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Done…and Out the Door

by Mikal Keefer

Are You Done With Church?

It finally struck you: Maybe not forever, but for now…you’re done with church.

Still, you want to step away from church, not every friend in your faith community.

How do you navigate those waters?

• Know why you’re leaving
If you’re bowing out because of an unresolved relational issue, do your best to respectfully address it before you exit.
If the issue is theological, a distrust of how power is leveraged, or your needs have changed, clearly state to yourself what’s prompting your departure.
You’ll need to know why you’re leaving so you can then…

• Talk with a church leader
If people at your church have prayed for you, fed you, and encouraged you, you owe someone the courtesy of a conversation before you disappear.

Be gracious, thankful, and generous as you go. Explain why you’re leaving so the church leadership has your feedback.
And if spiritual dysfunction or abuse prompted your leaving, say so. That feedback is needed, too.

• Know where you’re going
If you’re not simply switching churches, if you’re really done with church for the present, people may wonder how you’ll survive spiritually. They may equate your decision with sin.

Don’t be offended.

People in any organization get uncomfortable when you choose to no longer be part of the club. That’s as true of the Elk Lodge as it is of Third Baptist.

Reassure those who care that you remain a Christ-follower—and you and he will sort it out.

• If at all possible, speak well of the church
If invited to dish out dirt about your former congregation, speak well of those you respect and when if can’t speak well—speak carefully.

Your story is your story, but you’re still part of the same body of Christ (Romans 12:4-5), and we’re to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), not add to them.

Besides, would you want others airing your dirty laundry? (Matthew 7:12).

• Ask God what’s next
There’s always something else he has in mind. What is it for you?

If you are done with church or want to learn more about this growing phenomenon of dechurched pick up a copy of Church Refugees by sociologist Josh Packard. You will hear stories and data from real people.

Mikal Keefer served as senior editor for the book Church Refugees.

One thought on “Done…and Out the Door

  1. Richard Sutherland

    Many of the young people I’ve spoken to who once went to church as a child but don’t now is that the Church leaders never explain to them that the Bible is not a Divine book, because it was written by humans who inserted their own bias and prejudice and many of the verses cannot be taken literally. They were taught that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and yet the Bible is supposed to be taken literally. We are to worship God and not the Bible.
    Another reason has to do with the gay and lesbian issue. They understand that gays and lesbians are born that way, and yet the Church treats them as 2nd class citizens, and they are really not permitted or welcomed in the church as regular Church members or as Church leaders. It has happened in my diocese over and over for many years. In addition to that, gay and lesbian marriage to many Church leaders is ungodly.
    These are two of the main reasons young people are leaving the Church.

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