I’ve entered a new chapter in my story. If my life was a book, and each chapter had a title, this chapter would be titled “Done.” This is a very interesting place to be. It’s surprisingly freeing. So free it’s addicting, really. I’ve had to deal with a few hurdles in the last few years, to say the least. Those hurdles almost crippled me spiritually and mentally. A lot of those hurdles and experiences took place in and/or around churches and church people. A lot of my bad experiences were partially my own doing, and I know this. But some what I experienced, and have experienced for most of my life from “churchy” people, is this overwhelming lack of regard for others, selfishness, judgment, condemnation, and a group of people that preach second chances from the pulpit, while denying you the actual opportunity of a second chance when it comes to actually extending that second chance through forgiveness. It is because of this consistently negative experience with church life as a while that I have learned that I am so completely done with church, or at least church as we know it.
Now before you get on the “oh you’re just one of those millennials writing a blog about leaving church” kick… hear me out. I’m actually done with a lot of things in my life. But it is primarily centered on my experiences with church, or rather people in church buildings and communities. I’ve recently come to the realization that the majority of churches I have known or been a part of actually very well may not know Jesus. This may seem like a harsh statement. I fully understand that really only God can know someone’s heart. What I’m saying here is that I don’t think people really understand who Jesus was/is to the world as both God and man. Maybe I’ll write an entry or two on what I mean here in the coming weeks, but for now I’d like to focus on what has led me to where I am now.
I almost feel like its such a trend to be “done.” But I feel like a lot of people miss such an amazing opportunity. They get to where they are done with everything, but they never move past being done. There is an amazing hope with being done with your current circumstances, because it opens up the door to progress towards future growth and opportunity. Let’s look at a few areas of life that being “done” can benefit you.
1. Done with your career choices
There are plenty of things you can do. You have so many possibilities to fulfill your desires. If you’re creative enough, you might manage to make money at doing what you love. Are you doing that now? Or are you stuck at a job you are quickly realizing is a dead end and sucking the life out of you? What would it look like if you could choose how you spent your time every day? Given that it’s something productive for you and the world around you of course (Not many people will pay you to sit on the couch doing nothing. Let’s be real). If you think about your greatest passion, the thing you like to do the most and spend your time on, then try to think about that thing in the context of something that could help pay the bills, that might change everything. Then again, it might not. But it’s worth a shot right? Pursue those dreams. There aren’t many chances, so take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you. And make sure you’re paying attention when those opportunities present themselves. I’ve come to realize that God rarely speaks by showing you the way or telling you what to do, but rather speaks by presenting opportunities. It’s your job to take the next step. Be done with settling for less than your goals, and start the pursuit now!
2. Done with your relationships
There are SO MANY blogs about this topic, but I’ll try to keep it brief. There was a time in my life when I got really tired of the people in my life because they were only bringing me down, discouraging me, and encouraging my never-ending battle with depression. One day I decided I was done with those people and made the conscious choice to direct my energy into having people in my life that were encouraging, uplifting, and life-GIVERS, not life-takers. Obviously we are called to reach out to people of all types, but that doesn’t mean we have to let just anyone into our more intimate places of our heart to do whatever damage they like. On the other side of this is intimate relationships. So you keep “ending up” with the wrong guy/girl, and you just don’t know why this keeps happening to you. Sound familiar? Well, here’s the hard truth: It’s almost always your fault. Yes people lie, cheat, and make poor life decisions after you start dating them. But a lot of times you could have noticed these things beforehand, or maybe you did notice these things, but they were so attractive, charismatic, and charming that you couldn’t resist, so you compromised. STOP DOING THIS! Make the decision today to be done with those relationships and spend your time choosing to have people in your life that are healthy relationships, and I will bet money on it that you will find someone that’s actually worth a damn. Be done with bad relationships so you can have room in your life and your heart for the very few really good ones!
3. Done with your past
This has been one of the toughest things for me to let go of. I was a moron in my teens, and it bled into my twenties. I did a lot of dumb things. I hurt people and I was selfish. Once I finally began to wise up to my shortcomings and grow up a bit, I began to despise who I was, and I often took it out on myself by continuing to make poor decisions in light of the person I was because I didn’t think I was worth very much anyway so I might as well stoop to the lifestyle of someone that didn’t hold much value. One day (VERY recently) I decided I was no longer going to hold on to what has happened in my life. I chose to be done with my past and look ahead. The air almost immediately got cleaner, it seemed. The sun shined a bit brighter, and some color came back into my life. This is a gradual process, to be sure. But if you make this decision today, then you can be sure you’ll be heading in a much brighter, and healthier direction tomorrow. We were never meant to drag a bunch of baggage through our lives. We weren’t made that way. Yesterday’s mistakes will always determine tomorrow’s outcome if you let them. Don’t let them. Be done with your past so you can embrace a full future.
4. Done with your location
Recently, I’ve began to see a shift where I used to be very passionate about the city I called home. As time goes on, I find myself longing to be somewhere, anywhere else. This city hasn’t been the best to me over the years, and though it has shaped my character, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything, I think its about time to have a new canvas to paint on. My family is all here, and that would be devastating to me to leave everyone, both my family AND my in-laws, but sometimes you just have to take risks to make an adventure a reality. We are adventurous creatures, and we should be allowed some crazy “out there” choices sometimes. So don’t be afraid to test the waters. Lost your job? Maybe its time to see where else you could get a job. Who knows where the wind might take you. If you’re able, then go for it. Be done with the idea that this place is the only place, and be open to change!
5. Done with church
This may be my most long-winded point, but I think there is much to be discussed here. I’ve recently been reading a book by David Kinnaman (author of Unchristian) titled “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving The Church…And Rethinking Faith.” In his book, Kinnaman discusses the many cultural and generationally related reasons people under 30 are leaving the church for good. Many of these points I can fully relate to. He points out that in a generation of millennials who are primarily concerned with creativity, entrepreneurship, and finding their place ISN’T finding their place in the church. The church has quite emphatically said “your skills, talents, and creativity isn’t welcome here” by the way they go about leading, serving, and constructing the daily and weekly life of the church. Obviously this isn’t their intent because it will ultimately be their demise. But I think sometimes it’s really hard to see past your own fears of change and step out into the unknown territories of the next generation, and that’s part of what is happening in church culture right now.
We, as “American Christians”, have lost our roots. We lost our roots in the ever progressing culture of the last few generations. We lost our history and traditions of the early Church. Now we are functioning as a watered down, fully adapted “church” that seeks to function more as a spiritual drive-thru Jesus than a community that seeks to reveal the truth of the only One who devastates everything we have ever known to be true. You see, I’m not just another millennial trying to leave the church. I have a deep passion to be one of the people God may use to redeem His people from forgetting their first Love, and be a reflection of the true light in a room of a million little extinguishable flames. Yes I understand how daunting this task may be, but I have always felt a certain tug in my soul in the direction of God’s people. So when I say I’m done with church, it doesn’t quite mean the same as all these millennial “done with church” blogs floating around the internet right now.
These countless blogs, articles, magazines, videos, and podcasts about people declaring this bold statement to the world that they are done with church also has a whole bunch of other people patting them on the back and saying things like “you’re so brave”, “I’m about there myself!” , and “you’re so right! I’m so done with church BS and all those hypocrites judging people all the time.” But isn’t it funny how we are so quick to judge the judgers? I’m guilty of this as well so I am not excluded. I’ve been more guilty of this over the last year than any other time in my life actually. But that doesn’t make it right, and I won’t try to justify it. The hard reality is that if you truly know Jesus, you can’t be done with church. We are called to tend to God’s people. We are called to serve, love, lead, and teach people the ways of Christ’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. Yes we are going to fail, but we never stop trying.
I recognize that being done with “corporate American church” and being done with church all together are two VERY different things. I can fully resonate with being done with corporate church in many ways. But there are pros and cons on both sides. House churches are great for family oriented settings, but usually lack leadership structure. To many that might actually be considered a pro instead of a con, but if you think about the interpretation of Scripture, the knowledge of the original language of the texts, and how easily the theology of what is being taught can end up FAR in left field very quickly when there is no one there with any higher education on the matter to be able to steer people in the right direction, then it can get very messy very fast. Not to mention the messy business of people in general. Immoral behaviors, people causing dissension with others in the group, and other special circumstances. Who is going to be the voice of reason, backed by Biblical authority in these circumstances? It can’t be a collective opinion in all things or it will dissolve and fail almost immediately. If you start off strong and begin by structuring around the ideas of 1 Timothy and how Paul instructed them to lead their groups, you might be able to avoid some of these issues. But the reality is, there’s no real way to get away from ALL of the issues you may have experienced in church because a lot of it is just people being people because we are screwed up and constantly, DAILY in need of grace.
So what to do then?
Well, in all my other points, I had positive twists on being done with things, and this is no different. So I applaud you for being done with church. Way to go for realizing the corruption, the falseness of people, the judgment, condemnation, and hypocrisy that is the church (or humanity). So now what? What are you going to do about it?
We are a generation that believes we can change things. The true millennials (the ones actually born in the millennium) believe in dreams even more than some of us twenty-somethings. We are in a unique position to actually do something about the corruption of the world. We can stand for injustice, give abundant love to those who are undeserving, and be the best leaders this world has seen in a hundred years. We are the first generation to stop worrying about all the debt we’re in, all the cracks in the foundation, and just being reactionary to every major problem we face, but instead are choosing to begin to dream again. I propose that we NOT exclude the Church in this. Yes the Church is a far cry from what it was intended to be. But we can do something about that. We could start loving the way Christ loves, start serving the way Christ served, and start being INCLUSIVE instead of exclusive. We could be the people known for their love overpowering hate, rather than those who scream the loudest, and hate the most passionately. We could be the ones standing in front of the persecuted, instead of being the ones persecuting everyone who doesn’t agree with us. The Church would be wise to remember that not very many people agreed with Jesus when He first started talking about His radical ideas on eternity, God, Himself, and matters of the heart. Church leaders actually killed Him for what He said. That same Church still exists today, but we don’t have to stand for that. We can stand for the principles, the character, and the Gospel of Christ. Nothing will ever change if we just leave. Eventually the church will die off for the most part, and that fault will rest on us more than our fathers. So be done with church! But instead of leaving the church, take a good long look at yourself. Pray a lot! Be done with church as we know it, so that you can be a part of the Church being what it’s called to be.
6. Done with complacency
It’s long past time for us to stop being ok with status quo. We need to begin to reach for the stars again. We need to live up to the potential we truly possess. We will never know what we are capable of until we try, fail, and try again. Failure is an especially important part of progress. Failure doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, it just means it might take a little longer to succeed. But you can’t truly fail at something if you never give up. Yes, I know this is beginning to delve into full on cheese-town. But hear me out! We will never amount to anything if we continue to accept things the way they are and never do anything about it. We accept our circumstances, our lifestyle, our bad marriage, our terrible jobs, our poor home life, our terrible friendships, and it will go from bad to worse every time. But if we choose not to accept things the way they are, but instead decide to do something to make it better, then we could be living a very different life. Someone once told me that we often pray to God, asking Him to open doors, and to reveal His “will” for our lives in every decision and circumstance, when often times it seems more apparent that God is just saying “I’m waiting on you.” Maybe God just wants us to live up to what He created us to be. Maybe it was never about conforming to some ideal or fantasy person that someone tells us we have to achieve to earn favor, but rather just pursue the things that make our hearts beat faster. The passion that ignites a wildfire in our souls should be the things we chase after, and God will be there to bless the work we do with our hands that affect the world around us. According to John Piper, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I think God is also most evident in our passions if we allow Him to use our passions for His kingdom. So lets take a hard look at our dreams, and see how our dreams help the world, and go from there. Be done with complacency, so that you can take risks, incite change in the world around you, and live up to the potential of who you were made to be.
I discussed a lot of things here. I narrowed it down to 6 points, but I had a few more. What have you found yourself being “done” with lately, and how does that impact your life for the bad, and the good?