Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
New words pop-up when there’s a reason. In the church the new words are “nones” (referring to those who did not have church as part of their upbringing), and “dones” (those who have had enough church and have left altogether). There have always been both, but they were the exception, rather than the rule. Today the words have become necessary because the percentage of nones and dones has risen along with the spirit of discontent in our culture.
There are perhaps as many “reasons” people reject the church as there are hairs on my head (maybe a few more!). I would like to share with you today the growing list, in my head and heart, of responses to rejecting the church. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but a beginning to a conversation I’m willing to have.
1. Don’t reject the church to please anyone (especially your kids)
Scripture teaches adults to teach the children about God, his grace, forgiveness and love; it’s hard to do that when you reject the church God loves.
2. Don’t leave as a kneejerk-reaction to conflict
Often leaving the church is the out-working of a crisis of faith, and we are embarrassed to “stick around”. Having your faith stretched to the breaking point is common for everyone; leaving, or rejecting your faith is a win in the enemy’s column.
3. Don’t leave instead of working-through the issues
Speaking the truth in love means working-through whatever threatens to break the fellowship. When you leave, or simply reject God’s family because issues are tough to resolve, you leave just as troubled as if you stayed – and the church is similarly troubled without your loving input.
And a final “do” instead of “don’t”:
4. Do speak to the pastor early on (before you’ve made the decision to leave)
This may sound odd, but many times people make the decision to leave, and, if they decide to talk with the pastor at all, it is only to inform the pastor – usually on the way out the door on a Sunday morning. This is most odd, as a pastor’s purpose is to help equip the flock to do the spiritual hard stuff of working-through the issues, and not just give-in to the pressure. Yet, often the pastor is the last one to know – and it is almost always 100% too late to change a made-up mind.
Now, this is not all there is to the issues surrounding why people reject the church, “nones” or “dones” – but we have a starting point.
I’d love to hear your input.
If God has placed you in a church family, give thanks for that family, warts and all!
Be reluctant to leave, but rather, instead of rejecting the church, be receptive to God’s Spirit leading you how you may speak the truth in love and help the church grow up into Christ’s love toward each other and the community.
I need that! We all need that! The church needs it, and God loves it!