Rachel Held Evans recently blogged about her fifteen main reasons for leaving the church when she was twenty-seven. She includes a statistic about eight million other twenty-somethings who’ve left the church.
I’m a twenty-something. By many accounts, I should be one of the ones who’ve walked out on church. I have several friends who have walked out. I’m even a pastor’s kid. Trust me, we’ve got our own set of hang-ups and hurts related to growing up watching our parents in a sometimes contentious, often hurtful place of leadership.
But I’ve stayed.
At the end of her blog, Rachel asked those who’ve stayed why they’ve stayed. The question made me wonder – why have I stayed in the church? When so many of the rest of my generation are walking away, why am I still here?
Fifteen reasons I stayed in church:
1) I stayed in church because I loved being a part of the fabric of family life there – serving, leading, and participating in a hundred-and-one ways large and (usually) small.
2) I stayed in church because I saw my need for fellowship, mentorship, and leadership – people to call me out when I start wandering off in my own direction.
3) I stayed in church because I found answers there for my questions.
4) I stayed in church because I treasure the diversity of personality and perspective I found there.
5) I stayed in church because naturally I seek out friends who are my own age and maturity level. Church led me into relationships with people of different generations, whose maturity could rub off on me.
6) I stayed in church because I need a community who believes for me when I doubt.
7) I stayed in church because people there made a concerted effort to help me grow, learn, and mature. I guess we call that discipleship?
8) I stayed in church because it has a power that political parties and NGOs do not.
9) I stayed in church because I couldn’t imagine what life would be like away from it.
10) I stayed in church because of the history of monks, monasteries, and missionaries. Of the liturgy, of ancient church fathers’ writings, of remembering that every generation (including this one!) has had its strengths and heresies from which to learn.
11) I stayed in church because I was too painfully aware of my own broken, sinful nature and proud, selfish heart to fault too drastically the faults and sins of those in the pew next to me.
12) I stayed in church because it’s where I learned to be forgiven and to forgive.
13) I stayed in church because I met people who’d been hurt just like me by people in the church and had allowed it to soften them, to grow grace in them and I wanted to be able to do the same.
14) I stayed in church because the vision of a people “holy and dearly loved” was captivating and I couldn’t escape the draw of a body being formed into Christ’s hands and feet.
15) I stayed in church because Christ said He’d build it and that the gates of Hell wouldn’t be able to overcome it – and it’s the only group on earth that’s got that kind of guarantee.
What about you? Have you stayed around church? Why? If not, why have you left?