Over the years of my ministry, I’ve talked to many people who chose to leave a church even though they still lived in the same area. Here are some of the primary reasons given for leaving (without commentary on the validity of each one):
- Relationship conflict. Somebody got mad at somebody else, and one (or both) of them decided to find another church.
- Weak preaching. A congregation will put up with a lot of poor leadership, but many—especially young people—will not long sit under poor preaching.
- Authoritarian leadership. Some leaders do not permit opposing views, and they expect everyone to follow in line. In turn, some members simply don’t stay under that leadership style.
- Poor children’s or students’ programming. Even though it’s not good, it’s one thing for adults to have little opportunities for growth; it’s another matter completely when our church provides little for our children and young people.
- Neglected pastoral care. Right or wrong, some church members give their pastors only one shot at pastoral care. If the pastor somehow neglects a need, members start looking elsewhere.
- Personal sin. Sometimes it’s easier to leave a church than to sit under preaching that convicts week after week after week…which also means it’s apparently easier to leave than it is to repent.
- Burnout. Members who are really faithful to a local church at times overcommit themselves based on the needs of the church. Few people are willing to admit they’re just worn out, so some will simply leave instead.
- No connectedness. Lonely church members—regardless of whether they’re lonely because the church is unfriendly or because they choose not to get involved—don’t usually commit for the long haul in a church.
- Congregational strife. Even if you’re not in the middle of the battle, constant conflict wears out even the best church members.
- Theological disagreement. Sometimes this difference is over actual theological beliefs, and sometimes it’s over moral right and wrong.
- Political positions. Granted, this reason is often more apparent during campaign seasons, but it happens.
- Perceived irrelevance. Members who think the preaching and teaching do not speak to the reality of their day-to-day lives will often seek that kind of teaching elsewhere.
I’ve written elsewhere about “Weak Reasons to Leave a Church” and “Better Reasons to Leave a Church.” Let me know your thoughts about all these discussions.
This article originally appeared here.