This post is part of a short series based on Jeremy Myer’s (from “Till He Comes“) book project “Finding Church.” Jeremy asked for contributions in the categories of Changing Church, Leaving Church, Reforming Church, and Returning to Church. As I worked through my own contribution, I realized that my story could fit into any of the categories. So, I’m writing a post based on each category.
This post describes when I “left church.” This is how Jeremy describes this category: “These are stories of people who felt that ‘going to church’ was inhibiting their walk with Jesus, and so left the institutional church to follow and serve Jesus in other ways.”
Of course, I already told most of this story in my previous post about “changing church.” But, in this post, I’m able to point out what I’ve “left.” Because, as I explained in that previous post, I didn’t leave the church – it’s impossible to leave the church that God is putting together once he places someone among his family.
However, I did leave “the church” – that organizational, institutional, locational version. This is the entity or location that people refer to when they ask questions like, “Where do you go to church?” or “What did you do in church today?” or “Have you joined our church yet?”
I’ve left the programs and the hierarchies and the vocations and the positions and offices.
The church is not a place that someone can go to, nor is it an event that someone can attend, nor is it an organization that someone can choose to join or not.
The church is the family of God, the body of Christ, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. I’m still part of that church, and I always will be. If you are in Christ, then you are part of that church with me.
It’s the other “church” that I left. And, guess what? There are people who remain part of that “church” who are also part of the church with me. Even if they never leave “the church,” they remain part of the church of God by identity, in the same way that I’ve always been part of that church and will always be part of that church.
So, I’ve left “the church.” But, in a way, my heart remains tied (through mutual relationship with God) to the hearts of those who are still part of “the church” – in the same way that my heart is tied to all who are part of God’s family.