As we approach the release date (Oct. 1) of A Church Beyond Belief, we’ll be offering quotes, thoughts and excerpts from the book.
In the book, we discuss five ways that many congregations tend to distance themselves from the very people they say they wish to reach. For the next five blog posts, we’ll explore these tendencies.
Tendency number one: “They make beliefs more pronounced rather than the spiritual quest more profound.”
Whenever institutions suffer, especially the church, they tend to double the effort on what they already do rather than rethink their approach. As church attendance has declined, how has the church responded? By making beliefs more sharply defined so to demarcate themselves from perceived threats and opponents.
But what if the spiritual yearning within us doesn’t begin with a quest for truth, where beliefs are the answer? What if it is a quest for belonging, which seeks a deeper connection with others and something larger than us? If this is the case, becoming clearer, louder, hipper or trendier in the way we communicate beliefs will not meet the longing of many people. Congregational life and mission will need to be reshaped to respond to this spiritual longing.
I leave you with the words of Addie Zierman, who in “5 Churchy Phrases That Are Scaring Off Millennials” describes her return to church: “I went back not because of what the church was doing, but rather in spite of it. I went back because I needed community.”