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Finding the missing generations

ANNE AND Geoff (not their real names) have a familiar story to tell.

Highly involved in their church communities, between them they have run youth groups, taught Sunday School, been on the Church Council and even ran a bible study at their home.

Then, an internal congregational issue not only drove them away from that congregation, but church in general.

While they still believe in God, and are teaching their children about God, they now have a private faith.

“Faith still plays a part in my life today but not as much as it used to,” said Geoff .

Anne said the experience shook her lifelong faith.

“For a while after leaving the church I questioned a lot of things about what I believed because of the challenges I had faced during the upheaval in our church.”

“I always believed that you need to go to church to be a Christian but that has now changed since my faith was challenged by a minister,” said Anne.

“What I believe in is not what I felt he was telling us or what I had been told over the years, so now I believe you can be a Christian but not go to church.

“The enjoyment of going to church is taken away when your beliefs are shaken to the core.”

Geoff said, “I now am a firm believer that ‘church’ is not a building”.

Both said the friendships made through their church community are what got them through the drama and what they continue to appreciate most.

“I felt the church community was somewhere I could be accepted for who I was,” said Geoff.

“An aspect that has turned me off was being expected, as a young Christian, to lead Sunday school, youth groups etc.

“I felt I was taken for granted and felt overloaded.”

Anne said a lack of listening to everyone’s opinions was a frustration for her as a young Christian.

They said as a young family getting to a Sunday morning or evening service was diffi cult.

“We are now living in a 24/7 society and the church hasn’t kept up with the times.

“We have children who are involved with sports on the weekend as well as one of us being a shift worker.

It is harder to make time available for just family time let alone trying to get to church.

“It would be great to see churches offer worship times other than Sunday morning or evening.”