[anzac] Re: "OUT OF CHURCH" CHRISTIANS

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2005 17:51:18 -0600
NOTE:  Two years ago we published an email that caused
something of an Internet 'storm' - about the growing phenomenon 
of "Out-of-church" Christians. For weeks afterwards I was
absolutely inundated with emails on this topic from all over the
world. About five months ago a writer from Charisma magazine 
interviewed me for a story they were doing on this phenomenon. 
(-They interviewed many others also). But I forgot all about it until 
this week when it became apparent that this "church-leaving" 
topic is their main story in this month's issue. Quite an interesting 
article, too - which is bound to bring a lot more attention to this 
'exodus' that has quietly been taking place worldwide for quite 
some time. But WHY is it happening? Why did that one simple 
email produce an avalanche of responses the like of which we had 
never seen? What is it that is causing this frustration with "church 
as we know it" right now - on such a large scale?

Below is the original article that I sent out in April 2003. Please
forward it on if you can. I am still just as interested in people's
responses on this subject as I was back then.


Re:  "OUT OF CHURCH" Christians
-by Andrew Strom.

I am writing on a rather unusual topic today. On Monday
night (31 March) I was invited onto a Christian Radio show
in New Zealand to discuss the growing numbers of "Out-of-
church" Christians in the West - people who have left the 
churches for various reasons but still claim a strong Christian 
faith. It was a very interesting night, and the phones ran hot. 

This "Out-of-church" phenomenon has now grown so large that 
books are being written about it.  In fact, several years ago I 
heard an estimate that there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of 
such Christians just in our largest city (-Auckland) alone. And 
I believe it is the same right across the Western nations. I 
have personally come into contact with literally hundreds of 
such people. The surprising thing is that they are often the 
most committed kind of Christians - praying, insightful, deep-
thinking. Yet they have grown tired of "playing the game" 
inside our church system and have opted out. Often their
involvement goes back many years. In fact, they had 
commonly been leaders of various kinds.

But now they have left. Why? The church obviously finds 
this a very difficult thing to explain or deal with. The usual
accusations are often trotted out: "So-and-so has been hurt
and has a root of bitterness". Or they are in "rebellion". Or
they are "not a team player". Or they are "backsliding".

But if you talk to these people you will often find that they
have been sitting in church for years and years, and they
simply cannot stand to sit and watch the same old game
being played any more. The LACK OF GOD is what gets to
them - even in our most "Spirit-filled" churches. WHERE IS 
GOD IN ALL OF OUR ACTIVITY?  Surely this is not the 
way it is supposed to be?  

New fads and programs come and go, but the mediocrity and
LACK OF GOD just seem to go on forever. And so quietly,
sometimes without anyone even noticing, they slowly slip 
out the doors - never to return. Some have even told me that
they felt God "calling them out". Others simply felt they 
couldn't stay there anymore. The state of the church weighed 
upon them more than words could say.

Very often they did the rounds of other churches, hoping
against hope that they would find a place that felt "right" in 
any way. (-Though most of them are not "church-hoppers" 
by nature). But the places they visited never seemed any 
more "right" than the place they had left. And after a while 
it just seemed easier to stay at home with God.

As I said earlier, most of these people have not given up on 
Christianity at all. It is today's church system that they have 
given up on. And we are talking about large numbers here.
Thousands are already opting out. And many feel like they 
are "waiting" for something.

Some of these people have started up home-fellowships. Or 
they meet with other couples on a casual basis. But many
meet with nobody at all, and they consider themselves in a 
'Wilderness' place - alone with God. (-Very common).

I was asked several weeks ago by a pastor whether I agreed
that what is happening could be a 'move of God'. That is a 
pretty radical thought.  Many leaders would think the 
opposite. Because anything that leads people out of
"their church" can't be of God, can it?

Hmmmm.  All I know is this: The concept of going through
a 'Wilderness' just before entering the 'Promised Land' is 
totally Scriptural.  In fact, it is right through the Bible. 
Even Jesus went through such a wilderness time.

But it is not possible to stay "alone" forever. Some day, 
if these people are going to be part of a new move of 
God's Spirit, they are going to have to come out of their 
wilderness and become part of the "BODY" that Jesus  
brings together - the 'new wineskin' that will come with 
this new move of God. Otherwise they could miss out.
That is the great danger.

I'm sure there are many on this List with comments or
testimonies relating to this topic. I would love to hear
from you. It really is becoming a significant issue in the
church.

If you wish to respond, our email here is-
prophetic@...

God bless you, my friends.

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.