Church Hurt : My Seven Year Sabbatical

I’ve read a lot of blog posts about reasons millennials don’t attend church regularly anymore. Some I agree with, others not so much. I’ve struggled with whether or not I should write about this for a while now. Mainly because in my community; you don’t question God, you don’t speak out against the Pastor, and talking bad about the church is frowned upon. Not that I would do any of that, but you know how that goes. People take offense , words get misconstrued, and the next thing you know I’m going to Hell for being a heathen. I do think that after seven years of being on a sabbatical, I’m finally ready to tell MY experience with church.

why i don't attend church

My family is from a very small town in Alabama. From birth until I was about 8, we attended our family church faithfully. I say family church because we were related to 90% of the members. That was where I was introduced to my first dose of ministerial dysfunction. They treated that church like a clubhouse. Ran by the members, everything had to be the way THEY wanted it. No pastor was irreplaceable. I think they voted out at least four pastors the short time I was there. It was complete CHAOS. By the time I was seven, I knew the Bible like the back of my hand. With that being said, I knew what was going on around me wasn’t what I was being taught. My mother knew it too, so we left and found another church home.

When we switched churches, I was extremely happy. Our new church was close to home, and I met my childhood best friend on my first visit. I remember telling my mom that THIS was the church we were supposed to be at and I was so happy when she agreed. I finally enjoyed going to church again. Everyone was friendly and treated us like family. I didn’t have to worry about THIS pastor being voted out because he wasn’t going for it. Before long, I was in every youth ministry the church had. Me and my best friend were literally at church 3-5 days a week, EVERY week. For years, everything was great. I was everyone’s adopted little sister, my pastor was like a father to me, and my church family felt like real family until . . . I got pregnant .

Shortly after my 19th birthday, I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I got married a few months after that.  I knew there would be whispers at church, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. I was already ashamed and embarrassed, but to hear the things that my “friends” and church family had to say about me really hurt. I was called stupid, fast/loose, and some people even questioned my mother’s parenting. The funny thing about that was, all of this was coming from people who I grew up with. People whose secrets I kept for years. People who helped my mother raise me. People whose children were having sex long before I was. Suddenly, everyone was holier than thou and I was the church Jezebel.  The hypocrisy of it all . . .

The church is supposed to be a safe haven.  It’s supposed to be a place to worship and learn all about God’s love for all of us. Unfortunately, my experience with church hasn’t been the best. Being on the receiving end of nasty stares and remarks sucked! It took years to get over, but I realized that holding a grudge makes me just as bad as the people who judged me.  The reality of the situation is, people are just people inside and outside of the church. We ALL sin and fall short of God’s glory. It’s funny because when I first started writing this, my attitude was completely different. I was angry and ready to tell the world why. Now, I feel better. I probably won’t return to that particular church full-time, but I still believe in God. I also believe that he’ll guide me in the right direction at the right time. Until then, I’m okay with watching church services online. Feel free to share your own experiences with church down below. No judgments here!

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Hi, I’m Chantal. I’m a mom of two, self proclaimed naturalista, and Author of Growing Girls With Curls: Short Stories For Girls of Color. Being a mom is hard. Pair that with being a single, black, millennial in America and it’s a whole different monster. Feel free to join my mailing list and follow along as I blog through this crazy thing called life.

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  1. June 3, 2018 / 10:08 pm

    I’m thirty years old and FINALLY found a church that not only preaches the Bible, but LIVES it. I’m so relieved that my boys will grow up in a church that loves and accepts them — warts and all. The people aren’t perfect but, like you, they’re transparent. So sorry you were treated the way you were by people who should have lifted you up. As a former single mom, I remember that sort of embarrassment (from people who I thought had my back!) all too well.

    • Chantal
      June 4, 2018 / 12:09 am

      I’m glad you all found a church home. That’s all I really want for me and my girls.

  2. Tifanee
    June 3, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    So sad when this happens within a religious community ☹️ Sorry for you bad experience girl, I wish that everyone knew that support is always the right way to go. But we live in a world full of imperfect people. Just sad that even god fearing people don’t know that judgement is definitely not for them to pass.

    • Chantal
      June 4, 2018 / 12:10 am

      Thanks Tifanee. I don’t think people realize how powerful the tongue really is. Hopefully one day things will change.

  3. June 1, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    I love my church. I have not always had perfect church experiences, but for the most part, I am there for the Word, and I don’t really think about what anyone else says. I always say that churches would be perfect if only they didn’t have people! LOL. My church family is very supportive of each other, encouraging, and there is no gossip. I love it and am glad my kids have grown up watching what a church should be like. I am sorry that people “threw stones” at you when you needed their support the most. Glad you are still watching services and I hope that someday you find a healthy place to bring your family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I know a lot of people feel the same way.

    • Chantal
      June 4, 2018 / 12:12 am

      Thank you for reading Jennifer!

  4. June 1, 2018 / 10:59 am

    When I was younger, I attended church almost regularly. I loved it and had fun learning. But as I got older, I found that I didn’t necessarily believe everything that was in the bible. And one of the biggest deterents for church was that I was “evil and going to hell” because I liked Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings. I am open to going back to church, if I can find one that accepts me for who I am. I am glad that you made the right decision for you, and your family.

    • Chantal
      June 4, 2018 / 12:13 am

      Yeah, my mom had a come apart when I asked for the Harry Potter books growing up lol. Thanks for sharing your experience with me!

  5. May 31, 2018 / 10:12 pm

    I can totally understand how you came to this decision. My husband and I both grew up in churches, but we’ve struggled finding a church to raise our family in. You just have to make the choice that feels right for you and your kids and it’s no one else’s place to judge.

    • Chantal
      June 4, 2018 / 12:13 am

      Yes! Thanks for reading Tasheena!

  6. KrisBeeMama
    May 31, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    I’ve had my own issues with churches. It’s too cut and dry. I’m glad you made the right decision for you and your family/beliefs.

  7. Kaylee
    May 31, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    Thank you for your honesty. Sometimes we have to make a choice to do what is safe and best for us. I’m a huge Jesus follower but Church is just not for me. Church is just not a building, church is the people and you have to search for your community, even if it’s small. Those that will be there for you in all things. Wish you the best of luck!

  8. May 31, 2018 / 1:24 pm

    Everyone had to make the right decisions for themselves 🙂

  9. Taiwanna Grizzard
    May 31, 2018 / 10:07 am

    Amen cousin well said love this💕💕💕

    • Chantal
      June 4, 2018 / 12:13 am

      Thank you ❤️

  10. May 31, 2018 / 9:08 am

    I have a very similar experience and relationship with church…the first church you talked about is eerily similar to the church I grew up in. It was a hot mess of in-fighting and running pastors away. As a young adult, I joined a different church that I thought was much better but after a case of “church hurt” (a comment I made about alcohol was misconstrued to paint me out to be a bad influence) I left and have not been back, except for a sporadic visit here and there. What I have recently realized is that people are people, in church and out of church. Once I began to accept that, I became more open to the idea of going back. I still haven’t gone back yet (I have been away for 11 years) and I will likely go to a completely different church if I do, but I am at least open to the idea now.

    • Chantal
      May 31, 2018 / 10:04 am

      Same here. Definitely open to going back, definitely won’t be going back to that church though. I love them all dearly, but it no longer feels like home when I attend.