Quitting Church…

Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It– Julia Duin

In some ways, all of us struggle with trying to fit in.  Seldom do people enjoy being the “only one” or the person who sticks out as not being “like the others”. Unfortunately, if you are single and you are in your late 20’s or beyond, you may feel like the odd man out in your church circles.

It often feels like many churches are primarily geared towards married couples with children. I don’t believe this focus is meant to be a slight towards singles. But I don’t think those in leadership understand the unique needs of their single members.

Think about it. How many people in church leadership are single themselves or were married later in life?  So it stands to reason that many of them simply don’t understand this path and few seem willing to the bridge the gap in experiences or willing to truly empathize.

On top of that, it’s no secret that many people are becoming increasingly skeptical and disillusioned with “organized religion”. In fact, I’ve known a number of friends who’ve left the church after years of being active members.  And I’ve also seen friends who’ve become mired in unbelief and doubt even as they continue to serve and fill up the pews on Sunday mornings.

To be honest, I’ve had my own frustrations with church. Many times I’ve sat in a darkened sanctuary feeling isolated and disconnected wondering why I bothered to peel myself out of bed.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone in this sentiment.

A while ago, I stumbled across Julia Duin’s book Quitting Church. In her book she outlines some of the reasons that people are “fleeing”. They include things like:

  • The church has become  irrelevant to the struggles that people face
  • The lack of true community
  • The lack of guidance and compassion for singles-especially for those over 35
  • The role of women in various places of leadership and ministry

I can identify with many of the observations she describes.

As I mentioned in my Why Blog post, I didn’t think that my life would look like this-single with no children in my 30’s. As an older single, I struggle with loneliness, questions of fertility, sexual purity, rejection, bitterness, and more.  Not to mention, since I live alone, there is no division of labor (cooking, paying bills, cleaning, etc.), emotional support and/or built-in help in times of need (health issues, car problems, etc.).It’s hard to go through these concerns alone and few in the church are truly equipped to offer assistance beyond a scripture memory verse or occasional prayers.

But despite my frustrations, I don’t think the answer is to give up on church. In fact the Bible tells us to not get out of the habit of having fellowship with other Christians –Hebrews 10:25.  However, I’m beginning to realize that “church” isn’t strictly a gathering where people meet in a special brick and mortar building. Church can happen anytime or any place where multiple Christians are seeking to encourage and edify each other by studying scripture and living life together.  In my faith journey, this has led me to seek out home fellowships.  These meetings are typically small and have a built-in sense of community.

Regardless of where or how you find community, I think it’s important to find a group of people where there is a reciprocal exchange of ideas and opportunities to meet each other’s needs.

So… what say you?

  • Have you struggled with finding a place at church or have your experiences been mostly positive? Why?
  • If you get a chance to read Julia Duin’s book, let me know what you think.
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4 Comments

  1. My husband and I have been looking for a church forever (like four years). We both grew up in the Baptist church. Can you say legalistic? Most of my experiences were good, but the bad ones were so bad that I had to leave. I just don’t think there is a place for thinking Christians in church anymore. We’re expected to hear the same stories told the same ways and to get something out of it. Plus, if you pay close attention you’ll hear so many problematic theologies that are simply accepted as tradition and really not Biblical at all. Anyway, mini rant. I’ll have to read the book.

    Reply
    • SacredStruggler- I can relate to the idea that it’s hard to find a good church and unfortunately I agree, it’s hard to find a place where you can the hard questions. I hope that you and your husband are able to find some kind of community. Perhaps try a home fellowship. You may like the format better.

      Reply
      • Maybe. A couple others have recommended that I give it a try. I’ve looked some up. For now though, I’m “attending” Liquid Church online.

  2. Joe

     /  November 1, 2012

    I read the book and found myself on many pages, especially in Chapter 5 which deals with singles in the church. Many of my experiences, similar to the above comment were positive, but the negative ones were so bad I just quit church – I just couldn’t take it anymore. The single women there were as phony as a three dollar bill.

    Reply

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