The church, broadly speaking, has lots of practice and ideas for how to bring the unchurched or seekers to the Lord, among them: Alpha classes, seeker services, Bible studies, tracts, traditional evangelism, apologetics books.
These approaches, by and large, focus on sharing the basics of the faith – who God is, who Jesus is, what the Bible says, what we must do to believe. What the church seems to have less comfort, willingness, or ability to engage seriously, are believers who know these answers but have one foot out the door because their doubts or disappointments are starting to outweigh their faith.
The predominant response, at least in my experience, seems to be some version of (1) you’re overthinking things – faith can’t be proven and you just need to trust the Lord with your questions, (2) you have either already sinned badly and are becoming hardened to the Lord or you want to sin and are looking for justification; or (3) your doubts mean you were probably never a Christian in the first place, and thus what you really need is to have a real conversion to the Lord.
It’s funny: the church can be great at extending grace and mercy to unbelievers, but rotten at doing so for those who may be falling away.
When I was a solid believer, and heard of people backsliding (nice pejorative term) or leaving the church, I was horrified and saddened for them – and fearful for myself. What did my faith mean if someone else who had had a genuine conversion experience to Jesus could later leave Him? Was it really the Truth if people who had known and experienced God could completely walk away? In those moments, I was thus driven to find ways to invalidate their faith experience – through their sin, their pride, or by virtue of them never having had a relationship with Jesus to begin with. Otherwise it meant that I could fall away, and/or that God would let me.
I imagine this is a similar thought pattern among other Christians when confronted with serious doubters from within their ranks, and explains why those of us who doubt are so often marginalized, ignored, or made to feel like we are the devil incarnate for asking the questions that we do. It also explains why most of us go through this upsetting de-conversion process silently, and why Christians only hear about it when we have made a final decision to leave Christianity behind.
This is not how it should be. Several Christians I have known espouse the idea that God can handle our questions – that nothing is too tough for Him. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened unto you. Etc. I want to believe that, myself. A God who could not suffer people asking Him questions or who requires blind allegiance isn’t really a God I want to worship or be in relationship with.
And yet, God has so far not responded to this desperately seeking child of his. Over the last several years, I have wet a lot of pillow cases with my tears, trying to figure out God's Truth as between Protestant and Catholic teachings; trying to understand God's lack of intervention in this world to lift up the poorest, sickest, and most downtrodden among us; trying to make sense of why so many of my prayers have gone so silently unanswered. I begged God to answer me. I scoured my soul to confess any unconfessed sin in case that was blocking God's response. Still, nothing.
And so I blog about it, anonymously. I blog to try to figure out some answers that I can live with. I blog so I can avoid dealing with Christians in real life who are not willing to come alongside me, to take my questions seriously, to refrain from judging me (as though that is their job). I blog so I do not cause other Christians to stumble in their own faith. I blog so that I don't upset my mom, who would spend the rest of her days wracked with worry about my spiritual health and eternal destination. I blog so I can explore these questions freely with others who are wondering similar things.