People in churches rarely believe in God.
Does that surprise you?
People in a church believe in a church, that is obvious. But God? Well, there is God involved, but only as a decoration. The church is all about staying together and feeling good.
How about Jesus?
Jesus is fine, but he is not really necessary. In fact, Jesus is a bit embarrassing one, with those weird sandals and all. But it's OK, because Jesus in a church is only theory. It's something to talk about, something to feel good, nothing more. It's safe. And like most things safe: it's dead.
Most of the church members don't really care if Jesus really lived or not. It's not like he's part of the everyday life, is he? So the church loving crowd may believe in Jesus or they may believe in COVID. They will wear a cross or wear a mask. It makes absolutely no difference as long as they all stay together and keep the unity.
There was a pastor, who left a church. He wrote about it: "I wanted to be a part of something that accepts everyone for who they are".
Listen, Mr Pastor. If you want to be a part of something that accepts everyone for who they are, you become a communist. Or sell toilets. Both deal with shit, but toilets do not lie, terrorize and kill. So I recommend toilets. In fact, you become whatever you want, there are lots of excellent choices.
But for things like that, you do not become a Christian! Because a Christian, by definition, is someone who follows Christ.
He who follows the Christ is focused on God, communicates with God and has experienced God. Not God's love, but God's actions. Not in his heart, but in his life. For a Christian, his God is not a declaration or decoration. His God is real.
But here we have a pastor who leaves his church after 13 years. He writes all about it. He tells us why he did it. But in his story not even once he refers to Jesus or God. Ok, the story is about church and himself, but how is it possible that God is not involved at all?
You would think that a church is about believing in God and following Jesus Christ, after all. And you would be wrong.
The only reference to God in "I Used To Be a Pastor" text is the phrase "God's love". God's love was what he preached all those years, God's love was the reason he was active in a church.
But consider this: there are over two hundred names of God in the Bible. If someone cares only about one of those and ignores everything else, how well does he really know God? Does he care for him or for the good things he can get from him for free?
Imagine a wife who loves his husband dearly and lives in his house for 13 years. Finally, the wife says she doesn't want to be a wife any more and leaves the house. She says she can do the same things she does elsewhere. And she doesn't really need this house.
Ok, but what about the husband? I don't know. She doesn't say anything about him. It seems she doesn't even know his name. She was too busy thinking about his stuff.
What would you say about such wife?
There is a name for a woman who doesn't care about her man, only about his house and his money. Is there a name for a man who doesn't care about God, only his love and his good stuff?
If you are trying to get some personal experience with God, do yourself a favor and avoid churches. Churches, especially those in Western Europe and USA, are not to be mistaken for anything, but the clubs for selfish people who want to feel good about themselves by showing off how nice they are. Don't count on them to tell you anything real about God. Don't count on them if you are in real trouble and need way more than a smile and a prayer.
It sounds awful. And it is awful.
A former landlord in England told me once why he avoids churches. He didn't like them. He said: "churches are were full of people who are better than you".
Jesus in the Bible never acted this way, so it's safe to assume that those people must be followers of someone else. Who? I really don't know. Probably some communist. Or a toilet seller. Or someone on TV. Or a government, since they are so eager to keep the distance and wear masks those days.
Or someone who accepts people for who they are and makes everybody feel good. Definitely not someone who dies naked as a criminal. Not some revolutionist who ignites conflicts, challenges people and occasionally insults some hypocrites.
My guess is that if Jesus came to a standard English, German or American church right now, nobody would recognize him. And if he tried to talk the way he talked in the Bible, a pastor would kick him out in a second. Because the real Jesus is honest and rough. He doesn't sell things to you with a smile. He expects things from you. He makes you go to places. He wants you to do things you are not comfortable with.
And his agenda is way more complex than God's love and universal acceptance.
Which might be good news for all those pastors who leave churches. Because you know what? In all probability, you were never even Christians. You were playing ones. You have learnt all the moves, I'm sure. But playing Counter-Strike does not make you a soldier. If it comes to real God, most pastors I know just don't have a clue what they are talking about. It just like a sort of game for them, where everybody pretends to believe. But give him a simple virus and so much for trust for God. All surrender and cower with a mask on their faces afraid to even sing "how great is our God", because it might end with coughing. Christians scared shitless to die and go to heaven - that tells all you need to know about the strength of their faith.
So leaving a church might be an excellent opportunity to stop playing a Christian and start becoming one.
Try it. It's a completely different experience.