I am a pastor and I am ready to leave church. My words fail me: frustrated, apathetic, uninspired, irrelevant, disillusioned, meaningless, formulaic, contrived, empty, directionless, impotent, ineffectual, disconnected, pointless, dissonant...
Honestly, what the hell are we doing? Say what you will, but I'm pretty sure when Jesus said the Kingdom of God has come near he didn't mean spend an hour in worship, attend a small group, or volunteer for a service project. I am so sick of the disconnect between our religious activities and our every day lives. We talk and talk about discipleship, mission, and outreach but we devote all of our time, money, and resources to programs or services that either placate nominal Christians or keep them spiritually immature or co-dependent.
Seriously how many worship services, small groups, or service projects do we have to attend before we are ready to go out into the big bad world with all of the "lost," "unchurched," "sinners?" How much "fellowship" or "devotion" time is necessary before we can muster enough courage to be friends with a non-Christian, to have dinner with a neighbor, or to stand up for the vulnerable?
I am sorry but getting people to "go to church" was never the plan. God didn't come to grow a congregation or to employ vocational ministers, He came to transform all of creation. Through His life, death, and resurrection Jesus was and is making all things new, and through his life, death, and resurrection He has invited others to do the same.
The church was never the goal nor was it intended to be the location for or provider of religious goods and services. The church was and will always be those messy people who believe and behave in such a way that souls are reborn, hearts are mended, relationships are reconciled, and lives are restored.
I never guessed I'd have to leave the church in order to be the church.