by Robert Brow    (www.brow.on.ca)

Kingston, Ontario, Canada - May 1999

Church Quitting - Introduction

There are many books that tell church leaders how to grow and keep their membership. This book is written from the point of view of the frustrated; those who are thinking of giving up on the church in their city. The aim is to explore and understand without guilt or condemnation. We defend your freedom to attend or never attend a church gathering of any denomination whatsoever.

So our concern is to listen to Christians who have quit church going. At one time they were enthusiastic about attending a place of worship. Now they find sermons a bore. They say church music is a pain. They won't sit passively in a pew and pay to maintain an antiquated monument. They long for spiritual life, vitality, and a sense of joyful community. They abhor judgmentalism, legalism, and chauvinism of every kind. And they resist collecting for jumble sales, pleading for money, sitting on committees that go nowhere, and putting up with quarrels about trivial matters. Nor do they want to be labeled as card carrying members of some denomination.

Others find it hard to get their children to a church building, and when they do the children complain it compares unfavorably with their weekday school. There are women and men with very responsible jobs all week, but they find they are treated very differently on Sunday. "Just pay the bills and don't rock the boat." Some were hurt by slighting remarks or suggestions that they are not welcome. A tragic reason is "The minister was not there for me when my mother was dying, and I was desperate."

When people drop out of church going it is not that they have dropped out of faith. Many read Christian books to their children and grandchildren. They still love the Lord, discuss the meaning of life with friends, and engage in various kinds of worthwhile service. They are often well informed and avid readers of books by C.S.Lewis, Henri Nouwen, and Philip Yancey. They listen to radio documentaries on Christian themes. Others say "I get much more from TV on Sunday morning." But all agree that church going is too frustrating to endure.

For the past six years on this Model Theology web site we have offered some ways of looking at the Christian faith from fresh angles. We hope this has helped to answer problems, and encourage creative thinking. But obviously loving one another is something else. It is hard to see how one could learn to do that alone. There has to be some way for people of all ages and races to gather in Jesus' name, worship, learn from one another, encourage each other, take care of the older members of our community, and pray for the sick and those who are having a rough time. That is what church going is about. Is there any way to engage in those activities without finding ourselves irked beyond measure and ready to quit?

As we began work on this book proposal we posted an invitation to any who access this web site to contribute their frustrations and suggestions for change. Some of these have come in and we hope to receive more as you see the kinds of problem we are working at.

Chapter 1 .....