I was introduced to The Clergy Project (TCP) a few months ago and have been on the journey of joining ever since. Finally, last week I was accepted as a member and am now live on their forums.
TCP is an online community of religious leaders, all of whom have lost their faith. They might still be in ministry or they might have stepped aside and begun living their life in a non-religious way. Most of the members were or are in full time paid ministry and have had to find another career path to navigate as they have lost their faith.
What strikes me in all this is the sheer amount of people, from such a wide variety of religious perspectives, who have come to the realisation that they no longer believe, but have to either keep living as if they do, or are in the process of leaving their faith. Currently, the number stands just about 1,000 participants in TCP.
Losing your faith when in leadership is brutal. I am forever checking and reminding myself who I am talking to and what knock-on effects my conversation is going to have on them or on the church. I don’t want to be the reason people fall away from God, but I also want to be able to be completely honest with my beliefs and to have robust real conversations with people when they begin to ask me questions.
I need them to know that I have lost my faith, that I am no longer in leadership and that I never will be again. Then I can just be Sam, not a leader or future elder of the church. Then I can have friendships based on facts and can begin to have conversations that reflect that.
Can you see how complicated it is? This is just what TCP has been established to assist with. It is there for people in different faiths or streams of the same faith to have one central place where they can seek support and have honest discussions. Sure, some of the participants on TCP might have left all elements of faith decades ago, but when they left it all those decades ago, I guarantee it was horrifically hard. You don’t quickly forget that kind of pain.
I think I am one of the lucky ones. Being involved in church leadership and about to become an elder at the church has meant I have focused on earning a living within IT and preparing for having a living within a faith position when the opportunity came up. My career has not been linked to my faith, even though I tried very hard to it to be and was preparing for it to become that in the coming years.
I want to encourage anyone who has ever been within a faith leadership position, paid or unpaid, to take a look at what TCP offers. Have a real think, because everyone’s story is different, and we are all going through different elements at different times. We all need each other on this journey.
Having spent my whole life preparing to ‘teach God’s people His word’, I literally can’t see what my life would have looked like if I never believed. All I know is where I am now, and things are so unclear as I begin to journey down this new faithless road. My mind still finds life without God a daunting and dark place.
I am looking forward to getting to know the folks on TCP. They seem really supportive. They share stories, books, blogs, podcasts and anything that they think will help. I have already been given two free books (that would have set me back £20) just from joining them.
Religions form communities. They are created around a set of beliefs that give everyone purpose and reason. When you lose the faith, you had in the religious beliefs claimed by the community you are part of, you usually end up losing that very community. Humans need a community to thrive. TCP gives that to people as they journey out of their faiths, something I think will now take me the rest of my life.
If you, like me, had given everything you had to get involved in ministry and you have begun to lose your faith, or maybe you have fully lost your faith. As long as you were involved with leading a church in some capacity, then TCP might just be the place for you.
It’s free, it’s honest and it is defiantly worth finding out more about.
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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 🙂