I Quit

November 18, 2012 — 5 Comments

(This was first published on 7/29/2011)

I quit. It’s hard for me to admit, but I’m so disappointed with the Christian church in America that I quit serving as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Well, I guess I didn’t really quit; I retired in June. But in a real sense I did quit. I decided that it was time to allow God to use me in a different way. I’ll continue to write for the United Methodist Publishing House. After all, I still have an “audience” there that measures in the hundreds of thousands. And I have agreed to serve as pastor of a very small country church I helped build 28 years ago. But I’m looking for a more biblical way to make disciples–followers of Jesus Christ.

That is the issue for me–making disciples. And I think it can be argued that the Christian church in American is not doing it very well. Not according to George Barna and many other social researchers. In his book Revolution Barna makes a compelling case that the lifestyles of Christians are not significantly different from the rest of society. After years of research he makes an astonishing statement: “The local church is one mechanism that can be instrumental in bringing us closer to Him and helping us to be more like Him. But as the research data clearly show, churches are not doing the job. If the local church is the hope of the world, then the world has no hope” (p. 36).

The cover of Barna’s book reads “Worn-out on church? Finding vibrant faith beyond the walls of the sanctuary.” Barna insists that there is a revolution going on among Christians inAmerica. Committed, evangelical Christians are leaving the established, traditional church in huge numbers. Why? Where are they going?

I recently ran into a former church member who has volunteered more hours at church than anyone else I know. She began to tell me about her new Christian journey. She is exploring “how to be a Christian without ‘going to church.'”  

Is there a better way to make disciples? I’m beginning to think that perhaps there is. The Organic Church movement is growing exponentially. Some say that over a million Christians are now worshipping in what essentially amounts to house churches. There is a Simple Church movement that is growing around the world. All of these claim to be doing a more effective job of making Christian disciples. It certainly looks more like the pre-christendom church that the apostle Paul knew.

So, I’m off on my journey. I’ll be reporting my experiences and findings on this blog. So, if you are interested, STAY TUNED.


Dr. Gary Thompson


I am a retired United Methodist pastor. I write adult curriculum for the United Methodist Church and have been doing so for over 10 years. My passion is helping the Christian Church more effectively fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and to help individuals identify and fulfill their God-given personal mission.

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  • Eric J Steiner

    Great post. I often sit in my community group and feel like I’m the only one that gets it, and at the same time wonder if maybe I’m not the one getting it. A lot of the discussions stem from group members being approached by strangers looking for money, and how uncomfortable they are about giving it to them because they don’t know what that person is going to do with the money, so they just offer to buy them food or gas, or what have you. If asked why they gave to the person, they say they just respond with “Jesus loves you”, which is completely correct, but it throws me off. Everyone has seen “Jesus loves you” on tshirts, and stickers, and whatnot, so it could be assumed that they are a bit jaded at seeing/hearing this. The correct thing to do, in my opinion, is to say “because I love you”. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know. But we are told that they will know we are His disciples by how much we love one another.

    A good sermon series to listen to is “Christian” by Andy Stanley. It has taught me that thinking of my self as a disciple raises the bar and convicts me to be just that. Christian is a derogatory term that is used once in the bible to describe what people saw us as, and still see us as to this day. To be a disciple is something completely different.

    Good luck to you, brother.

  • http://lafayetteangel.com/ Kathleen

    I believe there will be more house churches coming in the future. There are a lot more churches not doing their job right. People are frustrated with their church. They want do what is right for the Lord but there are churches that cut them off at the path shall I say or won’t let them go further. Some leaders have gone astray and won’t step down. Members see this and get disgusted with it and walk away. These are just some more reasons for house churches to get started.

    Btw, I have quit church and searching for where God is leading me.

    • DrGaryT

      Kathleen, I understand your frustration with the church, but I hope you will find a group with whom you can identify and serve. No church is perfect but Christianity is a covenant faith built on community. It is no place for Lone Rangers. Don’t give up. Blessings!

      • http://lafayetteangel.com/ Kathleen

        Me too. :)

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