Are You Ready To Quit Church?

Church is a part of my life, and therefore I write about it occasionally. There is a book out called “Quitting Church- Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to do About it” by Julia Duin, Religion Editor at the Washington Times. I haven’t read the book, but the reviews I’ve read about the book seem uniform. The most recent I’ve read is by Maurilio Amorim.

One reason I haven’t read the book is because I doubt it deals with the situation I find myself in. I confess: my wife and I are not very far from quitting church, at least, from quitting the church we’ve gone to for the last 6 1/2 years. To be honest, if my wife hadn’t been teaching children’s classes for the last quarter, we probably would have left 3 months ago, or at least drastically scaled back our attendance.

Obviously, I have a lot of people at the church that I love and respect, especially our ministers and elders. However, I don’t really have any friends, and after so many years of hearing about how everyone else gets together while I never get a call and my attempts to get together with others are met by an indefinite and non-committal “Yeah, we should do that someday!”, well, I’m tired of it. I get the feeling that I need to get out of New Jersey anyway. I find it very hard to fit in in New Jersey. I can spell words slightly more complicated than E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES! and to be honest, I really don’t like sports. I just can’t force myself to care about sports. I’ve tried, really, I’ve tried. But in other regards, even when people have a slight interest in the subjects that I’m interested in, it usually doesn’t translate into spending lots of time talking about those subjects and trying to learn more about those subjects together.

My wife has had harder times fitting into the church, and she grew up in New Jersey. I won’t go into those issues here though. She can cover them on her blog if she wants to, but it was when those issues cropped up that we started wondering if we should think about leaving.

My church only seems to know about 20 songs, and they barely rotate them. Many people in the church really love those hymns. I’m not that crazy about most of the songs that we sing, and when we sing a song I don’t like 3 times in a month, it only amplifies it. I’ve been tempted to start attending another church just to hear different worship songs once in a while.

Our church seems to have landed in a trough where the people who need a lot of attention get it, but those who either aren’t in the middle of their lives disintegrating, or are not just the kind of people who need constant attention often get lost in the crowd.

I could go on with a list of gripes and disagreements with the way things are done, but I probably shouldn’t. I just want to say that there’s a book out called “Quitting Church” which I haven’t read and my wife and I find ourselves ready to quit our church. We’ve been struggling with this decision for months, at least as far back as this post. I haven’t been to church at all this month, and to be honest, the next time we plan to attend will be December 28th as we both have commitments that day: my wife is in the nursery and I will be running the recording computer.

We have tried to address some of our issues with the leadership. We’ve talked to our senior pastor about some of the problems. I’ve asked the song leaders why they sing the same songs week after week, year after year. It seems like God gave us a great ability to appreciate music, so why don’t we use it? I’m on the education committee in the hopes of bringing about some classes of substance, but other members of the committee felt we should go in different directions. I stopped going to meetings. I figure that if we disagree with the way some things are going, if the church is happy, there’s no sense in trying to get the church to change to suit us. Our church has an evangelistic mission, so bringing new people in is paramount. We’ll obviously find another church, so those who aren’t currently in a church should be the focus.

For those of you who might have stumbled onto this post and have no church background or interest in what I’m saying here, I will admit something. The biggest problem with the church is that it’s made up of people like me. Fallen, redeemed people are brought in just as they are. Some grow, some don’t. I’ve probably used the cliché on my blog that if you happen to find the perfect church, you’ll also likely find that you don’t belong there. However, as an imperfect family in an imperfect church, it is kind of rough having to decide whether or not it’s time to find another imperfect church for the time being. Church is not like the military though, “Onward Christian Soldiers” or not. You don’t get orders, you’re not given a billet at a church, and ideally, you should be free to come and go as needed. Anyone who tells you otherwise could be guilty of spiritual abuse.

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UPDATE: 29 APR 09

I wrote this post back in December. Ironically, I'm updating this post from the same hotel, although I'm upstairs and down the hall from the room I stayed in at that point.

I've noticed from my logs that this post tends to get a lot of traffic because of a comment I made on this post

As an update, we're still the same imperfect people in the same imperfect church family. Did anything change? Yes an no. One of our pastors was reading my blog, and realized that the church had spent a lot of time in a reactive mode. I think I've said before, and I won't give any more details, but we had a youth minister fail very badly. I doubt we'll have a youth minister again. A lot of people were hurt (somehow not the people who were directly involved) and the church spent a lot of time on healing. Unfortunately, when you spend that much time on healing you don't spend much time on prevention. Proactive trumps reactive every time, yet it's so much easier to fall into reactive mode. We started a weekly men's group that I've been attending. Some of the clichishness surrounding the women's group has dissipated. Not entirely, but my wife is much more comfortable than she was.

So anyway, we're still at the Pitmaqn Church of Christ, our church home for seven years now.

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