It was really easy for me to tell you what I hated about church and Evangelicalism, but I had a much more difficult time expressing exactly what I was looking for. For a long time I felt sort of lost, and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to rebuild.
I remember reading, A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. I jokingly said it caused “a new kind of confusion” for me. Everything happened at once. I was out of the pastorate, bouncing around various churches, unfulfilled, and wondering why pastors were so closed-minded. I was also reading books by authors who were reshaping the faith in ways that challenged much of what I believed.
I was uncomfortable attending church and uncomfortable when I finally bowed out completely, yet I had to get out because I felt like a hypocrite. I would usually come away from church services and meetings feeling empty, critical, and a little angry. But, I didn’t feel too great about sitting out, either. That took a while.
It would be easier if this transitional phase was just about leaving church and did not involve a total re-evaluation of your faith and beliefs, but the two usually go together. It’s inconvenient, and adds to the feeling of being spiritually homeless, but, ultimately, it is a good thing because your beliefs will be more authentic in the end.
When you don’t review something for a long time, it becomes outdated. If you are basing your faith on something you embraced when you were a child or when you first came to faith, your perspective has changed. When you re-evaluate, some things will stay the same and others will change.
The problem with our beliefs is they are seldom re-examined and updated.
We may have been taught to do so is heresy, but we probably just never got around to it. Maybe, like a child, we simply accepted what we were told and never questioned it. We never pulled back far enough to gain a new perspective. So, this is your time to question, read, discuss and test your beliefs so you can find what is true, what you truly embrace. You don’t have to toe the line anymore.
From my book, An Irreligious Faith.
Image by Steve Rhodes. Creative Commons