Posted by: Philip Rushton | March 26, 2012

Why This 30 Year Old Has Not Left The Church

I was inspired by my friend Kent’s blog post last week. In the midst of all kinds of research about how people in my generation are leaving the church, Kent put out a list of 20 reasons why he has remained. I’d encourage you to check out his list – it is worth a read! You can go to his blog by clicking here.

Kent’s list was inspired by Rachel Held Evans, a prominent writer and blogger, who came up with two lists about why she left the church in her 20’s and why she finally returned. You can click here to read her list of why she left, and here to read why she returned.

Church life can be full of ups and downs. Many of us have no doubt faced frustrations with the church. Many of the reasons why Evans left the church are common reasons among people my age. She was frustrated with the church because she was not empowered to use her gifts as a women, she was not allowed to ask questions, and she found that the evangelical tradition provided a very shallow vision of salvation. I’ve shared many of Evans frustrations at times. Growing up, I often found myself cringing at the Christian culture I was a part of. Thankfully, I came across some thoughtful Christians who opened up to me the depth and breadth of the Christian faith.

I think it is important for us to normalize our frustrations with church. We are, after all, a group of broken sinful people that are in process. Bruce Hindmarsh, a professor of mine at Regent, says that our frustration with the church results from the fact that we bring our hopes for heaven to church and end up encountering sin. In many ways the church is like a hospital. We are a group of broken people in the process of experiencing growth and healing. As such, disillusionment is bound to happen from time to time.

In essence, going to church requires humility. We need to acknowledge that we too are broken and are in need of the community of faith. Kent included a great quote from Erasmus in his blog post. It reads: “I put up with this church, in the hope that one day it will become better, just as it is constrained to put up with me in the hope that I will become better.”

In light of all this I thought I would attempt a short list of why I have not left the church. This could go on much longer, but here are a few things that come to mind.

1. Because Lisa Som loves kids and has created a culture where my new baby will encounter Jesus.

2. Because I get to read scripture with 12 other people on Wednesday nights and gain insight and accountability.

3. Because we allow women to be on our deacon board and our board of directors.

4. Because we are providing food to 67 families through our food bank today.

5. Because I know where Dennis hides the keys to the bell tower.

6. Because some of my golfing buddies remember the good old days when they were in their 60’s. Our intergenerational community gives me all kinds of perspective on life. I encounter the full spectrum from birth to death in any given week.

7. Because our church cares about young people and donated over 10,000 dollars at the most recent auction.

8. Because I get to learn from two experienced pastors (Chris and John) at this early stage in my vocation.

9. Because Pastor John has taught me the importance of putting people first in ministry.

10. Because our church has an authentic feel and does not rely on technological gimmicks and fads to get people to stay.

11. Because I get to rock out on my electric guitar at 8:45 and then put on a tie and enjoy a traditional liturgy at 11:00.

12. Because there are people I can turn to if I’m in need. Thank you Tym for helping me repair my leaky sink yesterday!

13. Because our deacons are eager to serve. There is a lot of ownership by church members for the various ministries going on.

14. Because we do not major on the minors when it comes to theology. There is room for people to ask questions and figure out who Jesus is.

15. Because our home comes to life on Sunday night when we enjoy soup and talk about life with our new small group.

16. Because I have to wear earplugs in my office on Tuesdays because we have MOPS kids running everywhere.

17. Because the people in our newcomers class said they felt warmly welcomed when they began attending our church. Our formal “Gothic cathedral” has managed to develop an informal welcoming feel.

18. Because I got to baptize Graham and Evan a couple months ago – even though the hot water tank broke and the water was near freezing.

19. Because I get to try things like Taize worship services and people actually show up.

20. Because spiritual growth is hard in our culture and I need the help and support of the community of faith.

In an age where church participation is on the decline, what keeps you coming?


  1. What keeps me coming back!
    The continuing need to be corporately nearer to God, with others of a similar ilk
    The likes of YOU and John and Chris
    Being able to ring Bells, Sing (choir, women’s group, Taize group) and ring Bells
    Those wonderful ‘out of the mouths of babes’ comments during the Children’s moments
    Even sermons!!
    Tea at the coffee hour
    Monday Bible Study
    The 50 or so people whose names I DO know and the couple hundred others who I know, but not their names (all the time)
    A wonderful, small, caring! Circle
    The wonder and confusion of well over 200 kids and adults during VBS and how it all comes together on Sunday for a full house!!

    These are a few of my favorite things!!

  2. Dude, I need to not want to copy off of you…this is making me want to write my own list for my own blog…you and your good ideas! =)

    • I’m just copying two other people – copy away!

  3. PS: Sorry for the broken hot water tank. 🙂

    • It’s all good – a very memorable baptism! The added element of cold water made it a true ‘rite of passage’ that the boys were proud of.

  4. Ooh! Thanks for the reminder Phil. I’d read Rachel’s reasons she left church and was too frustrated with her to go back and read the reasons she went back I heard she posted later. Glad you reminded me to go there.

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