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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Apologies for Being Obnoxious

Dear Readers of my Blog,

It has come to my attention that I have let my thoughts leak out in a potentially offensive manner.  So I want to issue a formal apology to my audience.

You need to know that I only write a smidgen of what goes on in my brain because I really do want to steer clear of controversy and not be a thorn in people's side with my ramblings.  I really don't want to hurt people's feelings with the things I write.  I don't intend to be judgemental, harsh, rude or nasty.  I hope you know me well enough to know that.

I also want to say I didn't write my 50 Reasons to Leave a Church to point at anyone in particular.  I myself have said some of those very things.  Some of them are ridiculous.  Some of them are valid.  And some are in between - neither ridiculous nor valid or invalid - they just are.

I have been a part of seven churches in my life of 36 years.  Three of them are in Hong Kong.  Two of them in college.  Two of them since then.  No matter the circumstances for leaving a church - down to even moving from another country - it is a painful process.  I don't want to minimize that.  It is a burden and weight to be removed from one flock and drawn into another.  As I always say, "There is no pain like Church pain."  If you have experienced it, you know what I mean.  It is tempting to become a pew-warmer and yawn and detatch in order to not to experience the grievous Church Pain.  But we know that is not our calling.

So, I am SORRY.  I was making observations of life and maybe I wandered into hot-button territory - needlessly.  I was going to just take it down, but words spoken are like water poured out on the ground.  So I'll leave it there and issue my apology.

Please know I don't judge you or anyone for leaving a Church.  It is your business and not my place to judge.  But I do know some people DO leave for amazingly petty reasons.  And if love covers a multitude of sins, certainly love covers the offenses of people running churches not asking me how to do it.

So, there I said it, again.  Maybe I'm stepping on toes again.  Maybe I'm just too obnoxious by nature.  But I do want my readers to know I don't mean to bludgeon you with words.  I just have a nasty habit of letting my thoughts be known and I was not blessed with the gift of diplomacy.  Some day, maybe I'll learn.

Love to you all, no matter what Church you attend,


Monday, October 7, 2013

50 Reasons to Leave a Church

Disclaimer: I'm not saying these are the reasons you should leave a Church.  Just throwing out a bunch of reasons why people DO leave churches.  I'll let you guess as to what the legitimate ones are.

Here we go: 50 Reasons to Leave a Church

1.  You changed your religion
2.  They wouldn't let you paint, "Smile! God Loves You!" for the gym floor mural
3.  It's no longer a democracy, and we all know democracy was the heavenly prescribed best method for how to govern a church
4.  They removed that stained glass window you so liked
5.  The music is rock-band style
6.  The music is not rock-band style
7.  You are allergic to people
8.  They're not spending money the way you want them to (and we all know that how a church divvies up funds is the crux of everything so you will vote with your feet and dollars and go elsewhere).
9.  The preaching is dry and boring
10.  They don't have a program for everyone in the family
11.  It's too big
12.  It's too small
13.  They wouldn't let me do my song and dance on stage
14.  They didn't support you in your marathon for (insert pet cause here)
15.  They have too many potlucks
16.  They never seem to have potlucks - and we know fellowship is all about the food.
17.  They're always telling you what the Bible says - where's the pop-psychology and pep-talk, man?
18.  They never tell you what the Bible says - Why is it all pop-psychology and pep-talks these days?
19.  Leaders will not hear an honest, humble, Biblical rebuke
20.  Heresy
21.  They tolerate open, unconfronted, unrepented sin among its members on an ongoing basis
22.  People aren't willing to gossip with you anymore - so it's time to find a place with more gossipy people so you don't have to change your conversation style
23.  Churches are for seasons - this one is good for this season, that one is good for another.  In this season of my life I'll go here - when I wear out the novelty, I'll go there.  It's a consumer society after all.
24.  They are too seeker sensitive
25.  They are not seeker sensitive at all.  They need to talk to me about the perfect balance - but no one asked
26.  Someone wore perfume without asking about your major allergy to the stuff.  Surely there is a fragrance free, democracy style, music to my preference, Bible teaching to the degree I like (as long as no mention of submitting to spiritual leaders is mentioned), dress-code Church around here somewhere?
27.  They changed the carpet/wall-colour/bathroom tile/curtains/light fixtures (etc). without asking your permission
28.  When you volunteered to bring cupcakes to the 3 year-old Sunday School class, they turned you down.  'I'm so out of here!' you said.
29.  The pastor isn't gregarious enough
30.  The pastor doesn't wear a tie
31.  The pastor uses a preachy voice
32.  The pastor is too casual/formal/uptight/loose/trendy/awkward
33.  The pastor didn't come when my Aunt Bertha had surgery on her big toe
34.  They turned down my offer to teach Sunday School, start a Ladies' Aid Society, host a Purple Hat group, start a soup kitchen, announce/collect for a food drive...
35.  They won't let my kid play violin with the other musicians
36.  They didn't give me double votes even though I doubled my giving
37.  It isn't meeting my needs (Right now I need encouragement and the messages are too convicting...Right now I need support/help but we're being challenged to give more...Right now I need someone to hold my hand and teach me the basics, but they're feeding us spiritual solid food - meat, even!)
38.  XYZ Church over there has a new happening thing going on, and I want to get in on it.
39.  My kid broke up with his girlfriend in the youth group and it's just too uncomfortable to go there anymore
40.  They are not practicing what I consider to be the only right way to run 'church' - they use the wrong lingo - they say, 'church' instead of 'meeting' or 'assembly'. They have a clergy/laity divide.  They have a pastor or they don't have a pastor.  They let women audibly participate in worship or they don't let women audibly participate.  They are not practicing what I consider to be New Testament Principles (There's a whole list of them if you're interested).
41.  They didn't kick so-and-so out of fellowship though she gossips and destroys unity in the church.
42.  They kicked so-and-so out of fellowship which is so judgemental of them
43.  They practice church discipline (we should just love everyone and accept them even if they are unrepentant of confronted sin)
44.  They don't practice church discipline
45. I didn't marry the church, so it's not like I'm divorcing it by leaving
46.  The leaders are stubborn, belligerent, unapproachable and iron-fisted
47.  They choose leaders by the worlds standards: success in business or politics = potential church leader.
48.  They choose leaders by the Biblical standards: godliness, temperance, able to teach, humility, devoted.  The leaders they picked don't have the clout and acumen among the big-wigs of the world.
49.  There was a scandal.  They didn't handle it right.  I'm outta here.
50.  I just don't like it anymore

So, these were all I thought of off the top of my head.  Can you think of any others?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sun Shine Down: Q and A with Author Gillian Marchenko

I recently had the privilege of reading a powerful memoir. It so powerfully moved me that I felt it was important to expose all my readers to her heart - her life.  I loved how she drew me in and made me feel I was walking with her on her journey through hope, depression, acceptance and joy.  Her honesty is refreshing - and so often I felt myself nodding along with her experiences - both positive and negative.

Here Gillian shares with us some responses to questions she's received - let it whet your appetite for this book and look for an upcoming giveaway on this blog!

Gillian Marchenko is an author and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband
Sergei and four daughters. Her book, Sun Shine Down, a memoir, published with T. S. Poetry
Press in the fall of 2013.

She writes and speaks about parenting kids with Down syndrome, faith, depression,
imperfection, and adoption. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago
Parent, Thriving Family, Gifted for Leadership, Literary Mama, Today's Christian Woman,
MomSense Magazine, Charlottesville Family, EFCA Today, and the Tri-City Record.
Gillian says the world is full of people who seem to have it all together.  She speaks for the rest of

Why did you decide to write this story?

E.M. Forster said, "How can I know what I think till I see what I say?"  I am a life-long journal keeper, but after the birth of my third daughter and her diagnosis of Down syndrome, writing became necessity.  The first year of her life I wrestled a hallowing grief over the child I expected and the mother I was to become.

My journaling delved deeper as my daughter grew.  Images, situations, and details bobbed up to the surface of my conscious.  A fear of brokenness; broken people, broken things, and ultimately, my own broken heart, had been tucked inside me since childhood.  I wrote, and a thought nagged.  Perhaps these words were meant to be read by others?

A memoir emerged.

You are a pastor's wife.  Was it difficult to share the hard parts?

While I was writing, and throughout the process, no.  But I have to be honest, once the book published, and my struggles and sins were out there for all to see, yes.  In the beginning though, when my husband Sergei and I agreed I would mould my writing into a book, we also agreed I absolutely had to share the hard parts.  Without hard parts, the good parts aren't as good.  Without darkness, the light is not as bright.  Grace lives in hard parts.

What do your husband and children think of the memoir?

They are excited and supportive.  My daughter Zoya told me the other night, "I don't know what I am more excited about, Mom.  The fact that you published a book, or the fact that my name is in it."  I'm thankful they are fans of my words.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on two projects.  One is about my personal struggle with depression as a pastor's wife and a missionary.  With this project, I hope to convey that just because people of faith struggle, it doesn't mean they are not people of faith.

I also have about sixty pages of Evangeline's (our adopted daughter with Down syndrome) story written.  I do believe those who loved Polly's story will one day (God willing) get to read Evangeline's story as well.

Would you recommend this book only to special needs moms?

No, I think this book resonates with all sorts of people.  Of course, special needs parents, but also anyone who has been taken by surprise in life.  And who hasn't?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Gillian!  I look forward to reading more of your life in the near future!

You can link to Sun Shine Down on Amazon here:

Sun Shine Down by Gillian Marchenko

And here is a link to Gillian's Website:

Gillian's Website