I haven’t written a story about this, but I need to some day. I have the question, but don’t yet have good answers.
I’ve seen a lot of friends thrown into hopelessness by the church.
Usually it’s because they experienced or witnessed emotional, physical, or (it was this one in most cases, let’s be honest) sexual abuse perpetrated by their parents (or occasionally by their pastors) and covered up by the church after the abusers made a token of repentance after being caught out in public.
It was this, and not the arrogant college professors and doe-eyed new age spiritualists (who they promised would lure me away from God when I became a young adult) who stole the people I loved from me.
Some of these friends left God entirely. Others simply left corporate worship. I can’t say I blame many of them.
It’s one of the most bitter questions imaginable: How can a person who seeks after God with all his heart fail to protect innocent children? Whether by his cowardice (which is at least a personal failing) or by happenstance or mistake, how is this possible? How can a victim look at the community which has been throughout all her life the vessel of God’s love and not see it as the failing of God Himself? How can we expect such a person to hold on to God, let alone the church?
Regarding fiction that deals with this, Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor is about disillusionment with religious Christianity, and I recommend it, though it focuses more on the isolation and hopelessness of someone who, seeing the hypocrisy and worthlessness of some aspect of the church, veers completely away and lives instead by an inhuman antireligion.
The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry is in huge part about disappointment with the church in general and failure of the church to protect the innocent in particular. To my mind it says nothing worthwhile about how we move on from or redeem the church, but there it is. As a bonus, Story Embers did a bunch of articles on it: https://storyembers.org/promise-of-jesse-woods-series/
I’ll pray for your wisdom as you figure out how to write this. And I realize you might have been talking about completely different reasons for disappointment with the church, whether in lukewarmness or political correctness or simple hypocrisy. Sorry for the projection =P
"...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita