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.
God bless you, my friends.
Kindest regards in Christ,
Andrew Strom.

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