Following Where Others Have Gone Before, Part II

29 12 2008

Perviously on Dances With Klingons:

Leaving the Institutional Church, “Is this all I am, is there nothing more?” No More Christian Nice Guy, Why Men Hate Going to Church, Life, liberty and love.

And now Part 2:


Were was I?  Leave a place where people care about you, for a wilderness that may be unforgiving, unloving, and …..



Thanks to Paul Coughlin’s NMCNG, I felt free from the doctrines of the church, but I was attempting to give a message that was falling on deaf ears.  I went from being a “nice guy” to, what could be perceived as “a total asshole”.   I was fed up with the traditional worship with an organ, choir, and folk songs.  I wanted loud, joyful and rocking music.  So, as an homage to the group that helped me to come to God back in California, I suggested a new worship community and band to fill a hole and help bring back the younger set to the church.

I  started working with the pastor of the church that I held membership in to make a new worship community that was meeting once a month and was willing to take some risks when it came to doctrine, music and HOW a worship service looked.  Going outside of the Methodist traditions, but only going so far.   We sat around tables, had coffee, all the while listening to a talk that we could ask questions and sing songs in a different venue than the face front and don’t look at anyone else.

This was working , but was it really what God wanted me to do?  What was he wanted me to know?

 I continued my own studies with books like “Six Rules All Men Must Break” by Bill Perkins, who gave me permission to not be tied down to “nice guy” rules, “Revolution” by George Barna,  who really made me look again at what the church was not being.

But then I came upon the “heretic” of Christianity,  Brian McLaren.  I read his “The Secret Message of Jesus” and was lost to Christianity forever.   He made me see the truth that most of what the church does, is not in line with Jesus’ teachings. Brian’s writing lead me to a copy of a book called “Pagen Christianity” by Frank Viola.   The copy of the book was not the one that is currently popular and was not re-edited by George Barna.  PC (ha, as if Jesus ever was) taught me what the church never did, about Constantine, his vision and how the church got to be a political power, that it never should have been.

This lead me to the emergent church movement and the author Shane Cliarborne, and the Simple Way.   So much of what I learned in the church, namely don’t question anything we tell you, became a burr in my saddle that needed to be take out.   I started to question everything, including  if Jesus really IS God.   (Personally, I think it’s more important to understand what Jesus was out to do and leave the debate about Jesus as God out of things, Jesus never claimed to be God.)

So I continued reading more and more,  “A New Kind of Christian” Trilogy and “Everything Must Change” by Brain McLaren, Jesus for President by Shane Clairbone, and Reimagining Church by Frank Viola.

Their work has challenged my thinking and soul.  Making me mad at the IC system.  I was gong down a path of hate with each book I was reading.  Hating the way that Christianity was keeping people “morally correct” instead of living life to the fullest. 

More books kept popping up and God kept saying “read them”.  “UnChristian” by David Kinnaman and Gave Lyons, which confirmed what I already knew about the church and “good Christians”, The Present Future” by Reggie McNeal,  who asks questions that the church is too afraid to face and even ask.   “Adventures in Missing The Point” by Brain McLaren and Tony Campolo,  which gave me a way to figure out what works and what doesn’t. 

By this time, I would go to church and complain about everything that was wrong, do some talks on how I precived the Trinity, and played music for the group.  But I was not getting feedback, because most of the people had no ear for what I was saying.

During this time, I found internet groups to discuss these things that I was learning.  Many times I kept hearing the same things that I learned in church,so I left these groups to find better ground.  No need to tell what groups I left, because I really don’t want you, dear reader, to have to go through the mess that I went through.

I was starting to feel like I was the only one, besides my wife, in the world who understood what all these authors and other people that were leaving churches to search for something more authentic than the “Sunday Morning” church. 

But I started to hang out where good Christians fear to tread.  Namely, MySpace!   I reconnected with a few old friends, those that knew me before I accepted Christ, and started blogging there.  Much of my frustrations came out, and the blog at MySpace is my bitch box, because that audience will understand and agree with me. 

As I was hagging at MySpace, I started to re-discover music from the 1980’s, including the cheesy praise songs.   There had been so much lost of the masculine side of humanity in those songs, that I couldn’t sing those anymore. The “Safe for the entire family” stuff that the Christian radio stations claim are so good for you.  Maybe mom and her delicate ears, but the Jesus I was finding the the Bible and really being around me was wanting something a bit more dangerous. 

 So I started to write my own songs. 

I took these to the band that I was leading and we did a few, but the message  was not reaching their hearts.  How do I know?  The group was more worried about getting others in the doors, and not excited about what was being learned.   There was alot of “I’m in a personal relationship with Jesus, but I don’t know how to be personable with you.”  

That is where I think my joy was starting to disappear.  “Church” became a chore to do on the weekends.   I started to think about leaving the group, that I had thought I was meant to lead into the world, and just quit for a while.  

That has become my reality.

In Part III:  I will tell you of the dangers, joys, and what it takes to have the courage to leave an institutional church.  My journy is just begining…



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