They don’t go to church because…
Common misconceptions and clichés and false assumptions abound when such terms as “churchless Christian” or “post-congregational” or “free range believers” get introduced into a conversation. It’s understandable, in some respects, because most people equate faithful church attendance and being a good Christian. In their mind, there is NO category for followers of Jesus who neglect Sunday church meetings except for one…backslider. So if you don’t go anywhere on Sunday, then something is wrong. That’s the basic assumption, so then one begins the process of trying to catalog the person’s problem:
- “They must have really been hurt by the church.”
- “I bet they have a problem with submitting to authority.”
- “Some people just can’t make a serious commitment to a local church.”
- “There are plenty of good churches around here. They must be looking for the perfect church.”
- “They seem like nice people, but it makes you wonder what’s really going on.”
- “Perhaps they belong to some weird cult or maybe they’re part of the emerging church!”
Why not just ask? Rather than work yourself into a lather or, even worse, become guilty of slandering a brother or sister in Christ, just invite them over for coffee and ask them. Sure, you’ll find a horror story every now and then: abuse by authoritarian elders, burned out, spiritual neglect, never accepted into a church’s cliques, serious disagreement that led to a church split, legalism, moral failure of a respected church leader, and the list could go on. Personally, I don’t know many people who haven’t been hurt or disappointed by other Christians, even inside the institutional church.
We’re not upset that people continue to go to their local church services on Sunday. Seriously, we’re not on a compaign to convince others to join us. Are you kidding? Why would we want to make it more difficult for us to get an 11:00 a.m tee time or disturb our quiet Sunday morning picnic spot at the lake? 🙂 What we do want—for all believers everywhere—is mutual encouragement in our walk with the Lord and a sense of partnership in our collective witness to the world around us, whether locally or across the globe.