Sometimes, we faith followers make jokes about shame in our religions. Shame in the church is a common experience for many church members. Though, not every church has this sort of approach in discipleship and behavioral training. Shame has long been a pronounced interest to me. Most church leaders want the church to be a place of hope and inspiration, but some of us have experienced a tremendous amount of shame, also. Growing up within a very conservative John Wesley style holiness church taught me some life-giving valuable faith lessons. We were taught incredible lessons of living one?s life in a way that reflects one?s values and belief system and being empowered to express such values to others. Great lessons in humility and giving all glory to God abound. The church taught a person is best when honoring a holy lifestyle as best able on Earth, including prayer, service, teaching, and tithing. Yet, some of these lessons include, what not to do as a pastor or church member. When a person did not live up to these high ideals, shame was often cast her/his way.
Shame stops a person and/or the organization from growing into the person/group God has called him/her/them to be. I have named shame in the church as a huge part of my faith development. Though, I love the church and have dedicated my life to serving within the church, I also hate parts of the church. Shaming styles of ministry are practices I hate. As a result, shame became something I wanted to understand on a much deeper level. I first became aware of shame within my theological views when I questioned the church?s beliefs. Even though I felt shame, my exploration continued. Later, I discovered the work and research of Dr...
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...ts flaws was also the most comforting place I had ever been or could dream of being. All were accepted in my church and were not judged at first. The judgment came later if they had heard sermon after sermon and did not change their lives. This was the heart of the Holiness Theology. All are welcome, but must be moving on to perfection. Which I often thought people wanted perfection and not wholeness as I think John Wesley intended to be understood.
My church community formed my embedded theology, whether I questioned it or not. My church raised me with my parents and still to this day take pride in the fact I know the ?right? way. I did not begin to even accept I could believe what was deep in my soul about God until college. I questioned many things about my church, my God, but that was still my church family with all its flaws and imperfections.
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