If you were a part of the church for a long time and have decided to bow out, you will experience a real sense of personal loss! The mission of the church, and that of your particular local church, was probably something you deeply believed in. Now that you can no longer, in good conscience, support it, you probably feel a little homeless. You need something to believe in, but are convinced church as you have known it is not it. Being unsure of what you believe has left you in a “no man’s land,” dealing with a void in your life.
Of course, you will eventually find your way, and you’re probably not the heretic some people think you are, but right now, there is a gaping hole in your soul.
You need to feel your loss deeply and you need to talk about it. Cry out to God about it. You will probably feel your sense of purpose, direction, and identity threatened for a while, but it will pass.
You may feel angry. I did. I felt as though I was sold a bill of goods. It cost me thousands of dollars to get a “good Bible education” that didn’t do me one bit of good when I wasn’t a pastor anymore. I had over twenty years of valuable experience, but nobody recognized the transferable skills I had honed for all of those years. I had moved my family all over the Midwest to pastor small churches that had a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming vital and relevant. I was maligned when I had “wild ideas” about the church serving the community and being somewhat relevant to the culture. I loved the church, but it left me high and dry. I put all of my eggs into one basket, the church basket, only to have them crushed.
It hurt, I mean, really hurt! At times, I cried out audibly to God asking him just what he was doing.
Mourn your loss and express your anger. It’s a big deal. You have the right to be disappointed, hurt, and angry.
This is only the initial reaction to something a lot of people have been through. It is not a destination, but a phase. I talk about more how to process all of this in my book, An Irreligious Faith: How to Starve Religion and Feed Life of which this is an excerpt.