Walking Out of Church.
Neil at Evolitionist walked out of the Passion Conference. Read his story.
It got me thinking of the time that I walked out of a church gathering. I’m going to share my story, because I would love to hear your stories of times you walked out of church…not walking away from Church in the giving up sense—though it certainly could lead to that—but just walked out because you couldn’t in good conscience participate in the foolishness that sometimes happens when you get enough Christians in the same room.
I was leading worship at a rocking little church. One Sunday the pastor (who I am still close friends with) took the sermon as an invitation to talk about Memorial Day. He gave apocryphal stories about the “Founding Fathers,” talked about how important it was for the u.s. to return to Christian values, and how thankful he was that representative democracy makes us free.
I was shaken…literally unable to control my body from shaking. Rather than standing up and correcting my friend in front of everybody, I walked out the back. I made it only a few steps before falling to my knees and lowering my face to the concrete in prayer. I asked God to forgive us our idolatry and begged him to tell me what to do.
I went back in when the sermon was done (glass doors!), and before leading the congregation in any more songs, I read a large portion of scripture. I figured that we should at least hear a message from God, since that’s part of why we gather.
After the service I took my wife and another faithful friend with me so that I could talk to the pastor. The main thrust of what I said is that I couldn’t lead worship and try to invite people into the throne room of God if he was going to follow that up by preaching another kingdom. He disagreed with me on various details (wrongly…he’s not well-versed in history nor theology), so I tried to put a fine point on it before we get totally off topic. “Listen. We are sheep. The job of the pastor is to faithfully lead us by helping us hear from God. If you can tell me that what you brought today came from studying the scriptures and from prayer, that you asked yourself what God had to say to the church and felt this was the answer, then I will feel a lot better. On the other hand, if you just have these opinions and wanted to say share your own thoughts about Memorial Day, and then gathered up a whole bunch of scriptures that seemed to support those ideas…well, you’ve got to promise me that you’ll never do that again.”
My friend was very gracious and understanding, but he was never really able to answer whether he was listening for what God had to share with the church or whether he was using the scriptures carelessly. We’re still friends, but it wasn’t too long afterward that I found myself giving up on “cool church” and attending St. Alban’s, a fairly traditional Episcopal church.
What about you? When did you walk out?