I read your article on church dropouts ("Why Christians Quit Church" by Andy Butcher, February). The humble house churches of China and northern India today are immeasurably more effective than the grand edifices in the West.
No, Christians are not quitting church. Most are just fed up with the lumbering monstrosities they have poured money into for years. Now we are moving back home.
Maurice L. Fuller
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Going to church has never been optional. Can you imagine a soldier saying, "I'm going to wear my uniform, draw my pay, tell others I'm a good soldier, even take part in battle, but never show up for roll call"?
We do not go to church for ourselves. We go because of Him and for Him. Jesus Himself regularly attended the synagogue during His lifetime. If He did this, how much more should we!
Rev. Ray M. Whittington
Greensboro, North Carolina
I think people become church dropouts because they are not loved by their pastors. I think pastors, likewise, become dropouts because they are not loved by the people. It is a broken relationship.
I also believe there are many dropouts who still attend church each week and preach each week. They are there in body, but their hearts are not there.
Karen J. Trittler
I was very involved in three churches. All the pastors used their pulpits to bully and embarrass those who wouldn't act like robots. I have no trust anymore in church. It is a place for bullies and control freaks to hide under the guise of Christianity.
Dallas, North Carolina
Author Robert Gay says we need to be "planted" in a local church ("Planted in God's House," February). Yet under the New Covenant, God does not dwell in buildings!
The most thriving churches today are located in parts of the world where church buildings are not allowed and believers meet secretly. I think Gay has it wrong. I am not planted in God's house, as under the Old Covenant. God is planted in mine!
Midwest City, Oklahoma
The modern church with its pulpits and pews is a man-made fabrication that can never produce the true expression of the body of Christ. Many saints are being led by a jealous Jesus into something different.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Could this "church dropout" trend be the start of a new revival? A group in our area thinks so.
We've had dreams of church buildings falling apart so the body of Christ could come together in unity. Church leaders should work to develop more small-group fellowships in nontraditional settings so the unchurched will have a place to pray and study the Word of God.
I have not been attending church for two years. I left because church leaders take part in adultery, slander, gossip, racism and quenching the Spirit. Leaders have character defects so severe that it makes it impossible for me to support such behavior with my time and money.
I have been "unchurched" almost 27 years of my 32 years as a born-again, Holy Ghost-filled, devil-stomping, tithe-paying member of the "church at large." Your report said there are more than 112 million of us out there--the figure is probably much higher.
I don't think this has hurt Christianity one bit. The "dropouts" are committed to Jesus, not the institution of the church.
St. Pete Beach, Florida
I pray that your recent report will expose the need for believers to pull together no matter how dysfunctional the church family is.
Don't Get Too Spooky
I usually read your magazine as part of my devotional time before going to bed. On more than one occasion I have stumbled into rather provocative subject matter in Charisma.
Most recently, this happened when I was reading Kimberly Daniels' column on sexual demons visiting women in the night ("Come Clean!" March). I'm not saying you should not publish articles about such topics, but maybe you should add a disclaimer to warn readers.
Kimberly Daniels was terribly mistaken when she claimed that the band Incubus encouraged women to send in their underwear to a concert. Incubus does not condone that sort of thing, though you will find some groupies.
I find it very hard to believe that the members of Incubus would make such a ridiculous request. They are very polite, professional performers and have a lot of respect for their fans. Most of their songs are about finding truth and being your own person.
Give Us the Fire!
Thanks for the article on Bethel Church in Redding, California ("California Fire" by Julia Loren, March). Bethel Assembly's example is a great encouragement to those of us who are Assemblies of God pastors and who are done playing church. We are hungry to reclaim our revivalistic roots and are ruined for the ordinary!
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Learn From the Africans
Thank you for J. Lee Grady's column "African Fire" (First Word, March), in which he reflected on his recent visit to Nigeria. It underscored the fact that God is doing wonderful things in Africa. I know this myself after spending most of the last 23 years in Nigeria.
It is time to throw out the old paradigm of cross-cultural missions and think about a new paradigm in which both sides give and receive. Adequate leadership training and painstaking attention to discipleship remain the two greatest needs of the Nigerian church. These are areas in which some people in the North American church still have something to offer Africa.
Meanwhile, the North American church needs to sit at the feet of the African church and learn about perseverance in adversity.
Gary S. Maxey, founder
West Africa Theological Seminary
An Author Responds
I was really surprised to read the comments about my new book, Some Messianic Jews Say, "Messianic Judaism Is Not Christianity": A Loving Call to Unity (People & Events, February). From what was written, it appears that the reporter didn't read the book.
Instead of concentrating on the reactions of those in Messianic Judaism who appear not to have read the book either, it would have been better for the writer to review the content of the book.
I wrote the book to address the division that is being fostered by unbiblical practices. I specifically stressed that any overemphasis on ethnicity, day of worship or form of worship that divides the church is contrary to God's will.
It was and still is my hope that those who are involved in this movement will carefully consider their position in the light of God's Word. I also wanted to inform the church so that we would be reminded of God's will: Together, we Jewish and Gentile believers are to serve Him as "one new man."
Lakewood Ranch, Florida
No More Gay Imagery!
Please don't publish any pictures of homosexual people in your magazine, as you did in March ("What's Wrong With Gay Marriage" by Mark A. Pearson). Photos of same-sex couples kissing are sickening.
We need the articles on why homosexual marriage is an abomination to God, but we don't need the pictures. And we wish you all would stop calling homosexuals "gay." There is little about them that is happy, merry, bright or lively.
I appreciate the article on gay marriage. I also appreciate that it reminded your readers there are ministries out there to help homosexuals overcome that lifestyle!
Paul David Klemesrud
Thanks for being willing to stand against homosexuality in a loving way. It seems that fewer and fewer Christians are speaking out against this sin. Thanks for being a biblical magazine that I can count on.
The Paul Cain Scandal
Thank you for publishing the report about Paul Cain's apology (People & Events, March). When I read the headline, I immediately began to weep with joy. It took incredible courage for Jack Deere, Mike Bickle and Rick Joyner to take their stand.
Donna L.H. Smith
I hope Paul Cain will receive the counseling and support needed for restoration. However, I must take exception with pastor Daniel Kim's analysis that Cain is a "victim" of the body of Christ's expectations.
The Bible says we are tempted when we are led aside by our own desires. Let's not muddy the waters with ridiculous statements that pander to those unable to bridle their appetites for sin.
Rev. Bill Parsons
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Correction: Charisma apologizes to recording artist Tammy Trent for an unfortunate error in our February story that profiled her life and music ministry since her husband's death. A sentence on page 45 should have read: "Tammy is careful to add that choosing to embrace life again after losing a loved one is not the same as a decision to forget that person." We regret the error.