Church Beyond Four Walls

Sunday, June 3, 2018

I know this post is different than most. I also know that most of you probably ride along simply for the occasional pretty picture. But I really want to start speaking truth and writing more about what God has put on my heart to share. So here I go.

For so long now I have been feeling that God is so much more than the modern church makes him out to be. I find myself turning away from organized religion more and more everyday. It's hard for me to find God there anymore.

Religion is man-made. All of these dividing denominations of our world were founded by men and man made traditions and religion. I don't know about you, but I want to follow Jesus, not man. Religion gets us no where. Religion is rules. Religion is regulations. How to pray. How to worship. How to earn God's grace and love. Gather in a building every Sunday and sing these songs and say these prayers with these specific words and you will be saved because you are being a Good Christian! But you know what? It's not about that. Jesus doesn't want rules, He wants a relationship. In Matthew 23, Jesus himself criticizes religious leaders. We can try as hard as we can to be a perfect Christian and obey His commands but we will always be imperfect and we will always fall short.

Our good works do not earn us salvation. 

Our salvation was earned when God sent His son and He died for us. As long as we believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins then we have salvation. Good works don't earn it. Baptism doesn't earn it. It can't and it won't. It has already been won for us. It's our job to believe.

Those who may be new to the whole idea of relationship over religion may think that I'm saying to forget the rules and that we can do whatever we want, which is not at all what I mean. The difference is that when you have a relationship with God and you love Him, the desire to obey His commands comes naturally. Because you are in relationship with Him you desire to align your life with His will because you know this brings a life of abundance and joy and peace. You obey Him out of love. When religion is the main focus, you obey Him out of fear. 

Religion is just another part of the system. Another box for us to fit in.

Although I've been "non-denominational" pretty much my whole life, the older I get the more I find myself wanting to pull away from organized religion/organized church. I'm not against going to a church or being involved in a church. I'm really not, but for me it's lacking so much. And I know I'm not the only one feeling this way. So many millennials are leaving their churches now more than ever.

I don't care about small groups, I want to know what we can do to help those in need beyond our 4 walls.

Where is my 10% going? I'd like to know that it's doing more than funding a petting zoo on the front lawn in an attempt to be relatable.

Where are the sermons and guidance about the real stuff? The chemicals? The environment? Self-image? Violence? Abortion? War? Sexuality? I would love to see churches talking about these things. We need churches to talk about these things. I had to learn all this stuff about health and nature and compassion on my own and I can't even imagine how different my life (and all of our lives) would look like if the Church actually equipped us to turn from worldly ways. Instead I just find the Church becoming more and more secular and trendy.

We go to church every Sunday, love to socialize after, never miss the monthly potluck, attend 2 small groups a week, get so involved in the church that we never have the time to look outside the church to those in need or incorporate God into any other aspects of our lives. And I know I'm generalizing here. Not all churches are like this. There are some really great ones dedicated to outreach. But I guess I'd just like to see more of it. Less lights and fog machines and more active hands in the world. 

We keep searching for God in worldly things and then wonder why we still feel so empty. 

I'm not bashing having a Christian community at all. That's important and most definitely necessary, but we have come to making it too much about us. Wholeness will never be found in anything other than incorporating God into every aspect of our lives. In the mundane. In the places you would NEVER expect to find God. By getting back to our roots to where it all began. In nature, in gardens, in rest.

We need to be taught how to find God in the food we eat, the music we listen to, the songs we sing. The products we put on our bodies, in nature, in the early morning sun. Learn to find Him there, too.

Go to a church but don't make it your only church. 

Church goes beyond the 4 walls of the building you attend on Sunday. We are called the BE the church not GO to a church building. Nature is just as holy as a church. Jesus can be found in the food you choose to nourish your body with as much as He can be found in a church. That quiet moment in the morning where it seems like nothing else is stirring except your quiet whisper of a prayer...He is in that all. And that is why I'm constantly preaching simple living and mindfulness because without those things, without our stillness before the Lord, we miss all of these beautiful opportunities to find God in His own creation. How many times do we miss a sign or a word from God that He sends through nature or our bodies because we are too distracted to notice? Because we think nature is for hippies? Because we are too exhausted from striving to be society's definition of successful?

Be still. Slow down. Listen to your body. Sleep well. Eat plants. Go outside. Sit under a tree. Connect with Creation. 

People will say there are more important things. That nature doesn't matter because people should matter more. That animals don't matter because the poor should matter more. But what we are missing here is that it is all interconnected. When you find your connection with one, then strengthened is your connection with the other. This life is not a pick-one-thing-to-care-about-and-only-one-thing kind of life. Every single thing in this universe—in God's beautiful, vast creation—is connected in one way or another. It was only when I realized this did I find true relationship and contentment in my time here on this earth. Being in nature heals. Plants are medicine. Animals are as much a part of God's mercy as we are.

Your connection with one is strengthened by your connection with the other. 

We have strayed so far from what matters most. I only share this because I want others to be able to find the kind of wholeness that I am finding as I journey deeper and deeper into my true self and the true meaning of this human experience. It's time to stop being just another part of the system. It's time to find true fullness of joy. 

My life probably doesn't make sense to most. I'm a Christian vegan. I fight for protection of our environment. I'm not a republican. I'm not a democrat. I do yoga. I eat plants. I use essential oils. I meditate. This is not what you see in our Church today. But I think it should be. And I think this is where it starts. Will you be the change with me?

Do you feel that your spirituality has been put in a box by religion or the Church? I'd genuinely love to know. Feel free to share down in the comments below. 

With care,
Kaetlyn

14 comments

  1. I grew up in the church with minister parents, so going to church was my entire life until I turned 18 and finally had the option to decide, "Do I stay or do I go?" I promptly left and haven't looked back.

    Church was so... hypocritical. As a Good Christian Girl, you're supposed to be demure, modest, and never pursue a boy, yet church leaders were always trying to a) set me up with someone and b) encouraging me to pursue a certain guy because he was a Good Christian Boy. I'm talking me, at sixteen, and the pastor and his wife trying to set me up with a twenty-two year old. That's not what I was going to church for. I wasn't interested in dating, which was another issue; everyone would talk about Paul and how some people are called to be single, and the nanosecond I'd open my mouth they'd say, "But not you, you're definitely called to marriage." SCREW. YOU.

    Then, I loved how people would say, "We're New Testament Christians. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law so we don't need to follow it anymore; instead we follow His New Testament law that says to love God and love our neighbors." And two seconds later, gay people are disgusting, "Blacks" are just rowdy, and a woman can't have an opinion in the relationship because the man is supposed to establish the rules. Someone get me a stiff drink.

    So I left. Cut ties. Ran screaming for the nearest exit. And it's awesome. I don't feel like cattle being sold at market anymore. I get to love everyone and be welcoming and kind and accepting and make them feel loved. God is working on me all the time, giving me revelations about myself because in the end, that's all I have control over: Myself. He doesn't need to tell me about So-and-So needs to live their life; He's working on them, so I don't have to. And the best part? I get to have opinions! I get to decide if I want to date, who I want to date, what the relationship is going to look like, etc. I get to be loud, opinionated, dress how I want, dance how I want, hug whom I want. It's wonderful!

    I suffered so much mental and emotional crap through the church, it's amazing to finally step out into the world and be like, "Wow, you're not all doom and gloom and full of evil sinners hellbent on destroying the world. There are parts of you that are absolutely lovely."

    ... and that is my rant. Whoops! :)

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    1. Britt! What a wonderful and redeeming story you have! It breaks my heart that there are churches that are so damaging and judgmental like this. We need to get rid of the idea of a "lightning bolt God". like you said, grace and kindness and love- everything that's preached in the New Testament- that's what this is about.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! It means so much to me.

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  2. So true!

    What I love the most about your blog is that you speak up the truth about toxicity and how we can change that but I did not vibrate at all with the religious aspect even though I respected your choice. Because as you said, religion is men's creation so really limited.

    Plus, with the resershes I made and my vibrational discernment on the results, I found out that religions are all based on the light and truth but this truth is manipulated and slightly changed in order to control us (not only with the "rules" aspect).

    Especially around the story of Jesus who came on earth to show us the right path to connect with our soul or also called higher consciousness, which is true. However some parts of his story has unfortunately been changed so the character himself Jesus is venrated. At the end of his life he incarnated the Christic Consciousness, as we can see with his enlightened body and this is a job we all came here to do as well. But he did not came on earth to be treated like a superior being, he came to show us how to do like him which is to incarnate here on earth our higher divine potentenial (Christic Consciousness) and live according to the law of Love. He ment to show us how to set us free from all of that sufference traps so we can take back our "power" which is the right to incarnate this full potential of love, to bring peace on earth.

    I don't belive it is a surprise that they don't talk about eating vegan and organic and actually do something for this planet. When we set ouselves free from anything that does not vibrate in our heart and that "something is missing here", this is a step in the right direction, and I am so happy you made that first step because with all of your articles I can see in your heart the desire to be free. Free from any negative control and take back our rights.

    If you are curious about the vision I just shared please be free to do make your own resershes and take only the informations that vibrate right deep down within your heart.

    I love your commitment to make a positive change on this planet so please continue to speack your truth because I can see that you are going on the right direction.

    With love and light,

    Anne

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Anne! Your words are definitely something to ponder on. Much love to you!

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  3. Dear Kaetlyn,

    I read (almost) all of your posts – so of course I read this one – but actually never comment. Is it because English isn’t my first language and I think sometimes it’s hard to explain your thoughts when it’s not in your own language? I don’t know. But now I had this feeling to share my thoughts with you.

    It is around seven years ago I met God (I was 19 at the time). My best friend in that time was a Christian girl and I was raised an atheist. But at once came that feeling, a longing to have what my dear friend had and I wrote her an e-mail, to write down everything that I felt. And she wrote one back. She was happy, but found it quite unexpected. I got the name and e-mail address of dear friends of her, a couple in their forties, who would love to learn and explain me more about God, Jesus and so one.

    Going to church was a big step, but I went. Not every week, but at least once a month. I did go to the youth nights, made friends, had fun. And I changed. It wasn’t really through church, since I didn’t feel quite comfortable during those Sunday mornings (it was a church where everyone knows everyone for years and it made me pretty uncomfortable), but it was because of visiting this couple. I started to think like they did, was almost acting as they did. I wasn’t myself anymore.

    Then, more than a year later, I quit going to church. I started a new study combined with a fulltime job. It was hard work and I didn’t had much free time, became more and more tired every week. I lost contact with this couple, but also didn’t go to the youth nights that much anymore. Mostly it was because I didn’t have any energy to do things next to my job and study. But I also remembered something my Christian friend told me once, years before: believing isn’t about going to church. That I didn’t go to church anymore, didn’t mean I refused God.

    Just a year after all that, I got some real struggles. My past came up and I had to go in therapy (yes, I had to, otherwise I would lose my job). And I lost all the interest in being a good Christian girl. My friend wasn’t pleased to hear that, and she did break the contact (but she does greet me when we see each other and sometimes we have a little chat). Those moments I had more in the years that followed, but you know? Every time I do come back to God. I know He’s the truth.

    Since I felt my change when going to church, having studies with that couple, I’m not that eager to go to another church. I’ve also seen it in documentaries, read about it: you can become the person people want you to be, by going to a church. But as you said it, believing isn’t about the rules people tell you, it is about God, about Jesus. And the church became the rules of man. Even when there are just two commandments in the Bible, told by Jesus in Matthew 22:

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

    Even now, knowing all this, I have some trouble going completely my own way with God. In the back of my head I always think: but what if it ís true, all the things the people are stating? What if I go to hell because I want to do yoga? And because I want to work with medicinal herbs? Even when deeply in my heart I know God is the only one to judge, I can’t let go off those thoughts. In Christian society those things belong in an occult world, belong with the devil… But believing isn’t about going to church, as my old friend told me. Neither is it about the books you read, the movies you see, and so on. It’s about being yourself, staying yourself, looking for God in everything around you, in everything you do.

    Everyone has to find their own life with God, I think, with or without church. God will see our hearts. And that, I think, is all that matters.

    With love,
    Sandra

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    1. Hi Sandra! Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your story. It resonated with me so much! Your feelings are completely valid, and maybe going to a church isn't the right thing for your faith right now. It's hard to return when you have been hurt by a church. But you can have peace in knowing that WE can still be the church outside of the 4 walls of a church building. That's what's most important.

      And you thoughts about going to hell for doing yoga or plant medicine...YES. I used to think those same thoughts. Those things are not seen in a Christian community. Yes, they can be evil if done in the wrong way, but I use meditation and yoga to be still and draw closer to God and have never once felt in my heart a darkness or feeling that it was wrong of me to do so. And as for plant medicine...it hurts my heart that it isn't more well taught. God made no mistakes in His creation. He literally gave us all the healing and medicine that we need in nature and we turn away from it. That is why I want to see and be the change.

      I love everything you said, it is so so true. Thank you again for taking the time to share your heart. Much love to you!

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  4. I love this post and totally agree with everything you say. I love my church and especially the community I have there! We have the fog machines, but we also have a collective heart for outreach. I specifically like that our church practices fiscal responsibility and accountability so I can be sure my financial contributions are helping people learn about Jesus. Even with all that, though, I feel empty sometimes at church and it's not filling my spirit. I become a slave to religion instead of relationship with Jesus. I realize this, and I see that the problem is inside me and not a reflection of the status of my salvation but a result of the sin nature I still contain- and the answer truly is to get back to basics! Like you said: to connect with God's creation and quiet the voices so that I can hear Him rather than all that people (and my own mind) are saying about Him. Sometimes, I can get closer to Jesus by skipping church and taking a hike. Thank you for the gentle reminder!

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    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for your comment. I'm so happy you have a wonderful church like that. Everything you said is exactly what I'm trying to get at! It's not choosing one or the other, but the beautiful combination of the two that brings us wholeness. Much love to you!

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    2. Sarah, I also agree with your comment! My church has a nice balance of qualities that are inviting for new guests, but also focus a lot on outreach and missions. Our pastor teaches directly out of the Bible, but I love that we are always encouraged to dig deeper, and "not take their word for it" regarding aspects more open to interpretation. There are definitely many aspects important to consider when choosing a church, and everyone is different.
      While I agree many churches have lost focus regarding the Biblical truths and basics of Christianity, I think it's important to point out and remind people that the Bible does encourage gathering in a group setting (church) to learn, encourage and uplift each other, and to pray (Hebrews 10:25). It's important to be in church. But I agree with you that connecting with God in His creation is often beneficial and revealing to our spirits- but must not replace time in church.

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  5. Wow, this post was fire, and I want to say thank you so much for sharing. Never be afraid to share what God has laid on your heart, friend! You are an encouragement to many.

    I related to this post in many ways, and it's just so encouraging to know someone else out there is hungering and thirsting for more. God is so big, we can't limit Him to four walls, as you say, or to one particular part of life or creation. I think it's wonderful how you look for Him everywhere, in everything. I need to make more of a habit of that. Thanks for speaking truth! xx

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    1. Thanks so much Jessica! I'm glad it resonated with you. Much love to you!!

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  6. Kaetlyn,

    I completely agree that most churches now are just going through the motions. it's about having fun, or about getting your fix so you can feel like a good person. it's really sad that the Body of Christ has been reduced to that. (also I agree, it is almost heartbreaking at how few people see God in His Creation! if people would just spend 30min outside everyday, I guarantee they'd be in awe everytime. anyway...) I don't think there is enough emphasis on personal priesthood. we are all called to live for Him & glorify Him in whatever ways possible. & there is more to that than just attending church.
    that said, we are still called to assemble, as per Hebrews 10:25, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." I would encourage you to continue to look for a congregation that fits the bill. I have been blessed to be raised in a church that is no-nonsense, verse by verse teaching. it's the Truth, straight from the Word. not sure where in OH you are, but we have a sister church in Cleveland called Lake Erie Bible Church that is also verse by verse teaching, if that's something you'd be interested in. here's the website: http://lakeeriebiblechurch.org/
    thank you so much for always speaking your mind & being a witness of His Glory!
    your sister in Christ,
    Clare

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    1. Hi Clare,
      Thanks for your comment! I did make it a point in my post to be clear that a christian community is important, but that community can be gathered anywhere. The bible says WE are a church, and never mentioned a building that is a church. WE can be the church anywhere! I go to A church, but I have felt for a long time that it is missing so much which was the whole point of my post.

      Much love to you!

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    2. I see what you're saying! sorry if I offended, just trying to be helpful. I was thinking since you felt a lack in your current church that you might be looking for another. I am fortunate to have a Christian community (more like family) within a church building. I hope you find what you're looking for.

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