The Forgotten Spiritually Homeless
I want to write this blog piece for people who are looking for a spiritual home. There is a great deal of sympathy abroad in the church for refugees and rightly so. However I think not enough attention has been paid to the hundreds of thousands of people who have given up on Sunday worship, not because they no longer believe but because they have been made spiritual refugees.
The sense of abandonment felt is real as is the pain and bereavement experienced. It is not only psychological, it can be physical. What makes it worse is that the people who were closest friends no longer are around to be a support and encouragement.
People find themselves spiritually homeless for a variety of reasons. Here are just some:
- They may have disagreed with the leadership within the church and been forced to leave.
- They may have moved house and have been unable to connect with a local Christian community.
- They may very well be part of a large group of people who Josh Packard and Emily Hope in their book Church Refugees call the “Dones”, these are people who have been up to their eyeballs in church work and suddenly discover what they are doing no longer resembles what they believe to be building the Kingdom of God. So they walk from church and become motivated to serve God in others ways within the community in which they live.
- There is another large group of Christian people who feel like refugees in Scotland because they have equated church with a building and for whatever reason the building they worshipped in is no longer a church, so they find themselves joining the long list of people who feel disenfranchised from the Christian worshipping community.
If you are reading this and you fall into one of these categories or, for whatever reason, you find yourself a bit of a spiritual refugee - I wonder if we at Sanctuary First might welcome you and encourage you to make this website a spiritual home until you find yourself able to connect with another congregation or Christian fellowship.
Finding sanctuary is one of the first priorities of a refugee. It is no different for someone who is hurting spiritually. What people miss more than anything else is the friendship and companionship of friends and Christian family who have travelled with them for a long time. There is the physical hurt I have already referred to that is experienced and it can last for years. One of the saddest experiences is when someone leaves a congregation and they discover that they are shunned in the street, or they are short changed in a conversation or they are no longer included in the social gatherings they once were in.
Of course if you have left a congregation because of a misdemeanour or been forced to leave often it is hard to find a way back into the Christian community because of shame and embarrassment. I would like to think that Sanctuary First would be the place where all can come and feel a sense of grace and begin to encounter forgiveness and reconciliation.
I’m not sure how all this will work out but I’d like to extend an open invitation to all who are seeking to find a place of welcome and acceptance to join with us in our next Sanctuary First service which will be held in Trinity Church Centre Falkirk on Sunday 30 July at 7pm . Come as you are and share in the worship.
You may of course want to talk about some of the hurts that have been bothering you and I’d like to extend an opportunity to begin a conversation with you over the internet if it would help you to begin to put your feelings in some kind of order and begin to reflect upon the way ahead.
Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Here is a song I wrote with Iain Jamieson, that expresses some of the feelings of those who feel shut out of church. You’ll find it on iTunes https://itun.es/gb/t1ubH?i=553995615