Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why I Wanted to Stay (and Why We Left)

I've toyed with telling our story before, mainly inspired by Tim Challies' autobiographical series How I Got Here. Instead I just made a list. This is a sketch, with lots of details and subplots left out, of our emergence from 10+ years in a certain church (and a certain mode of church).

I wanted to stay because:

- I'd put half of my life into it and invested my gifts.

- I loved the people.

- I had friends.

- I long prayed for change, and some change was happening.

But I left because:

- I was starving for the gospel and not hearing it. Some weeks I wouldn't even hear the name of Jesus.

- An engaged couple told me their elder-endorsed pre-marital counselors told them that the Bible doesn't say pre-marital sex is wrong.

- The ministry I led was not supported by the church leadership. (There are all kinds of sub-stories for this reason, but I don't need to share them.)

- I lost confidence in the leadership I had previously taken great pains, in the face of constant criticism, to support.

- I finally realized it would be poor parenting to raise my children in a church that did not explicitly center on the supremacy of Christ.


jbboren said...

OK. What's the rest of the story?

Jared said...

Short version: We left to plant a church. Two years later we moved to Vermont.

Andrew Faris said...


This is helpful to me, as I'm considering (and have been for a little while) leaving a church that frankly sounds similar to the one you left.

So 2 questions: (1) Would you have left sooner in retrospect? (2) Any advice on how to leave?

Jared said...

1) Andrew, no, I don't think so, but only because of logistics. I was leading the young adult ministry of the church, so we left when we felt like we had to, and I don't see how we could have sooner just due to all that entailed. But I do sometimes have that feeling of "wasted time," although I know God wastes nothing we go through for our growth.

2) Kind of. I did a post a while back called "What to Do If Your Pastor Doesn't Preach Jesus." You can find it here:

It involves an outline of "how to leave" thinking.

Jason_73 said...

Hmmm. Sounds kind of familiar. ( I was the young adult guy too... Went to a resurgence conference and had my own "gospel awakening"...)

My perspective though since having my gospel awakening is that (And I'm REALLY not trying to be argumentative or cross) Jesus hasn't given up on me, how can I give up on the people that I have walked with so long?

-What will happen when the influence God uses through me is gone? I have seen some fruit, (but not as much as I'd love to see.)

The part that gets me the most is, my kids. For now I just reconcile that their discipleship begins at home.

I don't know. It's been a personal struggle I've been fighting for a few years now with good and bad times.

Jared said...

Jason, I know the feeling. I was there too. I felt a strong inclination to be a missionary, so to speak, to the church. In a peaceable, unifying way. And if I was single I might've stayed.
And I gave the church 10+ years of my life and service, several of those even as it went in another direction I found detrimental to spiritual growth. For the reasons listed, I couldn't do it any more.

There were a lot of little things, from minor discouragements and disillusionments to big no-no's like learning a yes wasn't yes and a no wasn't no and sitting through The Secret-esque pop theology and techno-concert "worship" services that led to one final breaking point in one fateful Sunday morning service where I finally just turned to my wife and said, "I can't do this any more." I gave it a go, brother. A really good go. Because I loved the people and wanted to make it work and work for change from within. But I couldn't.

Plus I was trying to lead a young adult ministry into gospel centrality and I found out I couldn't serve them well under the umbrella of a ministry that favored moral therapeutic deism. Out of loyalty and love to them, I had to lead them out.

Andrew Faris said...


Thanks for the quick feedback. That's immediately helpful, and I really enjoyed the post you pointed me to. Thanks for your ministry.

Andrew Faris
Someone Tell Me the Story