Quitting Church? No Way!
My heart goes out to the Christians you wrote about in your report on church dropouts ("When Christians Quit Church," by Andy Butcher, February). These people have been hurt to the point they feel they must leave church.
I was one of these people. But the day came when the Lord told me to go back. I got up, left behind my feelings, dirty laundry and Sunday brunches, and obeyed. It's not about what we want. It's about Jesus.
El Dorado, Arkansas
Christian dropouts? That's an oxymoron! How can a person be a Christian and yet not identify with the body of Christ? Like the five foolish virgins in Jesus' parable, these lukewarm absentees won't be prepared when He raptures His bride.
Don R. Ramsey
I want to encourage the ones who have fallen away from church attendance. God has a place for you. If you seek, you will find. If you stay at home and sulk, you will not mature or find your God-given destiny.
Don't be deceived! God wants you in His church. Satan wants you out.
There are two real reasons people stay home from church. One, they got hurt and are not mature enough to get over it. Two, they are selfish.
I think we should quit making excuses for them. This isn't a movement. It's an excuse. "Christian" is not a noun. It is a verb--you have to do something to be one.
Rev. Sue Kahawaii
I am convinced we are dealing with spiritual warfare in this issue of Christian dropouts. In any military conflict, the enemy will try to separate one part of the army from another. This strategy is called "divide and conquer."
The enemy tells people that they can do this Christian thing on their own, even though Christianity is a corporate reality. We need one another. Dropout Christians have been deceived.
Armand L. Weller
Madeira Beach, Florida
The Dropouts Respond
Thank you for the article on Christian dropouts. I was wondering if I was the only one! I've decided to leave traditional church settings because I am sick of the traditions of men and the "bless me" mentality.
I read the Bible, worship, pray, serve God and have fellowship with other believers. I don't have to be in a church to do that.
Your article on church dropouts impacted my wife and me. We identified with the message. This article in some ways lightened a load that my wife and I are carrying. Your magazine has often been a blessing to us.
Ronald and Raelene Searle
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Many churches seem caught in a "ghetto mentality" in which all ministry is conducted inside their four walls. Sermons are shouted at the crowd, and the basic theme is to build the church's membership and keep people tied up one to three nights a week in church-based ministry. I feel God wants me ministering through my work.
Queen Anne, Maryland
Your article was particularly poignant for my wife and me. We are two of the Christians who are missing from church on Sundays. Unfortunately your article didn't state the problem of pastors who insist we be "planted in" and "plugged in to" their churches.
People aren't leaving out of rebellion or sin. They are leaving because they need more spiritual input, and these churches aren't providing it. The leaders don't recognize their role in the mass exodus.
At one time I never missed a church service. Today I'm hanging by a thread, attending one service a week. Like Lynn in your article, I love God and study His Word, but I don't see much point in going to church. Family, good friends and things I've learned from the Bible are the only reason I continue.
New Orleans, Louisiana
I dragged my husband and children to church for many years believing that tithing and Sunday church attendance were imperative. Ironically, now I am the one who is struggling to continue this. I was glad you acknowledged in your article that many Christian "dropouts" can be more zealous than churchgoers.
I will continue to serve God, my family and the body of Christ with a whole heart. Will I go back to church? That remains to be seen.
I don't think clergy understand why some Christians have left the church. We left a local assembly, not the body of Christ, after several years of going home no different than when we arrived for the service. When we were in that church we were hungry, unfulfilled and frustrated.
We did not leave our church--it left us. Today we remain strong in our faith. We are being fed by some TV ministries while we look for a house church, which is the New Testament body's original locale.
Michael F. Vandenberg
The subtitle in your article says: "Some believers have quit church to practice their faith alone. Is this a healthy trend?" No it is not a "healthy trend"; it is survival!
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Thanks for the article on Christian dropouts. We have seen a dozen churches in our area split, including our own. We did nothing but weep for years. But we could no longer stay and watch the carnage.
We worship God daily, pray without ceasing, are faithful in the Word and tithe to missionaries and relief organizations. But we cannot face the downright hatefulness that is in the church--at least for now.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Do you want to know why Christians are leaving the "bricks and mortar church"? Could it be that the church is dysfunctional and does not know its true role in the lives of believers?
Your article was right about one thing: Many of the Christians outside the box are those who used to be committed members of churches. I am one of them.
I worked for 25 years in churches and parachurch ministries. I watched pastors devour one another and war over "turf." I heard words of prophecy used to manipulate congregations. I saw worship turned into entertainment.
Many of us dropouts tried to work behind the scenes to keep unity. But if we spoke out, we were "in rebellion."
Many of us chose to leave rather than start wars. I dropped out of church but I still have life in the body of Christ.
I am ashamed when I see others dressed up on Sundays having just come from church--since I sleep in and goof off. Yet I have more church in my long commute than some people have in months. I miss the fellowship, but I don't miss the hypocrisy, control and legalism.
Is Church Too Comfortable?
I read Kevin Turner's article ("Why Isn't the American Church Growing?" January) and I'm glad I'm not alone. Others are recognizing and agonizing over the "strange fire" that is blazing in America! Praise Jesus that men and women from around the world have given a voice to the spiritual condition of the American church!
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Kevin Turner's article was helpful, but the accompanying articles by foreign church leaders showed a lack of humility. It is easy for these leaders from Africa, Asia and Europe to criticize American Christians. Yet this is not what leaders from foreign countries say when they visit American churches to drum up financial support for their ministries back home. You wouldn't believe how flattering they are. This is hypocrisy!
When I read the comments from foreign church leaders, I was left with a feeling that they consider themselves spiritually superior. They painted American churches with too broad a brush. The men and women of God I know here in the United States are godly people who pray, fast and are seeing marvelous fruit in their ministries.
It is interesting that they criticized American Christians for emphasizing prosperity, but when they have financial needs their requests come pouring into the United States.
Rev. Matthew Sassano Jr.
Canisteo, New York
Rapping for Jesus?
Regarding your story about Kanye West and his song "Jesus Walks" (People & Events, January), I strongly disagree that he should be nominated for a gospel music award. Just because someone quotes Scriptures doesn't mean they are telling you the truth. The name of Jesus not only creates discussion, it can also create deception (see 2 Cor. 11:3-4; 13-15).
Omar J. Stewart
Sumter, South Carolina
Should rap artist Kanye West get a Stellar Award for a song that mentions Jesus? Our hats should be off to him for recording this song. But I do not agree that we should reward him. We should nominate those who not only talk the talk but also walk the walk.
Gwynn Oak, Maryland
It's exciting to hear Jesus sung about in the secular world, but we must discern what spirit is behind the character of the person delivering the song. The world is having a tough enough time trying to find the Christ we read about in the Bible without the church adding to the confusion. Kanye West probably needs to be in the church audience rather than on the church stage.
Rev. Vince McCalip
Grand Junction, Tennessee