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Quitting Church: A Q&A with Julia Duin

posted by Patton Dodd

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Why do people stop going to church? This big question is the subject of Julia Duin’s small book, Quitting Church: Why teh Faithful are Fleeing and What To Do About It. Duin is not a disinterested observer of the phenomenon of church-dropping; rather, she’s a churchgoer who wants churches to work well, and also a skilled reporter who knows how to apply the tools of her trade. 
The result is a book that makes for uncomfortable reading for anyone invested in good church ministry; Duin is straightforward in her examination of the myriad ways churches can fail Christian believers. But she’s not without hope in American churches and their ability to find a way forward. 
Duin took on some questions via email. Our exchange appears after the jump. 


A lot of people look to the large and growing ministries of Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, et al, and would be surprised to hear that churches are shrinking. Give us the lay of the land–what is happening with church attendance in America?

No one agrees on how many folks are in church, but we do know several denominations are losing people like crazy. The Episcopalians are losing 1,000 people a week. The Southern Baptists, believe it or not, are also showing drops in baptisms and membership. Were it not for Hispanics, which are by now one-third of US Catholicism, the Catholic Church would be in enormous trouble as the numbers of confirmations, marriages in the church, confessions, etc., have dropped horribly. The Mormons and the Assemblies of God show up atop most surveys as groups that are growing. The Osteens, Bells, Driscolls of this world are adding on members, but they can only do so much. The overall effect is shrinkage. 
And even if people haven’t cut off their membership, they aren’t attending like they used to at all. People just aren’t in church for mid-week services like they used to be–go driving any Sunday morning and tell me if you think 2/5 of the America population (Gallup’s 41-44%) are going to church at that point. It’s obvious they’re not. 
How have megachurches reshaped our thinking about church life?
People want their needs met. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I was really attacked on a recent radio show for suggesting churches should be more willing to cater to some pretty obvious needs. Like, I was asked what singles – an underserved group if there ever was one in church life – need, and I said, “To get married.” Pastors in other countries, e.g. India, see matchmaking as part of their job description but here in the States, it’s every believer for him or herself. And there are record amounts of single Christians out there today, few of whom wish to be that way. I really got attacked for suggesting peoples’ needs should be met, as the typical churchgoer is supposed to be in this to be a servant, not to get their needs met. At least that’s what’s preached. That is nonsense, of course; parents walk in all the time expecting to have their children given Christian teaching in Sunday school, so that “need” is considered legit. People do need friends, they need fellowship, they need to hear from God. What is so bad about churches tending to those things?
The megachurches have set themselves to identifying felt needs and providing the staff and programming to meet those needs. They’ve brought marketing into the equation. I am not a megachurch attendee, as I like to know my pastor and have my pastor know me, but I can see the attraction.

You say that today’s churches are set up to minister to whole families, but not so much to singles and women. What are singles and women experiencing at church today?
Women are slotted into childcare jobs and maybe ushers or the choir – or the worship team, as it’s called today. But women like me, who are seminary-educated, are given no place to teach. The offer is never extended. Ditto for other women who are lawyers, accountants, etc., who know things that could be of some benefit to the body of Christ. These women are underused at best. Or they are told they can only minister to other women. 
When you’re used to be treated equally in the job market, it’s like entering a time warp when you go to church and are told that who you are is dependent on who or what your husband is. Women whose husbands are elders or ministers have more freedom to exercise ministry, but all other women aren’t given much of a chance. 
What’s also galling is how so many women are treated like sexual temptresses. I get tired of pastors telling me they cannot be alone with me and can’t meet me for coffee somewhere, while it’s OK if they get together with a male parishioner. Thus, I never get to network or exchange ideas with the pastor – I (and other women) simply lose out. We have to reply on our husbands – if we have one – to advance our cause in church. 
As for singles, there’s 100 million of us out there, and we are the largest unreached demographic there is. Most churches tolerate us but do not want to expend any time or money ministering to us. Any extra funds goes toward youth ministry. The singles over 35 are especially unwanted – and this is a group that earns substantial income, but also has some real needs. Yet, they never hear sermons pertaining to their station in life while getting hit 24/7 with all sorts of spiritual attacks, ranging from depression or loneliness to unmet sexual desires. 
Many churches focus on threats to the family, but they never consider the battles so many are facing to even form a family. A lot of singles are waking up and walking out of churches that only minister to couples with chldren (the church I left was one of those), but many others are still lingering at their churches, praying that some godly mate will show up. Walk into your typical evangelical church and you will find next to no single men who are, say, over 30. They don’t exist. They’re either married or not in church. It’s a mess out there, but your typical parish priest or minister is totally clueless to the hellish choice most Christian single women face: Either marry someone who is not a believer at all, or stay single. Or even if the clergy are not clueless about this situation, they don’t care to help resolve it. 

For as long as I can remember, evangelical churches have been stressing the need to be “relevant” to American culture. You say they’ve failed on this front–that they are out of touch. How has this happened, and what can be done about it?
Relevancy means speaking to the true battles people are facing in terms of depression, exhaustion, joblessness, inability to connect with God, etc. I do not see most pastors at all in touch with how the majority of their listeners have no idea how to hear from God. This should be a top priority. 
Relevancy is understanding what your typical parishioner goes through; everything from killer rush hours to family breakdowns. One wonders if pastors lead real lives. I think many are isolated from what the rest of us face; thus, I rarely if ever take notes in church any more, because there’s rarely anything insightful in the typical sermon. 
Part of the problem is that pastors do not want to admit that much of Christianity does not work. So many of the promises in Scripture simply don’t come true, and people cannot wrap their minds around that contradiction. Now, there are ways around this, but it’s the rare pastor who gets it that people are struggling with what their lives are like and what the Bible stays – and the wide gulf in between. Speaking to those hard spots would be so helpful. 
Unanswered prayer is so huge an issue yet very few authors – Philip Yancey, Bob Sorge – address this. After a while people think they must be awful Christians because the system is not working for them, so they drop out out of sheer discouragement. That does not need to happen, yet this goes on all the time. Folks hate being part of something in which all they do is fail.

You do not seem like a typical church critic. Other writers, whether Christian or not, have approached this topic with apparent glee, because they seen evidence of their own indictment of Christianity. Your account is more sob
ered. What made you want to tell this story?
I was part of the Jesus movement and the charismatic renewal, so I have seen how wonderful Christianity was back in the halycon days of revival in the 1970s. I know things can be better. I have experienced Jesus myself; I have learned to hear His voice, and it is nonsense to say He has failed. 
I don’t know why God’s power was so evident 30 years ago but now, things are a shadow of what they were. The church is the hope of the world. There is no other way God has left open to work in the world. 
Over the years, it’s fallen to me to warn and warn and warn church folks about various things, and that seems to be my task in life. I have another book coming out this fall on the rise and the fall of the charismatic renewal and intentional communities, and how a perfectly good movement that had tons of potential in evangelizing the world got sullied by sin. The book is a warning to folks – especially as Christian community is coming back ‘in’ with the Gen Y folks – of what went wrong with folks who are their parents’ age. 
So, I am not gleeful that so much has failed. Like David Wilkerson (of The Cross and the Switchblade) told me, ‘We’re losing ground that was already won.” He’s right. I am trying to warn the people out there that still care about the church that while not all is lost, major course corrections need to be made. 


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BrokenSp1r17

posted February 3, 2009 at 11:17 pm


Ah; my dear Patton, very nicely written—as always. This is defiantly a book I’ll look into.
Now, I’ll put in my two cents in my own reasons why the Flock is wandering off. One word: Hypocrisy. The word falls off the tongue like bile. The word shatters the spirit like a war ax—leaving the soul broken. It was Christians who cast me out of church because I was homeless, and needed a place to sleep; and nowhere to go. It was a Southern Baptist paster who said I couldn’t join his church since I was living in a hotel—the only “home” I had for quite awhile. Wasn’t this Nazarene rabbi whom we call “Lord” that said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt 24:40, KJV)
I can’t stand when pastors preach, “Give the full tithes to the church, plus more! So God will give it back doubled!” And they use that money for their own personal luxuries and not for the Kingdom. I can’t bear to see these “men and women of God” who could care less about the poor, the down trodden; just only how the church can entertain them. Only about their own vanity. Ministers like the Tom Haggard, who preach the sinfulness of homosexuality; yet do it anyway.
“I may be the only veteran of Geonosis who doesn’t have nightmares of that place. Because in my dreams, I always do it right. My nightmare is what I find when I wake up. Jedi have shatterpoints, too.” Jedi Master Mace Windu, “Shatterpoint”



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Your Name

posted February 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm


Women in mainline denominations like mine, the ELCA, are considered equal partners in the Reign of God, and may serve in any capacity, lay or ordained, for which they’re qualified and to which they’re called. I hate to state the obvious, but perhaps women who feel patronized or devalued in a non-denominational/”megachurch” environment need to revisit the li’l ol’ mainline-denomination churches that provided happy spiritual homes for their parents and grandparents.



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Your Name

posted February 5, 2009 at 10:27 am


The “Church” is the body of Christ. In our culture, this concept has been lost to the idea that the Church is a place one goes to. “Going to Church” is not the same as “being the Church.” When people ask me “where do you go to church?” I feel like saying, “I don’t GO to church; I AM the Church!”



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Wandering Christian

posted February 5, 2009 at 6:04 pm


I have to agree with BrokenSp1r17. The biggest problem with most churches today is the hypocrisy. I used to go to church all the time, but then it got to the point where the hypocrisy was just too much. Too many people were just there to see and be seen, networking. Even the pastor and deacons. I have been to several churches since, several different demoninations, and have yet to find a church where people are truly there to worship God and praise Him for all his blessings. What ever happened to the old-time pastors who were truly called to preach the word of God? The ones that didn’t have to be paid a regular salary? The ones that took whatever “love offering” the congregation could afford? The ones that had regular jobs through the week to support themselves and their families? The ones that were happy just to be provided with housing? I would rather take the money for my tithe and donate it to a homeless shelter, a shelter for abused women and children, or a food bank. These are the people who need our help as Christians, not the pastors and deacons.



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Doris

posted February 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm


I too no longer attend church. It’s true that I’m single and a woman, but that in itself had no impact on my decision; I was people’s wArden, served on the vestry, and performed other tasks like typing programs and helping prepare for holy days. But I saw, when our leadership changed, that our church at least was not the Body of the Faithful but rather the Job of the Minister. Long-time members of the vestry (not me) were removed to make way for newcomers. Elderly parishoners, now homebound, went unvisited because the new minister hadn’t known them personally and they no longer tithed. I left the church because if I had stayed I would have lost my faith. I am happy meeting periofically with a friend or two to praise God, which is, I believe, what Christ instructed us to do.



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Xanthorpe

posted February 7, 2009 at 6:57 pm


I’m saddened to hear of the travails that the modern church is undergoing. As someone who came to Christ at a late age, relatively speaking, I have only known one church home. We have had our share of sin amongst the staff but the members – the church – have continued to try and serve the community as best we can.
We have many widowed and single-mother members and we do our best to minister to them. We don’t run a matchmaking agency but we do not exclude them from our visitation, opportunities to serve, etc. Our mission as we see it is to reach up (worship God), reach out (minister to the needs of our community) and reach in (minister to the needs of our people). Everything we do is built around those three things. The church should be about God and His children, not programs.
Although as Southern Baptists we believe that men were given the role of leading the church, women do teach in our church and our worship leader is a wonderful lady who also does her fair share of teaching to men and women – just not from the pulpit. This is not to say that women are incapable of being pastors, it is only a biblical reflection of the roles that God finds for men and women in His church. This is a particularly sticky subject and never an easy topic to address.
For those in search of a church home, I sincerely hope you find the right place – the church that God means for you to be in. And please remember, it may not be comfortable; I doubt Jesus was very comfortable in the three-year ministry that ended on the cross – God may place you in a church to shake things up, to serve anonymously or simply to worship quietly. As hard as it can be, try to ignore the imperfect people and keep your eyes on the Lord. When He is at the center of what you’re doing, the other stuff won’t matter quite as much.
God bless.
X



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Keith Richard Radford Jr

posted February 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm


After watching Ms. Duin I an lead to think they are leaving the Church because of the thinking that this woman believes and yet are not true. My landlord is Jewish. He hires a Palestinian to do his maintenance for his buildings and w/Obamas new faith based initiative requiring Roman Catholics hireling sex offenders or believers in choice or not tax dollars we will finally find out just how much that dollar amount to. Separation of church and state is not a reality in our country and needs to be. Faith based organizations need to pick up on their own message that has been skewed beyond the skew place on our constitution and the last administrations bed fellows being the rich who are the controllers of these religions organization.
I am quite spiritual but I do not need to attach that to an organization that finds old women and getting them to donate their wealth to that organization including their homes and inheritance where no tax is paid yet they get tax dollars? Kind of a void to the economy don’t ya think?



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cliff

posted February 9, 2009 at 7:23 am


Church Wander, in my opinion you have very Whorped veiw of what a pastor is. Why in the world would you want someone to be your Pastor who would be stuck at regular job. So you want your Pastor only available sundays,Because he would be too tried to any other Church functions throughout the week,like counceling unlike youself imperfct people or visiting the sick. I guest he can do that when gets off his 9 to5. Now I know why they are leaving the ministry in droves. It life sucking,good for nothing people like you(Church hoopers) thats killing good Ministries and Churches. People like you that ignores every command in the bible and does what is right in their own eyes. by critizing,complaining and finding flaut when something don’t go their way. what you call youself is correct a Church wander, Because a Christian wouldn’t take GODS First Fruits and give it to a Homeless Shelter. GOD calls it stealing you ought to repent and ask for foregivness.



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Steve

posted February 9, 2009 at 9:40 am


You are WAY OFF BASE. You obviously don’t live in the real world if you think it’s ok for a pastor to be alone with a female that he is not married to. Or for that matter, NO male leader in our church is to ever be alone with a female. It is NOT proper and leads to all kinds of accusations. I know people in ministry that have lost their ministries over false accusations from some stupid female that had something against them. My question is…WHY would you deem it necessary to be alone with the pastor in order to share your ideas. Is there a problem if his wife or secretary is in the meeting as well? Sounds to me as if YOU are the one with the problem and it is individuals exactly like you that cause accusations against people in the ministry and cause many to lose not only a job, but an entire life of ministry.
BTW, I’m one of those pastors that works way more than 40 hours a week and have to give most of my time to things that don’t pertain to the church, so I have very little left over to give to the church. Believe me, I lead a REAL life…it doesn’t get any more real than this. And I have NO PROBLEM with women teaching or leading in church. Just please don’t lump all pastors together and assume that all of us live in an ivory tower. You have NO IDEA what it’s like to be mid-life, planting a church, AND working 4 other jobs just to make ends meet. You’re just making excuses…if you don’t want to go to church, then don’t. But don’t blame the church. You can find a church that will embrace you and allow you to be a part of what’s happening there. And if you don’t want to put forth the effort to find that church, then shut up and quit whining.



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Charbaby

posted February 10, 2009 at 4:28 pm


I haven’t read the book and just happened on the website, so I’m almost free-associating here. I am a “cradle Catholic,” age 58, female and 7 years clean & sober. The rigidity of any denomination repels me. All those “shoulds” set me up for nothing but shame; shame that I’m not perfect, never will be and what’s the use? I really miss GOOD liturgy, though. I don’t believe the Bible represents literal truth. I have come to think that most religions put God in a box, limiting His limitless self to suit their individual purposes and agendas. The Twelve Steps of AA are more sacred, tolerant, loving, spiritual to me than any set of commandments, rules, regulations, etc. put forward by any organized religion. Where do I go for the community, the worship, the fellowship of faith? Suggestions anyone out there?



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Julia

posted February 10, 2009 at 8:17 pm


I have only recently stopped going to Church. I was very active in Church but committed a very public sin and was told that I could no longer teach at Church. So I am new to television evangelists and I have found I absolutely love to listen to Joel Olsteen preach. My personal opinion is that Christians have forgotten and need to read Romans 7. Even Paul struggled with sin — the only person that was ever sinless was Jesus Christ. Churches need to remember that and remember that God forgives us of our sins Luke 24:47, Acts 10:43, and 1John 2:12. If they will do this maybe they will win back some Christians that they have driven away.



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Bill

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm


A very unpleasant experience with the church’s singles group was the last straw which made me decide to quit church. One of the single ladies in the group I knew, arrived to service a few minutes late and would proceed to sit down next to me. She explained her tardiness was due to her being busy cleaning up after the children’s Sunday school. We shared hymnals, made small talk, etc. After this went on for a few weeks, I decided to ask her to join me for Sunday brunch after the service. To my surprise not only did she say, “No” she went on to say that she was very offended that I thought of her in a way other than being my sister in Christ! I discussed this with the pastor. He told me that he observed the “dynamic between us” and assumed that we were seeing each other, but could offer no counsel. Finally, I discussed this experience with with an older married lady. She said, “You don’t know what happened?” She explained that this single lady wanted everyone in the singles group, the congregation and the pastor to see that she could get a man, that she wasn’t alone. She wanted a man standing next to her on Sunday morning. She concluded by saying that this single lady was a misfit and maladjusted. And I said, “Goodbye to the church”



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Ken

posted February 14, 2009 at 11:36 am


Steve – You mentioned that you are a pastor and know people in ministry that have lost their ministries over false accusations from some stupid female that had something against them. Your policy is no male leader in our church is to ever be alone with a female. But there is another concern you failed to mention. And that concern is having a pastor meet (alone) with an elderly woman in the church who may be ill, lonely, etc. It is quite possible that such a woman is vulnerable and the pastor’s concern may be misinterpreted for “sweet talk” This could lead her to give a generous donation to the church. So the pastor’s reputation is called into question – did he just “play” her for her money?



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Lisa

posted February 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm


Hello Steve,
I am a woman who’s husband is a pastor
in church and also work in church alot.
I agree 100% that a male pastor or a male
leader, etc. should not meet with another
woman alone, ever!!! Since I have been
in the ministry (since age 11), I have seen
so many pastors fall to that big mistake.
Your idea of meeting with others or a group
is great. Why didn’t Julia think of that?
However, I do not think it is necessary to
call people stupid or to ask them to shut up.
I think the best thing to do would have been
to invite Julia to your church. Obviously
you have been a little tainted by this issue.
Please don’t get me wrong, I agree with you
100%, however, it is all in how you deliver
your message, right pastor?



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Albert the Abstainer

posted February 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm


Temptation is the prover and destroyer of faith.
I see no reason why a pastor, priest, elder, et cetera, should not meet with a person of the opposite sex in private. If either has a problem, both have the opportunity as responsible adults to end the meeting. If a problem exists systemically within the community, if by practices and behaviours within the church the allure of sexual sin is so high, it may say more about problems in the church and its practices than about two people of the opposite (or the same) sex meeting in private to talk.
This gets back to one of my particular pet peeve observations about evangelical Christianity: Sexual sins, (along with an undue worship of prosperity), seem to always be in vogue. Why do you think that is? It was true when I was a born again Christian in my teens to early 20’s in the 1970’s, and it seems to be just as true today. Perhaps, just perhaps it has something to do with the how sexual sin is always singled out and preached against. I hear, “Me thinks thou dost protest too much.” Is it that beneath all the righteous rhetoric there is a repressed drive that is made spicier through its strenuous repression? Push to hard to repress the sexual drive, (without allowing the release in some other form, and you may turn a zephyr into a tempest.) For too long sex has been so forbidden within some churches, that even between spouses it has somehow seemed sullied. From a human anatomy and psychology perspective, sexual urges require release. The question then is how does an evangelical church deal with this? For many evangelicals masturbation is a problem, (even as they guiltily do it.) It seems to me that forbidding an outlet which causes no harm only strengthens temptation, while making the act itself much more desirable. In short, repression is the way to turn a natural urge into deliciously forbidden fruit. There are better ways, and perhaps not singling out sexual sin for special treatment will actually help matters. I doubt, however, that it will happen. The cycle of repression, indulgence, and guilt repeats itself and is a perennial issue in these churches.



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Amy

posted February 18, 2009 at 1:42 pm


It’s so sad, to God especially(!), that people aren’t going to church (to worship God?) because of a person or some personal rejection at one church. I am so glad I took the time to find a church where not only just the Bible is preached and the worship music is heartfelt, but the people I’ve met are well-adjusted in their Christian walk! It sure was worth the wait! It’s so nice to have Godly support from just the lay people whenever I need it. I’ve even had people stop what they were doing to be courteous and also to pray for me right there after church. Some of the “flakes” can be discouraging, but someone there does need to rebuke them gently.
Also, Julia, I believe willful sin should be dealt with, but I don’t believe that one should be sent away from the church unless they are in leadership refusing to turn from the sin. It’s biblical to be restored after repentance.Though, sometimes it is better for someone to start again somewhere else if it makes the individual feel more comfortable.



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Your Name

posted February 26, 2009 at 4:56 am


i BELIEVE THAT TODAYS BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH CHURCHS IS “HIPOCRISY” YOU HAVE ONE OR TWO GROUPS THAT DO ALL THE WORK AND IF YOU ARE NOT IN ONE OF THOSR GROUPS YOU ARE AN OUTCAST! THEY ONLY WANT THEIR FRIENDS AND PEOPLE THAT CAND O0 THE WORK THEY WANT DONE AROUND THE CHURCH,WHEN THE NON FRIENDS ARE DONE DOING THE WORK YOU`R OUT. I HAVE FOUND THIS TO BE TRUE IN THE METHODIST CHURCHS IN FAIRFIELD COUNTY CT. OH AND THEY PREACH! INCLUSION OF ALL! “BUT DON`T BE GAY,OR THEY SHUN YOU. PLEASE CHECK IT OUT, ALL YOU “HOLY ELDERS” AND EVEN YOU HOLY LAY LEADERS, AND EVEN SOME OF OUR ORDAINED PASTORS! ARE DOING THIS AND THAT IS WHY ,YOUR NUMBERS ARE FALLING. NUMBERS IN PEW COUNT AND NUIMBERS IN THE COLLECTION PLATE. “WAKE UP GAY, LESBIEN,CHURCH GOERS ALL THEY IS OUR MONEY. IF THIS NOT TRUE PROVR IT TO ME. ERICK



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Sherpa Jones

posted March 7, 2009 at 6:29 pm


I picked up this book today at the bookstore and read the entire chapter on singles in the church. I am single, and at age 29 I have a hard time finding a place in the church where I feel welcome. I have also been badly burned by leadership that has tried to ‘fix’ my single status without wisdom or sensitivity. This included a visiting prophetic minister (a self proclaimed single for life in the service of God) who read my personal ‘mail’ before the whole congregation, exposing them, (including the woman I was attracted to at the time,) to how desparate I was to find a wife. Later, when this woman began to date another man, my Pastor encouraged me to stay in friendship with her and reinforced my hopes that she would eventually leave him for me. When the Pastor saw that this wouldn’t happen, he condemned me for staying in the friendship, claimed he had no part of leading me there, and told me I was disobedient to the Holy Spirit. My relationship with the pastor ended quickly after that, and months later my friendship with the woman ended quite bitterly. I was to blame for my part, I won’t deny that. But I began to fear what the church’s motives and intentions were for me as a single person who desired to be married. I almost left my church several times, and now I only go to be with my friends who attend. My faith in Jesus has only grown stronger through all of this, but my faith in Christian leadership has been severely shaken.



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Your Name

posted March 14, 2009 at 10:49 am


I thought I was pessimistic and cynical, but i think you’ve out done me:) I hear everything you are saying and understand your frustrations. I am 29 only married a year and have attended many different churches. My husband and I just moved to this small town and I am currently being shunned from the home-schooling moms at my church, but I don’t care. I think I will find friends somewhere else. I have tried to extend myself to them many times. I think we are just too different, and they are not at a place in their spiritual walk that they can see things much differently from their view of God, etc.
I have lived in other countries and yes, the matchmaking thing would be nice, especially by someone you can trust.
I currently am writing a book called, Church Shopping, Guide to Finding the Right Church and Being Happy There.
There ARE NO perfect churches. And yes, some people have more difficult roles in church than others, but the only way we can improve churches is to voice our opinions (which I also need to work on), not just online, but in person, and we may get shot down, but at least we tried. Try not to get so discouraged. Sometimes taking a break from church is nice, or hanging out with your ‘sinner’ friends, I have lots of friends that are agnostic. I usually get along with them better. Maybe someday I’ll have more Christian friends. I value my christ-centered friendships a lot. Anyway, I plan to write this book, so look for it. Some parts of the book will be biased, and some unbiased. I will probably ruffle some feathers, but that’s what is needed.



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Tears for the Nation

posted March 22, 2009 at 10:07 am


First, I want to apologize to all of you who have been hurt in church and by Christians. I know what that feels like and I pray that God will heal us all. I have experienced both sides of the issue (i.e. being in and out of church, as well as, being in and out of leadership). None of us are perfect and all of us want to feel loved and appreciated. We all have a right to feel whatever we may feel about church and church attendance. I am not saying that any of us are right or wrong; I am just saying that we cannot discount how someone else feels about something, because we all have a right to our opinions.
I know one thing. God is a gracious and merciful God. Many times we as human portray God as a God who is not, due to our limit understanding of him. God is not a condemning God, because if he was he would not have sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us. All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.
Christianity has never been about a set of rules or about sin. Instead Christianity is about relationship with God, Christ and one another. Everything that we need to make the church better can be concluded in two things love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself. We become legalistic sometimes, because we fail to do these two things and/or we try to make God accept and love us. However, what we fail to realize sometimes is that God already loves and accepts us (John 3:16).
Let’s all be honest with ourselves. It is really not about the music, building, etc. It is about Christ. If Jesus Christ were in the back alley preaching to the homeless multitudes of people would come from all over to hear him. If Jesus sung the same hymn every week, we would listen. It is not the size that matters either, because there were multitudes everywhere that he went. It is about the power of God and the anointing, which breaks yokes and sets people free.
All of this being said there is only one thing that can truly heal the church and cause people to stay in the church (i.e. both the local church and the church at large). Jesus Christ must be at and remain in the center of the church. When he is at the center the message will be relevant for everyone.
I pray that you will all find what you seek.



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Craig J

posted July 9, 2009 at 7:45 am


I agree whole-heartedly with the final comment posted. I am single and I also serve as a pastor of a small church. I have felt the pain of being shunned as a single person in church. I have also ministered to singles who have felt overlooked by the church. In my years of ‘singleness’ and pastoral ministry I have found one answer to the problems we face, Jesus Christ.
As a church, we must renew ourselves by focusing on Jesus as the absolute answer. Jesus is relevant to singles (I speak from a lifetime of personal experience). Jesus is relevant to families, to the homeless, to our nation, etc.
I grieve when I hear the horror stories of spiritual abuse from church leaders. As leaders, we must care for the flock through each and every stage of life. We must not show partiality to anyone based on race, age, status, income level, etc. Jesus will show us how to be relevant to our people if keep Him at the center of worship, fellowship, preaching, and ministry. May the Lord bless all of us as we pursue Him with all of our hearts.



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Carol

posted December 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm


I quit going because the “worship” leader will not lead songs to Jesus but only about Jesus. I think that is rude. Refuses to change. No power at all: to hear and receive the Word, to preach, to worship. Awful.



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SeaShell

posted May 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm


To the guy in another post who said ladies should not lead or preach: I am a southern baptist too but totally disagree with them about the roles on women.

Please see Christians for Biblical Equality with articles showing it is biblical for women to lead and teach men.The site is
cbeinternational.org/

One reason I don’t go to church is that churches do not meet the needs of older christians who are single or never married.

I am over 40 years old and have never married or had any kids. I feel out of place in most churches, and many married Christians either ignore older never married people, or make any manner of rude assumptions about us as to why we are still single.

Almost all church programs and sermons are about marriage or how to be a great parent. I can’t relate to any of it.

On top of that, many Christians chide you for admitting to having needs.

They try to “guilt trip” you into thinking you can only serve and minister to others, and that it’s selfish or unbiblical to have needs and wants or to try to get them met. I’m sorry, but the Bible does not actually support the view that we can or should never have our own needs met.

To Steve: I can’t believe you are actually a pastor – you are very rude, telling the woman who was interviewed (and other people) to “shut up and stop whining.” You do not have the temperament or bedside manner to serve in such a role, please consider leaving ministry.



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Val

posted June 23, 2012 at 11:12 am


Reading this book now and I love it. It is the book I would have wrote if I had, had the time and resources. Job well done.



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Samantha Hill

posted June 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm


Churches are losing followers for much the same reason the Republican party is losing voters. Their main support, older folks, are dying, and the younger generations are more liberal and “spiritual” or “deists”. In addition to that, the “War on Women” with birth control at the front lines, as well as the debate about homosexual marriage, created a lot of disillusionment with the churches. I’m sure the author could’ve written more than one book on the loss of members, and I’m sure it could be a lot bigger than “a small book”.



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Obtain Sildenafil Citrate Soft Pills

posted October 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm


This issue is a physical complaint, but it can be triggered by a man’s emotional or physical issues.
Most causes are due to narrowing of the arteries and if there are circulation problems, there may be difficulties in maintaining an
erection.



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