Saturday, December 27, 2014
A Churchless faith
Alan Jamieson is a pastor and sociologist who uses the work of James Fowler in modelling spiritual growth as stages of faith in order to analyze those who have left the church. The book challenges the prevailing view about church leavers and has clear messages for both the individual feeling church is no longer for them, and for churches facing the departure of well-known members.
From the perspective of someone rethinking their religious faith, the most helpful aspect of the book was the level-voiced and non-judgmental survey work (drawn from Jamieson's doctoral thesis) showing why people stop attending churches. Jamieson develops a model showing why people leave and the summary, surprising to some, is that it's a matter of growth of faith rather than death of faith that makes the majority of leavers go it alone. The key message to the individual? "You're not the first to face this, and you're not on your own".
Like the related book 'The Post-Evangelical', Jamieson discusses the fact that faith systems today exist in the context of a culture completing the transition to a post-modern outlook. His challenge to church leaders is to see leavers not as the fallen but as pioneers. His research finds in the majority of cases individuals with insight into expressing faith in post-modern terms rather than in the modernist terms of the established churches. The key message to the church? "Culture is changing, and your leavers are your congregations's pioneers".
Overall this is a book that should be on every minister's shelf and which could offer relief to long-term church members and leaders suffering 'burn out'.
Taken from an Amazon review by Simon Phipps on July 4, 2003.