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Lost My Faith While On Staff At My Church... And I Still Am Working There.


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Hello all,

Super happy I stumbled upon this forum - I feel like I can relate to many of the people here and it seems like a great place for me to vent about my former faith. Anyways, just thought I would kick things off on my first post with my own personal story.

 

Like many others, the reason I first made a "profession of faith" was during my childhood indoctrination years. We started off as Southern Baptist, then switched over to the IFB because my parents felt that they were more faithful to the Bible, only used the King James Version, and things like the use of Psychology in counseling sessions were not permitted. Needless to say, both my brother and I were scared to death of hell, and we said the sinner's prayer and were baptized. As I grew up, I really started to hate church - primarily because of the insanely legalistic, abusive tendencies that were found in the IFB. Nevertheless, for my family church was simply just something we did on Sunday. Something to check off our list. Getting deep into theological issues, intense Bible study, etc., were never something I experienced during my early years of elementary school through high school.

 

Come college, I got a basketball scholarship to go play at a division 1 school that was 9 hours away from my parent's home. That is when I found about beer - something I had never tasted before, and something that was extremely taboo and viewed as sinful by both my home church and my parents. Though nominally I still was a Christian, I was certainly apathetic about my faith. I went to church one time my entire first year. It wasn't until my junior year when I was invited to attend a local southern baptist church in the area that things began to turn around. I made quite a few friends at the church, and began being mentored by the college pastor, who was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. He began to show me passages like Romans 6, which says, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"

 

It was then that I realized that I was a "fraud". My mentor told me that as a Christian, you are "liberated" from sin, and your life "completely changes" and you repent of your sin. I was flabbergasted. From that point, I stopped hanging out with my non Christian "drinking buddies" cold turkey. My life "completely turned around". It was then that I became completely "on fire" for God. I listened to all sorts of sermons, couldn't put the Bible down, and spent hundreds of dollars on theology books by people like John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, C.S. Lewis, etc. I truly felt that God had turned my life around.

 

It was then that I was introduced to Calvinism. I became a strict 5 point Calvinist, and completely believed that God predetermined beforehand who would believe and go to heaven and not believe and go to hell. And I was okay with this and accepted it gladly!

 

Anyways, now, on to my downfall. I began to attend seminary. I began to work at a church, and see how fucking stupid most church goers are when it comes to the Bible. Very few spent the amount of time and effort as I did to understand what the Bible taught. For them, it is just like my parents - something to "check off" your things to do for the week so God will be happy with you.

 

As I began to study the Bible more and more, I began to question it. So yes, the source of my doubt came from the Bible, not from sin. In seminary, I began to read Bart Ehrman. I didn't believe a word he said at first, but then I began to investigate the things he said. Surprisingly, he was right about most things. Many of the New Testament books were forgeries. We don't have any of the original autographs or manuscripts. There's all kinds of discrepancies.

 

This was the floodgate. I began to read things like Song of Solomon. At my church, that book is seen as the pinnacle of what marriage should look like. I began to question - wasn't Solomon the proud owner (emphasis on the ownership part) of over 1000 wives and concubines? And yet we're supposed to ooh and aah over how sweet he was to but one of the wives? Also, there is very good reason to think that Ch. 2 of the Song of Solomon describes what would be viewed today as premarital sex. Wha????

 

So that is where I'm at now. I've got my seminary degree, and am making decent money working for a church. My wife doesn't know the extent of my disbelief - she only knows that I am beginning to doubt the Bible, which thankfully, she has been very supportive of. She is beginning to see how fucked up the way the church treats women is. And probably most of all, I feel like I am a much more loving, compassionate, and non judgmental person than I used to be. Christianity just doesn't add up. So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

Sorry for the long post. Hope those of you who took the time to read it enjoyed it. Would appreciate your input on my situation!

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Hi, CS, and welcome to ExC.

 

So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church?

 

Only you can answer this question. You may want to take a look at this rather limited study by Dan Dennett and his colleague, Linda LaScola. Linda interviewed five (actually six but one dropped out prior to publication) current pastors who are in a similar situation as you. You may find their stories interesting and, perhaps, helpful.

 

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/Non-Believing-Clergy.pdf

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I can really relate to part of your story. The part about being convinced that you weren't really saved and becoming on fire for Jesus sounds exactly like me during my freshman year of college. All because I fooled around with my high school sweetheart, listened to secular music, cursed, and occasionally drank. After I got caught "on fire" I threw away most of my cds, cut off alot of friends, and became a bit of a prick (very judgmental towards people who weren't living "christ-like" even though I had a smile on my face and kind words for them the whole time). Like you, I also began to question the Bible the more I read it. I was still heavily involved in my church and on campus bible study when I lost my faith. At first I didn't know how I was gonna muster up the strength to leave, but after I took off the metaphorical Jesus lenses I was able to see alot of messed up things with the church and the people who attended it. So after a while, I just stopped going. Maybe not the most considerate gesture, but it was the only way I could keep from going off on those people. I suggest you do the same as soon as you find and secure a replacement job. I know the kind of inner turmoil being in an environment like that can cause when everything about it goes against your very being.

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I got out of the IFBC early. I was in it for my formative years as well. Had the hell scared into me there.

 

Took me many more years to figure out that the Bible was a book of inspiration, infused with, culture, religion, archaic beliefs, personal biases, ect, ect, ect.

 

I did develope a faith of my own while a Christian, but I no longer qualified as a Christian, as I grew out of the dogma of Chrisianity.

 

Glad you found a place to vent and share.

 

I'd start looking for a new job though.

 

What are you interested in doing?

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Hello ChurchSucks

 

Welcome to Ex-C. I am a fairly recent newcomer also and this place has become such a haven for me.

 

As I began to study the Bible more and more, I began to question it. So yes, the source of my doubt came from the Bible, not from sin. In seminary, I began to read Bart Ehrman. I didn't believe a word he said at first, but then I began to investigate the things he said. Surprisingly, he was right about most things.

 

It's amazing what happens when one (1) reads their Bible and (2) lets go of the usual defenses against the atrocities therein. I too have picked up some Bart Ehrman. As I'm reading it I feel like a teenage boy looking at porn! I am finally allowed to read contraband and to read criticisms of Christianity. Things sure look different from the outside.

 

I began to read things like Song of Solomon. At my church, that book is seen as the pinnacle of what marriage should look like. I began to question - wasn't Solomon the proud owner (emphasis on the ownership part) of over 1000 wives and concubines? And yet we're supposed to ooh and aah over how sweet he was to but one of the wives? Also, there is very good reason to think that Ch. 2 of the Song of Solomon describes what would be viewed today as premarital sex. Wha????

 

Maybe someone should prepare a sermon on this book. Every reference to his 'love' should read 'virginal eleven year old stolen from her parents' and 'sex slave number 586'. A little more honest, don't you think?

 

I've got my seminary degree, and am making decent money working for a church... So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

Well, that is a bit of a pickle, isn't it? Is there any chance you can resign and go back to school? Do you have a secular undergraduate degree or did you hop right into seminary?

 

Again, welcome to the site!

 

Peace.

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Welcome to the forum, ChurchSucks (yes, it does).

 

I would recommend finding a new job as quickly as possible, although having a seminary degree may limit your options somewhat. It sounds like you have the support of your wife, which is possibly a much bigger blessing (for lack of a better word) than you may realize. Do not take that for granted. I repeat, do not take that for granted. There are some of us that would give anything for having that kind of support in our lives.

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Oh, and I should add that even though I don't work for a church, I'm close enough to the family that runs it to see its truly ugly side. I don't see how anyone can work for a church and remain a Christian.

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So that is where I'm at now. I've got my seminary degree, and am making decent money working for a church ... So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

Sorry for the long post. Hope those of you who took the time to read it enjoyed it. Would appreciate your input on my situation!

 

I can soooo relate to this part of your extimony! This has been me for the last few months (I'm a church musician--well at least until the end of the year:). I finally worked up the courage to tell the pastor I was resigning from my position at the end of the year. It was an extremely hard thing to do, and I felt like crap for a few days afterward (I still have moments where I feel this way, being that it was only a week ago) but I know I'm making the right decision. As far as your job situation, perhaps you could find some temp/part-time work that will allow you to resign and go back to school for a secular degree?

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So that is where I'm at now. I've got my seminary degree, and am making decent money working for a church ... So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

Sorry for the long post. Hope those of you who took the time to read it enjoyed it. Would appreciate your input on my situation!

 

I can soooo relate to this part of your extimony! This has been me for the last few months (I'm a church musician--well at least until the end of the year:). I finally worked up the courage to tell the pastor I was resigning from my position at the end of the year. It was an extremely hard thing to do, and I felt like crap for a few days afterward (I still have moments where I feel this way, being that it was only a week ago) but I know I'm making the right decision. As far as your job situation, perhaps you could find some temp/part-time work that will allow you to resign and go back to school for a secular degree?

 

Luckily I do have a secular degree in Sociology, I just never planned on using it before! I also do quite a bit of video/photography work, and have been making good money off of it for a while.

 

I would love a secular job though. I can't wait to not have to go the the church so I don't have to miss anymore Cowboy games! (I had to miss most of the game today because of church... ugh).

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Welcome to the forum, ChurchSucks (yes, it does).

 

I would recommend finding a new job as quickly as possible, although having a seminary degree may limit your options somewhat. It sounds like you have the support of your wife, which is possibly a much bigger blessing (for lack of a better word) than you may realize. Do not take that for granted. I repeat, do not take that for granted. There are some of us that would give anything for having that kind of support in our lives.

 

Hey Trapped - I got the chance to read your testimony too earlier today and I really feel for you. If I was still a Christian I would definitely be "praying for ya". haha. But I fear many of the same things. While my wife is still supportive of me even though I have doubts, I still don't know how she would react if I told her I had lost my faith altogether and have become an agnostic, and that I would be perfectly fine with never setting foot inside a church again. I guess we'll see.

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Greetings, CS!

 

As I began to study the Bible more and more, I began to question it. So yes, the source of my doubt came from the Bible, not from sin.

 

It was the same for me. I didn't go to seminary, but I studied the Bible more than most Christians. Over time, my seemingly impenetrable walls were penetrated and I finally was able to see how it's all just a big sham.

 

My wife doesn't know the extent of my disbelief - she only knows that I am beginning to doubt the Bible, which thankfully, she has been very supportive of. She is beginning to see how fucked up the way the church treats women is.

 

At least your wife is supportive. My wife doesn't haggle me about it, but she's still a believer and doesn't like the fact that I no longer go to church and I get together with freethinkers fairly regularly.

 

So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

As has been said already, it's really up to you. I would have a tough time being employed by a church, but then again, I don't have a full-time career that is based entirely on the church. (I was a Sunday school teacher, which I stepped down from while I was in the doubting phase.)

 

Do you know what you would do if you left the church? Is there another field that looks like a good fit for you? If you do continue with the church for a while, then perhaps in your spare time you could write a book about your experience (just a thought).

 

Anyway, good luck, man!

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Hey Trapped - I got the chance to read your testimony too earlier today and I really feel for you. If I was still a Christian I would definitely be "praying for ya". haha. But I fear many of the same things. While my wife is still supportive of me even though I have doubts, I still don't know how she would react if I told her I had lost my faith altogether and have become an agnostic, and that I would be perfectly fine with never setting foot inside a church again. I guess we'll see.

 

I can see how there might be a difference between "I don't want to work for a church anymore" and "I don't ever want to go to church again because I don't believe anymore." It does sound like your wife may be more open to the possibility than my own, at least. I wish you all the best.

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So that is where I'm at now. I've got my seminary degree, and am making decent money working for a church ... So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

Sorry for the long post. Hope those of you who took the time to read it enjoyed it. Would appreciate your input on my situation!

 

I can soooo relate to this part of your extimony! This has been me for the last few months (I'm a church musician--well at least until the end of the year:). I finally worked up the courage to tell the pastor I was resigning from my position at the end of the year. It was an extremely hard thing to do, and I felt like crap for a few days afterward (I still have moments where I feel this way, being that it was only a week ago) but I know I'm making the right decision. As far as your job situation, perhaps you could find some temp/part-time work that will allow you to resign and go back to school for a secular degree?

 

Luckily I do have a secular degree in Sociology, I just never planned on using it before! I also do quite a bit of video/photography work, and have been making good money off of it for a while.

 

I would love a secular job though. I can't wait to not have to go the the church so I don't have to miss anymore Cowboy games! (I had to miss most of the game today because of church... ugh).

 

Have you considered working for a TV station as a camera man? Depending on the size of the city you live in, you could probably make a pretty decent living as a field photographer/production person.

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Greetings, CS!

 

As I began to study the Bible more and more, I began to question it. So yes, the source of my doubt came from the Bible, not from sin.

 

It was the same for me. I didn't go to seminary, but I studied the Bible more than most Christians. Over time, my seemingly impenetrable walls were penetrated and I finally was able to see how it's all just a big sham.

 

I too find it funny. During church today I tried to be very observant of people. They seem so happy to be sipping their coffee, toting their Bibles, singing the songs, listening to the pastor rant, and then leaving to go out to lunch afterwards. I would say for about 90% of the people that is mostly all of the Christian part of their life. After Church, their more focused on football, at least that's how my dad is!

 

But I was one of the one's who actually studied the Bible. In my mind - if this was God's word, then I needed to pay close, close attention to it. I wanted to live my life in accordance to his will and actually listen to what he says! So I really dove into theology head long. And that's when my faith crumbled.

 

It's because most people only use church in a functionalistic way. Just as car insurance insures their car will be repaired if it is damaged, so their Christianity serves the function of Hell insurance. They go to church once a week, read their Bible on occasion - and then go about their lives. If only they dove into it like I did. Then they'd realize some of the things their beloved Bible actually teaches - I could go on forever about my favorite old testament passages that are never taught from the pulpit!

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It's because most people only use church in a functionalistic way. Just as car insurance insures their car will be repaired if it is damaged, so their Christianity serves the function of Hell insurance. They go to church once a week, read their Bible on occasion - and then go about their lives. If only they dove into it like I did. Then they'd realize some of the things their beloved Bible actually teaches - I could go on forever about my favorite old testament passages that are never taught from the pulpit!

 

Well said.

 

An honest, truth-seeking, rational person who reads the bible will see it for what it truly is.

 

It must be hard to work in that environment knowing what you do now. Hope you get out of there ASAP.

 

Nice screen name by the way. ;)

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i too can relate with your extestimony, right before i left christianity i studied the bible very intently but all i found were broken therories and swiss cheese explanations for most of it when it came to apologetics. my study of the bible is what allowed me to say "is there a god?"

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So that is where I'm at now. I've got my seminary degree, and am making decent money working for a church ... So I guess from here the question is... how much longer can I stomach this job at the church? I dread every Sunday. It absolutely sucks - hence my screen name.

 

Sorry for the long post. Hope those of you who took the time to read it enjoyed it. Would appreciate your input on my situation!

 

I can soooo relate to this part of your extimony! This has been me for the last few months (I'm a church musician--well at least until the end of the year:). I finally worked up the courage to tell the pastor I was resigning from my position at the end of the year. It was an extremely hard thing to do, and I felt like crap for a few days afterward (I still have moments where I feel this way, being that it was only a week ago) but I know I'm making the right decision. As far as your job situation, perhaps you could find some temp/part-time work that will allow you to resign and go back to school for a secular degree?

 

Luckily I do have a secular degree in Sociology, I just never planned on using it before! I also do quite a bit of video/photography work, and have been making good money off of it for a while.

 

I would love a secular job though. I can't wait to not have to go the the church so I don't have to miss anymore Cowboy games! (I had to miss most of the game today because of church... ugh).

 

Get Tivo or equivalent while you are still with the church for those Cowboy games. Why not ramp up that video/photography idea since you're making money on it anyway. Meanwhile, while you are at church telling the parisioners absolute religious bullshit, consider that every company has rules, policies and protocols that their employees dont agree with and hate dealing with and hate passing onto their customers. As your secular job takes hold and creates enough money so that you can quit your church job then you can either quit...or else preach some less than bibilcal stuff to the flock until they fire you. :)

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I wanted to live my life in accordance to his will and actually listen to what he says! So I really dove into theology head long. And that's when my faith crumbled.

 

Yeah it seems those of us that took christianity and doctrine more devoutly than others makes us more likely to become strong de-converts. I've been asked the question, "what books did you read that caused you to make your decision?". It wasn't any particular book, the bible simply refutes itself. It's just whether you have the guts to be open-minded about it.

 

At the moment I still attend church occasionally mainly to see friends. But going to church also confirms what rubbish the whole thing is and it's interesting looking at it all from the other side. Looking around I see these people raising their hands and closing their eyes, pretending they're in the presence of the holy spirit, speaking in tongues, and shouting out amen in agreement with some lame easily-refuted statement.

 

If you currently have to preach to the congregation or give advice to members, perhaps it's better just to focus on motivational subjects and advice that's simply common sense, and just use bible stories as illustrations, not dogma. I guess you could take a page out of Joel Osteen's book for now :)

 

I enjoyed reading your story, thanks.

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I too find it funny. During church today I tried to be very observant of people. They seem so happy to be sipping their coffee, toting their Bibles, singing the songs, listening to the pastor rant, and then leaving to go out to lunch afterwards. I would say for about 90% of the people that is mostly all of the Christian part of their life. After Church, their more focused on football, at least that's how my dad is!

 

Indeed you are correct that a lot of Christians don't delve much into the Bible. It's a bit ironic that many people who claim that the Bible is God's "love letter" to us either rarely/never read it at all or only read select passages picked out by devotional writers.

 

But I was one of the one's who actually studied the Bible. In my mind - if this was God's word, then I needed to pay close, close attention to it. I wanted to live my life in accordance to his will and actually listen to what he says! So I really dove into theology head long. And that's when my faith crumbled.

 

Exactly the same with me. I believed it was the "Word of God," so I took it as seriously as should anyone who really, fully believes that. I wish I knew how many hours I wasted studying the Bible over the years, memorizing a bunch of it and trying to understand what God was saying and how it harmonized together. Of course, it eventually started to click for me that it's nothing but a hodge-podge of mythological nonsense.

 

It's because most people only use church in a functionalistic way. Just as car insurance insures their car will be repaired if it is damaged, so their Christianity serves the function of Hell insurance. They go to church once a week, read their Bible on occasion - and then go about their lives. If only they dove into it like I did. Then they'd realize some of the things their beloved Bible actually teaches - I could go on forever about my favorite old testament passages that are never taught from the pulpit!

 

For the most part this is true. For clarification, though, there are some Christians who take the Bible seriously and some churches that don't shy away from those bad stories in the Old Testament. Thinking back now, it boggles my mind to think of how I was brainwashed with rationalizations for the garbage in the Bible. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't quite grasp the horrible morality espoused in the Bible until after I realized (due to other reasons) that this is *not* a message from an all-knowing, all-perfect deity.

 

My doubts started because of contradictions between the Gospels, but what really sealed the deal for me was studying the so-called Christological prophecies and seeing how over and over and over again New Testament authors took Old Testament quotes completely out of context in order to fabricate prophetic fulfillments. That right there proved to me that it's a ginormous scam.

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I would say for about 90% of the people that is mostly all of the Christian part of their life.... But I was one of the one's who actually studied the Bible. In my mind - if this was God's word, then I needed to pay close, close attention to it.... It's because most people only use church in a functionalistic way. They go to church once a week, read their Bible on occasion - and then go about their lives.

 

Hey ChurchSucks

 

First off, I'm really glad you have a sociology degree. Good for you for getting a real education! Looks like you're going to need it.

 

Secondly, I don't know how church folk can just go through the motions without thinking about what they're doing and believing. When I was struggling in my faith, I'd ask my Christian friends questions and they'd be like, "Huh? I never thought of that before." and "Well, his ways are higher." and "We have to become like children." and "You think too much. Have faith." What's with the face value interpretations?! I don't "go there" intentionally, but if something doesn't make sense to me at some level it's like a burr under the saddle, or like the fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea."

 

Deconversion is so hard, even though the questions are currently my evidence!

 

Peace in your journey.

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When I was struggling in my faith, I'd ask my Christian friends questions and they'd be like, "Huh? I never thought of that before." and "Well, his ways are higher." and "We have to become like children." and "You think too much. Have faith."

 

That last one is comparable to what my wife has said to me: "You're too analytical." Well, I'm sorry, but if Christianity was the absolute truth that proponents claim it to be, then it could withstand a little scrutiny.

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...my wife has said to me: "You're too analytical." Well, I'm sorry, but if Christianity was the absolute truth that proponents claim it to be, then it could withstand a little scrutiny.

Hear hear! A resounding agreement from over here!

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When I was struggling in my faith, I'd ask my Christian friends questions and they'd be like, "Huh? I never thought of that before." and "Well, his ways are higher." and "We have to become like children." and "You think too much. Have faith."

 

That last one is comparable to what my wife has said to me: "You're too analytical." Well, I'm sorry, but if Christianity was the absolute truth that proponents claim it to be, then it could withstand a little scrutiny.

 

Yep, I've gotten those same responses. I'd rather be accused of thinking too much than not at all!

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