You may know that I have a great concern about the disunity of Protestantism, and the anti-gospel, anti-doctrinal, pro-consumeristic tendencies of many churches in America—something I call: Ameri-Christianity. I have personally sat through works-righteousness moralistic sermons in a variety of churches: from the National Cathedral, to small Methodist and Pentecostal churches, to Baptist and non-denominational mega-churches.
Because of this, I want to share 5 Reasons You Should (Probably) Leave Your Attractional Church by Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition. I hope you find it insightful and useful in your situation.
Here are a few related posts on Average Us:
❯ 12 Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s Church (for the Worse)
21 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Consider Leaving Your Church”
If I took reason #4 seriously – then I could never attend a complementarian church because all that teaching does is marginalize single people as insignificant in comparison to married couples. Which I think is ironic given that The Gospel Coalition considers Complementarianism to be a central tenant of Christian faith.
Really? I would be surprised if their statements on that explicitly marginalize single people (like Jesus and Paul). If they make that mistake, then gather what is useful and true, ignore what is not.
All leaders in the church must be married men, the husband of one wife, who manages his children well. His role is leadership, her role is to help. By that measure, neither Jesus nor Paul would be permitted to be elders or deacons in the church they are largely responsible for founding. Women are not permitted to have authority over or teach men, so women are routinely denied positions of influence or significance in the church in the name of different but equal roles. Single men and women just represent half of those roles – so they’re not afforded the same respect as married couples are because they have to fill both roles – the homemaker and bread-winner. When was the last time you heard a sermon about how to encourage single Christians? Me – never. It’s always sermons about marriage, headship, authority, submission, head coverings, roles, etc.
You appear to be an egalitarian with an axe to grind against those who submit to the clear teaching of scripture. The context of reason #4 “You’re not in a position of significant influence” was that there is not really much hope you’ll be able to help ‘turn the church around.’ In fact the first few sentences under that subheading are:
“It is a noble idea to want to stay and influence an attractional church toward gospel-centrality, but I have to tell you quite frankly it is very unlikely to happen. It’s not impossible, but it is improbable. It’s especially improbable if you are not in any kind of leadership position.”
Further, your exegesis of 1 Tim 3:1-7 (I’m guessing is what you’re getting at with, “All leaders in the church must be married men, the husband of one wife, who manages his children well.”) is really, really bad. Paul’s argument is that a man ought to be married to one wife, as opposed to a polygamist, serial adulterer or divorcee, and that if he has children, they should be fairly well behaved. These conditions reflect well on the man, just as Paul states in the negative in verse 5 “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” It doesn’t prohibit single men or widowers from the ministry. 1 Tim 2:11-14 does prohibit women from positions of teaching and authority over men, though, regardless of whether you like it or not.
If the whole spectrum of Christian thought and beliefs that are not complementarian can be simply labeled egalitarian, then that’s what I must be, right? Either one or the other? So then, the whole spectrum of Christian thought and beliefs that are not egalitarian can simply be labeled complementarianism? I guess that makes things simple in a complicated world, I can see how one might find that comforting.
The problem with Christian churches, attractional and otherwise is that nobody listens. They all decide that they already know what is best for you and then they tell you what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get it done. They don’t ask for advice or input. I saw this happen at my last church. Single people couldn’t build a consensus among the leadership as they were not represented. The elders felt they were too immature and they shot down every idea the young people had. After the umpteenth time, the young people all started leaving. You can’t change a church from the inside out when you’re at the very bottom of the pyramid.
That’s the problem with the way that the leaders interpret the rules – you keep the ones that you can use to your advantage while you ignore ones that get in the way. The by-laws of that very same church said this: “divorced men are not permitted to be elders or deacons, but if the divorce was no fault of their own, they will be given permission to be elders or deacons on a case-by-case basis.” Same went with the other rules “fathers must have the respect of their children. married men without children may be considered for leadership on a case-by-case basis” and “married men have priority consideration for leadership, but single men may be considered on a case-by-case basis”. I don’t understand why these rules are that flexible for marital status and whether or not men have children, but the rule that leaders must be men cannot be broken if every other rule can. I guess it’s the clear teaching of Scripture that tells you what you can get away with when you’re properly submitted to it.
Wow. In all my experience, I’ve never heard a set of by-laws like that. It would be hard to defend biblically, I think. May I ask what denomination? Your answer may surprise me, or make me think, “no wonder…”
Also, keep in mind that “complementarian” refers to a view of marriage, not to eligibility for church leadership–or at least, I don’t think it should.
Southern Baptists – they view that complementarian gender roles apply just as much in churches as they do in marriage. Since churches are allowed to vary, some are actually worse than others. One once called a “head of the household meeting” but neglected to mention when and where it was to take place to the single women – after the meeting, the pastor said that he “represented” them at the meeting and told them what everyone else had voted on and decided to do and how he voted for them.
Sorry to hear this. I’m very sorry for the experiences you’ve had that create a feeling of estrangement.
Jamie, generally speaking, you’re either taking the complementarian side or the egalitarian side. I suppose you could be a chauvinist (toward men or women), but I didn’t want to assume you thought men were inherently better than women or vice versa. I had only to take all of 2 minutes to scan your blog to see this would appear at first blush to be all you think and talk about, and the topic of biblical gender roles is immediately what you jumped into here. This is my first time on Average Us, so I don’t know if you’re a regular here. And obviously we don’t know each other.
I’m sincerely sorry if you’ve been treated poorly by people at the various churches you’ve been to. From what I’ve witnessed, by both practice and confession most “churches” in the U.S. are in reality just large buildings with really nice lawns that lost people go to on Sundays and (sometimes) Wednesdays.
It’s somewhat ironic that you brought up the gender roles issue. This article caught my eye because nine months ago, I finally decided to leave the church I’d been attending for six years, and their egalitarianism was a chief part of that decision. It was not the only factor but a symptom of their greater problem, which is that they don’t believe in the authority or sufficiency of scripture. The denomination’s book store was selling heaven tourism, mysticism, and social justice books, pastor was using The Message in his sermons, and the doctrinal understanding of nearly everyone I talked to, who were mostly elderly people who’d been in church their entire life, was about a half inch deep, just to name a few of the issues (and within the last year many of the churches within that denomination appear to be caving on sodomy). I was not a member and could no longer stay in good conscience. I conveyed my concerns as graciously as I could manage and got out. Praise the Lord, I found a nearby family integrated reformed church to attend and experienced true fellowship with like-minded believers from day one – something I’d never had at the other church.
As for your inability to grasp “flexibility” regarding marital status but not the sex of the individual, I’m not sure what to tell you. Reading through 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and the first three chapters of Genesis should suffice. Paul’s (and the Holy Spirit who breathed truth through him into his epistles) argument for gender roles is based on the created order, pre-fall. Marriage and family issues of the candidate reflect on his character. A man who has never been married and had no children could possibly be “untested” in some ways, especially if he’s young, but not necessarily so. If a man lived immorally before he was saved, including being divorced, that may not necessarily disqualify him (this might be debated more by some people). If a man’s wife decides to leave him after he’s saved because she hates that he is a Christian, 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 indicates that he should let her leave, if that is her desire. However if the man behaves immorally while professing Christ, he does disqualify himself and is to be disciplined harshly and publicly as an example to the other elders (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
If you’re sincerely desiring to understand these things, I’d suggest listening to MacArthur’s free bible studies on gty.org and focusing on 1 Tim and 1 Corinthians 7. It’ll take a while to get through, but it’s worth it. I’ve also found Paul Washer to be excellent on the topic of biblical manhood and womanhood, in particular of trying to instill in men the understanding of the extreme gravity of their roles as husbands and fathers, and the consequences for men who are abusive or derelict in that responsibility.
However, it’s statements like this that I find troubling: “… the rule that leaders must be men cannot be broken if every other rule can. I guess it’s the clear teaching of Scripture that tells you what you can get away with when you’re properly submitted to it.” This leads me to believe you’ve got your issue and you’ll find anything to grab hold of to keep lashing away at it. Please know it’s God’s word that you hate and not those who fail to live in light of it. There are, unfortunately, many who abuse their God-given authority, in the home, in the church, and in the civil arena. They will be held to account for their hypocrisy and so will you and so will I. So I hope you do what I strive to do, by God’s grace alone: keep repenting of your sin and rebellion and turn toward Jesus Christ, and his substitutionary life and death as your only hope of justification before a holy and righteous God.
I tend to wrestle with Scripture a lot – I probably won’t officially see myself as either egalitarian or complementarian without another year’s worth of research. I just really don’t like it when people try to tell me what I am and don’t let me decide for myself. That’s why I created my blog – as place for me to sort it all out. I’ve recently written a few dozen posts on 1 Corinthians, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. I learned a lot, but I haven’t gotten around to posting them yet. It bothers me that when it comes to things like the Temple or the Tabernacle, God devotes whole chapters and verses to them – one after each other, down to the tiniest detail, but complementarianism is culled from various passages and books all over the place – it seems inconsistent of God to not be so thorough if it is supposedly as important as all that.
I think that was a very understandable and gracious response.
I do hear sermons on this subject. And I believe single men can and should be pastors, deacons, elders, etc. I personally believe single or married women may serve in the office of deacon. But, now we’re way off topic from this post, so I’ll leave it here.
That’s a rarity in this region. I listen to some of the churches over the internet and most of them are far less reasonable.
“Stop for a minute and consider how many mature Christians…are becoming disillusioned by the places that are effectively starving them out. There are times to go. I pray that the Lord will give you the wisdom and discernment and a spirit of gentleness—and of courage.”
May we all pray for our brothers and sisters….it does take courage. There are times to go, and may we be there to welcome them.
Jamie, I’m assuming you are not familiar with Reformed churches holding to the Westminster Confession of Faith?
As far as i know, there are none in this county. We have 80% Southern Baptist Churches, the rest are mostly Methodist, something called Cumberland Presbyterians, Church of God of Prophecy, and a few Amish churches.The majority of the SBC churches are likely small congregations of roughly 50 people, usually elderly, they sing hymns and that’s why there are usually only a few millennials – and that’s if there are an at all.
Jamie, I’m sending you ((( hugs))). You need to move :) Go to the link for Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wyoming, Michigan. ( That’s the Grand Rapids area). You can watch their services via Livestream. It’s a congregation of 600, and half of that is under the age of 18.
Streaming just isn’t the same as being at church, singing with the congregation, praying with the congregation, catching up with people – that sort of thing. The nearest OPC church is a two hour drive to get there. I’m just not convinced that I’d belong there either. I might be too liberal and not Calvinistic enough (though I can’t say that I’m Arminian because I don’t really understand that either.) Is there are a lot room for different views? Or is there a tendency to ‘correct’ people like me to the one, true view of Scripture?
I think you are correct to believe that streaming is not the same as participating in the “one another”. Wherever you worship, I will pray that you find a place that preaches the gospel and respects your freedom of thought, question, challenge, and doubt. That’s what we all need, I think.
Also, thanks, Lon, for linking this article.
And in answer to your comment about complementarianism, it extends to ecclesiology also. This is one example:
I stand corrected. Thanks. I suppose complimentarianism is a view of male and female roles that has implications for the church. I admit I think of church roles and marriage roles separately, for better or worse.
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