Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Why I Quit Church (and the Surprise That Brought Me Back)

Why I Quit Church (and the Surprise That Brought Me Back)

In my pre-wanderer days, I knew everything…or so I’d convinced myself.

My original journey back to the family of God was a pretty arrogant one. I was going to “fix church.” I helped my father plant a new community in Central Florida. Then I went and led worship for a small church in Tennessee. Then I started a fairly successful college gathering in a coffee house. Then I went on staff at a much larger church. That’s where I finally began to break under the weight of trying to rectify how to deal with a special needs child and why none of my “fixes” seemed to take.

So while I was on staff at a large church with what any other person in their mid-20s would have considered a dream job, I began to run. (That’s a post for another time.)

Along the way, I bumped into people who time and time again served as blockades of grace that helped me slow down until I finally realized this:

What Christ laid out in the gospels doesn’t need any improvement.

In fact, if we just did those things, I think we’d be OK…it’s all the extra stuff we’ve added that causes problems. Sometimes, it feels like our churches are working much harder to keep systems in place than actually connecting with people (like Caleb).

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if Jesus came into our temples of today. Would he overturn the tables like he did in the ancient days? Heck, what if he came into the temples of our very lives? I’m sure there are many parts of me that come off like a den of thieves.

I don’t know any of the clergy-in-training Caleb frequented the strip club with, but I know the church is supposed to be a safe place for people to be laid bare. To show their scars and ugliness without fear of being pushed away, kicked out or told to go elsewhere. And this isn’t a denominational issue; this is a perspective issue.

I’m back in the church. To stay.

And when my children look at me, I want them to see hope instead of cynicism. I want them to see a dad who gets it wrong a lot but knows where to turn when I fall.

Because we don’t need more people trying to fix the church; we just need people to be the church.


“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

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Matt Chambers is father to 6 (including 1 with special needs), director of SafeWorld, founder of a Gener.us, advocate, speaker, writer, leader, learner. You can follow him on Twitter @mattchambrs or contact him directly chambersmatt@me.com. He writes daily at http://ethoshift.com. He and his beautiful wife, Jordana, are currently raising their village in East Tennessee.