Sunday, November 09, 2008

Quitting Church: A Short Review

So it only took a few sittings to finish Julia Duin's Quitting Church.  While not all was wrong I struggled to not...well struggle through her observations.  Full interesting and lots and lots of polls and stats, there was a lot to digest.  But the gist of the book is that people are quitting church.  OK.  So I am not sure that would be a surprise for anyone besides those who have just emerged form the cave.  Duin couches what I can only assume are suggestions for improvement in chapters, each with an observation.  I think it would be easy to say that Duin longs for a church with the community of the Jesus Movement (which she was a part of) that is Charismatic (she is) where women (like her) can be ordained.  She would like for churches to be more mindful of singles over 35 (like herself) and I think she would prefer good teaching but I was not sure.  The catch 22 of her criticism is that she rails against seeker-sensitive churches while being more specific than any other person I have ever heard about what she wants.  The book only "works" if you really listen to the reasons people are leaving.  Therein lies a huge assumption.  If you dare to criticize the thinking behind anyone who leaves, you then become further proof of the reasons they left in the first place.  The unsatisfied customer reigns supreme.  

All that brings us to what is not even on the radar of Julia Duin and her friends and family. First, all the complaints she puts forth are born of living in a place where there is choice in where you worship.  There may be this problem in China but their lack of choice makes such worries and complaints ring a tad bit hollow.  Second, there was no discussion but the glory of God for which we were made and saved (Eph. 3:21).  This book was in no way a metaphysical discussion. Third, the cross was absent except for her (veiled) complaint that, physically speaking there was no cross displayed in many churches today.  It really made it hard for me to listen to her complaints when the very thing that beget the church was for the most part a tertiary given(1 Cor. 1:2; 8:11; Eph. 5:25).  Fourth and lastly, I appreciated her looking at Mars Hill in Seattle but she gives no indication she talked with any of the staff.  And she never mentioned the Acts 29 network and os of course dialogued with no one involved in it.

Because of the above reasons I just can't commend this book as being helpful.  A more helpful book would be this one.

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