It has been over three years since I last went to church.
For a kid who grew up going to church every week, twice a week, for the first 38 years of my life, this feels like a big deal. Occasionally, I feel like I should get out my Sunday best, dust off my hymnal, and head down to the local chapel for old time’s sake, or perhaps to appease some lingering sense of internal guilt that tells me I am destined for the bowels of Hell — a belief that, ironically enough, I picked up from my involvement in church in the first place.
And that’s a big part of the reason that I walked away from the institution. I couldn’t stand how guilt and fear were used as tools to manage and manipulate people's behavior. I couldn’t stand the performance-based religion where I constantly strived to receive God’s blessing, acceptance, and forgiveness. Above all, I couldn’t hack the hypocrisy that I observed in certain church leaders. If these men are anything like the God they purport to serve, then I want nothing to do with it!
And so I walked away.
But, I am not alone.
For example, in the USA alone, around three and a half thousand believers walk away from the Christian church every single day. According to the online publication The Christian Century, in the USA, an average of nine churches per day shut their doors for good.
Yet, according to Barna Research, over 70% of Americans still identify as Christians. And so do I. My problem is not with Jesus. So far as I am concerned, he is history’s preeminent teacher of love, grace, and compassion and worthy of being followed. Rather, my problem is with the church.
Which left me with a conundrum.
How do I follow Jesus now that I don’t go to church, especially when almost every expression of my faith had been linked to the church up until this point in my life?
In addition, I have observed that the Bible assumes that all Christians will be part of a faith community of some kind. Christianity has always been and always will be a communal religion, so I knew I couldn’t do it alone. So how do I do Christian faith without being part of the institutionalized church?
And so, I created this online faith community.
Welcome to church!
The Backyard Church is a safe place for people who still have a faith but can't, don't, or simply don't want to go to church in the traditional sense.
Maybe you've lost faith in the system. Maybe you've been hurt by the church or other Christians. Maybe you find the church is not an emotionally safe place to ask your questions or share your doubts. Maybe you've even arrived at a place where you want to grow in your faith, but the church is taking you around in circles. You have come to the right place.
Let me tell you what you'll find here in the Backyard Church.
No church is perfect. This one won't be either. But, my hope is that in this church community, we can at least be honest, real, and open. Everyone's story is welcome here without judgment. No need to perform. No need to try to impress. If you're longing for a church community like that, then welcome home!
Whoever you are, you belong. I pray that The Backyard Church brings you life, faith, and hope.
For the cost of a cup of coffee per month, you can have access to Backyard Church Online. But why do we charge at all?
We think that you will be impressed by what you find in The Backyard Church Community. The Backyard Church Community is a dynamic online ecosystem that allows you to interact with content, chat with other members, participate in online forums, post your thoughts, insights, and questions, and even share photos and videos. It has all the functionality of a social media site like Facebook (but without the ads), only it is a closed community, so it really is as safe a space as we can make it.
Best of all, it has an app that allows you to access all the network's features from your phone, your iPad, or your computer. It really is the church community you can carry around in your pocket.
While this all sounds amazing, there is a cost to provide the service (and it's not cheap). Your subscription helps to cover that cost. It's that simple.