Updated: Mar 6
My journey to spiritual sobriety began over 20 years ago. My recovery hasn’t been from drugs or alcohol but from “churchianity”. Ever since I made the decision to leave churchianity behind I have been progressively recovering from years of chronic addiction. For thirty years I was a chronic “Churchaholic”. To be sure, I didn’t start out that way. Like many others my addiction started innocently enough with just a few social sips at the local church well but it didn’t take long before those few sips progressed to weekend binge drinking and, before I knew it, "church" became an all-consuming addiction that gradually took over my life.
It's been almost 53 years since I surrendered my life to Him during the “Jesus Movement” but a lot of hard road miles have been carved into this pilgrim’s face since those days of youthful innocence. As time passed, we became spiritually housebroken and church broken (pun intended). The more time we spent in church the more “church” seemed to become the center of our experience. It wasn’t long before we were completely “churched”. The “new wine” was gradually poured into the old wine skins and slowly drained of the vitality and potency we once experienced. As we were absorbed into the church mainstream, we quickly learned to conform and fit into this thing called “church life”. We learned the lingo, the spiritual pecking orders, ministerial protocol, church etiquette and the politically correct way of “doing church”. We cut our hair, “cleaned up”, bought fancy leather bibles and three-piece suits. In short, we became religiously “correct” and spiritual groomed. The wild children had finally learned to behave. We had been absorbed by the pod. We had become “them.”
What once had come so naturally and effortlessly was swallowed up with an emphasis on performance, spiritual “how-to’s”, pastoral expectations, discipline quotas, endless programs, the elusive quest to your place in the body, methodology, hyped fads, church growth strategies and catchy evangelism ploys. Wave after wave of gimmick guys, sensation junkies, and came and replaced the “new wine” with the boot-legged moonshine of ever-increasing gulps of empty hype and emotionalism. We were also warned to never question the leadership or how things were done. Because of unquestioning obedience and the unspoken threat of censorship we didn’t buck the system but passively went along with manmade traditions, church politics and sometimes the self-serving agendas of ambitious men. Sadly, we became legalized, systematized and cloned into a purpose driven lifestyle that bore little resemblance to our spiritual roots, our simplicity in Christ and our biblical authenticity. Our “church life” had become so much more but so much less than what it was meant to be.
Like many recovering churchaholics I spent a lot of years in denial trying to hide from those nagging truths about the state of religiosity I was really in. I was like the proverbial frog in the boiling water who was clueless about what was happening to them. This is the sad truth about the vast majority of those in churchanity. They don't even know that they are in churchanity until they wake one morning with another killer hangover and finally admit that see they need help.
My recovery started when I finally got brutally honest with God and myself and admitted that my addiction to churchanity had taken over my life. That pivotal point began with intervention – not an intervention of concerned loved ones but one initiated by the Holy Spirit. I reached that turning point after years of being sick & tired of being sick and tired of man-made traditions, silly fads, endless programs, increasing “hype-ology”, the never-ending merry-go-round of church dog & pony shows, performance driven Church life and the artificial predictability of “church in a can”. I began the process of reform when I finally admitted to myself that my Christianity had become more about churchanity than about a living relationship with Jesus – something I hadn’t really experienced for a long time. Though many of us who have come out of churchanity come from a variety of church backgrounds we all share a similar testimony.
My spiritual detox and recovery weren’t always easy and few of my former church “drinking buddies” were supportive but my Sponsor has always been there to walk me through my recovery and encourage me whenever I needed His guidance. Yes, I have been clean and sober for over twenty years. I am no longer a churchaholic without and cravings to return to my old ways. I take it one day at a time now, try to walk humbly and keep it simple as I trust wholly in Jesus to direct my steps in Him.