Why I Quit My Church Job
After growing up volunteering in church, spending years getting an M.Div., and working in churches for 15 years, enough was enough. Note: "Church" for me largely means conservative, evangelical churches. That is my world of experience.
- •I hate politics.If I wanted to be in politics I would've run for public office. I got sick and tired of having to influence the right people, make certain powerful people happy, jump through everyone's hoops. The Church shouldn't be a place where only the manipulative and those who play the game survive.
- •Church culture is surprisingly confused about sin.I'm not commenting on debates about original sin or total depravity. Rather, I mean the church has this pernicious habit of classifying sins in completely backwards ways. Being gay is pretty much the worst sin ever, while gossip is almost completely ignored. Yet I've never seen a church destroyed or threatened by the presence of a guy and his boyfriend wanting to worship with other Christians. But I've seen churches and lives devastated by gossip and slander. Get your priorities straight.
- •Size does matter. Usually.Big church vs little church. The debate never ends. Bigger organizations can do things smaller ones can't. But it's almost universally true that the bigger a church becomes the more committed it is to self-propagation than to actually loving people. The organization becomes an end in itself. And I have no desire to prop up a social club while sacrificing the people.
- •Let's get back to the gossip thing.Here's a good rule of thumb for life in general: talk to people, not about people. Church people are consistently terrified to talk to each other. It's so much easier to talk about someone. Oh...we're just sharing a prayer request. Agh! Enough already.
- •Lying. That's a sin, right?Look, I don't expect church people to be perfect. But when a respected church leader tells you he lied to you and then justifies it with, "All elders do it," something is dreadfully wrong. And when you see leaders do it over and over both in private and in public, is it any surprise people stop trusting their leaders?
- •They don't teach leadership in seminaries.It's true. And it shows. Pastors are trained to be theologians, not leaders. In my experience, churches suffer more from terrible leadership than terrible theology. If you don't know how to lead a team, care for people, and run a business, then being the head of a Christian nonprofit organization isn't for you...no matter what seminary degrees you have. So just quit before you hurt someone.
- •The church has a God problem.Who or what is the G/god of evangelical churches? The Bible? Jesus? Worship experiences? Fame? Money? Power? Size? The pastor? Doing good deeds to be seen by others? The list of options is seemingly endless. But the triune God? Doubtful. Oh that's what most churches claim. But their actions, values, and choices betray their true loyalties. I've seen people--God's image bearers--sacrificed to other gods far too often to take evangelical churches seriously.
- •Men in church leadership are power-hungry and insecure...including meWhile there are wonderful, notable exceptions, the general rule is that men in church leadership are far too adept at the politics of power and manipulating people while being far too inept at listening, apologizing, and empowering others. I tried my best to be different, but when it's the air you breathe, your good intentions get perverted by that atmosphere. It took leaving that environment to find my own security and peace.
- •There's more...This is an ongoing list for me. There's so much I want to say but don't have the words for. Yet.