A few weeks after being banned from the youth ministry, I felt like all the walls were closing in on me with no way out. I couldn’t pursue becoming a pastor or a counselor, and I couldn’t be a leader at my college Bible study. I couldn’t attend SOM to further my knowledge of the Bible, and I was told to stay away from the youth.
A lot was going through my mind, and my spiritual life was diminishing.
I continued hanging out with my younger youth ministry friends, mostly to figure out how to tell them I couldn’t hang out with them anymore. I wanted to disappear slowly from their lives so they wouldn’t notice the sudden change in our friendship. I had everything planned out so they couldn’t question my friendship with them.
One night I was sitting with my youth ministry friends listening to an awesome message in the Gospel of Matthew, my head still filled with confusion. I wanted to stay in communication with these guys somehow, yet by doing so I knew I’d get in more trouble with my church.
I decided to leave that thought alone and listen to the message. Once the service ended, I joined a conversation with the guys and wanted to tell them that I should start hanging out with my other friends in the college ministry.
Again, I had everything planned out: what to say, how to react, even how my voice would sound.
Unfortunately, I got caught up having fun with these guys and that whole plan went out the window. I forgot what to tell them, and I decided to leave it alone. Then I saw one of the youth pastors coming toward me, and I knew I was in trouble.
We started some small talk, but I could tell he was going to be harsh with me. Not even a minute into our conversation, he spoke of my agreement to stay away from the youth. He tried to relay the church message, mixing it with our prior agreement, and then I tried to tell him my side of the dilemma.
I told him that I wanted to slowly draw away from the guys so they wouldn’t have any suspicions, blaming the church or the pastors. I told him that it felt like everything the church had done to me was very discouraging and that it felt like all the walls were closing in on me.
I pleaded that they consider discipleship so that my faith would be stronger. Then they could keep their eyes on me at all times.
The youth pastor had enough of the conversation and rebuked me for not listening to the other pastors’ warnings. He reminded me of my past and said that the church cannot be involved with people like me.
He left me after that, and I was there all alone. Broken.
I trusted my church for a long time, and I’d dedicated my life to it. I’d rededicated my life to Christ there at the beginning of my college years. I’d grown up spiritually there, learning biblical theology from their hard-hitting messages, week after week. I’d finally broken out of my introverted shell there and made friends.
I’d felt accepted by everyone at my church, and no one had ever cared about my sexuality as long as I was following Christ.
But now these recent events were changing everything.
One of my relatives came up to me and asked about the situation, and I had to lie. I did my best not to break down, but I could feel the tears falling down my face.
I sucked it up, took a deep breath, and walked out of the church — both literally and figuratively.
Have you ever been rebuked by your church and/or left your church? Where do you and church currently stand?
* Photo courtesy Denis Messie, Creative Commons.