Over at internetmonk.com Jeff Dunn wrote an article entitled "Quitting Christians" yesterday. The jest of the article is that he struggles with depression and friends and clergy alike at his evangelical church can't be there for him. He has however, found a friend that is a non-believer that has been there for him. I feel for Jeff since this rings true for me as well.
I have tried during my tenure as an evangelical to strike up authentic friendships and discuss doubts and the like. I too hit a brick wall there for the most part among the members. There are a couple of pastors I have been authentic friends with over the years and still am to this day.
Most people in evangelical circles buy into a theology that is supposed to transform them and not have to struggle with sin anymore. I fault many of the authors, leaders and pastors for this mentality. Everyone that steps up to the plate as a leader in evangelical circles has a story about how they have left behind sinful behavior and they are perfect now. I am overstating here probably, but it is the end result that comes across. If I am not growing financially and checking off other success markers I better pretend that I am.
This means that when someone in the group admits to struggles, it threatens the utopia of those that the person shares with. Evangelicals don't want their perfect bubble popped. Once you send your kids to the right schools, go to the right small group, attend chutch whenever the doors are open and attend fund raiser for your favorite parachurch organization that kept you indoctrinated through your college years; For all of these works you have to see results.
People in a bubble lie to themselves about the world outside it and don't want to know a friendly face they see every week isn't with the program. They say they are forgiven just by praying the sinners prayer but boy they seem to be working hard to stay in grace. They will slam your inquiry into sacramental Christianity as leaving for a works based model but they can't see they are in one currently.
If Christ called us to abide in him then our lives will take work for us to grow. Many evangelicals want to pray the sinners prayer and believe the right things for salvation. For some of us it is just impossible to do so. We see the world differently, doubt, get depressed and want a community to share that with. I think the evangelical salvation plan is oversimplified and it shows in the intellect of their followers and leaders.
Now that I am currently away from these circles, I am much happier. I think those of us that struggle to fit in there need to leave. Life is too short to waste our time in these churches. Once you leave that church for a liberal mainline, Catholic, Orthodox or none status don't look back. Most definitely don't worry about what the people back there think either as they don't care about your struggles anyway. You are doing them a favor by leaving so you dont blow up their spot.
Jeff I agree with you I quit trying for authentic friendships with Christians in the Evangelical realm too. You might see the cloud of depression lift once that part of your life is in the rearview mirror.