I’ve changed this entry quite a bit since I posted it, because I felt the tone I originally adopted didn’t accurately reflect what was actually going on, and that I was quite unfair on the church in question. I wrote it whilst I was feeling somewhat bitter about the decision I’d come to, and allowed this to affect what I’d written. I’ve now had time to think it through more, and spoken to an elder in the church about my decision; as such, I’ve revised parts of the article. Sadly, it’s not as sensationalist as it was before, but I think it’s more balanced and more accurate than my previous version 🙂
Firstly, I came across as saying I’d left because of policies and beliefs of the church contradicting with my own; while that’s true to a degree, that’s not the whole truth. I’ve known for a while that I was going to be leaving for entirely separate reasons, and I think this knowledge made me more sensitive to issues of doctrine and theology than I might otherwise have been. I’m never going to find a church which I agree with 100%, and anyway, that’s not the point of a church. It was time for me to move on anyway; it’s just my feelings about the direction of the church prompted me to make the decision to move sooner than I might otherwise have done.
After talking to a member of the leadership team this evening, too, I’ve changed the paragraph about other people leaving the church: they are very much aware of what is going on, and it has been the cause of much careful thought amongst the leadership. They believe, however, that as part of the changes the church is going through, some people – myself included – are inevitably going to not feel like they can be a part anymore; I understand what they’re saying, and so I feel what I originally wrote in that paragraph is probably a little unfair.
Anyway; now that’s out of the way, on with the entry:
End of important note
I don’t talk about religion or my (religious) beliefs very much here, because it tends to incite flame wars and namecalling – pearls and swine and all that sort of thing 😉 But I’m going to now, so if seeing words like “God” and “Church” offends you or causes parts of your brain to short circuit and incites you to post things like “the crusades are all YOUR FAULT!!!!111” in the comments, you might like to stop reading now.
I’ve been at my current church for about 6 years – since the end of my first year at University in Manchester. In that time, I’ve made many friends there, learnt a lot, and had my faith challenged and strengthened; but also, in that time, my church has changed a lot, and so have I. The differences in doctrinal belief between myself and my church became increasingly apparent, and that, combined with a number of other factors, has pushed me into making the decision to leave.
Over the last few months, a large number of other people have also left the church, including people who have been there for even longer than I have, whom I knew well and respected highly. This has been a further cause for me to reconsider my future in the church – whilst these people did not necessarily leave because they believed what the church was doing wrong, if the people who were important to me when I joined the church no longer feel a part of its future, it pressed home to me the fact I should be considering whether I should move on.
I’ve known for some time that my time at this church was coming to an end – my girlfriend attends a different church to me, and we’ve already established that it would be a good idea if we both went to the same place, and that that place was unlikely to be my church. But it is a shame that my departure should have been hastened by political issues – I’ve given to and received a lot from this church in my time there, and I’ll be sad to leave, but I really believe it’s time for me to move on.
One final point: Some of you reading this know which church it is I’m talking about here; if so, please don’t reveal the name – as I said, I’m not into mudslinging or trying to damage the church. It should hopefully be clear that I’m not saying that it is a bad church; simply that I am moving on, and that this has been hastened by the fact that I don’t believe I can bring myself to agree with its teachings and beliefs on a number of issues. I do not doubt that for a great many people it will continue to be a great source of inspiration and edification in their faith. It’s just that I won’t be one of them.