Perhaps more than ever before, people are leaving (or changing) churches en masse. There are some good reasons to leave a 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. Here are a few:
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.