Leaving the church and faith has become more common these days. Why is this happening? Is there anything to be done?
I recently read an article about why people are leaving the church and leaving the Christian faith. Of course, I have read numerous articles on this phenomenon. But this article indicated that researchers have been asking the wrong questions to those leaving the church and the Christian faith. In short, it said that we have loaded the questions with our own biases and not allowed those leaving to put their reasons into their own words and thoughts.
Several days after reading that article, I was working on my laptop at a coffee shop when a woman approached me. She asked, “Are you a pastor?” It was an interesting question. I don’t know if I look like one. Nonetheless, she thought I must be.
God had let her down.
She told me she had left the Christian faith and was looking to get back to where she once was. I asked her why she had left, and she told me two stories. I will not relay them here because I am concerned to protect the confidentiality of that encounter. But she told me that, at key moments, she had felt that God had let her down.
We spoke for a while about her understanding of God. At one point, I asked her if she thought she was a sinner. She responded by saying, “Of course not. I am a basically good person.”
The idea of Christ dying for her sins was entirely absent from her previous experience.
What fascinated me about our conversation is that her understanding of the Christian faith did not involve repentance for sin and trust in Christ Jesus as her Saviour. The idea of Christ dying for her sins was entirely absent from her previous experience. Instead, she had nurtured a transactional relationship with God. She was obligated to do some things for God, and He was obligated to reciprocate. In the process, God had not acted in a way which she had been led to believe. Hence, she left the Christian faith.
But why would she want to get back to something that didn’t work? She was unable to answer that, but I have mulled it over since. Perhaps she knew something significant was missing in her life.
I come back to the matter of why people are leaving the Christian faith and the church. From this one conversation, it is obvious that this woman had never heard the true Gospel. Whenever the Gospel is not preached, and repentance and faith are not demanded, the resulting conversions are not real conversions.
Whenever converts are gained without a clear presentation of the Gospel, we are left with pseudo-converts.
I know that some of my readers will assume that the woman in question must have come from a liberal Christian church. However, the church she had attended fits well within the standard evangelical church which seeks conversions to Christ. But that’s just the problem. Whenever converts are gained without a clear presentation of the Gospel, we are left with pseudo-converts.
The evangelical church has been overrun with pseudo-converts. The stories of people leaving the faith are but one result of this.