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Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It Hardcover – September, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Believing in God--but leaving the church Recent studies show that churches across the country are seeing once-faithful members disappear from their midst. Why are so many Christians remaining committed to the faith yet dissatisfied with and disconnected from the established church? Religion reporter Julia Duin has collected the research and added insights from her own interviews with disillusioned followers and visits to numerous churches. She reveals and explores a number of crucial factors underlying this shift, including irrelevant teaching, the neglect of singles, the marginalization of women, and a lack of authentic spiritual power. She also delves into trends such as house churches and postmodern or emergent congregations. Her careful analysis and thoughtful reflection will help church leaders examine how they can better serve those in their congregations and communities who are struggling to find a spiritual home. "We have come to expect solid journalism from veteran religion reporter Julia Duin, and Quitting Church does not disappoint. Churches need to address the seasoned churchgoer who wants more, not less, out of worship."--Nancy R. Pearcey, Scholar of Worldview Studies at Philadelphia Biblical University "An intelligent, insightful and entertaining book that should be required reading for every pastor in America. Quitting Church will also be a relief to those Christians who find themselves sitting at home on Sunday mornings without knowing exactly why."--William Lobdell, journalist, Los Angeles Times "What an important and timely book. The things Julia Duin writes about are raw, real and cannot be easily dismissed. Every pastor should read this book. Every believer who has ever despaired of church, been tempted to quit, or struggled with guilt over leaving, should, too."--Rod Dreher, Dallas Morning News columnist, and Beliefnet.com blogger "With the astute eye of a storied, veteran journalist and the heart of a true believer, Julia Duin takes readers through the complicated landscape of the modern church in America. A compelling addition to the annals of American Christianity."--Cathleen Falsani, religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and author of Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace

From the Inside Flap

As a successful religion reporter, Julia Duin has heard from many--and experienced in her own life--the difficulty of feeling connected to churches that too often seem disconnected from real-life pressures and unresponsive to personal needs. Yet she was surprised to discover just how many, from all walks of life, are simply giving up and quitting the traditional church altogether. Her journalistic yet personal exploration of this church-leaving epidemic offers pastors and church leaders a helpful first step in understanding and engaging the true spiritual and practical needs of church-weary and church-less believers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (September 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801068231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801068232
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,674,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tom C. Abella on March 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to this book, but quickly found myself disappointed with the methodology used in it. Duin begins well enough by stating the problem: more and more Americans are leaving their churches (both in weekly service attendance and in outside activities). The follow-up point is well-made and certainly interesting: those who are leaving their church are not abandoning their faith, but are seeking alternative avenues to understand and explore it (such as attending "house churches" or doing their own research).

However, after this intriguing start, the remainder of the book feels flimsy. In chapter after chapter, we hear one description after another of (a) reasons people give for leaving their church, (b) inventive new paths that some people are trying, and (c) recent history of failed attempts at inventiveness. The real failure is in Duin's inability to make persuasive judgments (indeed, almost any judgments) about anything beyond the complaints of people who have left their church.

Page after page after page is filled with direct quotes from people who have left their church, with their own opinions, memories and anecdotes being presented as fact (often following up a poll or study). Time and again we hear about people leaving their church because the pastor was "too controlling." In my own experience, such claims are often made by people who present unworkable, poorly-planned or -executable ideas and are rejected. Duin, unfortunately, piles these anecdotes together as though they were actual evidence.

Let me stop for a moment and state something clearly: I don't have any idea whether or not most pastors are, indeed, too controlling.
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Format: Hardcover
Sunday Morning, Staying Home
September 2, 2008; Page A21

Quitting Church
By Julia Duin
(BakerBooks, 186 pages, $17.99)
[Sunday Morning, Staying Home]

By now we know that evangelical Protestants -- generally supportive of Republican candidates but eagerly courted by Democrats this year -- are a crucial voting bloc in the November election. Thus it was big news when Rick Warren, the evangelical megachurch pastor, recently asked both John McCain and Barack Obama about their religious beliefs, in part to address the concerns of church-going "value voters." But what about the evangelicals themselves? Is all well within their communities? Is their own passion for church-going as strong as their supposed political passion?

According to Julia Duin, a religion reporter for the Washington Times, more and more evangelicals are in fact fleeing their churches. Indeed, Ms. Duin regards church-quitting, at least among evangelicals, as nothing less than an epidemic. The problem, in her view, is not in the souls of the church quitters but in the character of the churches they choose to leave. "Something," she observes, "is not right with . . . evangelical church life."

The faults she points to -- relying on her own reporting and survey data -- are many. They are surprising, too, running counter to the stereotype of evangelicals bonding happily in their churches.
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Format: Hardcover
Ms. Duin's book is a good overview of why many still-believing Evangelicals stop attending church. She arranges her study by affected groups, such as Charismatics, Emergents, women and singles. She also deals with pastors as cult personalities, an affliction that has killed many a congregation.

The strongest chapter in the book deals with singles. Ms. Duin questions the mindset of churches that do not meet the needs of singles or deal with their spiritual concerns. She correctly condemns the refusal of pastors to address sexual longing in real terms and wonders, if marriage is the normal state for Christians, why do churches not attempt to find mates for unattached members? This chapter alone is worth the cost of the book.

Other sections of the book contain interesting insights, even if I do not agree with Ms. Duin's conclusions. Her chapter on women, for example, is correct in pointing out how they have often been used as churchly cannon-fodder fit to be mere nursery workers or kiddie teachers, but this can be fixed without resorting to the solutions proposed by secular modernity.

If you are not Pentecostal or Charismatic, you may be put off by the author's occasional longing for the spiritual excitement of the Jesus Movement of the '70's, but don't let that theological quirk deprive you of the benfit of the rest of this well-written book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I disagreed with a lot of the author's conclusions and assessments of the church, but she does touch on a legitimate topic and attempt to explain it from a number of different angles, across multiple decades. As someone who no longer attends church regularly, for multi-faceted reasons, I appreciate that.

But I'm writing this review to highlight a bias of the author I haven't seen otherwise mentioned: white/majority privilege. Near the end of the book she describes moving to a new area and visiting two very different churches, one 95% white and another 95% black.

The author wrote, "I've noticed that at majority-white churches, people tie themselves into knots worrying about whether they're diverse enough. Folks at the majority-black congregation gave no sign of caring whether any whites or Hispanics attended--even though the latter two groups constituted more than half of the city's populace. I could never figure out a reason for their indifference."

She says the people at the black church, "couldn't have been nicer to Veeka [her daughter] and myself at that church, and they made sure Veeka was included in the annual vacation Bible school." But she later laments that no one at the black church invited her over for dinner (though the author never mentioned that she extended an invitation to any of them to come to her house), but that someone at the white church did and that the white church paid for her to attend conferences and paid some of her bills a few times.

So, the white church stayed 95% white, and provided a fellow white person privileges, and the author gave them kudos for caring about diversity.
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