Exit via the stairs

“I can’t remember a time when church wasn’t central in my life. I grew up going to church with family, being part of Sunday school, youth group, worship teams and bible studies. I love church, it’s core to who I am.

“At the moment, though, I’m not ‘going to church’ anywhere. It pains me to say…but there it is.

“My faith hasn’t stopped, nor has my ministry. I’m actively involved in a music team that offers worship in surprising places, a prayer group and a few other things. It wasn’t a crisis of faith that stopped my attendance. I just had different ideas about what it meant to be a disciple, to live out faith and connect with the community. No one said anything directly, but slowly I got the idea that I was somehow different and that people didn’t value what I had to offer. I felt distanced from everyone, misunderstood and started to withdraw.

“Eventually, I just stopped showing up. Nothing really happened, I don’t think people noticed. I miss it, I miss people and connection and it’s been hard. It is also a relief not to feel alienated from other believers every week though. In some ways I feel freer now to live out my life and mission. I don’t know, is that a bad thing?”

Questions

 

  • Exits are quite common in congregations or projects. In your experience, why do people make an exit?
  • Are there ever times when exits can be a “sending out” rather than just a loss? What makes the difference?
  • What happens when someone exits in your community? Is there a process, an acknowledgement? What might it look like for transitions to happen well?
  • Is there a place for individual discipleship outside of the community of faith? What would it look like at its best?
  • As church attendance grows rare in the Australian community, what holds us together as a people of faith?

Wisdom from the pews

“People exit churches for a range of reasons, opening up a dialogue around this decision can be illuminating for everyone involved. ”

“ It is helpful to create ways for individuals rejoin the community and feel welcome to do so. ”

“A life giving farewell process, that acknowledges the person or couple, or family and their ministry among you, as well as blessing them in their future walk can be a live giving process for the whole community to participate in.”

Going deeper