21 Comments

  1. Aprille, I can totally appreciate your journey. I left a religious “cult” (as I call it based on the definition: Cult: a religious group which promotes worship of a human leader and devotion of one’s life to a specific purpose.
    Some have members practice certain rituals or follow a set of principle rules. The group usually believes its way is the only correct way to live life, and all non-members are doomed to some horrible fate if they cannot be persuaded to join.) I have been gone for about 3 1/2 years already. When I first left I felt the need to explain to everyone and justify and give my own scriptures to contradict their beliefs. I had to make sure everyone knew how good I was doing because they taught that if you left bad things would happen. Now all I feel is peace and freedom. At first I did have to separate myself from organized religion completely in order to heal. Here is a little bit about the Pastor where I left (married his daughter in law and said it was God) http://www.topix.com/forum/law/criminal-defense/T4J44NU9EV8I605UV

  2. Alexandra

    Once again, a fantastic post. We left a church where you didn’t even miss for sickness and a serious illness spread in church from it. At our church now, we have a Sunday morning service, and then lunch and relaxed fellowship afterward, and that’s it. We believe the rest and fellowship we get from that is more important and more edifying than three structured services a week. :) Thanks so much again, I’m enjoying your series so much!

    • I so agree. Our church is Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night – but they have cancelled services on holiday weekend, and like I mentioned here, I have never felt judged for not being there.

      We attended a church for a while that only had a Sunday morning service and then had LIFE groups that met throughout the week. We went Sunday mornings and then to a group held at a home on Monday night. It was so restful, refreshing, and healing for us!

  3. […] Introduction: some self-observations about legalism Part 1: what is “legalism”? Part 2: standing under the broken heart Part 3: hiding in shame, packing up my dreams Part 4: when you “trust and obey” but your heart still gets broken Part 5: when you’ve been hurt by legalism, hold onto faith Part 6: What do Brad Pitt, Josh Groban, and Sleepless in Seattle have in common? Part 7: perfection is not possible Part 8: finding healing and freedom in secular music Part 9: “I will keep believing that God still has a plan” Part 10: Plan A, 2.0 Part 11: Modesty: a picture of grace Part 12: Disconnect: when God just doesn’t seem relevant Part 13: Roses in the dumpster: seeing God in everyday life Part 14: Cheating on my church Part 15: Can you hear Jesus calling? Part 16: Checklists, control, and motherhood Part 17: forget where you “should be” and “give God your ugly” Part 18: When your church isn’t meeting your needs Part 19: on being “in your place” in church […]

  4. Amy Beth

    This post reminds me very much of a church we went to that was taken over by a very legalistic pastor. At every other church I’d been to up to that point, they cancelled the usual church service on Super Bowl Sunday and instead either played the game at the church as a fellowship opportunity or encouraged us to host parties in our homes and invite our unchurched friends to use it as a fellowship and/or evangelism opportunity. But this pastor refused to cancel church, he was going to have regular service and we were all expected to be there. Many families still skipped, but not mine. Even though I argued with my dad that it was stupid (I didn’t have the word “legalism” in my vocabulary yet), he refused to to listen and I obediently went along to church with my family and missed the game for the only time in my life. We recorded it, but I hate watching games when they aren’t live. So when all my friends at school the next day were talking about what happened I couldn’t participate, and it only made me appear judgmental to them (I know, because they told me). Church is too important to let something like guilt be the reason to attend!

    • I feel ya. In a way, what I experienced was the opposite of yours. Going to church instead of watching the Superbowl was the NORM – and it was preached about during the weeks preceding the Superbowl. This year our small group hosted a Superbowl party and we actually got to watch it, for the first time in years. I felt like a heathen wicked sinner but at the same time had a blast hanging out with other Christians!

      “Church is too important to let something like guilt be the reason to attend!” <—cannot like this enough.

  5. Brilliant article. For me, the pressure to ‘be there’ was even higher, because I was/am a gifted pianist and worship leader – so I guess the leadership thought I was indispensible. I know that you wrote that people in ‘ministries’ need to attend things they’ve committed too – and that’s right – but these people didn’t seem to realise that we also need to rest too! Thanks again for this series!

    • Music can be such a taxing ministry when you are heavily involved in it – not just when it comes to church attendance, but then also to add on practices, rehearsals – and then all the time practicing at home. It can be a full-time job! While I have talent and could easily be the main church pianist, I have not participated in the music ministry at any church in over a year, and even then it was just choir. We just started attending a new church a few months ago and I would love to pick it back up (because I do miss it), but I’m not quite ready. The break has been nice.

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