Why I Decided To Leave The Church
I know I’ll probably lose friends and possibly family over this one but this is MY truth. I’m not asking anyone to agree with me. I’m not here to persuade anyone to do what I did. I’m just here to tell my story. Here’s why I left the church.
Church hats. Suits. Ties. Gay bashing. Rules. Protocol. Bishops. Apostles. Ministers. Luncheons. Pastors Anniversary. Convocation. Men’s Day Service. Missionary Service. Youth Sunday. Church Scandals. You name it, I know it. I’ve seen it ALL.
I remember after my domestic violence incident, I had this burning desire to change my life for the better. I was completely broken, battered and depressed in search of a place of safety, guidance and hope. I was led to go to church with one of my friend’s family members. That church was actually okay but as time moved on, so did I.
I began to attend a new church and at first everything was great. I was immediately put to work on different auxiliaries and I participated in every church function that they had even if it had nothing to do with me. For example, many churches have “Hallelujah Night” for the kids on Halloween. I didn’t have kids but I still went.
This went on for a few years and after the third year I started feeling different about things. I didn’t realize how much this church consumed my entire existence. I practically had NO LIFE outside of those four walls and things started getting ridiculous. I remember being a minister in training and we were told that we weren’t “allowed” to visit other churches on Sunday’s. My Pastor also had a little black book that she kept with her at all times to write down our short comings. She would bring our faults up at the meetings for open rebuke.
I started feeling stifled, suffocated and stuck. It was the same thing every week. From Sunday to Sunday the same old routines filled the church on que. Play slow worship music, cry, yell, scream, run around the church, shout then go home. Honestly, it was getting old and I was getting tired.
I tried to shift gears in my life and go to school. I just needed to indulge in something that had nothing to do with the church and jump start my career in education. I enrolled and started acquiring the credits I needed for Early Childhood Development. I was happy to be in school but also exhausted. Between my full time job, the church and school, I was burned out. I decided that it was time to speak with my Pastor about stepping away from some things at the church so that I could focus more on getting my degree.
When I told my Pastor that I was overwhelmed with the work that I was doing with the church, she told me that nothing came before “God” not even school. I was confused. When had the church building and auxiliary work become God? At the time, I was naive and impressionable so I listened. I continued to work in the church, and even though I passed my classes for the year, I was extremely burned out and exhausted.
Not only was the constant work an issue but the attitudes of the leaders and some of the other members were issues too. There was a lot of gossip and slander going on that I was oblivious to in the beginning. It wasn’t until the ladies gathered together for what was supposed to be a relaxing and uplifting women’s retreat, did I found out differently. It was brought to my and two of my close friends attention, that we were not liked by the majority of the church. Someone even said, honestly, they couldn’t stand to hear one of my friends pray. They called us ugly and spoke ill of us. It was all becoming a bit too much for me to handle.
When I moved to Pennsylvania I started attending a church that I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of from the beginning. The Pastor was nice but some of the people who went there… still, I made my way every Sunday. I don’t know what it was but a good amount of the people from that church started watching my page on Facebook. If I did anything remotely “sinful” such as cover a song by Brandy, someone would be in my inbox telling me that I was in sin and needed to repent. I had a few heated exchanges with a couple of members. There was a weird suffocating vibe from the people in that church. Some of them didn’t even believe in roller skating or going to the movies. It wasn’t long before I realized that this simply was not the church for me. So I left.
I found myself visiting other churches and I realized that a lot of them are eerily the same. A lot of people seemed to carry the same mannerisms and behaviors. Strong, judgmental, “I’m better than you” vibes would show themselves through the pastors, ministers and members. I wasn’t feeling it.
I’ve had older, married Pastors make passes at me. My best friend had multiple married Pastors and ministers proposition her for sex. My other friend who was a faithful member at a prominent church in Virginia, greeted a female guest, lead her to his married Pastors office for “counseling” and overheard them having sex outside the door. I’ve been told who I was “supposed” to be with (someone who is currently in jail for rape) and I’ve seen some of the most beautiful souls shamed and chastised harshly for mistakes they’ve made.
One thing that really bothered me about a church that I went to was their zero tolerance for unwed mothers. If a woman was married and became pregnant, the church would come together and throw a baby shower for her. If the woman wasn’t married, not only did they not throw a shower for her but she was not allowed to participate in any church functions or activities. She could attend but she couldn’t sing in the choir, usher, praise dance etc.
While I understand the church doesn’t want to reward “sin” I still believe in having compassion for other people. A single woman is going to need a lot of help with buying things for the baby. So you’d think the church would be ready and willing to help their fellow sister. This isn’t the case at a lot of churches.
Another reason why I left the church was because the same message was getting preached over and over again. How many times do we have to hear, “God’s gonna make a way” before we actually believe it? Obviously it needs to be said every Sunday. I’m a very curious person, I love to learn and seek things out. I wanted to read the book of Jasher (referenced in Joshua 10:12–13) but when I brought it up to one of my Pastors I was told if God wanted me to read it, it would be in the Bible.
I was completely over the mundane messages, shouting and crying. Emotionalism had run its course with me. I wanted to know JESUS more. I wanted to get beyond the surface things that we learned in church. I wanted to get away from the Catholic gowns and hats and really know what I was getting myself into.
And please… let’s address how SOME churches treated women. Some churches don’t allow women to wear pants, as if that’s a sin issue in the first place *insert eye rolling emoji* Some churches don’t let women preach. Some churches don’t even let the women sit with the men. They look at women as objects and not human beings. I’m sorry but my feminism streak just can’t rock with that AT ALL.
I say all that to say this, right now I don’t feel the need to be a member at any church. I do want to go VISIT a church and my church of choice is a large, mixed mega church not far from my house. At this time I don’t have the desire to be obligated to any one church. My heart is still sorting through the manipulation and control I’ve gone through at the other churches I went to. I’m not saying any of this because I think these people are devil’s. I don’t think that at all. I think we’re all broken souls just trying to figure this spirituality thing out. I have no hard feelings towards anyone. You live and you learn.
If you are struggling with going to church, I truly understand. I’ve struggled too. Even though it may be hard, I want to encourage you to always stay connected to God through prayer and some form of fellowship with his people (doesn’t have to be the church setting.) I’ve found that I feel the MOST fulfilled when I’m helping others. When I used to volunteer with an organization in Philly that fed and clothed the homeless, I felt like THAT was my church. I craved to get out of the church building and become the church through love and service rather than tradition and routine. Stay encouraged and pray that God leads you in all that you do.