Today I shared some interesting findings about people who have left the church. The response I received indicates that the findings are right on the money.
Josh Packard’s book Church refugees focussed on the significant number of people who are done with church, but not done with Jesus. Some of the key findings from the book were that:
“The Dones” say they left because of the judgmental posture of church people individually and collectively which assaulted the communal experience they longed for.
“The Dones” say they left because they are tired of trying to serve Jesus through the bureaucratic methods of church organizations which stifled progress and often gave little attention to what they cared for most. Many wished to build the Kingdom but were only offered opportunities to build someone’s church empire.
“The Dones” say they left because they want to answer questions about God through dialogue and struggle, not though prepackaged lectures and the predetermined positions of their community.
And “the Dones” say they left because their church only understood “morality” in terms of substance abuse and sexual activity with a common disregard to systemic issues of equality, poverty and unjust economics
I am increasingly convinced that we are reaching a tipping point.
The majority of followers of Jesus I talk to inside the church are just as concerned with the kinds of things that those who Packard calls “the Dones” name as their big questions.
What we call “church” has been shaped by all kinds of cultural influences. I don’t know many people who disagree with Priscilla Shirer:
“In the first century in Palestine, Christianity was a community of believers. Then Christianity moved to Greece and became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome and became an institution. Then it moved to Europe and became a culture. And then it moved to America and became a business. We need to get back to being a healthy, vibrant community of true followers of Jesus.”
I don’t think it is just me, I truly do think that the majority of church leaders are conscious of the gap between where their church is and what they long for. It’s just that there are not many viable models of church done differently. …
We’ve been surprised at how big the adjustment has been, however it does feel like we are starting to find our bearings.
Part of the adjustment has been the different place that the Christian church has in Australian society. The Aussie church is much more on the fringes here than it is in Canada.
Our church has a “men’s shed” program, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a shed in someone’s backyard that blokes get together in. In some places guys get together and build stuff or fix stuff… fortunately in our church the guys get together to eat, drink and watch footy. (I’m not the most practical person in the world.)
It was at my first visit to the men’s shed and while I was there I had a conversation I have been thinking about ever since. One of the guys opened up with me about why he didn’t like going to church. He has shown up occasionally, but found that the words people spoke were very different from the way they acted.
He spoke about his own personal experience of trusting a church leader who he invited into his home and spend hours with on the golf course, only to find out that all the while this guy was having an affair. He also spoke about the ongoing revelations of abuse that seem to get back to into the headlines every couple of weeks. There is no excuse for either of these things, and the fact that he was so disturbed by them are actually sign of his integrity.
Australians don’t have an issue with Jesus, they do have an issue with His church. …
For the last year I have actually had three books on the go.
Faith Reflections was the simplest one to finish, so I did and its kind of fun to see it on sale at the Poatina Gift shop alongside other great books!
I have been working over the Christmas/New Year period to try and finish Kingdom Cells: the Life that changes the world.
From my perspective Kingdom Cells is a very important book. It names the dynamic at the heart of the Christian church whenever it has grown, and it also names, from my perspective, the heart of the movement I work with, Fusion.
I thought one way of beta testing the book (they do it for software so why not a book) would be to put up some of the chapters on the blog for your feedback.
Please understand as I do this that it is a work in progress, and I am hoping that your feedback might actually help get it to a point where it is ready to submit to a publisher or to self publish.
Today I will post the current introduction to the book, let me know what you think.