Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Faithful but churchless

I'm coming across a number of people who have a very strong faith, but have become disillusioned (or perhaps disenfranchised) from organised church life. They haven't given up on following Jesus Christ, but they are hurt by or alienated from the church, or in some cases just starved of what they need. Maybe Chaplains tend to come across more people like that as we are a little bit 'out of the system'.

It seems to affect people from all kinds of backgrounds. There is some literature around on the subject: Alan Jamieson's A Churchless Faith is based on research into why people leave evangelical, charismatic and pentecostal churches. Jamieson is a Baptist minister from New Zealand, who set out to do some research on leavers and was surprised what he found. Follow up book 5 years later is Church leavers: Faith Journeys Five Years on

There is also a network for people who find themselves in this position, Spirited Exchanges.

I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who finds themselves in this position, or close to it, and also what those of us still attached to the church could do to help them find a positive way forward.
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1 comment:

Hannah said...

I agree Mike there do seem to be a lot of people in that category, we're also friends with several people who have all become Christians and yet can't seem to settle into Church life. I guess it's hard for those of us who have been 'in' and 'doing' Church for so long to see it from an outsiders point of view - really it must be quite alien and yet I'm a firm believer in Church. Perhaps because Church, as we see it today with sacndal, division etc isn't how it was intended to be.

To me the problem (or one of them)is it has come along way from a group of people meeting together daily, praying and breaking bread and having everything in common, in reality I have very little in common with a lot of the people in my Church. I also as a member of the Church of England have huge problems with some of the things we do and say and practice that we label Church and are clearly not set out in the Bible as what the early Church did (but that's a whole other rant!!)

This morning I was reading an interview with Bishop Tom Wright in the newest edition of Christiainty magazine and he said 'there's a danger with a kind of low faux church mentality that defending the gospel means getting rid of robes or not having processions in church or not having choirs or whatever.' I have kind of taken that out of context, he's talking about defining being evangelical, but what have robes and processions got to do with life in the 21st century, how are they relevant to people outside of the Church, who the Church should be existing for, when these people are pressured about materialism, sex, money and alcohol and how can someone like me who can't undertsand them when I'm in church possibly explain their relevance to an outsider when actually what I want them to know is that I love them and Jesus loved them enough to die for them.

I can probably think of a hundred reasons why people are disastisfied with Church but then I haven't answered your question, simply agreed with you that it is an issue and a serious one and somebody should be doing something about it.