A Survey

Eli Cole, a doctoral student at Amridge University, has asked me to pass along a survey he’s using for his dissertation.

It’s called “Why Members Are Leaving the Churches of Christ.” Only those who’ve left should complete the form.

Click on this link to SurveyMonkey, and an automated survey form will pop up. It won’t take long to fill out.

You’ll notice that the questions are asked from the perspective of someone who considers folks like me “liberal.” But to me, that makes answering the survey all the more important.

You see, at long last, the more conservative Churches of Christ are willing to ask what’s wrong! Please answer thoroughly and honestly.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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9 Responses to A Survey

  1. Terry says:

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  2. It would be mildly interesting to see the results of this survey, and the interpretation of said results. The survey responses were really generic, so I am not sure it will tell anyone much. If the intent was to really understand why people leave, Mr Cole did not ask enough questions to really find out much. If the intent was to produce some statistics for a paper already underway, it may serve that purpose. If Mr Cole wants an appropriate source of data, I would encourage him to offer this survey to people on ex-Church of Christ discussion boards.

    To be fair, it is not easy to develop a survey like this which might actually tell you something you don’t already know. It takes pretty good skills, and it takes an good understanding of the landscape you are surveying. For example, where I answered that I left the CoC over doctrinal differences, that is a question needful of further exploration in a sortable form, rather than just a comment box. There is a big difference between the man who leaves because they won’t let his teenaged daughter pray out loud at church, and the man who leaves because he does not believe in the deity of Christ. The age questions were interesting; another good question would be to ask how long one was a member before he left.

    Yeakley’s previous work on this subject developed some interesting data, but the sample was small, and the interpretive overlay was such that it mainly just applied some numbers to conclusions reached long before.

  3. Larry Cheek says:

    I haven’t done the survey yet. Just as Charles says, there are issues that I don’t feel comfortable that they will be interpreted properly. For instance “after you left if you say you are still a Christian” he wants to know what organization you now belong to? Well if you left the local church because of doctrinal issues with the preacher and within a week the preacher and the other 8 yes I said 8 men the total men of the congregation formally disfellowshipped you and sent letters to all CoC within a fifty mile radius of that fact, and most of those churches have honored that letter without allowing an appeal even though I have tried. I really only left the local congregation, as most of you know very few of the congregations in a given area actually profess the same doctrine. But, if you are not allowed to have a review of your case, then you have not left the church, you have been ejected by all. Truly though if the CoC is the only organization where an individual can be saved as it promotes and I am sure that is in the mind of the surveyer. I would be doomed to hell. But, my answer has to relate to the fact I believe that I have not left the church that the Lord added me to, I only left the local congregation that may not be part of the Lord’s Church, but wears the same name as others that I believe are the Lord’s Church. It really bothers me that from the outside as I have been placed the CoC takes on a total difference appearance than what I believed while inside, not really good. Now I have a lot clearer vision of why it seemed almost impossible to convert the area to our beliefs, before I had almost total rejection of any communication about the Lord with those outside our little congregation. That is improved greatly. Possibly some of you could suggest ways to answer those questions to portray the proper concept, for us that left but didn’t leave, like I believe the survey is designed to promote. I sure hope that Jay can get the recent commentators list on the right side of the home page reinstated soon I really miss it. Navagation to find recent comments is very time consuming.

  4. Monty says:

    Honesty is the hard part IMO. Seems like in my experience it’s always “someone else’s fault”,minister’s,elder’s,some other family in the congrgations fault. Someone didn’t do things the way they thought things should be done. Very few people IMO would actually confess to the problem having anything to do with them, as to why they left.In 30+years in the CofC I can’t think of anyone who was brought up in the CofC leaving and becoming a member of some other group. Some left to more or less conservative/progressive congregations,or to quit meeting altogether.Highly unlikely doctrinal stance would be the cause of changing brands(perhaps musical accompaniment desire), though not out of the realm of possibilty for other reasons, per Charles. I don’t think I’ve led a sheltered life,having been a member of 5 congegations of various degrees of mainstream/progressive bents. P.S. THis new comment box format is much more difficlut to navigate then the previous one IMO.

  5. I’ll pass on the survey, since I haven’t left the CoC. I only left the congregation where an elder damned me for believing in separation of church and state, a member sent me a note comparing me to the man who was involved with his father’s wife, and it was more acceptable for people to spread dangerous lies than to call them on it — because calling their lies lies isn’t loving, but encouraging people to risk their lives is just personal opinion.

    Now I’m driving 25 minutes or so to a congregation where we can disagree and still love and respect each other, and when I pointed out that we do actually know how bees fly, it was acknowledged, and we had a good conversation (bee flight is still pretty awesome!), instead of being ignored or told “It’s just an illustration; it doesn’t matter if it’s true.”

  6. Alabama John says:

    Many have left the church of Christ as its known around here.
    The one growing and not getting smaller is one that does have the Lords supper each Sunday and no musical instruments. It does have music in the auditorium on videos though. I don’t know of one COC that would call this one a legitimate church of Christ and those of us that placed membership as members so I filled out the survey..

  7. Larry Cheek says:

    Alabama John,
    You have made the statement,”I don’t know of one COC that would call this one a legitimate church of Christ and those of us that placed membership as members so I filled out the survey”

    I have not found a scriptural example of an individual born again Christian having any control over placing membership in a congregation or an organization of the Lord’s Church. Man is not given that option God is in control of that. Just as an adopted child is not in control of who’s family he wants to be adopted into. Look up the word or concept of membership in many different translations and notice if our concept of that action matches any references in scripture. I have noticed the expressions on many faces as they were told that God was in control of who was their brethren, and that anyone who has obeyed the scriptures in becoming a Christian, has become their brother in Christ regardless of their association with a group of believers that many would not approve. It is the commitment, and obedience that God recognizes which prompts him to adopt an individual into the only body The Church. This was a hard lesson for me to come to grips with also because of past and present teachings by many of my brethren, who wanted to be separated into an elite group because of their holy works and learned knowledge. As I studied this concept, I began to be concerned about what my Father would hold me responsible for if I refused to accept another child, (brother) in our family that He had adopted exactly the same way that he had adopted me.

  8. Alabama John says:

    I agree with you. To my Cherokee family, there has always been those BROTHERS and SISTERS of ours that did not have the same name as ours.
    Two churches, the one written in our heart and the one with a physical address. Too bad they very seldom are the same.
    It does not matter to God in what language you pray to Him in. Does He feel the same about the name on the building? Individually, God does the naming, not us.
    Good post, thank you.

  9. Montey wrote: “In 30+years in the CofC I can’t think of anyone who was brought up in the CofC leaving and becoming a member of some other group.”

    Monty, I know dozens of such people personally. I am one of them. I was born and bred and raised and preached full-time in the CoC; with the exception of a secular college education, I have the entire pedigree. I left the CoC for a charismatic non-denominational fellowship at age 30 and never looked back. All my cousins left for similar fellowships over the years, and happily serve Jesus there. There are many, many of us out here, my brother. We just don’t generally advertise the connection, any more than a happily married man spends a lot of time talking about his ex-wife.

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