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  • Writer's pictureRenikko Bivens

Why Do People Leave the Christian Community? A Review of 'Quitting Church'

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Understanding the Exodus: A Review of "Quitting Church"

One of the most discussed issues within the body of Christ is the disillusionment that many profess to have with the institutional church. With terms like "unchurched," "de-churched," and "nones'' becoming more common in explaining the status of those who are not part of a local assembly, the number of individuals falling within these categories has steadily increased and is currently at an all-time high. As someone who spent over a decade away from the local institutional church, I understood my reasons for not being there. However, I was also curious about why others had left.

Quitting Church Book Cover Amazon Link

Addressing Uncomfortable Truths

This is a topic that many believers who are part of a local assembly do not want to address and may even get offended by. Reading the 1 and 2-star reviews of the book "Quitting Church" pretty much gave me a snapshot of what some people are thinking and feeling about the topic of individuals leaving the church. It can almost feel like a slight when someone brings up this topic because sometimes it can seem like all people do is criticize the church and talk about its failures, forgetting the many who were once helped by it.

However, I also understand that no matter how trivial or insignificant we may perceive someone's experience to be, there is still validity in their experiences, and we can learn from them. This is what I believe one of the main goals of this book was about; to shed light on why people say they have given up on the church, and raise awareness for those of us who are wondering why people are leaving.

Exploring Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

"Quitting Church" by Julia Duin was initially published over 15 years ago, so many of the statistics shared in the book reflect the state of the church during the early to mid-2000s. Early on, the author explores her own experience within the institutional church. As a journalist, she had the opportunity to be a part of and gather information from many memorable moments in modern church history, such as the Toronto Blessing Revival.

Quitting Church Quote

Unraveling the Reasons Behind Departure

There is a point in "Quitting Church" where the author refers to a book called "Faith in the Halls of Power" by Professor Michael Lindsay. In the book, there is a section discussing why influential people may struggle within the church. They feel that it is a waste of time due to unnecessary meetings, incompetent leadership, and inefficient projects. They stay, but they're not as engaged as they may have been in the past. They don't want to come off as rebellious or have an issue with the church, but they desire stronger, more efficient leadership.

Addressing the Needs of Diverse Congregants

One of the most crucial parts of the book is the section where the author discusses singles leaving the church. Most churches heavily favor and cater to married couples and families, but what about those who are single? What about individuals who are single and genuinely desire to be married? Singles groups often focus on promoting celibacy and abstinence but may lack substantial support for dealing with real temptations, life issues, desires for marriage, and navigating the dating scene. It is essential to create a safe space for open conversations without fear of judgment or condescension.

A Call for Interactive Discourse

The author also discusses the prevalence of anti-intellectualism in many churches. In the age of information, lessons, and some of the best teachings in the world are just a search engine entry away. The lecture style that most churches use, where one person (the pastor) disseminates information to the congregation, and the congregation sits there with no interaction, just listening to a monologue, isn't as effective as it once was. People desire to interact, engage in dialogue, ask questions, and share their input.

Quitting Church Quote (Kindle)

A Relevant Read with Room for Improvement

I found "Quitting Church'' very interesting and useful. I believe that if you approach this book with a desire to understand and contribute positively to the faith, you will find a lot of the information useful. Despite this book being written so long ago, it is even more relevant today. I appreciate that the author has acknowledged its relevance today and has included additional chapters over the years to provide readers with an update on the current direction of things. Spoiler alert: Things are even worse now.

Constructive Critique and Reflection

If I had to offer a constructive critique of this book, I believe it would have been beneficial to clarify the purpose of the church. What is the church, and what is its purpose? When people understand the purpose of the church, it provides a framework for determining which arguments are relevant and substantive, and which arguments, while they may appear reasonable, may not necessarily align with what we should expect from the church and its function. I also believe that this will clarify for the reader the measurement that the author is using to determine what is and isn't acceptable, and what is and isn't reasonable for the functionality of the church.

This book is well worth the read and a resource that will help raise awareness in Christian communities that desire to have the tough conversation about the decline in the church. It can also assists in shaping outreach efforts to be more relevant to today's culture and challenges.

Author on Rise, Fall of a Charismatic Community - :

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