How do ex-church-attenders and out-of-church Christians fit into the emergent and postmodern converstations?
I have visited your website and found that for the first time in years I can identify with something Christian. I live in the UK- I was a Christian for
...25 years. For the last 5 years I have been an ‘out of church- hanger on!’ Having been an active church member with varying roles of leadership- I do not attend church now. I am willing to let go of the connections with church and the organized Christianity which appears to me is so inward thinking and incongruent.
However I have not fully let go of the notion that there is some truth in Jesus. It is far more spiritually meaningful for me to walk in the countryside with my dog and experience the beauty and wonder of Gods creation- to make soup for a friends sick child – to visit the lonely old man across the road- to than to sit in/ take part in a church service.
I studied Christian theology and spirituality, world religions, and biblical criticism as part of my degree and feel that I have an intellectual understanding of what Christianity is about. Also I was an active evangelical – striving to place God at the centre of my life for those 25 years- I gave everything I had to serving God. So I also had a very practical and personal understanding. Certain events led to a significant questioning of my beliefs about church and the core of my own faith. I have undoubtedly learned a lot through the subsequent breakdowns that I experienced – by that I mean a breakdown of my faith, (which was totally unacceptable and incomprehensible to members of my church) this led to a breakdown in the relationships within church, (They were not able to relate to my enquiries and questioning and consequently it seemed that I was no longer a suitable person to associate with… I was deemed to be questioning for the sake of it!! This appeared to be heretical!- I was shut out !)
This – along with a personal family crisis led to an emotional breakdown and burnout. (I recognize that these descriptions are simplified – this is to try to maintain a concise summary) The more contact I have with ex church christians the more I recognize that these are patterns experienced by many people. I believe that the church needs to wake up to enquiring minds and learn how to relate to enquirers – whether they be within the church or outside the church setting.
I am interested in finding out how people like me – ex- church attendees and out of church Christians fit into what you describe as emergent and post modern. I realize that I will need to read some of your books to help answer this question- Please would you tell me which book might be the most appropriate one to start with.
Answer: Thanks for your honest note. Yes – your story will resonate with many people whom I’ve met in recent years. I would especially recommend “A New Kind of Christian” for you – and also the chapter on leadership in “Church on the Other Side.” You might find some good conversation at the website for emergent-uk. You should be able to access it through amahoro.info.