Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Being de-churched!

From time to time I meet folks frustrated, phased, and frazzled by church life. People who cannot bear to see the church compromised by cultural forces to the left and right but just don't know how to do anything about it and feel like leaving church for some kind of monastic de-churched existence. For such folks there is a good little quote from James Lloyd Breck, an Anglican leader in 1800s, who said: "It is base cowardice to run away from the church because she is not what she ought to be, and thereby leave her to those who care naught for her claims" (cited in Todd Hunter, The Accidental Anglican, 21-22). For others, they are de-churched because God does not pay off. They've been really good and nice Christian folk, accumulating millions of kudos with church camps, memory verses, and following the rules. And then something bad happens - divorce, loved one dies, or whatever - and God does not bless their absence of immorality with freedom from suffering or misfortune. Turns out that God was not indebted to them for their mostly good behavior and they leave God like he's a slot machine that won't pay up. For those guys and gals, see an excerpt from Matt Chandler's sermon on the "de-churched".


Watcher said...

I think its rarely a simple calculus of 'life doesn't work=God's failed'. My own experience was that the despair of rejection (by my first girl friend, 30 years ago) left me resouceless: the church, my Christian life and faith seemed to have nothing to cushion me against the pain I felt. In my church there seemed to be no support, no place to turn, no one who would just sit with me (and no one I was able to see myself trusting for this).

Rebuilding a faith commitment and living it took decades, during which I felt that I had no option but to reject the sexual rectitude that I'd prized, but my girlfriend seemed not to, find life experience to 'toughen' me against rejection, and turn away from what lead me to the worst I'd experienced, as I saw it then...and still do, in part, although I feel that 'it' is healing, albeit slowly.

Anonymous said...

And then there are those who have experienced years upon years of coldness from the church, of a structure that does not for kindness or compassion, of finding church a spiritual wasteland, and who finally decide that they can love God and his people better outside the traditional structure that is so stifling. Outside culture, in those cases, is not so much a problem as the general un-loving attitude seemingly fostered by the way church is practiced these days.

I am not there. But I can see how very tempting it is, and I think it is not quite just, or accurate, to just lump everyone into two camps.

Excellent quote by Breck, though, and definitely worthy of consideration.

Dan said...

Hi Mike,

Hope you are well. That is a fantastic quote, funny how the times seem to move so fast in certain areas e.g. technology but the religious situations in life seem to repeat themselves! I think that quote is as truthful today as it would have been then.

Think i will be using that quote in a sermon coming up soon!

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