I'm noticing something interesting lately and I'm not really sure exactly what I think about it, but I'd love to get some discussion going around here. I think it's a bit of a big topic and that there are going to major underlying issues that led to what I'm noticing now. I'd say what's got my attention is symptoms of something bigger that I don't quite have my finger on yet.
So let's get started.
What I'm noticing is a certain disconnect in the land of Christianity, or at least modern American church Christianity. There are some people who have crossed my path in the last few months that have shared some interesting stories. They told me their tales of how they came to the place of leaving their church and more interestingly how the church responded. Now, I'd say these aren't big important people in the church, but shouldn't we all, to an extent, be peers in the church. A novel idea, I guess. I'm sure someone will give me the Biblical lecture as to my incorrectness. Thanks for the references.
These are the sort of people who are easily dismissed. And let's be honest, there are just groups of people that we love to over look. We all do it. We each have our own groups of people that we over look and dismiss, whether it's the business man dismissing the 20 somethings or the jocks dismissing the preps or the stay home moms dismissing the working moms.
On the other hand, though, these are the reliable people, the loyal people. These are the sort of people who volunteer over and over and over even though they're getting the blank stare from the pastor who, after having them as a key volunteer for years on end, ought to know more about them than their first name, if they even know that.
These kind of people, what I'll call the basic body of the church people, for lack of a better label, are beginning to leave their churches. And who can blame them. They're burnt out. They're under appreciated. They're misunderstood and in spite of knowing a lot of church people and having a lot of church friends, they're lonely. The friends they have aren't deep. The friends they have a great at giving all the correct Biblical advice that allows them to stand in the position of righteous Christian church goer, but where are the people being real? Where are the people wanting to dig into something together?
The basic body people are believers, they're rule followers, they're not the sort that leave churches easily or willy-nilly because they no longer like the song format or the new and improved bulletin. These are people who spend many months in prayer. They seek out opinions and council about whether or not to leave their church. They stay long after they believe they've come to a decision about leaving.
It's interesting in two fronts. The most obvious interest is why are these people, the basic body people, leaving their churches. The second interest, the one I wonder about more, is the reaction from those in the church at large to those who are leaving. We'll call this group of people in the church, the followers, for lack of a better term.
I'm thinking followers because they are typically the ones that know all the Sunday school answers and can easily regurgitate any amount of mostly sound Biblical back up they need. I'm not about to speculate on their believer-ness status. That's between them and God, as is most of this in reality. These are the people who participate in a lot of stuff and are by all visible accounts great church going people.
Maybe, I personally, am just tired of the simple church going breed. I'm greedy. I want, I expect so much more from being a believer.
As I have watched these stories unfold and listened to the tales told over the last few months, I'm really struck by the response of the follower group. They are almost condemning these basic body people for their choice to move on to another church. They heap on advice and evidence and scripture. They actually pile on guilt.
Is it fear? Are we confused about the body of the church and what the church really is? Is it a power thing?
I almost forgot, there's another thing that I think ties into all this, but I'm not sure how exactly. For myself, I'm not unhappy exactly, with my current church, but there are things... I find myself, seeking out extras. I will confess to downloading podcasts of sermons from other places that I find to be so much more interesting, challenging, whatever and I wonder if that's a "wrong" thing to do?
Talk to me kids, what do you think? Tell me your story and your experience. I know there is no shortage of opinion out there on this one, so let's talk this weekend, shall we? See you in the comments.