Many Evangelicals were shocked to hear that one of their own, broadcaster Hank Hanegraff, host of The Bible Answer Man syndicated radio program, had joined the Orthodox Church. Hanegraff’s faith shift is another account of a former Evangelical moving to a different stream of the Church. When former Evangelical Theological Society president Francis Beckwith joined the Catholic Church, a round of discussion and debate followed similar to the conversation currently taking place about Hanegraff’s decision. Though data shows that Evangelical congregations tend to gain more members from Catholic and Mainline traditions than they lose to them, the reasons given by high-profile, deeply-invested leavers (and the many other less-famous folk who move from Evangelicalism to Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Mainline churches) should call Evangelicals to some rigorous self-examination. Most of the online reactions to these “leavers” tends to focus on points of doctrine. While those debates have value, I think they may serve as a distraction from a practical question every local church leader can consider in the context of his or her local church: How do you view people who may feel they are in some way “outgrowing” your congregation?
[SMcK: I have a book that addresses these kinds of conversion: Finding Faith, Losing Faith. A specific chp addresses why some evangelicals become Roman Catholic.]
Frankly, I’ve met few leaders who believe that a person could outgrow their local church. [Read more]