I want to share with you some real-life emails I have sent to people. Two of the emails I have sent to atheists asking for help and one email I have sent to my church leader to let them know where I am at after a hard face to face conversation the day before.
I have edited the names and I have edited terms that are specific to the church to generic ones. For example, the leadership team at the church I attend isn’t called ‘the leadership team’, but the email says this. Just to keep them anonymous and to help you, the reader, understand. Christians love cliché names for their groups and events – feel free to try and guess what the group is called, that could be fun!
I also want to note that the final email in this post (the one to my church leader) is a massive email. After I sent it, I felt as though I had put a huge tombstone down that I had been carrying and was then suddenly weightless afterwards. I cried before I sent it because it marks the beginning of the end. I was sure people in the church and in my wider world would try and bring me back to faith, but I really don’t think it is going to happen now.
It feels VERY strange to have chosen a path and now be walking it in a semi-open way. The only people who know I am now in this place are the atheists from the first two emails, a few friends at work and life, my wife and the leader of the church I was helping co-leading. I can count them on my two hands, just.
Nothing will ever be the same again. I hope you find the following helpful, two cries for help and one massive nail in the coffin of leadership and faith. It is really hard sharing this stuff.
My name is Sam. I am 30 years old and live in the North of England – West Yorkshire.
I just started reading your book, and I am really enjoying it so far.
I wanted to ask you, what is the best way to have an online discussion around the topics you cover in the book?
I am in the process of formulating a blog called ‘When Belief Dies’, which should go live in Jan 2020. I am a Christian on the edge of faith and unbelief and am journaling my experience as I begin to realise that my faith is built on nothing.
I am also REALLY flipping struggling with it all tbh. Born and raised a Christian, whenever I mention doubt to people, they get really funny about it, as everyone I talk to are Christians.
The problem is, I moved to a town to support a Church plant, which I am now on the leadership team of. I work in a Christian charity, as a team manager. I went to Bible College to study Biblical Studies and Theology. I have two young boys who I read Biblical stories to each evening and have fully got involved in Church life… I am HEAVILY invested – but if I lose my faith, it all falls apart.
I think the biggest thing is all the coincidences surrounding my wife’s and my journey – there have been a lot that we have attributed to God. But can I really say they are God rather than just life?!? This is what I am exploring.
Any thoughts, advice or direction would be welcome!
You can chat to me on twitter @whenbeliefdies
I was given your email address by Abraham. I am friends with him on Facebook, but don’t really know him that well. We were put in touch via Mark, who I think you might know from a couple of podcast episodes you have both been on. I have spoken to Mark a few times; he is a legend.
Anyway. I just sent you a friend request via my personal Facebook account but thought it would be prudent to touch base with you via email as well.
I am 30 years old; I co-lead a church in West Yorkshire, England. I have been on a deconversion journey for the last 2-3 years (depending on when it really started).
I am looking at stopping co-leading the church I am part of (small church plant here – 70 people-ish). Which is going to break a fair few people’s hearts.
I was raised in a Christian household. I am married to a beautiful lady, who is a Christian and we have two beautiful little boys (4 years & 21 months).
Losing my faith feels like everything has fallen apart. I can’t count the number of times I have tried to pick up the broken pieces and hold them tight and pray that my faith can come back together. Faith gave me answers to questions I honestly don’t know how to answer without it.
But just because something claims answers doesn’t mean those answers are true.
I fear I am going to burn in hell. I fear I will be rejected by my wider family, I have hope that my wife will support me. I work in a Christian charity; I went to Bible college and have spent my WHOLE life working towards leading a church and teaching God’s people His word…
If I lose faith, I lose almost everything.
I can’t help but think I am wrong. That N. T. Wright, C. S. Lewis, and the likes have seen something that I seem to have missed or can hold something within their head and heart that I can’t seem to grasp at all.
Flip me, I really want it to all be true. But I don’t believe it anymore.
Ok – so I have a blog which I am going to go live within Jan which has tracked the last six months of my journey, which will always be six months behind where I actually am, but I hope it helps people on their journey if they are going through a similar one to me.
Sorry for the essay. Just wanna get most of it down on paper. If you can chat – then great, if you can’t – I fully understand.
Mark told me a little bit about your story. It sounds really hard and painful.
Keep walking your path, Joe. Honesty is vital, too often we are forced to live within a lie.
Just wanted to get down my thoughts (thoughts that break my heart) as I really struggle to say what I want to say when we meet up. I think it is just far too painful as all I want is to be fine and able to support you fully.
I don’t think I have the ability to choose what evidence is most convincing to me and what evidence is not. It isn’t a 50/50 and I just need to hang in there until I am through this. I don’t believe in God anymore, and in this place, I really can’t keep pretending that I do believe He is real. It is killing me to pretend and what if I never believe again? I fear that I won’t.
Rather than diving into the leading, teaching and being an elder (father figure with authority) in the church, I need to step back and just serve in a none leadership capacity.
I need to serve, and not lie. Sunday is going to be a lie (I was going to preach the Sunday following this email). That seems to be the best I can offer right now.
After Sunday’s preach, I need to stop hosting (anchoring the Sunday meeting) and preaching until I truly believe it all again. I am happy to litter pick and I am happy to do the setup when rotated on. I also need to stop being on the leadership team.
I don’t know where this is all going. It terrifies me more than I thought anything ever could. The bottom has fallen out and I am stumbling in the darkness.
I am happy to chat it through, but I will refer to this email as I really do struggle to tell you that I no longer class myself as a Christian face to face. I have lost my faith and I am desperately searching to find what I once held as the truth.
I worry about my wife and my children. What is all of this doing to them? It breaks my heart.
I love you, and I want to be there for you, whatever capacity that is in the end, what we have in our friendship does not solely rest upon the religious convictions we hold.
It would be good to work out how you want to communicate this stuff out and who you want it communicating to. I am not telling anyone except my wife, a few friends at work and you.
I love you mate, and we will talk soon,
So, there you have it, I did not and do not have the strength to go solo and leave my faith and thus leadership position with zero support. I don’t think anyone should have to do this alone either.
I don’t want to lie at the front of a church or even behind closed doors in meetings or to myself. I am happy to serve for now, but a time will come when I will fully leave this church. It is a journey, not a mathematical sum and I need to walk the path, rather than rush the answer and then action the result.
What would you do, Serve or Lie?
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen via YouTube. Dave and I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
If you want to connect with me, then you can get in touch via any of the social media links that can be found at the top of the page. If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer – the links are to the right.
I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂
Farewell For Now – When Belief Dies
- Farewell For Now
- When Belief Dies #100 – 'Psychedelics, Philosophy & God' with Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes
- When Belief Dies #99 – 'Open and Relational Theology' with Thomas Jay Oord
- When Belief Dies #98 – 'The Take Over' with Daniel Kelly & Roger Bretherton
- When Belief Dies #97 – 'The End?' with Daniel Kelly