Updated: Jan 24, 2019
A video appeared on my feed recently and caught my attention. The title was, “I Stopped Believing in God After Pastoring A Mega Church.”
I watched it and had a feeling that there was more to what was shown on the video so I looked up the featured young woman online and had a more complete picture of her story.
God, are You real?
The young mother of two was a worship pastor together with her husband to a church that had 10,000 plus in attendance. They were teaching, leading worship, and holding worship concerts locally and abroad but were experiencing a crisis of faith.
Questions about God, realities of the world, and relevance of their faith left them with doubts so they brought those to their leadership. They were deemed, however, to be “dangerous” and had to resign from their positions and leave their church. They moved to another part of the country and began a home church where they allowed people to be themselves and not be conformed to a mold like they felt they experienced in their former church.
A major crisis of faith
The doubts they had were still there and soon her husband declared he did not believe in God. Though she had the same doubts as her husband, she could not bring herself to make the same declaration. It was their love for God that brought them together in the first place. They would sing worship songs together and later fell in love with each other. Their life, marriage, and family all centered on Jesus so she could not reconcile herself with atheism. Though now an atheist, her husband remained the same - a loving husband and doting father to their children. The birth of their second child diagnosed with Down syndrome and several other experiences they had led the way for them to accept their doubts and go back to believing again. The result of that is she tries her best to live the way of love and of Jesus, which is how she describes her faith now. Looking back, she is thankful for the crisis of faith they encountered and would not have it any other way.
Pause for a while
It is not uncommon to hear a story like hers. In the last few years, I’ve heard of and personally know of people who have decided to drop out of church.
Most of them have a very strong faith in God and desire to have a deeper relationship with Him. Sadly, they have found their faith journey and their church’s direction do not align together. They have life and faith questions that are unanswered. Personal revelations of faith through the Word of God and their spiritual experiences do not match with sermons from the pulpit. Requirements for membership and ministry (volunteer) work contradict with their personal belief and experiences as well. Hurtful experiences from leadership and their church in general are also reasons why they left. After going through a period of soul-searching and church-searching, most of them have moved to smaller church communities or have decided to attend mega churches so they can get lost in the crowd and not be recognized. Some are still not part of a regular church system but are part of smaller groups that meet informally in houses or public places. These have become their spiritual family. There are also those who still do not attend any church or group but have chosen to join the growing number of people worldwide who “attend” church online watching sermons from different preachers.
I, too, left the church
A few years ago, I also stopped attending church. I had a life-changing spiritual experience and started a journey. The church I was formally with were saying things that were contradicting what the Lord revealed to me and what the Lord was saying in His word. I had a choice to buckle down and sit it out or leave. This situation was timely because I was also moving to another location so I was literally leaving the city. For two years, I spent a lot of time in contemplation, prayer, and study of the word. I felt the Father guiding me as He moved me to be part of a small group that met at least once a month for informal fellowship, prayer, and study of the Bible. Mentoring and spiritual accountability were present. Questions were freely asked. There were no “stupid” questions as there were no right or wrong answers. We were family, and love and trust were evident. Later, I felt the Father nudging me back to attend a small church that my own family was attending. This was confirmed by most of the group I was with. I have been with this church for two years now and thankful for their openness and fellowship.
As with the young woman, time away from the regular church system made me focus on what is truly important – my relationship with the Father through the Lord Jesus. It is not uncommon to experience alone times with the Lord. We are set apart from the norm so He can clearly speak to us. All the noise is removed and His voice, sometimes very soft, assures, instructs, encourages, rebukes, and disciplines us in the way that we should go. As we allow Him, He pours His love and overwhelms us until our only response is to surrender and love Him back. This time is very valuable because when we stand before God we cannot hide anything. Everything is uncovered. Anything that is broken, out of sync, excessive, and untrue will be exposed. He “prunes” us for our healing and restoration so we can become whole, and be more fruitful for His kingdom while walking in freedom as His sons and daughters.
Leaving the church system for a time in order to seek the Father’s will is unconventional yet pivotal. It is the Father moving you from just going through the motions of ritual and into living the powerful life He wants you to have as an individual and a member of His family, the body of Christ.