Last week I picked up a copy of “Quitting Church. Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to do about it.” This is the latest book from Julia Duin who is the Religion Editor for The Washington Times. I had high hopes for the book since it promised to help church leaders to answer the tough question: how to stop people from leaving our churches.
Sadly, Julia never fully answered that question. The majority of the book focused on the well-researched statistics the author gathered about church exodus in America (most mainline denominational churches–nothing new here) and a few anecdotal examples from Ms. Duin’s own friends and associates . But even in recounting her struggles with the local churches she’s attended over the years as well as her friends’ issues, Julia fails to give the reader answers.
The one constant in “Quitting Church” is the author’s inability to find a church like that of her youth where she felt the most engaged, closest to God, and produced, therefore, the happiest memories of her Christian walk. I don’t blame her for that. While I was disappointed with the lack of answers in the book, I’m glad I read through all of the objections pointed out in 180 pages. Interestingly, as I read through the book I felt like I was reliving all the tough conversations I’d had with people about to leave the churches I’d served in the past. Well, it was a mini nightmare of sorts.
For a while I thought Ms. Duin was going to be a strong advocate for the house church, since she quoted Barna extensively on the movement and seemed to find little fault with such a model (Megachurches beware; much is wrong with you). However, at the end that was not the answer either.
So who’s getting it right? According to the author, most new churches catered to the 25-45 crowd that likes to be entertained. I’m not sure about wanting to be entertained, but I, for one, think that boring people with the Good News of the Gospel is a sin.
I think it’s naive of anyone to expect to find the perfect church, but what’s the next best thing? What do you look for when looking for a church home?