This weekend I read Alan Jaimieson’s Ten Myths About Church Leavers, which sets out with:
Despite the almost mantra-like status of the statement “people are leaving the church” there still appears to be little understanding about who is leaving, when they leave, why they leave, and what happens to them and their faith after they leave. Of course everyone has their own view on these issues but few, especially our church leaders, have taken the time to sit down and talk with an actual leaver or two.
The piece is a worthwhile read, not just because I think he’s right (and not just in New Zealand) but because I think he provides good insight into an ongoing exodus. Five years ago I probably held most of these myths as presuppositions while trying to understand why the church I was serving in held steady at roughly the same size despite apparent growth through new members. The logic (not mine, but the senior leader’s) at the time was to name the places to which specific members had moved, but clearly this is not the proper approach to understanding the phenomenon. Five years later, I’m on the verge of an exit myself – and from my present vantage point, the ten myths about church leavers are just that, myths that I can finally begin to understand.