Preparing, working, and praying through the material for The Four Habits of Authentic Christians opened the gate for a new mental discussion with myself. I’m keenly interested in the person that tries church and ultimately gives up on it. Why did they give up? What were the factors that led to one’s departure?
Think about it. The church isn’t some organization conjured up as a “good” idea by a few well meaning Christians. It’s something that God created; Scripture called for the formation of the church. So, why do so many leave the church disenchanted or wondering there must be a better way? What is it about the church that has turned away so many over the years? If we can isolate some of the dynamic’s challenges, maybe we can do something about it.
I’m concerned about people who make a commitment to Christ, give church a try, and then walk away. There are plenty of measures a church can take to create an environment and culture promoting assimilation, but ultimately the decision to stay or go belongs to the decision maker. You can’t force someone to “stick” with church, but you can encourage and equip him or her with practical principles to “survive” the church experience. I think that’s a task for leadership. How can you help people survive the unique family system of your congregation?
There is no church utopia. The disenchanted may try another congregation only to discover a similar culture, which led to their previous departure exists now in their current congregation. You can’t spend your life skipping from church to church every time you get discouraged! What about the person that never goes back to church? They miss out on a huge part of the human Christian connect, which is vital to our spiritual growth. The art of perseverance has been lost. It’s worth helping people develop skills to “survive” the church. The church is worth it!