Sunday, April 15, 2012

the "church"

Recently I have been reading a number of posts on why they left the church (see these two - by Rachel Held Evans & Kim Van Brunt).

I have been struck by these posts, as my experience of church has been different. I suspect that it is the community which has made my experience different. A community of people who are walking the same journey, who are sharing life's joys and struggles, and who are willing to wrestle with you to understand what God's word means for us and our world. 

It is a shame but this is not everyone's experience and we need to listen to those who leave 'the church' and find out what we can learn from their experience, recognising that they are not necessarily going to walk back through the door, as the 'damage has been done'. 

I think there is also something in the claim that the church is more concerned about what happens in our bedrooms; than who is living on our streets. In the political sphere, there also appears to be an unwritten rule that Christians should vote Liberal, not Labour (and definitely not Green - which I do kind of understand). It has certainly given me pause to reconsider my politics. As an aside, I am also disappointed with Federal Labour. (Aside: I think we also need to learn how to disagree with each other & make our case to the world)

A few other good books to read to explore why people leave church (and some of the lessons we should take) are:

  • A churchless faith: faith journeys beyond Evangelical, Pentecostal & charismatic churches - Alan Jamieson (mainly looks at NZ)
  • The Market Driven Church - Udo Middelmann (on how the church is adapting some behaviours of the market & popular culture).
  • Quitting church: why the faithful are fleeing and what to do about it - Julia Dunn (from the US).
And one I haven't read which sounds good is You Lost Me: Young Christians are leaving Church and Rethinking faith. There are some stats about Australia's churched and unchurched here. I am also excited by the prospect of reading some of Rachel's thoughts if she decides to write a book on this topic. 

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