The Common Good

Quitting Church: An Interview with Julia Duin

In Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do about It, Julia Duin, former religion editor for The Washington Times, explores why people are leaving the church but yet finding God outside of the traditional structures of church. In her research she noted that people want to change the world and not simply start another ministry program.

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What prompted you to write the book Quitting Church?

That came mostly from my own rather bitter experience of leaving a church that I had joined in Northern Virginia in 1996. I left in early 2001 for many reasons. I saw that other people I knew were going through the exact same thing. I started thinking that if this is happening to me and my friends, then this might be a nationwide trend. I wanted to help people out or give those people who have left church a voice because when a person leaves, it's never seen as the church's fault for why they chose to leave.

After you left the church, how did you practice your faith in that six-year interval, before you found another church?

I was part of a Bible study group with my old church. So, in a way, I was still getting a lot of the good stuff and meeting with a lot of the same people. I got just about everything on Wednesday nights that I needed by studying the Bible, people praying for me, and me praying for them. Also, for my work I visited a lot of churches and was getting plenty of spiritual food in all the Christian books I was reading.

What brought you back to the church?

I adopted a daughter and really felt I've got to school this child in Christianity. Also, it was partly selfish, but I just wanted some time on Sunday mornings that I could have to myself.

So I thought, I'm going to go to church where someone else can amuse her for 90 minutes, while I can at least think about God a little bit.

You have a chapter that focuses on singles. How can those who aren't married find their calling and find their niche and find their way to serve God?

I really think people need to find a church that meets their needs. If a particular church isn't meeting your needs, then feel free to leave. Put your money in churches where they are interested in helping you, especially if you're single. Most churches don't do anything to really help singles get married. But then they tell singles they need to hang around in places that aren't helpful to them. Singles are expected to be the servants and do the missions work, the Sunday School, the child care, the whatever.

What do you say of these women, who want to have a greater role in the life of the church?

If you don't want to leave your church and go somewhere else, then get a group together. You'd be surprised how many people will join up with you, once they see someone organizing.

What do you think it's going to take for people to start craving church and stop quitting?

You go to church today and people just sit there like they're going to a movie. People will crave church when the Holy Spirit is so evident in the body. The praying church in the 1970s is when the Holy Spirit really moved. They didn't care whether you were single or married or what. You had churches like St. Paul's in Darien, Connecticut, that just went on for like three hours and you didn't care because God was moving in incredible ways.

portrait-becky-garrison Follow Becky Garrison's travels on twitter @JesusDied4This.

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