This is an important conversation for church leavers. It is important that we consider whether the Bible supports an independent journey with God centered in our relationships or whether people are contracted into service to the Church. Can the Bible be used as some form of End User License Agreement (EULA) by the Church to contract Christians, new and old, into weekly attendance, tithes, and volunteer services? Or does it encourage an independent relational journey with God throughout one’s life centered in their relationships?
This is a post for church leavers, for people who have left the Church and who are leaving their churches. There are many reasons why people leave their churches. Some leave because they were raised to believe a faith that doesn’t match reality while many leave due to pain, having experienced exploitation, witnessed corruption, and endured abuse. Still others leave because of a deeper and more pressing reason — a desire to experience and know God. This latter reason, the need and desire for a relationship with God, is common to all. This includes those who’ve been told what to believe and how to behave, but who’ve not experienced God; to those who’ve been exploited, witnessed corruption, and endured abused in service of the institutions and not-for-profit businesses and can no longer tie their relationship with God to the Church; and those who’ve faithfully attended, served, and supported the Church and, along the way, come to recognize that their deepest longings for God are going unanswered and unmet.
I know those who’ve spent time in Church need time to process their reasons for leaving the Church. This leads to important conversations. And it takes time. But somewhere along the way everyone has processed their pain and frustration enough for their God-connection and -hunger to resurface and drive them toward the ‘more to life’. They will again explore their spirituality and respond to the inner still voice of God. And when they do, they will be right back where churches want them. They will again be faced with the EULA, as defined by the Church, but having left the Church for good reasons they won’t want to go back to churches. This demand of the Church forces people into a false choice. It is as though they must choose between life with God as a member of a church or life without God apart from the Church? It is therefore important that we establish that the same Bible the church uses to build EULAs contracting people into the service of the Church in fact argues for an independent relational journey with God throughout their lives. Rather than a church-based spirituality disconnected from daily life the Scriptures support a relational spirituality centered into living and loving.
Over the next few weeks I’ll post a series focused on relational spirituality. This is in part to counter the logic and demands of the Church. And because this is for church leavers who consider the Bible important, it will be rooted in Scripture. But the real reason for posting it is that its the core philosophy guiding the urban mystics.