This post is by my friend Josh Graves is about folks leaving the church, and not just 20somethings but 40somethings too:
2. The real issue is being skirted. I think the real cause of disillusionment with church is self-disappointment. Pain birthed anger, now solidified in cynicism and apathy (funny how those two always go together). Frustration with “the church” is first about frustration with self. We tend to, in the wisdom of Donald Miller, judge others based on actions while judging ourselves based upon our intent. We are harder on “the church” so we can be “easier” on ourselves. This is why some Christians literally demand more from their church than they do from their own family, their own personal lives (money, time, etc.).
3. A heavy dose of entitlement and self-deception is present in many of these conversations. Boomers, much to the admittance of all generations, are perhaps the first truly consumer generation in American history. Their kids (of which I’m guilty) are even starker consumers precisely because we were raised in the milieu of “gaining, acquiring, achieving, and consuming” to our heart’s content. I now look back and see the simple practices my parents instilled (hospitality, simplicity, generosity with money) to challenge these larger temptations. Honestly, it’s something I’m trying to reevaluate as we are watching our two boys grow and emerge.
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote a provocative and controversial book several years ago, Leaving Church. It created a stir because it both resonated with so many and, at the same time, served as an example of what happens when you actually do leave a church. If you have not read it, I think it embodies the tension I’m naming in this post. The tension we must live in: critiquing the church without excusing our own dysfunction.
How can you change something if you won’t stay and fight for what you believe? I know some will say, “Josh, you are 32. Talk to me when you are older and understand things a little more clearer.” Maybe that’s true. But I pray, God help me, that I will love the church enough to speak prophetically while, at the same time, realize that God’s love for me is far more gracious, risky, illogical, loyal, steadfast than any paltry and minuscule love I might offer the church.
I really believe that the local church is part of the genius of the kingdom.
And I’m going to add one clause to this last sentence:
I really believe that the local church as it is is part of the genius of the kingdom. Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s great line about learning to surrender our cherished expectations of the church.