The word “dechurched” is not a common term in mainstream Christianity. In fact, it doesn’t even appear in Webster’s unabridged dictionary. But for me, it describes a neglected group of Christians: those whose firsthand encounters with Christianity have been negative, painful, and alienating, and because of this significant wounding have left the church or lost their faith.
I have heard many of us talk about ministry to the unchurched and the need to deconstruct our language and methods to better meet the needs of those for whom church is foreign. What we talk about less is the dirty little secret of the “dechurched,” those folks who were part of a Christian community and found it wanting, leading to disillusionment and despair. This group is, in my experience, often the hardest to address because the level of woundedness is great. I have had the privilege of bring folks back into a relationship with the church, but it took time, energy, and much love to do so.
I stumbled upon this article as I was doing additional research for my sermon tonight, and it raised up these issues for me again. I would encourage you to check it out, and then share your insights about ministry with the dechurched.
3 thoughts on “Ministry to the Dechurched”
I think that article is too pessimistic and negative. Oodles of people leave the church because it is run according to business principles, or because they get tired of hearing Christianity 101 every Sunday, and get sick of the endless altar calls. In reality there are plenty of options for Christians outside of church institutions. Opportunities for real friendship, for challenging discussions, and personal growth. That is my experience. The article you point to wants people to go back to church, as though the programs and culture present there are what Christ intended.
I totally agree with you Bryan, and I was a former institutionalized pastor!!! I took a church split to see that truth. A year away from the commercial church did me well. It indeed opened “opprotunities for real friendship” (not people with a hidden agenda), “challenging discussions, and personal growth”.
Everyone in the commercial “church” tends to think that there is something wrong with someone who won’t join their particular group, I just think the Church that Christ started was good enough – no need for another one – Christians living together in community (without the temple trappings – a true expression of worship).
My family recently became dechurched. It is not because we were wounded and we do not need to be saved and brought back into the fold. We love Jesus, we believe the Bible, we are saved. But we also think there’s a better way to follow God that the institutionalized church. You can check out our journey here: http://ayearwithoutchurch.wordpress.com/