The People formerly known as The Congregation

kinnon —  March 28, 2007 — 91 Comments

Jay Rosen created the meme of The People Formerly Known as the Audience – those of us who are no longer content to be content consumers – but have become content creators ourselves.

The people formerly known as the audience wish to inform media people of our existence, and of a shift in power that goes with the platform shift you’ve all heard about.

Think of passengers on your ship who got a boat of their own. The writing readers. The viewers who picked up a camera. The formerly atomized listeners who with modest effort can connect with each other and gain the means to speak— to the world, as it were.

Now we understand that met with ringing statements like these many media people want to cry out in the name of reason herself: If all would speak who shall be left to listen? Can you at least tell us that?

The people formerly known as the audience do not believe this problem—too many speakers!—is our problem. Now for anyone in your circle still wondering who we are, a formal definition might go like this:

The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another— and who today are not in a situation like that at all.

Let me introduce you to The People formerly known as The Congregation. There are millions of us.

We are people – flesh and blood – image bearers of the Creator – eikons, if you will. We are not numbers.

We are the eikons who once sat in the uncomfortable pews or plush theatre seating of your preaching venues. We sat passively while you proof-texted your way through 3, 4, 5 or no point sermons – attempting to tell us how you and your reading of The Bible had a plan for our lives. Perhaps God does have a plan for us – it just doesn’t seem to jive with yours.

Money was a great concern. And, for a moment, we believed you when you told us God would reward us for our tithes – or curse us if we didn’t. The Law is just so much easier to preach than Grace. My goodness, if you told us that the 1st century church held everything in common – you might be accused of being a socialist – and of course, capitalism is a direct gift from God. Please further note: Malachi 3 is speaking to the priests of Israel. They weren’t the cheerful givers God speaks of loving.

We grew weary from your Edifice Complex pathologies – building projects more important than the people in your neighbourhood…or in your pews. It wasn’t God telling you to “enlarge the place of your tent” – it was your ego. And, by the way, a multi-million dollar, state of the art building is hardly a tent.

We no longer buy your call to be “fastest growing” church in wherever. That is your need. You want a bigger audience. We won’t be part of one.

Our ears are still ringing from the volume, but…Jesus is not our boyfriend – and we will no longer sing your silly love songs that suggest He is. Happy clappy tunes bear no witness to the reality of the world we live in, the powers and principalities we confront, or are worthy of the one we proclaim King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

You offered us a myriad of programs to join – volunteer positions to assuage our desire to be connected. We could be greeters, parking lot attendants, coffee baristas, book store helpers, children’s ministry workers, media ministry drones – whatever you needed to fulfill your dreams of corporate glory. Perhaps you’ve noticed, we aren’t there anymore.

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid “the assembling of the saints.” We just don’t assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time – engaged in generative conversations – teaching and being taught.

We live amongst our neighbours, in their homes and they in ours. We laugh and cry and really live – without the need to have you teach us how – by reading your ridiculous books or listening to your supercilious CDs or podcasts.

We don’t deny Paul’s description of APEPT leadership – Ephesians 4:11. We just see it in the light of Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10 and Matthew 20 – servant leadership. We truly long for the release of servant leading men and women into our gifts as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. We believe in Peter’s words that describe us all as priests. Not just some, not just one gender.

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We do not hate you. Though some of us bear the wounds you have inflicted. Many of you are our brothers and our sisters, misguided by the systems you inhabit, intoxicated by the power – yet still members of our family. (Though some are truly wolves in sheep’s clothing.)

And, as The People formerly known as The Congregation, we invite you to join us on this great adventure. To boldly go where the Spirit leads us. To marvel at what the Father is doing in the communities where He has placed us. To live the love that Jesus shows us.

Addendum: This is a polemic. The first-person plural pronoun, “We”, is not used as Pluralis Majestatis (the Royal We) but rather is based on the post-charismatic/post-evangelical conversations that are occurring in the blogosphere. I have no more right to speak in this voice than any other person living in the liminal reality of the church in 21st century.

Please note also that I have many good friends who lead within a more traditional church context for whom I have great love, as well as deep respect. They are doing their very best to be missional within their worlds.


UPDATE 2: Emerging Grace has written Part Two of TPFKATC here.
UPDATE 3: Jamie Arpin-Ricci writes Part Three.
UPDATE 4: John Frye writes Part Four
UPDATE 5: Greg Laughery writes Part Five
UPDATE 6: Heidi Daniels writes Part Six

UPDATE: This post has had a lot more attention than I anticipated. (And has also been mildly re-edited.) I’d like to point out a number of posts from folk who’ve responded, reacted or been on the same page at the same time.

My friend, Brother Maynard, helped with the editing of this post (fixing some things that needed fixing) and I appreciate his input here and the thoughtful nature of his blog. Here’s a link to a few of his posts to get you started.

At Calacirian, the blogger, aBhantiama Solas had written a post on the Church and Leadership called Leaving Oz. She stumbled across my post after her own writing and recognized we are on the same wavelength.

The folks at Called and Sent found me “thoughtful” and “outspoken” but didn’t quite agree with what I had to say. (I appreciate their response.)

Triple D
(Darryl Dash) was one of the first to link to the post on his Dying Church blog. His most recent Christian Week column seems to fit right in with what I’m saying. (Perhaps its because we spent time together recently – and he’s infected me…)

Steve Sensenig, with whom I’ve had some lively discussion, linked on his blog and created some good conversation there – I particularly appreciated what Alan Knox and Mike Ross had to say…as well as Steve, of course.

Jan Edmiston sites The Princess Bride (a Kinnon family favourite) in her response and generates more good conversation. (One of the people commenting recommends a post – The People formerly known as Pastors.) My friend, Ed Brenegar, knew Jan when he led a Young Life club @ UNC-Chapel Hill and pointed me at her post. Ed has written his response, Church as Distraction.

Erin at Decompressing Faith asks some good questions based on the post. (Though I’m not sure I’d go for her short form PKFC, as the KFC part of it jumps out at me. UPDATE: Apparently my dyslexia kicked in – Erin wrote PFKC – I must be hungry.)

David Fitch, who’s book, The Great Giveaway had a powerful impact on me, wrote a great post in February on the multiplicity of leadership at the Church community he co-leads, Live on the Vine. My interview with David a week ago, Friday, and our extended lunch afterwards also played a role in my writing this post.

I like the picture John La Grou uses on his blog link.

Jim Walton tells a bit of his own story in light of the post – a story worth reading.

Mak @ Swinging from the Vine had a physical reaction to the post – and may be in need of some chiropractic attention.

Pernell was one of the first to link to the post at his blog, but I would have to say that the way he and the folk at The Freeway are being the missional people of God in their Hamilton community has spoken volumes to me (and I look forward to sharing their story in an Allelon video later this spring.) If you are in the GTA, try to make this event.

I wish I spoke Swedish, as Pastor Astor wrote a post about this one – and has had a number of comments in Svenska.

Some of you will understand why I find this post title particularly amusing. And he really should read the post.

My son, Liam responded to the post with his own, Bearing Scars – being very open and very real.

My iPastor, the iMonk joins the discussion with his a riff. The Peter Finch pic from Network is classic…and appropriate.

Paul Mayers responds with some strong concerns.

Strong words in the comments at Monday Morning Insight

Even Jay Rosen, from whom I “borrowed” the meme, linked to this post. (Although he seemed somewhat surprised by it.)

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

91 responses to The People formerly known as The Congregation

  1. Good post, Bill. You’re describing exactly what’s happening.

    More churches need to die to stuff like bigger buildings, pastoral agendas, institutional advancement, and doing church as audience (as if that’s possible).

  2. Most Powerful post I’ve seen on the net in a long time.

    And who’d a thunk just a couple days ago you wanted to quit doing this?

    Keep it up Bill

  3. Brilliant. I linked to this on my blog, Bill.

  4. Recently, I mentioned in a message that the Hebrew word for worship meant “to prostrate ourselves before God” I hope that is a correct translation. Even if it isn’t, that’s what I feel like doing after reading this. In the words of the ancient prayer of the church: “Lord, have mercy!”

  5. As I’m usually the contrarian in any bunch … What I’d like to know is what the opposite of your polemic looks like. I’m not disagreeing with you. What I’ve found is that every criticism that someone has is really an affirmation of something. I’d like to know what you are affirming. While someone probably needs to say what you’ve said, it isn’t a healthy place to stay. What’s your ideal church community?

  6. Woah. That was awesome! THANK YOU for writing that! I had a hard time reading it without crying.

  7. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    Great stuff.

  8. Absolutely brilliant!
    I am so glad that you didn’t quit blogging.

    You can speak for me anytime.

  9. Bill…

    Thanks for the post. I understand the sentiment here, and to some degree, I agree with it. I think it’s part of the reason we bought a house in West Central rather than in St. Vital, St. Boniface or closer to Lag..

    Do I appear like I am standing on a fence (or precipice) considering that I still attend a church of a large size? I don’t know, except that I believe it’s exactly where I am supposed to be.

  10. Great statement Bill. It resonates with me. I am currently in this transition phase: from institutional church [which is why this rings (no pun intended) so true] to we are not sure what. And so one of the things that I’m wrestling with is the question that Ed Brenegar raises. How do we articulate what we affirm and describe in broad [and maybe specific] strokes what a healthy church community looks like? Sounds like a good place for a plug for Allelon

  11. Bill – you have written our story. I am a first time reader sent by Pernell and Mark Peterson – thank you, thank you, thank you.

    To have our hearts expressed so well by another’s words touches something deep in my soul. We were the people formerly known as the “youth pastor/wife to the people previously known as the congregation” – and we watched at they carelessly mortgaged their children’s future for a $5.4 million theater that is used less than the local multiplex.

    We were looked upon as not having ‘enough faith’ and being naysayers. What will they do when the people really leave? It breaks my heart to think of the waste and the loss and the pain this will cause.

    Powerful, powerful words, thank you again!

  12. This is wonderful … I linked to this at my place. We are in the midst of breaking the ties of generations that have bound us up … may the Truth set us free for once and all.

  13. Wow, Bill. This is extremely well-written. I may not agree with every jot and tittle of it, but there is so much in it that I agree with that it’s worth linking to. I’m off to do that right now.

    Great work, and thanks for posting this.

    Blessings, brother,
    steve 🙂

  14. Thanks to everyone who has commented so far and to all the links on other blogs. I think Ed and Michael are right and their comments deserve a proper response…from us all. (I’ve also asked Steve to put on his critical thinking hat and find the holes.)

    I’m convinced that this is an incredible time to be alive and that “Aslan is on the move.” The Holy Spirit is up to something and I do believe we will be shocked at where and how he shows up.

    I’d also suggest that you visit each others blogs and read the great material that’s being written there.

  15. Bill, thanks for your gracious comment on my blog and your invitation to think critically here.

    My differences with your wonderful post are so slim and minor, but since you asked, I’ll share! 🙂

    The comment about music is one which I don’t necessarily resonate with. Mostly because I feel that music is such a peripheral issue in the larger scheme of things.

    I have been in all different styles of music in the institutional church, and have “led worship” (a term I basically despise now!!) in all of those styles.

    While I believe that there are shallow songs and there are theologically rich songs, I sometimes think that we make too much of those differences.

    For some reason, I’ve never grasped the “Jesus is my boyfriend” reaction that you and others have. I don’t think that the Scripture is as narrow in its variety of expressions of praise as we want it to be.

    And while “happy, clappy songs” might not reflect the totality of our existence in this life, I do think that there is a place for throwing off the cares of this world and experiencing joy in our singing. Sort of a declaration of faith that reality is our victory through Christ.

    But again, these are very minor points of difference.

    See — nothing big 🙂

  16. Thanks, Steve. Well said.

  17. Great post, Bill! Like many, I am part of the people formerly known as the congregation. It makes me sad to see the fallout because many do not return to the church.

    I linked to this post and shared my own thoughts on my blog.

  18. I’m not surprised at this yet another excellent post by Bill Kinnon exposing the scripts we’re acting out and calling it church … thanks for this

  19. Bill,

    I’ve linked to this as well on my blog today (don’t know what happened to my trackback, problem on my end I think). I’m yielding my time on the floor of the blogosphere to you today; this is a fantastic manifesto, and I want to be the first to sign it.

  20. obtw, lots of links back here reported by Technorati too.

  21. This is a well-written post and very timely for me in that my husband and I are currently in a transition phase. Thanks so much for sharing!

  22. Awesome post, I’ve linked to it too.

  23. Great post Bill…thanks for your creativity and perspective.

  24. Hey Bill – wow blew me away with this one. Thanks so much!

  25. Bill – great post. I also appreciate the addendum. It captures the need to affirm the good that is still happening (I don’t believe that God has completely abandoned the traditional church) while critiquing the weaknesses. Without that affirmation, it is too easy (for me, at least) to fall into unrestrained cynicism.

  26. Hey Bill, I abbreviated it as PFKC, not PKFC 😉 Sorry to defeat your visions of extra-crispy.

    Thanks very much for the mention!

  27. Bill,

    Most of those congregants gather on a Sunday morning and have no idea what they need. They’re not out there crying for the five-fold ministry. They would never say any of the things you’ve written.

    Should they be saying these things? Possibly.

    But the more I think about the situation with the Church in the West, I think if you polled most people they’d be happy with their churches. That happiness may spring from a lack of understanding that the good is the enemy of the best, but most people are satisfied with the good.

    And THAT’S the real problem.

    Unfortunately, what you’ve written here doesn’t address what it’s going to take to get people to question that good, or to make them long for the best. Yes, it will appeal to all us bloggers who write about church issues, the “malcontents” who can’t stand that we’re missing out on the best because we’re satisfied with the status quo we call “Good.”

    But we’re not the change agents. Most of us blog because we’re not in the position to be change agents; we were labeled crackpots a long time ago! What it’s going to take is for the church elder who never bucked the system a day in his life to stand up and say, “This isn’t working as well as it could. Why is that?” When the old ladies on the Thursday night intercessory prayer group start asking if this is the best it can be, THEN we’ll see something change.

    But who listens to us? Are we the movers and shakers? Doesn’t seem like it. We may be that first P in APEPT, but they killed the prophets, didn’t they? The only respect prophets get in most of our churches today is if they stand up and say something that makes the congregation feel good about itself. Prophets today don’t stand up and shout, “Repent!” They stand up and say “God loves you. Be at peace.”

    So, I don’t know. Unless we get the message through to Joe Pillarofthechurch, The People formerly known as the Congregation will be the usual handful who always rain on the parade.

  28. IMO especially in America there is a growing discontentment with the status quo in the “church” world. This people formerly known as the congregation is yet one more example of the process. For a long time and even now I sense that some churches/ministers/pastors were apparently in it for their own ends and really did not and do not have a shepherding spirit. Dave Murrow wrote the book Why Men Hate Going to Church and for some men like me that became a springboard to verbalizing what is happening and what apparently a lot of other people are thinking as evidenced by the ‘congregation’. In so many ways the ‘congregation’ is in Revolt.

  29. Great essay! This article would make a great intro to a book by the same name…

  30. chiropractic attention is right 😉

  31. Bill,
    I found this posting on a blogsite I’m on with people who think like you. It’s called It’s a cyber coffee shop where we ask the questions we could never ask in the institutional church (IC). It’s so nice to see God’s Spirit is speaking the same words to followers all over the world.
    My family and I left the IC two years ago. People say all kinds of things but we are finding God’s Kingdom to be so much bigger than we ever thought. In Isaiah it talks about “I will do a new thing, the former things with pass away”. I believe that is what God is doing. He’s actually taking us back to an old way of doing things but relevant to the world we live in today.
    I grew up with perfect attendance pins in the IC. But to truly find God and His plan, we as a family had to leave that all behind and move into the new thing.
    I have friends who speak of these things to followers all over the world.
    One of the big problems I see in the IC is that it has ignored it’s prophets and apostles. God created the five fold ministry for a reason. But prophets and apostles often say things the general population doesn’t want to hear. (read “Houses that Change the World”) Instead of really reaching people where they are we try to market the IC into something people will want to come too. How can we go to what we are….the church. But now that’s all changing. Followers are seeing it.
    I don’t need to look f or a ministry…my ministry is my life. I’m not out to sell anyone on anything…I’m simply out to do what Christ did….Love people.
    I love what you wrote.
    Thanks for listening.
    If anyone wants to chat over cyber coffee, come on over to
    The coffee and topics are hot.

  32. Awesome post. How do these folks get so lost in their priorities?

    I was once at a gorgeous megachurch, listening to the sermon. There was a baby in the congregation who was a little fussy, and the pastor stopped his message, singled this mother out, and said, “You know, we have a wonderful nursery for your child.”

    Right. No children wanted in the gorgeous sanctuary, where they might distract from the gorgeous message or the playing of the gorgeous orchestra.

    Of course, that woman probably never came back. But good riddance to her and her kid.

  33. Thanks Bill, it is very well written piece, that on the surface sounds good – it is always easy i find to define what I am not for so how about a piece that goes on to do this.

  34. Bill~

    First time visitor, thanks to iMonk!

    You’d really love our church…they’re cool in all the right ways…and don’t know it.

    They’re small, so after-church potlucks are easy.

    They throw baby showers and wedding celebrations with equal ease and generosity.

    They pray for you, cry with you, let you start a small group at Starbucks cause your apartment is too small.

    There are Army guys, Goth families, a weird girl in an Amish outfit (me!), old Jesus Hippies, Asians, Africans, and plain Rednecks.

    Don’t tell ’em they’re cool, then they’ll get the Mega-Church complex…and have to start all over.

  35. My friend Rose just posted a link to your this article on our blog. Well done Bill! For over 10 years, I thought I was the only one who felt this way. It’s been heartening to see how God is stirring the hearts of many to hunger for something more authentic. This is a good thing and will benefit the Church as a whole.

  36. Bill, I’ve been out of town for a bit in small town Saskatchewan (pop 175 ), not much internet access. What a breath of fresh air reading this. With more faith being expressed outside, and on the fringe of the church…I think your lament is the cry of many.May we all have your passion to see the church be so much more…that it wouldd reveal the Kingdom Jesus talked about.

  37. Thank you all for participating in the discussion. I’m a little taken aback by the amount of response – saddened by the number of us who find ourselves as TPfkaTC – yet gladdened that we are talking about and wondering/praying/thinking “What’s next?”

    To leave the discussion at the level of the polemic would be a mistake. I don’t think we are doing this. I’m chatting with a number of missionally minded bloggers as to how we can facilitate more constructive responses – perhaps in a Cluetrain-like approach.

    This post has also been republished at the Allelon siteAllelon being a movement of missional leaders. Please consider joining us in the discussion there. (Please also check out all of the missional resources that are available at the site.)

  38. Bill,


  39. Sheer brilliance.

  40. Wonderful!, yet slighty arrogant. But this is an illness we all seem to share while looking out for new grounds.

    Translated the main part to German. This piece is too fine to be missed by the non-English-speakers in my area…

    Together with Ed and Michael I am waiting for the affirmation of your “ideal church model” – though being unsure if something like that may even be articulated…

  41. Thanks for this, Bill.

  42. The Chick Voice April 5, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    Another Imonk first timer. Sent this to everyone I know. Literally everything you said resounded with me. I spent the first 35 years of my life inside a church. Hours and hours each week. After being kicked to the curb in my time of need (I was on staff of course, and shouldn’t HAVE needs)I have steered clear for the last 15 years. My faith has not changed, but I refuse to be back in that system. Like many, I don’t know what the answer is, so I appreciate the dialogue.

  43. Thanks Bill,

    You say Perhaps you’ve noticed, we aren’t there anymore

    Perhaps they have, but perhaps they don’t give a hoot my friend, there are 6 billion potential people to fill your spot.

    Thanks, I was working on a post that details how to find the true church, it cuts across all denominations and styles…I thought this…

    The true church overcomes that which is evil with good, it takes unrest, depression and loneliness and buries it under a heap of communal mercy, it takes oppression, slavery and persecution and buries it under an avalanche of justice, and finally it takes hate, brutality and murder and drowns them in a bottomless sea of grace

    May you be a part of being co creator of more of these true expressions of church.


  44. Thanks Bill, for these powerful words. A fitting epitaph etched on the tombstones of dead and dying churches. Key now is to find our role in the theodrama, and to perform it with love and integrity as we seek to follow the crucified and risen One on the journey of God’s global mission that will culminate in a new heavens and earth.

  45. First time reader. Came by way of reading Grace. Fantastic post. Read the whole thing out loud to my wife, Tara.

  46. Thanks for this Bill. I have enjoyed reading, and agreed with what you have written, and also Grace’s “follow up”. I haven’t read Jamie’s yet, but I will check it out. I came across “the people formerly known as the pastor” by John Frye at link to this is also a really interesting read. My husband is a pastor, but we are on the verge of coming out of ministry in the sense of church walls and programs – as we simply don’t believe in it anymore. Therefore we have found both posts very interesting, as we relate to what you have written, but also feel the hurts etc that John has written about.

  47. Not that I totally disagree with Bill’s post, but why is it that people that have major problems with the current church as an institution (which has many leaders and members that are complete followers of Christ) feel that they can slam it completely? Maybe they are right in some areas, maybe they are wrong in some areas. Probably both. Nobody’s ideas are perfect – we are not God. So it’s frustrating to me to see people disregard the work that the church has done, which God HAS used, despite its imperfections, thinking that their way is the perfect way that God intended. The people that started today’s church most likely thought the same thing. Again, I do see that there are problems with the current trend of mega-churches, etc. But please don’t diss the Thursday night prayer group, consisting of devoted old ladies of the faith. That is a slap in the face to our God and to those ladies who have followed His calling on their lives. Your calling just may be different, but we can all learn from each other and respect each other as we seek to follow the one True Christ.

  48. Hey Bill. Love this post. I’m going to pass it on to people in the community in which I pastor. I think it is right on! Plus, I would LOVE to exchange links. I think we are on the same page. Blessings!

  49. Powerful stuff, loved it. Always love to come across people who are not afraid to speak the truth. I do love my current church, but I have horrible memories of seating in church and hating it and resenting the words I heard, but not being able to leave, as that was far worse than being a ‘hypocrite’, afterall nobody new that but me.

  50. I love this, I love that it comes from a place of honesty, but also from a proactive and positive perspective.

    It’s not whining about church, it’s identifying things about church that are simply not working for a huge proportion of people.

    The whole Formerly Known As… conversation resonates with me. So much so, in fact, that it was the final push I needed to start a blog of my own. So thank you.

  51. Bill –

    This post (and it’s sequels) have meant a lot to me and have really opened up for me how I’m NOT alone in these thoughts. Thank you for such a brilliant contribution to the blogging world.

    I wrote my own personal version of “Formerly Known” here:

    link to


  52. Bill,

    Like my wife (Heidi), I was also inspired by this series of essays to write my own thoughts from my story. It has been an amazing journey finding out how many of us “formerlies” are out there. Finding one another – and others like you – has been an amazing adventure. Thank you for this post, and for bringing the others to our attention.

    My own “formerly” story is here: link to

  53. I am truly amazed at the level of discussion and conversation that this meme has created. I’m writing a post on that today and would love all your thoughts.

    Forgive me that I have not responded to every comment in this discussion. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response both here and in the hundreds of links in the wider Christian blogosphere.

    My hope is that this post and the others (now six in total at this writing) will prompt movement forward as we run after the One who beckons us into His marvelous and mysterious adventure.

  54. Here’s my little contribution to the thread – “A Tribe Formerly Known as Quest” (subtitled “We are the prodigals”) –

  55. Great Blog Post! I was inspired to write a little post on my blog, Ocean of Notions:

  56. Bill,
    here is a link directly to my post The Movement Formerly Known as The Reformation I hope you might read it and possibly comment. Thanks again for the inspiration! Steven

  57. Its a month late, but here is my version, watch out, its spicy!


    link to

  58. Wow. Well said. I appreciate your honesty. There is a movement going on, and I think that, while you are intentionally stirring the pot, you are only calling the church back to what it was created to be. I have more thoughts at link to



  59. this is awesome. thank you.

  60. There is a great quote from Lenny Bruce, of all people, who said, “Every day more and more people are leaving the church and finding God.”

    What was true then is even more so now.


  61. I feel as though I have found my kindred spirits, a voice and words to explain where I have been and currently reside.
    Thank you and God’s Peace!

  62. Perhaps you will be interested in some of the stories being told at a blog I am involved in called Letters From Leavers. It is a place for people to write a Dear John Letter to the Church.

  63. Bill,

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Two World Collision blog, but this post reminded me of your “Formerly Known” meme, and I thought you might find it interesting. I’ve been following the author for a while now, and he’s very thought-provoking. I’ve shared some of my thoughts on the matter here.

  64. Bill, you seem sincere enough concerning the Word.

    But is it possible to get a publisher that is not named after a damned occult practice?

    Yours sincerely
    J. F. D. Smit

  65. James,
    Golly, thanks.

    Perhaps you could do a little research on Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads – and Wizard Academy, which he and his wife Pennie founded – rather than tumbling so easily into contextless judgment – a damned practice, if there every was one. (And if you’re wondering whether your comment pissed me off – wonder no more.)

  66. In short, I’ve come on a journey out of life long ‘church’ into BEING the church. No more Sunday morning check the box worship. No more consumerist approach to my faith. Since September 09, I’ve opened my home to an organic/house church. What a blessing. What joy to see the body of Christ moving and ministering in community and gathered around one thing – Jesus.

  67. I wish I had found this post when it was written. I left a fairly large church (I think the same one you did) in the spring of 2005. For the next two-three years it was a large war in my soul. Sadness, hurt, pain.. trying to find forgiveness and answers. I still had bits and pieces of my community outside of this large church, but they shut their door and only called twice months and months later to see if I could volunteer for them. How do churches not notice when sheep leave? Even as a greeter, photographer, graphic designer, coffee cleanup-er every wednesday night, volunteer on youth night or young adults night.. and then goodbye.
    I read George Barna’s book, the Revolution, which helped.. thankfully I wasn’t alone. Found a new community that spoke nothing about their church at all, it was all about praying and worshiping and personable leadership. Exactly what I needed where I was at.
    I look at it almost like a relationship, where the guy broke up with me. 95% of it was great, except for the breaking up part. We don’t speak anymore and while I still think highly of him.. and he thinks highly of himself… separation is better. I can reflect fondly on the good times, from afar.

  68. Sadly so many of the links for part 3, 4, and 5 are broken or no longer in the place they were originally. Also many of the blog links. I would love to read more. . .

  69. Great article. Somehow, we need to get the idea of church being an organization within four walls out of our way of thinking. The Church is the people, not a place. Christ is the head, not the pastor. We are one with God and we are all equally functioning parts of the body under Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, and the Kingdom of God is within us. We are the Church every day, everywhere.


Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Dying Church - March 28, 2007

    The People formerly known as The Congregation

    Bill Kinnon writes: We are people – flesh and blood – image bearers of the Creator – eikons, if you will. We are not numbers. We are the eikons who once sat in the uncomfortable pews or plush theatre seating…

  2. Sacred Scarred - March 29, 2007

    The People Formerly Known as The Congregation

    The following can be found at Achievable Ends (a blog by Bill Kinnon)…I would argue that he’s still working out some evangelical angst (his addendum

  3. Theological Musings - March 29, 2007

    Bill Kinnon Expresses the Sentiments of Many

    recently got acquainted with Bill Kinnon in the veryummmlively discussion about Mormonism here on this blog. One of the things that I admired about Bill in that conversation was his sincere passion for the church of Christ.
    I didn&#8217…

  4. Church Tech Matters - March 29, 2007

    The People Formerly Known as the Congregation

    Its funny the conversations Ive had with several different people in the past 24 hours, as well as some stuff Ive read online. To set the stage, we left our church home over a year ago, for reasons that are too involved to explain…

  5. The Presbyterian Polis - Connecting Churches to Churches - April 1, 2007

    Church as Distraction

    My blogging buddy Bill Kinnon has a gift for expressing deeply felt things about the church in ways that resonate with many people. In his posting, To the People formally known as the Congregation, he offers insight that should be

  6. Messy Christian (2.0) - April 1, 2007

    The People formerly known as The Congregation

    When Bill Kinnon wrote The People formerly known as The Congregation, he didnt expect the post to gain such popularity. But it did – with numerous people responding to the posts and generating discussions of their own. This isnt surprisin…

  7. - April 2, 2007

    Preaching as dialogue

    Bill Kinnon celebrated April Fool’s with a tongue-in-cheek post about going to church: Got up this morning. Rushed to put…

  8. the Weary Pilgrim - April 4, 2007

    people formerly known as the congregation…

    You have to read this postby, Bill Kinnon. Brilliant stuff. Here’s a couple short excerpts from Bill’s passionate thoughts from the fringe…We are the eikons who once sat in the uncomfortable pews or plush theatre seating of your preaching venues.

  9. the Weary Pilgrim - April 4, 2007

    people formerly known as the congregation…

    You have to read this postby, Bill Kinnon. Brilliant stuff. Here’s a couple short excerpts from Bill’s passionate thoughts from the fringe… We are the eikons who once sat in the uncomfortable pews or plush theatre seating of your preaching

  10. Dying Church - April 5, 2007

    The underlying issues

    Emerging Grace has a great post on some of the underlying issues of church as usual. It’s a follow up to Bill Kinnon’s post The People Formerly Known as the Congregation. Passivity We are convinced that a church system which…

  11. Cruciformity - April 6, 2007

    What Should It Look Like?

    Ive been struggling a bit with wording and structure and ritual in my life lately. Part of me is comfortable with the established status quo that has been my religious life up until this point. Most of me is repulsed by it.
    Yesterday I came acr…

  12. TheBolgBlog - April 11, 2007

    The Congregation Strikes Back?

    Bill Kinnon, at Achieveable Ends, wrote a post that captivated the blogosphere. In it, he plays off of Jay Rosen’s The People Formerly Known as the Audience. Titled The People Formerly Known as the Congregation, Bill rants against leadership that

  13. Believe Differently - April 16, 2007

    What to do about Church

    I am in the process of trying to decide what to do about church. I currently attend what I would describe as a large London Evangelical Anglican church. More and more though, I feel I do not fit in. I am certainly on the periphery in terms of theology …

  14. caught in the middle - April 16, 2007

    More About The People Formerly Known As

    Last week I linked to John Frye’s post on The People Formerly Known As The Pastor. This was something of a follow-up to a post by Bill Kinnon titled The People Formerly Known As The Congregation. I’d be very interested

  15. The Presbyterian Polis - Connecting Churches to Churches - April 17, 2007

    Leading the People formerly known as The Congregation

    Bill Kinnon’s series of postings on the theme The People formerly known as the Congregation has touched a nerve in the populace of the people of faith. There are links to all the postings on the right side bar of

  16. the view from her - April 19, 2007

    the institution formerly known

    People, it seems, are tired of church as usual. And they are beginning to get vocal about it. They’re tired of listening and have discovered they have something important to say. The question is, will today’s traditional, conservative, modernist evangelic

  17. Dying Church - April 22, 2007

    Help make the Bride beautiful again

    Dan MacDonald writes to the People Formerly Known as the Congregation: And so I raise a glass, as a Person Still Willing To Call Myself a Pastor, to You, the People About to Be Known Again As The Congregation. I…

  18. One for the road... - April 24, 2007

    The people known as christians…

    Bill Kinnon started it with his thought provoking meme ‘the people formerly as the congregation’, Jamie Arpin-Ricci has writen my favourite iteration ‘the people becoming known as missional’ and Lyn has written the most poignant version ‘the woman form…

  19. Dying Church - April 27, 2007

    LT at The Heresy reacts to The People Formerly Known as the Congregation meme: The time has come to move beyond blaming “the church” or “the pastors” for our problems. It is easy to rail against a faceless intangible segment…

  20. The Prodigal Sheep - June 5, 2007

    Leaving church?

    I recently read and was deeply touched by Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith. Taylor is a pastor’s pastor who found herself forced to give up what she loved doing (and thought was God’s plan for her…

  21. et cetera 16 | - December 26, 2012

    […] The People formerly known as The Congregation from […]

  22. The People Formerly Known As The Congregation | A Deeper Story - February 12, 2013

    […] Contributed by Bill Kinnon: a television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium. This post originally appeared on Bill Kinnon’s blog in 2007. A real conversation starter, as you can imagine, you can read the original post – and its many updates, comments, and follow-ups – here.  […]

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