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Church can produce all kinds of automatic reactions depending on your past experiences.
Perhaps your family was actively involved in church, or maybe your experience was limited to attending on the occasional holiday. Is it a place you associate with feelings of shame or joy? Does it bring anxiety, or do you have fond memories? Few people are neutral on the subject of church.
Are you one of the 16 million American women who have left the church in the last decade? There are many reasons for this exodus. Many women who leave the church―especially those who still consider themselves to be Christians―desire a closer relationship with God and a deeper spiritual life. What they may not realize is that the imperfect churches of their pasts might be keeping them from meeting those deep spiritual longings today.
In Reason to Return, Ericka Andersen delves into the reasons why women are leaving church in droves. With gentle insight and thoughtful research, she invites Christian women who are hurt or disillusioned by the churches of their pasts to fulfill their unmet spiritual longings for God and community―and consider what the church might still have to offer them.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
How many women are seeking purpose, asking, “Is this all there is to life?” Reason to Return answers: “You were made for so much more!” Ericka invites women to be who God made us to be by living an abundant life in a church community. Her words are refreshing and inspiring because they encourage us to “rewrite our faith stories.” Ericka sees women as vital to church life because it is in our DNA to be life givers. And she encourages us to realize we have so much to receive inside “God’s holy home on earth.”
Author and founder of He Knows Your Name
In the evangelical Western church, we inadvertently underestimate (and sometimes purposefully neglect) the communal aspect of our Christian faith. When we do, we miss out on meaningful community, embodied worship, and a historic and beautiful ecclesiology. If you’ve walked away from a church family or even the idea of church because of pain, trauma, shame, or flat-out annoyance, journalist Ericka Andersen is inviting you to reconsider coming home. While acknowledging the heartache that the Church has caused women, Reason to Return also reminds women of the deeper theological reasons why the Church desperately needs us―and why we still need the Church for our flourishing, growth, and purposes in God’s Kingdom.
Church planter and pastor at Renewal Church; speaker; and author of Known, The Louder Song, and Overcomer
In Reason to Return, Ericka Andersen honestly and delicately uncovers the spiritual woundings many of us have experienced in the local church while beautifully restoring the dignity of the Church at large. I especially appreciate Ericka’s advocacy for the underserved in our church communities, most notably single mothers, who often feel unseen, unheard, and unwanted. For any woman desiring to encounter God more fully, reengagement in the local church is essential, and Ericka compassionately offers both renewed hope and practical guidance for safely navigating the experience.
President and CEO of PlusONE Parents and author of Save Haven
Church is always and forever both highly personal and highly communal. In this book, Andersen boldly encourages us to keep asking Jesus for the right church balance in our lives. I found her arguments for being in church both convincing and encouraging
Author of Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost and Shaky Ground
If you’re like me, one of your deepest longings is to taste and see fresh evidence that we serve a living God―one who is actively making all things new. In Reason to Return, Ericka Andersen winsomely reminds us that the local church is the best place to find God at work, even if He’s presently called us to a season of patient endurance. Engage with the local church, and you will find God on the move.
Author of Sexless in the City
In Reason to Return, Ericka casts a beautiful and compelling vision for women’s commitment to a local body of believers. She reminds us of how vital being a part of an embodied community of Christians is, and she helps us navigate barriers to knowing and loving the bride of Christ.
ERLC director of public policy and author of Longing for Motherhood
Ministering to young, busy women in a post-Christian culture is challenging enough, but inviting the ones who have left back into a church community is downright daunting and intimidating. Ericka Andersen welcomes readers into her own spiritual journey―one of being raised in the Church, questioning the Church’s methods, and then returning to the body of Christ. With truth and love, Andersen presents pragmatic, biblically based reasons why life lived in church fellowship is beneficial for individuals and the community. This book is a must-read for any woman questioning whether she can ever find her place in the Church again.
Christina Crenshaw, PhD
Associate researcher at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary and visiting fellow at Independent Women’s Forum
Women are an integral and influential part of the body of Christ, necessary for the health of the Church. Ericka provides helpful insights into the alarming rate of women leaving the Church. She encourages women to consider what the Church still has to offer them―and what they can offer the Church. This is a necessary message for women today.
Ministry Investment Coordinator at Hobby Lobby Corporate and coauthor of Only One Life and Not What You Think
In our current culture, the Church is not known for its virtues. When stories of corruption and scandal seem to emerge every week, it’s no wonder people are staying away. Thankfully, these stories of church failure are not the full picture. In pockets of faithfulness all over the world, God’s people are showing up to be Jesus’ hands and feet, and Ericka is telling this story. While the Church is not perfect, it is still a place of healing and calling, which is why I am so grateful to Ericka for beckoning women home.
Sharon Hodde Miller
author of The Cost of Control
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Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer and mother of two in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is a columnist for WORLD magazine and a freelance reporter for Christianity Today. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and more. She is the author of “Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected From the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma & Mental Illness.” She also hosts the “Worth Your Time” podcast, a part of the Christianity Today podcasting network.
Reason to Return
Why Women Need the Church and the Church Needs Women
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Are you one of the 16 million American women who have left the church in the last decade? Women who have left the church may not realize that the imperfect churches of their pasts might be keeping them from meeting those deep spiritual longings of today.
Andersen’s advice comes across as gentle encouragement from a trusted friend…and the stories speak to the diverse and complicated relationships many women have with the church. This stimulating take on the merits of church membership illuminates. ~Publisher’s Weekly