Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Now?

We have been out of the Word of faith for over a year. What now? After we left the church we visited nearby churches for over 3 months (we live in a rural area, by the way.). I would suggest everyone give that a shot for a while. I had not gone visiting like that in 11 years. It was quite an eye opener.

I could have a lot of fun describing what we saw at these 100-person-or-less churches. I have a sardonic sense of humor anyway and the church search was not helping. We laughed at some absurdities we saw and cried at the same time wondering "Is this it? Are we just out of luck?"

As we left one church, our kids complained that they couldn't figure out what the minister was talking about. This was understandable because my wife and I were having the same problem. It was the ol' spit-cotton lose-sermon-notes ploy, as Inspector Clouseau might say.

Then there were the churches that freaked because strangers showed up. For some it was bewilderment mixed with slight annoyance that strangers broke in. There was also the other extreme: they were so welcoming and READY for you to join the family that it was too awkward.

There was the church that we joked must be where you go if you plan to run for local political office. Having said that, a few days after our visit, someone from that church had a photo on the front page of the local paper promoting their latest civic service.

One church was relaxed beyond all comprehension. The 20 or so people there were so relaxed they were numb. Maybe that's why one really large person was sitting in a recliner. It was too odd to sit through so we tried to leave as discreetly as we could in a crowd of 20. (Fortunately, the noise the recliner made as the lady kept getting up and "plopping" down to fetch her toddler helped distract the congregants as we slipped out the door.)

We visited a church in our area of a denomination that has a very 'soulwinning' reputation. We came into weeknight service and nobody knew where our kids were supposed to go, including the teachers. So do outsiders really never show up there unannounced?

One of the first churches we visited in the area was a 'Mega-Church Lite.' It had the megachurch identity without megachurch numbers (we are in the country, remember). The main auditorium was darkened (for recording television broadcasts) and they had the praise band that played the current popular songs. I also sensed the ambitiousness of the pastors. Their overall presentation was just right for getting larger crows. There were references in the service we attended about how much the pastors were in demand as speakers across the country. This was too much deja-vu from what we had just left in the Word of Faith. Everyone was captivated by their own awesomeness.

We did attend a small church for several months hoping for a little down-home reality and honesty. Nothing spectacular, just a dose of real-life. It was then that we got a taste of how much church has become an odd combination of tradition, self-help and pop culture Christianity. We even saw troubling aspects of the Word of Faith creeping in, which caused us to jump ship immediately.

So for the time being, I'm cooling my jets on church. I'm not even getting to the questions of why do we do church the way we do (I have a lot of those.) At this point I'm just asking the basic question of 'Why am I sitting through this?' I wish we'd taken a break like this a while back. There is not a clear way out on this topic but that's were I am.


  1. I am inclined to agree with you. What ever happened to provoking each other to righteousness? Where are the churches that are doing the WORK of the ministry (being the hands and feet of Jesus)? Coming out of the WOF myself I seem to have tons of questions and not just about church. I believe the answers are all coming from a loving and compassionate God who understands exactly where we are and we can rest in that.

  2. I can strongly relate to your experience, since I traveled a very similar path after leaving my old abusive Plymouth Brethren-styled church. I can't stand the pop culture of modern American evangelicalism. And the ambitiousness among many church leaders is the same, whether one is in a weird, totalist/cultic abusive church, or whether one is in a wanna-be megachurch. Who can fix this mess?...

  3. GW

    I heard someone once say. Stay at home on Sunday and save 10%. I used to not agree, but now think it might be a good idea. I would rather spend it on my kids than see those church leaders spending it on their desires for needless stuff.

  4. To Anonymous: Same here.

    I also found out a while back that tithing is not essential to salvation. Who knew?

  5. We left the Word of Faith church about 18 months ago. We have gone through some of the same experiences you shared (and we live on the outskirts of a large city only 20 minutes away.... lots and lots and lots of churches to choose from)... We have been so disappointed and discouraged at times because we have not been able to find a church home. We don't want to "play the church game". We are looking for simple REAL authentic body of believers that we can worship and fellowship with... We have absolutely no friends since we left the WOF church. We have come to the point where we are no longer looking for a church. We are seeking God and He is well-able to show us where we need to be... We recently met a pastor on our vacation. God confirmed to us that we are on the right track about WOF. Check out this pastor's audio messages on his website at . He was in a WOF church for about 3 years and found flaws and now studies and preaches against the WOF movement. It was so encouraging and refreshing to talk to him... Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! It's great to know we are not the only ones going through this...