Duin's book is one of a parade of books coming out during the past few years on how people in the tens of millions are storming out of the evangelical church. Unlike some other authors, Duin is a professing believer, but like many others, not attending a church during recent years.
Her book exemplifies the paradox Christian leaders face today. The complaints raised in interviews with ex-church people present a contradiction: On one hand, people claim they don't have time to make the commitment to attend. They're too busy. She cites research predicting that people are just going to get their spiritual food from the internet and form what Barna calls "a church of one." The world-committed consumer Christian is exemplified perfectly by this guy:
“I want to go back. But it takes such a lot of effort to go there after working all week and doing errands all Saturday. And if you do go, you want something back. You need your batteries charged. …Church is not like that anymore. You get no return for what you put into it.” Page 33This quote shows two of the biggest problems we face today. First is the fact people are so committed to the world system that it takes all their energy, so there isn't much left for God. Next is the fact that this is consumer Christianity--the bottom line is always "what's in it for me?"
But God sends us into the church for what we can give, not for what we can get. Accommodation to the world and to consumer Christianity is a bottomless hole that will never satisfy anyone, and betrays God's instructions.
At the same time, they complain that church is impersonal, doesn't connect with their lives, and superficial. These quotes are typical:
One of the top reasons people give for their leaving church is loneliness: the feeling—especially in large congregations that no one knows or cares whether they are there. Page 50Duin comments:
Many churches have become like supermarkets or gas stations: totally depersonalized arenas where most people no longer feel a responsibility to be hospitable to the person standing next to them. … As for those who drop out, no one notices. Page 52So, the superficiality I wrote about earlier combines with accommodation to produce a situation that makes everyone sick. At the same time, she points out that "The people I talk with who have found true community and then must leave it, due to family or job reasons, pine for it for the rest of their lives." Page 50
So, again, we see two problems. One is that people just "must leave it" (which is to say in most cases the world system demands they leave so they can make more money). The other issue is that true community is so awesome it should be worth giving up other values to keep it.
When will we stop trying to out-soft each other to compete for worldly-minded members, and call people to the New Testament standard for real body life? Wouldn't it be better to have a smaller church that had real serving community than a bigger one that's so bland, superficial, and disengaged that people wonder why they're there?