Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Giving Up On Church, But Not On God

This summer I picked up a few books of interest and began reading. One of them was Jaded by A.J. Kiesling. I have wanted to post about this for a long time, but I haven't gotten around to it until now. It's a very easy read at 125 pages and I found it to be enlightening about why believers are leaving churches and how they still desire to be part of the Church.

This is from her Introduction called Divine Discontent:

"During my research I stumbled onto a phrase that captures the heartbeat of this message: divine discontent. Revolutions, whether social or spiritual, are always preceded by a collective restlessness, a heart-cry for something more. Could it be that God is stirring a divine discontent within the heart of his people, preparing them for much more than the staid, program-centered state of Western Christianity?"

A couple pages later she writes: "Everywhere I turn I run into fellow believers so jaded on institutional church life they rarely bother to darken the doors of those hallowed spaces anymore. Or they begin a search for a place that fits - a place that offers more than just programs. A place that encourages those deep, sometimes dark, questions that accompany any meaningful spiritual quest. A place that won't cast believers aside when they encouter their own dark night of the soul. For some, that place may be a house church, a Bible study, a coffeehouse meeting, or something as a simple as breakfast with another believer once a week.

Spiritual fatigue wears many different faces, and we may find ourselves in this slough of the soul as a result of a number of catalysts:

  • a world-weariness that replaces the first spark of belief over time
  • scars inflicted by fellow believers or pastors
  • a life crisis that casts God in a bad light
  • the existence of pain and suffering in a supposedly God-ordered world
  • a growing awareness that what's preached from the pulpit doesn't always work in reality
  • a despair that we'll never break out of churchianity into abundant life"

Here, she covers so much to think about. I have many things I could say, but I would like to hear from others first...


BruceD said...

You might like "The Naked Church" by Wayne Jacobsen too. Very telling...


JimmyBob said...

Bruce, thanks for the recommend. Good to hear from you.

JimmyBob said...

This has been up for a few days now and no one wants to comment. I guess it's a "been there, done that" sort of topic. Oh, well.

Honestly, what I take from this book is that there is an incredible need for openness and ministry in the body of Christ.

As a youth pastor I will spend more time listening to students and parents, and praying for them. I will make sure that what I'm preaching is reality and from God, instead of just repeating illustrations and phrases I've heard from others.

I believe this will take more diligence on my part in prayer and meditation. I will seek wisdom.

It was a good book and helped me understand better that programs can be lifeless and limiting. We need to take the Gospel to the streets and make the love of God a reality.

A book was recommended by the author called Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton. I've checked it out a little bit already and it looks great. Also, there is a book called Toxic Churches by Marc Dupont. That looks good too.

God bless, everyone.

BruceD said...

Here's another book if you're interested. This book was almost single-handedly responsible for setting me on a path to freedom in Christ. The author has made it available free of charge in PDF format. Here's the link:


ruthrap said...

from your last comment, you seem to be a very consciencious young man, when you said you will spend time listening, that, to me, says a lot about you! Todays youth are crying out for someone to listen to them and more than anything, they want answers!! not just some repititious litany that has little meaning....keep working hard, i know it will reap benefits unimaginable!!

JimmyBob said...

Thanks Ruthrap. I appreciate the encouragement.