I spent the first twenty-eight years of my life in church. Sunday and Wednesday service, youth group leadership, conferences and plays and musicals and choir concerts, mission trips and car washes and bake sales, oh my!
These days my relationship with the institution is...strained. I’m there when I want the fellowship, or have a friend who is participating in some part of the service. I attend special events and concerts and readings from time to time, but I have no real “ties” to any local community of faith.
And I’m not any less of a Christian because of it.
For the longest time, I hid in the pews. After I left, I hid in the shadows. I stayed silent, for fear of offending friends and family who stay committed to their local church for one reason or another. But these days, I have learned that love means we can disagree well. I don't have to go to church, and I don't have to judge them for staying.
But I also don't have to keep quiet.
My story is one of many. On nearly a daily basis, I get an email, a phone call, or a Twitter message from someone who is walking through church mess. And that’s exactly what it is - a big ol’ mess. Sure, there are a few churches that are doing amazing things, and I am so thankful for them. But the vast majority of people I know, aren’t fortunate enough to have found those spiritual safe havens.
Confess Your Church Mess
Today, I am excited to launch a new blog series and Twitter hashtag conversation called #ConfessYourChurchMess. Several friends of mine have submitted some amazing guest posts to get us started, but I would love to hear from you, too. Would you like to confess your church mess? Are you looking for a place to connect with others who have suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of an institution that seems to be pushing more people out than they are drawing in? I’d love to share your story.
Here’s some of the topics I’m looking for:
- Church and the LGBTQ community
- Church and discrimination
- Church and mental health
- Church and the role of women
- Church and single parents
- Church and grief (the idea that our grief has a time limit)
- Church and abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, spiritual)
- Church and divorce
- I'm a pastor. And I'm sorry.
I'm open to other topics as well. Have a story that you’re dying to tell? Send it my way!
With each of these, I want to encourage people to continue the dialogue on Twitter, using the #ConfessYourChurchMess hashtag. It's become one heck of a way to dialogue (and also encourage posts to go viral).
The goal is not to poke holes at the church and walk away. But this is a way to say, "this has been my experience, and I know we can do better". I don't want to start a church bashing campaign. But I do want to let others know they aren't alone in their struggles or suffering. I want people to know that it matters when those in power use it in unhealthy ways.
Is this a conversation you'd be interested in joining? I'd love to include you! I'm looking for posts that are 400-900 words in length. These will be professionally edited before being posted. When you submit, please include your 2-3 sentence bio and all appropriate blog and social media links. Email me the church mess you'd like to confess.
I can't wait to read your story!
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