Going Through a Tough Breakup With Your Church

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This humorous piece sheds light on the often difficult experience of finding a new church.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In this humorous piece, comedian John Crist shares how difficult it can be to find a new church. We invite you to share your experiences in finding a church in the comment section below.

I was walking into church the other day and saw a girl pulling into the expectant mothers parking spot.

I looked at her and said, “Um, I gotta be honest ma’am, you don’t look that pregnant.”

She said, “I’m not. I’m not even married. I’m just believing in God for a husband and a family one day.”

Oh. This must be one of those “Name it and Claim it” churches.

I’m out.

See, this is what happens when you get desperate and just start randomly Googling churches on Saturday night.

Full disclosure: I was committed to a lovely church in Colorado Springs for six years until I moved to Denver and we just couldn’t do the distance anymore (it was mutual). Not gonna lie, I was on the rebound.

You know how Christian girls keep a list of non-negotiable qualities their future husband must have?

I figured I’d come up with a similar list for my next church relationship.

Here’s mine.

  • Worship Jesus.
  • Preach from the Bible.
  • No flag ladies.

To me, everything else is up for debate. But I was just coming out of a long-term relationship with a church that I loved, some irrational decisions were bound to be made. I was on the rebound for six weeks, here’s what happened.

John Crist is an award-winning standup comedian from Denver, Colorado. He just got back from a comedy tour for the troops in Kuwait and is currently on tour across the country. For tour dates and standup videos visit www.johncristcomedy.com or find him on Twitter @johnbcrist.

More from John Crist or visit John at http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/

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  • Sung Kim

    What a funny but insightful article, Brother John! And congrats on your new relationship. Hopefully it’s one that centers around Jesus. Thank you and blessings!

  • Amy

    Funny article…….thanks for the humor needed for what can be a heartbreaking time. It’s been one year since leaving my church of 44 years. Visited more churches this year than I ever had in the previous 44. Thinking God wanted me to experience some forms of worship outside of my box. Still no permanent Sunday church but i know Gods still working on that. Six months ago I would have cried over this….now I can find humor. I do have a home church, very connected to and happy with but we meet on Thursdays hence why I still am searching for a Sunday home. But I know…..it will come and in the meantime enjoying meeting new people and just experiencing what is out there.

  • N8

    Dude, hilarious!

  • william

    We’ve been to those same churches! And, we usually see lots
    of people there. People who like the relationships they find. People who love
    music and hear in it a word that speaks to their pain. People who start to
    believe that God might actually exist, understand, and love them, anyway. It
    takes all kinds, doesn’t it. And, isn’t it most important that people connect
    with a healthy faith community – regardless of style?

  • Pastor C

    I’m a pastor and to read this makes my thoughts run wild at what happens in our services. Crazy, funny things that a guest would find less than amusing. For the most part everyone is so different. In their sincerity they do things that are laughable. You gotta love ‘em! Thanks for this comical view of the body of Christ!

  • CJBloyer

    I moved 5 hours away from my hometown to go to college and during the 6 1/2 years I lived there, I visited somewhere between 26 and 30 churches, only 2 of which had the “stuff” I was interested in. Some of my stories are funny like these (the singles group I connected with in one church asked me to tell them about myself – I spent 20 minutes talking about how I was going to that college so that I would have the opportunity to study abroad for an extended period and how I wanted to be a lawyer and work at the U.N. someday. The first comment after that spiel was “Well, I hope you’re not here looking for a husband, because you’ve come to the wrong church then.”) and some of them are just sad. I’ve since moved back to my hometown and am deeply invested/involved in the ministries of the church I grew up in, but those experiences certainly make a huge difference in how I view our church on Sundays. The three most important things I found were: preaching the Gospel, a love for Christ and for each other, and a serious interest (more than just shaking of hands and saying “Good Morning”) in those they don’t know well.
    There are always “tips and tricks” that other churches do that we like to try, but they all have to fit under the broad goals of “Love God, Love People, Serve Others” and that is something we are working toward, not just in the community but in our Sunday service as well.

  • Deana Callins

    The Revelation of the Holy Spirit!
    Is The Vessel (Spirit & Soul) that your Body(being a Host) is carrying; Full, of the fullness of Christ anointing or Empty, being drained by the devil of the riches of Chirst?
    Daniel 7:25 And (he the devil) shall “Speak” great ‘words’ Against the most High, and shall (Wear Out) the Saints (Of) the Most High, and “Think” to Change times and laws; and (they) shall be given into his hand “Until” A Time and times and the dividing of Time.
    7:26 BUT the judgment SHALL sit(Christ), and They Shall “Take” Away (his) dominion; to consume and to destroy it unto The End.
    The Antynum for ‘Full” is: empty, “Exhausted”, insufficient, inadequate, void. These are all strategy of the devil is to AT’Tempt to “TAKE” from (you) the “riches” of his power The Spirit of the Lord has given (you). Our Treasure/Riches in Christ Is our strength, peace, love, and joy IN the Lord.
    Exhaust (to draw out, to empty, drain, to tire out, to consume strength, “Wear out”, Deplete, to ‘Use’ up, Tired).
    Revelation 13:6 And (he) Opened his “Mouth” in blasphemy Against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and (them) that dwell in heaven(you who are seated with Christ in heaven; as he Is -so are we in him).
    13:7 And it was given to him to “Make War” with the Saints and to overome them:
    12:7 And the serpent(being a Spirit) spewed out of his ‘Mouth” water(words, accusaions, assaults, cursing) after the woman (the bride of Christ), that he might “Cause” her To Be Carried Away of the Flood(with the words from his Mouth).
    The devil is hidding behind someone who allows him to use them (with their mouth) against God and his people. So Be Strong In The Lord and WATCH and listen to what your Saying and Thinking. May God Bless the Saints of His people WHO Love Him(Being The Word) and HIS people.

    • Deana Callins

      The Treasures and Riches of Jesus Christ!
      Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with All your getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:6-8
      Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.Proverbs 3:12-14

    • MDJ

      True and very insightful. We come to services prepared to be filled, and be used to encourage and minister to HIM. I may see those churches or people around during Sunday, but if i did nothing to encourage or influence them lovingly, then i am just the same. Worst if i am just being used by the enemy.

  • servent of the most high

    I left my church. And i feel really hurt. There is alot of emotions i feel now. Its werid but its like breaking up with a person. Well im looking for a new home church. Its harder then i thought. Your story has really encouraged me. Thank you

    • MaryLee

      May God carry you to where you will bless his people and his people will bless you.

  • Don Woods

    The true house of God is measured by love, faith, mercy, grace, peace, life, light, rest, joy, hope, forgiveness, acceptance, righteousness, praise, worship, turning the other cheek, submitting to each other, receiving the prophet in the name of the prophet, employing the gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the body, having a passion for Jesus, and being excited about the things that excite God.

    These are expressions that define our relationship with Christ as His bride and with one another as the household of God. We measure the temple of the Holy Spirit of whom we are by these Biblical terms. If that which we are in that we call church is characterized by such terms as dissension, backbiting, dead works, unbelief, legalism, manipulation, and fear, then it is a harlot’s house.

    Everything mentioned in this article is –an idolatrous extension of Self that is not of God.

  • Rev. Crisp

    When we left MHBC in early 07 we where hurt bad with scars to this very day, when we left VBC in 11 it was more of it was time to go on both sides. Now we are at WEBC each time one hopes that it is forever. lets just see.

    • ServantHeart2012

      Not saying you should do likewise, but when I separated myself from ALL churches whose initials end in “BC” my life overall improved greatly. Just sayin.’

  • Kris Scott

    Ironic reading this today!!

    I denounced my faith today! after a long battle (2 years) with pros and cons of should I go or should I stay??? the hurt and rejection of my family church leaves a gulf too big fill or to return …so farewell Christianity!

    • MaryLee

      I’ve been rejected by many “Christians” and the hurt and pain still need to finish healing. But, I’ve never been rejected or hurt by Jesus. I refuse to give up on him because of ignorant people who misrepresent him and claim to know him even though they do not. I hope and pray you will hold onto your faith in God, and in Jesus, and denounce your faith in people, instead, today. I’m so sorry for your hurt and rejection. God is heartbroken that they would use their free-will to hurt and reject you. Don’t reject the one who loves you for the foolish who don’t even truly love him, much less you <3

      May you be carried through the valley of the shadow. May you embrace the forgiveness, healing, peace that God alone offers. <3

    • PazMike

      Kris, I share MaryLee’s feelings. I am sorry that you have been hurt by those who are called to be agents of grace, but I pray that you do not give up on Christ, because of His flawed Church. We are all sinners, saved by Grace, and we all too often fall short of the high standards that he calls us to. As a pastor, I too have encountered hurt and rejection, but I have also received love and blessing. In all of these things, the love of Christ and the love by Christ has kept me going despite the inconsistencies of His people, We are all wounded healers, and I pray that your wounds are healed, and that you hold on to your faith! God bless you and your family!

    • Cassie

      I agree with both MaryLee and PazMike. I too have experienced a lot of hurt and rejection from fellow Christians and also had a bad relationship with a pastor that resulted me having to leave the church on my own before it got worse. I sunk into a deep depression but I never gave up on Christ – more importantly, Christ never gave up on me. We are all broken people and broken people do damaging things. Our view on the Lord should not be tarnished by other people. We all need to keep our eyes on Jesus because He’s our Saviour and without Him we have nothing and are nothing. He loves us so much and wants to heal and transform us to be like Him, but first we must allow Him to do it. The Lord is so much more than what the people who ‘represent’ Him show Him to be. God bless you.

    • Ashley

      If your faith is about your family church, it isn’t faith at all. I pray that Jesus heals your heart and brings you to a new relationship with him.

    • Maxaipa

      Maybe we all need to alter our expectations and increase our ability to forgive realizing we all can be jerks?

    • Algoria

      Leave your “family church” if you must but NEVER leave Jesus Christ or give up your faith in Him. At a time when many followers were leaving Him, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you also want to go away?”

      “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” was Peter’s answer.

      I don’t know your life story or your circumstances, but when this earthly existence has ended, no-one who has trusted in Jesus will have been disappointed. He has promised to help everyone who looks to Him for help. All we need do is trust and obey Him.

      Have you ever given your whole life to Christ – body, soul and spirit? If so, as JB Phillips wrote, “You have been bought, and at what a price! Therefore bring glory to God both in your body and your spirit, for they both belong to Him.”

    • MinisterMarsha Dennie

      Oh wow! My heart went when I read this. I said oh no don’t you dare denounce God because of maybe what church done to you. Your relationship is with your Creator first God loves you. There are things In our own lives and family that need help surely our families and children but we can’t walk out on them. Just think about it for everything we thought wrong or done people walkout or may have
      But one thing for sure God will not walkout on u/us. There are no people the one whob loves God doing all they can to live right but remember everybody in the church is not saved jesus said let the wheat and tares grow together and when he comes he will do for separating. What I’m saying to you you do your part love regardless pray and God will give you the people to be connected to the people who should be connected to you.

      Look at it this way its a lesson to be learned I found out some of the time that God will use situations and circumstances and people ugly people me nasty acting people to show us what’s really in us, so my advice is ask God is this where he wants you to be if not ask him to lead you to where remembering they’re still not going to be any perfect people there were all x-men love in Christ living for Christ loving one another praying for one another encouraging one another just know who to be around and who not to be around.

      We can have the mindset of expecting mess, we have to let the Holy Spirit deal with us. Some people don’t know how to let the Holy Spirit take over there lives so we are led by our emotions how we feel think that’s why we are in mood swings up 1 day down the next gotta let the holy spirit take over our lives thats when victory comes.

      May God Father reunite your heart in Jesus name. Love ya in Christ

  • Elena

    Thanks!! I needed that! ” A merry heart doeth good like a medicine!”

  • Laura

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

    We are all called to be followers of Christ. Just like our flesh dies daily. If we are obedient to the Holy Spirit and go where He leads us to go, no matter how difficult and or challenging it may be, or your “feelings” get hurt, if we abide in Him and Him in I, He will see you through every situation. Be mature in The Lord, faithful, loyal, move when he says to move and stay where he asks you to stay- the outcome of you faith being stretched and spiritual growth through our challenging situations out dos those less difficult. Stay close to The Lord spend time in His presence, listen be obedient, pray and study His Word- the hurts of yesterday will soon become your greatest testimony of growth. With Love

  • Maxaipa

    Just gonna throw this out there…not unlike us determining God’s immediate will for us by simply looking around and seeing those in need right in front of us, wouldn’t it be reasonable to start with the closest evangelical, Bible believing church, especially those that aren’t a “mega church” and may need you as much as you need them (even if you are in consumer/date church mode and don’t realize it)?! Throw away the shopping list and ask God, truly “where do you want me to serve Lord?” It is in serving first and being a “living sacrifice” as Christ called us to do that we will truly have our needs met in Him. From my experience a lot of the situations where people are hurt happen outside of the context of close relationships. Christianity was designed to operate in and through relationships. Large groups don’t provide an atmosphere conducive to this. Sure you may know the people in the small group you are assigned to but it isn’t the same as a body of believers worshiping together in ‘Spirit and truth” who all know each others hearts and stories and care.

    • Cj Bloyer

      I’m going to disagree with your statement about “large groups don’t provide an atmosphere conducive to [building relationships.]” I’ve been to small churches where the atmosphere isn’t conducive to building relationships. Now, I will concede that it is probably easier to maintain close relationships with most or all of the people in a small church. However, I have been involved in many different sized churches, some mega, some mini, some are somewhere in between. The number of people attending doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor in how welcoming the church feels upon first experience and it’s certainly not the deciding factor in how well the church was able to integrate me into the “family.” The biggest factor I’ve seen is in assessing what kind of culture the church is building, maintaining, and encouraging.
      In my current church there are many people I don’t know well or sometimes at all, there are just too many people in the church for me to know everyone. This doesn’t lessen my ability to worship with them “in spirit and in truth” when we gather together. What binds us isn’t an intimate knowledge of each others’ lives and stories, but rather an understanding that each person in the service is there to meet with God. Those who are members of the Body of Christ aren’t any less dear to me just because I don’t know them. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and when we worship together, the joy of worshiping God is sweeter for their presence.

      • Maxaipa

        Social scientists and psychologists who study group dynamics and human behaviour all agree the size of a group affects the dynamics of the group. It is just a fact. Jesus even agreed with this in principle by calling only 12 men to foster a close and personal relationship with them so that he could disciple them. Granted group size is not the only dynamic that affects the level of intimacy; however it is one of the main influences and therefore cannot be discounted. “Welcoming” someone, I am assuming we are talking about visitors, is important but the health of a church family is a little more holistic then that. “Intimate knowledge” is something the Bible calls us to! “Baring each others burdens in love”, “weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice”, “confessing our sins to one another” all indicate a level of intimacy and trust that is only fostered in close and personal relationships. Saying members of the body aren’t any less dear to you is an erroneous statement. Logically the closer you are to someone the more you care for them. That’s the point and why Jesus spent so much one on one time with people addressing their true needs and loving them. The Gospel is designed to function inside the context of relationship. The closer, the better. That way people trust and are open to give and receive.

        • Cj Bloyer

          I understand what you’re saying and I do agree that the size of a group impacts the intimacy of that group on the wider scale. However, my point was that the “intimate knowledge” of others and the “bearing of each others’ burdens in love” aren’t relegated to the sidelines or disregarded just because the church size is too large for each member to have a deep, meaningful relationship with each other member there. This is where the culture of the church takes precedence over size. If the culture the church is cultivating is about developing disciples (meaning that biblical teaching, accountability, encouragement, and support are all present) then the size of the church means less in terms of “health.” I would also venture to say that even in small churches there are small groups that provide a deeper intimacy and accountability that are not present with the wider congregation (unless, of course, the church is so small as to constitute a small group in and of itself – typically these are church plants or house churches and would be expected to grow in size at some point due to their ability to bring new people in and make new disciples.) Given this, I have to conclude that the size of the whole church is not a major factor in how well the church makes disciples and develops mature Christians.
          Perhaps you are right in saying that someone I don’t know very well can’t be as dear to me as someone I am closer to. However, knowing the intimate details of someone else’s life doesn’t ensure intimacy or trust or accountability. Also, as an introvert, the number of people I identify as “intimate friends” is considerably lower than, say, that of my sister who is an extreme extrovert. She has 12-15 “intimate friends” and I have, at most, 3-5. This leads me to see most other people as roughly at the same level of “dearness.”
          All this being said, I don’t negate your experience in valuing a small community of people all meeting together and sharing their lives and struggles and developing deep, meaningful bonds. My point is merely this: that the size of the church is not the most important factor in generating that experience. The culture of said congregation is of far more importance and impact than the size.

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