Understanding the De-Churched in America

I think this video clip from Texas pastor Matt Chandler is right on. He talks about the “de-churched,” the growing phenomenon in the United States of young people who are abandoning the church. My church, Anchor, has often referred to itself as a church for the de-churched–people who once attended, but had a bad experience or became disillusioned or whatever. Lots of different reasons. But Chandler hits one valid angle.

(If you’re reading this on Facebook, you’ll need to click the link for “Read Original Post” to view the video clip on my blog.)

Chandler says, “They were sold, ‘Here’s how you put God into your debt.'”

I think that’s a great way to put it.

You behave yourself, follow the rules, do good things, attend church regularly–all the things a Christian should do. And in return, we promise, God won’t let anything bad happen to you. You’ll have a wonderful life. Everything will work out.” Because God is obligated to come through for you. It’s an evangelical, tone-down version of the Prosperity Gospel.

Then, when things don’t go according to their wishes, they bail out on the church. It’s not what they were promised. The Christian life isn’t supposed to be difficult. The church deceived them. Their investment turned sour.

Skye Jethani talks about this further on Christianity Today’s “Out of Ur” blog. He writes:

They believe that if they just follow God’s rules he will bless their lives. When things fail to work out as promised, they bail on the church….

It’s not that we are failing to preach the gospel, but that we are
failing to deconstruct the consumer filter through which people twist
and receive it. The result is a hybrid consumer gospel in which God
exists to serve me and accomplish my desires in exchange for my

I think there are plenty of people willing to deny themselves and take up their cross. But we too often neither ask that of people, nor even present it as something they might consider doing. Instead, people just hear the false gospel of sugar and spice and everything nice. And when they encounter something that’s not nice, that’s difficult, their consumer mentality draws their attention elsewhere.

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