Guidelines to Living a Healthy Life When You Leave Your Home Church

When I was in Korea teaching English to elementary school children, I had the time of my life. I got paid to speak a language that came second nature to me (sometimes), and I was able to do as I pleased. It was the lifestyle I had always dreamed of when I felt trapped by the strict rules that my parents had set for me. Even at 20 years old, I still had a curfew of midnight and couldn’t do much else besides church activities. I thought it was unfair and wanted to get out from under the watchful eyes of my parents ASAP!

I know some of you want to leave Augusta too, right?? Originally, I didn’t want to go to Korea, but my dad (the senior pastor) insisted that I go to learn the culture and just experience Korea as a whole. It was definitely an experience and I got to learn more about the culture, but it was not what my parents had in mind. I enjoyed my freedom and was able to live the way I wanted. I stayed out late at night and made decisions without having to get permission because I didn’t have to answer to my parents. Toward the end of my year-long stay there, I became tired of going out and something felt off. I would find myself yearning for something more than the shallow friendships I had developed and for something more lasting than the easily forgotten memories.

When I was saying goodbye to the “friends” that I made there, I started questioning how these relationships were different from the ones back at home. The friends I made there weren’t bad, but they weren’t the best influence. If we weren’t going to clubs, we would make sure the weekends weren’t “boring.” The friends I hung out with didn’t know much about me as a person because I hid behind humor and whatever it was that made me think they would like me. I was constantly thinking about what I should do to make them like me because I really wanted to fit in with them. After being around them for a while, I began to think a lot about what kind of people I surround myself with and the type of person I am around others. For me, it’s hard to be vulnerable around those that don’t have Christ in their life. Being vulnerable is HARD! I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy my relationships with my non-Christian friends. I am still able to have good conversation and a fun time with them, but there are times where I would just feel uncomfortable sharing intimate thoughts on my mind with them. I’d much rather hear advice from a gospel friendship centered on Christ, a friendship that will lead me to desire more eternal things. I also felt that I wasn’t being a good example of a Christian to those friends. They probably thought I was a typical PK (Pastor’s kid) going crazy and escaping from the watchful eyes of my “holy parents” since I wasn’t at home.

Through this experience, I began to realize how important it was to stay grounded in my faith, even while away from my home church. I’ve been learning how God has been working in my life, and that through these experiences, I’ve begun to find joy in Him and His provisions. So here are my “guidelines” to living a healthy life when you leave your home church.

1.     Find a church (community)

  • You won’t be able to do this on your own.
    • Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down one can help the other up
    • Howard mentioned in one of his sermons that “it is to be a way of life for believers in Jesus Christ to want to be in each other’s company.”
  • Don’t be picky. Maybe God put you there for a reason.
  • Don’t let small things like hymnals or sermons (unless they’re not teaching from the bible) deter you from going to a church.
  • You’ll be able to make new friends if you put yourself out there. If they really want to be your friend, people will learn to love you for who you are!

2.     Connect

  • Don’t just attend! Get involved and find people who can run this race with you. Having the support and encouragement of a community can help get you through the tough times when things aren’t exactly going your way.
  • If you can’t find a place for you in that church, make one. Ask around to see what you can do or start something that you feel will build up the church ministry.

3.     Reach out.

  • Now that you’re a part of a community, share with others. Don’t be selfish.

I don’t want to discourage those that feel like they are being called elsewhere to start anew. However, I do think that wherever you are, regardless of if you will be there 5 years from now, make the most of it! Even though I didn’t necessarily “thrive” spiritually in Korea, I want to encourage you guys not to make the same mistakes I made and think that you are “Christian” enough to handle things on your own. If you are still here in Augusta or if you are starting a new chapter in an unfamiliar place, reach out for a church fam that will encourage and build you up spiritually. Step out in faith and know that God is setting up something amazing for you wherever you may go.