last one! phyllis and i had fun sitting at my kitchen counter yacking away about a topic that unfortunately we know far too much about–church refugees. good, amazing people who for all kinds of reasons have “left” church. if you are just now reading, check out part 1 and part 2. i know there are some who might say “why are you promoting church leave-ers” and there are many others who would say “aren’t we over this conversation yet?” and my response is “um, there are lots and lots of folks who are floating-around-out-here-in-la-la-land-and-lost-all-they-once-knew and you might be over it, but they’re not. they’re gasping for breath, trying to find their way. so whether you understand it or not, it’s real.”
i believe God is far bigger than the institutions and boxes we humans try to put God in. and i believe God speaks in all kinds of ways far beyond christian small groups & sermons & worship music & the Bible-according-to-the-one-sure-interpretation. and i also believe that when people are displaced out of all they once knew, sometimes connecting with God, opening hearts up to God, experiencing God is far from easy and free. it takes practice to break beyond the confines of past spiritual experiences & expectations & all kinds of language & baggage that go along with it. in this last video phyllis fleshes out some ideas of spiritual practices that can help church refugees open up to new possible ways of connecting with God & themselves in new, unfamiliar ways.
if you are a church refugee, what are some other spiritual practices that have helped you along the way? please share so that others can glean from your experience, too.
this is the second part of a 3-part-conversation i had with my friend phyllis mathis, who is a therapist-life-coach-church-refugee. if you haven’t watched the first video, check it out here. i really appreciated the comments & especially loved this quote about the real church attributed to tullian tchividjian (thanks sam & doug): “if we’re the church then we’ll attract the same kinds of people that Jesus attracted.” most people i know didn’t leave church because it was attracting the desperate, marginalized, oppressed, sick, lonely, and outcast. most people i know left because it wasn’t.
when thinking about church refugees, i thought it was interesting that the definition of a refugee is: “one who flees in search of refuge, as in times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution.” church refugees are somehow displaced out of the system for all kinds of reasons–disillusionment with God, hurt by leadership/system, just-can’t-do-the-grind-anymore-and-long-for-something-different and a whole slew of other things. one of the problems, though, is there aren’t that many refugee camps–safe places–for church refugees. this video fleshes out a little bit more about “life outside the bubble” and the importance of respecting the wide range of emotions and fallout of making these shifts.
i’d love to hear some of your thoughts.
ps: coming up in a few days–church refugees, part 3: spiritual practices
thanks everyone for the comments on my last little rant. it definitely stirred up a little trouble, and it’s so funny that it got linked to an ultra conservative site as an example of an unhappy leftist feminist. ha ha. anyway, i appreciate all of your thoughts & i don’t mind being one of the loud naughty christians who stir up awareness of this issue because it needs stirring. we need reminding that sexism in the church is holding it back from what could be. we need reminding that we all play a part in breaking the chains of oppression for the unrepresented, the marginalized (and i’m not just talking about women) and that things will never change if we keep just leaning into the status quo. i have also yet again been reminded of something that i am pretty sure richard rohr said: the best criticism is to provide a better alternative… (definitely paraphrased but you get the point). even though so many times i think that all of the refuge nuttiness is insignificant in the big scheme of things, these kinds of moments remind me that we need more and more practical, real models where it is actually happening. we all know, theory is one thing; practice is quite another. what i’m seeing up-close-and-personal when it comes to equality in the church is really pretty. and really possible. and i am more than willing to do my little part in helping others try to live it out, too. my hope is over time (and oh is it going to take lot of it) it will become the norm instead of the exception.
over the next two weeks i wanted to share with you 3 video conversations that i recorded a couple of months ago with my-dear-and-wise-friend-on-the-journey phyllis mathis. she is a therapist, life-coach, and has been involved in church leadership in all kinds of shapes and forms for many years. she, like so many others i know, has ended up as a “church refugee”–displaced from “the church” after years and years of giving her life to it. so many of the stories we both intersect with over the course of the work that we do seems to center around church refugees. good, beautiful, people who for all kinds of reasons left all they once knew and are now in the foreign land of church-less-ness, cynicism, and loss. this particular conversation centers in on some of the disillusionment that often comes over “the system” and the realities of the gravitational pull toward margin.
as always, i would love to hear what it stirs up in you.