For a while we've known about the churched and the unchurched. The churched are the ones who've got it right and their mission is to bring the unchurched into both a saving relationship with Jesus, and a tithing relationship with the local church.
But there is now a new group: the De-Churched. These are people who were at one point involved in a local assembly, but have left the conventional structure of church and are now experiencing God in a different way.
Now, don't get all judgmental; sheathe your Sword of Rebuke. They've not abandoned the faith and they haven't forsaken the assembling of themselves together, they're just burnt out on the church machine and they're doing it a different way.
This article over at Out of Ur explores several different reasons people are leaving the church in alarming numbers. First, referencing the below video of Mark Chandler, pastor of the Village Church near Dallas, the exodus of young people is attributed to:
. . . the proclamation (explicitly or implicitly) of a false gospel of "moralistic deism." This understanding of the Christian life says that if you obey God's rules he will bless you with what you desire. This represents a form of the prosperity gospel . . . The problem arises when God's blessing doesn't come-or doesn't come in the form we want. Divorce, illness, poor grades, failed relationship-virtually any hardship has the potential to destroy one's faith in Christ and the church that represents him. So, according to Chandler, people walk away. They enter the ranks of the de-churched.
The article goes on to explore other reasons why so many of the churched are becoming the de-churched:
These Christians have simply lost confidence in the institutional structures and programmatic trappings of the church. For them the institutional church is not an aid in their faith and mission. Rather it's become a drain on time, resources, and energy. It feels like a black hole with a gravitation pull so strong that not even the light of the gospel can escape its organizational appetite.
I'd love to know your thoughts.
So, what are these de-churched people doing to express and grow their faith? In the next post we'll look at the burgeoning Simple Church movement.