People Are Leaving The Church To Save Their Faith. What?!

Have you ever heard of someone leaving the church in order to save their faith? That seems so paradoxical, yet it is true for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Countless articles, studies, blogs, and books have examined this phenomenon, the reasons behind it, and what the church could do in response. People keep trying to get the church, especially Protestant, evangelical churches to change. But most churches have turned a blind eye, preferring to blame those who have left, saying they were never true Christians to begin with, or that they prefer their sinful lives. But is that true?

People Have Been Leaving for Decades

Pastors, sociologists, academics, and researchers started conducting surveys and research about this trend decades ago. In the 1990’s, the trend was identified: people were starting to leave the church in large numbers. In 2003, Andrew Strom wrote an online treatise called “The Out of Church Christians” about the phenomenon occurring around the world. He quoted David Barrett, an author for the World Christian Encyclopedia, who estimated that there were 112 million churchless Christians worldwide and that this number would double by 2025.

George Barna was one of the first to study this trend. In 2006, he published a book about it called “Revolution” claiming the trend was growing rapidly and would transform the church.  From 2008 to 2014, the Barna Group interviewed more than 20,000 people trying to understand the American public and they published their findings in their latest book, “Churchless: How to Understand the Unchurched and How to Connect with Them.” They characterize the U.S. population as 49% actively churched, 10% minimally churched, 33% de-churched, and 8% purely unchurched.

The Pew Research Group has conducted their own surveys, and in 2012 they found that “one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today.” They call this group the “Nones”, which has now evolved into the “Dones”. Researcher and sociologist Josh Packard, Ph.D., co-wrote a book with Ashleigh Hope, called, “Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why the dechurched left… and what they’re hoping to find.” They identified a group they call the “Dones.” These are people who, it turns out, were very active in church leadership–full-time workers, lay leaders, Sunday school teachers, elders–but have left the institutionalized church because they are just “done” with the politics, the power plays, hypocrisy, lack of depth, and performance-based church services.

Leaving the Church but not their Faith

While the statistics paint a broad picture of the current state of the churchless, I think the actual stories by former church leaders and member are more impactful. For example, former church leader, Tony Steward, wrote a blog post about why he left the church. He said, “I’m relearning honesty after being in that world as a profession for more than 10 years. I’m still trying to find out what I think, what it means, and how a real faith in Jesus still exists in my life. I’m detoxing and looking for what remains that is real, that is love, and that is true.”

Another example is Tom Schultz, co-author of the book, “Why People Don’t Want to Go to Church” talks about his own research. He said, “The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.” He also quotes John Packard, who recounts one of his interviewees as saying, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”

Like Tony and the millions of others, I too left the church. Unlike Tony who is just beginning his journey, I left almost 10 years ago. Why? I couldn’t find God at church in the midst of all the church programs, projects, classes, and ultra structured Sunday services. I was tired of people hiding behind the facade of self righteousness, as they denied their humanity, preferring to quote Scripture than to admit their fallibility. However, I did find fulfilling community in a small home group that was not affiliated with any church. I enjoyed soul quenching conversations about spirituality, faith, humanity, and life with quality people of different perspectives, hurts, joys, foibles, and journeys they were willing to share. Although I moved away too far to continue being a part of this group, I still commune with my Savior.

Perhaps now we can see the churchless differently. They too are people who long for authentic experiences with God, the Creator, and Jesus, the Savior. They don’t want pat answers to questions and they certainly don’t want anyone to just quote Scripture at them. They are young and old, Millennial, Gen X, Boomer, you name it, they are people who long for authenticity, deeper relationships where people can express their doubts, concerns, and questions about God and life. They just couldn’t find what they were looking for in church.

By Guest Blogger, CK Miller

The Secret Confessions Of A Househusband!

I am a househusband!

There, I said it.

This wasn’t a decision I made willingly, but in ‘06, after parting ways with a mission organization I worked for, I decided to become a self-employed public speaker. I figured after 35 years of faithful ministry among Muslims, with my level of education and experience, I should be able to make a living by doing what I love most, teaching—Noooooot.

Speaking engagements didn’t materialized as I’d pictured they would. In fact, after reading my book, a friend of mine, an ex-president of a Bible college told me, “Shah, the American church is not interested in what you have to offer. Have you thought about becoming a comedian?”

Having to face cancer and two operations in a three-month period, and not being able to get a job anywhere didn’t help either. Not that I didn’t try. Lord, I tried! But I couldn’t get a job even as a Walmart greeter. At my age, do you know how humiliating it is to apply for a seasonal minimum wage part-time job, and lose out to a kid half your son’s age?

I will never forget the day I was interviewed by a store manager my daughter’s age. I could tell all the man was thinking about was, “Dang, if I give this old fart a job, in two weeks, with his education and experience, he will have my job.” So, gradually, I found myself doing more and more housework, and eventually, becoming a full-time househusband. By the way, according to one study, the number of husbands who are at home for any reason has nearly doubled since 1989.

I wish every man would experience what I’ve learned as a househusband these past eight years.

The job of a househusband is like the quarterback who couldn’t throw, but boy, he couldn’t run either—the work is hard and demanding, but the pay is non-existent. Housework is probably the most unending and unrewarding job.

In all the years she was a homemaker and a mom, I hardly realized how hard my wife, Karen, worked. I used to punch in at 8 am and punch out at 5 pm. Once I left my office, I was on my own, but that’s not how housework is. You’re always at your office. There’s no punching out. The job of cleaning, cooking, washing, shopping, yard work, and taking care of the dog never ends. There’s always something else staring at you that needs your immediate attention…dog hair everywhere.

At the office, my good efforts are often noticed, and rewarded, (depending on how secure your boss is) but this is not so with housework. When the dishes pile up in the sink, it’s ever so noticeable. I mean even a blind man can point it out, just by smelling the air; however, not too many people notice an empty sink after all the dishes are washed, and put away. After all, sinks are always supposed to be empty. Hair/dust bunnies are extremely noticeable on a hardwood floor. Every time you open the front door, the bunnies glide from one side of the floor to the other as if they’re riding on one of those hoverboards like in the movie, Back to the Future. However, a clean and mopped floor is hardly ever (really, more like NEVER) is noticed.

I guess what makes the above even worse is the lack of reward for your hard work. I used to get a paycheck for my 8 to 5 job. However, housework is unrewarding. There’s no money in it. You’re just a housewife, or in my case, just a househusband who’s home all day and doesn’t deserve to get paid.

Being a househusband has been a humbling experience for me. I am no longer the breadwinner. We live off my wife’s paycheck. I still pay all the bills and manage our finances, but I can’t help notice how almost all the mail in our mailbox is now addressed to Karen.

There are days when watching Karen carrying the responsibility of taking care of us is quite hard. After all, I believe God created the man to be a protector and a provider. Please don’t go PC on me here. I’m not saying that women shouldn’t or can’t be providers. Dear God, I’m absolutely amazed at how single moms are capable of working a full-time job and running a household at the same time. All I’m saying is that I believe worrying about these things should be the man’s responsibility.

Now, let me tell you the benefits of being a househusband.

I actually wrote and published my first book, Shame On You!

I’ve become an excellent cook.

As I started to stay at home, I began cooking. There are very a few things that give me more pleasure than to watch my wife walk into the house after a hard day’s work, and say, “It smells so good in here. I’m famished. What’s for dinner?” I began experimenting by going online for new recipes. I now can cook Persian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, and American food that you would want to come back for more. My BBQs are out of this world. All this is greatly rewarding. Of course, I also get disappointed when Karen doesn’t let me know how good dinner was—I’m extremely in touch with my feminine side.

For me, one of the primary benefits of being a househusband has to be the opportunity of knowing my neighbors. I’m not talking about just the neighbors surrounding our house. I’d known them long before that. I’m talking about knowing the whole block.

Every morning at 6:30 am I take Cocoa, our chocolate lab, to the park about a quarter of a mile from our house. Invariably, I greet, and wave to no less than seven or eight neighbors on the way to the park, at the park, and on the way home. They may not remember my name, but everyone knows Cocoa’s name. She’s a neighbor-magnet. In fact, at times when Karen takes her for a walk, after saying, “Hi Cocoa!”, neighbors that Karen doesn’t know, ask her, “How’s your husband?” You can only appreciate the gravity of this blessing if you live in the LA area where most people don’t know their next-door neighbor who’s lived there for the last five years.

I’d like to finish the post with this. Although I was always grateful to my wife for the years that she was a stay-at-home mom, I don’t think I was grateful enough. So, may take this opportunity to thank and recognize her and all the housewives (I know some people take offense to this term also, but it matches househusband) and stay-at-home moms for all their unappreciated hard work. I pray the day will come when you’ll be more appreciated not only by your mates, but also by society in general.