I haven’t been to church regularly in years, and I know I’m not alone. Debate amongst Christians continues on whether Christians “should” go to church, or, in fact, whether church membership and attendance is Biblically mandated. I don’t get involved in that. As far as I’m concerned, I know a lot of Christians don’t go to church, for whatever reason. Whether they “should” go – or go back, as a lot of Christians tell me they once belonged, but for various reasons no longer feel that way – is redundant. It just is what it is.
The general consensus amongst most church-going Christians I find is that if a not-going-to-church Christian feels isolated, is in pain emotionally, is hurt or offended by the actions of the church or has issues related to their non-church attendance, then that’s their fault – the solution is sucking it up (“it” being the issue which caused them to leave) and getting back to church.
Gosh, if only it were that simple.
I’m not going into who’s responsibility it is to heal the rift between churches and leavers. I am more interested in those folks who are not going to church any more, and who may have left under less than amicable circumstances. I’m concerned they are left to fend for themselves, and I know many feel the lack of support and empathy they experience is their punishment for being outside the “fold”. I want to know who is helping supporting, listening to and loving – who is “pastoring” – these folks.
And with this in mind, and my own experiences and those of others over many years, I created BRAVE.
BRAVE is specifically for women who have left their Christian church, and who feel they may need some support, guidance and encouragement to help them process what’s happened, and find ways to move forward.
There are as many reasons why people leave church as there are churches. But while our reasons for leaving may differ, there’s one thing every leaving has in common.
Leaving your church is like leaving your family.
Whether you’re deployed from a church to begin another one, leave because of differences, or make like a runaway and escape with your life, leaving brings with it the same grief which accompanies any similar loss.
Yes, grief. Those feelings have a name, and the experience brings with it a legitimate set of thoughts and feelings.
This grief, and the issues which facilitated the leaving in the first place, don’t simply “go away”. They need to be healed, particularly if there’s ever to be a conciliation of any kind.
Nobody can live hurting like that. And simply going back to church and not being “offended” any more just isn’t that simple.
BRAVE is an eight-week online course designed for women who have left the mainstream Christian church and who wish to re-orientate their faith and Christian practice to be both self-determining, and Holy Spirit led.
Processing grief and owning our choices takes courage, wisdom and a willingness to face our shortcomings, and accept others’. In BRAVE, we’ll share our experiences, and discuss ways of moving forward, breaking old patterns of dependance whilst exploring and recreating a new way of being with God, and with others.
Facilitated by Jo Hilder
Registrations close: Friday 14th March. Spaces are limited!
Questions? Contact Jo here.
Register now – Click on the Paypal button below to secure your place in BRAVE!