Church Detox: Does It Have To Be Cold Turkey?

I’ve been hearing a lot about church being a way of life rather than a thing to do. Heck, I’ve been one of those voices contributing to the murmur. But as each day ends the same way, I wonder what sort of steps I’ve taken towards living the life God’s called me to.

  • Have I changed at all?
  • Have I heard God more clearly?
  • How have I carried my cross today? What does that even mean?

So many conflicting voices offer direction in my noggin: new voices that seem right, but I haven’t had enough personal experience and time to discern their centeredness; old voices of tradition justifying their place. Cultural ideas – both of America, of suburban living, of American church, of Quaker tradition. It’s enough to make me want to change my occupation to that of a Desert Father (except in my locality it’d be a Vineyard Mother).

This phenomenon doesn’t seem to be localized to my experience. Grace wrote a fantastic post about her journey and finding others with similar stories. I resonate, but I fear going through the detox process they’ve chosen to experience – would it mean I have to go cold turkey? What does that look like? What about the good things that I might miss?

I remember detoxing from caffeine – the shakes, the crankiness, the migraines. My body hurt; my emotions weren’t so much on the stable side. I remember getting lots of advice on how to get through it, but due to feeling so crappy, I couldn’t really hear much of it: I was just focused on breathing and making it another day until finally the nasties were out of my system.

Maybe it’d be better to say that it’s fasting from church (but not Church): part of that spiritual practice involves God bringing things to the surface that are dumbed down by the object being fasted from. Have you ever done that? What was it like for you? What did the Spirit reveal to you? Do you think God could ever call us to fast from church as we know it, or am I looking at a dead-end fork in the path?

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