The following is a short Q&A with Julia Duin, the author of Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing. A successful religion reporter and religion editor for the Washington Times, Duin asks why so many churches are losing membership, and presents possible answers in an engaging, journalistic style. Julia’s book will soon be available as a Bondfire eBook.
BF: What are you writing for Bondfire?
JD: We’re reprinting my book Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing. The original, which was released four years ago, turned out to be enormously prescient about where church trends were going. That is: Down. Today, 19.6 percent of the American populace – nearly one in five people – are determined to have no religious affiliation whatsoever. That is an enormous jump over previous decades. When I first wrote the book, I hoped that it – and similar books by other authors that came out about the same time – would spur reformation and change. I can’t say they did. Most of the problems I spotlighted four years ago still exist.
Why are you writing this book? What inspired you?
Although the United States is becoming more like Europe in its approaching irreligiosity, there are still church leaders and religion professionals in denial about the trends. I’m trying to wake people up about the legions of people who are leaving church and why they’re doing so. I’ve published five books and this is by far my most popular. The things I wrote have really struck a nerve with people.
Why should people read Quitting Church? What do you hope we will take away?
A lot of publicity about the non-affiliated believers concentrates on the under-35 crowd. And they do have the highest rates of no religious affiliation. Left unnoticed, though, are the people ahead of them; the baby boomers who grew up during the Jesus movement and charismatic revival who are also voting with their feet. It’s those believers who particularly intrigue me as to why they’re leaving. And they are leaving. They’re not sticking with the church of their youth – or their children’s youth – anymore. Why do such large amounts of people find church irrelevant these days? Why do we often run into Christian leaders who quietly admit they’re not regulars at any church? (The book spotlights John Eldredge, George Barna and John Whitehead as they are known in the evangelical world. There are others). Before you can find a solution, you have to admit there’s a problem and I’m the trumpet, alerting people in the church world that there’s a huge problem.