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When Attrition Is Leaving For All The Wrong Reasons

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Some people probably NEED to leave your church! I don’t say that out of skepticism or frustration. The reality is some people aren’t a great fit for your church. But many people leave churches for all the wrong reasons. Some attrition in natural, but not all of it.

Like everything, your church has a culture, ministry style, and model strategy. For some in your community, your approach is perfect. But not for everyone.

This is one reason having different denominations and styles is great for Christianity.

The people in your community are vastly diverse. No one church can (or should) serve them all.

When people leave your church because there is another church that better suits them, we should kindly encourage their exit, especially if they plan to immediately engage in the life and mission of their next church.

But many people leave churches for all the wrong reasons.

When Attrition Is Leaving For All The Wrong Reasons

Again, some attrition is expected and healthy. But far too many people leave churches for the wrong reasons.

As a pastor, you have an opportunity to reduce unnecessary attrition. And you should. It’s fair to assume that some people who leave a church don’t find or engage in a new church, joining the ever-growing ranks of the de-churched.

Before we consider how to reduce this unnecessary attrition, let’s consider why people leave churches, how we WANT to respond, and what we should consider instead.

1.“I’m not being fed.”

Every pastor LOVES this one. Am I right? Yet this may be the most common reason given for leaving a church.

It’s difficult to believe this is a valid reason for many who claim it as they walk out the door, but we should take it seriously.

What we want to say (but can’t/won’t/shouldn’t): “Here’s a fork! Learn to feed yourself!”

2. “This church isn’t ‘deep enough’.”

This claim feels even more personal. Like reason one, it’s easy to hear “we aren’t deep enough” and react in frustration.

What you say internally: “You know good and well that you could preach ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ every week and people wouldn’t do it. How much deeper do we need to get?!?!”

Hold that thought.

3. “You don’t offer…”

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., etc.

Has anyone ever thought, “We’re not a Six Flags over Jesus? Maybe if you gave to your local church, we could do some of these things?”

4. “I/We don’t feel connected.”

Creating a connection in and to a local church is more important than ever. When a person doesn’t feel they are connecting in their church, they won’t remain for long. Why would they?

Have you ever said, “Well why not join a small group or serving team or any number of other connection opportunities that we offer!”

5. “I don’t like how you…”

Spend money. Save money. Hire staff. Fire staff. Change ministry offerings. Elect elders. And on and on.

People rarely choose curiosity over criticism. You’re doing your best to lead the church, so it’s naturally frustrating when people offer their under-informed opinions.


See page two for 6 ways to avoid unnecessary attrition in your church.