Doug looks at the actual reasons churches and church attendance are declining. The answers go far beyond bad pastors, bad churches and bad theology.
3 Responses to The Actual Reason Churches are Declining
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I do not listen to podcasts as I prefer reading to listening, but saw this featured on Twitter and am glad I made an exception. Your insights are valuable and have given me a lot to ponder. I will follow up with your books. Thank you.
This was a very interesting podcast, and I appreciated the objective discussions of trends and history to give this subject context. I will be honest that I am one who has left the church but not my faith due to trauma within the church. This obviously colors my take on what I think about the church and my place in it, but I also believe my experience reflects some broader factors to those trends you mentioned. I have very mixed feelings about the future of the structured American church as I won’t deny that they seem to fill a certain need for some, one I see even within the abuse recovery community, but I also see the larger amount of damage that much of the church still is doing or defending. I think addressing abusive narcissistic pastors is only the tip of a nasty iceberg in changing the overall climate of churches to be safe communities for people to attend and invest in. Many I connect with in recovery communities, as well as myself, served faithfully and sacrificially in the very church communities that used us up and spit us out when our marriages or other abuse situations became too messy to fit the desired image. Many of us were faithful leaders, mentors, givers, and donators and we are broken and empty now. I’m not saying that church attendance decline is completely due to this as I think it’s a complex issue as your address. I’m only suggesting that the church has too often eaten its own and the fallout from it, both from the victims, the families, the children, and the friends who watched in horror, has helped lead to the flood of people leaving and not returning. Those who say this does not represent Jesus and we can no longer be a part of this. It’s hard to embrace an organization where for many of us, our abusive ex’s or parties are still members of good standing, even back in leadership roles within the church, entrenched in the communities we loved and served in, getting remarried in the communities we loved, while we were dismissed, excommunicated, abandoned, and forgotten. I often hear the argument that not every church looks like that, and while I acknowledge this, the sheer number of churches where it does make that small comfort. The truth is that my scenario is shockingly common and too often survivors feel like the church wants to minimize our destruction or dismiss it altogether. Maybe I would be part of your statistic that is said to have left for selfish, independent, self-fulfilling reasons, but I will argue the church helped shape me into who I had to become, and it was a matter of survival. I cannot go back. I leave my faith and the future of the church in my Lord’s hands and trust Him to faithfully hang onto His own.
Thank you for these excellent observations!