For the past few decades, there has been a whole lot of Chexit going on in America and in other Western countries. Chexit is a word that I coined that was inspired by another coined word: Brexit. Brexit refers to the British exit from the European Union. Thus Chexit is the exit of church from society demonstrated by a decline of the institutional church’s influence and numbers.
Chexit has inspired another coined word: Dones. Dones are people who have given up on church as usual and no longer attend it or associate themselves with it. Research shows that there are millions of Dones in America.
Church in Western countries used to have a strong influence on society and culture. Nowadays that influence has waned to almost nothing.
So what has caused Chexit and what can Christ-followers do about it? As society has changed over the past decades, church has continued to use the same method that was developed during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. That method is based on a highly structured and controlled program that tries to make people feel guilty if they don’t passively sit and listen to an exalted leader give a talk every week.
When there wasn’t much to do in society, and little competition to Sunday morning church, this method was fairly effective at bringing people out. However, as society has developed more and more activities and technologies, people now have so many more alternatives for interaction and entertainment in their lives. Unfortunately, the traditional method of doing church just doesn’t compete well with all the alternatives that are now available.
Also, highly programmed and organized religion doesn’t allow people much freedom to think on their own. Instead it tends to authoritatively tell them what to think. It also doesn’t allow for open and honest interaction during services.
Nowadays people want to share their ideas. They are looking for venues that allow them to participate in the meeting and to interact with one another, however, the 16th century way of doing church doesn’t allow that.
So what can Christ-followers do to reach the Millennials and others who embrace Chexit? Perhaps we can shift our meetings away from the programmed and organized religion model to the unprogrammed and unorganized relationship model — like an open forum. Few people want to program and organize every word and detail in their relationships with their family and/or friends. They prefer relationships to be unprogrammed and spontaneous.
Couldn’t Christ-followers do the same in our relationship with the risen Jesus and our relationships with one another? Can’t we set aside the programming and control and just love on Jesus and on one another? Of course we can.
The Bible shows us how in 1 Corinthians 14:26 where it talks about meeting based on everyone having something to share. That biblical concept of meeting is much like an open forum — a forum for Him. It is really quite simple. As we gather we allow people to listen to Jesus and then to say and do what He tells them to. The results are amazing. Ordinary people share powerfully from their heart as they are led by the Spirit. People’s lives are transformed.
The Bible puts it this way: “If everyone is prophesying, when an unbeliever or an uneducated person comes in he will be convicted and examined by everything that’s happening. His secret, inner heart will become known, and so he will bow down to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is truly among you!” –1 Corinthians 14:24-25 ISV. Perhaps Chexit is showing us that it is time to go beyond church as usual and to begin to meet this biblical way.
Come see this in action at The Salvation Army Berry Street every Sunday morning at 10:45 at 225 Berry St., Nashville 37207. Learn more in the book about how we meet at Berry Street: Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.