As I discussed in my post about Dissatisfaction, people who are satisfied in their current churches may be exactly where they are supposed to be.
This is my reply to Jim’s post The Baby and the Bathwater:
Overall, I would have to say that I agree with you that it would be a mistake to throw out everything that we have known as traditional church. As people “deconstruct,” it doesn’t have to be at the expense of devaluing and trashing everything that has come before.
I honestly believe that many of the people who have left traditional churches are following Christ. And their intent is not to abandon the church, but to allow the Lord to develop their expression of church in a way that is authentic for them.
I also hope and believe that many of the values being discussed will make their way into existing congregations. Existing churches can become more particpatory, can function at a higher level of one-anothering, and can shift their focus more externally.
I don’t have my heart set on any particular model of church. My dream is just to be involved in what God is doing and to follow Him.
Offended or not, the institutional church has some decisions to make (not an exhaustive list, just on quickly thinking it through):
1-Either acknowledge the exodus or don’t.
2-If it is aknowledged, choose to care or not.
3-If the choice is made to care, then decide whether to vilify or love those who are leaving.
4-Finally, if the choice is made to love them, to reach out and do so tangibly–without malice.
The Institutional Church is under no mandate to care about those who are leaving. But they are leaving, and railing about their selfishness, shallowness, arrogance, etc. isn’t going to convince them to come back anymore than going into a crack house and screaming that everybody is going to hell is going to get them into church on Sunday.
The people I know who have left the church, and I talked on the phone with one such person at length last night, are much more concerned about their departure than their critics give them credit for. They aren’t whiners and takers. They are givers and servers and lovers of God who are heartbroken they can’t find a place.