writers great nwmersWhat do you think of when you hear the term “network marketing“? Does it make you skeptical? Do you envision pyramid schemes?

Well, did you know that it’s actually a legitimate business model endorsed by people like Sir Richard BransonRobert KiyosakiWarren Buffett, and even former President, Donald Trump?

Today, I’d like to provide you with a little more insight into what this model is about, but also why I believe that writers make great Network Marketers!

But first, a quick story…

For the past decade, or so, I have had the feeling that God would like me to become a Writer. I’ve fought against this, though (Jonah, anyone?) because I don’t like to write (or, so I’ve kept telling myself and others … journaling, yes; writing, no).

When I decided to join a network marketing company in April 2017, I thought I was off the hook, as far as writing goes.

One reason why I thought this was because it truly feels like everything in my life has led me here, to this point, with this particular company. My new role utilizes so many of my talents, skills, and passions, and over & over again, I keep finding that things I’d come across or researched for my previous business ideas are now fitting perfectly into my new business model! As such, it almost feels like this is what I was born to do.

As I’ve been studying how to be a better network marketing professional, I keep hearing the same message repeated in various places: “Facts tell, stories sell.” Apparently, to do this job well requires that you develop your copywriting skills. If you can weave the story about where you’ve been, where you are currently at, how the company’s products fit into your life and benefit you, as well as where you see yourself, moving forward, then you can be a great network marketer!

Of course, God’s got to be sitting back, chuckling to Himself, saying, “I’ll make a writer out of her, yet!” (so much for me thinking I’d “escaped”, huh?). God has such a great sense of humor!

WHAT IS NETWORK MARKETING?

According to Entrepreneur.com:

“Network Marketing is a type of business opportunity that is very popular with people looking for part-time, flexible businesses. Some of the best-known companies in America, including AvonMary-Kay Cosmetics, and Tupperware, fall under the Network Marketing umbrella.” {read more…}

Personally, I think it’s a great fit for anyone who has dreamed of starting their own business, but isn’t necessarily keen on learning about (or acquiring) the usual nitty-gritty bits, like distribution, marketing campaigns, hiring employees, etc. With the Network Marketing model, you are a “recommender” of products for the company you join. And the company itself deals with things like shipments, marketing campaigns, distribution, warehousing, inventory, etc.

And the awesome thing about the company that I chose to partner with is that there’s zero inventory that you have to purchase and keep on hand. There are products you’ll want to buy so that you can give your honest recommendations of them, sure. But you aren’t forking out a huge amount of money up front, with the hopes that you’ll sell off all of the stuff you bought.

HOW CAN AUTHORS & WRITERS BENEFIT FROM THE NETWORK MARKETING MODEL?

Here are just a few of the ways…

(1) WORK FROM HOME, PART- (OR FULL-) TIME

Writing tends to be a solitary profession, one that a lot of writers do from the comforts of home. So, what better way to add extra income to your work-at-home pursuits than with something else that you can do from home?

For those who say they need human interaction, that’s okay, too! The beauty of network marketing is that it can be done from anywhere you have access to a Wi-Fi connection. Or, you can hit up people in your local area, and then direct them to your website.

(2) NO TECHNICAL SKILLS REQUIRED

Yes, I just mentioned directing people to your website. But another perk of network marketing is that most companies will now give you a website that’s already all set up for you, and you just pay a small fee per month (with my company, it’s $15 USD per month — which is a lot cheaper than you’d normally pay for your own website set-up and hosting, not to mention you’d still have the hassles of having to pay a designer or set it all up yourself!).

(Note: You will need to use social media, but mainly Facebook and maybe one other. I find most writers are already on social media for their book’s reach, so this isn’t really an issue, in my opinion).

(3) USE YOUR WRITING SKILLS & EXPAND YOUR REACH

As I already mentioned, to be good at Network Marketing almost requires you to be a good writer (or, at least, to build up your writing skills). The better you are at using your words to persuade people [not in a sleazy way, but in the sense of helping to educate them on a better method], the bigger reach you’ll have.

As a side benefit, I really believe that your readership for your books will grow alongside your network marketing business, as those who are being introduced to you via the products you are promoting will also check you out and, in the process, learn more about your writing. Win-win!

(4) MINIMAL TIME COMMITMENT

>We all wish there were more hours in the day. The great thing about network marketing — at least in the company I’m in — is that all of the “vital tasks” that are required for you to succeed can be completed in just one hour a day!  Many of the most successful network marketers are actually very busy people. They built their businesses either around their young children’s schedules, or around their full-time jobs.

What other job can you find that lets you set your own schedule, work part-time hours, be with your family more, and yet still have the opportunity to build a company that has the potential for financial freedom, time freedom, and more? Wouldn’t you love to change your family’s legacy?

(5) RADICAL INCOME OPPORTUNITY WHILE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN OTHERS’ LIVES

One of the things I love best about the company I’m partnered with is that I have the chance to help others transform their lives for the better. And the more people that I serve, the greater opportunity I have to become financially secure, myself. My own family benefits from me helping others to become better versions of themselves.

The caveat I need to add here is that –as with most businesses– your income will be a direct reflection of the work you are putting in. “You reap what you sow“. No income level is guaranteed. This is not some get-rich-quick scheme… it will take time and dedicated effort. However, the possibilities are there. It all depends on what you’re willing to put into it.

Again though, the beauty of it is that, the more you focus on serving the people you come into contact with through your network marketing business, the more likely it is that your income will also grow, and will far exceed what you may have ever imagined was possible for you.

So, which of these benefits most appeals to you?

Do you have any questions? Feel free to message me and ask. I’d be happy to answer.

Hopefully I’ve helped you to see some of the possibilities that are available to you through this business model of network marketing! IMHO, it really is the “best kept secret” in the world of entrepreneurship!

know thyself

Have you ever taken those quizzes (on BuzzFeed, etc.) that tend to circulate around Facebook, promising to reveal certain aspects of your personality or character? Most of them are pure fluff. However… if you take enough of them, you begin to see patterns.

Being the “personality junkie” that I am, I can’t resist taking these silly quizzes. I’ve taken quite a number of them, actually, saving the results I get from each in a file on my computer. There seems to be at least a little bit of truth that can come out of them, to be honest.

For example, one thing I hadn’t noticed about myself, until I saw the same result pop up from multiple quizzes, is that I’m quite diplomatic.

{ DIPLOMATIC (adj.): having or showing the ability
to deal with people politely (Merriam-Webster);
tactful ability to avoid offending others or hurting their feelings,
especially in situations where this ability is important (Dictionary.com). }

This is very true of me, though. So, no wonder it came through in the quizzes!

WHERE TO BEGIN

One of my favorite tools is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). While I know there’s a lot of controversy out there regarding the validity of this profiling, I still feel that it’s one of the most accurate I’ve come across.

Through taking the free test at 16Personalities.com, I learned that I am primarily an ENFP (60%), but that I’m also about 40% INFP (an ambivert is someone who is both extraverted and introverted). Some aspects of each fit me better, yet other aspects don’t seem to fit me at all. Therefore…

A WORD OF CAUTION

I fully believe that no one test is going to be able to peg us 100%, spot-on. Reason being, we are all unique and complex individuals.

However, that being said, I think these are still highly valuable tools with which you can start getting to know yourself better!

WHY SELF-AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT

I believe that it’s important to take the time to be more self-aware, as it can help you to be better able to find what works best for you — whether that’s in your relationships, your health, your work, your hobbies, etc.

For example, by knowing that I lean heavily toward the introverted side, I know that I’m going to have to ensure that I get enough time alone to recharge, especially during busy seasons, like the week between Christmas and New Years. My hubby still doesn’t understand why I cannot do 4 days straight of back-to-back family gatherings in a row. But it’s true… I get seriously worn out and irritable, and I need time alone, in quiet, to just do my own thing, and not have to be “on”. It’s like a rechargeable battery: I need to be “put on the charger” to build back up my internal juices before I’m ready to go again!

Another example is regarding work.

lists

Several years ago, I had just gotten out of a job that was all kinds of wrong for me, and was desperate to avoid landing in a similar position with my next place of employment. So, I sat down and made two lists: the parts of previous jobs that I had enjoyed (as well as some job “wishlist” items), and the parts of those former positions that I absolutely hated and didn’t wish to repeat. Then I took these lists into consideration while reading job descriptions in my hunt for work.

Because of this, my next position ended up being far better than anything I’d had up until that point. And I believe it’s very much thanks to my willingness to take the time to sit down and reflect on what does & does not work for me.

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT SELF

The most important part of yourself, if you’re a follower of Jesus, is your identity in Christ. By having accepted God’s gift of salvation (an eternity with Him, in heaven), you are now a daughter (or son) of the Most High God! And this changes everything.

This part of yourself is where you find your strength, power, and confidence. God in you is the source of all these things you cannot access on your own. You have the same power in you that raised Christ from the dead — how amazing is that?

Knowing who you are in Him — that He lives through you — is hugely powerful! A true game-changer! For me, it’s given me a confidence that I have never before had, and it’s increased my self-esteem exponentially. As such, I’m far stronger, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, than I’ve ever been, and that affects all other aspects of my life.

GETTING STARTED

There are a lot of ways you can get to know yourself better. To start, I highly recommend finding out your MBTI (here). Once you’ve got that, it will serve as a good foundation from which to judge everything else.

I also really encourage you to start a journal. Write down what you learn about yourself, and how you feel about those discoveries! You’ll be able to catch patterns, over time, and as you understand yourself better, it will help you improve all aspects of your life!

To help you out, here are a few of my other favorite resources for becoming more self-aware:

JUST FOR FUN…

Leave your MBTI results in the comments, below! I’d love to know what you found out!

Just 30 minutes a day. That’s all it takes. Influencers like Jim Rohn & Tony Robbins will tell you the same thing.

So, 30 minutes of what?

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

Growing up, I was extremely insecure and timid. I felt unliked and unimportant, and had a very “glass half-empty” outlook on life.

Everything in life seemed to be against me. I was always waiting for that other shoe to drop, so-to-speak.

And yet…

My mom had always encouraged my siblings and I to read. She took us to the bookstore & bought us books. And, we often saw her, Dad –and even Grandma– reading.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was unable to work, due to an injury, so I spent a lot of time reading. And, over the next ten years, as a stay-at-home-mom, I ended up reading more and more, as a way to pass the time.

In 2005, however, things started to shift. Instead of constantly reading fiction, I was now seeking out more and more nonfiction — at that time, mainly health & fitness books. Next, I was reading more Christian Living. Then, books on business, and success, and entrepreneurship, and personal development. Until, one day, I realized that I hardly read fiction at all, any more!

A SHIFT…

Ever since I began reading more nonfiction, there has been a shift in my life. I am no longer negative and seeing life as “out to get me”. I don’t blame others, or circumstances, for how my life is turning out but, instead, I accept responsibility for the choices I’ve made that have lead me to this point.

I’ve begun to submerge myself in positive messages, and to surround myself with people and words that lift me up and give me hope.

I now look at life very optimistically (despite less-than-ideal circumstances), and have an “anything is possible!” mindset.

What changed?

THE KEY

I honestly have to credit the books I read, plus the YouTube videos, and various pages I follow on Facebook that keep me constantly immersed in positive messages. And, obviously, I can’t go without giving credit to God, because I also prayed and asked Him to renew my mindset. He is faithful. ♥

In Network Marketing, we were encouraged to do at least thirty minutes of personal development each day.

Personal Development: the conscious pursuit of personal growth by expanding self-awareness and knowledge, and improving personal skills.

I believe this is for several reasons:

IT CHANGES YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Like I’ve mentioned, I went from being very negative and woe-is-me, to having a completely shifted view, or outlook, on life. I am now an optimist!

IT SHOWS YOU WHAT IS POSSIBLE

Before I started to read about others’ lives, and how they went from difficult starts to raving success, I had only my own circumstances (and that of those around me) to look to for an example of what might be possible. Since no one in my circle was all that influential, my expectations were pretty limited.

However, in reading these others’ success stories, I began to see how “small” I’d been thinking, and my ideas for what I could achieve began to expand.

IT FORCES YOU TO LEVEL UP

When you surround yourself with those who are optimistic, positive, and driven — even if it’s only by following these people via social media, and/or reading their books, or watching their videos — you can’t help but be inspired to think differently. And, when you think differently, you then act differently.

You can continue to “play small”, but it won’t feel right. You will have an inner restlessness, drawing you towards becoming more, because you’ve now seen that more is possible!

IT CHANGES WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH

When you begin to shift your mindset away from the negative, towards a more optimistic view, you’ll find it really hard to continue to spend any great amount of time with those who are still stuck in that negative thinking. As such, you will begin to seek out, and spend time with (again, perhaps only virtually), others who think positively, and are actively working on themselves and their lives.

IT PUSHES YOU TO PURSUE A BETTER LIFE

When you know better, you can do better. When you know more, you want more.

No longer will you be content to settle for what’s ordinary or expected. Instead, you will believe there’s so much more that is possible, and you will actively pursue that for your life.

And, not only will you want more for yourself, but you will also want to pass it on… to tell others, “Hey! You’ve got to try this!” (just like I’m doing with this post!)

When you’ve experienced something that changes your life in such a big way, you can’t help but tell others about it!

WHAT’S NEXT?

Let me strongly encourage you to give this a try. Like I said, all it takes is just thirty minutes a day, and you will start to notice a shift in your life. If you’re not big on reading, try listening to audio books (my friend, Sarah, never liked to read… but, after she got into network marketing, she decided to listen to books on CD… and from there, she started buying & actually reading physical books!).

You can also watch videos on YouTube, listen to podcasts, watch webinars… there are a lot of options.

And, if you don’t feel you can fit in 30 minutes all at once, try starting with just 10 minutes per day. Then, work your way up to 20 minutes… and, again, work your way up, from there, to 30 minutes. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

The key is to ignore your excuses, and just start. Find what works for you.

let's talk depression

This isn’t an easy post to write. I’m about to get super-real with you, peeps. But I feel that this is a really important conversation to have. So, let’s talk about… Depression.

I have suffered from depression since I was a young girl. But it wasn’t until April 2013 that I finally started taking medication for it. The reasons for my delay were these:

  1. I had been misinformed / ignorant about the different types of depression that exist, and therefore didn’t feel that I was a candidate for medical help. I didn’t fit the description of someone with major depression — though, I did have some of the symptoms — so I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.
  2. I had long been under the impression that antidepressants are habit-forming, so I didn’t want to take them for fear that I would suffer awful consequences when I tried to go off of them.

What changed for me is that, in 2013, I read an eBook called, “Pros of Prozac” by Beca Mark*. In it, Beca outlines her own struggle with anxiety and depression, and how much taking antidepressants had helped her. Reading Beca’s story, I could relate to so much of what she described of her life before taking medication. As such, I started to –once again– really research depression and antidepressants.

Side note: I’ve also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since 2001, so I have done a lot of research on these topics over the years.

Thanks to my new research, though, I learned two things that I’d missed before, that made all the difference for me:

First, antidepressants are not habit-forming. If you follow your doctor’s instructions for how to take them, and for how to be weaned off of them, there shouldn’t be any major issues.

Second, I have what is called, Dysthymia, also known as chronic low-level depression. That’s why, although I have some of the symptoms listed for major depression, I don’t have all of them. Yet, my form of depression is no less serious, and can still benefit from the use of antidepressants. Here is the description {source}:

Persistent depressive disorder, also called Dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

If you have persistent depressive disorder, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be described as having a gloomy personality, constantly complaining or incapable of having fun. Though persistent depressive disorder is not as severe as major depression, your current depressed mood may be mild, moderate or severe.

Because of the chronic nature of persistent depressive disorder, coping with depression symptoms can be challenging, but a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication can be effective in treating this condition.

Armed with this new information, I went to see my doctor to talk with her about trying antidepressants, and she wrote me a prescription.

It took a while to figure out the proper dosage, and which brand of antidepressant worked the best for me (turns out, it’s Zoloft). But I just have to tell you: choosing to go on antidepressants was the best thing I ever did for myself. It has made a world of difference in my life. Some of the benefits include:

  • I can have important conversations with my husband, or family, without falling into tears, and then being unable to continue the conversation
  • I’m no longer irritable, grouchy, and snippy with everyone all the time
  • I can respond, rather than react, to stressful situations
  • I don’t cry over the stupidest little things
  • I have battled my anxiety and panic attacks… and (still, by the grace of God), I won! {see below}

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these things are the major highlights, for me.

When I first started taking the medication, I didn’t tell my husband about it. Reason being, he is one of those people who doesn’t agree that depression is a mental illness. He thinks it’s just “all in one’s head” and can be overcome through “mind over matter”, diet and exercise {side note: yes, a healthy diet and regular exercise have been shown to lessen the effects of Depression, so they’re still highly recommended}. In order to “show” my man that I actually was helped by the medication, I waited a few months of being on it before I let him in on this choice of mine. And, when I finally did tell him, I asked if he’d noticed a change in my personality over the previous few months — he had. So, he agreed that maybe this was an important choice for me to have made.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma attached to depression and antidepressants. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and also a lot of misunderstanding. People who have never suffered from anxiety, or never had a panic attack, don’t fully know the horror of it… the feeling of being so very out of control, and the feeling of utter terror. Anxiety and panic attacks are notjust “all in your head”… they are physical manifestations of a chemical imbalance in your physical body. You can know all of the statistics and information, but your body is going to react (usually there are “triggers”), regardless of your level of knowledge.

For example, in 2001 I had my first panic attack. My family and I were eating dinner, when all-of-a-sudden, I heard a helicopter flying over our house. And much as I knew it made absolutely no sense (mentally), I was utterly convinced that that helicopter was going to come and crash into our house. I ended up excusing myself from the table to go to the washroom, where I collapsed into a shaking puddle on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. I was scared-to-death, because this had never happened to me before, and I had never heard of panic attacks. I thought I’d completely lost it, and that I was going to have to be locked away in some mental institution. I’d gone off the deep end. (Thankfully, this wasn’t the case!)

From that point on, I couldn’t hear any aircraft going by overhead without seizing up in a fit of anxiety. My heart would race, my fists would clench, and I couldn’t think of anything else.

Thankfully, my faith has helped a lot with this… I’ve learned to pray through the attacks, asking God to protect both my family, and those on the aircraft.

planeMind you, the 9-11 attacks certainly didn’t help. Especially since I’d had some eerily “prophetic” (for lack of a better term) dreams about them before they even happened! Put it this way: I saw what the people in the World Trade Center must have seen, seconds before the plane went crashing through those windows.  This still shakes me to my core.

Anyway. Like I said, my faith has really helped me in overcoming my anxiety and panic attacks. But I also believe that the antidepressants have, as well. As proof, I can proudly say that — thanks be to God! — I was able to get on a plane and fly out to visit my sister, last summer … and I didn’t even have to take anything (tranquilizers) for the trip, either! Was I still scared? Absolutely! I was very, very nervous. But, would I do it again? Yep — in a heartbeat!

To wrap this up, let me just encourage you in a couple of things:

  1. If you, yourself, suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression (in any of its forms), please don’t hesitate to get help. Research it, if you need to. Talk to friends or family, or go see a counselor. Talk to your doctor. It’s not worth it to continue to suffer alone. You don’t need to… Heck! Send me an email if you need to talk, and feel you have no one else! I’m here, okay?
  2. If you have, or are considering suicide, PLEASE call this number, right now:  1-800-273-TALK (8255). Reach out — you are NOT alone!
  3. Ignore the haters and those who tell you that it’s “all in your head”. Do what you feel is the right thing… for you. That’s all that matters. You are the only one who truly knows your body, and what you need. You are the only one who needs to make this decision {with the help of your doctor, of course}.
  4. If you aren’t opposed to it, seek God in the matter. Tell Him what you’re struggling with (He already knows, but He wants you to come to Him with this). Ask for His help in overcoming this. It IS possible… Did you know that the Bible encourages us by saying, “Do not fear”, 365 times?  You could also go talk to a local pastor or priest. They are trained counselors.
  5. Help spread the word! The more people who talk openly about mental health issues like Depression, the more we can get rid of the “stigma” that surrounds it, and the more we can help those who truly need help.

ETA: Have a look at this article, on the Health Ambition website, all about the top 10 anti-anxiety foods that help reduce stress… it may be of some help to you, as well.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN HELP FOR DEPRESSION? DO YOU TAKE MEDICATION FOR IT? SHARE WITH US A BRIEF SNIPPET ABOUT YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS! LET’S SHOW THE LOVE!

leaving organized religion

In my last post, I talked about how I feel God has shown me that I don’t need to go to church… it’s not a Biblical mandate. The Bible only says that we aren’t to neglect meeting together with other believers (Heb.10:25).

Well, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression… I might leave the church — meaning the Sunday morning services, or a specific congregation — but I won’t be leaving the faith. I am just tired of trying to live up to the man-made rules of religion.

Wayne Jacobsen (author of “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Any More“), in this article, puts it this way:

Many people giving up on local institutions are not doing so because they’ve rejected Jesus, but finding that the culture of Christianity is actually diminishing their faith not enhancing it.

I’ve always felt really guilty for not keeping up with the “spiritual disciplines”: prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, etc. I do read my Bible from time-to-time (though, not as consistently as I should), and my prayer life is fairly active… I pray off and on throughout every day, little prayers sent up about this or that. But I don’t sit down do have “quiet time” with God, normally, and that makes me feel like a “bad Christian”.

While I realize that the spiritual disciplines are important, I also now realize that I was trying to make them into a “law”, more than a loving, grace-based action. If it doesn’t flow naturally from my love for God, then it’s law, IMHO. We should be so in love with our Lord that we naturally want to spend time with Him, and learn from Him, and grow towards being more like Him. Or, at least, that’s how I see it.

For me, I feel pressured by other Christians to always be striving in my faith. But, faith isn’t supposed to be about striving. It’s supposed to be about relationship; about letting Christ live out His purposes through us. Unfortunately, I never feel “good enough” when I’m around other Christians. I always feel like they are looking down on me because I don’t make it to church every Sunday, or don’t participate in church events, or don’t serve in some way at the church. I don’t DO enough. But, again, it’s not supposed to be about trying to please others.

As I said above, if you’re in a relationship with God, and He’s given the freedom to live out His purposes through you, then you’re going to be serving, or acting out the other disciplines of the Christian faith… they’ll just flow naturally from that relationship. It won’t be forced.

In the same article mentioned above, Wayne Jacobsen says this:

We were promised a relationship with God but were handed a religion of doctrines we had to believe, rituals we had to observe, obligations we had to meet and a standard of morality to adopt. While most of those were true enough, many found that their attempts to follow them did not produce either the life of Jesus it promised, nor the reality of true, caring communities of faith.

And, again, this is where I relate. I don’t feel like I’m growing in my faith — only being stunted by the “rules of the game”, and by the condemnation received from those around me. To quote Rob Bell, in his “Sunday” NOOMA video, “God doesn’t want the meaningless rituals… God wants our hearts“.

“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” ~ 2 Chronicles 16:9a

So, I’m not going to let those things condemn me any more… I am going to live in the freedom Christ is showing me, knowing I don’t have to follow man-made traditions. I can continue to meet with other believers, both at Bible study, and in one-on-one visits with Christian friends. And, I can continue to pursue a loving relationship with my Lord… just apart from “organized religion”.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
~ Galatians 5:1, NIV

Note: This post was originally written in 2009.

leaving organized religion

I’ve had issues with “church” (or, as some prefer to call it, ‘organized religion’) for many, many years. I have encountered way too much hypocrisy & legalism, and have never felt comfortable going to church every Sunday morning. I was practically forced to go to youth group as a teen, and then had issues at 2 of the 3 different churches I’ve attended in the last 20 years… issues that couldn’t just be overlooked, and so I left. My current church is definitely better than the other two were, but it still makes me uncomfortable, to an extent.

Back in 2009, while browsing in a bookstore, I came across a book called “Pagan Christianity” by George Barna & Frank Viola. I didn’t buy it, but just picked it up and skimmed through it. And, it piqued my curiosity. Here’s the description (from Amazon):

Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we “dress up” for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, choirs, and seminaries? This volume reveals the startling truth: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence in the first-ever book to document the full story of modern Christian church practices.

The book had me intrigued.

Then I picked up a book from the local library that I originally had no intention of reading: “The Year of Living Biblically” by A. J. Jacobs. An online friend reviewed it, and that review prompted me to give the book a try, and see what I thought. Well, I thought it was a fantastic book, and it got me thinking even more! What really got me, though, was the revelation I took away from that: Nowhere in the Bible does it say we have to attend church (in a building) every week!

People have always loved to quote me Hebrews 10:25, saying this was the mandate that we are to never stop going to church. Well, guess what? This verse does NOT say you have to “go to church”… it just says you aren’t to neglect meeting with other believers…

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” ~ Hebrews 10:25, NIV

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” ~ Hebrews 10:25, KJV

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” ~ Hebrews 10:25, NLT

See? Even in the King James Version (which is thought to be one of the most reliable — closest to what was originally written), it says not to neglect meeting together with other believers. But it does NOT say you have to meet in a church building.

Then, while online shortly thereafter, I came across yet another book: “So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Any More?” by Wayne Jacobsen. And, by Googling the author, I came across his website, LifeStream.org, where you can read a multitude of articles on why he no longer is a fan of “organized religion”, and about how he believes “church” means something different than what we have always believed it to be…

Mr. Jacobsen says “Church is not somewhere you go; it’s something that you are“. We, the followers of Christ, are His ‘church’, His bride. Wherever we are to be found, that’s where “church” exists.

And I really like this concept! 😉

I read some of the articles on this LifeStream website, and apparently this is a growing trend… people are leaving the church building — the Sunday morning gatherings — and they are seeking out other believers that they can learn from and grow with, believers who share their same belief that you can’t limit God to man-made traditions.

Personally, when I realized that the Bible doesn’t even say you have to “go to church”, but only that you have to continue meeting with other believers, I was so relieved! No longer do I have to give in to the guilt that’s heaped upon me when people ask me if I’m going to church regularly, and I have to say ‘no’. No longer do I have to accept the shame they try to instill in me for not going. Instead, I can relax, knowing that I make my weekly Bible study meetings a priority, and am thereby obeying the Biblical command to continue meeting together with other believers.

{…to be continued…}

Note: This post was originally written in 2009.