The Empty Pew: Caring for Those Who Leave

This book is written for officers of the church, particularly the pastoral officers, ruling and teaching elders. Louis Tamminga is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church; and he has vast experience and insight into the issues that not only CRC churches face, but the PCA as well. Tamminga writes that The Empty Pew was “written to help you and fellow caregivers in your church who desire to minister to those who left or whose ties with the congregation seem to be weakening, for whatever reason. Perhaps it may also help you and other church leaders strengthen ministry programs so that all members of your church may experience closer ties to their faith community.”

While reading this book you may find out how wide your back door is and learn some of the reasons why people leave. You will also discover some ideas as to what you can do to correct and prevent their leaving. The book is divided into three parts: “Understanding Those Who Leave,” “Reaching Out to Those Who Leave,” and “Preventing Members from Leaving Their Churches. “Many of the statistics, illustrations, and references are from CRC documents; but you will find an overlap with some PCA standards.

Tamminga uses the research of Dr. Ian McIntosh who outlines four basic reasons why members leave their churches.

Internal Reasons – External Reasons – Institutional Reasons – Interpersonal Reasons

The reader will also find very helpful thoughts from Tamminga on visitation and how to minister to people who face difficult circumstances in their lives, especially those who need ministering to when a family member is the one who has left the church.

Every section of the book has a “Points to Ponder” with very perceptive questions. It would do every Session good to discuss these in the context of their ministry. I think every officer who reads this book will find it very challenging and stimulating as they face the demands of ministry in their church.

There are conflicts in human relationships which lead to departure without reconciliation. They have difficulties with the programs and governance of their church. Church life loses its importance i.e., circle of friends and activities they pursue. They have failed to come to terms with their Christian faith.

Richard is a steady student of God

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