12 Reasons People Stay in a Struggling Church

12 Reasons People Stay In a Struggling Church
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Yesterday, I published a post about why people leave a church. In our consulting work, we also often talk with people who are seriously frustrated with their church—but who stay there anyway. Here are some of the primary reasons folks give us for staying when they don’t like all that’s happening in their church:

  1. “This is my church.” Sometimes this statement reflects an unhealthy sense of ownership, but it might also show a simple sense of deep love for the congregation.
  2. “We haven’t sensed God’s leadership to leave.” I’m not always convinced that these folks have prayed deeply about the decision, but they at least recognize the need to follow God’s will. They don’t want to jump ship unless He tells them to do so.
  3. “Where else would we go?” When there doesn’t seem to be better alternatives, church members tend to stay where they are.
  4. “We’ve seen pastors come and go.” Folks who’ve walked through more than one leadership transition in a church soon realize that the storms of change often die down.
  5. “Our family has always gone here.” Thus, to walk away from the church—for whatever reason—is to ignore one’s heritage and to break family tradition.
  6. “The church won’t survive without us.” Seldom is that assumption accurate, but some folks genuinely believe it.
  7. “We’re just waiting to see how all this works out.” In this case, a departure might happen, but not immediately. The glue that holds members in the church is weakening, but it’s still there.
  8. “We really do love _______.” In the blank could be any number of words: “our pastor,” “the music,” “our small group,” “the location,” “our friends,” etc. Something means enough that the negatives don’t seem so bad.
  9. “Nobody’s going to drive me away.” Usually, this person’s frustration has become unhealthy bitterness (and even arrogance).
  10. “I’m going to keep my commitment until the end of the year.” Again, leaving this church might still happen, but not before the church year is completed. A commitment is a commitment.
  11. “We still have hope for this church.” Glimpses of God’s hand and a little bit of faith can go a long way in keeping people in a church.
  12. “My kids love it here.” Many parents will put up with a lot they don’t like if their children and teens enjoy the church’s programs.

What other reasons come to mind for you?

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.

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