Leaving the Church of Christ Part One: My Story

For those who have been in the Church of Christ for a long time or even a lifetime, it can be difficult leaving.  For many of us the constant teaching theme In the Church of Christ is that we can’t trust the teaching of others.  To be quite fair, this should be a concern for we don’t want to go from one cult like assembly to another fellowship where someone else is twisting the Scriptures to suit their needs.

Now this is written to those who are in, what I call, the “hard core Church of Christ.”  Those are churches with the teaching that one can ONLY go to heaven if they are a member of the Church of Christ.  Some other descriptions of the hard core Church of Christ can be found HERE in this article. There are some Church of Christ assemblies that don’t teach like this.

This is the first article in a three part series on Leaving the Church of Christ.  I would like to humbly share my story.  It would be best to give a picture on what might happen to others who might also want to leave the Church of Christ.  I would also like to give practical advice and insights on what worked for me.  Some may have it worse and some maybe might not.  It would be safe to say if you have family and friends who have been in this denomination for a longtime or a lifetime, it will be difficult to keep the normalcy in your relationship, for they will now think you are hell bound.

My Story

In 1996 I had decided to leave the Church of Christ.  I was working in what most would call a NON—legalistic Church of Christ.  Now there were some members, a few, who did think we were the ONLY ones going to heaven, but most of the church did not feel this way.  It was a congregation of about 400 and the leadership was horrible for they led by compromise on every issue.

The church where I was working was full of people who did not think instrumental worship music was sinful.  Through college and into this career I also knew that it was not a sin to have instrumental music in worship.  Leaving the Church of Christ was easy for me to PERSONALLY do, however, for those close to me it was hard for them to accept.

I had been offered a job at a Christian Church nearby.  I prayed over this matter much.  I had no problem taking on the job but I did not want to hurt the relationships in my life if this was NOT where God wanted me.  So,  I asked God for a very specific sign and He provided.

The Family Reaction

First I told my parents. We sat down and had several hours of conversations over a few day period.  They were not accepting even after the conversation was complete.  I reasoned with them on the many topics they brought forth. I was well educated and prepared for this conversation and welcomed their questions with humility.  They AGREED with my on every single point until a conclusion was reached.

Even though they agreed on EVERY point they could NOT bring themselves to seeing the conclusion.  It went in circles over and again.  However, because they had heard the same messages preached and taught over and again for decades, they could not see a different conclusion EVEN THOUGH IT WAS OBVIOUS.  My parents had been taught that white was blue for decades.  They could not understand their error.

They then proceeded to call everyone who had ever been in my life that they thought MAY have had some sort of influence in my new direction.  They called old college professors, old work associates, old friends and grilled them.  They blamed radio preachers and they blamed Christian Rock.  Essentially they felt that I could not come to this on my own but rather I was weak minded and weak willed and would simply follow any and every little message that would come along.

At one point a friend called me after talking to my father on the phone.  He shared with me that my father said, “I would rather him never go to church again than go to a ‘denominational’ church.”  I forgave my father immediately.  Even though almost 20 years later the words still sting slightly I have forgiven him.

The Old Friends Reaction

Next came the letters from past elders and other family members.  My sisters accepted the change for even though they still remain in the Church of Christ denomination, they have no problem with other denominations.  They are not hard core. But my brother had great difficulty.  I received a letter from him condemning my decision and equating me to Lot of the Old Testament.  I had taken phone calls from previous elders who had condemned my decision.

Though the years my parents and I have taken a “let’s just not talk about religion” stance.  There have been a few times this has been breached but most often it is respected.  This hurts a little because theology plays such a HUGE role in my life now and to be unable to share what the Spirit is teaching is like wearing a muzzle.

Humility Helps

Because we are followers of Christ we MUST take on a Christ like attitude.  Be humble.  Not a fake humility but a true humility.  Do not boast how much knowledge you have.  Do not have actions or attitudes which make people feel inferior to you.  Be humble.

Accept the fact that you will have critics and some of them share your last name.  While Jesus was on earth, his own brother James thought he was nuts (Mark 3:21). This puts you in good company.  Pray for those who treat you with spite.  Bless those who curse, revile you and say all kinds of evil against you (Matthew 5:11).  Be patient with people who are not on a level of Bible knowledge as you.

Having MORE knowledge does not make you more righteous not does it make you closer to Jesus.  Be humble and find areas to serve.  Be prepared to be disappointed and hurt at the ignorant things family and friends will say.

This is part of my story.  I hope that you, the reader, can find some benefit in my experiences.  God bless you in your journey.

Be Free

19 Replies to “Leaving the Church of Christ Part One: My Story”

  1. I was very damaged by the hard core c of Christ …..lost my husband of 32 yrs bcuz of his inability to accept my decision to leave. So sad!

  2. Come visit us at Facebook. The Exers”Ex-Church of Christ.”
    Thank you for your testimony. I am a former member and minister of the Churches of Christ. I left in 1971.

  3. Thank you for your story. I was raised Baptist. I became curious about the church of Christ when I was 22. I visited an ultra-conservative church of Christ church. I asked a minister there if he believed only those who were members of the church of Christ were going to heaven. The short answer was, “Yes. Only those who are members of the Lord’s church will go to heaven”. I was so hurt. I could not understand. I loved Jesus. I loved reading His Word. I had done my best to live for Him. Suddenly this minister claims I do not belong to Christ simply because I attend the wrong church? And he gave me a book, which title I would rather not mention. This book brainwashed me, and made me think I needed to be rebaptized. I was rebaptized by this church of Christ minister. I was happy at first. After two days I felt like God reached down and smacked me over the head. I left that church he went to. Now I attend a church of Christ church that emphasizes the importance grace and not the importance of what church you attend.

  4. It is an all too sad but these days common occurrence. I left after years of self conflict and by studying my way out of legalism. The CofC is a denomination by its very definition but you would never convince some of the members of that fact. I was an elder and minister and realized that there are Christians in all of the faiths and there are Pharisees also. May God bless you in your journey.

    1. God bless you and thank you for your comment. When I left, it was done in peace and quiet so as not to disturb others. My conflict was to either stay and be a reformer or go in peace and leave these people to continue in their relationship with the Lord. Yet that was met with fierce resistance. Former elders and my own family members questioned how I could “turn to the greener fields like Lot.” I have patience for ignorance yet what hurt was looking back at the years of relationships that were simply gone and not by my choice. I have not written anything in a while but lately have had a renewed fire and will be contributing again beginning with how to deal with the hurt and possible anger. Thanks again for taking time to post. Peace to you!

  5. Great post, I just ran across your site and wanted to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  6. Please do not judge all churches of Christ by by the sign on the building or your bad experiences. We are not all the same. Yes we have had many faults. Many of us are trying to do better. Our aim has been to practice New Testament Christianity as described in the New Testament and by reputable historians of the day. We do not claim to be perfect. We are striving to be the church that the Lord promised to build in Matt. 16:18. There are many good people here and I do not appreciate all of the negativity and criticism. I am sorry for the hurt that many have suffered as well. Let’s try to heal and get along and be Christian!

    1. Thank you for your post and concern. This site was initially created for those who are in the process of leaving or deciding to leave. Therefore, there is an pretty hard emphasis on “hard-core” Churches of Christ. Obviously you are not attending one of those congregations. This definition is very dominate. However, we will be adding new content and heading in the direction of what the future should hold for main line Churches of Christ. This denomination, from its man made parts, is inspired on some very dangerous ideas and teachings. The original founders had very noble notions. Their desires were pure. More on this in the coming weeks and months including a book.

      Thanks again – God bless

  7. Good and honest article. I left the Church of Christ in 1971, and it cost me my wife, who was raised in a Church of Christ. I was not raised in the COC, but I did join in 1965. I went to ACU, got a degree in Bible, and preached for a year. I struggled from 1970 to 1971 about leaving or staying in the COC, but decided to leave in June of 1971. The next morning, my wife had her bad packed and left me. I have not seen her since.

    1. It is my hope and prayer that you continue to grow in Christ and have not left completely. I came across several issues of the “Spiritual Sword”. There are about 20 in total and they span from 1967 to 2000. The people who wrote these articles were considered leaders in the movement. What I have found is the utter arrogance and pride and the absence of any genuine challenge of knowledge that drove them. With complete humility one can say that there is complete ignorance and self-awareness within the hard core Church of Christ leadership. Please do not let this mess of people be the issue that keeps you from a rich relationship with Christ.

  8. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!

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