Saturday, April 4, 2009

Quitting Church

I have been sitting on Julia Duin’s Quitting Church, Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do About It for a couple of weeks now. I finished it, but it took me a while to think about what to write about it. Julia Duin is the religion editor for the Washington Times. I read the book through the lens of this being a journalist’s investigative piece. But I realized, after it sunk in, that this is a narrative written by someone who feels hurt, or at least let down by the church. That makes the book just as useful, but also different. Duin shares, through interview and her own experience, a picture of the mass exodus from our mainline churches. For our people at University UMC, it is hard to grasp this with our amount of growth, but most mainline churches are in serious decline. The book gives a ton of great insight into the problem though none of it is especially new. But it does it in an almost prescriptive way, a way that is a little mind boggling. If pastors could just be dynamic, spirit-led biblical scholars who could provide programming that taught the depths of theological understanding while giving singles a place to meet their future spouses and providing for the needs of all while establishing a true sense of community and if those same pastors could be sure to pray for and visit and attend to the spiritual needs of all in their flock, and if possible be good friends with everyone, our churches would be fine. If it sounds like I am poking at the author, I am not really; I am poking at the problem. When you combine the true needs of God’s people, with the true lack of vision and leadership in our churches, with the new consumerist mind set that says, “I will shop around ‘til I find what I need” the problem seems impossible. It seems that many of our churches have either given up, or tried to address every problem at once and ended up with nothing.

If you care about the future of our churches, you should probably read this book. Be prepared to be convicted, flustered and occasionally annoyed. Consider it a good thing.


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