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Monday, February 22, 2010

On Leaving The Church

Bill Kinnon has an excellent blog: kinnon.tv I was there recently, having stumbled over to it via Brad Boydston (as I do many things from Brad) and was reading book reviews. Kinnon is insightful and hilarious, AND I was reading a piece where he just excoriates a couple of reformed thinker, which automatically makes him a hero in my mind. But as I read through the conversation in the comments and then stumbled upon similar themes at other sites I had that feeling. It's hard to describe but I'll try.

In my life, I am constantly amazed at the conversations I have with friends who are exasperated and bored out of their ever-loving-minds with their missional, relational, nice, friendly, slow growing, green, god-fearing, evangelical church. They are on the brink of leaving but don't like any of the other options they have or how leaving the church complicates their life.

Then there are other friends, who have just jumped ship altogether — left the building along with Elvis and won't likely be back soon. They aren't feeling guilty or like something is missing in their life. Just the opposite in fact — they feel quite relieved and at home with God at home.

So I've had these conversations. Seen these trends in my world. And have thought this is a growing issue in my world. But I'm really not connected with any national movements or leaders at the moment like I have been in the past, where I keep up with many cultural and church trends. I read much less churchianity literature than I used to, especially as it relates to the emerging movements.

But recently I read Jake Colsen's story, So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore, and found that a whole lot of people have read it and resonate with it. Then reading Kinnon's blog I saw the term "church leaver" batted around like common jargon. Then googled "church leaver" and saw how common it is (and how asleep I must be). Holy Crap! This movement of people being seriously disgruntled and leaving organized church is way bigger than I had any idea about. It's like that part of watching a movie where the main character is in a dark cave and strikes a match only to discover it's a huge cavern filled with gold or skeletons or whatever.

I've read Dave Olson's book, American Church in Crisis, and seen the declining church attendance numbers.  I read of George Barna's endless doom and gloom stats on teens and others leaving church. But I don't think I have really seen how big a movement this might be until right now.

And then I reflect on my own feelings of discontent and my church attendance at "my church" which has been spotty over the past several months due to preaching and making presentations at various places, fall baseball and wanderlust. It's very easy to become a "church leaver" statistic. It actually looks appealing.

But I really don't want to leave the church. Most of me believes that the future of Christianity in North America lies in the hands of new churches and God's work through them. And I want to be part of that movement. But I wonder ... is this just the first trickle of water through a break in the dam?

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