Item description for Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It by Julie Duin...
Overview SUBTITLE: Why The Faithful Are Fleeing And What To Do About It
Believing in God--but leaving the church
Recent studies show that churches across the country are seeing once-faithful members disappear from their midst. Why are so many Christians remaining committed to the faith yet dissatisfied with and disconnected from the established church?
Religion reporter Julia Duin has collected the research and added insights from her own interviews with disillusioned followers and visits to numerous churches. She reveals and explores a number of crucial factors underlying this shift, including irrelevant teaching, the neglect of singles, the marginalization of women, and a lack of authentic spiritual power. She also delves into trends such as house churches and postmodern or emergent congregations. Her careful analysis and thoughtful reflection will help church leaders examine how they can better serve those in their congregations and communities who are struggling to find a spiritual home.
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Julia Duin is religion editor for The Washington Times. She worked for newspapers in Oregon, Florida, and New Mexico, and was the religion writer for the Houston Chronicle in Texas when the events in this book occurred. This is her fifth book.
Reviews - What do customers think about Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It?
Not so surprising Apr 8, 2010
Those of us who have been in the Evangelical church since the 60's will find Julia Duin's book familiar ground. After hearing Ms. Dunn interviewed about why Boomers and subsequent generations are dropping out of church without dropping their personal faith, the book seemed to merit a look to this frustrated evangelical. The excitement of the Jesus movement, the Utopian Christian houses and communities, the vibrancy of hippies become believers led to high expectations for a certain kind of Christian 'experience'. In the emphasis on experience we were as culturally bound as the rest of the nation, but the content of our faith was de-emphasized in favor of experience and now disillusionment with the results has set in. The author finds churches adrift with much less of those kinds of remembered experiences of the 60's and 70's: things are more rote, more legalistic, less personal, less caring, theology and knowledge of the Bible are lacking. She interviews friends, acquaintances and others throughout the evangelical movement nationwide over a series of themed chapters which laments the lost experiences of their youth, the impersonal nature of mega-churches, a pining for small and intimate churches. She includes chapters on men, singles and women (she is both) with surprising findings, especially for middle-aged, married men in leadership roles. Her critique is understandable, some of the stories are heart-breaking (like the serious-minded, Reformed blind man in DC who can't find a church he likes that will help him get to church consistently). But no solution is offered, perhaps because the emphasis seems to mostly lament lost experiences. What's missing is a Christ-centeredness which would make churches full of broken people doing less than well understandable as a group of fellow sinners in need of grace. Still, for many this book might serve as a wake up call to complacent pastors and churchgoers that 'more of the same' will fail and that the Church (which will prevail) may leave evangelicalism (and them) behind unless they get back to Christ and drop their programs and emulation of mainstream liberal denominations of the 1930's.
How to Stop the Church Flight Oct 19, 2009
Julia Duin is a church searching born-again Christian. She writes this book as a result of organized religion's lack of proper outreach (and inreach) to non-mainstream would-be church members. She also seems to imply that some local churches may have unChrist-like attitudes which repel prospective congregants. She reports her personal pain that she notes violates the way church ought to be. She adds hard data, opinions of scholars and ordained clergy as she claims too much of church life in America can be hurtful and unfulfilling. This can lead many people to leave their local congregations. As an active pastor for fifteen years, I have observed similar troubling situations she outlines in her book.
She seems to be sincere in her desire to find a church home that would meet her needs and allow her to practice her spiritual gifts. She yearns for a warm religious family to call her own, where "everyone knows your name," a church family that creates an environment for her to touch others. The author, in agreement with Barna, asserts that many churches disenfranchise the unmarried and women. And these people within these demographics are responding by exiting churches in large numbers.
One can learn a great deal from this heart-felt plea and it would be wise for church leaders to try to understand the mindset of the unchurched that were once the churched.
She offers some practical solutions to help create a church that is more open to singles and women. Many of her ideas are biblical and helpful for the pastor, elders and ecclesiastical leaders. A few notable ideas she dispenses are: better and deeper sermons that address personal pragmatic issues are necessary; the creation and supporting of smaller more intimate groups such as churches in the home (Barna); better and sustained ministry aimed at meeting the needs of singles.
Julia Duin is a bit weary; nevertheless she denies she is proposing that the end of organized religion would be a welcome model.
Much of her statistics are not up for debate, yet, as much as I empathize with her, I disagree with her some of her premises and with some of her conclusions. I have observed, though media reporting and personal fellowship, far too many joyous and fulfilled believers to agree with some of what Duin has suggested.
I would offer these observations:
1. Yes, there are problems in churches and some needs are not being met, but ten percent of 100's of millions of US Christians would be a large number. Nonetheless 90% would merit a grade of an "A." That is what I have observed. I may be incorrect. But countless Christians in America are truly enjoying and savoring their church life. 2. We are in church to glorify God. Lifting up and exalting Almighty God is obviously not the only thing a church is to offer (in particular; directly speaking since all we do should be an aspect of bringing glory to God), but it is the most important ministry a church should practice. 3. There are innumerable churches which base their whole aim at winning the unchurched and meeting their needs. They have 10,000's of members and utilize 1000's of outreach techniques and spend billions of dollars annually. All this is performed in an effort to make church welcoming and comfortable for the marginalized and the unmarginalized. 4. Many ministers (me included) have tried to reach out to those who withdraw from church, only to find out that our efforts add to the "hurt." It is so difficult to offer compelling care to some people who will not or cannot receive it. 5. Many followers abandoned Jesus during His life, at His death, and even after His resurrection. Many people left Paul and his ministry.
The solution to all of this is: 1. Jesus Christ. Jesus in all His wonder: Savior, Friend and Redeemer, Sovereign Lord who instructed us to follow Him, is the premier answer. 2. Faithfully teach and live scripture. Additionally the Gospel must be proclaimed. 3. Love. Love never fails and love endures all things (1Cor. 13).
I recommend this book to all ministers and to people have difficulties in their church life. The research is outstanding, the writing is engaging and the quest is sincere.
Insightful study of declining memberships Sep 25, 2009
Julia Dunn provides an insightful look at why mainline denominations are becoming slowly emaciated in the United States. Using her background as a seasoned religious reporter and editor, combined with her own personal challenges in finding a spiritual home, Dunn painfully illustrates how faith communities continue to fail to connect, educate, comfort and support their members. In particular, she outlines why women and singles are leaving churches in increasing numbers. What some may find surprising are her insights from the perspective of a self-described born-again evangelical. While there is some belief that churches are losing membership over the inconsistencies between what is taught and how church communities actually behave, Dunn illustrates the desire among some wandering evangelicals for more stringent Biblical following. Well researched, using material by respected pollster George Barna, Quitting Church spends more time understanding the problems than on offering solutions. For any church attempting to fill their pews, that is a critical first step before working on solutions.
The Ultimate Relativism Jul 6, 2009
I found Julia Duin's book very personal and authentic. She accurately reported the spiritual events I have been part of for the past 30 years. After journeying through Francis Shaeffer's reformed theology, Bible-church fundamentalism, and finally the Episcopal Charismatic movement-I began to see myself as part of a series of efforts to keep finding "the real thing" or "the right worship" in modern christianity. I think the thing that finally disgusted me was that it was all based on "me" and my choices and my likes and dislikes. In the end, I could not believe that God would be that relative or that uncertain for me or for anyone else. I knew God was more than I could ever possible make Him and it could not possibly be that hard to find Him. Ultimately I also chose the historical Orthodox faith. My conclusion, not academic but from my gut, is that it has to be all about God and not about me. And when it is all about God and truly not all about me, then I am certain it will be the most about me and God in fulfillment.
I am glad I read Julia's book. But I started it expecting an objective analysis of why people are leaving churches and I discovered I was reading her subjective struggle to work out her own church relationship and her own purpose in life and with God.
Quitting Church Jun 20, 2009
While I'm not yet finished reading Quitting Church, I must say that this volumn is very informative. The data in the first chapter supports other reseach reports that I've seen.
For practicing Christians, Quitting Church explains the departure of people from traditional worship. Not all are fleeing to participate in contemporary worship. The decline in serious Bible study and shallow theology (or no theology) is distasteful to those who try to live by the expectations of Jesus.
I recommend Quitting Church as a serious read. It would also be good as a good study for church book discussion group.