According to wikipedia, a diaspora (in Greek, διασπορά – “a scattering [of seeds]”) is the movement or migration of a group of people, such as those sharing a national and/or ethnic identity, away from an established or ancestral homeland. When capitalized, the Diaspora refers to the exile of the Jewish people and Jews living outside ancient or modern day Israel.
Growing up, the idea of diaspora — a wandering community in exile — was very much part of Jewish identity. It was in the meaning of the Passover Seder (“Next year in Jerusalem!”), the memory of the Holocaust, and in what it meant to be a Jew.
Ian Cron, one of my favorite pastors and writers, has a great post on his blog about Christians in exile — that is, Christians in the diaspora. Here is part of what Ian writes:
I’m sitting in Starbucks in downtown Franklin, TN, talking to a new friend. He was once a well known Christian musician and songwriter, now he plays for a legendary artist in the secular music industry. He tells me early in the conversation that he doesn’t go to church anymore and there are lots of people just like him in Nashville.
“We’re ‘legion’,” he says, laughing.
“Why’d you leave church?” I asked.
It’s a question I probably could have answered myself. I’ve heard the same story over and over from friends all around the US and Europe. I’ve heard it more in Nashville than just about anywhere else.
“Our church became an echo chamber where the only voices or opinions we could hear were our own. People who questioned our brand of Christianity were considered suspect or dangerous. One day I went off the reservation and started reading books by thinkers I’d been told to watch out for. Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and Stanley Hauerwas were some that blew me away.
“Then what happened?” I asked.
“One Sunday I walked out of church and never went back,” he said. “I want spiritual community, I just don’t think the church as it is right now is where I’m going to find it.”
Most of the people I meet who are leaving church aren’t young. They’re in their forties and fifties. After years of reading off the same theological script they began yearning for deeper, more open conversations about faith that included considering diverse perspectives and conversations that widened rather than narrowed their souls. Their churches were either threatened by these folks or unprepared for their emergence.
You can keep reading his post here (it is worth it)…
What are your thoughts? Can you connect with what Cron is talking about? Or know people who do? Why do you think people are leaving the church? What are they looking for?
I have some thoughts on all those questions, but would love to hear your thoughts…