Asher Witmer

rediscovering Jesus

What to Focus on When You Feel Held Back by Your Church the millennial's guide to church frustrations

It’s true, Christian millennials are a little funny. But one thing I am confident of is that we want God. We don’t want to be fake in our faith. We don’t want pretense. We want authenticity and true evangelical faith that works to better humanity both now in this life, and in the eternal.

Yes, we are full of ideals. We walk away when our needs aren’t being met or when we don’t feel fulfilled. We’ve become cynical to traditional mantra in church. Especially, when it isn’t meaningfully backed up in Scripture.

But we are not giving up on God. We are not giving up on being a part of His plan to reconcile a broken creation with Himself.

I see, however, a group of millennials that is also rather disillusioned.

Most millennials probably feel this. And maybe even some of their parents.

These people have gotten exposure to other vibrant groups of Christians different from their own upbringing and began seeing weaknesses in their churches. Sure, they see strengths as well. But what throws them for a loop is that the strengths they see seem outweighed by the strengths of other churches.

They want to be effective in making disciples without compromising on the truth and values given in their upbringing. Only, they feel held back in their current situation. For whatever reason—tradition, church structure, peers, personal fears, or current leadership—they can’t grow in deeper maturity and vibrancy with Christ and they find themselves frustrated.

They want more. They don’t want to rebel. But they feel held back and unable to be as fruitful as Christ calls them to be. Because of this tension, and the pressures they face, they either comply or give up. They become fake or non-existent Christians.

Download Now: What to Focus on When You Feel Held Back by Your Church

What if it is possible to move through this frustration and live vibrantly for Christ? What if there was a way to align our focus so that no matter what church situation we are dealing with, we can respond in loving, Christ-exalting, God-honoring ways? What if we could be free of the bondage of feeling held back? Free to live as Christ calls us to while not needlessly fracturing relationships?

Finding a Way Forward

profile picSeveral years ago, I found myself frustrated with my situation. I thought our church should be doing certain things differently. I thought we should be headed in a different direction. But neither my pastor nor anybody else felt the same way. Every time I tried sharing my thoughts and expressing what I believed, people kind of went mum. Sometimes it led to arguments and I always came away feeling misunderstood and resented.

I was telling a mentor of mine about this and he inquired as to how I went about asking my questions. What was my tone as I shared my vision? He said, from his experience, he doesn’t feel too excited to listen to anyone who speaks critically if they seem to only care about themselves. But he’ll listen to anyone who has proven to care about his vision and is sensitive to the responsibilities he carries.

To be honest, I spent a few days fuming about what he had to say.

“My tone! What does he know about my tone?! I’ve been humble and sacrificial through all of this. They’re the ones who don’t care about me!”

But as I pondered what he said, I realized he was right. I had been quite critical and coming at things from my own point of view. Maybe my pastor and the others in our church just didn’t feel I was on their side?

So, I decided I would take a break from sharing my opinion and pushing my vision to be heard. I wanted to understand my pastor’s vision and listen to the others in our church. I didn’t know how long I would do this. I just knew what I was doing wasn’t being received very well.

What I discovered in the following months, radically changed my approach to church life and team work.

Not only did I gain a voice with my pastor and fellow church members, but I learned three crucial areas we need to focus on when we feel held back by our church.

Within a year of deciding to hold back my opinion, my pastor started talking about moving things in the direction I had wanted to see. Others began bringing up different things I had talked about and, as a group, we started moving in a more positive course.

I don’t share this to insinuate I was right. And I certainly don’t share this as a formula for getting your church to go in the direction you wish it would go. I share this as a confession that my focus was misplaced. My church wasn’t as far off as I thought it was.

I was so focused on getting things right, I had forgotten the Gospel. I had neglected to consider how God pursued me even while I was a sinner, and in the same way Christ pursues and beautifies the church even when it isn’t perfect. As I realigned my focus, I found a freedom and vibrancy in my walk with Christ I hadn’t previously experienced.

About a year ago, I wrote on the three areas of focus for when we feel held back. We can live and relate with our church in the light of the Gospel when we learn to live in harmony, in community, want others to benefit more than ourselves, and when we serve in the trenches as a body of believers.

Download Now: What to Focus on When You Feel Held Back by Your Church

Listen to what a few of the readers had to say,

This is just what I needed to hear after spending the past month wondering if it’s even possible to live in community with people whose way of thinking is so different then mine. And I so dearly love to see things done “right”….I can see I need to start focusing more on living in harmony rather then pushing my idea of what is right. Praying for God’s strength to live this out. –Carmen

I get this completely. I’ve been in the middle of church conflicts for so long. when we see ourselves as we really are it’s humbling. and suddenly all those things we hammered as SO important don’t matter. because we realize our need of grace and are able to finally extend that grace to others. thanks Asher, your a blessing! -Heidi

So blessed by your writings. God speaks through you to my heart in both confirming and comforting, as well as convicting ways. God bless you as you minister in this way… –Mariellen

Our church is not perfect but there is a deep love for each other and a desire to build God’s kingdom. I want to be part of that in whatever way I can. Thank you for writing Asher, very challenging and encouraging! –Keith

Ouch! I have been jabbed with conviction all the way through this series. I think God answered my prayers for help in my church through this series. I was so DONE. Yet it seemed like there was no way out. I am excited now to stay in this church and find my place in God’s body even though everything is still the same. God bless you! Thank you! –Annonymous

“The Gospel is all about how we can have relationship with the Father even though we’re not always right.” By God’s grace, I’m in; even though the way may be hard in unlearning the ‘old habits’ and being filled with His life to be able to give life to those around me. Thanks for your challenge of laying down our differences for the cause of community and building of the church. –James

Powerful truth!! –Steve

And they go on…

I recently put what I wrote into an eBook, and I call it What to Focus on When You Feel Held Back by Your Church.

aw_focus_when_feeling_held_back

Through this eBook you will learn,

  • How to work as a team (even when you’re frustrated with each other)
  • How to gain a voice with your pastor (even when he doesn’t seem to care)
  • And how to live vibrant for Christ (even when it feels impossible)

Download your copy here, today.

 

And if you’re not ready to buy an eBook, but resonate with what I’ve said so far, I put together another eBook you can get absolutely free.

3 Kinds of Anabaptist Millennials looks at the three main types of millennials I see in the Anabaptist church and gives a word of wisdom for each on how to grow into a deeper, more vibrant walk with God.

 

aw_3_kinds

Find out what kind of Anabaptist millennial you are by downloading your own copy FREE OF CHARGE!

3 Kinds of Anabaptist Millennials
wrestling with the weaknesses of ourselves and strengths of others
*We hate junk male too

 

aw_ebook_focus_when_feeling_held_back

Help Support This Work

About Asher Witmer

I am a son of God, husband, father, and difference maker. I love helping people sort through hard questions they face and rediscover Jesus. I have written three eBooks dealing with church frustrations, and send out daily posts addressing faith, church and relationships.

  • Seeking God’s Will

    Thank you for your articles and your apparent heart to follow the Lord with persistent passion and desire.
    I feel so confused right now. I’ve been praying about my situation wondering what to do! I am so distressed over it!!!!!! ….We (my husband and I) did nor grow up Mennonite. We started attending a Mennonite church because we fell in love with the genuine love we saw exhibited in the people. Over time, with my husband’s approval, I started dressing like them (for conservative/moral reasons/issues) but our hearts were never fully convinced the covering is a requirement but instead an allowment, if certain churches felt they should follow that. That being said, recently, I started feeling like I was becoming very judgemental of people not dressing like our group…. I felt prideful and had trouble seeing outsider’s hearts…as I easily had in the past…hate the sin, love the sinner…. This bugged me so very much (I felt like I was loosing the heart for the gospel and that outsiders were thinking I belonged to dome weird cult and they were wary of me sharing the gospel with them…like I was trying to convert them to be a Mennonite…which I was definitely not…just a born again believer.) Anyway, as a result. I quit wearing Mennonite clothing and the covering ( my husband doesn’t want me wearing them anyway now….he loves the people arbour church but says well never join because he can’t agree with all their doctrine…however, that us where he still wants to go to church and now I feel so out of place and like I will be judged harshly for my change in dress and no covering….I’m also very afraid if being a stumbling block to the children if the church. As a result, I feel like we should just find a non Mennonite church but do feel scared to do that! I love that the Mennonites take God’s commands so seriously…but sometimes it seems more out of fear than the belief that we are saved and sealed by the holy spirit! Please pray!
    Thank you!
    Seeking God’s will

  • Brian J Horst

    I appreciate this challenging article. It actually brings some strength and security to me. Too often I find myself focusing on how I think or want to live differently than the rest of my church. And it gives me a lot of unrest.

    So thank-you.

  • James

    “The Gospel is all about how we can have relationship with the Father even though we’re not always right.” By God’s grace, I’m in; even though the way may be hard in unlearning the ‘old habits’ and being filled with His life to be able to give life to those around me. Thanks for your challenge of laying down our differences for the cause of community and building of the church.

  • Trevor

    This post hits a real spot with me . I so want to be “in” but how ? The vision of the ppl I fellowship with is not the same as the vision I feel God wants me to live . At the same time the relationships I have here mean ALOT to me. I can stay and try to work through stuff or I can say I love you guy but I can’t survive this style of church anymore . I have been here for years , trying to build to together . I can honestly say I have been blessed in building but some of the underlying fundamental difference still remain.

  • Steve

    Powerful truth!! By His grace I’m in.

  • Myron Horst

    I’m out! A number of years back, God warned me in a dream that our family needed to leave the Mennonite church. He warned me that the cost of staying was greater than what I was willing to pay. We followed God’s leading and left. In the years since then, God has been showing me what He meant that the cost was greater than what I was willing to pay. There are many hidden costs and the consequences are horrible.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way, Myron. However, I hope each of us, no matter what church affiliation we have, there will be issues to work through, times we feel “held back.” It’s then that we need to make sure our focus is on the Gospel and not on getting things right. I hope we can all be “in” to that.

  • Lois Loewen

    God bless you for sharing. It is so needful to get our focus on Jesus not on me.
    I’m in.

  • Merle Yoder

    By God’s grace, I’m in!

  • J. Weaver

    I’m in. What we sometimes forget is that, being a member of Christ’s body is voluntary. And being a member means being sensitive to group conscience even as I humbly contribute the perspective gained from my God appointed journey. Our late pastor often said, “Life is 10% circumstance and 90% how we respond to it.”

  • Carmen

    This is just what I needed to hear after spending the past month wondering if it’s even possible to live in community with people whose way of thinking is so different then mine. And I so dearly love to see things done “right”….I can see I need to start focusing more on living in harmony rather then pushing my idea of what is right. Praying for God’s strength to live this out.

    • Praying with you, Carmen. Community isn’t easy. . . and sometimes we may need to leave a certain community. But more often then not, when we feel like leaving what we’re really bumping into is our flesh. . . and it takes the strength and grace of God to overcome the flesh and live out His love. Blessings!

  • Heidi

    I’m in !!! I get this completely. I’ve been in the middle of church conflicts for so long. when we see ourselves as we really are it’s humbling. and suddenly all those things we hammered as SO important don’t matter. because we realize our need of grace and are able to finally extend that grace to others. thanks Asher, your a blessing!

    • Indeed, we all stand in need of grace! Praise God He gives it freely to those who yield to Him. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mariellen

    So blessed by your writings. God speaks through you to my heart in both confirming and comforting, as well as convicting ways. God bless you as you minister in this way…

    • Praise the Lord, Mariellen! I rejoice to know God speaks!

  • DE

    I’m in, brother.
    John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m in! My goal is to BE a difference and let God MAKE a difference in His timing.

  • Keith Yoder

    I’m in! Our church is not perfect but there is a deep love for each other and a desire to build God’s kingdom. I want to be part of that in whatever way I can. Thank you for writing Asher, very challenging and encouraging!

    • That’s wonderful, Keith! Keep pressing into God!

  • Ann Martin

    I’m in and I am standing on God’s promise to me;
    I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!

  • Anonymous

    Ouch! I have been jabbed with conviction all the way through this series on the church. I think God answered my prayers for help in my church through this series. I was so DONE. Yet it seemed like there was no way out. I am excited now to stay in this church and find my place in God’s body even though everything is still the same. God bless you! Thank you!

    • I’m glad this post was gave you renewed vision and courage. God bless you as you continue to walk with Him!

  • Reuben Hege

    God bless you Asher! You wrote out my belief better than I could explain it. Thank you for allowing God to work through your life.