How To Love People Who Have Stepped Away From The ChurchJessica Griggs
My husband and I moved to Seattle last year in the wake of the internationally known mega church, Mars Hill splitting up, and eventually coming to an end. This created an interesting environment for Christians in the area. Seattle is already widely regarded as one of the most unchurched cities in America, and after the rise and ugly fall of the biggest church in the greater Seattle area, the environment was nothing short of hostile. Thousands of churchgoers were hurt and felt deceived, and without a solid church home to heal, this pain turned to bitterness and in some cases, hatred. A few walked away from the faith, but a majority simply walked away from organized religion. Over the past year, I have come to know these people, to share their struggles, and to even see them slowly come back to church. Here are a few things I have observed:
Get To Know Their Story Before You Judge
It is easy to see the person who was hurt and to tell them to “count it all joy,” or point them towards verses in Acts about the importance of gathering together, or passages in 1 Corinthians about the whole body of believers, or, well, any number of scriptures to support healthy church attendance. This is probably the biggest hinderance to those who have left the church. They already feel like they have been wronged, and carry around guilt and shame for walking away. The last thing they need is more confrontation. There is a time and a place to have these conversations, but before any of that can happen, you need to get to know them as a person. Listen to why they left, what events lead up to that decision, and what is keeping them from coming back.