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Switch to Forum Live View Why People Change Churches
3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 3:55PM #1
tawonda
Posts: 4,367
We have an interesting case in our church of an extended family who's been attending our church for some time but whose roots are actually in a Nazarene church that's equidistant for them to travel. The dynamic seems to be that whenever that church has a competent, positive pastor the family goes there, but when it doesn't the family comes to our church. (Which is really interesting because Lutheran and Nazarene theologies are pretty much like matter and anti-matter, LOL, in everything from how we understand the Holy Spirit to our soteriology to how we worship.)

We also had an instance in our church of a couple who'd been coming to our church for years and years. Then one spouse's mother died...and almost starting the next week, the couple left and never came back. I finally found out from our pastor that there had been some unpleasantness in this couple's courtship, long ago -- one partner's family was Lutheran, the other United Methodist -- the Lutheran mama withheld her blessing on the marriage unless the Methodist in-law turned Lutheran. So apparently the couple had a pact that, as soon as Lutheran mama died, they'd start going to the United Methodist church. And that is what happened.

These are both examples of people who switch churches for other than theological reasons. And it seems to me that these "people" reasons for changing churches are often far more important to folks than theological reasons...as far as that goes, I don't think that most people are all that connected to the doctrines and practices of their churches, even if they've gone through religious instruction; I think it's all kind of a mystery to them that they're not inclined to look into, and instead base choosing a church home on other criteria.

Questions:

Have you ever switched churches for "people" reasons? What were those, if I may be so bold?

Did you go through other channels to try and resolve the issue, or did you just say, "I've had enough," and leave? If you had to do it over again would you have done things differently?

Have you ever contemplating leaving your church for "people" reasons but hung in there and came to a resolution?

What can churches do to promote better interpersonal relations and communication?





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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 4:46PM #2
Goyboy
Posts: 232

Can "people" reasons include finding the pastor to be repulsive?

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 5:48PM #3
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Certainly -- if the repulsiveness is based on something other than his/her theological outlook.


I once encountered a pastor who was just "off" to me somehow -- a little too slick and happy all the time, like a used car salesperson -- without getting into details, it turned out that my gut feelings were not unfounded. I'd been active in groups in two different churches at the time, and had felt a pull toward the other anyway...this episode just made it so much easier to leave his congregation.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 5:53PM #4
Goyboy
Posts: 232

One time the pastor of my congregation took time in his sermon to brag about himself.  That was a turn off to me. I eventually left that church in part because of his ego.


Once while visiting a starting congregation, its pastor took time in his sermon to brag about how his denomination was better than others.  That was enough to convince me to never return.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 6:22PM #5
Mostyn32
Posts: 2,941

I have attended services in other denominations but as a visitor only. I have never felt the urge to pull up my Anglican roots and transplant myself. No point to it, really, because Anglicanism covers such a wide range of theological stances  - all the way from 'more Catholic than the Pope' to 'more evangelical than Billy Graham' - so I can always find a parish that fits my theological framework. That's true of most Anglicans, I believe. If we don't like the way they do things in Anglican Church A, or we don't feel comfortable with the people or the priest, or if we feel our gifts are not being used, we can always head off down the road to Anglican Church B, C, D or E.


Of course, there are Anglicans who have swum the Tiber because of the inclusion of gay people, or have chosen to leave the Anglican Church to join churches that teach that homosexuality is a sin.


However, there is that old joke about Anglican and Lutheran evangelism usually taking place in the bedroom. The Anglican Church, in particular, tends to attract couples who grew up in different Christian traditions finding their shared home in Anglicanism. In my own parish we have several such couples - a Roman Catholic who married a member of the United Church (the United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 when part of the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church and the Congregationalist Church merged), a Uktainian Catholic who married a Baptist, for instance. We also have the 'bedroom' evangelism couples - men who married Anglican women, or vice versa, and ended up in the Anglican Church (in my experience, the partner who transferred in is usually much more 'Anglican' than the partner who grew up in the church!)


We have also become the spiritual home of people who grew up in the Mennonite, Baptist and Pentecostal traditions. Their reason for becoming Anglican was the need they had for a deeper sacramental experience of their faith.  All people who become mebers of an Anglican parish undergo preparation for and the liturgy of being received into the Anglican Church. 


In my diocese there are several priests who came into the Anglican Church from other Christian traditions. Many of them are women who grew up in the Roman Catholic Church and knew that their priestly vocation would not be recognized in the church of their upbringing.


 

"God is no captious sophister, eager to trip us up whenever we say amiss, but a courteous tutor, ready to amend what, in our weakness or our ignorance, we say ill, and to make the most of what we say aright."  from 'A Learned Discourse on Justification', a sermon by Richard Hooker (1554-1600).
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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 6:32PM #6
Ironhold
Posts: 11,346

If you go to any Mormon congregation outside of Utah, you're guaranteed to find that a large percentage of the congregation consists of converts, most of whom will tell you their story. 


A recurring theme among these stories is that, ironically, critics of the church make darn good recruiters for the church.


Generally, this works in one of two different ways. In both instances, it involves malfeasance on the part of the individual critic.


1. The critic will make a series of allegations, at which point someone decides to check things out for themselves... and in doing so decide that they like what they see. For example, one member of my congregation (being Army, he has since relocated) was openly hostile towards the church at one point and began dating a Mormon woman because he was hoping to "save" her by leading her into his congregation. When he decided to humor her by experiencing the church first-hand, he came to realize that what his minister had been telling him about us wasn't true; in response, he turned his back on his former congregation and became Mormon.


2. The critic will behave in such an unChristian fashion that they will alienate those around them and make them want to dissassociate with the minister and what they represent. For example, a few years back I was on a message board talking with a woman who had left the LDS faith due to the writings of a particular critic. When I and a few other posters began to point out the ways in which the critic's writings were not accurate, she came to realize that she'd been deceived and began to consider rejoining the church. In response, a self-proclaimed minister called on her husband to do anything and everything - including spousal abuse - to "save her" from "making a major mistake." The couple was so offended by his words that they both ended up coming back to the church.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 7:24PM #7
Goyboy
Posts: 232

Jun 7, 2011 -- 6:32PM, Ironhold wrote:


If you go to any Mormon congregation outside of Utah, you're guaranteed to find that a large percentage of the congregation consists of converts, most of whom will tell you their story. 


A recurring theme among these stories is that, ironically, critics of the church make darn good recruiters for the church.


Generally, this works in one of two different ways. In both instances, it involves malfeasance on the part of the individual critic.


1. The critic will make a series of allegations, at which point someone decides to check things out for themselves... and in doing so decide that they like what they see. For example, one member of my congregation (being Army, he has since relocated) was openly hostile towards the church at one point and began dating a Mormon woman because he was hoping to "save" her by leading her into his congregation. When he decided to humor her by experiencing the church first-hand, he came to realize that what his minister had been telling him about us wasn't true; in response, he turned his back on his former congregation and became Mormon.


2. The critic will behave in such an unChristian fashion that they will alienate those around them and make them want to dissassociate with the minister and what they represent. For example, a few years back I was on a message board talking with a woman who had left the LDS faith due to the writings of a particular critic. When I and a few other posters began to point out the ways in which the critic's writings were not accurate, she came to realize that she'd been deceived and began to consider rejoining the church. In response, a self-proclaimed minister called on her husband to do anything and everything - including spousal abuse - to "save her" from "making a major mistake." The couple was so offended by his words that they both ended up coming back to the church.





So, people become Mormons because of behavior, not because of theology?

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 7:50PM #8
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,152

I guess you could say I 'switched churches' for a 'people' reason. There was one church I'd go to when I was dating my ex and would go visit him for the weekend (he lived an hour and a half away). When we broke up, there was no need for me to go back to that church because I was only going there because of him anyway. That time also marked the beginning of a spiritual 'turning point' for me because I started to see the flawed reasoning in pretty much their whole denomination/belief system/style of worship. Leaving that relationship and other things surrounding it forced me to take a step back and examine what I *really* believed and what I wanted in a church.  The sacramental nature of my current church's worship fits with me much better than the 'if it feels good, do it' nature of my ex's church.


Also, I found another church home because the pastor left (along with some of the other ministers I knew there) after his wife died and it just *wasn't the same*. Is that a bad thing? It was a Baptist church I went to when I wasn't out of town, and this was before I got engaged and moved to GA. It happened around the same time as the breakup, so I'm not sure if I would have felt differently had that not happened.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 8:09PM #9
Goyboy
Posts: 232

Jun 7, 2011 -- 7:50PM, Beautiful_Dreamer wrote:

I found another church home because the pastor left (along with some of the other ministers I knew there) after his wife died and it just *wasn't the same*. Is that a bad thing? It was a Baptist church I went to when I wasn't out of town, and this was before I got engaged and moved to GA. It happened around the same time as the breakup, so I'm not sure if I would have felt differently had that not happened.




When the leadership of a congregation changes, it is possible for the direction and nature of that congregation to change also.  If the result is a lack of edification, then I see nothing wrong with leaving that congregation and finding another.

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3 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2011 - 9:47PM #10
Beautiful_Dreamer
Posts: 5,152

Jun 7, 2011 -- 7:24PM, Goyboy wrote:


Jun 7, 2011 -- 6:32PM, Ironhold wrote:


If you go to any Mormon congregation outside of Utah, you're guaranteed to find that a large percentage of the congregation consists of converts, most of whom will tell you their story. 


A recurring theme among these stories is that, ironically, critics of the church make darn good recruiters for the church.


Generally, this works in one of two different ways. In both instances, it involves malfeasance on the part of the individual critic.


1. The critic will make a series of allegations, at which point someone decides to check things out for themselves... and in doing so decide that they like what they see. For example, one member of my congregation (being Army, he has since relocated) was openly hostile towards the church at one point and began dating a Mormon woman because he was hoping to "save" her by leading her into his congregation. When he decided to humor her by experiencing the church first-hand, he came to realize that what his minister had been telling him about us wasn't true; in response, he turned his back on his former congregation and became Mormon.


2. The critic will behave in such an unChristian fashion that they will alienate those around them and make them want to dissassociate with the minister and what they represent. For example, a few years back I was on a message board talking with a woman who had left the LDS faith due to the writings of a particular critic. When I and a few other posters began to point out the ways in which the critic's writings were not accurate, she came to realize that she'd been deceived and began to consider rejoining the church. In response, a self-proclaimed minister called on her husband to do anything and everything - including spousal abuse - to "save her" from "making a major mistake." The couple was so offended by his words that they both ended up coming back to the church.





So, people become Mormons because of behavior, not because of theology?





I know I'm not Ironhold or a Mormon, so I apologize if I've 'butted in'! However, IMO behavior makes a *huge* difference.  A church or clergy can teach and say all the right things all day long, but if it's not lived out in the lives and behavior of the congregation, it's just talk.


If someone is willing to behave in such an offensive manner as the above-mentioned minister did, he is the *last* person I would want in front of my congregation. Hell, if it were possible to revoke someone's theology degree I'd do that, but some pastors don't have a degree to begin with.

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