Does your church keep you from experiencing Jesus?

It’s time for a new podcast, and I want to talk today about finding an authentic expression of faith. I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!

And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.

But first, here’s the podcast:

Main Segment: on Rachel Held Evans’ Message

Last Saturday, Rachel Held Evans, an influential writer and speaker calling the evangelical world back to an authentic relationship with Jesus, passed away from complications of the flu at the age of 37. She left behind two very small children and a devastated husband.

I never met Rachel, though I think we may have emailed once or twice, many years ago. But I want to talk today about her core message. I know some find her controversial, and that’s okay. But the core thing she talked about was Jesus–how do we actually live out a Jesus-centred life?

I’m inviting Rebecca on to this segment of the podcast this week, as we talk about our own church history as a family, and what has made the difference in our lives. What’s happened in the last few decades is that doctrine seems to have taken precedence over living out a Jesus-centred life. We’re too focused on what people believe, and we don’t look enough about how people act, perhaps because we want to seem to be in the “it crowd”–the ones who really get it.

I know that on this blog I have people from all different faith walks, and I’m so happy about that. I hope what we have in common is Jesus. And I want you who have left the church because it hasn’t been authentic to know that there are different communities out there to join. Please don’t give up entirely.

One thing we touched on was that sometimes when husbands or kids seem to be walking away from the faith, we panic. But maybe it’s not that they’re abandoning faith. Maybe they’re just uncomfortable at our church, or uncomfortable with some doctrine. That’s okay. God is big enough to handle questions.

Rebecca also found in her research for her book Why I Didn’t Rebel that one of the #1 reasons for kids leaving the faith was that they weren’t allowed to ask questions. The book goes into so much depth in what can drive kids away from God, and we need to listen to the voices of those young people!

What if I told you that not all teenagers rebel?

why i didnt rebel 3d cover image square - PODCAST: Is the Church Driving You Away from Jesus?

And what if I told you that a lot of typical parenting advice makes rebellion more likely?

I interviewed 25 young adults, trying to figure out what made them rebel or not.

Reader Question: How do we balance church involvement and family time?

A great question that all of us should grapple with before we overextend ourselves!

How do you balance the needs of your family with the constant need of attendance at church functions? My husband is a deacon in our church and sincerely enjoys it but there is the meetings and visits that go with that as well as other committee involvements and he often needs to work late. I guess my question is kind of how to keep serving others a commitment and balance that with your family? Faith and church involvement isn’t a checklist for me but I feel often it seems like there is always more volunteers needed for something or this or that.

I gave a bunch of thoughts, including these:

  • Figure out what prioritizing your family time will look like practically first–how many dinners together a week? How many nights together a week? Then add church after.
  • If you’re a leader in the church, you set the tone. What tone are you setting if you’re sacrificing family and outreach for church meetings?
  • Instead of making church a make work project, see what God is already doing and get behind it.

I wrote a big post on how church involvement can wear women out in particular, and that one got a ton of comments. We may not all agree on this issue, but I think it’s worth talking about and wrestling with, because far too many of us are exhausted and overworked!

Comment: My church made my abuse worse

One of the saddest scenarios I see a lot is women who say that they went to their churches for help with abusive marriages, and the church sent them back to their husbands rather than trying to help. A woman writes:

Sadly, the worst mistake of all was going to my church for help. If I hadn’t done that, I would have left much sooner. My children and I would have been spared years of abuse. In the end, we also had to leave our church and Christian school. Our abuser still attends there and is happily welcome.

Many churches handle this well, but all too many don’t.

If you go to your church for help with abuse, and your church only wants to talk about how divorce is a sin, then your church is not a safe place.

Here are some other posts on that:

I hope this podcast doesn’t make people think I’m anti-church. I’m not. What I want is for everyone to find genuine, healthy community, which is what the body of Christ should be like. I’m just afraid that too many churches aren’t like that, and so too many people are either getting beaten down or they’re leaving entirely. Neither option is good.

Just know there are good churches out there. I’ve been at amazing churches in all kinds of different denominations. So if your current church (or past church) seems harmful to you, please try something else. Don’t run away from Jesus.

What do you think? Have you ever had to change churches? How did it help you? Let’s talk in the comments!

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