Sunday, October 07, 2007

What was that all about?

I’ve embraced the name Watchman spoken to me years ago. As the name suggests, I am as one who stands on the wall and stares into the night. I watch for movement. I try and interpret what I see, regardless of how unclear it might be. Right now I see a lot of confusion. I read a handful of blogs of people who have left the Church As We Know It. Whether their reasons are spiritual abuse or just plain disillusionment, all have a similar theme of looking back and evaluating what in the world they were a part of. They question themselves, often feeling shameful or stupid for being so naïve. I see this because I’ve done the same thing. I was a leader in the Church As We Know It for a long time. I was considered an expert in some regards. I led what is commonly referred to as worship. I wrote songs, lots of them, that many people seemed to enjoy and tell me they were their favorites. I felt pretty confident in this role. I had a secure sense of place because of it. Now, years later, I look back on that time of my life with strange ambivalence. I question myself viscously. What was that season of life based on, seeing that my life and point of view on worship is so radically different now? Was that real? Was it authentic, or was I just a poser who found a place to stand and feel important because of the effort I put into it? I can’t really say. What I can say, however, is that I liked who I was at that time, but I like who I’ve become now even more. The reason I like where I am is that in spite my age, I feel like I am still growing, still learning, still changing. The point for me is not to look back and wonder whether or not my life was authentic or not. My past is what it is. Instead I have a present and a future to consider. My previous story helps me make sense of what I see at hand and ahead. To my friends on this journey toward the Church Of The Future; The watchman says look back as well as beyond. Embrace where you’ve been, but don’t want it back. There is a new place to create and establish. It’s the whole point of your feeling disenchanted. Change can’t occur until we get tired of staying in same place.


Maria said...

Thanks for the advice and perspective, Kevin. I'm a new reader, and fellow traveler on that road into the future. I like your gentle, non-judgmental attitude.

I think part of our need to look back is grief, part is that need to define what we don't want in the future. It's easy to get stuck in one of those modes or another, but I think they're probably necessary steps in preparing us for Church as we don't yet see it.

Watchman said...


Grief is probably the most overlooked human need in the Church As We Know It. It can't be programmed into our Sunday morning experience. How many songs of grief do you know? Grief is hard to plan for, since we grieve in different ways. Grief creeps up on you like an ambush sometimes, so you deal with it as it comes. We all need to grieve the past, so we can make way for the future

Erin said...

Thanks for this post. It's true, just like you and Maria said, grief is a big component to moving forward. If not dealt with, it will hinder us.

Laura said...

This is a very interesting post. Do you think (have you observed) a generational theme in these feelings about leaving the Church As We Know It?

I, too, have left, but I don't have a sense of grief about it. I feel as if I simply "grew out of it" - that is, my need for the standard fare (that you described so well in your previous post!).

Maybe it has to do with the level of involvement, too...

But I feel about my leaving the "Church" (ha!) in much the same way that Galatians 3 talks about the Law being the tutor/child-minder that brings us into the knowledge of Christ and faith in Him.

(I really appreciate your blog, by the way.)

Watchman said...


Grief comes anytime we experience loss of any kind. I lost a place. I lost contact with friends. While I've gained much, there still are things that are not the same.


Laura said...

Maybe that's why I don't grieve it - I don't feel that I lost anything. I don't even feel a sense of relief for having "escaped" something negative. It's really a rather neutral experience for me.

Once, Church As We Know It was part of my identity, and then somewhere along the road I simply realized that it really wasn't anymore - like getting out last year's winter coat and realizing you've gained three inches in the arms over the summer. It just doesn't fit anymore.

Time for something new!

I'm not trying to be flippant here; it's just interesting to me to see the difference in our experiences. (And again, I wonder if the root of it lies in the degree of our respective involvement.)

I totally agree with your thoughts on the need for grieving to be recognized - even corporately. It's something I've long appreciated in the Jewish tradition - all the liturgies and rituals for grief.

Barb said...

Thanks so much for your posts. I have read through most of them this past week. To read of other's journeys out give me as sense of sign posts that I can recognize when I happen upon them.

Grief is very real to me right now. I know this is part of the process but I also know that I don't want to stay here.

I like how Maria put it. Church as we don't yet see it.

I think in some ways, well in many ways, it is easier to look back because we can actually "see" something. To look ahead for me is like peering down into a void. I see nothing. I can't imagine it. But that can't mean that I just stop trying. Just because I can't see it is not a reason to stop and just be content with what has gone before.
Blogs like yours are helpful, because you are saying there is something else out there and you are experiencing it.
Keep writing about it. I'll keep reading.

Tyler. said...

it's true. a church without a past is a church without redemption. if our pasts are not redeemed, then what in the world is?

bloodrose61 said...

Isn't a church really just a community coming together, whether in a building or just in spirit, to join in a shared belief? The church and god I was given brought me only guilt and untruths and judgment and shame. Oh, and my first real taste of hypocrisy. I no longer want a church or a god, but I believe in karma and Mother Nature and emotion and brotherhood -- even if humans seem determined to prove me wrong.