What is this about? To put it plainly, I'm encouraging people to leave their church. I know I have some explaining to do, words to define, questions to ask, types of people to describe, and behaviors of people/organizations to study and expose. I can't do that all in one article so I'll do it over several articles as time goes on. To be clear, I don't have all the answers and to be honest, I have very few.
I'm not a religious leader nor do I ever want to be. I walk in logos and if something doesn't seem right, I question it, study it, and try to find truth. If I can't, that's ok too. Knowing what something isn't can be just a powerful as knowing what something is. I'll never lie to you, and if I'm wrong, I'll admit it, correct it with commentary, and move on.
I'm not here to lead people. I'm here to question the who's, what's, and whys when it comes to church organizations and church things. Also, I'm here to help those who have been burned or cast away by church organizations, or are curious about churchy things.
"Where do you go to church?"
I get this question a lot when meeting new people and we discover we're both christians. Then I get the opportunity to say something out of the ordinary, "We've 'unchurched'." This is usually met with a confused stare as the person is trying to figure out what "unchurched" means while also trying to determine if what I'm saying is a joke. After a brief awkward moment, I'm usually met with questions like, "What do you mean?", or "What is 'un-churched'?".
So, what does it mean to unchurch? To put it plainly, it is exactly as it sounds. Un - the reverse of, cancellation of an action or state, and church (emphasis on the lowercase "c")- a building for public christian worship, an organization (Section 501(c)(3))- a topic I will post about soon.
Here's some quick information on 501(c)(3) from the IRS:
"To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates...
...Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct." Again, more information on this in a future post.
-Before we dive deeper, let me tell you a little about myself so you can better understand the perspective I'm coming from:
I've been a part of church organizations (the designation is important as there is a difference between the church (a people) and a church organization (stacks of paper approved by a government)) for 19 years of my life. All the church organizations I’ve attended, volunteered at, help plant, and worked full-time at have been religious charitable organizations with 501(c)(3) status. In these various roles I've attended and lead small groups, played/lead music, was an adult leader for youth groups, went to numerous camps/conferences, designed and remodeled buildings, made large decisions for the organizations, signed contracts, negotiated terms for sales contracts and services, tracked assets, signed off on bills for final approval, mentored people, been mentored, went to classes, attended worship gatherings, heard a lot of great doctrine, heard some insane doctrine, planned marketing campaigns, designed sets for stages and platforms (yes, there is a difference), wrote blogs, went along with things that didn't make sense for the sake of the church organization, stood my ground against church organizations, been on short term missions, etc... A lot of things over the course of many years. But why? Why have I done what I've done? What was the purpose? I've considered these questions for years but kept soldiering on for these church organizations. The initial, and unofficial unchurching happened over the course of several months.
-Back to it:
There were several questionable things happening at the church organization we were attending during this initial, unintended, unchurching phase. Things we confronted and were provably lied to about. Things that I will write about in upcoming articles. We left after speaking with the leadership there. Then we started attending another church organization, and again, things didn't seem right.
Questions I started asking myself were:
Our church attendance dropped even more.
Now, churchians (those who live and die by church organizations), would argue, "Well your attendance is the problem, not the organization." Or perhaps, "You should've stayed the course and prayed through it." Or any number of excuses that churchians can make in order to feel better about attending something they don't feel 100% good about.
After a few months of degrading church attendance and trying to find answers to my questions, I slammed on the brakes. I realized that we needed to unchurch, deprogram, and find my bearings. I needed to examine the what's and the why's of church organizations.
What is church? - A people.
How does someone go to church? - knowing that church is a people, this question doesn't make sense.
If church is a people then where am I going on Sundays and Wednesday, or Saturdays...? You're going to a building that is owned by a religious charitable organization. An event, light show, concert, a place that serves free coffee and doughnuts for your 2 hours of time (which literally takes your whole morning on the alleged day of rest).
Now, if we weren't participating in a religious charitable organization's events at their building, what did we do instead? Well, at this point in life, we had a lot of things going. We started homeschooling in January, prepared for a large garden, bought chickens, and worked on home projects. We got to know our neighbors, worked with them to help with their projects, shared tools, hauled off junk for them, communed with them and shared food from our garden and eggs from our chickens with them. We watched our friend's kids so they (the parents) could go on dates or run errands. We gave generously to people (without taking a tax credit) and organizations that are making an impact on real world problems- not buying the latest lights for a better concert experience or windmills for aesthetic purposes only. All things that were more life giving and more related to what we see in Acts 2 than anything we would have done at a religious charitable organization's event.
"Where do you go to church?" It's an odd question when you consider what it means to "church" or what is "church". I think a more appropriate question is, "What tax free, earned income reducing, building do you go to gather with other people, mostly strangers, with potentially similar beliefs?" That's a mouthful though.
So, what now? Do what we have done. Leave church. Build a deep community with other believers not centered around an organization- one that had to apply for recognition from a government in order to incentivize people to give to them. Spend time with your family, plant a garden, share your things and your skills. Give to those who need help.
We will send out an email when new articles are available