Do you know any self-identifying “ex-“church attenders?

“I’m an ex-Catholic.” That’s what some folks from the Roman Catholic tradition are apparently referring to themselves these days. On NBC’s Today show, host Matt Lauer and company recently visited the Vatican. In an interview with the archbishop from New York, Timothy Dolan, they remarked in conversation together that for the first time, there’s a sizeable group of Catholics who are saying, “I’m no longer Catholic.” Father Dolan acknowledged that we’ve always had a group of Catholics who say, “I’m kind of lax [in attending church]”, but “these are people leaving [the church]”.

 
 

“42% say they don’t attend services on a weekly basis. That can’t be good news for the church. Have you been able to get your arms around the main reason… the main reason why it’s happening?” the archbishop was asked. He responded:

“Those are chilling, sobering statistics and we bishops have to look at it square in the eye. No pastor is going to be content with statistics like that, to get our people back, to excite them about the faith. That remains a high pastoral problem.

Why are people leaving? I think some of them are leaving because of scandal. I think some of them are leaving because of materialism and temptations in life. I think some are leaving because they’re on one side or the other that maybe the Catholic church has modernized too much and others because it hasn’t modernized [enough].”

 
 

It may suffice to say at the very least that this is a multi-faceted challenge for members of the church in leadership to grapple and wrestle with in attempting to address. One aspect that comes to mind has to do with our sense of self. What does it really mean for us to find our true identity in Christ? How do we view and regard “the church”? Do we have right thinking and well informed understanding of God’s intended purpose for the body of Christ that is “the church”?

 
 

These are questions of ecclesiology and missiology that challenge the ongoing formation of our theology of the church of Jesus Christ. How we view ourselves in the greater missional context of the whole community of believers in Christ worldwide will in a fundamental way impact our actions and/or inactions in matters of religion, faith and spirituality.

 
 

One thing I have come to in thinking further upon these things… It’s going to take more than just any one person. But it can and does begin with one encouraging another. Do you know any self-identifying “ex-“church attenders? Encourage them to attend again! Find a way to winsomely invite them once more to experience God’s ever welcoming, loving, open arms of embrace with kindness and grace.

 
 

With our New Castle community’s inordinate amount of snow days used this past winter into spring having extended the school year into the middle of June, you and I may be tempted to take as big and as long a break as we can from the regularity of scheduled activities throughout the short summer months we have left. And yet, I want to encourage you and me/myself, all of us to consider and/or reconsider.

 
 

The writer in Hebrews (10:24-25) exhorts the hearer of the Word in this way: Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 
 

As king David proclaimed in the Psalms, may each and every one of us in Christ also say: I was glad when they said unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord!”

 
 

Pastor Rex

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~ by prayersForMelissa on June 16, 2011.

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