If you've talked to 20-somethings lately, you've probably noticed we're disillusioned about almost everything—government, war, the economy, and most things having to do with The Man. We're especially disillusioned with church. Somewhere between the Crusades, the Inquisition, and fundamentalists bombing abortion clinics, we lost our appetite for institutionalized Christianity. A slew of recent books addresses this growing disenchantment.

An oft-disillusioned (and hopelessly idealistic) 20-something myself, I picked up Life After Church: God's Call to Disillusioned Christians (InterVarsity), and Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation (Zondervan). I figured that I'd find writers who share my frustrations. But I was also hoping they would push me toward a deeper and richer relationship with the church—and in this, I was left unsatisfied.

In Life After Church, Brian Sanders writes specifically for "leavers"—people who are committed to Jesus Christ but often view church as a "failed experiment." They feel that following Jesus and staying in a local congregation have become mutually exclusive. Likewise, Sarah Cunningham in Dear Church writes for those who "question whether attending a local church has anything to do with a person's faith."

Both authors focus on local congregations as the primary source of disappointment. Sanders says leavers find Sunday morning services irrelevant—they're repetitive, they don't address issues that really matter to them, and they fail to provide meaningful outlets for service. Leavers often feel that they've outgrown what they perceive as simplistic, seeker-oriented messages; nor do they find churches conducive to deep community. Cunningham says 20-somethings are uncomfortable ...

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April 2008

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