Why we never gave up on church



We were like you once,

Not so very long ago.

We, after all, were the ones who taught you the words of

The B-I-B-L-E

And how deep and wide is

Our Father’s Love.

You aren’t the first, you know,

to raise the issues

We raised them, too.

We were asking hard questions while

you were learning to go potty in the big chair:

Why are there only white people in this congregation

when the neighborhood is mostly all black?

Why are men the only ones allowed to serve as elders,

deacons, and pastors?

Didn’t Jesus call us all?

What do you mean women have to be submissive?

Doesn’t Scripture call us all to be submissive, one to another?

Nobody, not even you, Millennial, fulfills the intent set forth in

that principle, that Scripture.

Oh, we were like you, not so very long ago

Critical and convinced that we, too, knew better than them.

And so we pushed forward, asking the tough questions,

challenging the status quo.

We were the mothers and fathers who spoke our minds at Bible Studies,

said we didn’t think that was what was meant by that verse.

We believe that marriage is a partnership between wholes,

not halves completing the other.

We were the women who stepped on the hallowed ground

of all-male seminaries and fought for the right to serve,

alongside our brothers.

And some of them fought with us, for our rights,

because they, too, believed that our ability to serve

shouldn’t be determined by whether we pee standing up

or sitting down.

Even as we sat in those Sunday School classes, separated by gender and age and race,

we knew it was wrong.

We knew that you can’t segregate and preach community at the same time.

There’s hypocrisy in that.

Oh, there were tearful moments to be sure. Victories rarely come without them.

As you know, it isn’t easy to stand up to the status quo.

Especially when its authorities are quoting “the inerrant Word of God”

as validation for their misogyny, their  racism, their bullying, their holier-than-thou attitudes.

But where we differ, you see, is that we believed in standing firm,

holding the ground, little as it may have seemed at the time,

and pushing through the brokenness.

It never occurred to us to abandon the Church.

Oh, sure, when the Moral Majority came along and started passing out “vote this way”  cards,

we ranted and raged, Don’t tell us how to vote.

And we left the churches where the pastors insisted we vote

Conservative, God’s way, they said.

But we didn’t leave the Church. 

We only left that church.

We found new communities where we could worship, serve, minister, and be ministered to.

Like you, we cared for the widows and the orphans among us. (Where do you think you first learned compassion?)

We ran prayer meetings on Wednesday nights, Training Union on Sunday evenings.

There were church potlucks and mid-week Bible studies.

And trips to Six Flags, and to Mexico, where we built buildings for the orphanages.

We donated weekly to Lottie Moon, tithed monthly – no less than 10 percent – and sent money to missionaries serving in places whose names we could barely pronounce.

We ran “I Found It” campaigns and passed out Four Spiritual Law booklets. We talked about the Tyranny of the Urgent and what it must have been like for Corrie Ten Boom to lose her sister that way.

We prayed diligently for people to be saved. To know the cleansing power of the Blood. Something we believe in even yet, all these years hence.

We took seriously the directive to  go unto the ends of the earth, preaching the good news. 

It’s not that we never questioned, never criticized, never doubted, never despaired.

Like you, we did all of that and more.

It’s just that through it all, it never occurred to us to give-up on church.

We always understood that we are the church. 

It’s failures are our failures.

It’s successes are our successes.

It’s health is our health.

It’s hope is our hope.

To abandon it would be to give up on one another.

To say to Jesus, there is no power in the blood.


Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? ’cause I need more room for my plasma TV.



Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 7 years ago

I gotta tell you... I'm trying really, really hard not to be done with it all. My church used to stand for love of God and neighbor. Now it's just like every other church in town - it's like I don't even know the place anymore, and it breaks my heart.


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 7 years ago

Chris: I get it. I really do get it. But I still believe that we are called to hope and not to despair. We have to push through, to love, to care, to not despair. And, yes, I get that churches can be business and not community. I keep searching for that community myself.



about 7 years ago

Thank you, Karen.



about 7 years ago

Something as old as the church I always in need of renewal. Sometimes that renewal is ahead of us. Sometimes that renewal is in (re)discovering what we left behind. A month ago I attended the memorial service (at my home church) of a member who had been an Army chaplain and a key person in supporting a mission partnership in Central America. Most of the people in attendance, however, were not members of the church. Still, I observed something with this group that I increasingly see on Sundays: very few men sing these days, and people under the age of 35 almost do not sing at all. Oh, we have a great pipe organ, a grand piano, and also a praise team with guitars, drums, microphones and unsightly cords, speakers, and foot activated sound modification devices strung everywhere. We have lyrics projected on screens and vocalists visibly and vicariously emoting for us behind the microphones. Yet we have become a generation of watchers in a culture that glorifies spectacular performance, not participation. I keep wishing for power outages at worship and church gatherings so that we could again learn and experience the beauty of the voices we have been given. It might help us to re-imagine the community of people we are called to be--men included.


Cornelia Becker Seigneur

about 7 years ago

Karen- this is so good- thank you for articulating this so well! I love: But we didn’t leave the Church. |We only left that church.... We found new communities where we could worship, serve, minister, and be ministered to. We always understood that we are the church. ..Its failures are our failures.| Its successes are our successes.| Its health is our health.| Its hope is our hope. You are such a great thinker and writer with an awesome pulse on culture. - cornelia


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