I just finished Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to do about It by Julia Duin. While she makes several good points, I’m not entirely convinced.
Those quitting church, in this book, are mostly quitting evangelical and charismatic churches. She laments the “glory days” of theJesus Movement in the late 60’s and early 70’s as a time when America was rife with religious life.
I think there is a good bit of nostalgia in that; though the valid point is that the Jesus Movement was full of ways for people to passionately connect with God through church. Nowadays, one could argue, real passion is too often lacking in churches of all kinds.
Duin offers some excelletn insights into various groups that evangelical churches are missing the mark with: singles, women, and people older than 40.
There’s one thing I can’t quite shake, though, with all the talk of faithful disciples walking away from church. Too often the reasons given boil down variously to “I just wasn’t getting anything out of church – there was nothing there for me.”
I happen to think that peopel who think of themselves as mature Christ-follwoers don’t get to play that card. Disciples must grow to be mature enough to see and understand church as about serving God, not the services provided for me.
Then again, home churches are a thread Duin weaves throughout this book. Mature disciples, if they are truly mature, know that maintaining maturity requires community. The Church they are quitting may be the institutional Church, but any serious Christian knows there is no such thing as a healthy Lne Ranger Christian.
Finally, I recommend Diana Butler Bass’s Christianity for the Rest of Us to any and all Church Quitters. There are increasing numbers of smaller congregations, mainline and not, that are finding and creating meaningful community as the Body of Christ.