Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Detoxing from Church

First I just wanted to thank everyone for being such a warm and friendly group for Ron and I to walk into. We've only been there a few times and we already feel a part, and for that we are grateful!   This past Sunday was pretty amazing for us, and has really spurred a lot of talks throughout the week so far.  Several months ago I came across an article called Detoxing From Church by Jason Zahariades, and we've found it incredibly thought-provoking.  I'd like to share it will you all, since our ambivalence and uncertainly toward the institutional church apparatus seems to be shared among many!  (My apologies if everyone has already seen this!)

Imagine what you would have left after you remove from your life everything connected with the organizational church. I mean everything. I’ve discovered the hard way that living most of my adult life in cultural Christianity has formed my entire identity as a Christian. And when everything in my life connected with the church is gone, including sixteen years of professional ministry, I’m confronted with the true raw status my personal faith.  Now I'm going to say something harsh: In order to BE the Church, we need to leave the church.

Read the rest of the article here.

What does everyone think?


stacymichelle said...

oh Sarah, thank you SO much for this article! I really got a TON out of it, and I especially loved
"A primary difference between being churched and being the Church is how I approach the community. Being churched assumes the organizational church is designed from the perspective that I am a consumer of religious goods and service. Therefore, I am expected to participate in the church’s programs chiefly to receive and consume. It’s the organization’s responsibility to program, coordinate and provide what I need for my spiritual satisfaction.
But being the Church requires me to take full responsibility to follow Christ and Christ alone into his life."

I think that pointing out the difference between what each looks like can be incredibly powerful, as I definitely ate from the great McDonalds cheeseburger.

I am now, as the author states, "Detoxing from any kind of substance abuse is only a means to a much greater end. It is the essential process toward a healthy life, free from oppressive addiction"
Awesome "food" for thought. ;)

Can't wait to see you all on Sunday!

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I think this is wonderful advice for many of us on our journey. I want to also give plenty of room to those others of us who come from outside the church or are still within the church. I want to make sure we embrace everyone and encourage all.

I certainly have left the "building", but moving forward I still have yet to really start my own personal/community rhythms. I need to do that.

Thorn-67 said...

"Detoxing from any kind of substance abuse is only a means to a much greater end. It is the essential process toward a healthy life, free from oppressive addiction"
Certainly church became a form of addiction to me. I don't mean that to minimize the struggles that others may have had with other addictions...But quitting the IC church has been the most traumatic experience of my life...I have tried to quit and started again (pulling the geographic) I have indulged secretly...in the form of podcasts...pop-Christian books...and blog conversations. Not having "the church" to define my Christianity has been one of the greatest challenges I have faced as a believer. Who am I without it?
I crave old experiences...I have believed that if I just tried hard enough I could 'go back' and be in the church AND NOT OF THE CHURCH. I Romanticize about the "Good ol' Days" and I wonder if I could do church again and not get hung up and addicted all over again.
Christmas time has created a whole new kind of Church 'jonesing' for me.
In attempting to move forward; I, like Jamie feel the need to engage spiritually in new forms of personal and community rhythms.

Arizona Bam said...

Hey Sarah!

We're all excited to have you and Ron involved (both at the gatherings and now on the blog)!

This article is definitely a thought-provoking read, and ironically enough, our friend Zac P. posted about it on this blog as well back in March of this year... (for those that are interested, you can read our March discussion about this article here.)

Matt said...

We've got two threads going and I'm going to try to tie them together. I'm going to add some recovery wisdom here. One of the most effective treatments is 12-step meetings. Here are the first 3 steps:

1) We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Strangely enough these steps have principles attached to them:
1) Honesty
2) Hope
3) Faith

I don't think anything describes our meeting better. I can speak from experience that addictive behavior never goes away. We all tend to focus on the positive aspects of the addiction but when you do this sit down and make a list of the negative aspects. Then make a list off what you're grateful for at this moment. Live right now in God's love. In recovery there is a statement that says if you've got one foot in the past and one foot in tomorrow you're pissing all over today. God espects us to live here and now. God has already taken care of our past and he doesn't want us to worry about tomorrow.