Have you noticed that some familiar faces are missing from the pews in your church lately? As more people seek that perfect church (even though there is no such thing), the exodus from formal churches is a growing trend. Many families are simply “doing church” at home, sitting at the feet of their favorite pastor on YouTube.
They call it the “home church movement,” an interesting phenomenon around the world in which Christians are leaving their church buildings for one reason or another and joining fellowships that meet in houses. Some even start their own churches in their homes and invite others to join them.
It’s a movement I first began reading about in a book I downloaded by Andrew Strom, titled, Out of Church Christians. (You can now read it for free by clicking the link!) Here is an excerpt:
There have been a number of publications that have referred to this “Out-of-church” phenomenon in recent years. As Christian pollster George Barna wrote in Re-Churching the Unchurched: “Relatively few unchurched people are atheists. Most of them call themselves Christian and have had a serious dose of church life in the past.” And the author of the World Christian Encyclopedia, David Barrett, estimates that there are around 112 million “churchless Christians” worldwide – about 5 percent of all adherents. He projects that this number will double by 2025.
New Zealand pastor Alan Jamieson, author of A Churchless Faith, has been studying this phenomenon for some years. To his surprise he found that far from being nominal churchgoers, 94% of the ‘out-of-church’ Christians he interviewed had been leaders of some kind – such as deacons, elders or Sunday school teachers – and 40% had been full-time Christian workers. He also found that for many the break came not because they had lost their faith, but more because they wanted to save it.
Sadly, Jamieson says that many churches seem unaware – and unconcerned – about those who have departed their ranks. The vast majority of leavers that he interviewed told him that no-one from their church had ever discussed with them why they had left.
I myself have discovered that there are a wide variety of reasons for people leaving, and a wide variety of situations that they find themselves in today. Some have joined the ranks of the new house-church or cell-church networks that are rising up all over the world. Many more, however, are opting for a more spontaneous or non-structured form of Christianity. Some have even left regular Christian fellowship altogether. For them this truly is a ‘wilderness’ experience – alone with God.
This Thursday, January 24th, we are focusing our program on this interesting phenomenon. And we hope to hear from you that day, either by phone (800-979-9010) or email. Are you a part of the Home Church Movement? If so, what made you leave your formal church organization? How do your gatherings work? The program runs from 9 – 10 a.m. Central Time. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section (remembering our comments policy of not naming local churches or leaders).