Ever since I can remember, I have gone to church and loved it. I loved the Sunday School games, the hymns, the Christmas programs, the energy, the potlucks...we were a church family. However, I was just a child then. I went to church where my parents went to church, and no questions asked. Now, as I am newly married, a seminary student, and am asked by my community, my family and my self, what type of person I will be, what I will believe, and what I will allow to define me; my husband and I find ourselves very seriously thinking about where we go to church. For someone who has always accepted church as being a part of the non-questionable Sunday routine (and youth night when the activity seemed fun enough to go), we are finding ourselves refreshingly shocked that we are not taking church with such openness. We are being very particular, and dissecting the sermons, the worship and, if I am honest, the leadership.
We are making our very best effort to not be judgmental and instead of putting up sermons, practices, and programs up against our preferences, we are trying to put them up to Scripture and see what the Bible has to say about church and asking God to lead us to the right community. One of the many resources that we have found very helpful is Gordon MacDonald's book, "Who Stole My Church." It's a fictional story based on over 45 years of pastoring experience, where a church is facing the difficulties of a changing culture. It's phenomenal. It deals with problems and issues that we encounter, and in a unique narrative way, MacDonald tells a story of a community who searches Scripture and invites you to join them. We also have been surprised to realize that many are leaving the church today. Some blame it on the church and they ways that they have been "burned". (Count me in) Others blame it on the poor exegesis that goes on in the weekly sermons (Count me in). What about the lack of programs or discipleship tools? Biblical Faithfulness? Although it is disheartening to see where the Church is going wrong; it is only by this knowledge that we can figure out how to make it better. I am not saying that we should leave the minute we have an issue; because that is what life is about. However, I am saying that we should always test everything, and weigh it carefully, and deal with it in a Biblical way. All that to say, here is a unique and telling blog that allows an inside look into the reasons that people are leaving church: Letters From Leavers.
If this many people are leaving the church building, are they leaving the Church?
According to PewResearch.org, in 2008 more than 25% of American adults have left the religion that they were raised in for another religion, or abandoned it altogether. 44% have changed religions, switched affiliation, or become dis-affiliated with religion, with 16.1% of American adults have declared no affiliation at all. Finally, 1 in 4 18-19 year olds say they are not part of a religion at all.
Why are people leaving?
What are your grievances with the Church?
What have you done about leaving, or staying and how did you walk through that?
I just turned 25 and I live in Orange County, California with my husband. We love God, love life, and love trying new adventures together. In June I will have completed my Masters in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. I hope to some day teach like my parents, and write a book about how all of this somehow relates together. It always does.