Whether you like it or not, if you’re a church leader, people will eventually leave your church. It’s one of the frustrating realities of church leadership.
I used to get really upset whenever anyone would leave a church I was serving. However, over time, I’ve learned to simply deal with it.
If you understand why people leave your church, it’ll help you to have better retention. So, what are some reasons that people leave your church?
- They’re church hoppers and it’s simply what they do.
I have spotted some of these people from a mile away. One time, a family started attending a church I served, and they told me about the churches they previously attended…seven churches in 10 years.
I had a staff member who was so excited about them, and I told him to be cautious because they wouldn’t be at the church more than two years, according to their track record. Eighteen months into their tenure, they left.
These people left the church because they’re church hoppers. It’s simply what they do.
- Staff Transitions
The higher up on the totem pole the staff member, the more attrition you can expect. However, nearly every time you hire someone or a staff member leaves (whether on their own volition or via termination), you will lose people.
- You Make Changes to Programs (Starting or Stopping Them)
If you kill a program, you’ll upset some folks to the point of departure. Other times, you’ll show that you’re going a new direction by launching a new initiative, and it’ll cause people to feel like they no longer fit.
- You Launch a Capital Campaign
When I launched a capital campaign a few years ago, I had several church members leave within a few weeks. I was so frustrated because I didn’t get it. I asked around to a few older pastors, and they experienced the same thing over their years of ministry. This is to be expected.
Stewardship campaigns cause people to either lock in more tightly with the vision or to bail on the church.
- Disillusionment With Christianity
Sadly, I’ve seen this some. People simply become disillusioned with Jesus, the Christian faith or organized faith. So, they leave. This one makes me super sad.
- Personal Disagreements
I was talking to a friend who pastors a church I used to attend when I was younger. I asked how a family was doing and he said that family left the church. I was shocked and asked why they left. My buddy replied, “[the woman’s name] and my wife got into a disagreement and they just left.”
I’ve had people leave every church I’ve served due to personal disagreements they had with someone else in the church. Sometimes it was with a fellow layperson, sometimes a staff member and a few times with me.
What should a leader do when he or she learns that a person is leaving the church?
- Pray for them.
- Seek closure and forgiveness from disagreements.
- Move on and don’t dwell on it.
Yes, people leave the churches you and I serve. Bummer. I hope this post helps you to deal with it. Have any additional thoughts on this? Let me know in the comment section below.
This article originally appeared here.