperialist or a Communist/Socialist or Mentally Ill. :o)

  282. @ Gram3:
    This always gets pushback! I think but don’t have time to check that God’s love is explicitly mentioned about 35 times in the entire bible. This does not mean is it not important, it does mean there is far more to the bible’s revelation of God than this, and the church often gets this out of balance.

    I also think part of the pushback is because far too many Christians spend far too much time not being secure in the love of God and enjoying his grace, and constantly need reassuring the God does indeed accept them. He’s for them and not against them. Given the nature of this thread and failure of so many churches and fellowships to reflect the love of God, this is hardly surprising.

    I certainly know what it is like to robbed of this assurance.

  283. Mae wrote:

    @ K.D.:

    The church which gave us the “boot”, was actually non demoninational. The church which we have found refuge, is an American Baptist.

    My Aunt was a long time deacon to both male and females in the ABC back in the 60’s-early 70’s in Michigan. Has that changed?

  284. Ken wrote:

    I don’t believe we contribute anything to our salvation, but I don’t have any problem with the idea of divine-human cooperation, and can’t understand why some people do.

    I wonder about that in terms of repentance. I know people GASP when that is even mentioned because I don’t think it disses Justification at all to wonder if some see repentance and belief as a “work”. Jesus’s first sermons were” Repent and believe. Repent means we have to decide to “do” something.

  285. @ numo:
    Don’t forget I was trying to lift some of the calvinist load off Beakerj. This is a vast subject and it’s not even possible to scratch the surface. I know how this can get you down, and I hope she can begin to get free of it.

    It can be a very real problem if you are taught that God sent Jesus to die only for a section of humanity rather than for everyone without exception. He could have saved everyone, but chooses not to. That’s where the idea of him creating people only to judge them comes from. ‘I’m part of the elect, I’m all right jack and to hell with everyone else’, to put it rather crassly. Calvinism can lead people down this road if they are not careful. Don’t worry if the church isn’t very loving, those who don’t attend it or leave were clearly not part of the elect anyway, so we don’t need to search our consciences over our attitudes. That kind of thinking.

    It helps at least to see that under the Arminian scheme, assuming an unlimited atonement where Jesus paid the penalty for all the sins of the whole race that God has still limited it to those who accept it, it is not ‘forced’ on anyone. There is still the need to repent and believe, or it is of no avail to us.

    The alternative is universalism, everbody in the end will be saved, but you can’t get this out of the NT.

  286. Here is how I intend to respond to SCOTUS ruling:

    On Monday, Amy Smith and I are going to discuss a church who has allowed a convicted internet voyeur of child sex abuse to become a role model.

  287. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I am a done and I don’t agree with the SC’s decision. Are you assuming that “dones” are going to uniformly agree with the approval of “gay marriage”? I’ll bet many do not.

  288. SCOTUS decision = America’s tipping point. When judgment begins, it will begin at the house of God. As the church goes, so goes the nation. This blog site has painted a portrait of an American church desperately off-track … ready for correction. Tighten your seat belts, folks … I’ve got a feeling we’re going for a bumpy ride.

  289. Ken wrote:

    it does mean there is far more to the bible’s revelation of God than this, and the church often gets this out of balance.

    I think I am missing your point. Why would there need to be a verse or word count to know what God is like? If he revealed himself through the Son, and the Son is God, and the Son came because God loves us, then why do we have to meet some arbitrary (to my mind) measure of how much the Bible explicitly talks of God’s love?

    I also think that churches can overemphasize one aspect of who God is to the detriment of other aspects of his character. I suspect that you are thinking about his holiness and his justice and things like that. Any view can get out of balance, and I think we agree on that. Perhaps you have seen more ignoring of God’s holiness and justice and more emphasis on God’s love. I’ve seen a move in my lifetime toward an unhealthy emphasis on God’s holiness and justice at the expense of recognizing God’s great love. In short, I think we are talking about much the same thing.

  290. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Three guesses what’s going to be SCREAMED from a lot of pulpits this coming Sunday? You near-Dones might want to stay home or go full-honk Done over the next two days, because there’s going to be some real Bad Craziness reactions coming down the chute.

    I’m getting my popcorn ready…..

  291. @ Gram3:
    What I garbled in the previous comment is my concern is over word counts determining truth and not over whether or not there can be imbalance.

  292. William wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I am a done and I don’t agree with the SC’s decision. Are you assuming that “dones” are going to uniformly agree with the approval of “gay marriage”? I’ll bet many do not.

    And those who disagree will likely disagree for different reasons. It has become impossible to have any kind of nuanced opinion without being labeled either a bigot on the one hand or an antinomian libertine on the other. On matters of law and the balance of powers between local, state, and federal and also between the various branches of our uniquely American government, I think it is possible to have a variety of opinions. I even think that it is quite possible to be in favor of civil marriage without also thinking the SCOTUS decision is a good one for reasons well beyond the current question. The problem is that we, on either side of any political question, get caught up in our position and not in the principles in play which may come back to bite us. That is true for both “sides” in this debate, IMO, though I doubt that either “side” will be able to see that. That’s as OT as I’m prepared to go, but maybe we can take it to the ODP.

  293. Ardiak wrote:

    I’m wondering if the flocking away from churches is, maybe in part, about the true Body of Christ, perhaps without fully realizing the truth of the situation, inwardly following the Lord’s admonition to “Come out of her my people…(Revelation 18:4).”

    After all, even the Lord vomited out that monstrosity of a church — the seventh listed in Revelation 3. Rather than being that group’s first love, front and center, He is portrayed as knocking to get IN to individual hearts there.

    I feel like I’m seeing a tremendously wonderful phenomenon: that of believers who, whatever their stated reasons, truly cannot abide the ever-more worldly, oppressive, ridiculous church entity. After all, who wants to be involved in a congregation if the true and wonderful and all-that-is-righteous-and-good Lord Jesus isn’t there?

    Hearing about the places where He still is, where His love and truth are tangible in real life, is also wonderful and encouraging.

    Just my 2cents’ worth.

    My computer is kaput so I tune into the blogosphere only intermittently.

    Thank you for sharing. I’m wondering this as well

  294. Max wrote:

    . Tighten your seat belts, folks … I’ve got a feeling we’re going for a bumpy ride.

    Oh, yes, the tsunami has moved ashore. Like the civil war in its time this will set brother against brother in the same family and in the same church. And there is more to come. I have only skimmed the majority opinion but I have seem some statements that scare the wee pee out of my non-legal mind as to where else that sort of opinion and that line of reason could be used. All of which areas would be place where the churches would have to make some decisions.

    My ‘episcopal church in the catholic tradition’ will pass through the fire on this one.

  295. Lydia wrote:

    Hee Hee. In my neck of the woods you are either Calvinist, Arminian or Heretic. I told one YRR it reminds me of the USSR where you were either an Imperialist or a Communist/Socialist or Mentally Ill. :o)

    In my experience, ideology has no room for nuance. Whether the regime is religious or secular in nature it makes no difference. When worst comes to worse, guys like me are the first to wind up chained to a stake with kindling, or in more ‘enlightened times’, we usually end our days behind barbed wire.

  296. Wow – So many comments. So much pain…

    From a short review of the first 80 comments here
    “Why I am currently a Done or Why I might become a Done”

    Looks like “pastors” and *leadership* are the main culprits for so much pain…

    And for this exodus from the bondage of…

    “Today’s Abusive Religious System” – “Today’s Corrupt Religious System”
    The 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax Deductible, Religious Corporations…
    That the IRS calls church.
    ———–

    Pastors

    * A pastor who was willing to lie…
    *The pastors wouldn’t let me or anybody else do anything!
    *Pastor doesn’t know my name after 2 years
    *Elite Pastoral Team who don’t associate with members.
    * …almost impossible to get an appointment with our pastor…
    *Realized most people were pretending… it was safer than being eaten alive by the pastor.
    *… 30 year old pastors with 20-30 year old “elders” is a recipe for disaster
    *Pastors who feel a sense of entitlement…
    *Lack of pastoral care. Felt used.
    *… one pastor said he didn’t think someone could be a democrat and a Christian
    *The pastors lived like royalty with constant vacations…
    *Arrogance of church leaders and pastors…
    *A pastor who was a complete lying sociopath.
    *churches that substitute pastors and organizations for Christ…
    *…young arrogant CEO pastors
    ———-

    Leadership

    ***Authoritarian leadership – reported here again, and again, and again, and…
    *…spiritual abuse by malignant leaders and their toxic systems.
    *… Authoritarian (false) leadership, Bad (pin-head) theology…
    *controlling / micro management style of leadership
    *The hypocrisy of the leadership (like learning that 1/3 of all pastors are addicted to porn).
    *Bullying/shunning of children, especially by leaders’ children
    *a woman questioning the leadership and being labeled “divisive” or “rebellious” or “a gossip”.
    *…new leadership came in and wanted to change the vision of the church…
    *…we were essentially shunned by church leadership…
    * Closer I got to the leadership the more I got burned.
    *I do not feel “safe” around the leadership.
    *Unapproachable authoritarian leadership.
    *church leaders with an inability to listen, do they care?
    ———-

    It took a few years… And lots of tears…
    But the freedom of being…

    “Done” with “pastors.”
    “Done” with “leadership.”
    “Done” with the “church of man.”
    The 501 (c) 3, IRS Corporations…

    Is wonderful… 😉

  297. @ Max:
    You don’t think the rampant child abuse in many parts of the church is more of an issue than this? That this could, & should tip the balance?

  298. For me… The reason I became…
    “Done” with “pastors.”
    “Done” with “leadership.”
    “Done” with “The 501 (c) 3, IRS Corporations.”

    I knew something was wrong… (Don’t we all?) – And, I was ordained… I was in leadership…
    And then it was my turn… I asked the wrong questions…
    And when a head pastor/leader/reverend has their Power, Profit, Prestige challenged…
    Things can get ugly pretty fast…

    It took awhile… Left, or was asked to leave, from a few places…
    But, eventually, I could NO longer DO the Sunday morning show…

    And then – When I searched the Bible for myself – I found…

    In the Bible…
    NOT one of His Disciples called themself pastor. Or leader. Or reverend.
    All those things that I desired…

    NOT one of His Disciples called another Disciple pastor. Or leader. Or reverend.
    Like so many in the 501 c 3, IRS Corporations do today…

    NOT one of His Disciples had the “Title/Position” pastor. Or leader. Or reverend.
    “Titles” will separate. “Titles” will elevate. “Titles” will be used to control and manipulate.

    NOT one Disciple of Jesus, was “Hired or Fired,” as a pastor. Or leader. Or reverend.
    ———-

    Jesus even taught His Disciples NOT to be called “leader.” And NONE did. – Go figure…

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible.
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant.”
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    For one of His Disciples there is only “ONE” leader… Jesus… And Jesus is the best…

    And, In the Bible, there were NO, “church leaders,” “christian leaders,” “spiritual leaders.”

    I finally had to admit – I had been on the wrong road – I, Amos, a believer, was LOST…

    Jer 50:6 KJV
    “My People” have been LOST sheep
    “THEIR SHEPHERDS” have caused them to go astray…

    The good news is – For me…

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  299. Max wrote:

    SCOTUS decision = America’s tipping point. When judgment begins, it will begin at the house of God. As the church goes, so goes the nation. This blog site has painted a portrait of an American church desperately off-track … ready for correction. Tighten your seat belts, folks … I’ve got a feeling we’re going for a bumpy ride.

    Oh come ON. How can you say this? Millions of people were held in chattel slavery for centuries and no fire and brimstone rained from heaven. Native Americans were killed or rounded up and marched off to reservations and there was no lightning from the sky to stop that. Women did not have the right to vote or own property in our own names and the plagues of Egypt did not visit the United States of America. But God is going to judge the USA over gay marriage? I don’t think so.

    That’s another reason why I’m done. Too many times the church has been on the absolute wrong side of issues and only changes its mind at the very last minute, if ever. (Cf. Doug Wilson of Idaho, who still has a thing for Southern slavery.)

  300. Done. The following list is not in any particular order and is not exhaustive:

    1. Lack of fellowship and friends. Nobody is interested in my family. It doesn’t matter if we’re even there.

    2. Proven track record of untrustworthiness and promise breaking.

    3. Epic fails (repeated) for not helping out in lowest points of life (lost job, house, six figure medical bills without insurance, etc.) despite emphatic promises to help.

    4. Being blamed for our special-needs kid’s special needs. Didn’t fit the child-rearing guru’s child-rearing formula book, so it’s the parents’ fault, you know. We were celebrities for being the first parents to adopt in one of our churches – until they discovered what our child was like.

    5. Children really aren’t welcome in the main service, so we have to shove them off to Sunday school, then get guilt-tripped for not enough Sunday school volunteers.

    6. Leadership cliques that cannot be penetrated. Even when you become part of leadership, despite the promises.

    7. No value placed on personal gifts. It’s all a top-down, micromanaged church ministry system looking only for spiritual minimum wage earning peons to do the grunt work thanklessly until burnout stage takes its toll.

    8. Rejection of OUR attempts at fellowship, love, and using gifts to help toward others.

    9. How can you follow the “example” of a pastor when the only time you even see him is the 45 minutes he stands in the pulpit? (I guess we’re all supposed to become preachers?)

    10. Nobody ever calling to check up after we left a church. Kinda proves nobody cared all along.

  301. @ LT:

    LOL, LT! You cheated! I thought we only got 3-4 of our top complaints, not 19! But I totally agree with you 100%. Maybe we shouldn’t just stop with 3 or 4 items. Maybe we should just lay it all out, like Luther’s 95 theses? You print it out, I’ll go grab the nail and hammer. We’ll probably get sued/arrested for driving a nail into the church door, especially if it’s a glass door.

  302. Lydia wrote:

    Mae wrote:

    @ K.D.:

    The church which gave us the “boot”, was actually non demoninational. The church which we have found refuge, is an American Baptist.

    My Aunt was a long time deacon to both male and females in the ABC back in the 60’s-early 70’s in Michigan. Has that changed?

    I honestly couldn’t say for sure about the whole denomination. Our constitution, in our church, both male and female deacons are identical in service.

  303. mirele wrote:

    Too many times the church has been on the absolute wrong side of issues and only changes its mind at the very last minute

    Actually, most of the time, five minutes after that.

  304. Off topic, but I just had to share this 9Marks Video title: “Is CHBC a replicable model of church life?” Man, I hope not…..

  305. @ Steve Scott:

    That is exactly what I went through (minus adopting a special-needs child). And when we leave, WE are the ones blamed for forsaking the fellowship of believers. It’s never the other people who don’t want to even say hello. No, it must be OUR fault. We’re the ones violating that verse in Hebrews and are in grave sin. Apparently, keeping a bench warm is what fulfills that verse, not actually encouraging and extorting one another. But the entire point of gathering together is to encourage one another. So who are really the ones in sin and guilty of violating that verse? Hmmm, think, think, think….

  306. I will talk about another reason I’m Done and Gone. And, if I had thought it through, I should have been Done and Gone in 1989. I’m going to blame it on being in my last semester of law school, graduating, and then going straight into two and a half months of solid study for the bar.

    That would be the doctrine of hell.

    In the spring of 1989, I heard a sermon by a guy who later ran the Vineyard after John Wimber died. His sermon was about getting the reality of hell in your heart. I was so disturbed by this sermon that during the altar call, I got up, walked out of the church and walked around a city block (this was in Houston) and came back in and he was still going on about it.

    OK, so I got his point. I wrote him a letter and asked him how seriously he took the doctrine of hell. Did he take it so seriously that he was preaching it to every.single.person he met? From the supermarket checkout clerk to the paper boy? I told him I doubted it. Because if you really, truly, honestly believe that if someone doesn’t believe in Jesus that they’re going to burn forever in fiery torments, then you ought to be spending every.single.minute trying to win the lost.

    He wasn’t doing that.
    I wasn’t doing that.
    Very, very few people do that.
    Not even Paul the apostle did that.

    And I’d argue this is because for the most part, we can’t hold the idea for long in our heads that our unsaved or differently-saved friends and relations will be going to hell.

    Over the last 25+ years, I’ve not changed my mind on this. I think the doctrine of hell is wrong. The notion of God punishing people forever for beliefs held in this life is simply crazycakes to me. I especially thought about this as my father was dying last year. Dad was not a religious man–he had seen some pretty unsavory stuff in the Oklahoma of the 1930s and 1940s and was not terribly impressed. But this is what got me–how would God judge my father? Was he going to judge my father based on what he thought in the prime of his life? Or the man who didn’t know who he was two weeks before he died, but was bound and determined to scoot his recliner to Tulsa? (My brother got up one morning and found Dad halfway out of the house and that’s what Dad told him when he asked Dad where he was going.)

    I don’t respond well when people threaten me, and a lot of what goes on in evangelical Protestantism comes across as threats: God will punish you if you don’t pay a full tithe, God will not smile on your family unless you’re full-on complementarian with your children being homeschooled, God will send you to hell for holding the wrong belief in your head. Nope. No thanks. Done. Gone.

  307. @ mirele:

    Well, there have been consequences to some of that. Yes there was slavery, and eventually this nation was almost destroyed by civil war. I do tend to see some cause and effect there. Yes, women were denied what we today consider basic rights, and now we have apparently a lot of women who are so angry right on-again it looks to me like consequences. People can call that God’s judgment or not, but I prefer to say consequences.

  308. To Beakerj and Mirele,

    You both provide sufficient reasons why God’s judgment should have already visited America. I agonize in spirit as I think on those things. Our original citizens bore much persecution as we forcefully took “their” land; we captured and enslaved the citizens of other lands; our little ones have been abused; the blood of innocent millions have been shed; our national wickedness on several fronts has been immense; the Bible that shaped our moral code has been tossed aside; our national diplomacy no longer blesses Israel; our laws have liberated evil in the land. At some point, America’s sin will fill its appointed measure. If not now, when?

  309. My experience is primarily the result of interaction with one church and yet I will forever be a Done. I don’t doubt there are “decent” churches out there somewhere and that there are good and bad people everywhere but as for me, my days of slaving to the institution of man made religion are forever done. One bad church CAN ruin the bunch.

    1) Authoritarian, misogynistic pastor who openly mocks other members behind their backs

    2) Gossip, including pastor and wife who engage in and perpetuate gossip about other members.

    3) Elitist mentality- all about money and who you know. If a person is assumed “poor” they are lower class citizens within the church hierarchy

    4) Political sermons masquerading as non-political sermons. Preacher instructing congregation who to vote for without ever actually saying the candidates name in subversive smart ass ways so arguments that he injected politics could be denied.

    5) Brainwashing, manipulative tactics used to keep people in line and gas-lighting, stonewalling, and bullying for anyone who does not bend to their authority

    6) Hypocrisy. Double talk. Using the Bible to harm others while claiming it provides “provisions” for their own wrongdoing or beliefs.

    7) Dangerous and irresponsible attitude toward people living with mental illness including telling a suicidal person to either just do it already or suck it up and get over themselves

    8) Fake. Sugary sweet people plastered with smiles, hugs, and hellos within the walls but as soon as the service is over they wouldn’t be caught dead speaking to the likes of you

    9) Selective Redemption. Only those they consider worthy of redemption are considered redeemed. It is hardly coincidence that those they consider redeemed are usually the people who appear to have the most money and plenty of fancy material possessions

    10) Hate. God hates all the same people they hate and if you do not, you are obviously not a Christian. If you go against them, you will be disparaged and shunned.

  310. Nancy wrote:

    @ mirele:
    Well, there have been consequences to some of that. Yes there was slavery, and eventually this nation was almost destroyed by civil war. I do tend to see some cause and effect there. Yes, women were denied what we today consider basic rights, and now we have apparently a lot of women who are so angry right on-again it looks to me like consequences. People can call that God’s judgment or not, but I prefer to say consequences.

    True words. As my Mom always says to me, “God doesn’t have to point and click.” The natural consequences of our actions tend to follow us. We reap what we sow. Just like if I were to step off a cliff to defy gravity, I would naturally fall to the ground and go splat as a consequence. God didn’t have to “point and click” to make me go splat. I merely violated His natural law, and that law has a built-in consequence for disobedience. SPLAT!

  311. Max wrote:

    To Beakerj and Mirele,
    You both provide sufficient reasons why God’s judgment should have already visited America. I agonize in spirit as I think on those things. Our original citizens bore much persecution as we forcefully took “their” land; we captured and enslaved the citizens of other lands; our little ones have been abused; the blood of innocent millions have been shed; our national wickedness on several fronts has been immense; the Bible that shaped our moral code has been tossed aside; our national diplomacy no longer blesses Israel; our laws have liberated evil in the land. At some point, America’s sin will fill its appointed measure. If not now, when?

    Yes, the Bible does say that every nation has a maximum measure of sin it can reach before God will judge it. (See Genesis 15:6, for example). Expressing worry that we’ve reached it is a very natural reaction to yet another decision of our nation to disobey God.

    In fact, the book of Romans teaches that what is happening now IS God’s judgment. God hands a people over to sheer insanity when they reject Him as Creator. We are within three clicks of worshiping dung beetles. That will be next, I’m sure.

    So it’s not like God is going to judge us now, finally, after this one thing. This thing, along with many previously occurring things, IS God’s judgment. He has been judging us all along, and I fear it will only get worse unless we repent.

    Mirele, regarding hell, I’m sorry that you were abused such that it was used to control and drive constant fear in you. Nevertheless, earliest, orthodox Christianity has always taught hell. Justin Martyr, an early apologists to the Greek philosophers of his age, argued for it at length. He argued that unless there are eternal consequences to our actions in this life, then virtue is meaningless. Even if hell only lasted a short time, then virtue would still be meaningless. Because then you could just do whatever feels good now, receiving your reward early, pay up later for a while (however long hell lasts), and either be annihilated or enter heaven (depending on your point of view). The virtuous merely receive their reward later, and their suffering earlier, making everything meaningless. There is no incentive to be virtuous when you can have your cake and eat it too. We might as well all be like Adolph Hitler–if it feels good, do it, even if it hurts others.

    I highly encourage you to read Justin Martyr’s First and Second Apologies for his reasoning. I hope you find it both healing and enlightening.

    By the way, are you thinking of Carl Tuttle? His home church (John Wimber’s) was my childhood church. FYI, Carl Tuttle was yet another pastor busted for adultery and abusing his family. He stepped down. I hope he repented sincerely, and that it wasn’t just a show. I know he had a rough childhood, and learned bad behavior from his own father. Still, whether he realizes it or not, he hurt a lot of people, because he was one of the pastors who counseled my family and basically sided with my abusive father. I hope he repented. After it all went down, I always felt bad for his kids. I knew his oldest from my home school group. He was one of the nicest PKs. That had to hurt to have to hide all the problems that were going on at home, just to keep up good appearances.

  312. Max wrote:

    At some point, America’s sin will fill its appointed measure. If not now, when?

    It depends entirely on who you listen to. According to the Grahams (Anne Lotz & her brother Franklin), the Almighty will ring down his gavel on account of homosexuality & gay marriage. Progressives on the left will say pretty much what you and Mirele have pointed out. Is it really judgement or just the reaping of cyclic consequences common to all peoples? Granted, America does not have a squeaky clean past. I’m fully aware of that, I’m Native American myself. But we’ve learned from our mistakes regarding both Native & African Americans, and yes I agree our old policies were egregious. Nonetheless, I also believe that she (America) is still the best act to ever hit the World stage. Why else do the downstrata of the third world risk life, limb, and everything they have to get here?

  313. @ Muff Potter:

    Muff, We watched “Red Army” last night with the kids. The documentary about the USSR Hockey Team and that miraculous USA win at Lake Placid. Great history lesson with the kids about how things worked…how we believe you can be an “individual on a team”…… the opposite of what many pastors are telling people: there are no individuals in the Body. Just s the documentary shows there were no “individuals” on the USSR Hockey team. The state owned them as a collective and the fruit of their labor.

    The 14 year old said, “Gee, they (USSR) treated them like a lot of churches treat people if they speak up and disagree”.

    I kid you not. So glad they see the parallels in thought control.

    Great documentary, btw. So many life and history lessons!

  314. I’m feeling guilty and hurting reading the outpouring of the last two days posts. Hurting for all of the bad actions of church leaders and church people. I feel guilty because my church is what you guys are looking for. Not perfect by any means. I admit that being involved in leadership at church is like watching sausage being made sometimes. Not a pretty sight. Sometimes I have backed off, but not out. Our church is the people. Not the pastor. We have strong committee leadership( women included). We believe the church should be for edification of the believers, not destruction. We support and participate in missions, local and abroad.
    I agree with @max about the direction of the SBC. I don’t have a good feeling for the future of the SBC.
    I would tell you where I go to church, but then all you guys would move here and we might become a mega church. Done Mega Baptist in Mobile(oops!). Sounds pretty good to me!

  315. Max wrote:

    At some point, America’s sin will fill its appointed measure. If not now, when?

    Seriously–I ask again–over gay marriage? When there are many worse things, like child abuse covered up in the churches? Jesus pointed out that God sends rain on the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45). Why do we need to see some sort of sign of divine displeasure?

  316. @ dee:g

    My view is that until wrong doing— using Jesus as an excuse—- is dealt with, none of them have a right to say a word about this ruling. Example, how could Robert Jeffries, after his interview on Fox about Josh Dugger, have one scintilla of credibility on this issue? Seriously! Same for T4G, TGC who have given Driscoll, Mahaney and Chandler passes on serious wrong doing issues. They have no credibility on these issues.

  317. Muff Potter wrote:

    But we’ve learned from our mistakes regarding both Native & African Americans, and yes I agree our old policies were egregious. Nonetheless, I also believe that she (America) is still the best act to ever hit the World stage. Why else do the downstrata of the third world risk life, limb, and everything they have to get here?

    Good words. I agree. Who knew those famous declared words would be taken so seriously and come back to show our hypocrisy over and over. It took too long but we lived up to them. All are created equal.

  318. I am seeing one major theme here:

    Authoritarian pastors.

    Why do “freedom loving” Americans put up with it?

  319. mirele wrote:

    Oh come ON. How can you say this?

    Because in the Christianese brain, nothing disconnects every neuron above the brainstem and waves the Bright Red Murder Flag in front of what’s left than HOMOSEXUALITY! HOMOSEXUALITY! HOMOSEXUALITY!

    Makes you wonder how the early Church ever survived in the Hellenistic culture of the Eastern Med, where He-Man Male Homosexuality was a Virtue and “Women for breeding stock, Men for love, Boys for pleasure” was a cultural law of nature.

  320. Corbin wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Three guesses what’s going to be SCREAMED from a lot of pulpits this coming Sunday? You near-Dones might want to stay home or go full-honk Done over the next two days, because there’s going to be some real Bad Craziness reactions coming down the chute.

    I’m getting my popcorn ready…..

    I haven’t checked with my writing partner (the burned-out country preacher) but I expect he’ll be dusting off the same sermon he used after the 2008 elections:
    “DON’T GO STUPID ON ME!”

  321. Eagle wrote:

    BTW…I was thinking the same thing. I am waiting for Al Mohler or John Piper to go ballistic.

    I’m wondering if Mr. Piper will repeat his Rob Bell saying. “Farewell, SCOTUS.”

  322. William wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I am a done and I don’t agree with the SC’s decision. Are you assuming that “dones” are going to uniformly agree with the approval of “gay marriage”? I’ll bet many do not.

    No, just after this little piece of news a lot of churches are going to get stuck on stupid and act crazy for a while, and until the aftershocks settle you might want to take shelter.

    Because here’s what a lot of services are going to look like for a while:
    https://youtu.be/cD8RAhCAyt4?t=30s

  323. @ Elvera:

    Is it not just so tiring to be TOLD like a two year old – sit, stand, repeat after me, say amen, “everyone give a hug to the person next to you”; clap, bow your head, etc……

  324. Max wrote:

    At some point, America’s sin will fill its appointed measure. If not now, when?

    So people getting married and forming stable protected families is going be the tipping point for your god to get angry and cause change? Not the slaughter or ravaging of the Native Americans. Not it building a country on the backs of slaves. No you’re pulling that out in response to loving couples getting legal protection. You sir worship a monster.

  325. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    No, just after this little piece of news a lot of churches are going to get stuck on stupid and act crazy for a while, and until the aftershocks settle you might want to take shelter.

    This may be something you in the RCC may not have to deal with, but the denom I left (UMC) and the denom to which I have immigrated (TEC) are both apt to make denom wide pronouncements of approval of gay weddings in the church and by the church’s clergy. Based on my limited but recent knowledge of one each of these churches, if that happens stuff will hit the fan because the pew persons are divided on the issue. But what are a few more church splits to worry about? I am more worried about the difficult road that leads to such separations.

  326. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    Not it building a country on the backs of slaves.

    Nobody built a country on the backs of slaves. At least the northern yankees assure us that they had no part in that. And the west was not a bunch of slave states, and the majority of nation building came after the industrial revolution and due to the said i.r. and this was not dependent on slave labor. Even the most radical of southerners do not claim that the slave states ‘built the country.’

  327. Nancy2 wrote:

    Note from Moderator:  We already have a ‘Nancy’, so we have changed the name of this commenter to ‘Nancy2’ so no one gets confused with which Nancy is commenting.
    ****************
    I’m just about “done”. I only go because of my husband. By standard defn., most SBC churches are not complementarian — they are patriarchal. I have been a member of SBC affiliated churches since 1978. They have men’s meetings and men’s rallies. Nothing for women.
    I have a degree in mathematics, and I used to teach grades 7-12. Because of health issues, I had to stop teaching full-time. While my husband was enrolled at a Bible college, I took 2 courses. Then I quit because I realized what a total waste it was for me to do that.
    At our previous church, I taught various ages at vbs, I taught grades 2-5 on Wed. nights, and I taught grades 4-7 in Sunday school. All classes were mixed gender. Some of the men chided me because they believed it inappropriate for a woman to teach boys, but none of the men would teach them!
    Anyway, my husband became discontent at that church, so we moved to another church. Women are not allowed to speak in adult Sunday school classes; women are not allowed to speak at business meetings; but, a nine year old boy can preach from the pulpit! Men teach the boys and women teach the girls.

    Oh my, Nancy 2, please get out of this toxic church. It will warp your mind and ruin your marriage. Once, a few decades ago, a member of a Christian sect to which my husband and I had belonged but left due to it toxic environment, called our home. Now that was in the days when one could listen on the other end of the phone line if there was more than one phone. My husband answered the phone the same time I did. In the course of the conversation with my husband, that member told my husband that he had a choice: “You must choose either your wife or Jesus.” That was because I refused to go back to that controlling sect.Nancy2 wrote:

    Note from Moderator:  We already have a ‘Nancy’, so we have changed the name of this commenter to ‘Nancy2’ so no one gets confused with which Nancy is commenting.
    ****************
    I’m just about “done”. I only go because of my husband. By standard defn., most SBC churches are not complementarian — they are patriarchal. I have been a member of SBC affiliated churches since 1978. They have men’s meetings and men’s rallies. Nothing for women.
    I have a degree in mathematics, and I used to teach grades 7-12. Because of health issues, I had to stop teaching full-time. While my husband was enrolled at a Bible college, I took 2 courses. Then I quit because I realized what a total waste it was for me to do that.
    At our previous church, I taught various ages at vbs, I taught grades 2-5 on Wed. nights, and I taught grades 4-7 in Sunday school. All classes were mixed gender. Some of the men chided me because they believed it inappropriate for a woman to teach boys, but none of the men would teach them!
    Anyway, my husband became discontent at that church, so we moved to another church. Women are not allowed to speak in adult Sunday school classes; women are not allowed to speak at business meetings; but, a nine year old boy can preach from the pulpit! Men teach the boys and women teach the girls.

    Oh my, Nancy 2…please leave this church! Otherwise it will warp your mind and ruin your marriage. A few decades ago, a member of the Christian sect we had left called our home. That was a time before cell phones, the Dark Ages, ;-). Anyway, I had picked up the phone at the same time my husband had answered the other phone, so I was able to listen in on the conversation (without that member’s knowledge). That fellow was doing his best to convince my husband to return to the fellowship, suggesting of course that we were “backslidden” because we had left. At one point he said to my husband that he had a choice: “You have to decide whether you will follow Jesus or your wife.” This was because I refused to return to that toxic, controlling environment which did not reflect the love of Christ. After the phone call, I could perceive my husband was starting to buckle under the pressure of that member that called, due to the warnings that if we didn’t return God’s judgment would be upon us. I stood firm and told him that if he returned to that fellowship, I would have no part of it – he would have to return alone. I knew all about their manipulation techniques to bring us back into bondage. Shortly after that, my husband came to his senses and realized how foolish it would be for us to return to that toxic environment. Honestly, I believe that if we would have returned to that place, it would have ruined our marriage.

  328. Nancy wrote:

    Nobody built a country on the backs of slaves. At least the northern yankees assure us that they had no part in that.

    No, they just got rich off the Slave Trade from Africa and selling them to those Southrons…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUi1xtUQkBI

    “Mister Adams — a toast!
    Hail Boston! Hail Charlestown!
    Which stinketh the most?”

  329. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    No, they just got rich off the Slave Trade from Africa and selling them to those Southrons…

    Mercy, I am shocked. After reading about how well the industrial workers in the north were treated and all I would have thought that such a thing could never have happened. (Do I have to explain that to anybody???)

  330. Nancy2 wrote:

    I refuse to do anything at church anymore. Backbone, brains, and education are worthless if you don’t literally have a pair of balls, too. Most churches are run by men, for men. Women are marginalized and kept on the outer peripheries. My husband’s relentless dedication to church combined with his completely shutting me out of all decisions, including decisions that directly affected me, almost led us to divorce court. We are working to save our marriage, so I only attend church to keep my husband happy.
    *There are men at our church who make fun of my husband because I usually drive when we go somewhere in my car.
    *There are men who make remarks about how women are not allowed to usurp the men’s authority every chance they get.
    *Last Sunday, our pastor (a truly wonderful man who is leaving, btw) remarked that we had great teachers in church … Another man said, “Don’t forget about the women.”
    *Last night, a man joked that there won’t be any women in heaven because Rev. 8:1 says there will be silence for half an hour. Hardy-har-har. He sooo funny!
    I can’t decide whether I should make a fashion statement by wearing a burka to church, or a collar and a leash!

    Nancy, I hear your frustration, really I do. That Christian sect we belonged to was misogynistic in the most extreme sense of the meaning of that word. I would suggest that since those folks at your husband’s church are not going to change their minds anytime soon, that you just be YOURSELF while you are there. Don’t even be concerned about what they might think of you, because the fact is that whether you are silent or whether you speak, their view of women, and by extension their view of you will not change. You are free and do not have to be subject to their caricatures. And I pray that your marriage will somehow be unleashed from the effects of that patriarchal environment.

  331. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    You sir worship a monster.

    AB, I worship a Savior who is also Judge. God is love, but He is also righteous. I’m not saying those other American sins, in themselves, shouldn’t have drawn God’s judgment on our nation. But Scripture is clear; at some point in the life of any nation, sin and rebellion against a Holy God will be dealt with – particularly on nations which based their early laws on Judea-Christian moral principles. For nearly 250 years, He has been merciful and patient with America on our wickedness in so many areas. At some point, the cup of national iniquity will be full and God acts. SCOTUS today turned a deaf ear to numerous voices in the Christian community which reminded the justices repeatedly that God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. God never changed His mind. Since the court never defined marriage, it doesn’t have the right to redefine it. That’s the way I see it when I read Scripture. You see it another way, AB, and you have a right to believe that. We will just have to agree to disagree on this.

    Note to blog moderator: This thread is outside the intent of the original post. I apologize for providing comments on this issue and will refrain from additional input along this line.

  332. Nancy wrote:

    Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    Not it building a country on the backs of slaves.

    Nobody built a country on the backs of slaves. At least the northern yankees assure us that they had no part in that. And the west was not a bunch of slave states, and the majority of nation building came after the industrial revolution and due to the said i.r. and this was not dependent on slave labor. Even the most radical of southerners do not claim that the slave states ‘built the country.’

    According to African American Harvard educated and Prof Emeritus at Duke, John Hope Franklin, in “From Slavery to Freedom” (McGraw-Hill, 1994) less than 5% of Whites in the South owned slaves.

    From a purely economic aspect, that was going to be an economic disaster even without the war. The Industrial Revolution was late to the South because of their own ignorance.

  333. I used to be Nancy but I am changing my name to okrapod. This other is getting too confusing, and besides it is a southern thing.

  334. Clay Crouch wrote:

    To all the Dones, the Episcopal Church welcomes you! No screaming, no shouting, no fear mongering. Word and Sacrament. Short sermons. The world doesn’t come to an end if you miss a Sunday or two or six. You will be respected and treated like an adult. No membership covenants to sign. A few of things you might have to get used to: women in real leadership positions, gay folks in the pews and pulpits, and no fog machines. Try it, you just might be surprised.

    Done did it! (And not surprised, and now not “done.”)

  335. @ mirele:
    Indeed.

    Marriage equality also totally blasts the comps’ ideas about the roles of men and women out from under them, and THAT is what scares the sh** out of them. Equal partnership under the law of the landnin marriage – their ship is going down like the Titanic, while they frantically rearrange devk chairs.

    As for me, i am SO glad about the SCOTUS decision, i could dance a jig!

  336. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Justin Martyr….argued that unless there are eternal consequences to our actions in this life, then virtue is meaningless. Even if hell only lasted a short time, then virtue would still be meaningless. Because then you could just do whatever feels good now, receiving your reward early, pay up later for a while (however long hell lasts), and either be annihilated or enter heaven (depending on your point of view). The virtuous merely receive their reward later, and their suffering earlier, making everything meaningless…

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Virtue isn’t worthwhile because it allows us to avoid punishment, but because it is the most life-giving way to live. It is what brings peace/satisfaction. It is, in fact, its own reward. If we bargain for virtue and vice, then we’ve lost before we’ve begun.

    Occasionally doing the right thing is difficult and painful, yes. We also, sometimes, suffer destruction due to no fault of our own. So we endure it, hoping/trusting that God will make good out of it, even if not until we are on the New Earth.

    I do not wish my abusing pastor-father to suffer in hell for eternity. Why lay ten tons of destruction on top of a short human span of destructiveness? That would be meaningless!

    I wish for my father to be cleared of all his poison and restored to what God originally made him to be. I wish him to learn what he missed on this earth because he was too busy being an a**.

    So for eg, my father was racist and chauvinist. It’d be excellent to see him clean toilets for a black woman for a thousand years or so. And the best part of it would be that he’d enjoy the job because he’d be renewed and in heaven.

    God is clever as well as wise and generous. He also has a sense of humor. I’m positive He will have some ingenious ways to deliver justice without resorting to an ax the size of a galaxy.

  337. I’m a “done”. I couldn’t stand the authoritarian men at my church that tried to silence me and didn’t appreciate my talents. However, I think I was even more irritated with the women who believed and went along with that nonsense.

  338. @ Nancy:
    Jeffersonian democracy was built on chattel slavery. I will not elaborate, as yhere are so many primary and secondary sources. And the northern states also had a system of slavery inmplace, though it was abolished piecemeal, over much time.

    The founding documents say pretty appalling things about African/African-descendednpeople, and Nstive Americans, too. Few abolitionists were of the opinion that black people were in any wsy deserving of full citizenship. They wanted the evils of slavery ngone, but the “supremacy” of the “white race” was a given for most of them. The Grimke sisters and Wm. Lloyd Garrison were the exception, not the rule. (Agsin, so many primary/secondary sources available…)

  339. @ Nancy:
    Boston and other parts of New England: as HUG swid, fortunes were built there through the slave trade. A lot,of those supposedly upright descendants of Puritans were no better than they ought to be, as they say in England.

  340. @ numo:

    Aha. Well if Lydia is correct about the sorry state of the economy in the south, and you are correct about the wealth in the north built on the slave trade, then I guess the north built the nation on slaves since very little nation building was going on in the south. I never thought about it that way.

  341. Patrice wrote:

    Virtue isn’t worthwhile because it allows us to avoid punishment, but because it is the most life-giving way to live. It is what brings peace/satisfaction. It is, in fact, its own reward. If we bargain for virtue and vice, then we’ve lost before we’ve begun.

    I think about Abraham Maslow’s ideas on ethics and his thinking that only an extremely small portion of the population does good because it is good. Most do good for other reasons if at all. If the value of doing good is limited to that small segment of the population, then not much good will be done. I am thinking that doing good (virtue if you please) is worthwhile regardless of the motives behind it because it impacts a lot of more lives than just the person who does it. I used to hear in church that unless you have the right motives it does no good to do good. Except, I hear Jesus talking about judgment in terms of where you when I was in difficulty (hungry, naked, in prison) and I don’t see any excuse for failing to do good based on ‘my motives were not right.’ If and only if the only reason for virtue is it’s effect on the individual, then maybe motive would be at the top of my list, but it is more complicated than that.

  342. @ Okrapod:
    But like i said, Jeffersonian democracy – for the landed “aristocrats,” which went on for far longer in the South, since cotton was king after coadtal rice and indigo production were eclipsed by it. The Confederacy’s founding documents are pretty clear about the centrality of chattel slavery, andmon many isdues that depended on it. Just because a small number of people held slaves does *not* mean that the economy of the South was anything othernthan built on slavery. Textiles, all associated products, and so very much more.

    It is all ugly. All nations in this hemisphere have bern harmed and tainted by the slave trade and chattel slavery, though Canada far less so than us, or Mexico. But both made up for itmin going after the native peoples. Right now, therenis a great deal,of controversy andnupheaval in Canada over justice for First Nation peoples.

    The larger point is that the entire county – ours – built itself on the unjust enslavement of for a VERY long time.

  343. @ Okrapod:
    Textile mills were a huge thing in 19th c. New England, and if you look nto the history of that (with cotton supplied by the South), there is also much ugliness and inhumane treatment of workers, as with the textile industry in the South.

  344. @ Okrapod:
    I think doing good is right simply because itmis, well, doing good. A virtuemon its own.

    As to motives, thatmis another thing entirely.

  345. Max wrote:

    At some point, the cup of national iniquity will be full and God acts.

    That must be some kind of insider-ese because I have no idea what that means. And nevermind, I don’t want to know.

    Max wrote:

    SCOTUS today turned a deaf ear to numerous voices in the Christian community which reminded the justices repeatedly that God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.

    I am delighted these Christians’ voices were ignored because they are a deeply confused bunch. They believe that a democratic republic should legislate exactly what they think their religion dictates.

    Not only is that extremely self-centered of them, but it is against our founding principles of separation bet church/state.

    I’d love to send them all through a year’s course of Civics and Politics.

  346. @ numo:
    Asbif there was nobody in the South eho got rich from the slave trade? Nonsense. And even after the “trade” with Africa was abolishes, the breeding and sale of human beings was legal in the South – as a whole – farnlonger than in any Northern state.

    By no means can this be put on the northetn states, though there were plenty who,profited from slave labor in the textile industry, through investments in the South, and more.

  347. Okrapod wrote:

    This other is getting too confusing, and besides it is a southern thing.

    Just to be clear, I have a hard time learning names.

    Nancy => Okrapod
    Nancy2 => Nancy2

    ?

  348. Bill M wrote:

    Just to be clear, I have a hard time learning names.
    Nancy => Okrapod
    Nancy2 => Nancy2
    ?

    Yes, that is correct. I have been considering changing my name to something else for a while, and now we have another nancy and it was getting confusing so I went ahead and did it.

    I considered a lot of possibilities but I just like the sound and the ease with which the word can be said, and in the past we have had some light hearted discussions about okra, which is very popular herabouts so, there you go. We have an Ocracoke off the coast, and I thought about Ocrapepsi but I thought nah, that is too geeky.

  349. Nancy wrote:

    Albuquerque Blue wrote:
    Not it building a country on the backs of slaves.
    Nobody built a country on the backs of slaves. At least the northern yankees assure us that they had no part in that. And the west was not a bunch of slave states, and the majority of nation building came after the industrial revolution and due to the said i.r. and this was not dependent on slave labor. Even the most radical of southerners do not claim that the slave states ‘built the country.’

    I guess you were being tongue in cheek? Because i was responding to what i have quoted here.

  350. Hello okra pod, sorry for the confusion about the double identity. I can change my name, too, if you wish!

    Hello Darlene! Thank you for the encouragement.
    My husband and I did come within weeks of divorcing. He went to an SBC affiliated Bible college (3 years after he retired from the military) and I turned into chattel ….. it worked kinda like putting a frog in a pan of water, then putting the pan on the stove. … I was the frog. My husband gradually started making decisions that Had direct affects on my mental and physical health without even telling me, let alone consulting me! He told other people, but not me! When I “rebelled” and started taking a stand, he packed his stuff and left. I convinced him to see a marriage counselor, and he came back, apologized, etc. ( btw, our pastor stood up for me!). We are working on our marriage, though I am still wary. I think, given a little time (and my intentional, premeditated behavior), my husband will see the ungodly bias in our church. Either way, I will be fine. I grew up a tomboy farm girl, and God blessed me with an ornery streak!

    Gay Marriage??? At least that involves 2 consenting adults. Abusing children, brainwashing adults, and cover-ups?? That’s a whole different ball game!
    Come what may, I will be fine.

  351. Eeeek! Lots of spelling errors in my last post! And the “come what may, I’ll be fine” should be at the end of the paragraph about my marriage!

  352. Okrapod wrote:

    ….only an extremely small portion of the population does good because it is good. Most do good for other reasons if at all. If the value of doing good is limited to that small segment of the population, then not much good will be done.

    I suppose it depends what we are meaning by virtue and good. By virtue, I mean all those actions that promote health in ourselves and others. By good, I think of those acts of charity, hospitality, rescuing the wounded on the side of the road, etc—-the sort of actions that are more focused on others’ benefits.

    Okrapod wrote:

    I am thinking that doing good (virtue if you please) is worthwhile regardless of the motives behind it because it impacts a lot of more lives than just the person who does it.

    Yeah, we are deeply social creatures and are more inclined to be virtuous and good when our community encourages it.

    So for eg, Bill Black, a white collar criminologist, talks about the reverse/perverse incentives in the finance community, where fraud is rewarded and honesty sidelines a person. Ethical people have been slipping away from that industry for a long time because they can not make a living while maintaining integrity. This only intensified the problem, of course, until corruption took down the global economy in 07-08.

    It has been fascinating to read about problems in economics while also reading about problems in Evangelicalism. They are very similar!

    Okrapod wrote:

    I used to hear in church that unless you have the right motives it does no good to do good….I don’t see any excuse for failing to do good based on ‘my motives were not right.’….

    I don’t think motives are all that importance, either, although neither are they without value. Results are important, though. If virtue produces satisfying results, we will be inclined to continue. The principles that make up virtue are not arbitrary, after all, but are those things that are most life-giving for us….

    So why do we not always want to do what’s better for us?

  353. @ Okrapod:

    Well, my view is that history is never black and white or “either/or” as some like to make it. There are nuances all over the place. However, generally speaking, in the case of the South, the dynamics of an agrarian economy benefitting a few with free labor during an industrial revolution was going to be an economic problem anyway.

    There has to be some consideration for “old world” thinking to evolve with new ideas that clash. However, this is one reason I cannot stand the whole “Christian nation” argument or even when the same arguments are used for the Reformation to excuse a lot of evil. They had the same Holy Spirit we do to convict them of injustice or wrong doing.

    I come from a line of abolititionists, suffragetes and civil rights advocates. My dad once took on a union over civil rights believe it or not.

  354. I’m actually an Almost-Done. If this last church hadn’t worked out, I am pretty sure I’d be worshipping outside of an institutional congregation. These are my personal top reasons.

    #1
    Secondary issues being stressed (please let us know which ones), namely:
    – patriarchal teaching & Stepford Wivery
    – 6 day creation or “not really saved”
    – official church member or “not really saved”

    #2
    Nouthetic Counseling
    – to the exclusion of other licensed Christian counselors
    – to the extent of training a large percentage of the congregation to become practitioners of such counseling (aka license to judge issued to many)

    #3
    Authoritarian leadership, which I will use as an umbrella to include
    – unreasonable church discipline
    – 9Marks membership and policies
    – board of elder toadies

    #4
    Nepotism in church leadership

    #5
    Debatable budgeting practices

    #6’s (the rest all fall together, ’cause 1-5 were quite enough!)
    -Pastor doesn’t know my name after 6 years
    -I feel like my talents are ignored (beyond ignored, actually rejected when offered)
    -members held us at arm’s length because they knew we hadn’t yet signed on the dotted line
    – church leaders running after the current fashion (Rick Warren and the church growth movement, Mark Driscoll and the hip-to-be-lewd gang, rise of J Piper and neopuritanism, 9Marks, Acts 29, who knows what’s next….oh yeah…the Dones!)

    Here’s what kept us in organized church:
    #1
    maybe sum this up as sound theology?
    A wise pastoral staff that focuses on essentials of the faith while allowing for different perspectives on secondary issues AND an egalitarian valuation of all members of the congregation.

    #2
    Wanted to participate with others in worship AND offer our child a place to learn to be embraced by and learn to love the body of Christ.

    Hope these responses are helpful. I look forward to reading about your complied data.

  355. @ numo:
    Correction: *solely* on the northern states.

    As for the industrial revolution, it was under way a few decades prior to the beginning of the Civil War.

  356. Patrice wrote:

    So for eg, Bill Black, a white collar criminologist, talks about the reverse/perverse incentives in the finance community, where fraud is rewarded and honesty sidelines a person. Ethical people have been slipping away from that industry for a long time because they can not make a living while maintaining integrity. This only intensified the problem, of course, until corruption took down the global economy in 07-08.

    Yes and our own government allows the rewarding of CEO’s with millions while they bail out their failures. It is perverse. It is Fascism.

  357. Somebody – Lydia, maybe? – mentioned an industrial disaster. I think it must be the Triangle Shortwaist Factor fire, which happened in1911, in Greenwich Village. Most of the people who died were recent immigrants and yes, all exits were locked.

    There is a docu on it that i have never quite been able to bring myself to watch; aired on PBS a few years ago. Can be watched in various places on the internet.

  358. @ numo:
    Haven’t watched because i think i would cry the whole way through and have nightmares. Literally. Such a horrendous thing. (I can take certain things, but not movies like The Killing Fields, docus about the Holocaust, etc. Have seen too many, and once seen, images can’t easily be forgotten.)

  359. numo wrote:

    @ numo:
    Correction: *solely* on the northern states.

    As for the industrial revolution, it was under way a few decades prior to the beginning of the Civil War.

    In the South to the same degree?

    Yes, that is name of the factory. Thanks. Horror upon horror. Thankful for the folks who worked for justice for people in labor laws and such.

  360. On slavery in America: There were white slaves, too. One of my ggg-grandfathers (Irish) was kidnapped and brought here as an indentured servant.

    On gay marriages: (sarcasm) If a gay couple attends church, will the marriage be complementarian??? If so, how will they know which one is the authority and which one is to submit??? Everyone will be so confused!

  361. Patrice wrote:

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Virtue isn’t worthwhile because it allows us to avoid punishment, but because it is the most life-giving way to live. It is what brings peace/satisfaction. It is, in fact, its own reward. If we bargain for virtue and vice, then we’ve lost before we’ve begun.

    Glad you brought this facet up. This is exactly the Jewish view (and also Muff Potter’s view) regarding good works. Luther and Erasmus clashed over this too. Shortly after the turn of the century when I was still a Lutheran I had a heart to heart with the young guy who pastored the church I attended at the time. He assured me that even on our best days our best ‘works’ are sullied by sin. I told him that I could no longer in good conscience sign on to such a belief and I left the church amicably. So I guess I’ve been a ‘none’ for about 14 years now.

  362. Nancy wrote:

    Nobody built a country on the backs of slaves. At least the northern yankees assure us that they had no part in that. And the west was not a bunch of slave states, and the majority of nation building came after the industrial revolution and due to the said i.r. and this was not dependent on slave labor. Even the most radical of southerners do not claim that the slave states ‘built the country.’

    Oh that’s flatly untrue, Nancy.

    The website Yale Slavery points out, with regards to famous Colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards: “Edwards had a point: There was no escaping the influence of slavery in colonial times. Not only did most prominent colonial leaders have slaves, but most financial transactions, including many of Yale’s original endowments, depended at some point on slavery.”

    http://www.yaleslavery.org/WhoYaleHonors/je.html

  363. Patrice wrote:

    I’d love to send them all through a year’s course of Civics and Politics.

    I’d love to airdrop them into Provo, Utah, for a year, where they can have the joy of experiencing life as a real religious minority. Where people will be nice to you, but will also let you know that you’re really not right with God.

  364. @ mirele:
    Yes. And Methodist leader George Whitefield was instrumental in *reintroducing* slavery to Georgia. Sick as that is, it’s 100% true.

    Easy to find info. on all of these things, from both primary and secondary sources…

  365. @ Muff Potter:
    I don’t see that as a conflict between Jewish or xtian views, so much as it being a sensible vs. not-sensible way of living. ISTM it is what Jesus taught and actually did. (Though how much more Jewish can it get than that? 😉 )

  366. @ Nancy2:
    Indentured servants signed over their right to personal freedom for a specific number of years, very often in order to pay off debts. This is NOT the same thing as chattel slavery, where human beings are the literal property of the person who owns them, have no rights, and can be treated however the “owner” wants. They have no recourse.

    White people were indentured, but they were a) white and b) seen as human beings, even if very badly treated during the period of indenture. And c) they could live as free agents after the indenture ended. None of the freedom they were working toward was ever a hope for those held in chattel slavery.

  367. numo wrote:

    As for me, i am SO glad about the SCOTUS decision, i could dance a jig!

    I could probably dance a jig, too, but only after consuming more scotch (or should I say Irish Whiskey?) than it would be wise for me to consume. And while my Friday night festivities may have included a moderate quantity of bourbon, there was no dancing involved on my part. Ain’t nobody want to see that. 😮

    Anyway, scrolling back through the Facebook nonsense from what is now yesterday (within the continental US), I saw statements including “Today marks the first day of the end times” and “America is on a slippery slope to moral decay,” which made me sad that I hopped back on Facebook before turning in for the night. But overall, I’m still glad with how things turned out for all the couples who will benefit from marriage equality in the United States (and I’m not sad for all the folks who are upset because they don’t get to control other people’s lives in that one aspect any more).

    Nancy2 wrote:

    On gay marriages: (sarcasm) If a gay couple attends church, will the marriage be complementarian??? If so, how will they know which one is the authority and which one is to submit??? Everyone will be so confused!

    [deadpan] Well, it depends on who’s the man and who’s the woman in the relationship. [end deadpan]

    If you like exceedingly awkward humor, search Youtube for “The Office: gay questions” for a cringe-worthy (albeit in my opinion hilarious) discussion of this very matter. Dwight was about as confused as Nancy2’s hypothetical complementarian church.

  368. Max wrote:

    Note to blog moderator: This thread is outside the intent of the original post. I apologize for providing comments on this issue and will refrain from additional input along this line.

    Agreed. We would appreciate everyone limiting their commentary to the topic at hand. Thank you.

  369. mirele wrote:

    Oh that’s flatly untrue, Nancy.

    Exactly what all is not true? Are you saying that the south built the nation and that was because they had slaves? Or are you saying that the north was in on it up to their eyebrows and might as well own up to it? Or all of the above?

  370. Deb wrote:

    We would appreciate everyone limiting their commentary to the topic at hand.

    Oops, I responded to mirele before I read your comment. I will hush.

  371. Okrapod wrote:

    Exactly what all is not true? Are you saying that the south built the nation and that was because they had slaves? Or are you saying that the north was in on it up to their eyebrows and might as well own up to it? Or all of the above?

    “There is none righteous, no not one.” In other words, the American economy was built on a number of foundations, including, but not limited to: taking land from Native Americans and importing slave labor and paying free people poorly.

  372. mirele wrote:

    I’d love to airdrop them into Provo, Utah, for a year, where they can have the joy of experiencing life as a real religious minority.

    Provo as in BJU and The Empty Sea, buckle of the Jello Belt?

  373. Patrice wrote:

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Virtue isn’t worthwhile because it allows us to avoid punishment, but because it is the most life-giving way to live.

    Tell that to all those preachers for whom God has no reason to exist other than to PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH!

    And they’ll be coming out of the woodwork after yesterday’s SCOTUS decision.
    Just like they did every time the Cold War heated up a bit.

  374. @ Josh, Doctor of Pulchritudinousness:
    Do you think that the concerns of those on the religious right who worried about this decision leading to coercion of religious belief and practice are unwarranted? In other words, was this about securing equal rights or was it about securing the rights of some? I’m curious because I’ve seen reactions from libertarians who say that they like the result but that the process and the things that will flow out of this do not favor religious liberty.

    In reading some here, I wonder if people are as concerned about the totalist left as they are about the totalist right? Is there a way to preserve freedom of conscience as well? We oppose authoritarianism in the church, but do we oppose authoritarianism from government, too?

  375. Patrice wrote:

    Max wrote:

    At some point, the cup of national iniquity will be full and God acts.

    That must be some kind of insider-ese because I have no idea what that means. And nevermind, I don’t want to know.

    It means God mind-shtoonking Putin and Xi (and whoever’s Caliph of ISIS this week) to send Thermonuclear Annihilation down on America for our SINS! SINS! SINS!

    You heard that kind of crap all over Christianese radio during the late Cold War.
    “GAWD’s JUDGMENT FOR AMERICA’S SINS SITS READY AND WAITING IN THE NUCLEAR MISSILE SILOS OF THE SOVIET UNION!!!!!!!!”
    i.e. Do What *I* Say or GAWD *WILL* PUNISH YOU!
    Where God is nothing more that The Biggest Spiked Boot holding The Biggest Whip.

  376. @ Gram3:
    My apologies if my previous comment was too OT and should have been posted at ODP. The thinking behind the comment was whether there is some similarity between the authoritarianism which seems to be driving so many of us away from church and the authoritarianism of government. That is the tenuous connection.

  377. Gram3 wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    My apologies if my previous comment was too OT and should have been posted at ODP. The thinking behind the comment was whether there is some similarity between the authoritarianism which seems to be driving so many of us away from church and the authoritarianism of government. That is the tenuous connection.

    Fascism is Fascism (rule by Control Freaks), whether it comes from the Left, the Right, or the Pulpit.

    And as said in different words by C.S.Lewis and Joss Whedon, rule by Control Freaks convinced of their own Righteousness is the worst of all.

  378. Stopping by for a moment…
    I was at a large audiovisual trade show recently (almost 40K attendees) and one of the evening receptions was hosted by Church Technical Leaders. I considered going in but the demographic seemed to be all youngish early 30-somethings.
    I seems we throw out maturity and wisdom for the young, hip and ignorant (and works for less money).

  379. mirele wrote:

    “There is none righteous, no not one.” In other words, the American economy was built on a number of foundations, including, but not limited to: taking land from Native Americans and importing slave labor and paying free people poorly.

    Not that this is a good thing, but every society has been built like this from the beginning of societies. Tribes raiding and making slaves of those they robbed and plundered. The strong/more advanced conquering the weaker. There have been pockets of peaceful peoples, but they usually perish if they refuse to defend themselves. At this point there are no more peoples to conquer, so I’m hopeful that we learn to live in peace with one another and take care of the earth we all share.

  380. I have a comment, then a question to any and all readers:

    One thing I have mentioned a couple times recently-and others have mentioned- is the pastor who avoids doctrine from the pulpit. He usually mentions the need to keep it light for those who don’t believe and those who are new Christians.

    However, my pastor often “goes deep” when preaching about tithing, going verse by verse (in the Old Testament)to show us our need to give at least 10% to the local church. Plus extra for missions, missions trips, teen camp, building fund, and pastor appreciation Sunday (asked for by other staff members). And no, I am not falling for it. Not anymore…

    Has anyone else seen this trend in their own local church or is it just a TV trend that has also slipped into my locale?

  381. Gram3 wrote:

    Is there a way to preserve freedom of conscience as well? We oppose authoritarianism in the church, but do we oppose authoritarianism from government, too?

    That is pretty much my concern.

  382. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And as said in different words by C.S.Lewis and Joss Whedon, rule by Control Freaks convinced of their own Righteousness is the worst of all.

    I would like to reply to that on the ODP.

  383. Bridget wrote:

    Not that this is a good thing, but every society has been built like this from the beginning of societies. Tribes raiding and making slaves of those they robbed and plundered. The strong/more advanced conquering the weaker. There have been pockets of peaceful peoples, but they usually perish if they refuse to defend themselves. At this point there are no more peoples to conquer, so I’m hopeful that we learn to live in peace with one another and take care of the earth we all share.

    That is a great way to articulate it. History is a long series of man grabbing power where he can. If we take the long view, it becomes even more incredible that some gave up the power they grabbed for the very radical idea of individual rights. Even though imperfect in early practice, the idea became the focus and subsequently became true for more and more people.

  384. @ numo:

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree amiably numes. The idea of one’s own goodness being rooted in sin is a staple of Lutheran thought. It holds that ‘sin nature’ is always humankind’s default condition, and that any ‘divine nature’ is only a titular reference at best. It derives its impetus from Augustine’s ‘doctrine of original sin’ which I now flatly reject.

  385. @ Muff Potter:
    But I was mainly talking about Jesus, or at least, that was my intent. Not the belief in original sin, which, in fact, I no longer accept. There is no mention of that in the NT, either, so…

  386. numo wrote:

    Yes. And Methodist leader George Whitefield was instrumental in *reintroducing* slavery to Georgia. Sick as that is, it’s 100% true.

    Yikes, that needs some clarification. He was an English Anglican cleric who was extremely Calvinistic in his doctrine. He was one of the founders of Methodism that came out of Oxford as a sort of “club” but went his own “Methodism” way over disagreements with the Wesley brothers pertaining to major doctrinal differences with election, predestination, etc. There were actually two strains of “Methodism” going on in those days both coming out of Anglicanism.

    Whitefield seems to have been mesmerizing and theatrical as an evangelist.

    He had a major falling out with Wesley’s over doctrine but they made up in late life. (Reminds me of Jefferson/Adams)

  387. @ mirele:

    Not sure what we should expect from such early Yale supporters and organizers as the Puritanical Cotton and Increase Mather! :o) Thank goodness most eventually moved away from that thinking.

  388. Mae wrote:

    My husband missed some services as well because my sickness required his help. Instead of being dismissed, or ignored the Church, they were understanding of our situation and have been most kind, encouraging.

    Our current church is like this.
    “Our former church used this against me in many ways. Mostly by suggesting I couldn’t have an opinion on the way the church was being run because I was absent too much. ”
    Our former church suggested my wife couldn’t have an opinion because– Piper this! Grudem that! even while she was still fully participating!

  389. Roadwork wrote:

    Stopping by for a moment…
    I was at a large audiovisual trade show recently (almost 40K attendees) and one of the evening receptions was hosted by Church Technical Leaders. I considered going in but the demographic seemed to be all youngish early 30-somethings.
    I seems we throw out maturity and wisdom for the young, hip and ignorant (and works for less money).

    Ah, I think I know what show you were attending. I follow the discussions on CTL as well, and have to bite my tongue at times, but I do try to keep up on what’s happening in the church tech community…

    With that said, when I was in college studying, well, a major related to this field, I was thinking about trying to work at a church in a technology role. After graduating and starting work in a secular field, as I learned more about the issues in a significant number of megachurches, and as I came to adopt theological views (e.g. of gender) and came to certain realizations about myself that would make me anathema in the largely conservative megachurch job marketplace, I put that dream to rest. It was painful at the time, but in the end – especially after following the trends here for a while – I think it was for the best that I’m no longer considering pursuing that path.

    Heads up: I replied to Gram3’s reply to me, transferring the discussion to the open thread.

  390. @ Muff Potter:
    Oh gosh – thanks, Muff! You are also very peaceful and balanced (and whatnot) in your comments, which is one of the reasons I felt good about starting to comment on this blog in the 1st place. (No joke.)

  391. Lydia wrote:

    History is a long series of man grabbing power where he can.

    And that is the radical nature of the Kingdom, isn’t it? That it is not based on personal or tribal power? It isn’t even based on economics/greed because there is no scarcity in the Father’s house. If we boil down the comments on these two threads, isn’t that what people are basically saying?

  392. Gram3 wrote:

    And that is the radical nature of the Kingdom, isn’t it? That it is not based on personal or tribal power?

    We don’t necessarily see this when looking at the current state of institutional churches. IMO what we see is a far cry from Jesus discussed with the disciples.

  393. Not quite done but hugely disinterested

    1. Secondary issues–apparently I don’t respect the Bible because I believe the world is billions of years old. For some reason this issue is being crammed down our throats in a way I’ve never seen in decades.
    2. Equating church attendance and ministry work as somehow being evidence of who is most spiritual. My opinion is that this emphasis has much to do with making the pastor look good as he points to all the butts in the seats and the programs the church has.
    3. Canned answers to life’s big issues and a real lack of thinking through whether a position makes sense or is even consistent with other positions.
    4. Absolute certainty to complex issues that seem awfully murky Biblically and being ideologically driven more than heart driven and focusing on Jesus.
    5. Undervaluing women and thinking that if a woman doesn’t want to marry, have kids and stay home she is somehow denying her intended purpose. Gag!
    6. Sweeping abuse under the rug and not holding people accountable. Protecting abusers from the law and dealing with it as a church issue when it’s a criminal matter.
    7. Choosing which sins are worse than others and being completely inconsistent and hypocritical. The person who sleeps around and has burned through 3 wives is somehow better than the homosexual who wants live purely and monogamously.
    8. Bad teaching–taking a verse or passage and twisting it to say something it doesn’t say. Contorting scripture to fit with a man’s thinking, ideology, or opinion.

    Even though I am believer and hold to the fundamentals of the faith, I find friendships are deeper with people who are non-religious. I believe that this because there is no judgement or expectation of what someone must look and act like. The evangelical church of America is very stepford and kind of creepy with everyone dressing the same, talking the same, having the same politics, and even similar professions. Not my cup of tea.

  394. I have been done for many years. But what solidified it for me was:

    1) misogyny. The desperate sustained effort to cling to the rules of an ancient near east culture that say I may not speak/teach/hold authority over a man.

    2) The stupid obsession and refusal to acknowledge the difference between civil law and religious freedom. Constant fear mongering about “the gay lifestyle” and abortion. But ZERO action to assist without obnoxious and condescending strings attached.

    3) Hypocrisy.

    *hitching your political wagons to bigots
    *saying that my salvation is tied to how I vote.
    *asking me to deny the validity of science for some backwards tribal thinking about creating a planet in 7 calendar days.
    *defending the empire at all costs
    *openly ignoring the core tenets of the faith to make people with less power be silent.
    *the mental gymnastics in the very idea of a mega church and a giant concert every week instead of worship

    It goes on and on.

    The kicker and final blow for me is this: marriage equality.

  395. @ Bridget:
    Exactly, and that is what I think the stories here tell us. We are leaving the institutional church because it is a poor imitation of the world rather than being a shining imitation of Christ’s kingdom.

  396. Gram3 wrote:

    And that is the radical nature of the Kingdom, isn’t it? That it is not based on personal or tribal power? It isn’t even based on economics/greed because there is no scarcity in the Father’s house. If we boil down the comments on these two threads, isn’t that what people are basically saying?

    Yes, absolutely. And this is one reason I simply cannot call what I see happening around me, Christianity. Because so much of it is based on power, control, greed, ego, etc yet packaged within a redefined box of orthodoxy. It seems using Jesus Christ (or religion) is a convenient and easier way to such power. It is the antithesis of what He was about.

  397. Casey wrote:

    You should really link to some of Steve Taylor’s videos from his Squint album. The CD has a really good an anti marketing of Christianity grit to it.

    We.Love.Steve.Taylor.

  398. It is hard to list all the reasons that I am a “done”.
    Sermons that were boring – or stupid – or wrong – or based on made up stories – or just so elementary that they were insulting my intelligence.
    Pastors who thought a lot of themselves, and it was obviously without reason. They didn’t work nearly as hard as most members of the church, thought they were “masters” rather than servers, “nobility of the church”
    Music that was awful. I didn’t like it when I was young either. I have a brain, and like the music to mean something. And not be repeated over and over and over and over and over again. And not loud. And not a concert that is a performance. I want worship.
    No fellowship in church. EVER. Fellowship is *after* so called church.
    No taking advantage of my talents.
    Leaders that “rotated” among themselves, and were picked because they were family members of current leaders, or were rich.
    Sunday Schools that were aimed at people with an IQ of 70 (if that).
    I was in a church for 15 years and had NO elders or pastors come to visit my family.
    Pastors that actually had offices on a locked floor of the building – you had to get an appointment and get escorted in to see them.
    Pastors that kept getting vacations and money poured on them as though they were “wonderful” – when they actually wrote books about how the pastor shouldn’t work too hard.
    Pastors that thought that they were better at interpreting the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible than the experts that had translated it. Apparently 2 semesters of Greek and Hebrew count for a lot!
    Pastors that ignored the effect of child abuse on children in the congregation while telling everyone they were taking care of it.
    Pastors that took advantage of their position to make money by buying (using church money) books that they were publishing. (And the books were worse than awful. It sounds just like awful, but it is spelled differently.)
    Pastors that bragged about having 3 degrees (actually an associates degree from a non-accredited school, a BA and a MS). When talking to a physician.
    Pastors that talked other pastors in a different church from allowing someone to join – by spreading lies.
    Pastors that spread lies about their being “marriage problems” – about friends who did not have any such problems.
    Pastors that wrote letters with lies in them and then signed them with the names of people who had never even seen the letter while sending them out to many people in the church.
    I could go on for a long long time.

    Would I go back?
    Probably, if I found a pastor I trusted. I haven’t yet.

  399. @ me:
    Hmmm…to quote Yogi Berra (I think) It is deja vu all over again. I feel like I lived this comment. Wait, maybe I did…. And to think, one of the pastors mentioned serves on the council of The Gospel™ Coalition.

  400. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    @ Steve Scott:

    That is exactly what I went through (minus adopting a special-needs child). And when we leave, WE are the ones blamed for forsaking the fellowship of believers. It’s never the other people who don’t want to even say hello. No, it must be OUR fault. We’re the ones violating that verse in Hebrews and are in grave sin. Apparently, keeping a bench warm is what fulfills that verse, not actually encouraging and extorting one another. But the entire point of gathering together is to encourage one another. So who are really the ones in sin and guilty of violating that verse? Hmmm, think, think, think….

    Yes, it is amazing that Hebrews 10:25b, which is not even in the imperative (i.e. a command) has become the evangelical 11th commandment of “thou shalt go to church on Sunday,”, while the rest of the passage that deals with what we’re actually supposed to be doing when we do meet is completely ignored. A pretty strong case of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

  401. Gram3 wrote:

    I wonder if people are as concerned about the totalist left as they are about the totalist right?

    People trust their own guy, as if they knew who he was.

  402. Bill M wrote:

    People trust their own guy, as if they knew who he was.

    Yes, I think that is certainly true. Based on my own personal experience with cognitive dissonance, I will project that every one else does the same sort of accommodation that I do. It is my opinion, however, that kind of heuristic thinking does not ultimately serve the pursuit of what is good and true. At least not in this life. Just think of all the spheres where Orthodoxy trumps thinking about whether the content of that Orthodoxy is true or good or just. ISTM that many of the advances we have made were by people who were willing to think outside the box and color outside the lines. Not for the sake of being unorthodox but for the sake of pursuing what is true.

  403. Gram3 wrote:

    In reading some here, I wonder if people are as concerned about the totalist left as they are about the totalist right?

    More like the pre-Islamic Persian battle cry: “HERE AHURA-MAZDA, THERE AHRIMAN!”

    Because OUR Side Can Do No Wrong and THEIR Side is Utterly EVIL and Must Be Utterly Destroyed.

  404. Mae wrote:

    Sorry Dave A A……I too have serious health issues. ( two forms of cancer. I might miss all church activities for months at a time, due to chemo treatments.
    Our former church used this against me in many ways.

    In my church, if you were unable to attend because of chronic illness, they could send lay Eucharistic Ministers or a Deacon to give Communion to you, or maybe even a pastoral visit from one of the Assistant Pastors.

  405. Am I the only one who has noticed churches only build in nice neighborhoods? And the pastors never have to deal with actual problems?

  406. Also, today St Boniface was a place of refuge from the SCOTUS decision uproar. The Gospel today was about the Raising of Jairus’ Daughter and the homily/sermon built on it with Christ as Victor over Death and the grave.

    It was Fr Nyugen’s last Mass as one of our Assistant Pastors; he was being transferred to a Vietnamese ethnic parish in central OC and there was a farewell reception in the parish hall after Mass. Announcements from our Pastor were that the Diocese had agreed to pay the lion’s share of needed repairs and refurbishing of our 60-year-old church building and work would commence next month.

  407. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Announcements from our Pastor were that the Diocese had agreed to pay the lion’s share of needed repairs and refurbishing of our 60-year-old church building and work would commence next month.

    That sounds good; glad to hear it.

  408. Christina wrote:

    Am I the only one who has noticed churches only build in nice neighborhoods?

    In my city, in the ghetto neighborhoods the very nice and well kept structures consist of churches, schools and government buildings next to falling down structures and crack houses. It always blows my mind.

  409. Why I am currently a Done
    Summary of main reasons:
    Secondary issues being stressed (please let us know which ones) – women can’t preach in church (not so much stressed as not made obvious, which seems worse to me)
    (Soft) Authoritarian leadership
    No one called or helped me when I became homeless (fill in the blank)

    This is only my second post, though I’ve been reading y’all for years. I used to attend a church in London, UK. Things that kept me there so long include:
    ‘sound’ theology
    friendly, knowledgeable people
    various ministry opportunities to use my gifts
    supporting persecuted church
    church offered counselling service
    involved in local community e.g. ministry to homeless
    the pastor took his turn to wash the dishes, yes, this seemed important at the time

    For me, the DONE thing was a twist of personal, political and theological (this is a PARTIAL list) that left me so upset I could not continue attending:
    Treatment of women as second-class citizens, as @Josh said above, YES, seeing women staff and lay members MARGINALISED and finally realising that this was NOT a ‘secondary issue’ for me, since I happened to be a woman and experiencing said ‘second-classness’ that I could not equate with the Jesus of the Bible (dear @Daisy, I hear you too)
    Female church staff apparently being paid less than male church staff for similar jobs
    Much being made of church ‘diversity’, true as to nationalities involved but leadership line-up less so
    Couldn’t square female ministry staff being ‘allowed’ to train pastors abroad but NOT to preach from the pulpit themselves
    (I hadn’t realised the position on ‘female roles’ on joining the church and didn’t seem to matter much before)
    Doing women’s bible studies that squelched discussion and made virtue of curse of Adam dominating Eve
    Being asked to fill in church ‘membership agreements’ each year that seemed to say a lot about what members would promise but nothing from leadership, what about the priesthood of believers? The whole contract thing seemed to be of men not God
    An ‘old boy network’ that perpetuated patterns of bad behaviour by ‘men of standing’ harmful to vulnerable females in church in various ways, including driving them away from church altogether
    Feeling I was spending too much time in church building or on church projects, leaving other opportunities to wither
    Friends at church following Driscoll and Piper, the more of whom I read, the more concerned I became
    Keller being a temporary exception, until his general silence, as @Eagle commented, as part of TGC on issues such as Driscoll & CJ Mahaney troubled me increasingly
    Hearing Driscoll’s words from pulpit and seeing CJ Mahaney on bookshelf of churches/events allied to this one
    The air of entitlement amongst males, especially in positions of leadership
    When I was made redundant and became of ‘no fixed abode’, with no family in the area, any warmth and care I received was not from the church I had been part of for nearly ten years – EXCEPTING former housegroup leaders that were now worshipping in another part of country – this hit hard when those ‘friends’ I’d counselled over many hours did not call and I realised it was perhaps was more of a ‘project’ for them than a genuine friendship
    Realising, thanks to @Futuristguy, while this church was NOT a cult, it did perhaps exhibit some cult tendencies that I could no longer deal with
    The wonderful blessing of all stories, questions and consolation of the thewartburgwatch.com blog, thanks Deb & Dee also @Gram3
    Finally, honestly, my own anger and pain and need for a break to try to process things

  410. Gram3 wrote:

    In reading some here, I wonder if people are as concerned about the totalist left as they are about the totalist right?

    I am.

  411. @ LondonLass:
    Given what you wrote, I think you should comment more often than twice! And, how great is it that a woman in London (!) calls us “y’all.” Bless our little hearts.

  412. I’m a done because:
    1) Denial of scientific truth
    2) Intolerance of any other belief or faith – or denomination for that matter!
    3) Stance on political issues – particularly gay marriage (“the Homosexual Agenda” spot played in church from Focus on the Family sounded a little too fascist for my liking)
    4) Gender inequality. My wife IS my equal, in every single way.

  413. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Mae wrote:

    Sorry Dave A A……I too have serious health issues. ( two forms of cancer. I might miss all church activities for months at a time, due to chemo treatments.
    Our former church used this against me in many ways.

    In my church, if you were unable to attend because of chronic illness, they could send lay Eucharistic Ministers or a Deacon to give Communion to you, or maybe even a pastoral visit from one of the Assistant Pastors.

    Partaking of communion would have been appreciated. For the life of me, I do not know why the evangelical churches do not do this. There are so many shut-ins, patients in hospitals, nursing homes, who would be so blessed to participate in communion.
    Another area of, FAIL , in some churches.

  414. @Gram3 Thanks for your comment! If what I wrote helps anyone else reading, I’m happy.

    To amend above, ‘air of entitlement’ would be amongst many, not all, males. There are many lovely women at the church married/otherwise related to/working for men in the church, who seem to find it difficult to see things from another perspective; for them, ‘church family’ is no hollow term and they lack no advocates in times of trouble. Also, the ‘no such thing as a perfect church’ trope that left me invalidated for such a long while, in addition to being a long way from perfection myself, until I came upon the response ‘but there is such a thing as a healthy church’ to help explain why I couldn’t stay although there is still much good about my former church. It just wasn’t healthy for me, since the things I was witnessing, being confided in about and experiencing disturbed my spirit mightily but I didn’t seem to even have the vocabulary to express it or dare to do so, given the gilded reputation of the church. I’m still sorting things out in terms of where God would like me to be, but wanted to make clear that even a soft authoritarian approach can shock a dedicated church-goer clean out of orbit when life events shake her trust in so many ways, save for the Saviour.

    And apologies to all for the all-caps, I hate reading them myself, it was just so difficult to write the post, it was a way of dragging the words out of me somehow onto the screen.

  415. I sent an email to TVC about how I was one of the people leadership had hurt, and I didn’t get a reply. I thought Matt Chandler said it was an open invitation, and they wanted to know who else they hurt? I guess not. –Why I am done with Acts 29.

  416. Christina wrote:

    Am I the only one who has noticed churches only build in nice neighborhoods? And the pastors never have to deal with actual problems?

    Here’s a story for you….at my last church (an A29 Mars Hill clone church) the 30-something lead pastor lived in a toney neighborhood. One day he proclaimed from the pulpit that he had moved so that he could more better minister to the people that needed ministering. Excited that a pastor was actually walking his walk and had moved to a depressed area of town, I did a little investigating and found that he had only moved a few blocks away, still in his Golden Ghetto.

  417. randog wrote:

    Christina wrote:
    Am I the only one who has noticed churches only build in nice neighborhoods? And the pastors never have to deal with actual problems?
    Here’s a story for you….at my last church (an A29 Mars Hill clone church) the 30-something lead pastor lived in a toney neighborhood. One day he proclaimed from the pulpit that he had moved so that he could more better minister to the people that needed ministering. Excited that a pastor was actually walking his walk and had moved to a depressed area of town, I did a little investigating and found that he had only moved a few blocks away, still in his Golden Ghetto.

    That doesn’t surprise me at all. No “Acts 29” church is planted in areas that really need them. They just steal people from other churches. Everyone I meet has been a Christian their whole life, with the exception of a few. I tried out two churches here in Denver, trying to give Acts 29 a try again. Both have been bad experiences. Clique-ish and unconcerned with the needs of the people around them. One of the pastors added me as a friend on Facebook a couple of weeks. Never met the guy in person before. I guess he pastors people by following their social media activity. Seems legit.

  418. I also lived with a famous Gospel Coalition and Reformed blogger in Dallas in an attempt to try to get community and a mentor. She is buddy buddy with the Chandlers. Worst roommate experience ever. She sent me a 5-page email at work one day telling me everything she didn’t like about me, told I needed to repent and copied my home group leader on it. She never once bothered having a personal conversation with me about it. She also told me I had to move out if I didn’t follow the rules in the letter. I ended up moving out, even though legally I had the right to stay. She never gave me my deposit back.

  419. Mae wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Mae wrote:

    Sorry Dave A A……I too have serious health issues. ( two forms of cancer. I might miss all church activities for months at a time, due to chemo treatments.
    Our former church used this against me in many ways.

    In my church, if you were unable to attend because of chronic illness, they could send lay Eucharistic Ministers or a Deacon to give Communion to you, or maybe even a pastoral visit from one of the Assistant Pastors.

    Partaking of communion would have been appreciated. For the life of me, I do not know why the evangelical churches do not do this. There are so many shut-ins, patients in hospitals, nursing homes, who would be so blessed to participate in communion.
    Another area of, FAIL , in some churches.

    I don’t think I have been able to take communion in two years. Three years? I honestly cannot remember the last time. Even if I was in a church that was serving it, I can no longer eat wheat so I would not dare take the communion, even if it was gluten free. I would probably chance the grape juice (wine is out too), but even then I would be hesitant.

  420. @ Christina:

    Oh and this celebrity blogger just moved to Denver where I now live for a leadership position at one of the A29 churches. Scary. I am staying as far away from A29 as I can from now on. If your leadership style involves passive aggressive tactics like sending an email instead of having the balls to tell the person to their face and copying people who aren’t involved on the email, then I don’t want to be under your leadership.Just because someone can write about the Gospel TM, doesn’t mean they have a grasp of it to the point where they treat people like Jesus. A29 is a cancer, and if you are not in the clique, then you are out.

  421. @ Christina:

    I am sorry you have had such negative experiences with people at TVC. It is hard to understand the lack of personnel interaction that you experienced. It seems to me that since Matt Chandler invited contact from people who had been hurt, that he would respond to those who took the time and the “risk of additional abuse” to write to him.

  422. Mae wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Mae wrote:
    Sorry Dave A A……I too have serious health issues. ( two forms of cancer. I might miss all church activities for months at a time, due to chemo treatments.
    Our former church used this against me in many ways.
    In my church, if you were unable to attend because of chronic illness, they could send lay Eucharistic Ministers or a Deacon to give Communion to you, or maybe even a pastoral visit from one of the Assistant Pastors.
    Partaking of communion would have been appreciated. For the life of me, I do not know why the evangelical churches do not do this. There are so many shut-ins, patients in hospitals, nursing homes, who would be so blessed to participate in communion.
    Another area of, FAIL , in some churches.

    So spot on. I’ve often wondered why they don’t do communion every single week, as opposed to once a month, once every three months, or even once a year. The only reason I can think of is that they think their porn-practicing congregants might end up being struck dead if they unrepentantly partake of the Eucharist. Might as well lower the odds of people getting sick and dying, right? But then, why practice communion at all if you’re afraid your congregants will end up sick?

    Quite frankly, the kids in the Sunday school get their graham crackers more often then we get communion.

  423. Why I am done with one Church, the Presbyterian Church of Australia. Well most of you know that already. However, I am not ‘done with them yet’. I fight on from outside the Church. I am watching God maneuvering the domino pieces into place and I am waiting for the moment when He says ‘PUSH’. I now attend a Baptist Church, not like the U.S. Southern Baptists. I need the Spiritual support of other believers, I know the Church I attend is where God wants me. I could never go back to a complementarian Church I am horrified by their narrow minded interpretation of Scripture and their blindness to the corruption and non-accountability of the male leadership.

  424. Patrice wrote:
    Patrice wrote:

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Virtue isn’t worthwhile because it allows us to avoid punishment, but because it is the most life-giving way to live. It is what brings peace/satisfaction. It is, in fact, its own reward. If we bargain for virtue and vice, then we’ve lost before we’ve begun.

    Virtue has rarely resulted in being “life giving” for me. It has often cost me dearly, both financially and in friends. Jesus even promised that following Him would result in suffering. No, it isn’t just about avoiding punishment. Virtue is done knowing that God sees, even if you are never rewarded in this life and seem to be punished for doing the right thing. Virtue often has its reward after this life, and not during. God promises an eternal reward for virtuous acts done in this temporary life. Likewise, he promises eternal punishment in the Bible for wrong and harmful deeds. It’s not like people haven’t been warned. If their punishment is only temporary, then so will rewards for righteous deeds be temporary. If the consequences for good or evil deeds are temporary, then we might as well do whatever now and enjoy whatever we can eek out of life, because everything is temporary both in the here and now and in the future life. There is no reason to not be like Adolph Hitler if that’s the kind of life a person is attracted to. Hitler lived really high and mighty. He had a great time. He did what felt good for him and what he thought was right according to his warped and hateful views. If he is only punished temporarily for his great crimes against humanity, then there’s really no point to not do whatever is right in our own eyes.

    Besides, Hitler probably wouldn’t change much after a temporary period of punishment. He would have to be either annihilated or forcibly reformed, like a puppet or robot, or else heaven would no longer be heaven once he had his way. Annihilation may sound like the better option, but that’s not what God says will happen. Again, if punishment is temporary, then so are rewards. In fact, so is “eternal” life. The Bible clearly says eternal punishment, and if we accept eternal life, then the punishment must be eternal as well. Hell may seem harsh, but the Bible does say there are different degrees of punishment, and the punishment fits the crime. Think about it. Does a child molester’s crime not affect a child for the rest of their life? It destroys that child! They will never be the same! And the molester did that, all for a moment of temporary pleasure. A temporary punishment suddenly doesn’t sound right anymore, now does it? Especially given the suffering the victim went through for years and years. Sin hurts people, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Worse, it may stumble them away from Jesus, to where they themselves end up repeating the crimes done to them, and end up themselves facing punishment for their crimes in the afterlife. The punishment must fit the crime.

    Also, it’s not as though anyone ought to be happy that others suffer in hell. Of course not! But this is why the Gospel and the call to repentance is urgent. God does not need humans, but he likes humans to participate in what He is doing. His Holy Spirit works on everyone’s mind to draw everyone to Jesus, so they are without excuse if the reject His offer of reconciliation. Even if they never hear the name of Jesus, they know enough to where God will show mercy based on how they acted upon the little knowledge they had in life.

  425. @ Clockwork Angel:

    I would also like to add to my post above regarding eternal punishment, that the Greek and Roman society into which Christianity was born also had no issues with the idea of annihilation. Hence, Justin Martyr’s reasoning on hell in his apologies. The belief that they would, sooner or later, cease to exist led the citizens of the Roman empire to do whatever pleased them. The entire society degraded into seeking one’s own pleasure, often at the expense of the poor. The rich pursued gluttony to the point of vomiting their food only to return to the banquet to eat even more, while the poor had nothing to eat. People were enslaved, and could be sold to the Colosseum to be used as fodder for the gladiators, all for entertainment.

    In this society, virtue meant nothing, and got you nowhere. In fact, it was the practice of virtue that got Christians slandered and persecuted, because their way of life so shamed the pagans around them, making them angry at the pricking of their consciences. The only incentive to persist in Christianity, and the virtue it demanded, was the hope of future reward from Jesus.

    If annihilation is true, then these Christians suffered for virtue’s sake for nothing. They could have enjoyed the vanity fair around them and oppressed their neighbors for their own gain, with only a temporary punishment at best awaiting them, followed by annihilation. Shucks, I’ve talked to people living in the worst kinds of sins, and they told me they that they know they will suffer eternal punishment for it, but they feel that it is worth it to have the pleasure of sin now, even though that pleasure is temporary. If that’s how people react to an eternal hell, then how much less will they regard virtue if temporary punishment and annihilation is true?

    I once again encourage those struggling with the idea of eternal punishment to read the early Christian apologies against the debaucherous Greco-Roman society. The Greeks and Romans did not like the idea of eternal punishment. Your objections are not new to history. Give these early Christians a chance to reason with you. You might be surprised not only for their reasoning, but also for a love of Christian virtue that surpassed anything you’ve seen in Western churches today. Their virtue caused them to sell themselves into slavery if it meant redeeming another Christian from slavery. They’d call church-wide fasts so they could afford to send food to another region’s church that was starving to death. They took care of their widows, orphans, the lame, the blind, the sick, the unemployed, etc. These people loved one another. They even loved their enemies, going out during plagues to take care of dying plague victims and risking contracting the plague themselves, even though the people they treated hated them. Give them a chance to persuade you, to show you the meaning of virtue like you’ve never seen practiced in a modern, western church. Contrast that with the society in which they lived, and you may at last realize why punishment and rewards are eternal.

  426. Dee,
    I am a DONE and I’ve been a ‘DONE’ for several years. I was raised a nominal (or less than nominal) LCMS until the age of 20 where I experienced being ‘saved’ in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church in upstate NY in 1981; then followed the most horrible seven years of my life. The church, when not on an authoritarian tear, appears more about the careers of the upper level staff, the building program and it’s own expression ’empire’.

  427. We are not “done” although the institutional church would probably say that about us because we are trying to start organic community(ies) in our neighborhood and in a friend’s neighborhood and it’s a slow tedious process.

    We “left” the institutional church because of the following:
    – Authoritarian leadership: the ironic thing was that i was a “leader” but pushed out and silenced when i dissented from the lead pastor / lead pastor began to posture himself in a self-protection mode after this.
    – lack of emphasis on mission/kingdom / talked a big game but never did anything and even held back church members who were trying to be on mission.
    – boring sermons (my pastor friend who is a PHD and megachurch pastor even offered to provide some constructive criticism and he was treated like a simpleton who had never heard good preaching and wouldn’t be able to give good advice.
    – bad theology : too much emphasis on authority, too much introspection / failure to see and meet needs in the community.
    – dishonesty from lead pastor and manipulation on multiple fronts and failure to repent

    All of that is actually not why i decided to post today. I found this article yesterday by John Pavlovitz and found it very comforting. I wanted to share it with you guys “dones” who feel just out of sync / like something is missing on sundays.

    http://johnpavlovitz.com/2015/06/07/for-those-who-struggle-on-sundays/

  428. @ Christina:

    I would be happy to tell your story on TWW. Could you send me in email if you would want me to do so. Also, would you like to talk with Karen Hinkley?

  429. Christina wrote:

    Just because someone can write about the Gospel TM, doesn’t mean they have a grasp of it to the point where they treat people like Jesus. A29 is a cancer, and if you are not in the clique, then you are out.

    I’m sorry that you had this experience…stuff like this is a common theme w/ A29 churches. In my former business, i had dealings w/ two of the most arrogant people that i have met in my life – both acts 29 “lead pastors”. I use quotes because i don’t believe lead pastor is a biblical term. They were bullies. I don’t know the celebrity blogger, but do know a lot of people that know her. I read one post by her about being “covered” by a male pastor authority and I was out. I hope that she seeks you out and repents. I hope for your sake, you have been able to forgive her and forget about her and the damage she’s done. I know it’s so hard to do and the pain caused by men in A29 has led to much bitterness i’ve had to move on from. The “cancer” of A29 kicks in when you leave and the negative bitterness, confusion, and frustrations take hold and everything “church” seems dark and cloudy.

  430. justin wrote:

    I hope for your sake, you have been able to forgive her and forget about her and the damage she’s done. I know it’s so hard to do and the pain caused by men in A29 has led to much bitterness i’ve had to move on from. The “cancer” of A29 kicks in when you leave and the negative bitterness, confusion, and frustrations take hold and everything “church” seems dark and cloudy.

    and let me be the first to say that i have not fully “moved on” from it. The past few weeks w/ all of the TVC stuff flying around has brought up from painful memories from the past few years that i thought was over. Still struggle w/ bitterness from time to time.

  431. @ Mike Green:
    That’s an excellent explanation of CJ and how SGM got started. I remember when I finally realized that SGM was like the monarchy and CJ was the king.

  432. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Think about it. Does a child molester’s crime not affect a child for the rest of their life? It destroys that child! They will never be the same! And the molester did that, all for a moment of temporary pleasure. A temporary punishment suddenly doesn’t sound right anymore, now does it? Especially given the suffering the victim went through for years and years. Sin hurts people, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

    I do know quite a bit about some kinds of evil. My pastor-father’s sexual/physical/mental/spiritual abuse destroyed much of my life. The pressure of enduring it eventually “broke my brain” and ended a hard-fought career as an artist and prof. I lost a marriage and gained an autoimmune disease. I am now disabled, and at age 58, am moving in with my daughter.

    After decades of keeping the abuse buried, when I finally realized the extent of the wrong done to me, I became as angry and vengeful as you say is godly. It took over a year of nearly constant rage before I drained that well. This kind of anger and desire for revenge IS a vital step on the way to healing. Clockwork, if you are in a rage stage due to mistreatment/abuse, go for it. I would not want to get in the way of that, not for anything.

    Now that I’m through the bulk of the healing process, I am hugely relieved that I can leave my abusive father to God. God will do what is best, I am sure. If I could, I would also try to bring justice here/now, but he is dead.
    My struggles to heal from childhood abuse had very little to do with virtue, (using my definition) but were battles against evil requiring all the spiritual battle gear I had, and then some, which I almost lost. I see virtue more as a way-of-walking the path of love/truth with God.

    Some days, when I feel cranky again, or just curious, I entertain ideas of how God might handle my father. I do not wish for him to suffer eternally; that would be a wrong greater than what he did to me. If God thinks he should suffer as much as I did, in the same ways and for as long, I can get with that: an eye for an eye thang, something with a beginning and end because his evil also took place in time. Plus, maybe it’s necessary for him, I don’t know. Or perhaps, my father will look in the face of God, and feel completely repelled—I can’t see that happening, but I don’t know enough. Or maybe God will be inventive in re-creation, as mentioned in earlier comment.

  433. Mike Green wrote:

    Over 230 years ago, Americans fought a War of Independence to get free from the British monarchy. We won our independence, our right to vote for our own representatives in the legislature that determines the laws we all will live under, because the King of England was a corrupt, selfish, money-grubbing tyrant.

    Ironically, i am friends w/ some political libertarians on Facebook that are involved in authoritarian / hierarchal churches including “supporting” Mars Hill until the very end. I don’t think they saw the irony.

  434. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Hence, Justin Martyr’s reasoning on hell in his apologies. The belief that they would, sooner or later, cease to exist led the citizens of the Roman empire to do whatever pleased them. The entire society degraded into seeking one’s own pleasure, often at the expense of the poor.

    But even though people in the current US church mouth beliefs of eternal suffering, similar travesties occur at high rates. The amount of child abuse is staggering, and cover-ups follow way too often. Power-hunger is rampant. The politics of “pull-up-by-bootstraps” is de rigueur. We build massive buildings for ourselves and call it for God. We are wrecking the garden God gave us with our greed.

    So I don’t see that our beliefs about the after-life is all that much a deterrent/reward. I think Justin Martyr was in a proper rage and wanted a solution and he decided to turn God into the ultimate revenge machine as an answer.

    We all want to find ways to stop evil. But history hasn’t proved out that doubling/tripling down on after-life punishment does anything much. And along the way, it turns our God into a horrifying person. It’s not a price I can pay because it is not true.

  435. justin wrote:

    Ironically, i am friends w/ some political libertarians on Facebook that are involved in authoritarian / hierarchal churches including “supporting” Mars Hill until the very end. I don’t think they saw the irony.

    Perhaps they are actually closet Reconstructionists. They sound confused.

  436. Bridget wrote:

    justin wrote:
    Ironically, i am friends w/ some political libertarians on Facebook that are involved in authoritarian / hierarchal churches including “supporting” Mars Hill until the very end. I don’t think they saw the irony.
    Perhaps they are actually closet Reconstructionists. They sound confused.

    I vote for totally inconsistent and blind. I don’t see Reconstructionists being political libertarians. The ones I’ve known have been anti-government, but only because they were not the ones with the power. That’s not a libertarian POV though it might look like it, depending on who is in political power. Also, maybe those people are in power positions in the church, and a very human thing is to think that other people having power is bad but me or mine having power is good. There really isn’t a principle of liberty involved at all but rather the very pragmatic question of who holds the power.

  437. mirele wrote:

    I think the doctrine of hell is wrong

    May I run this past you? I noticed you have studied law. One of the purposes of law is to estabilish guilt with a view to punishment or restitution. I think the idea of judgement and hell are analogous with a criminal trial and sentencing to a very large degree.

    A God of love could never be indifferent to the suffering human beings inflict on each other. To ignore the guilty and just let them off would be an act of injustice. Isn’t part of the Christian hope that all the wrongs will one day be righted?

    Those brought before a human court and found guilty are just that. Those judged by God are not innocent. They will be judged on their works, what they have actually done. God’s judgement made with perfect knowledge of the facts will be absolutely just.

    I would define hell as being excluded for ever from the presence of God. The bible uses contradictory metaphors to describe this – images of burning, of darkness like an eternal grave, of lostness. It does use the word torment, but not torture.

    It is not as though God has not provided an amnestry for us all as guilty of breaking his standards. Hell is not inevitable, and forgivennes may be received by faith to avoid it. In presenting the gospel in Acts, however, this was never used as a threat, it – like the love of God – was never mentioned.

    Those who refuse this offer and who ‘love unrighteousness’ would hate to be in the presence of a holy God for ever.

    I too have had close relatives who have died without any obvious repentance and faith; sometimes occasioned in part by the hypocrisy of the local ‘church’ (more like dead religion). But none of us will be judged on what others failed to do, we will all have to give an account of ourselves and our own actions.

    Jesus’ warnings about hell were not directed at the heathen, nor primarily the pharisees. It was those who heard him and claimed to be his followers who were in the greatest danger of ending up there. This is a warning that evangelicals of all people very badly need to heed. All the abusers out there badly need to be disabused of the idea that because at some point they exercised faith and attend or even lead a church, there is no chance of them ever being cast out from God’s presence, and of winding up in hell if they deny that faith by their actions.

    They said of Jesus ‘behold, he does all things well’. I would argue that after the final judgement of the race, those excluded from God’s presence will still be able to say this. That they have been treated with complete justice by a God who is altogether loving, and that even in this solemn area he still ‘did all things well’.

    If you look at it from this point of view, although still a sombre subject, it is no reason to abandon the Christian faith and become a ‘gone’

  438. Gram3 wrote:

    lso, maybe those people are in power positions in the church, and a very human thing is to think that other people having power is bad but me or mine having power is good. There really isn’t a principle of liberty involved at all but rather the very pragmatic question of who holds the power.

    Yep. this is human nature. People fight to gain power and talk about how power corrupts, but then do the same things to people that was done to them when they gain power.

  439. Hi…have been following TWW for years but have never responded to your articles. I am deeply grateful for you both ((along with many of the regular commenters)). You guys have provided validation for so very many of the heartaches endured growing up in the SBC & IBLP based churches in TN//VA.

    I’m 35, a Travel RN and have been *Done* with church for 8-9 years — physically removed from any corporate gathering; emotionally I’ve been done for 15+ years.

    Its overwhelming to know where to begin but to keep things as condensed as possible:

    1.) Authoritarian Leadership, with governing elders who perpetuated many abuses with willful ignorance of corruption, neglect, and gross forms of “spiritual discipline.”

    2.) VERY bad theology: tons of Bill Gothard/IBLP, Quiver Full, odd end-times eschatology ((aka: fear mongering)), contracts, dismissal of science…etc., etc.

    3.) COMPLETE mishandling, I still get nauseated thinking about it, of sexual [children & adults] abuse, and spousal abuse.

    a.) At the first church 2 “adopted” children (stolen by the pastor) were kept locked inside his home and forced into forms of slavery & sexual abuse for years. I was only 9-10 years old at the time and knew something was very wrong with the treatment of Esther ((her adopted name)) but my family ignored it. My step-father “enjoyed” abusing and took cues from this pastors lead.
    We attended church here, with only 4 other families ((very small group of members, all with bigger families)) for 3 years. I can’t emotionally bear under what was done to her, and what my parents ignored. I’ll never understand why.
    http://www.sullivan-county.com/nf0/combs/

    b.) The second (and last church I ever regularly attended) was much more clever in their coverups. But the Authoritarian rulers reigned supreme here.
    Child sexual abuse covered. Children ((14-16 year olds)) kicked out of church and homes for personal struggles that didn’t “fit” within church ideals//standards.
    Abusers were protected. Victims were told their abuses “weren’t that bad.”
    People asked to leave because their daughters didn’t dress up-to-code…could only be counseled by the pastors wife who had ZERO training and who gave horrible counsel…Pedophiles protected…

    c.) Myself and two other siblings were physically, emotionally and sexually abused by family members. We were never offered counseling and all of it, to this day has essentially been ignored, and for one of my brothers completely invalidated.
    I sought help from the second church we attended who told me I needed to “move on” that I needed to “forgive & forget” and my personal favorite that being sexually assaulted wasn’t “that bad, children in Africa have it worse.”

    4.) No room whatsoever for challenging anything the church taught. Questions were sternly discouraged and silenced.

    5.) Politics were integral.
    a.) We’d picket the local abortion clinics covered in “blood” and carrying “dead babies” in buckets. Chanting, yelling, protesting and scaring the hell out of any passerby. This was a very regular occurrence ((weekly)).

    b.) Who to vote for was plastered all over the facility and voter cards were handed out.

    c.) Some local politicians attended the church and were allowed to discourse their political perspectives before elections. This sometimes took over a Sunday school lesson so we knew how to “vote right”

    d.) American flag was often pledged to as part of the service.

    6.) Judging others was normative and encouraged.

    7.) To this day I still catch flak (seeing them in a store etc.,) from ‘friends’ I grew up with who are still deeply embedded in these mind sets. They consider us (myself and other adult siblings) regenerate and sinful for “walking away.”

    8.) Isolation tactics. My church and family were very skilled at this. You keep your kids in a very controlled environment, you homeschool them, you limit most friendships, you abuse them, and then when they attempt to leave…they have no where to go and no one to help them.
    I got out by the skin on my teeth. I had been stashing money for almost 5 years from various babysitting jobs and had just enough to support myself. And there was the mercy of one family who ended up taking me in and allowing me the opportunity to go to college.
    My parents rejected me over leaving at the age of 22 (women have no other purpose than to serve the man and procreate). God forbid I wanted to work and go to college.
    They didn’t talk to me for around 6 months. I wasn’t allowed to see my 9 younger siblings ((I’m the oldest of 10)) and one of my brothers that snuck over to see me was kicked out and forced to live in the woods, in a ratty tent, in the winter, in Virginia, at 17 years old.
    When they did talk to me it was only my mother. My stepfather has never spoken to me again beyond very basic social greetings.
    My biological father (residing in Oregon) knew a of the goings on and ignored it all as I would have “inconvenienced” his lifestyle. Saw him for the first time in 16 years in 2014.

    ——————————

    I can’t bring myself to go to church again for so very many reasons. Don’t worry about it anymore either.

    I find solace in being a nurse in critical care and serving those in need.
    I find joy in traveling and exploring.
    I find comfort in websites like TWW who don’t invalidate folks on every turn.
    I’m grateful for those who love me and gave me a chance(s).

  440. Gram3 wrote:

    Also, maybe those people are in power positions in the church, and a very human thing is to think that other people having power is bad but me or mine having power is good. There really isn’t a principle of liberty involved at all but rather the very pragmatic question of who holds the power.

    Because only One can sit on the Iron Throne.
    There Can Be Only One, and that One will be MEEEEEE!

  441. Casey wrote:

    You should really link to some of Steve Taylor’s videos from his Squint album. The CD has a really good an anti marketing of Christianity grit to it.

    I key on individual song titles more than I do albums.

    What were some of the songs on that album?

  442. Ken wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    This always gets pushback! I think but don’t have time to check that God’s love is explicitly mentioned about 35 times in the entire bible. This does not mean is it not important, it does mean there is far more to the bible’s revelation of God than this, and the church often gets this out of balance.
    I also think part of the pushback is because far too many Christians spend far too much time not being secure in the love of God and enjoying his grace, and constantly need reassuring the God does indeed accept them. He’s for them and not against them. Given the nature of this thread and failure of so many churches and fellowships to reflect the love of God, this is hardly surprising.
    I certainly know what it is like to robbed of this assurance.

    This didn’t sound correct to me, so I just did a search and God’s love is mentioned at least 35 times in the Old Testament alone before we even get to the NT, where of course it is written that God IS love.

  443. Gram3 wrote:

    Sallie Borrink wrote:
    The problem is that I’m more toward the conservative end of the spectrum in many ways so I wouldn’t fit in most denominations that ordain woman.
    Yes, that is a huge issue for me and Gramp3, too. Having a male or female pastor/elder is not the problem. It is the reason why only males can teach. I hope that if I were in a liberal denomination that I would object to female quotas in the pulpit, too.
    Being conservative, for me everything that is held firmly needs to be firmly grounded in the Bible texts, and authoritarianism and is subtype, Complementarianism, simply is not. If it were, 9Marks/Acts29/CBMW and Crossway would not need to exist to spill all the ink and kill all the trees and pixels they do to make Complementarianism *seem* like it is somewhere in the Bible.

    To both Sallie Borink and Gram 3: The Anglican Church in North America ordains women and is also otherwise doctrinally conservative in all other ways that I am aware of. In our area, I have not heard of inroads by neo-cals, though I have heard of this of one church in another area (grand “growth” plan, “gospel” as adjective, etc.)

    Also, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is alive and thriving on college campuses and they certainly encourage women in leadership/egalitarian understanding of Scripture. I wonder where all those college students go.

    Perhaps because the abuses of so many Neo-cal churches draw people to this site, we have a skewed view of the church in America. And perhaps because the “church planting” movement looks to be about getting “the brand” out there, we are more aware of those churches. Just pondering.

  444. @ Abi Miah:
    Thank you for that. I am aware of the ACNA, but I am still researching the Anglican Communion thanks to Nancy Okrapod on the ODP. I don’t think I would feel comfortable in the ACNA for several reasons which are personal, both doctrinally and personalities I’ve encountered. Basically, I am a Baptist by conviction, in the old sense of the term. Regrettably, my Baptist church which used to be bound by the authority of the Bible has gone chasing after strange doctrines of men. It makes me very sad because what has been done is so very unBaptist.

    I don’t know what Inter-Varsity women are doing, but that is an interesting question. Same for Biola women and Gordon-Conwell women and Regent women. I believe that these educated women will make a difference in the future along with their male classmates who can see the exegetical and logical problems that patriarchy has.

    On a somewhat related note, years ago I heard an impressive public Gospel presentation at an occasion that was not a church or church-related occasion. At the time, I held views somewhat similar to Complementarians hold today at least with respect to an all-male pastorate. But here’s the thing that produced such cognitive dissonance for me: the person giving such a pure and public presentation of the Gospel without being paid and in a place where neither fortune nor fame could follow was a woman. An Episcopalian priest woman at that! Those were pieces which did not fit within my paradigm at the time. I wondered how those things could be, and maybe that was one of the things which made me more open to consider that possibly I had gotten some things wrong.

  445. In my own terms, I would say: Biblicism and a lack of a holistic worldview, blatant sexism, the presence of religiosity/ pharisaicalism, and judgemental attitudes were my big four.

    In the terms provided:
    1) Bad theology
    – Every Chistian community I’ve encountered declares their own interpretation of particular Bible passages as “biblical” or “what God says”. This is nearly always asserted without reference to alternative interpretations:’pervasive interpretive pluralism’.
    – Disciplines outside of theology (sociology, psychology) were dismissed as unbiblical rather than integrated and allowed to enhance understanding.
    – Grasping at straws, trying to make convenient concepts “biblical” for those who had a bias: biblical gender (wtf!), church structures, submission, tithing (gross pay!)
    – Personal opinion of speaker valued over historical context.

    2) Authoritarianism
    – Sexism- pervasive, asserted constantly, defied logic on many levels.
    – People who didn’t know me, didn’t care about me, didn’t stop to hear the Lord, tried to convince me they knew better for me than I did and that I was I was obligated to answer to them- to my own harm!

    3) Secondary Issues
    – Reactionism: wanted to explore open theism, attacked and labeled heretic. Asked:is the “angel of the Lord” a pre-incarnate Jesus?- it’s like I blasphemed.
    – Lack of tolerance for my charismatic beliefs. Open insults, nasty labels.
    – Why constantly emphasize how superior we think God thinks we are to animals?
    – Calvinistas- nuff said

    4) Judgemental Attitudes
    – Flowed from above 3
    – Against believers: our missions school class was noted to be “weeded” when several rough-around-the-edges folks failed to return as sophmores due to judgement.
    – Constant reference to “the world”, mormons, catholics, charismatics, in a disparaging manner.
    – I personally felt rejected by most conservatives at interdenominational Teen Mania and Bethany International. Not valued for who I am- needed to become one of their cut-outs. Who I am was offensive.

  446. Patrice wrote:

    Clockwork Angel wrote:
    Hence, Justin Martyr’s reasoning on hell in his apologies. The belief that they would, sooner or later, cease to exist led the citizens of the Roman empire to do whatever pleased them. The entire society degraded into seeking one’s own pleasure, often at the expense of the poor.
    But even though people in the current US church mouth beliefs of eternal suffering, similar travesties occur at high rates. The amount of child abuse is staggering, and cover-ups follow way too often. Power-hunger is rampant. The politics of “pull-up-by-bootstraps” is de rigueur. We build massive buildings for ourselves and call it for God. We are wrecking the garden God gave us with our greed.
    So I don’t see that our beliefs about the after-life is all that much a deterrent/reward. I think Justin Martyr was in a proper rage and wanted a solution and he decided to turn God into the ultimate revenge machine as an answer.
    We all want to find ways to stop evil. But history hasn’t proved out that doubling/tripling down on after-life punishment does anything much. And along the way, it turns our God into a horrifying person. It’s not a price I can pay because it is not true.

    Ah, but that’s why we’re the “Dones”, now isn’t it? American “Christianity” is nothing like the Christianity practiced in the apostolic church or in the Ante-Nicene era church. Even post-Nicene era, the church was renowned for building hospitals and helping the sick, teaching people to read and write, etc. Even up to the nineteenth century we had heroes like George Muller taking care of orphans.

    I posit that America isn’t a Christian nation at all. At least, certainly not today. They don’t really believe the Bible. They misuse it to give them the right to step on others for their own gain. Everything is a false prosperity gospel. Even in churches that supposedly are against this, they introduce it from a different angle, such as courtship theology. (Follow this list of Pharisaical courtship rules and you’ll get a stellar husband, a big house, and a white-picket fence! And if you don’t, you suck and might go to hell forever, you filthy, rebellious dater you.) They don’t love each other. They don’t really believe God will evaluate their deeds and judge them, for reward or for punishment. They think they got a free pass through Jesus, their minister of sin, to do whatever pleases them. No virtue required.

    Which is why the rest of us who understand what Jesus actually taught and how Christians are actually supposed to live are “Done” with these people.

    Sorry you went through such hell in your life. I and some of my family members can relate. I have an abusive father, and I likewise don’t wish hell for him. But he seems to want to stay the bitter, cruel man that he is, despite supposedly being Christian. Nevertheless, I hope for God’s mercy for him, and that he will see his need for it and receive it, and be changed for the better.

  447. Abi Miah wrote:

    This didn’t sound correct to me, so I just did a search and God’s love is mentioned at least 35 times in the Old Testament alone before we even get to the NT, where of course it is written that God IS love.

    It’s mentioned 26 times (in as many verses) in Psalm 136 alone! Though not all translations have “love”. Not to mention synonyms throughout scripture such as mercy, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, even rejoicing over His people. Whereas (as I’ve previously pontificated) the Affirmations and Denials of Together for the Gospel affirm any way, shape, or form of divine benevolence approximately 0 times, more or less.

  448. @ Clockwork Angel:

    Also, regarding Justin Martyr. He was by no means an angry, vindictive man. His writings are overall cheerful, and excited in a good way about Jesus, to the point that it’s contagious. Many patristic writings are kindly and demonstrate a true care for their audience, even while being firm in their beliefs. Justin, an ex-Platonist philosopher, spent his time in his philosopher robes trying to reach his fellow philosophers, at a time when Christianity was illegal. He really cared for them to risk is life, given that they could easily turn him in to the authorities. Eventually, someone did, and he was beheaded for his faith. You can read his personal testimony of conversion in his “Dialogue with Trypho”. He didn’t convert because he was seeking any angry, vindictive God. He converted because he sought truth, and found it in a merciful God who gave His only Son for us.

    Regardless of our differing views, I do respect your opinion, and I understand your worry over people who go to hell. I personally put my faith in God that He is merciful, and that those who go to hell do so because they resisted the Holy Spirit so strongly that there truly is no other choice. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” It is their unwillingness to reconcile with God that puts them in hell. Sadly, it seems most people are unwilling. But that’s where I again pray for God to move on people’s hearts, and to show mercy. I believe he will for many, especially for those who had less knowledge or who were stumbled away from the faith. No, it’s the Mark Driscolls of the world that I worry about the most. They know better. They’ve read the Bible, and have ignored it to build their own mini-kingdoms.

  449. Clockwork Angel wrote:

    Sorry you went through such hell in your life. I and some of my family members can relate. I have an abusive father, and I likewise don’t wish hell for him. But he seems to want to stay the bitter, cruel man that he is, despite supposedly being Christian. Nevertheless, I hope for God’s mercy for him, and that he will see his need for it and receive it, and be changed for the better.

    Thanks, Clockwork. I’m very sorry that you too have endured childhood crap. It should be no one’s experience!

    Yeah, some people won’t change, no matter what they call themselves meanwhile. Actually, I prefer an a** who is honest about it rather than one who lies/pretends, if I had to choose between the two (which I won’t, ever again. w00t)

    It’s absolutely important to be really angry about it, right? Hurting humans when at their most vulnerable (children) and also doing it under the guise of Christianity—-travesty on travesty! If there is anything left of such people after God burns the dross away, maybe they’ll be the size of a fruit-fly.

    For eg, I totally could see a Driscoll-shaped fruit-fly buzzing around heaven, happy as can be, zipping out a few naughty words now/then, just to keep people on their toes. After all, the ways of justice/mercy are complex, lol

    I wish you well all the way through.

  450. @ Muff Potter:
    🙂

    A friend rolled his eyes at me this morn when I spoke my bit about virtue. “Well, sure that’s what they say,” he snorted.

    lol

  451. Ken wrote:

    mirele wrote:
    I think the doctrine of hell is wrong
    (Ken wrote)
    I would define hell as being excluded for ever from the presence of God…
    Those who refuse this offer and who ‘love unrighteousness’ would hate to be in the presence of a holy God for ever.

    I would define it a bit differently, and agree with Mirele that at least much common teaching about hell is wrong. Your statements here echo CS Lewis. I didn’t believe in hell (though I greatly feared it) until I read his “All that are in hell choose it.”
    I still believe in hell, but now align more closely with Lewis’ mentor George MacDonald. Let me try to edit a quote to comment-length by the highly-verbose MacDonald (Robert is witnessing to his unbelieving father Andrew):
    “‘Father,’ repeated Robert, ‘you’ve go to repent; and God won’t let you off; and you needn’t think it. You’ll have to repent some day.’
    ‘In hell, Robert,’ said Andrew…
    ‘Yes. Either on earth or in hell. Would it not be better on earth?’
    ‘But it will be no use in hell,’ he murmured.
    In those few words lay the germ of the preference for hell of poor souls, enfeebled by wickedness. They will not have to do anything there–only to moan and cry and suffer for ever, they think… Tell them that there is no refuge from the compelling Love of God, save that Love itself–that He is in hell too, and that if they make their bed in hell they shall not escape him, and then, perhaps, they will have some true presentiment of the worm that dieth not and the fire that is not quenched.
    ‘Father, it will be of use in hell,’ said Robert. ‘God will give you no rest even there. You will have to repent some day, I do believe–if not now under the sunshine of heaven, then in the torture of the awful world where there is no light but that of the conscience. Would it not be better and easier to repent now, with your wife waiting for you in heaven, and your mother waiting for you on earth?’
    Will it be credible to my reader, that Andrew interrupted his son with the words,
    ‘Robert, it is dreadful to hear you talk like that. Why, you don’t believe in the Bible!'”
    Love—- love that last line! How often do we hear that one today!

  452. @ dee:
    Dee, I just sent you an email. It’s a forward from an email reply I got from the elder at the Acts 29 church I am leaving, where the TGC blogger (my old roommate) will be leading women. I gave him the reasons why I want to leave, and he came back with typical A29 emotional abuse tactics. “I sense a lot of bitterness. I don’t know yiu very well, but I know her.” Ah, yes, just like everyone else knows her so well. She can do no wrong. I must be mistaken and bitter, and she is obviously in the right.And yes, I would like to get in touch with Karen.

  453. Abi Miah wrote:

    I just did a search and God’s love is mentioned at least 35 times in the Old Testament alone before we even get to the NT, where of course it is written that God IS love.

    I’m come back on this one also answering a good point Gram3 made at the same time.

    The number of times something is mentioned in the bible does not equate with its importance. After all, communion or the Lord’s Supper is usually an important part of church life, but is only mentioned once in 1 Corinthians.

    My point is not to downplay the love of God, there is hardly anthing more comforting to the believer, but try to ensure other aspects of the character of God do not get ignored. He is also light, and a consuming fire, but this latter doesn’t attract as much attention as his love as sermon material.

    If God’s righteousness and holiness were more emphasised, I think questions of the ‘why would a God of love allow x to happen’ would be fewer from both believer and unbeliever alike.

    Too much emphasis on a God of love can make Christianty vulnerable to the accusation that it is simply a crutch for those who need invent a ‘father figure’ who will love them unconditionally. It can also lead to carelessness in how we treat others, as the testimony on this thread goes to show. Believers being treated badly, and I wonder if the perpetrators have in the back of their mind that this doesn’t really matter because God will never stop loving and accepting them.

    Im my opinion, no long-term child abuser has eternal life abiding in him, and I don’t believe God simply ‘loves’ such individuals. Such people lack the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. How can they possibly be indwellt by the Spirit of God, who pours out the love of God into our hearts?

  454. @ Ken:

    I don’t see how this issue of ‘love’ can be straightened out because our culture has misunderstood the concept and misused the word and misapplied the idea itself. The idea that ‘love’ as seemingly understood in our culture is no excuse and on the other hand that ‘love’ which is not contrary to holiness itself (that would be the love of God) can be ferocious in appearance-that is nowhere to be found in the paperback section so to speak.

  455. Ken wrote:

    If God’s righteousness and holiness were more emphasised, I think questions of the ‘why would a God of love allow x to happen’ would be fewer from both believer and unbeliever alike.

    Not sure which point I made that you were answering because my brain is a bit glitchy, but I largely agree with what you wrote. This statement is a bit of a problem because for me, God’s righteousness and holiness also brings up questions of why lightning bolts don’t show up more frequently to take out the bad guys, like the ones who crucify children, for example.

    The bottom line for me is that I cannot hope to understand God’s ways and I should not expect to do that. I have no standing to accuse God either of not being loving or not being righteous and holy. Naturally, I would prefer that I receive only his love while the bad guys receive only his righteousness. But God’s nature is not severable like that. He is the only one who is whole, after all.

  456. My contributions to this conversation, in no particular order. It’s going to be long, so fasten your seat belts.

    I was raised by rather legalistic parents in a non-denom church that might as well have been Southern Baptist. Left as soon as they couldn’t make me go anymore. Had very few glimpses “behind the curtain” at that church but one stands out. As a teenager, I used to draw frogs on the backs of the weekly registration cards we were supposed to fill out (the back of the card was supposed to be for comments and requests). One Sunday the pastor called out his office window to me as I was walking by, to tell me he enjoyed my frog notes. I said, a little incredulously, “You read those?” “Every one,” he assured me. Around the same time, his youngest daughter (whom I considered an insufferable goody-two-shoes) and I were thrown together for an evening, and I remember her marveling about how blessed we were to live in America. I thought, oh my, she’s for real, it’s not a PK front. These incidents served as examples to me that not all church people were like my parents….

    That church eventually died because they hired a hip young pastor, only to figure out after a few years that he was “all hat, no cattle,” and all the old mainstays scattered. When the congregation was down to 9 people they voted to join a denomination. That version is still in business, and word on the street is that it’s not a bad place, mostly.

    Went to a Calvary Chapel as a young adult; encountered the same top-down leadership issues that many others have discussed. Became a “done” when that pastor more or less ordered me to stay in my abusive marriage, never even asking me for my side of the story. Apparently as a woman I was not entitled to have a side. This piled on top of the damage he did to other families. His ministry imploded when his wife admitted to having several affairs. Schadenfreude, anyone?

    Stayed “done” for a couple of decades. Hadn’t lost my belief in God, and the truths I learned as a youngster, just had no desire to participate. I wasn’t done with God, I was done with the people who purported to work for him. But God coaxed me back, and about 7 years ago I decided it was time to get off my sitting place and look for a church. Thanks to Google, the very first non-denom that came up had sermons online. I listened to one, didn’t hear anything hinky, so off I went. I’ve been there ever since.

    Several things that stand out, especially in light of the current discussion. The pastor is just about the most humble, self-deprecating guy there is. He comes right out and says, “Don’t follow me, follow Jesus! You follow me, you’ll get into trouble, guaranteed.” Being a pastor wasn’t his first gig; he came out of the business world.

    I heard a real eye-opener very early on. Someone mentioned that they wanted to start a food bank, and the pastor said, if you feel that’s what God is leading you to do, do it! You don’t need my permission! Imagine that. Starting a ministry without permission. I had never heard of such a thing before.

    More recently (last year) we had a bit of a dust-up in our small group, where someone had to be asked to leave, for reasons that don’t matter here. In the course of the situation, the pastor remarked that it goes against all his human/fleshly instincts to give the small groups as much autonomy as we have; with great fear and trepidation on his part, he has chosen to take the “risk” of “letting” the groups be autonomous, with the great reward that the Holy Spirit is free to move. He said his own instinct would be to put us all in adult Sunday school classes and control us that way, but instead he takes a hands-off approach. There is a weekly discussion guide (based on the week’s sermon) that is offered, but no one is required to use it. Some groups do, some don’t. (My group is one of the rebel bands.)

    As for the small groups, everyone is strongly encouraged to join one and get involved, but it’s not required.

    Another time I asked the pastor a question. He said he didn’t really know the answer, and I should go look it up, study it, and come back and report. Priesthood of all believers and all that, i.e. not all the teaching has to come from the Sunday pulpit, the pastor is not a know-it-all, and we can teach each other things.

    The pastor has mentioned political issues, and only in the most peripheral ways, maybe less than 5 times in 7 years. I don’t expect to hear one word out of him about the recent Supreme Court decision, unless it’s something like another friend of mine expressed, which is to rejoice at the news, because it means the kingdom of God is very near at hand!

    The pastor encourages people to find someplace else if they don’t feel this church is the right place for them. That’s the public stance. Privately, I once heard him say he’s tired of losing people to a certain church across town that is big and has lots of programs that we don’t.

    Our building is strategically located on the busiest downtown corner, in an ex-bank. About once a month, the evening of the Farmers’ Market, they open all the windows and doors and the band plays. Loudly. People are curious, and they come in. Sunday mornings, one of the associate pastors and a couple of elders hang out on the sidewalk and invite people in. (One advantage of our location is that there isn’t going to be any temptation to expand the building because there simply is no room to expand.)

    Incidentally, the associate pastor who invites people in off the sidewalk was divorced long ago. He runs Divorce Care groups from time to time. His current wife is agoraphobic, and in 7 years I’ve seen her once. She came on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago. If anyone dared to suggest that she is somehow a lesser being or not “doing it right” because she doesn’t come on Sundays, I expect they would very quickly be set straight. She too was divorced long ago. When I went to Divorce Care, nobody ever even asked anyone else about the circumstances of their divorce, although the lady who was co-facilitating talked about how years ago, in another she was grilled about her divorce before she was allowed to serve as a youth leader. Couldn’t have some woman with improper grounds for divorce teaching our young-uns, no siree.

    We’re not a large congregation, but our members (who are self-selected; nobody signs anything) sponsor hundreds of children through Compassion International, and a group of 38 people just got back from a trip to Bolivia, where they visited families and helped with a building project.

    People are encouraged to serve in various ways, but no one is required to, and it is NOT expected that women are only fit for nursery service. I am a divorced childless middle-aged woman, and no one has ever even suggested that to me, which is good, because I just don’t do kids. I do serve on the 9:00 service prayer team, where several months ago I prayed for a woman new to the church who served tirelessly in other churches for decades, but she has some health concerns now so she’s just a spectator. She told me it somehow felt “wrong” to her to be the one asking for prayer, because she has always been on the other end. Hopefully she has stopped feeling that way…. This past Sunday I actually prayed with a woman who was, of all things, worried about the neighbor’s dog. Hey, God made the critters too, and gave us the capacity to love and care for them.

    Which brings up another point. If we church folk are only supposed to serve and not be served, who exactly IS being served? If one person inside the church is ever the help-ee, as opposed to the help-er, then everybody should be free to ask for and get help. Are the people we’re supposed to be serving are all outside the church? Not that that’s a bad thing, but what about all the one-anothers we are supposed to be doing?

    And that reminds me. The disabled woman who also cares for her elderly mother, who just doesn’t have it in her to walk the 2 miles to go to the “fluffy” Beth Moore study, and people in that church are getting down on her because of this. For crying out loud, has nobody freaking OFFERED HER A RIDE?! If they really, really think she should be there, at least give her some option for getting there! (Which of course, she would be free to turn down, if she didn’t want to go.) For 2 years I picked up a woman and her daughter who didn’t have a car and brought them to church every Sunday. Because they asked, and they wanted to go. Any time they weren’t coming for any reason they would let me know ahead of time. And their reasons were their business. It’s not my job to force people into church or expect them to be there, but it might be my job, if I have the means and I am asked, to help people find a way to get there.

    Anybody still with me? Thanks for sticking around. I did warn y’all at the top that this was going to be long. 🙂

    One last thing. I sporadically follow a blog written by a guy who totally “gets it.” For what it’s worth, it’s found at brokenbelievers.com, the author is a disabled pastor, and the subtitle (which I love) is “Committed to the Struggler, the Rascal, the Mentally Ill, and All Who Follow Jesus With a Limp.”

  457. Gram3 wrote:

    Not sure which point I made that you were answering because my brain is a bit glitchy

    Ah, now I understand. 🙂

    I was simply making the point that any attribute of God’s character as revealed in the bible can be over- or underemphasised, leaving us with a distorted faith. God’s love can easily be overdone and often is imo, but saying that doesan’t mean I’ve ceased to believe in it!

  458. We became “dones” about 3 years ago, but were “undone” rather quickly. We were “done” with two churches and two versions of modern day Calvinism-one was small. very non-materialistic and focused toward helping the poor. Along with these good things, it was rigidly anti-female in ANY position of leadership and generally uneasy with women’s participation in theological discussions. Add to this an obsessive belief that with proper systematic theology, every paradox of life could be explained in the language of new Calvinism.

    The other church , on the surface, seemed much less legalistic in theology. We soon found out that beneath the veil of blasting rock style church shows and cool hip leaders who admitted to drinking wine, lurked the very same doctrine as the other church. The materialism made this church much harder to attach to. In fact, I have never felt so alone at a church (having never met the main pastor in 18 months), His proclamation that “this (meaning Sunday service)is NOT the church….the SMALL GROUPS are the church. Really? As a fairly social (by introvert standards) introvert, that basically left me out in the cold, and more profoundly, more confused than ever about the question “What is church? And what is worship? And worse, if this is not church, why am I here?”

    Since beginning my new life as a Christian (about 25 years ago), I have never felt so isolated from believers. I actually began to empathize with those who throw in the towel on church, though I was determined to continue for two reasons- I believe that it is an important discipline in the life of a Christian, and very important to my children’s lives. But honestly, I did not enjoy going, and this was depressing, confusing, and convicting to me.

    But good tidings! About 3 years ago, through a process of seeing what alternatives are out there, we began attending a Lutheran church. It was kind of a “who knew?” moment… It is liturgical. rather ancient in practice, and the service is beautifully repetitive. The music is traditional and sacred. The Sunday School is inclusive of men and women, and discussion is encouraged. We are a conservative Lutheran church, which suits us very well, but aside from theological matters, the pastors do not claim any authority over anyone. The humility is very visible. In fact, the structure of the church UNDERMINES the pastor’s authority in all but a limited sphere…They can be moved at will by the denomination, they are basically told week by week the topic of the sermon, and they cannot make any church decision apart from a board that is often contentious.

    How ironic that in looking for more freedom in church, by way of the non denomination/free form type church. that the real freedom for us was found in a steadfast and traditional church that at one time I might have found too encumbered by tradition and practice.

    The good news is that NEVER have I understood worship or the sense of being part of the church in a very real sense till now- maybe because no one questions that we are all very different people who are brought together by Christ. NOT because we all conform in lifestyle or small groups or what new whiz-bang Christian book we are following. This has been joyful. And our teenagers? They LOVE the beautiful familiar repetition and they adore the sacred music. I am reminded of the awesome quote by Chesterton that points out that only small children and God love to do the same thing over and over again. I hope that I have become more of a kid again.

    I tell this story as an encouragement to the “dones” not to give up. There really are places out there that focus on Christ, that admit that there are unexplainable paradoxes in Christianity that each believer contends with and may not always agree upon, and that “new” is not necessarily “better” in the church. I would suggest that if you are so inclined, explore a church whose service and music doesn’t look a whole lot different today than it did a long time ago. Consider the liturgical church. There is great meaning and peace in this.

    Anyway, enough said- but DON’T GIVE UP!!

  459. Ken wrote:

    I was simply making the point that any attribute of God’s character as revealed in the bible can be over- or underemphasised, leaving us with a distorted faith.

    OK, thanks. I agree completely.

  460. Patrice wrote:
    Actually, I prefer an a** who is honest about it rather than one who lies/pretends, if I had to choose between the two (which I won’t, ever again. w00t)

    Haha! That’s totally true! In fact, I’ve been thinking of applying this for whenever I choose my next church. I mean, evangelical pastors claim that Catholic priests are bad, because nobody is a priest between you and Jesus. And yet, they constantly insert themselves between you and Jesus, even to the point of claiming they hear from God when you don’t. I even had a pastor tell me to my face, “Doing X in our church will be your ministry to God.” As if he somehow had heard something I didn’t, or could discern God’s will better than I. Being young and naive, of course, I naturally fell in line.

    At least if I go for a more liturgical church (such as Anglican), I’d be getting some honesty. The high-Anglican pastors outright admit they’re your priests.

    Anyway, glad we can shake hands, and thank you for your comments. See, even though we disagree on a subject, we can do so politely with the purpose of giving each other food for thought, and walk away as friends without anathematizing each other. That’s what I like about this community. 🙂

  461. @ Laura:

    Actually, I’ve been playing with the idea of going to a Lutheran church, at the very least to find out more about them. I like that they’re not Calvinist, despite how Calvinists like to keep Luther et. al. all to themselves. I think anyone with Classical Arminian beliefs would feel right at home, provided they left some things as a mystery not to be over-theorized over.

    I’ve also been thinking of going to an ACNA affiliated church. Perhaps I’ll do both–take the Lutheran classes to learn more while going to the Anglican church on Sundays.

    I’ve felt lost for a few years, not knowing where to go to church. Sometimes that’s a good thing, because God can use that time to slaughter your sacred cows that were keeping you out of what are go