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More Reasons Why People Are Leaving The Church

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck could be my favorite new writers.  I loved Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, I really enjoy everything DeYoung writes on his blog, and when they write paragraphs like this I can't help but cheer out loud like a fruitcake. 

"Perhaps Christians are leaving the church because it isn't tolerant and open-minded. But perhaps the church-leavers have their own intolerance too--intolerant of tradition, intolerant of authority, intolerant of imperfection except their own. Are you open-minded enough to give the church a chance--a chance for the church to be the church, not a coffee shop, not a mall, not a variety show, not Chuck E. Cheese, not a U2 concert, not a nature walk, but a wonderfully ordinary, blood-bought, Spirit-driven church with pastors, sermons, budgets, hymns, bad carpet and worse coffee?"

It's from a column they recently did for The Washington Post.  Check out their upcoming book, Why We Love The Church: In Praise Of Institutions And Organized Religion.

Comments

It is rare to find genuine thinkers defending the church these days. It's so uncool to embrace old school institutions, yet being "open-minded" does not mean we abandon the past. Thanks for sharing these resources, Nick.

Hi Raizza, it is becoming more and more costly to be a Christian in America. I hope you find comfort in the fact that the Gospel has been persecuted since Jesus was nailed to a cross. It will always cause offense to some people. That doesn't mean we should be offensive, but it means we should be humble and unsurprised. :)
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My view from well within the church (and no intent of leaving) is that some indeed leave the church due to intolerance of authority, tradition and imperfection, but more do so due to irrelevance. The message of redemption, temporal and eternal, is not clearly presented. The challenge of discipleship is not lifted as a standard. Someone’s wife leaves him and lives with someone else from the church (my recent observation, not my experience) and the fellow just gets a sympathetic pat on the back. There is no fire. There is no smell of sulfur in the air when this happens. This is not tolerance. It is blindness. The church has become lukewarm. We can tolerate imperfection and even value authority and tradition when the Spirit is there, when there is fire and passion, when the word is taught faithfully and understandably, when there is committed brotherhood and sisterhood, when sin is condemned and the solution to the sin problem through the atoning death and power of the resurrection is proclaimed. We are not challenged to meet the needs of people around us locally or globally. We are only challenged to help meet the budget or pave the parking lot. People grow bored and leave due to a diet of insipid broth rather than well seasoned meat. I am speaking here of the lack of substance, not the quality of the music program or the interior lighting. People (at least some people) will be attracted to the church when it addresses their deepest needs, when it provides the “Balm that heals a sin sick soul,” when it gives them something worth losing their lives for and picking up their crosses for, when it provides them friends that “stick closer than a brother,” when it gives them a message and a cause that makes them glad to crucify themselves with Christ so it is no longer they that live but Christ that lives in them.

"The message of redemption, temporal and eternal, is not clearly presented. The challenge of discipleship is not lifted as a standard. Someone’s wife leaves him and lives with someone else from the church (my recent observation, not my experience) and the fellow just gets a sympathetic pat on the back. There is no fire. There is no smell of sulfur in the air when this happens."

Amen, Doc.

Nick, I'm curious about why you think that paragraph is helpful. It only continues the "us against them" mentality that has been such a struggle for the church. I'm glad they love bad coffee and old carpet. But so what?

The paragraph is helpful because it is true and I think truth is of higher value than unity.

Isn't it because Church-leavers are exposed and engulfed by different cultures that deter them in seeking truth, continuous loyalty, and appreciation of the Church. I know many who've become non-believers and although, I much respect non-believers and believers alike, it is devastating to hear many are leaving the Church. One of the presumed reasons is that there is not much freedom in the Church, but I believe there is freedom. I feel there is an abundance of life. Church makes the family come together and celebrate, laugh, sing, and read scriptures. That is how I see the Church. Many friends have ridiculed me whenever I state my beliefs and it is very seldom I ever state my personal viewpoint 'cause I am afraid of what they might say. Should I reconsider them as being friends? My friends and I have disagreed on many factors, but sometimes I lack the confidence and power of gaining support. I feel a part of me has perished. I thought in America I have the right for freedom of speech and religion.

Hi Raizza, it is becoming more and more costly to be a Christian in America. I hope you find comfort in the fact that the Gospel has been persecuted since Jesus was nailed to a cross. It will always cause offense to some people. That doesn't mean we should be offensive, but it means we should be humble and unsurprised. :)

DeYoung has made an important contribution to the discussion and deserves to be read.
See my review of his chapters at http://inchristus.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/churchless-christians/.

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