Julie R Neidlinger of Lone Prairie has written an exquisite and beautiful post that I’d like you to read: Why I Walked Out of Church. (I even set this link to open on the same page so that you won’t waste time reading my drivel before you get there.)
Imonk, a personal favorite blog of mine, has posted an interview he conducted with Julie (but he has to open in a new window).
I found that much of what Julie wrote (I hope it is OK for me to say Julie instead of something more formal like Ms Neidlinger since I do not personally know her) resonated with me but from a different perspective: I see things from the pulpit point of view. What I have found is that often it is tempting to be phony precisely because of the weariness of seeing people uninterested in the things of Jesus, or seeing empty pews, or seeing the fakery of those in the pews (what I call the ‘SpongeBob Squarepants approach to Christianity’; you know, there’s never anything wrong) who call on Christ for salvation but know nothing of discipleship or doubt or what to do when the two cross paths. Julie the parishioner; Jerry the pastor: the same struggle.
I only want to quote one line from Julie’s post:
I’m having difficulty putting this into words.
I have been in church all my life. Never known a day without it, but being a preacher makes it hard sometimes. I agree with Julie: the way I feel sometimes, it is hard to put into words. Love the church; hate the church. Strange. I appreciated her post, her honesty, and the courage it takes to say what she said in the midst of our church culture. I want to publicly say thank you to Julie for writing it. Now, if only we can get the right people to read what she wrote…
Semper Deo Gloria!
PS–Follow up comment thread here.