Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Bend the Page
I read and reviewed this book, and did a post on it for The Christian Manifesto. It had a powerful impact on me because I felt that author, the late Michael Spencer better known as the Internet Monk, was partially telling some of my own history – it was that familiar.
In her most recent post at Bend the Page, Nancy quotes Spencer talking about people who abandon the church. Here’s what I said in the comments section:
“There are two kinds of abandonment -- the abandonment of leaving a church (or the church) altogether, and the abandonment of limiting your involvement to the worship service. I've seen both and I've done both. I need to think about that some more.”
In my post for The Christian Manifesto, I talk a bit about the church we left some years back, and why. We’d been there for 15 years. We held on far longer than we should have. Actually, I held on longer. My wife – who’s definitely more intuitive and sensitive – was ready to leave about two years before we actually did. For me, the relationships we had made it difficult to consider leaving.
There was no event or situation; rather, it was an accumulation of changes in teaching, content, governance and emphasis that finally led us to leave. We were neither among the first to leave nor the last. The church bled members for several years until close to half the congregation was gone.
This experience left us with two things. First was the sadness, and it was profound and personal. We didn’t hang around with others who shared the same concerns and griped. We just walked quietly away. The second was a hypersensitivity to change. When the church we joined after this experience began making a few changes in what appeared to be the same direction as we had previously experienced, it was all we could do to keep from immediately bolting.
Mere Churchianity was written for people like me; for people who turned from the mega-church-entertainment-teaching-lite-let’s-be-relevant-bring-your latte-to-the-service approach that has so dominated the North American evangelical church for the last 25 years; and for people who find emptiness in an absolutist fixation on tradition at the expense of everything else. In other words, this is a book for the whole church to read.
I’m looking forward to the ongoing discussion at Bend the Page.