Perhaps more than ever before, people are leaving (or changing) churches en masse. There are some good reasons people leave church. What I’m seeing of late, though, doesn’t fit in the “good reason” category. The pandemic launched several more pandemics — fear pandemic, anger pandemic, political pandemic, racial pandemic, and a church pandemic.
The recent climate has given way to a mass exodus from churches, mostly for terrible reasons people leave church.
8 Terrible Reasons People Leave Church
1. I’m not being fed.
Every pastor LOVES this one. If you are leaving a church because you’re not being fed, be prepared to leave the next church you attend, as well. Christians should progress over time to “self-feeders” and “other-feeders.” That is the process of true discipleship. If you see feeding as the church’s job, you will eventually experience “hunger” at any and every church over time.
Just like an infant grows and becomes independent, we as Christians should not rely on the regurgitated food of preachers as our only source of feeding. “I’m not being fed,” is code for “It’s your job to feed me.” And it’s NOT the church’s job to feed everyone equally. Most Christians just need to pick up a fork and start feeding themselves. That’s the best way to learn self-feeding.
2. You like “church shopping.”
If you find yourself bouncing from church to church, you will always struggle to connect and engage. I know people who leave churches every few months. They are seemingly on a lifetime quest to find the perfect church. But until there are perfect people, there will never be perfect churches. In fact, the minute any one of us walks in, the church ceases to be perfect.
Quick sidebar: Some “church shoppers” shop for fear of engagement. They’ve been burned before, so they are hesitant when they see fire. But shopping isn’t the solution.
3. We don’t go “deep” enough.
This is similar to reason #1, but more specifically focused on the preaching. Here’s my solution to “deep.” That whole “Love your neighbor as yourself,” bit is pretty deep when you think about it. And I’ve yet to meet a Christian who has mastered it. Meaning we’ve still got some depth to go on just one message.
I know, super sarcastic, but still true, right? Deep is relative. Deep is different for everyone. But going “deep” is not the goal of the church. Christians are the most over-informed, under-applied people group I’ve ever seen. What we need is a lesson in applying the truth, not some deeper truth.
Let’s master “Love your neighbor as yourself,” before we worry about going deeper.
4. They don’t offer ______________ for me.
Men’s ministry. Women’s ministry. MOPs. Awana. Babysitter recommendations. Youth ski trips. Weekly communion. Softball teams. Wednesday night meals. Sunday night services. Saturday night services. Etc., etc. And don’t get me started on all the digital options congregants feel entitled to have.
If there is something not offered at your church, odds are it’s due to one of two reasons:
1) What you want doesn’t fit within the church’s strategy.
2) What you want can’t be offered without straining the church (financially, leadership, staff, etc.).
If the problem is the strategy and you can’t live without your pet ministry, then you might be happier elsewhere. But, if the problem is lack of funding and/or leadership, stop asking for something new and offer to help launch something new.
5. I don’t know anyone and nobody knows me.
Well, join a small group. Join a volunteer team. We should never leave a church because it’s too big – especially when engagement solves our tension. Small groups and volunteer teams are what make big churches small.
6. I don’t like how they ______________.
Spend money. Save money. Hire staff. Fire staff. Change ministry offerings. Elect elders. And on and on.
In some cases, what you don’t like might be a reason to leave, but most are not. If you are frustrated, seek to understand before you seek out a new church home. The majority of church leaders lead with their church’s best interest in mind. And with your best intentions in mind.
Now, if leaders prove untrustworthy, then leaving the church is probably best. It’s nearly impossible to fully engage in any church with untrustworthy leadership. But before we jump to any conclusions, we should first ask questions, seek to understand, and then make informed decisions.
7. You are the focus of your church experience.
Every single point above could be summarized by one word: “ME.” If church is about you, you will always be disappointed. Sure, the church should help you spiritually. Church should be a place that you love and are loved. But the church is not about you. It’s about God and His kingdom. It’s about serving, giving, and growing. In short, it’s about others. If you ever consider leaving a church, check first to see if you are your problem.
8. This church is too political.
Okay, there are certainly some churches that are hyper-political. And they should cease and desist immediately. But, most churches aren’t all that political. They are focused on theology, not political ideology. Unfortunately, too many church attendees can’t differentiate between the two, wanting their Sunday morning sermon to match their Monday morning cable new network.
“This church is too political” is often code for “this church doesn’t seem to support my politics.” This is what people tend to say about apological churches. If a church doesn’t take any political stands, they are called “too political” only because they aren’t openly politicking in your direction. So stop saying this, church people.
How’s that for a list of reasons people leave church?
Of course, this is not to say you should never leave a church. I’ve left two churches in the past for good reasons. But when we leave churches for the wrong reasons, we hurt the church and hamper our next church. No church can succeed with a congregation of “me’s.” So my encouragement is to become part of the “we” before you exit for greener pastures.
What did I miss? Or do you believe some of these ARE good reasons to leave your church? I’d love to know by leaving a comment below.
This article on reasons people leave church originally appeared here, and is used by permission.