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.