Why i left the Church
- Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church - Barna Group
The Barna Group provides research and training for churches, non-profits, and businesses.
The Barna group conducted a research in eighth national studies, interviewing young adults, teens, parents, youth pastors, and senior pastors. Around 59% of young Christians disconnected temporarily or permanently from the church. The reasons are as follows:
1. Churches are overprotective - Church leaders demonize everything outside of church. Church leaders are also ignoring the problems of the real world.
2. Church is shallow - Other young adults stated that it was boring, irrelevant, and that the Bible is not taught enough. Others claim that God is missing from church.
3. Christian churches are anti-science - Many churches come across as anti-science.
4. Christian churches views on sexuality are judgmental - Young people are trying to live up to the church's expectations of a sexually pure life but fail and fear criticism for it.
5. Christian churches are intolerant - Many churches do not tolerate other faiths and differences.
6. Christian churches are displeased with doubters - Young people express honest doubt in their faith and they feel ridiculed for it.
These are only a few reasons Christians forsook the church. As someone who belongs to this 59%, i've also left the church as a Christian. If you're wondering "Why?" the answer is simple: Conservative Christianity or the Christian right.
Growing up in a conservative church myself, i am very familiar with the environment. As a child, i loved watching my father reading the Bible and playing worship songs. I grew up in a home where the Bible was taught and obeyed. I was taught to be a good church boy. My father would make sure that i brought my Bible and wear a suit with a tie. I got in trouble for running around at the parking lot and in the streets. I also got in trouble for hanging around with the wrong crowd. Until i realized it wasn't worth it through guidance. Since then, i listened to my parents and church elders. With that in mind, what could possibly go wrong when they had the best in mind for me? Why did i choose to leave?
After visiting so many churches, i realized that they all had many things in common.
As a convert at age 11, i was slightly drawn to conservative Christianity. I believed that a holy God would expect me to attend church and reject the outside world as profane. I believed that wearing a suit and being clean-shaven represented the ideal Christian changed by God. Being sexually pure and refraining from cursing, smoking, drinking, along with all sin gave Christians a good testimony. My father only allowed me to listen to artists such as Switchfoot, MercyMe, Casting Crowns, and other contemporary artists. It was until i was introduced heavy metal that i began to get involved in it. What shocked me more than the music was the fact that Christians adopted it! I would try my hardest to convince my sister to stop listening to Christian heavy metal as i warned her of all it's evils. Meanwhile, i listened to it behind everyone else's back. Why? I was very troubled by all this so i searched for answers from (mostly conservative) Christians. I've received all sorts of different views: That heavy metal was the Devil's music, ungodly, and unpleasing. There were more gentle responses such as it was not a good witness to Christ and violated Philippians 4:8. I listened to the other side and they said that it by God's grace that a person was saved, thus any music is permitted. Who was i to listen to? I looked at how conservative Christians treated others who had lifestyle differences and i disliked what i saw. If a man with a strange form of dress walked in a conservative church, people would brand him a sinner and exclude him from their community. Perhaps some would welcome him with open arms and love, only to initiate him into a new lifestyle later on.
I realized i was only thinking black and white terms. I was conditioned to believe that the ideal Christian tried to live his or her according to the church. In reality, Christians come from all shapes and sizes of life.
As i grew older, i saw divisions between the conservatives in support of the Republican party and liberal Christians. There were many different denominations of Christians. All were divided by lifestyle and doctrinal differences. Conservative Christianity teaches that creationism is the only way to interpret Genesis, that evolution is false, the earth is young, abortion is against God's Word, and many more. Conservatives maintain that America is a Christian nation. While there are variations of belief, conservative Christians have this kind of attitude towards the world. I extended my hand in friendship towards those who believed differently than i and many turned me away. I suppose i never felt that i needed to pick a side. I strongly believed that it was important to follow what is right rather than who is right. Nevertheless many conservative Christians believe that if you don't share the same views as them - you are rebelling against God.
I have lost conservative Christian friends over differences in belief and it's disheartening.
- Majority Of Evangelicals Have Premarital Sex Like Normals
Many have suspected that not all Christian young people save themselves for marriage. Now there's data to prove it.
Conservative Christians impose many rules on what music we listen to, what clothes we ought to wear, what food we eat, what movies we watch, and so forth. I've been pressured to abstain from every worldly influence so i could be pure before God. Young and old Christians advised me that i was honoring God's Word by presenting a clean reflection of who God is. However no matter how many rules i tried to follow, i always ended up failing. No matter how much i prayed and read Scripture i would always fall into sin. I thought other Christians were much better than i am but truthfully, they were dishonest. The same married women with a reputation for godliness were trying to commit adultery. The same women preaching against short hair secretly had it behind everyone else's back. I was taught that masturbation is a sin, pre-marital sex is wrong, and even the slightest hint of sexual expression got me rebuked. The same women who taught modesty was essential to Christianity subtly found clever ways to express their sexuality through their "modest" dress. The same Christians preaching that pre-marital sex is such a horrendous abomination are engaging in that same behavior behind closed doors. This generation of parents are spreading this idea when they themselves could not live up to it when they were young. Many would protest and say "We're human, you should not stop trying to be holy" but why emphasize such high standards if your not going to live up to them?
It's because these standards are not biblical. They were invented by man to oppress and condemn others. I once upheld standards of holiness only to be full of religious arrogance and hate towards the spiritually weak.
I keep hearing the same lines "Come to church!" and "If you loved God, you would do this!" I've been pressured so many times in so many forms by other Christians. I want to explore the church at my own pace but when i do, people share their testimony as if i'm not a Christian. They repeat the words "We love you!" and "you have friends here!" If i miss one Sunday, almost everyone shames me for it. I've been pressured to be just like most people in the church "for the Lord." I've been bullied for my long hair, ridiculed for my beliefs, mocked, teased, and ostracized. Whenever i walked into a church seeking nothing more than spiritual growth from God, there were always people making me feel like i didn't belong. Why? Because everyone is the same. People dress the same, talk in the same way, act the same way, and live the same lifestyle. I felt it was not because God called them to be that way, but because people were peer pressured. The attitude was no better than those of deviant kids pressuring others to join their cliques.
I found out that many of the church's teachings on theology and science are biased or clearly wrong. The sad reality is that many Christians do not read their Bibles. They simply take it to church every Sunday so they can be seen as devout Christians. They may also read select passages here and there then let their ministers interpret the Bible for them. Many Christian counselors know next to nothing about psychology and they are writing books that teach erroneous ideas about how humans ought to behave. There are many Christians who are indoctrinating their children to reject the evolutionary theory when they haven't even taken the time to understand it. Many people do not take the time to study biblical history or the languages involved. This is a huge problem as thousands are misinterpreting God's Word.
Whenever i sought spiritual fellowship, i typically met people who weren't concerned about my relationship with God. They used me and cared more about themselves. They were more concerned about whether or not i was in church. Their relationship with God depended on superficial reasons rather than deep spiritual problems. There were also other Christians whom i thought cared and loved me, but realized they only pretended to be seen as righteous. You will encounter false friends who only want you in church so they can gossip about you.
A lack of love:
"Come to my church!" says a Christian teen. "My church is loving!" says a Christian man talking to me about how great his church is. They all claim that their church is loving. Who am i supposed to believe? After going from church to church, i realized most of them had one thing in common: They lacked love. I felt God's Spirit in worship but other than that, i didn't belong. I was tired of all the eyes looking at me with such criticism and false friendliness. It was a bit disheartening to lack a church where i didn't belong. Behind all the smiles, there's hate and bitterness.
A lack of spirituality:
After being a new Christian, i eventually grew too spiritually old for church. It's not to say that God never uses church to help me but there's nothing more for church to teach me. I constantly went to church looking for God and left spiritually dry. I have matured to a point where i realized that being a Christian involves more than reading a Bible and praying. It involves experience with God, love, and action. I've learned more from individually facing obstacles rather than sitting in a church pew. Churches may help nurture newcomers but there comes a point where they must find God beyond walls.
These are all reasons i have left the church and do not plan on returning. It's not to say that all Christians are as i described earlier. My friends and Christian family are very different from most other Christians. They love and accept me for who i am. However, this is what distinguishes them from most other Christians. I now belong in a non-judgmental Christianity community not associated with any church. It is my firm belief that Christians ought to seek fellowship rather than associate themselves with a local organization.