Why do people walk away from faith? What can we do about it?

Empty pews 300x193 Why do people walk away from faith? What can we do about it?I was giving the keynote address for a parish annual festival. Those who listened sat in a beautifully decorated dark room. Standing at the lectern on the stage, the bright spotlights blinded my eyes. Since connection is my passion, I like to be able to read the feedback of those to whom I am speaking. I could not see anything; nothing but light.

Like the blind, I began to listen more intently for symptoms of response. There was one moment when the room went totally silent. There was no cough. There was not even a rustle of movement. What held their attention so intimately?

The hush came when I mentioned the unspoken grief of the faithful: The sorrow, the pain, the inner heaviness at the loss of those we love, to the faith that means so much to us. In the pause, I heard one sniffle. Then silence again.

Profound sorrow pervades our church. And we are not talking about it.

If we have experienced the joy, the comfort, the challenge, and the delight in a life founded in our relationship with Jesus Christ; if we have been transformed from darkness and risen up from the muck of despair by that hand who rescues; if we have been embraced by a loving God and known the tender breath of the Holy Spirit, then that is the energy, the inner fire, that drives our life. How could anyone walk away from that?

How could anyone walk away? An older woman once said to me, as one of my friends abandoned her faith, “Then she did not understand it.”

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