Friday, September 26, 2008

Why are so many quitting church?

A new book by Washington Times reporter Julia Duin examines the reasons behind why so many professing Christians are choosing to leave the church. The book Quiting Church promises to be an interesting and perhaps sobering study.

Duin writes:

There are paradoxes in this story, too. In recent decades, thriving megachurches have dominated the landscape, offering media-friendly services and chatty sermons in gigantic sanctuaries that give seekers a cushion of anonymity. But in 2007, the influential Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago found that many older members said they are now spiritually "stalled" or "dissatisfied."

Duin is convinced many evangelical churches are also struggling to deal with rising numbers of single adults and single-parent families. In 2005, a University of Virginia researcher found that 32 percent of married men and 38 percent of married women are churchgoers. But only 15 percent of single men and 23 percent of single women go to church.

There's another reality that is hard to put into statistics, said Duin.

Many believers have grown tired of quickie services, PowerPoint answers and pop lyrics. Many "quitters" she interviewed were yearning for intimate, down-to-earth churches where pastors and people knew their names. They'd been born again. Now they wanted to know how to face the doubts and pains of daily life. They wanted real spiritual growth.

Many candid believers, said Duin, "are perplexed and disappointed with God" and they found that when they asked tough questions, they "were not getting meaningful answers from their churches. In fact, they were encouraged not to talk about their pain. ...


Pete Morris said...

Why are so many quitting church?
Maybe there are so few examples in America of the sacrifice of faithfulness in the church. Even the "professional" shepherd's lives are not that much different from the average American. Comfort in occupation, comfort in responsibilities, comfort in friends, comfort in income, comfort in faith. But that describes the rest of us too. Maybe the world doesn't recognize us because we look just like them? So for the nominal / the "searcher" - What difference does it make? Perhaps the "great falling away" has begun or maybe it's just ongoing in each generation?

God is good, all the time. The church is His Bride and she is His responsibility and He is faithful. There will come the Day and we will be changed, since He is faithful.

DVZ said...

I think your premise is a valid one, particularly when the "ecclesia" ceases to be the "company of the called-out ones". Clearly our salt has lost its flavor -- and we in the salt shaker remain in denial.

rmkton said...

loved this line in particular..."were not getting meaningful answers from their churches. In fact, they were encouraged not to talk about their pain. ..."

I think there are several reasons why people are quitting but this has to be near the top of the list...What I also find fascinating in talking to those who have quit is that they are not really influenced to any great extent by the new atheists (Hitchens, Harris, etc.)...the challenges they express come from within the church not from without.

I think the reasons people leave the church (or faith altogether) seem to fall into 3 categories.

1) View of scripture...that is an unnuanced, inflexible view of the Bible...we have to articulate a realistic view of scripture

2) Theological difficulties...that is our view of hell, OT views of God condoning mass annihilation of peoples

3) Behaviour of other Christians...that is if we are saved and have been given the Holy Spirit why is there so much evidence to the contrary.

Now I understand the answers from a biblical or theological perspective that would be given to each one of these problems...yet, if we are honest, I don't think we find them very satisfying.

These days I would rather someone be honest and tell me that they do not understand it either rather than give me an answer that they themselves are not sure they believe...have had years of that.

I think for us to move forward in this post-modern, post-christian world we have to be brutally honest with ourselves and have no fear of the truth (if we believe all truth is God's Truth)...two things I find very rare among Christians.