Churches Who Won’t Commit

by MK Bashlor

“Secularism and Religion are both all about your personal performance. The Gospel is the performance of another applied to you” Timothy Keller

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly is going wrong with churches today, why people feel lost, and why there is so much turn-over. A big part of the problem, as I see it, is this strong notion that nothing is wrong. The implication of rebellion in even suggesting such a thing, causes a thinker such as myself to create even more distance. I don’t really want to be an outcast. I never wanted to be an outsider at all. However, when considering what is best for their church, especially in a particular very large church, which is attempting to grow larger, it was decided that I don’t fit into their program, and therefore could not serve there. To save myself, my self worth, my value, my motivation to go on every day, namely in the service of God, who did in fact put me here (I was His idea!), I finally leave. Yes, the same God they purport to be serving, this God is unarguably in favor of me. They are at odds with this.

But where is the focus here? What is the true purpose of such a church? Should not a person decide whether a church is right for her, rather than the other way around? Why such a focus on the church itself, as though an “idolic institution?” When did the church stop serving people? Such churches do not look inward at themselves to incite positive change, and merely ignore the mass of people coming in and out the doors, never to return, nor those of us who inhabit the building faithfully Sunday after Sunday for years, eventually leaving never to be heard from again. This kind of church embraces those who embody the fantasy that despite the things they will not look at, everything is going very well. And to the ones gifted by God to come in and turn over the rocks so that the leaders may get a first glimpse at all the bugs crawling underneath, it is assumed that such outcasts as do not belong at their church, simply put the diabolic forms there themselves.

There is a frenzy on the outskirts of such institutions, a confused muddle of truth tellers looking for support for what they have endured, and those trying to aspire unto a higher perspective of forgiveness, turning the situation over to God, and thereby refusing to gossip. With no constructive outlet ( ie. a method of confronting the church leaders), the talk continues outside the walls of the church, but inside it is the fantasy of perfection and righteousness which is upheld, by staying in denial, thereby keeping the truth on the outside, where it cannot touch and dispel the lie which the community lives by, and seems to thrive under.

One particular phenomenon I have observed in such churches as described above is a move away from the traditional idea of “church membershifantasy-churchp.” It is implied that such a church would rather regard everyone as a member. The problem with this is that instead it seems that no one becomes a member and a system of insiders conspires. The hired hands, and assigned offices become the only true members of the church, who set the rules, and basically run everything. Those who have no hired position, or place as usher or elder for example, are stuck on the outside. When these few positions are reserved for men, there is the additional issue of having a church that is run solely by men, and thereby missing the intuition, creativity and sensitivity, among other gifts that women have to offer.

On the issue of not asking for a commitment from members, not only is the church attendee set in a place of not being included (unless he or she manages to earn it), the church in turn is afforded the luxury of not having to feel committed (or responsible for) those who otherwise would have been members. Again, it is the politics of such a church which then determines who the true members are. Those who wish to be included play political games to try to get to the higher places of the church, and the true meaning of serving and loving people is all but completely lost. Scriptures are utilized in ministry as the Bible is set up on a pedestal, but there is a dire loss of application of such scriptures as center on humility, love, and servitude, at the same time as declaring such attributes as though they are automatically to be ascribed to the church leaders. Anyone who would dare question is out of place for rebelling against such authorities, and no one seems to notice the extreme pride in this, nor its contradiction to the implications of the Bible.

The failure of such a church to instill a method of church membership, alleviates leaders from their responsibility to members in a manner which is indicative of a man not wishing to commit in a dating relationship. Therefore the relationship of such a church to its members is reflective of a dysfunctional relationship where a couple perhaps moves in together, but not having made a commitment to bind them together, eventually faces the inevitable. One partner eventually grows wings and moves on from something which they must finally confess is not good for them.

This I propose stems largely from the lack of commitment, not on behalf of the church patron who comes to a seemingly wonderful church longing to serve God, desiring to please Him, and offering herself as a participant in the methods the church has established, but from the ostensibly larger member in this relationship. The church patron must accept a stance of accepting she is actually the bigger one, who knows more, and to preserve her integrity, must move on.

Exceptionally onerous is the fact that such an establishment purports to reflect the living God, but while refusing to commit to its members, alienates the ones who are different, refuses to face its issues, and seems to insist on a system where people are there to serve the church, rather than the church being in service to its people. Such a church does not even miss the “would be” members, as the leadership was so careful not to ever truly establish a relationship with them in the first place. As in a bad marriage, the one longing to commit must move on, count her losses, and carry the pains of the divorce alone, while the church remains on a spinning wheel of its own devices which, not unlike an intense addiction to a substance, really seems to be working for them.

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23 thoughts on “Churches Who Won’t Commit

  1. I think my lesson in my experience to not go for anyone else but myself. Some pastors are controlling and it took too long to realise it. It was a very painful and hurtful experience but I also learned a lot and I did have a few good times there. It would really be great if I had people who truly cared and ones I can fully trust and reach out too when things are hard or when things are going great. People who can rejoice with me and someone who really cares if something is going wrong. There have been many times over the last two plus years I wanted to share things with and I had no one to tell

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    1. I agree. I think you have to know what you want and need based on your own relationship with Christ. I don’t think pastors usually know us well enough to properly advise us. But the Holy Spirit does.

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      1. Yes I realise that now. I do think there is always something good in every church but when the negative outweighs the positive then its time to search around.

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      2. I agree, whether others like it or not, you really gotta take care of yourself. Please don’t feel bad about that. You are so infinitely important to God’s kingdom. In my opinion, the biggest error churches make is not seeing the true value of the people, in God’s eyes. I hope you feel like you are a member of Single Together. I want everyone to feel embraced and accepted there.

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  2. Sometimes I think churches have no idea how much they hurt us or rather they do not care and that is why people who left never get a call as to why.

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  3. Hi Katie. I agree with all that you said. Many churches have watered down messages. I think they are that way because they want to reach young people. They may feel that there is no other way to reach them.They may feel that only loud rock music and appearance of a disco will reach the young. I actually went to a church in NC where I needed earplugs. It was the loudest service I ever went too and I ended up walking out. I completely disagree about reaching the young with modern technology. I think truly loving people of any age and in any facet of life will bring them back week after week. When anyone sees a group of sincere, honest people who truly care about them why would they not want to return? What is a church if it isn’t about truly loving and respecting everyone at any age and at every situation in life? We all need spiritual guidance. Many people dont have family they are believers. It makes life very hard. I believe that services need to be more biblically based, more serious. Members get hurt more often then the leadership know. Hopefully they care. I dont know. If no one calls you and asks you why you left or if you are ok then you will know and be happy you left. I believe the only reason people leave is when they are disrespected or taken advantage of in some way. Otherwise there would be no reason to leave. Also, I dont think people leave because their commute somehow became longer or they somehow became busier or work on Sunday. If a member felt loved they would try and work around a Sunday job or come less often. I would drive an hour and a half if I was at a place where I was respected and cared about. I hope the person tries again at another church. I left church for almost 3 years. Well I still dont have a church but I decided to start looking. There were so many times in the last 3 years that I wanted other Christians to share good times and bad but there was no one to reach out too. I have some Christian friends who I know care. Yet there was no prayer group or weekly group of supportive Christians who I felt cared about me. No one to answer questions. No one to share my heart with. I kinda wish I left that church after the first negative experience then by now I would have found a place and I would have hopefully found a group of people to reach out too. By staying away from church I realised I was doing myself a disservice.The reason for going to church was for God not to fill up a seat. One very painful experience which made me stay away from church only left me from having good experiences to wipe away the bad ones I had in my past church. So it took me 3 years to figure that out. The longer a person stays away from church the harder it is to get back to looking. I regret staying in the former church for so long and realising too late that I was never really cared for in the first place. Its very hard to learn. As involved as I was from day one no one even called to see if I was ok or even ask if there was any reason as to why I left. You can really find out how much people care about you when you leave and no one even calls nor nobody even wants to know why or even cares to listen. I also regret not trying to find another place. I would say go to a church where it meets your needs and not for anyone else. I think it is good that you are leaving. The advice I got was just sit in the back and listen and observe what is going on before investing your time, energy, money and emotions. I dont know if I will ever heal. The fact knowing that I was never cared for in the beginning helps. I learned to set boundaries with what I will accept and what I will not. Leaving a church is like leaving a relationship. Just know that “with evey goodbye you learn.”

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    1. I’m sorry, I’m just now seeing this. I hope you see my response. Your note sounds like something I could have written myself. In spite of the fact that I always thought we were all supposed to operate as a community, God knows my heart and that I’ve always gone out of my way to belong to one of these church communities. But even now that I seem to be in a good church, I’m finding it is up to me to keep my relationship with God up. I haven’t known many people who display the fruits of righteousness when in these communities. I’m just sayin. Maybe it’s just the day in age that we live in. Recently, I recalled a word of advice I received probably 20 years ago. A godly lady told me “people aren’t your provider. God is your provider.” I’ve recently let go of needing anything from my church. Not that that’s a bad thing if you have a community you can get close to and trust. I have only once been in that kind of community and it was a highly therapeutic one. I guess if I don’t have any expectations from my current church, I continue to attend. However, as you alluded to above, time, energy, money and getting emotional support are all very important to me. I am praying about other areas to get these needs met, because I’m not sure they will be met very well in my current church.

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      1. Also, please join my single’s group “single together.” It is my way of getting us together and helping take care of one another’s needs for fellowship as singles. There also are a few church outreaches who “get it” and truly care about us!

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      2. I just joined your group. Yes I just saw this today. I must say that if a person is going to attend put their time (gifts of ministries), finances and giving and not receiving any emotional support (no one calling up to see how you are-no one to talk to when you need some female support or guidance) I say that it is time to move on. Spending all your energies on ministries where you are not appreciated it a waste of time. You deserve more. I cant be somewhere where people are fake or unkind. That is not the kind of fellowship God wants you to be in

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      3. A church is not a building, or an organization, or a conglomeration of ministries; it’s people- the gathering together of believers for mutual support. That includes you and me. Although I hear all that has been said, my problem with this whole string is that is seems to be cursing the darkness, instead of lighting a candle. Isn’t the solution to most of the issues brought up, to yourself be the person who ministers the way you want to be ministered to? In a church I was a member of for 20 years, whenever someone would bring an issue or a need up to the pastor, his response was usually “OK, what are You going to do about that?”. As believers, the responsibility is shared by all of us- and if you’re is an abusive church, where the pastor doesn’t understand this concept, that will quickly become plain!

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      4. Ken I wanted to respond to something you said on 1/3/17, about how a church is not a building but it is the people. I find I am strengthened exponentially in my Christian walk by other believers who are strong. Yes, I would like to be that strong person for others, and I can be when I am strong. But the Bible says “let those who are strong bear the infirmities of the weak.” I feel very strongly that the church institution needs to be stronger than the individual in most cases. Many who come into the church are new in the faith, or spiritually weak for some reason, and they need a strong church, not an institution which expects them to be the strong one. Remember, the church is supposed to be a “hospital for the sick,” not a “clubhouse for saints.” I am looking for a church (and may have found it) where the pastor and his wife are great spiritual leaders. They desire to be involved in my life and know me, and call me out on the negative in my life, as well as the positive, and also take responsibility for my life the same way a good family would.

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  4. VERY well written here is a good one for you long time ago when I told
    The pastor I was leaving he told me
    He sent the singles to another church
    Would you believe ??? He felt he only
    Wanted a family type of church would you believe ??? I agree with
    WHAT you wrote

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    1. Thank you so much Bruce. I appreciate your response. I take comfort in knowing God sees everything. And since He is such a righteous God, it will be addressed, either here or in the life after. I have many “horror” stories myself. I try to “complain up” as they say.

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    2. I believe it. There is so much of a focus on the teens through late twenties. They are in a age group where they are in the best age group to meet others. They can meet anywhere. The simply have no interest whatsoever.

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    3. I find that really sad. If anything its the single adults, elderly and sick who need ministering the most. Also, no one ever considers the fact that maybe there are people in the church who have no one to spend the holidays with. Or they have atheist or agnostic family and spent it alone.

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      1. Wow, again something I could have written. I have taken to spending holidays with the homeless and needed. I even have a group now that plays worship music for them. After doing what I want on the holidays, I don’t feel I am missing out by not doing the family thing. Please hit me up on Facebook if you haven’t already. Thanks!

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  5. I was very sad to read both this blog, and all the comments. This is not how it should be! I remember years ago, after visiting a Baptist Church, within a week, the Pastor came over to our apartment for a visit! It didn’t seem intrusive- he just saw it as part of his job to make himself available to people who visited, to give them a chance to get to know each other, answer any questions they may have, and offer to pray for whatever needs they have. It was nice- and not seen as an unusual thing. Preachers, if they are true to the Scripture, Must sometimes preach messages that are uncomfortable for the people to hear, but if it’s preached within a context of relationship, that makes all the difference! It seems like that has been lost, which leads to people getting hurt, and “church hopping”- and don’t stay anywhere long enough to really gain depth. I don’t really care about differences of style- but if Relationship is lost, that’s a Really big deal!

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