Where do we go from here? 

Something has changed in how we understand God. Not for everyone, but it seems like a growing number of people are experiencing a significant disruption in their understanding of faith and experience of Church. Often this disruption is painful and brings with it a chaotic mix of grief, guilt, fear, and uncertainty, but also freedom and life and hope. A compounding factor is the loss of community that often follows their personal faith shifts. Some even describe their experience as feeling "spiritually homeless" or having "spiritual P.T.S.D." 

Collective was created by a group of friends who had experienced these faith disruptions and were looking for a safe place to ask questions, talk about our experiences and seek a way forward. We are still very much on this journey - and we keep finding more people who are experiencing similar disruptions. Even though it may feel lonely at times, we are not alone.

We would love to hear your story.

"The great religions are the ships,
        Poets the life boats.
Every sane person I know
          has jumped overboard.    
- Hafiz of Persia

 

We host a variety of gatherings for people to share their stories of spiritual disruption and how it has impacted them. These are opportunities to share your experience and to hear the stories of others - Together we can talk about the steps that have brought life and where we go from here. Anyone is welcome.

 
Spiritual Disruption

Disruption Events

We schedule these Disruption events as need and opportunity arise, so watch the calendar for dates or hit us up and share your story with us. 
 

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Jesus + Beer Events

J+ B events are for people exploring the intersection of faith + doubt. Many of our events focus on Spiritual Trauma and recovering from toxic versions of Christianity. 
 

House Church

House Church

We re-imagined Church as shared meals, honest conversations, and being together. Each week we meet in houses around the area to share about life, drink coffee, eat together, and talk about life. 

 

The Cruise Ship Analogy

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For many, the analogy of a Cruise Ship helps to frame the disruption they have experienced. 

Imagine a Cruise Ship traveling around the ocean. For many years it was highly reviewed, and new people looked forward to booking a trip on the ship. The ship seemed to supply everything a person could want and more. Every cabin came with security, comfort, and the sense of being part of something bigger than yourself. Further for many, they had found a deeper truth on the boat. And, you could make many new friends quickly, and there was weekly entertainment with amazing music followed by an inspiring pep talk by the charismatic captain- always the perfect mix of meaning and humor.

 

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Over time the honeymoon faded for some, and they began to notice some issues. For example, people were only allowed to talk about their cruise experiences if they matched the marketing brochure. And if people did voice concerns, they were told to trust the captain and keep quiet, or they would hurt the testimonials about the ship. And another thing - once in a while, people would go missing. Occasionally, people noticed the empty seats during the weekly show, but the program was so moving - that everyone soon forgot whoever it was that used to sit by them. 

 

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While many cruised along blissfully, things were not enjoyable for everyone.  Discretely, those people with unwelcome questions about the ethics and politics and beliefs of the cruise liner were being thrown overboard. Other people were tossed into the waves because their “lifestyle” did not fit the preferences of the ship’s preferred clientele. And as the rumors grew, still others, who could no longer stomach the abuse and manipulation (not to mention all of their missing friends and family) jumped over the railing on their own. Risking their lives in the open sea seemed preferable to pretending everything was ok on the cruise ship. 

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The captain denied the ship had issues and slandered the motivation and morals of the victims and jumpers. On board, many were torn - the had boarded the ship pursing truth and deeper meaning, would they lose that if they  left the ship? And although it was inconvenient to make new friends all the time the comfort and certainty of the cruise ship was fabulous - who in their right mind would leave?

 

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Through it all, the marketing department kept working to fill the cabins. They ran triumphant ads, sent email testimonials, and colorful mailers to everyone extolling the wonderful life possible on the Cruise Ship. 

So, the Ship Cruised on, and the band played, and the Cruisers posted selfies tagged #bestchurchfamilyever. And daily, the number of people floating in the wake of the ship grew. 

 

Where does Christianity go from here?

 
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A podcast episode by The Liturgists that delves into what happens when we are hurt by our spiritual community. It is powerful and painful and lists some fantastic resources for healing. 


A book by Teresa B. Pasquale Mateus. (Recommended in Spiritual Trauma Podcast)


A book by Carol Howard Merritt  (Recommended in Spiritual Trauma Podcast)


A blog post by Linnea Trampe  

 


Their research based book, Church Refugees, is very helpful for understanding the phenomenon. 


Blog post by Brandon Brown  "...no one is an unbiased observer of the Bible or of life... Our ability to understand our own perspective and to learn to see the value of others’ point of view is absolutely essential if we ever hope to move beyond our tribal violence and wars that characterize so much of our modern world."


Blog post by Brandon Brown  "The people we surround ourselves with are one of the primary mirrors in our life.  They shape our identity by reflecting back a representation of our image. In a sense, they tell us who we are. This is a tremendous power that we give to our 'tribe.'"

 

 "It is only as we submit our spiritual practices, religious rituals, and dogmatic affirmations to the flames of fearless interrogation that we come into contact with the reality that Christianity is in the business of transforming our world rather than offering a way of interpreting or escaping it. Belief in the Resurrection means but one thing: Participation in an Insurrection."

 
 

WHat disruption sounds like

You don't have to look far to find people talking about the Spiritual disruption. The quotes below are examples of what this phenomenon looks like from across the net. 

 
 
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Church Refugees by Josh Packard:

“Refugees are people who’ve been forced from their homes— where they’d prefer to stay— for fear of persecution. That, in a nutshell, describes the dechurched. They feel they’ve been forced to leave a place they consider home because they feel a kind of spiritual persecution and it would be dangerous, spiritually, for them to remain. They tell stories of frustration, humiliation, judgment, embarrassment, and fear that caused them to leave the church.”

 
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Rachel Denhollander, Former Gymnast

"Yes. Church is one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse because the way it is counseled is, more often than not, damaging to the victim. There is an abhorrent lack of knowledge for the damage and devastation that sexual assault brings. It is with deep regret that I say the church is one of the worst places to go for help. That’s a hard thing to say, because I am a very conservative evangelical, but that is the truth. There are very, very few who have ever found true help in the church." From this Christianity Today Interview

 
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Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President

“There will be no point at which [His] most loyal evangelical and charismatic supporters declare they have had enough. Because to do so would be to admit that they were wrong, that God wasn’t behind [His] election, and that their Holy Spirit radar might be on the fritz. That it was, after all, about something as temporal and banal as hating his rival.” - Susan B. Glasser reporting for Politico

 
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For a long time, I couldn't find a word or an explanation for the way I was feeling. I wondered, "Am I misguided? Is everyone else right and I'm wrong? Am I just being rebellious?" What I didn't realize is that my experience is what some might call a "faith disruption." From the time I started talking, I have always asked a lot of questions - seeking answers is how I learn & grow. What I've learned as I've grown, is that once you find answers and you begin to see things with fresh eyes, you can't UN-see them. They change you, mold you, shape you. At one point, I realized that not everyone around me was asking the same questions, seeing the same things, or having the same shift in their faith - and that felt really lonely. But recently, I have found others like me - people who are asking big questions and seeing things with fresh perspectives, all the while looking for the biggest table they can find and inviting as many people as possible. And that's been a pretty fantastic discovery!

- Anonymous from Milwaukee.

 
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For me, faith disruption had a lot to do with being told what to do or how I  should act by people who didn't really KNOW me and didn't care to. I tolerated that for years because I thought that was the way things were supposed to be… that others knew Jesus better. What a load of garbage. After the death of my husband’s brother, I experienced, through tragic circumstances, the glimmers of truly being known and cared for by a community. It was a game changer. We could no longer look at our faith or our church the same way. We began seeking the ability to speak honestly and to have doubt. I had shut down my heart, big time, mostly due to random comments meant to "put me in my Christian place".  …When we went through this disruption... I'm not sure if it felt like a spiritual one as much as "humans are awful" one. I still felt God, I just wasn't buying what HUMANS told me about him anymore. I wanted to take God and just run away with him and be by myself.

- Anonymous #2  from Milwaukee.