I'm very sympathetic, with mixed emotions. We've lost both of our childhood churches - not through votes, but because the less-than-67% were too nice, too accommodating, to stand up forcefully enough against denominational trends. Gradually then suddenly, as the saying goes; this erosion goes back a long way. I recommend a book I found in a thrift shop and have since bought copies for several people (Life on the Vine, by Philip Kenneson) analyzing the unraveling of Western/American Christianity from "in the world but not of it" to most churches comfortable embedded in society as do-gooders, offering transactions and services to attract 'customers' with marketing to build brand loyalty. It's worse now than then (1999), literally shocking what some so-called churches advocate from the pulpit - never mind about the Trinity, no big deal if you don't believe Jesus is God, take whatever you like from the Bible and disregard the rest - to grow their numbers (and income) with very little focus on encouraging one another to grow in Christ.

We pay a good bit of attention to these shifts, and (if it makes you feel any better) I'd bet a lot that it will be the majority leavers who will commit to a new church and deepen their faith, while the rest fall increasingly away (or, following their playbook, move the goalposts to pick a new taboo and split again). The less than 67% have the benefit of being forced to deeper critical examination of their own faith through the process. I'm not saying the other side lacks introspection, only that going with the flow of the dominant cultural narrative allows or requires not thinking too hard in deference to the powers that be as their authority.

No culture war has any place within the church - not your church or my church but The Church "spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity" (CS Lewis). From our own experience looking for a new church more aligned with, well, Christianity, I can't count how many other former members of our church that's lost its way are already in the ones we're exploring. Keep the faith and the faithful find each other.

Expand full comment