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Exit Interviews : Revealing Stories of Why People Are Leaving Church Paperback – September 1, 1993
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This is a troubling subject. Why people leave the organized or local church is a important subject and highlights the requirement that the "Christian" community actually be a functional community. The startling fact that no one contacted the people interviewed is quite embarrassing for any organized-local church and any Christian. It is shameful that we let people "slip through the cracks"--if we are building the "Kingdom of God", we would do well to keep track of everyone--even our political government does that!
As a 60-something, church leaver, I am saddened that many others have to endure what I have endured. It is not encouraging to read these stories. Nevertheless, it is good to know that others in the same situation continue to progress (ever how slowly). We fail to recognize that the "Church" has been full of people who have left the organized-local church and still have contributed greatly to the Church, the Christian community and to other Christians. Little do we realize that the Desert Fathers and Mothers attended no church. The monastery and convent inmates were without "Church" (but not without Christ and his community). Many missionaries never attend church "on their field". So leaving church and church-leavers are not a new group. Regrettably, many in the organized-local Church are too afraid of these church-leavers to engage them, to learn from them, to encourage them or to improve the organized-local Church.
Good book; well written; a disturbing subject; a good presentation; and a great hope extended.
The reasons are numerous, and make this reviewer think that many join a church for the wrong reasons and leave for the wrong reasons. What he documents primarily are those who leave to not find and join another believing community. That is the most troubling thing about this topic. How can those who truly believe not find a worthy assembly of believers to be nourished by and in turn nourish others with their presence and gifts? What is not covered at all is that the Bible doesn't condone not being in an ecclessia of believers, at least this reviewer cannot find any. Hebrews 10:23-25 speaks of the habit of worshipping together and gives at least three reasons for doing so which I don't believe these apostate find elsewhere.
The answers will surprise you. These are not malcontents, disgruntled people who didn't get there way and so migrate from church to church. These are all people who sincerely want to serve Christ, and find that the Church is unresponsive.
It really moves one to start listening to what people are saying within the church.
One major factor, is that many churches have left grace behind. As Hendricks points out:
"the greatest tragedy was that a system promising forgiveness to people and freedom from guilt ended up making so many of them feel guilty. That, in turn led to chronic legalism. At every turn, they staggered under massive expectations that they could never quite fulfill....
Thus grace became a theological fiction. Yet rumors of a gracious God persisted. And once people discovered what for so long they had been denied, they felt cheated and outraged and made a beeline for the exit."
Hendricks ends that section by saying "As I say, it appears the church has a lot of theological ground to reclaim."
No book other than the Bible itself has served to upend my own theology and open my eyes to something that all Christians need to remember, myself included. It is that five letter word, which many are so afraid of...GRACE.
How do you develop a culture where the person leaving feels that you honestly want to know what the problem was and that you care enough to listen, learn, evaluate and if necessary change. People often leave because they are hurt, angry, frustrated, bored or just plain offended by something the Pastor said. But what is amazing is the need to learn that what they felt and what they say are their perceptions of what happened, not necessarily reality. But in essence it is their reality.
So how will you handle the interview? Will you even have an interview? Why should you have an interview? What can you learn? What should you change, or should you change? These are all questions that you need to come to terms with and Hendricks will help you do that.
I found this book used on Amazon and spent a $1.00 for the book and a couple of bucks for the shipping, but found that it was worth much more than what I paid for it. The book is old, but the principles are tried and true and still relevant even a couple of decades later.
Find a copy, pay the price and get ready to learn what you need to learn to be more effective.
Here's a bonus, some people after deciding to leave church will actually return soon because of the way you handle the exit interview and how you display your love and care for them, and this even when you don't change anything. Try these methods and let God do His work in the hearts of His people.
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Hendricks has honestly told the brutal truth by those wounded by the Church.Read more