Why I Stopped Going to Church
It would be easy for me to say that I stopped going to church because I didn’t like the church itself, or the Pastor, or that I denounced all religions entirely, but none of that would true.
I actually loved my church, still do. I grew up in that church. My family still attends that church. And I have some friends with whom I will always be connected because of that church. I remember when Pastor Richardson first became Pastor. He brought his family and half the members from his old church with him. I held a great deal of respect for him when I met him, and that has never waned. The way he conducted service was just so different, and he did things in such a unique way, initially, that it made going to church exciting for me. And while I may have never been the most religious person, I can appreciate the practices and teachings of certain religions. In fact, I love gospel. I love who Jesus is, and what He represents. I could never wholly denounce religion. While studying psychology in college, one of the things I noticed missing from the counseling of trouble people is the impact of religion or spirituality in their lives. I can attest that whenever I am going through tough times, it is my religion or spirituality that anchors me, and keeps me somewhat sane.
So, I say all of that to say that the reasons I stopped going to church are, in my opinion, a lot more complex. While I may not have always like how things operated at my church, and while I may not have always seen eye to eye with my Pastor, and while I may not always agree with everything stated in the Bible, none of these things individually are enough to cause me to break 20+ years of habitual worship.
I stopped going to church because I needed to discover what God sounds like without someone else’s voice. For years, my religion and the way I worshipped was presented to me from the perspective of someone else. It began with my mother, emphasized by the choir and congregation, and cemented by the Pastor.
There was a time when Sunday morning service was the highlight of my week. I would go to church to receive something, and sometimes, leave something behind. There was a fulfillment I felt whenever I stepped through the doors of the church. But something happened. Things changed in a way that I’m not quite sure how to explain, but what I went for, was no longer there. I began to feel like I had wasted my time (and more importantly, my gas) driving there, and wasted even more staying there. I would sit there listening to a sermon that didn’t feel like it was meant for me at all. Or worse, I would sit there listening to a sermon aimed right at my throat. I felt guilty. The Pastor’s words would sting, but not because I had done anything wrong in particular, but because it felt like there was nothing I had done right. I wasn’t being a good enough Christian on Earth, and I also wasn’t being a good enough Christian to make it into heaven. At a point, I no longer felt welcomed in my church.
I took a break, but soon, my break turned into only showing up sparingly, then I would only send my tithes, to finally, no longer being a member of the church at all. It wasn’t as easy as it may have seemed. Being a part of my church was also a part of my identity. I was a “church boy”, and that held a lot of weight within my family and within my community. But once I no longer felt connected to God like I wanted to, I looked for that connection elsewhere.
I am still searching for answers, and ultimately, still discovering who I am, both within and without the confines of church, religion, and spirituality. I have yet to come to a conclusion, but the research is ongoing. I listen for God’s voice daily, and I try to find His message in every situation I find myself in. I wanted to read the Quran, though, I haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve listen to messages by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, which have made a tremendous amount of sense to me. I can listen to sermons my Bishop T.D. Jakes all day if necessary; they always put me in a much better feeling place. I’ve dwelled with the idea of consciousness versus Christianity, and read about ancient Kemetic religions because to me, if Africa is the cradle of civilization, why not begin my research for self and truth there?
(One thing I have noticed in my very short and limited research is that people who use the term “Ankh nigga”, and those the term applies to, are both missing the point.)
Church, religion, and spirituality have all played significant roles in making me who I am at one point or another, each for their own unique reason. I believe the basis of each one is how one works their faith, though, the definition of “faith” can be just as complex as why I’ve stopped going to church. But part of discovering who I am required a change in the way I worship, and the language associated with it.