5 Phases of "Leaving Church": The Wednesday 1-2-3

published29 days ago
2 min read

Happy Wednesday Reader!

The teaching today comes from Kaitlin Curtice and is a bit more Christian experience-centric in focus than I usually share here. I've found it helpful in processing where I am in the landscape of changing beliefs and practices. Perhaps it will be supportive for you as well.

Here's 1 teaching, 2 questions, and 3 resources to explore this week:

1. Teaching

As my closest friends and colleagues know, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops.

They serve as my personal and professional offices, my mini-communities, and most importantly: my morning caffeine-kicker-offers. (I’m writing this while sitting in one!)

And it’s in coffee shops where I get asked the most often: “what do you do?”

For the past 1-2 years, I’ve shared some version of this answer:

I work with folks who grew up in Christian spaces, but now find the stories they were handed (about religion, capitalism, humanity, their own identity and worth) don’t quite work for them anymore. Whether they’re totally done with religion or just beginning to question things, I support people in navigating that space of unknowing and curiosity and soft squishiness.

More times than not, especially if the person I’m talking to grew up Christian and has left the church, they immediately nod, smile, and understand what I’m saying.

I’ve found a beautiful solidarity in the community of church-leavers and story-questioners.

In a recent series of articles describing her own journey and experience of this, titled “After Church,” Kaitlin Curtice lays out the five phases she has found herself in during this transition process:

  1. Recognizing something has shifted in us and we have a decision to make.
  2. Leaving the spaces that cause harm and are not aligned with our becoming.
  3. Grieving this change and this challenge to our sense of belonging.
  4. Widening (or exploring) our experience of what resonates and sensing into what might come next for us.
  5. Trusting (or settling) ourselves, our autonomy, and our boundaries as we enter into new spaces of community.

Whether or not you find yourself in the midst of these phases, I invite you this week to think about your own upbringing, the stories you were handed, and the communities you were born into and raised within.

If you'd like support in this, I'm co-hosting a pay-what-you-want event tonight you might be interested in.

2. Questions

  1. If you've ever left a faith community or other institution or group, what has your experience of these five phases been for you? What resonates and what does not?
  2. If you're currently in one of these phases, what does it feel like in your body? What does it feel like emotionally or energetically? When you look at the phases before and after, what thoughts come to mind?

3. Resources

⏪ If you missed last week's email:

I shared a teaching from Valarie Kaur about revolutionary love.

Sending you good vibes,


P.S. The last day to get a free extra copy of Unmasking the Inner Critic: Lessons for Living an Unconstricted Life when you buy one is this Friday! Check it out here.

(And thanks to everyone who already grabbed their copies last week!)

Upcoming Seattle-Area Event:

I'm really excited to host a local viewing of this virtual event featuring my teachers from the Living School: Richard Rohr, Dr. Barbara Holmes, Brian McLaren, and James Finley (along with Jacqui Lewis, Randy Woodley, and the always-amazing Carmen Acevedo Butcher.)

This will be the fourth time I've offered an in-person space to engage with one of the Center for Action and Contemplation's virtual events. Each time has been a beautiful experience as folks from around the area get to move and explore a more contemplative spirituality together.

If you live in the Seattle-area and would like to attend, you can learn more and register here.

All proceeds will go to paying for virtual event access, our space, snacks, and materials. Any additional funds raised will be donated to the CAC.

Andrew Lang

I support folks who are questioning the stories they were handed (by religion, by capitalism, by their families) and who are seeking new practices that resonate with their evolving spirituality and identity.

Read more from Andrew Lang