An open letter to the over-40 who has left the church

Margaret Feinberg

To whom it may concern and to whom, more importantly, it should concern:
Over the last few months I’ve met so many of you. Maybe I haven’t met you, but I’ve met others with enough similarities in their stories that I thought I should write. You’re over 40, and you’ve been in the church for years.

If you have children, then more than anything you want your kids to have a strong foundation, to grow up knowing the Lord. I think that’s beautiful. But now your kids are older–either following the Lord bravely or choosing to sin boldly. Depending on the day, your heart celebrates or mourns with your kids. It probably always will.
As the years have passed and the nest grows emptier, you’re no longer going to church for them, you’re going for you. And that creates a void. Deep down inside, you’re wondering whether you really should bother going at all.
Now that your kids are older, you can’t overlook everything you used to for their sake. You’re wrestling with what the church is versus what it should be. You’re not alone. We’re all wrestling. Why is the church more concerned with style than substance and marketing than making disciples?
The church you knew has been steadily changing and not all for the better. When your church added a contemporary service, there were some bumps in the road. Most of those have been ironed out, though hard feelings still surface from time to time. You’re glad your church is reaching to the next generation, but really, isn’t there a way to do it that doesn’t let go of your generation?
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Margaret Feinberg ( is author of "Scouting the Divine" and "The Sacred Echo." Commentary courtesy of

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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