Lessons I Learned from Leaving My Evangelical Church


A year ago, I left my evangelical church. I’m still glad I left. But I made a lot of mistakes along the way and I learned some important lessons.


– I wish I wouldn’t have talked about it so soon and so much. I needed to process more, grieve more, dialogue more. I jumped online too quickly.

– I’m back in the Asian-American church. But I recognize they’re worried. “What if you publicly blast us one day?” It’s a real concern. Having a platform, even a small one like mine, gives unintentional influence that needs to be used wisely.

– While some things need to be called out, it needs to be done with care and caution. I left out names, but maybe I should’ve left out my own.

– Calling out the megachurch is like calling out Walmart. It doesn’t do much. It’s also too easy. I wish I had been more thoughtful and balanced in my criticisms. And to be fair, many people are being blessed in megachurches, including my old one.

– When I left my old church, I did an interview with a popular Christian YouTuber. I wish I would’ve waited a month or two. Like Brené Brown says, “I don’t tell stories or share vulnerabilities with the public until I’ve worked them through first.” In the interview, it’s obvious that I’m raw, hurt, and uncomfortable, and not in a good way.

– My wife didn’t know I was writing a public post about leaving the church. She’s very supportive about being transparent and honest. But in this case, I should’ve checked with her first. The story involves her too.

– Leaving a church is painful. But I still love the church. I still love my old church.

– Institutions require accountability. Accountability should start with dialogue. If I could go back, I would have had more conversations. Maybe no one would’ve listened. It’s still worth a try.

– My hurts were real. But looking back, I said things that were petty, ugly, and out of character. I probably stirred up too much false discontent. What I mean is, it’s easy to appeal to the discontent in all of us. It’s harder to point to hope.

– No, I do not want false optimism either. But cynicism is easy mode. If I’m to deconstruct something, I need to construct something too.

– Churches will hurt people. It’s because they’re full of people. That’s how it goes. Some of us must leave because it’s an abusive situation. Some of us choose to stay to change things from the inside. You will, at some point, come to a crossroads where you may be called to leave or to stay. There are good reasons for both.

– You may have heard this a million times, but the church isn’t God. When the church is no good, God still is.

– As hard as it is some days, I still love Jesus. No church can take that from me, even if they try, and I pray they don’t take that from you either.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, concerns, and stories. God bless and love y’all.

— J.S.


Photo from Unsplash

3 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned from Leaving My Evangelical Church

  1. J.S., churches are like families, they all have their positive traits and negative ones. Although they are not perfect, they serve a purpose for birthing and raising children. They all have flaws. What I see as important, is they show Jesus to a dying world and love ❤️ one another despite all the flaws. Love ❤️ covers a multitude of sin. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Families are diverse and not able to successfully raise all children. We all have issues, and Jesus is our Healer. Father God loves us all despite our actions. Holy Spirit lives inside of us and leads and guides us into all truth. Blessings on your journey! There is room for us all in God’s family.

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  2. A few more things:

    – The YouTuber who interviewed me is a great guy. In no way did he ever pressure me to do the interview.

    – I don’t ever want to publicly blast a church ever again. I’d rather comment on the church as a whole, if I have to.

    – I apologize for harm and division that I may have caused. I definitely wish I would’ve worded and handled some things differently.

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