Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Second post on leaving church

Bradley Wright recently uploaded his first post about why people leave church.   The second is available today.  

If the first seemed obvious, in some ways, the second is the same.   The first related to people who had intellectual problems with their faith, and were asking questions that in fact have been asked for ever - and often answered reasonably adequately. 

The second group are those who say because God hasn't answered their prayers therefore He either doesn't exist or isn't what He says he is, or doesn't keep His promises.   Wright has an interesting comment on this:

I am struck by how much these accounts resonate with sociological theories of human relationships, especially those coming from social exchange theory. This theory describes humans as judging the value of relationships in terms of costs and benefits. One variation of social exchange theory, termed equity theory, holds that people are satisfied with their relationships when they get the rewards that they feel are proportional to the costs that they bear. An inequitable is unstable, and it usually occurs because a person thinks they receive too little for how much they give.

These blog posts are worth keeping in mind; they may explain many of the issues that people in your congregation have with God, and/or church. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leaving Church? Why?

Two blog posts about why people are leaving church have turned up this week, and it's worth noting them here as part of an ongoing conversation about the question: Why are people leaving the church (in 'droves' as one of these writer's notes). 

The first blogger is Joshua Graves - he's the preaching and teaching minister for the Otter Creek Church in Nashville, Tennessee.  One of his points is: Church and community are very difficult. Church is a great idea until people get involved. Bonhoeffer consistently warns us in his various writings that we destroy community when we try and create it. Meaning–community, in and of itself, cannot be the goal. Rather, community is the space in which we communally seek to experience the resurrected Jesus. That being said, anyone who’s been a part of a church community knows that relationships will suffer, endure disappointment because this is true in any community...

He has more to say on the topic. but the following paragraph perhaps sums it up: I think the real cause of disillusionment with church is self-disappointment. Pain birthed anger, now solidified in cynicism and apathy (funny how those two always go together). Frustration with “the church” is first about frustration with self. We tend to, in the wisdom of Donald Miller, judge others based on actions while judging ourselves based upon our intent. We are harder on “the church” so we can be “easier” on ourselves. This is why some Christians literally demand more from their church than they do from their own family, their own personal lives (money, time, etc.).

The whole post is called Leaving Church?

The other post is from Bradley Wright, whom I've mentioned on several occasions on this blog.   In a post called, Why do Christians leave the faith? the fundamental importance of apologetics.  Wright begins his post by writing: Several colleagues and I recently finished a study of why Christians leave the faith, and we were surprised at what made a difference as well what didn’t seem to matter. 

The post begins in outlining the sociological aspects of their study (and this post is the first of several that will be appearing) but it soon gets onto looking at some of the reasons people bring forward for why they left the church.   For Wright, many of them hinge on a lack of understanding of apologetics, which of course basically goes back to a lack of understanding of the Bible and God Himself.