This is a classic example of a “wait, what?” headline. You read it and think to yourself, “Wait, what? Is this true? I’ve known Dan forever, and he’s always been a church goer. What happened?” I know, I know, I realize I have some explaining to do. First off, I will go through what would be the normal reasons why someone like me would walk away from the church, and then follow up with the real reason, which may surprise you.
1. Loss of faith
Over the years, my faith in God has swung all over the map. I am naturally a cynical person, a questioning person, a “show me” type of Christian. I’ve always been envious of people that never seem to waver in their faith. They are an example of what my mom would say was a “good Christian.” I’ve never been an unquestioning, sit in church and sing the songs and listen to the sermons without asking why, kind of guy. I’m wired to question everything.
But I’m a believer. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord. My experience with cancer has actually strengthened my faith, not weakened it, as some people may think. Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t thrust a middle finger at God now and then through this whole ordeal. I have yelled at God plenty of times because of my illness, but I think me yelling at God proves I believe in Him. My moving away from the church has nothing to do with my belief in God.
( A quick veer here. Anybody recognize that second sentence of the last paragraph? Yep, it’s from the Apostle’s Creed. I can recite the traditional version of the Apostles Creed at the drop of a hat. After hearing it for 18 straight years of Sundays, it kind of sticks in your brain. I still say “The quick and the dead”, instead of the more popular,”The living and the dead.” I thought I was in trouble as a kid cuz I was definitely not quick. When people started saying living instead of quick, I was like,”Oh! That’s what that means.” And then “The Quick and the Dead” became a real bad mid 90s Sharon Stone movie. Oops. Back to the blog.)
2. Hypocrites everywhere
A lot of people will say that they don’t go to church because the church is full of hypocrites, so maybe that’s my reason, too. Nope. News flash, people. We are all hypocrites. Every last one of us. Nobody’s perfect, we all fall short. Christians sin just as much as non Christians, we just feel bad about it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a part of some churches that have had some holier than thou people that thought they were the greatest Christians since Paul, and those people are pretty hard to take. But, as Jesus once said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” I’ve sat in church knowing that my life was going off the rails, and I may have been the biggest sinner in the building, so I can’t jump on anybody for being a hypocrite. I don’t throw stones.
This one may have been true back when I was in my 20s, but after working a job for the past 31 years where I’ve had to get up at 4:15 am, sleeping in for me is darn near impossible. If I sleep till 7:15, I’ve slept an extra 3 hours! I’m usually out of bed in plenty of time for church on a Sunday morning. Now I will admit, when the dog is curled up on my lap, and I have a hot cup of coffee in my hand on a cold winter morning, getting in the car and driving to church is probably not the first thing I want to do, and I will blow the whole thing off in a New York minute. But, most of the time, it’s not an issue.
4. Style of worship
Ah, the great debate for baby boomers such as myself who grew up in the church. Traditional or contemporary? Hymns or praise songs? Or, maybe a mix of both? I can tell you that I have been a member of a churches in all three of these styles. I grew up in a church that was a traditional hymn singing, pound the pulpit fire and brimstone preaching on the evils of sin and communism type of place, complete with the whole doctrination of two services on Sunday, Sunday school, and catechism on Wednesday night taught by the preacher. Big fun. So I’ve been there, done that.
After years of this, when I got married, we went the other way and joined a contemporary church with a dynamic preacher and lots of praise songs. And we loved it. That is, until we had children and the church was on the other side of town and getting two little boys ready for church in the morning was a ridiculously daunting task. So we moved our membership to a church in our neighborhood, that had a blended worship of traditional and contemporary worship styles. Our boys grew up in that church, and we were there for about 18 years. I still consider this church to be my home church, and we made a lot of great friends. I love the people I met there.
But, eventually, after the boys graduated high school, we found that this church was a little stagnant for us, plus, we had some issues with a pastor search. So, we changed to a more contemporary church again and we love the music there. So, as you can see, I’m pretty comfortable with any style of worship. So that’s not it.
Now, we’re getting warmer. I covered some of this in my blog The New Fire and Brimstone, where I talked about how preachers today, instead of ranting and raving about the evils of communism and fornicating are now quietly telling us we are all racists and we need to understand and be tolerant of everything and everybody. Except, of course, racists. Against this we need to wear pussy hats and rage against statues of Confederate generals and conservative principles. Unless, you are on the other side, then you raise your bible in a salute to the great pussy grabber himself, Donald J. Trump.
My feeling about politics and religion is about the same as how I feel about politics and sports. Leave politics out of it. I watch sports to escape life’s crap, I go to church to hear about the Bible and how to live a Christ like life. I don’t need to hear that I suck because of the color of my skin, or that I need to adopt babies from foster care, or I fall short of the glory of God because I’m not really too thrilled with illegal immigration. Mother Teresa helped a lot of people in Calcutta, unconditionally. Pretty sure her help did not come with a heaping helping of guilt for the people she was working with for not measuring up to what God expected of them. Just sayin.
So, those are the five reasons a lot of people stop going to church. These reasons do have some bearing on my decision not to go to church, and I know that those reasons will be in play when and if I decide to start going to church again. But here is the real reason why I no longer go to church.
Yep, I’m bored with church. Now, I know a lot of people find church to be mind numbingly boring, and can’t get through a sermon without taking a little nap, but the droning on of a windy preacher is not my problem. My problem is that whatever the preacher is preaching on, I’ve heard it before. Many times. If you’ve been paying attention,(and I can only assume that you have because you are still reading this thing,) I’ve been attending worship services for pretty much my whole life. I’ve heard probably every sermon on every part of the Bible that can be preached on. Some of the more popular subjects, like the story of the Good Samaritan or the story of the prodigal son, are like me hearing “Stairway to Heaven” on classic rock radio. I don’t really hear them anymore. If you give me a couple of days to prepare, I’m pretty sure I could give you a good half hour on the Good Samaritan without much of a problem.
I realize this sounds kind of arrogant, like I know everything about the Bible and God. I can assure that I do not. But, I did do the math on how much time I’ve spent in a church and various bible studies and Sunday schools in my life. I figure I’ve spent somewhere around 5000 hours in some sort of study of the Bible. That’s a lot. That’s more than a seminary student takes studying to become a pastor. Way more. I just don’t feel like I’m hearing anything anymore that I haven’t already heard, and to sit there for an hour to an hour and a half on a Sunday morning seems like a big waste of time. Sorry if that offends you, but that is how I feel right now.
And here’s the crazy thing. I’m not alone. I know a few couples who are in the same situation that we are. Grew up in the church, went to church with their kids, and now the kids are gone and they are just sort of…wandering. They can’t find a place that they feel good about, or feel welcomed at. They might not be bored, like me, but they have their own reasons for not going.
I have a friend on Facebook that posts a bible passage and a little story explaining it every morning. He usually includes a picture of his morning walk, a tranquil pic that sets me at ease. It only takes me a couple of minutes to read, and it feels to me like a little morning devotional that sets me right for the day ahead.
So, if I can get that everyday in a couple of minutes, why would I want to go to a church where I’m bored and I’m told I don’t measure up as a Christian? The answer?
Thanks for reading.
13 thoughts on “Why I no longer go to church ”
On the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I’m so old fashioned it would be nice to find one church that still follows the doctrines and practices of the old time religion.
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A Mighty Fortress is Our God. They still sing it at my old church.
There’s no transcendence in the modern church; it’s all immanance. If someone is going to church to find a thrill they’re missing the point. Transcendence creates awe a much different emotion than the navel gazing sugar sold at many churches.
Preachers should stick to a simple 4 point service
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But, sometimes finding a thrill can lead to salvation. If an unchurched person enters a church because of the music, or the program, and this leads to a changed life and a saved person, who am I to judge. I find the 4 point service that you cite to be lacking in genuine emotion. I spent most of my childhood listening to those points. It left me cold.
Cold- that’s why transcendence lovers move to the mountains. We can see total depravity from here. 😀
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Dan, I think there’s a lot of people that feel the way you do. I’m 57 (almost, was a friend of your wife’s back in high school) and I agree, I think I’ve heard really, practically every sermon there is to hear. Not that I can’t learn things anymore, certainly can, but when I hear a sermon on last Sunday on Jesus begin asked if the Hebrews should pay their taxes or not, yea, I’ve heard that sermon many, many times. But, I’m not sure if the answer to my boredom doesn’t lie w/ me – one, what’s not boring for me is the singing – Stairway to Heaven just never gets old, and neither does some of the songs sung in church. And it’s nice to reconnect once a week w/ those I consider friends. But, yes, when church is, for the most part, going to the building, saying hello, sitting through a sermon you’ve heard many, many times, and then leaving after awkwardly trying to converse w/ someone who “sort of” know, yea, that does get boring. Does the answer lie w/ pastors who can use a little modern technology and imagination to make their sermons a little more interesting? Yea, I think it does, in a small way. The resources available to ministers today are far, far more extensive than they ever were; is it really that hard to play a two minute video clip that reinforces what you’re talking about? But, maybe the answer to our boredom lies more within; we’re just not that connected to the people there. Whether you’re a family w/ kids in sports or an older couple w/ the time and money to do other things, I just think we’re not that connected as people that attend the same church. And so, on Sunday, yea, it’s just a building to go to, listen to something you’ve heard many times before, and leave. That is boring.
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Yep, I agree with you, Jeff. The boredom problem is a “me” problem. I know I need to work at connecting with people, but right now I just don’t feel like it. I am being lazy in that regard. Holly and I went through a very bad church experience at our old church, way worse than I let on in the blog. It has scarred me, and it is something I need to forgive people for.
Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. You are wrong about one thing though…Stairway to Heaven sucks. Lol
I’m not a church goer for many of all of the reasons you mentioned. I commend people who are and who have enough faith like you to continue going all their lives.
I don’t see how not going because you’re bored would offend anyone. You’ve heard most of it and I think that if you find someone who can recite scripture with a new twist something you haven’t heard, you will go back. Until then, enjoy the morning FB posts. If they fulfill you then that’s all you need.
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Fascinating. What I hear is that with all the turmoil in the world, Jesus is coming. Based on the Bible. Revolutions.
Still, I can appreciate your point of view.
I am not sure if i should mention this but going to church always reduces the chaos in my mind, that is enough a reason.
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I haven’t been to church as much as you over my lifetime. Your comment about being bored is probably better explained as having graduated. Once one graduates high school, one doesn’t go back to high school the next term. There needs to be some next step for those ready for theological meat. While I haven’t found it institutionally yet, I have met with fellow believers in something I call a non-congregational church. Unencumbered by buildings, traditional theology (such as celebrating Christian holidays during pagan feasts, a battle, by the way, that Christianity is losing) and politics, time spent in His presence becomes an exciting growing experience again. A non-congregational church, however, meets irregularly, sometimes more often than traditional/contemporary churches. Next time, when you’re with one or more friends, if the phone rings in your head, answer with your heart. Then let the worship begin.
I have gone to church all my life. I am a believer. I love the Lord and my faith in Him has not been shaken. What’s shaken me is my neighbors who are anti social, self serving and unkind. Why would anyone move into such a nice neighborhood and act the way they do. We greeted them into the area with a gift, have given them food from our garden. They planted a fruit tree that produced an over abundance of fruit and never offered us anything. They have been unkind to the children across the street, the neighbor on their other side and in back of them. They are obsessed with boundaries. And did I say this man is a minister. I feel like the laws of God are for thee and not for me in their estimation. How can one preach love thy neighbor and act this way? I’ve lost my faith unorganized religion. We belong to the same denomination and I know dozens of people that this man knows. I’m 75 years old and my taste for going to church has been ruined.
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