this is my response to a beautiful and heart-felt letter of apology to those who were treated poorly at church which was posted by Melanie Redd at Ministry of hope.
I strongly encourage you to read it on her blog because it is beautifully and sincerely written. Also, and this is very important, my response here is in no way meant to criticize her letter or blog post. On the contrary, I was truly touched and my heart was opened and softened by her letter.
I just feel that there is a very urgent need for us to discuss these issues and bring them out into the open. I think that was her intent...we cannot move into light if we shut each other out in darkness. We need to share out thoughts and opinions so that we can truly understand where the other person is coming from and how what we do and say affects those around us.
so here is my response to Melanie and please feel free to comment...though I may regret saying that....
Wonderful, wonderful post. I have been to many, many different churches in the past 30 years....and have not one friend in any of them. Many people who were friendly but not one friend. Your post is very timely, Christian churches and people who affiliate themselves with Christianity are one of groups of Americans shrinking faster than any other group. Nationally, these people are leaving in droves. They are not raising children who will go to church. Here in New England to say you are Christian is almost the same as saying you are a bigoted, hate-filled racist. I hear about Christians picketing funerals of gay soldiers and targeting homosexuals regarding marriage. And, it isn't just that issue. Are you a mother working or staying home, are you wearing a skirt every day, do you use a head covering, do you send your children to public school...the list can go on and on. I see different denominations of Christian churches bickering and criticizing one another. Each saying only their church preaches the real word of God and no one else is getting into heaven. On a given day I can have Mormons, Jehovah's witnesses, and Christians all knocking on my door saying their way is the only way.
And yet, after attending differing churches for 30 years I have had only 1 person ever call me or want to get together for even a cup of coffee...and she was the pastor's wife.
I accept your apology, though I was never deeply hurt and there was never any one thing that turned me away from churches. I applaud you, and your proxy has truly touched me.
Honestly though, and I think we need to speak of this issue frankly and honestly if we are to change the trend of closing churches, my entire thought process about churches has changed and though there may come a time in my life when I will attend a church again, I will never feel the same way about Christians.
Even here on my blog I have noticed that "Christian" bloggers almost never return comments I have posted on their own blogs and very, very rarely comment at all. They have their pop-up "follow my blog" and other ads before I am even done reading the post but they don't even acknowledge or return a comment I make.
So, speaking as one of the ex-church goers that you are proxying for, I appreciate your apology...it really did make my eyes tear up. But, if you drop a plate on the floor and break it, it is still broken after you apologize.
Your apology is thought provoking to me, and as I said, it has touched me, but I stopped going to church because of the attitude of the Christians there. And, your apology doesn't change that. I don't want to go back to church. I am treated callously there, as if I don't matter to them...but, by they way, they would like me to drop a little something into the offertory basket on it's way by.
Originally, I stopped going to church because I felt as if I wasn't liked there. Now, after decades of maturing, growing in the word of God through bible reading and studying, and maturing through life experiences, I don't go to church because, I don't like them.
faith filled Friday
Thanks for posting this today!ReplyDelete
I believe you will encourage a lot of honest dialogue!
I really look forward to hearing what happens and to talking to you again!
And, I appreciate you,
Well said! I was raised by parents who were both pastors; my brother and sister-in-law are pastors; my husband was in theological seminary when we met and married. After a lifetime of being active in church and raising our daughter in the church, we've pulled away. I'm fortunate that I do have friends in our church but the pull of worshiping there is gone. To my mind, and this is my mind, nobody else need agree or criticize, the church has been hijacked by right wing politicians. Although you didn't use the term, you alluded to the fact that too many of today's church people are attempting to push us closer to a Taliban-like rule of law. There is a reason for separation of church and state and we should heed that doctrine as long as there exists an Earth. Good discussion. I usually, no I never, publish these thoughts online but I felt the openness you're seeking to extend with your post. Thank you, Catherine!ReplyDelete
thank you for replying Dotti. I do agree with everything you have said. I don't normally post these kinds of posts but I have been pushing the boundaries a little bit lately to see what turns up. While I can say I have been getting exactly what I expected in most cases...I have been pleasantly surprised as well. That makes me very happy.Delete
Your words are touching and I appreciated my visit at Melanie's as well as beginning to get to know you this week!ReplyDelete
I, too, have been disappointed by some bloggers who have not acknowledged my visit or come to call. But I move on and have found lovely women from all over the place who love God and extend grace and kindness to each other.
I hope you will continue to come to call at my place. I think you'll find a wonderful group gathered around the table there. And I can assure you that you are very welcome!
Have a glorious weekend ...
I am not sure if by returning comments from bloggers you mean that when you comment on someone's blog, they don't post a response to you there, or they don't visit your blog in return and comment. I try to do the latter. I don't know how many people would come back to the blog to see a responding comment - most of us have a hard enough time to get around to all the blogs we would like to read in the first place, much less visit them all again to see if anyone commented on our comment. But I do try to visit the blogs of everyone who has commented on mine. I know I have probably failed in busy times, but that's what I try to do as much as possible.ReplyDelete
To be honest, it's hard to maintain friendships in church even with people who have already been friends for years. It's just hard to get together. Maybe that is due to the busyness of life these days, especially when you have kids in sports, music classes, youth group, etc., etc., etc. Or maybe the distractions we have these days. I don't know.
The church has always been full of problems, from the beginning. Most of the New Testament epistles were written to churches about their need to adjust both their thinking and their conduct. Church will never be perfect because they are made up of sinners.
Those epistles also warn about false teachers who profess to be Christians, and I would put the funeral-protesting type in that category. They don't represent true believers.
I think Christians today have definitely gotten off-track, bickering about side issues and overlooking the main point.
But church isn't supposed to be about whether someone invites me for coffee or calls me later. It's supposed to be about Jesus. He loved the church enough to die for it. He says we're to treat each other like family, and just like physical siblings fuss and then make up because they're family, so should Christians. He told us to love others as He loved us - and He loves us even when we're awful and don't deserve it. He told us to forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because He forgave us when we didn't deserve it.
I am not writing this in a preachy or scolding way. Both my husband and I have felt discouraged by the failures of the churches we have been in. But I don't see in the Bible anywhere the option presented to walk away from it, so we've attempted to continue on, to pray that we might all grow in our love for and knowledge of Jesus and that He would revive our hearts to fully love Him and His people.
I do hope and pray you'll be able to make it back to church some day.
First let me say that I feel your pain.....your deep woundedness. and I pray you will not write off every Bible Believing church. there IS no perfect church until Jesus comes back. they all have sin because we all are human. also, i tend to be one of those bloggers who, if i see you wrote a comment after my post, i tend to answer via email if I can find your email on your blog within a minute if searching OR i just visit the blog and leave a comment on your most current post. Like Im doing now. because i thought this was the Fave Five post! lol. seriously. though, i have learned from being in s mega church for the last ten years that happens to be an inter-denominational Evangelical one and probably one of. the best in the Northeast, that to have a close friend takes time and effort, i started inviting other moms over ( i had, at the time we started this church( we left a very small toxic church that we had been in for about 15 yrs) a 12 yr old and a 5 yr old. i got them plugged into youth group and awana and started just chatting with the other moms. i then invited one over for coffee and a friendship developed over time. It does take effort. be the one to reach out and the results may surprise you. get involved in a ministry as that IS what we should be doing anyways...lserving others not just taking up space in a pew or chair. I have had horrible things said to me in my former church about being a working mom, about going on vacations in the summer, about choosing public school( of COURSE i would choose public....Im a teacher in one!!!! lol) as soon as my husband and I discovered Pastor Rex Keener and Grace Fellowship Church we were astounded at how well run it is, how friendly it is, and how many small groups are available. keep in mind this is a 2100 people church on an average weekend and we now have 3 other sites!!! good leadership is key. but so is being willing to reach out.ReplyDelete
I wanted to comment on your post. I did not read the apology post you asked us to read. Sorry, but my time on here is limited. I did want to say a bit to you, tho.ReplyDelete
I could have written the post you did. We went to a few churches in out little village and had awful experiences. We stopped going to church for 30 years. December 2014, we went to the grandchildren's church for their Christmas program. We didn't even know that our daughter and son-in-law were going to church. We came into the church and sat down and for the first time in 50 years...I felt like I came home!
Since then, we started going to this church, I got baptized and we became members. I never thought I would find a church I felt home in. I truly believe I found this church through the grace of God. It fits me perfectly and goes along with how I feel. They emphasize "Love God, Love others". It is very service orientated. I love helping others.
We drive 35 minutes one way to go to this church. But it is so worth it and the members are so friendly and welcoming. I hope that someday you will find a church you feel at home in. I felt I could, "go it alone" and learn about God. I felt I could do without the fellowship of a church. I never realized how much the fellowship meant, until I found this church. I am so happy and thrilled to be a part of my church. I wish that for you! Thank you for your blog, Darlene
I'm so sorry you've been hurt. I know what it's like to be surrounded by your brothers and sisters in Christ and still feel alone.ReplyDelete
As Faith said, there is no perfect church. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try and build community, build friendships and LOVE one another. Please know that Jesus loves you deeply and we are designed to have friends, and fellowship, to worship God individually and together. Church is a great blessing but I do understand the difficulties you are facing.
I have been deeply loved and supported by the body at my church but we've been through some tought times over the last year and a half to bring us to this place. And God's not finished with us yet.
Thank you for your honesty. I'm sure there are many Believers that struggle with this. My husband and I have struggled with this since we moved to the Bible Belt 15 years ago.ReplyDelete
Praying you'll find fellowship.