Leaving Church Is Not A Trend Or Movement.

What are some of your favorite trends in your lifetime? Mine are necklace chokers from the 90’s, charcuterie boards, and Tamagotchi pets. My least favorite trends are chunky highlights, ultra thin eyebrows, super high-wasted jeans, and Christians speaking on the behalf of people who have undergone tough situations and chose to leave church. In other words, believers calling “deconstruction” a trend, or a movement. 

It is not. 

If you are not familiar with the word “deconstruction”, here’s a definition I can offer: Deconstruction in a faith context is the process of picking apart and digging through deep-seated questions and situations. It’s an unraveling to find out the truth to one’s own faith. It’s exploring the details of history in the bible and the start of Christianity or other religious affiliation. It means dissecting ones passed down faith, or something they were just brought up in. It’s getting to the roots and core of theology to understand what it is truly meant to be.

A trend is something that just comes and goes, and sometimes comes back again. (like fanny packs, and hashtags) It’s how a collective decides to behave for a time until the next thing develops. 

A movement in the context of trying to develop change; is a series of organized activities working toward an objective. It’s strategic in hopes of changing something forever. Examples: anti-systemic racism, free love, feminist, and the tea party movement. 

Deconstruction in of itself is not a trend and it is not a movement because there is no collective agenda, or strategic planning or organized activities to work toward an objective, because it’s strictly personal.

I think sometimes when something becomes a term, that term then becomes extremely specific and lacks depth; it lacks what’s going on at a personal level, and that is discouraging because faith, life transitions, crisis, doubt, are extremely in-depth subjects for anyone! 

What I find interesting and equally frustrating is the sources speaking on behalf of deconstructionists are usually religious leaders and fundamentalists, and they are actually the ones calling it a movement. From what I have gathered so far, the religious/believers/fundamentalists have not deconstructed themselves, but instead feel the need to have hijacked and redefined the word “deconstruction”, so it’s more palatable for them to speak against, give off some sort of warning, or discourage people to take a deep look into their belief system and religious environment. It’s like attempting to deconstruct deconstruction, while refusing to listen to the people offering explanation, justification, and evidence. Some sources have gone as far to say there’s a right and wrong, good and bad way of deconstructing, but I believe that is false. It is an experience that happens to people, most of the time if not all the time- unexpectedly.  

For me, I didn’t even know deconstruction was a word until my way out of my deconstruction season. Before I had no idea there was a term for it, I would have just called it a faith crisis or faith journey, which I think are still adequate descriptors. I was not following a trend, and no one invited me into a strategic objective or told me to question my faith. It just happened through a series of many life events and the unraveling began. I didn’t know there was a name for what I was going through until listening to different podcasts or reading a variety of books where they were talking about their own deconstruction. It was an ah-ha moment – there are other people experiencing something similar to me and apparently there’s an actual name for it! My faith and my whole world was shaken by several events and personal experiences that made me start to question the basis of my belief and the theology behind them. 

I recently read an article titled “What’s Behind the Deconstruction Movement?”

And I kind of giggled at the title because again, most people I talked to or listened to their experience, did not know they were deconstructing at the time, nor did they know they were being a part of “a movement.” But for the sake of not repeating myself a million times, I’ll entertain the title of this particular article. 

So what is behind the deconstruction movement? People. People who have been hurt and bypassed by the church. People who have experienced sexual abuse inside church grounds and no one protected them or stood up for them. People who wanted to know a more loving god, but experienced shame of not living up to certain conditions. People who were curious and asked inquisitive questions but just told to keep their nose in the bible. People who experienced more love and acceptance from those with no religious affiliation at all. People who studied the early christian church and the bible and found its discrepancies. People who were abused by leaders in power and were manipulated with use of scripture. People who question why there are so many religions that claim to be the right one. People who have been gaslighted and experiencing the after effects of trauma in their bodies. People who trusted “the body of Christ” by being vulnerable, only to be exploited and then thrown out of church. People who were treated differently for being a little different and not your typical cookie-cutter Christian. People who couldn’t just hate the sin and love the sinner but instead just loved the whole person unconditionally anyways and were “wrong” for it. People who were fed a prosperity gospel and wondered what they were doing wrong when god didn’t show up as promised. People who didn’t feel welcome because of the color of their skin. People who didn’t feel welcome because of their sexual orientation. People who didn’t feel welcome because their mental health couldn’t be prayed away so therefore were told they had lack of faith. People who were told they could only live a certain way for god to bless them. People who experienced scripture being manipulated and interpreted to fit an agenda. People who saw doctrine being loved more than the neighbor. People who felt religion was taking over politics. People who experienced racism, sexism, and injustice from believers. People who craved more than just flashy lights, smoke machines, and terrible lobby coffee. People who didn’t want a bigger church building but just authentic, genuine connection and relationships.  

That is what is behind deconstruction: people. People with justified and valid reasons to deconstruct or question the basis of their faith. How, why, and what someone deconstructs is dependent on that individual. And let’s not forget to take into consideration that part of deconstruction is also followed by a lot of grief. The ones calling it a movement, seem to forget that there are hurting, grieving human beings behind their questions and concerns to the church. It’s not angry atheists just mad at god. Some are mad at the congregation, I think we can see why.

It’s not a collective movement, it’s just a bunch of individual people finally having access to other ways of thinking besides the way they grew up, or felt pressured to understand. It is just a bunch of individuals who are experiencing more spiritual growth and freedom, and sharing their discoveries.  Most everyone who “deconstructs” is on a strictly personal journey. Then at some point along the way we realize that a whole bunch of us have had similar experiences and come to similar conclusions and we talk about it. 

Deconstruction is so flippin deep and complex. Therefore I do not think it is a movement. But perhaps what is happening after deconstructing is more so what the religious speakers/fundamentalist are referring to as “the movement.” People leaving the church, leaving their long held faith, or changing their beliefs, and talking about it on several platforms after deconstruction is perhaps the movement. These outside sources are seeing a pattern. They are seeing a pattern in the stories of what was another brick removed in the wall, or chink in the armor is similar across the board. Unfortunately, I do think most believers/fundamentalist/whoever are coming across content that barely scratches the surface through Tik Tok videos or Instagram reels that are just short snippets to something that has much more complexity. It’s developed into something where the term was overused, worn out, and lost its meaning. That could also be part of why they see it as a “movement” from watching quick content that’s so easily accessible and thinking that’s enough to get the point. It’s not.  But here’s a perspective I can offer about leaving church or changing a belief system becoming a “movement”; it’s mostly just people wanting to be listened to, understand spirituality as they see fit, and bring some things that are problematic into the light. That’s it. That is the only agenda. 

If anything – what these dirty heretic souls like myself are doing is just challenging a narrative. They are speaking from deep seated honesty and experience, and offering support to anyone on a similar journey. They’re not going into churches shouting “I OBJECT!!” They are not standing outside of churches demanding you close down – actually quite a few people who are deconstructing can’t even get close to a church building because of the deep rooted trauma associated with church buildings! Similar to “evangelizing”, deconstructionists suggest to fundamentalists that there are other ways to be happy and good and loving besides their way.

Yes, some are wanting to inform others of their new found beliefs and values.  But I’d say that’s true and very similar to new Christians – wanting to share the good news of Jesus with everyone right away. It’s a human tendency to want to share new discoveries that they have found as helpful, as truth, and something they love. Most are content in letting people take their own journey as far out of Christianity or religion as they are comfortable with. 

Yes, some are wanting to recruit or at least try to make people aware of the problems within the church. 

Yes, many who have left the church are because they no longer see the validity of the bible, or find value in the indoctrination that came from it. 

If any Christian is threatened by people going through spiritual transitions, I want to ask, why? At the core of deconstructing is people searching for god with all their heart. And I’ve heard it said he would reveal himself when you seek him with your whole heart. So the outcome really isn’t in your hands anyways. We are on our own journey.

If any Christian feels threatened or put off by intricate details of the bible and theology from a deconstructionist, why?  I thought any challenge and question was never too big for God? But maybe it’s just too big for you… and that’s ok. Our human abilities to answer challenging topics can only hold so much capacity. And we deconstructionists (well maybe some of us, I won’t speak for all) do not want all the answers. In fact we have become more comfortable with not striving for certainty and saying ‘I don’t know.’ We are more comfortable with uncertainty being the only certain thing. We have no agenda, other than to be more loving and compassionate to ourselves and others who have also been hurt by the church. 

You do not need to warn anyone from the pulpit that there are free thinkers in the world. If you are feeling threatened by someone challenging your rigid beliefs and you don’t like it and want to shut it down – I know some folks who can totally relate to your situation. The Pharisees. But oops! We aren’t supposed to relate to Pharisees… right? 

Yes people are creating movement in many ways and for many reasons. So for that reason I’m inclined not to give the movement a name, or even call it a trend. But as someone who I guess accidentally became a part of the movement, I invite you to dip your toes in. What have you got to lose? (and they all shouted “GET BEHIND ME SATAN!!”) And if this is a trend, may we not forget trends ALWAYS come back around… so might as well embrace it 😉 

Thanks for reading. 


     The accidental deconstructionist. 

P.S. I am so excited for the bell-bottom jean trend to come back. Who’s with me?


2 responses to “Leaving Church Is Not A Trend Or Movement.”

  1. Melissa LaFavers Avatar
    Melissa LaFavers

    I love, love, love every word of this. You did such an amazing job of characterizing the people behind the “deconstruction movement.” So many different backgrounds, so many reasons to deconstruct. I enjoyed reading.


  2. […] February I wrote about how Leaving Church Is Not A Trend Or Movement. in an attempt to try to explain this to Christians who were not listening to people’s stories […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: