Keeping Tabs on Church Quitters
Some people on some sites find the desire by some pastors, or Christians in church staff positions, to do follow-ups with those who have quit their churches un-nerving.
The specific types of churches these folks are concerned about are spiritually abusive and authoritarian.
Here are some examples of people from churches that are considered to be authoritarian, who apparently want to stalk former members:
I do think quotes in #1 are troubling – the guy who wrote it, Bobby Jamieson, has distorted certain Bible verses to uphold his view that churches can “force” a member to stay, which he denies is the view he is pushing, but which his other comments negate.
Whether or not a Christian attends a local body of believers in a brick building or not, he or she is still a “member of the body of Christ.”
One becomes a member of the body by professing and accepting Jesus as Savior, not by attending a weekly church service. But the guy who wrote #1 is saying the opposite.
One of the kookiest, creepiest comments this guy makes is this:
- What I am saying is that the church has the responsibility to oversee the lives of its members as long as they are under its watch—which includes their trip out the back door.
Churches and preachers do not have a right or a duty to “oversee the lives” of their members. He is grossly overstepping his bounds as a pastor (or staffer, whatever his church role is), or is attributing qualities to a church that the Bible never gives them, if he thinks in these terms.
It is the Holy Spirit’s duty to lead and guide each believer, not a man’s, not a church’s.
Christ said believers are not to “lord authority” over one another or live in a hierarchy where they exercise control over each other, but that is precisely what this guy, Bobby Jamieson, is advocating churches or preachers do.
And where this guy quotes Hebrews 10:24–25 (“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”), I’m sorry, but no.
Notice the verse is not written as a command, as in “Thus saith the Lord, you shall meet weekly with other believers,” but rather it is merely saying it is beneficial for believers to meet. They would be wise to lean on other believers, not that they absolutely have to do so.
I’ve never understood that verse (Heb. 10:24,25) to be an imperative that Christians must attend a weekly meeting of body of believers, and if they do not, they are in sin. The author (Jamieson) is trying to make a command out of something that is not a command.
Regarding the piece, “Pastors, Don’t Let your People Resign into Thin Air”, authored by Jamieson. He treats people as though they are five year old children, with no rights or will of their own: WRONG.
They are adults and can damn well make choices for themselves, that are right for their lives, including when and where to attend church, or to leave a church, or to never attend another church ever again. Who is this guy to lecture people on when where, or how they leave a church? Nobody, that’s who. The arrogance and controlling nature in his editorial is indeed quite creepy.
While I agree that these editorials by these cult-type Christians are creepy, I do think churches are bad about retaining older or more mature Christians, and by “mature” I don’t necessarily mean 80- year- old saints, but say, for instance, the 28 year old Christian who is past the basics of “Christianity 101” and is ready for solid, deep preaching but his church, which may be “seeker friendly,” keep giving shallow sermon after shallow sermon.
If you read the book “Quitting Church” by Julia Duin, she mentions that one glaring problem in the church today is that churches are indeed ignoring many groups of people to chase after only certain types (e.g., churches choose to chase after and appeal to Non- Christians, those shallow in the faith, teens and 20-somethings, married people with kids in school, etc), which causes older, single, and/or more mature Christians to get fed up and leave.
Duin said compounded with this problem is that once the singles, people age 30 and over, or anyone wanting deeper theology leaves a church, churches either don’t notice or don’t care to ask the quitters why they quit.
Duin quoted a few people in her book who said if only churches would track down the quitters and ask them to come back, that usually, they come back. The quitters often feel touched that someone from their former church cared enough to reach out and say, “You have been missed, we have noticed your absence, please return.”
But most seeker friendly churches today, and other sorts of churches, do not do this, they do not reach out to the quitters.
If your church is cult-like and controlling, if they are authoritative or spiritually abusive (see links above), then stay away for your own mental and financial safety. If a controlling church phones you up after you’ve quit, it would be prudent to ignore them.
While some former churches may ring you up because their motive for having you return is to abuse you some more, which is terrible and you should continue to stay away from them, on the other hand, I don’t want anyone tossing out the baby with the bathwater.
I think it’s a good thing for normal churches (not abusive ones) to reach out to the quitters to express concern.
Churches are losing mature believers and other sorts (such as the never married Christians) at a fast rate and don’t care. They are myopically focused on gaining 20-somethings in their pews and a few other narrow demographics.
Churches need to start reaching out, in love and concern for the person (not a desire to control or retribution, but a genuine concern for the person who feels excluded or hurt by the church) to find out why they left, and see how and if they can make amends.