10 Challenges of Religious Communities

I speak from a Christian perspective here as it relates to the church. But these 10 points can also be applied to any denomination and even any religion. I am in solidarity with those who struggle to stay in the church, with those who have left it, as well as those who desire to be a part of a spiritual community but won't for various reasons. I consider these my mission field. These points below are only from my experience, and they all can be prefaced with "generally speaking". Not everyone's. Just consider them:
  1. I've experienced enough abuse, intrigue, exploitation and alienation within the church, and have heard enough first hand testimonies from others, to realize that it isn't rare within this institution.
  2. My experience of church in the past tells me that I am to believe what is expected and what I am told.
  3. Questions, unless they complement the accepted tradition and dogma, are not welcomed.
  4. I've found that friendship within the church is not based on love for the person, but on a conditional compatibility.
  5. The church is notorious for supporting codependency. Refuse to play this game and you're considered cruel.
  6. Success, in terms of money, numbers, appearance and reputation, is the gauge of choice. If you redefine what true success is and live by that, you're considered a failure.
  7. Creativity has difficulty finding a home here. Unless it is religious art.
  8. Exclusion trumps inclusion. Gays, for example. Diversity is scary and deemed impossible.
  9. Male dominated. The fascination with power, authority, strategy, chain of command, visions and goals, reflect this.
  10. The threatening demand to adhere to a literalist interpretation of scripture is always the axe waiting to fall and sever you from the group.

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