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I Think I Struck A Chord

Big hit on charts

From my site stats

So that happened. While my blog’s traffic patterns have been fairly predicable, one post really sent the numbers through the roof. About two weeks ago, I didn’t write what was on my mind, I wrote about what was on my heart. I wrote about the pain, frustration, and brokenness I had been feeling. I wrote about the disapointment I had experienced with the church in recent months. Never did I imagine it would struck a chord with so many people. Within a few hours of posting, I noticed a couple friends on Facebook actually reposted the link, and I got many responses in the form of private messages on Facebook. People began sharing their stories with me about when they were hurt by the church, and a seeming solidarity of experience began to emerge. Not too surprisingly, if I sorted responses by religious affiliation. I got dozens of responses by former churchgoers, including many messages of support. I got exactly two responses from “church” people. Actually one of those was from an old friend living in Europe, so I’m not positive how active she is in church, although her husband is in a theological post-grad program.

My analysis of the reaction was reaffirmation of my disappointment in the church. While the vast majority of my audience is made up of church people, the vast majority of support came from the considerably smaller pool of unchurched people. Obviously this topic struck a chord with my unchurched friends. I may be wrong, but there seems to be a therapeutic value to sharing our stories.

So what I will ask you is to share your story. Send it to me via Facebook or send it to this blog via comment. If you want to be anonymous, that’s fine. But please share your stories. I have heard so many that parallel the experiences written about in the Bible, that I want study the relationship and hopefully one day produce something that will help people just like you who have been burned by the church, religious people, or anything else associated with God. Please send me your story!

  1. Trey
    March 4, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Hey Michael,
    Sorry I somehow missed that first post, which is odd because I have been trying to keep up with most of them (strange the one with the highest response was the one that I missed). I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I’ve felt particularly moved to do so. I think I can understand some of what you’re going through. Granted, I seriously doubt my experience has been as negative as yours, I have had people (many people) disassociate themselves from me because either of something I did politically, something I said in an effort to stay true theologically, because of an association I had with someone else (including a certain professor we both know and another whom I’m not sure you got to meet), but most often, it seems, it’s because I have tried to give a more evenhanded approach to certain topics rather than villify or give a strawman. I guess I always try to see things in the best light and try to look at stuff from a different vantage point to give everyone a fair shake; maybe I go too far to the other extreme feeling I need to stand up for a viewpoint that is being unnecessarily or unfairly attacked. Anyway, I won’t get into too specific a situation (for the sake of others involved), but I think you understand. We’ve had “friends” in the church dismiss us as unchristian or at least having been foolishly mislead. This latter point probably hurt the worst. They weren’t just dismissing me for things I had said/done (even if I didn’t really publicize them), but they were dismissing my wife also. That said, I can attest to the fact that my experience, while broad and including many in the church, was not uniform. It seems that we have always been able to find at least one, sometimes two, and occasionally even more couples, individuals, or families whom would not shut us out. Even if they disagreed with me (and they often did), I found that they respected me and valued my respect for them, that they were willing to talk about things we disagreed or leave them alone and just talk. Sadly, I do think that such an experience is unique, particularly in many evangelical churches in America. However, it is these unique expereinces, and the longterm bonds that result from them even after we’ve left, that have helped me to keep my faith in the Church strong. I pray that you may have some experience of that. The unexpected kindness or the willingness to stand by you. I also don’t think it’s wrong for you to put your questions (and heart) out there either. God nearly gave up on Israel a few times, or at least said He would have were He not a god who is necessarily faithful. It seems that God’s chosen group (whether Israel or the Church) seem to represent the worst of the worst, and that this isn’t accidental, though it’s certainly hard to live with at the moment. Sometimes, certain members of the body just need to step back and forgive the other members (I not preaching, I know you know this and have probably done it), and recognize that though we are the Bride of Christ, we’re still imperfect and we’re still being purified and sanctified, and we’re not quite ready to put on that white dress just yet, but we will be. I love you brother, and if you ever need someone to talk to about anything, even in a drastically different time zone, I trust you know how to get in touch with me, and I will do what I can. The Church needs you and your wife, brother, you are both a needed part of its function, and I would wager that those members of the church that don’t seem to want you need you in the body the most. May the God of peace bless you and keep you in Christ, together with His Holy Spirit.

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