Wednesday, September 29, 2010

5 1/2 Tips to Recover from Religion

I read a few blogs, and man, there are folks out there that have been hurt by church - lots of them! Today I was thinking about some of them, those that are blogging to express their pain and frustration. I have done the same; used my blog to give a voice to those same feelings.

I used to think it was sort of funny that some of the folks I met at AA meetings would say, "I'm a recovering Catholic." They were men and woman that had found a relationship with God through the agony of alcoholism. I know what they were talking about. I had my own empty religious upbringing in which God was sort of a myth, and religion was more of a social/cultural activity.

One day I met the living God, and all the education I had previously had, as shallow as it was, gave me a starting point. I went and dug out my little red leather bound Bible with the velvet bookmark still on the verse from John that we read when we became members of the church. I hadn't looked at it since.

In the Christian blogosphere, it seems that there are "recovering Baptists," "recovering fundamentalists" and "recovering Lutherans" and Pentecostals too. When folks are that damaged by religion, it makes me sad - hey, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

When I first started reading, I thought it was just an excuse for being liberal, rebellious and getting even with the "church." The pendulum can really swing depending on where you started. In the process, like most folks that act out, display a little religious arrogance, or prefer talking about the problems instead of the solutions, I found some folks doing a little soul searching as read between the lines.

The inspiration for this blog came when I read a comment from a gay Baptist woman. She asked, why is it that the church can't seem to support me in bringing my lusts under the control of Jesus and simply let me be single? They do it for other straight singles with dedicated programs. I sit in church each week feeling ashamed, keeping to myself and Jesus.

She seemed to make a good point. Are we out to change how people feel, or support them in their quest to know Jesus; which includes holiness? I think folks that need to recover from religion need God, the real God, not the God in the box with a prize.

Here are 5 1/2 hints to recover from religion - well, if you are going to give Jesus another try - oh and make sure your foundation is in place:

-1 Look for Fruit, Not Results: If Jesus is really at work, there will be fruit. Spiritual fruit comes in the form of miracles, healing, prophecy, good character, forgiveness and folks that feel loved. Skip the paradigms you know, the name calling, and the political mixture. If there is no fruit, it is just a social club. Who knows, if that all you are looking for, you might find the model train club more fulfilling.

-2 Context: Read the Bible context for any scriptures that the teacher or pastor toss out as "proofs" for their points. It is easy to spectator, but it is better to participate. This is your best defense against the wiles of dead religion.

-3 Be In Some Sort of Small Group: I don't care what sort of church you go to, small or large, house or mega, it is good to get with other Christians to pray, talk about the word, share communion, love each other and bear one another's burdens. Out of true Christian relationship will flow the power of God. Here in lies the real test of "church" 1 Cor 14.

-4 Seek Out God: There are lots of churches that seem to represent God, and occasionally He shows up. Isn't that how you got wounded by religion in the first place? It is time to get with God, to cry out to God, to pray, and search for Him like treasure. (Prov 2) Try lots of churches. I always look for the ones that have testimonies. If God isn't doing anything for anyone in the church, than it is probably stuck in religion.

-5 Mediate on the Things You Hope For: So many folks sit around and worry - especially when religion doesn't work. Worry is the enemy of faith. Find folks that are not worried about everything when they are having tough times. There you will find the peace of God at work.

-5 1/2 Love: You never know, you might attract God that way...


Sandy Nagy said...

Thank you for your article. I think this is a subject that needs to be addressed from pulpits way more than at present. Many people who have found themselves burned like this have no idea where to turn. They tend to be hyper sensative to any kind of "correction" or just being invisible in the congregation. I beleive that the Body of Christ would do well to reach out to these in an intentional way. Thanks again for brining this up.

Charlie Chang said...

I'm currently looking for a small group because you're right, that makes a big difference in growth.

StephanieeRuth said...

So funny, I was just thinking about boxes today! How the Holy Spirit makes things alive and how he accelerates us into the knowledge of God. That is why Jesus corrected the Pharisees. They weren't being made alive in the knowledge of God, but they were stuck in the box of religion. This is awesome!

photogr said...

Having been burned in a recent church and doing research, I found out I could be classified a Messy Christian ( imperfect, flawed, lacking total faith, non pretentious,aggressively seeking Christ,questioned authority in the church, and thought out side of the box too much).

I wonder if there is such a thing as a messy church for messy Christians.

Small groups might be nice but they are filled up with perfect Christians so I don't fit in.

Back to the desert to wander aimlessly for a while.

Tracy said...

I know that it's been in the small group settings where I have found that connection that I read about in the Bible. I agree with you that there's much to be said for meditating on those things that I hope for.

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