To Stay or Not to Stay?
Two awesome letters, one from a man struggling with his identity and income inside one of the denominations and one from a woman on the mission field in Sudan invite Wayne and Brad to consider the realities of staying inside a traditional congregation structure, and the concerns about leaving it. So many people who are starting to see through the frailties of religious obligation, also see purpose in staying on to love others. How do people make that decision staying true to their conscience while being compassionate to others?
As a former pastor who walked away from the the club before I was pushed, I so resonate with the idea that if we get to the point when our integrity of conscience gets us to the point where we can’t do it any more, we know it is time to leave. I would find myself in staff meetings where we were planning wonderful programs to run, and I found my mind thinking of ways to sabatoge them. They were just more busyness! I pretty much knew I needed to walk away at that point. God walked me through this process which took years. When it was time to leave, I knew it. It was clear. If I had stayed, I imagine I probably would have eventually gotten a push. I empathize with that church leader, but like Wayne and Brad, I never learned to trust God to provide any physical needs, and didn’t understand the joy of the freedom Father has for me until I left. I have no clue what Father has for this brother, but I know it will be amazing.
Wayne – I have been keeping up with the Podcasts and your commentaries on “church”. It is interesting that while my husband and I lived in California some years ago – I was still in air traffic training and he was attending theology school, I hit bottom with “church”. I had already left my childhood denomination because when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (yes with tongues) it was just no longer a good fit. However, my moment California was even more profound: I was just PO’d with Christains – even spirit filled ones. David was the associate pastor of a small non-demonimational group, It was for training purposes as he knew he was not called to Pastor. I was working 24/7 as a contoller and we made it vey clear that this was not a “two for one” deal – I had my “call” and David his. I would support and be a part of the fellowhship as my schedule allowed. Ultimately we had the “priviledge” of closing that church down.
For a while we just drifted enjoying having time to do stuff that “church” had never allowed for – the beach, trips, etc. We got pulled into some stuff that I regret but that Jesus recued, healed and cleansed us from. I never felt alienated from Him, but very alone in this world. When we realised we needed to be in fellowship, I was reluctant. One moment I just told the Lord what I though of “the church” and His response was someting like “but she is all I have and I love her”. It melted my heart and we began looking.
We tried another “spirit-filled” church and that was a disaster. We ultlimately ended up at a Presbyterian church for a time before we moved to Wichita. After our move we went to a couple of different places. Ran into more “stuff” here and there, but it did not affect me the same. Jesus loves her bride. So we are at Faith Community Church. We do not fit there either but that is OK. It just does not bother me. I am in fellowship. I also have a “home” church when I am in Texas. Jesus loves her church.