UNDERSTANDING WHY PEOPLE LEAVE A CHURCH
Why do people leave a church? What causes church attendees or members to break fellowship with brethren they may have known for years? Are there typical reasons that explain why people decide to leave a church? Yes, there are common reasons why people leave a church, and here are 10 of the most common reasons for leaving.
1. Dissatisfaction with Church Pastor
Church members or attendees may not be pleased with the length of sermons or the pastoral delivery of sermons. If the church services go too long, some parishioners view it as inconsiderate.
If the pastor has a speech impediment or an overused saying that annoys, if the pastor uses too many personal illustrations or not enough, if the pastor uses too many scripture verses or not enough, these things annoy people to the point of leaving a church.
In addition, if the pastor allows too many worship songs, not enough worship songs, too contemporary type of worship, too antiquated type of worship, if the pastor is too young, too old, too undereducated, or too stuffy, some people might make these reasons enough to leave a church.
Furthermore, if the pastor has not demonstrated the type of pastoral care a parishioner expects, such as shaking the parishioner’s hand at the door, preaching in a certain style or of a certain content, praying for the parishioner’s personal needs publicly, or visiting the home of the parishioner as often as expected, the church member might decide to leave the church.
2. Dissatisfaction with Church Leadership
A church attendee or member may not agree with the way money is allocated or spent by leadership. This includes missionary giving or lack thereof and pastoral salary. He or she may not agree with selection of elders or deacons, the decisions made by elders or deacons, or even the gender, age, or ethnicity of elders or deacons. And finally, a church attendee or member may not agree when it comes to decisions made by a pastoral search committee regarding a new pastor.
3. Dissatisfaction with Church Programs
Some church attendees or members do not agree with length of service, service schedule, choice of worship songs, child care programs, lack of child care programs, youth or Sunday school programs, children in the sanctuary or children out of the sanctuary during church service. Some families disagree with services at night, and some disagree with programs during the daytime when they can’t attend because of work. Some people feel there are too many children, too many elderly, too much focus on evangelism, not enough focus on evangelism, too much focus on feeding the saints, not enough focus on feeding the saints, or too much or too little tolerance of differences.
4. Dissatisfaction with Church Ministry Opportunities
When a person feels he or she has been overlooked or not recognized for a position of leadership, that offense can cause a person to leave a church. Some churches focus on only certain ministries and appear to neglect others, or they focus on certain age groups, or economic groups, or ministry types and not on others. For example, if a family has young children, but the church offers no children’s programs, the family may leave to find a church that does offer programs for their children.
5. Dissatisfaction with Church Change
Change is not easy, and change can evoke many feelings of dissatisfaction. Some people may not be happy that a church program has been dropped, that a new one is demanding time that service schedules have changed, that a choir no longer sings, that a new pastor isn’t like the old one, or that a church remodel is not the way it should have been done.
6. Disagreement with Church Parishioner
When people rub shoulders with others, there is bound to be conflict. Conflict between parishioners can cause at least one party to leave a church. Conflict comes in the way of a mother defending the actions of a child, a Sunday school teacher defending the need to exclude a child from participation, or even power struggles over who gets to carry a church key or who has control over the church kitchen.
7. Church Logistics Issues
When there are too few parking spaces, when a person’s seat in church is taken, when the drive to church requires too much time or fuel, when the service schedule does not mesh with work schedules, these are logistic issues that can cause a person to leave a church.
8. Sense of Isolation
Some church attendees or members do not feel loved or appreciated. They believe the church is not friendly, that no one cares. They justify those assumptions based on the fact that no one shakes their hands at service and no one calls to check why they missed a service. The sense of isolation makes it very easy and quite likely that someone would leave a church.
9. Relocation away from Church. When people move out of the area, it often means leaving a church, but it’s usually a parting on good terms. Fellowship is broken because of distance, and church visits are likely to happen when those people return to the area for some reason.
10. Lifestyle or Church Creed Disagreement
Finally, there are times when people fall out of fellowship because they no longer hold a certain doctrine or follow a certain creed supported by the church. They may have taken on different beliefs or they may have rejected organized church altogether. A church may disassociate with an individual for disciplinary reasons, or an individual may drop out of church because personal lifestyle choices do not agree with expected church standards of conduct.
In addition to lifestyle disagreement, there is the internal conflict of having to hear messages that prick the conscious. Because of lifestyle choices that conflict with spiritual upbringing or training, people choose to leave a church rather than subject themselves to constant reminders of sensed guilt.
There you have it, 10 typical reasons why people leave a church. If you have been wondering why people would leave a church, especially a church where they may have fellowshipped for years, your answer might be found in one of these 10 typical reasons why people leave a church.
Reason Why People Attend Church
1. 23%- for spiritual growth and guidance
2. 20%- keeps me grounded/guided
3. 15%- it’s my faith
4. 15%- to worship God
5. 13%- the fellowship of other members (the community)
6. 12%- believe in God/religion
7. 12%- brought up that way (tradition)
Top 13 Reasons that Un-churched People Choose a Church
1. 90% – Pastor/Preaching
2. 88% – Doctrines
3. 49% – Friendliness of Members
4. 42% – Other Issues
5. 41% – Someone at Church Witnessed to Me
6. 38% – Family Member
7. 37% – Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
8. 25% – Relationship Other than Family Member
9. 25% – Sunday School Class
10. 25% – Children’s/Youth Ministry
11. 12% – Other Groups/Ministries
12. 11% – Worship Style/Music
13. 7% – Location
Top 6 Things that Keep the Formerly Un-churched Active in the Church;
1. 62% – Ministry Involvement
2. 55% – Sunday School
3. 54% – Obedience to God
4. 49% – Fellowship of Members
5. 38% – Pastor/Preaching
6. 14% – Worship Services
Top 4 Reasons Given By Youth that Choose to Continue Attending Church
1. 65%- say church was a vital part of their relationship with God
2. 58%- say they wanted the church to guide their decisions in everyday life
3. 50%- say they felt that church was helping them become a better person
4. 42%- were committed to the purpose and work of the church
The statistics speak for themselves. Overall, doctrine, the pastor and his preaching, and the friendliness and fellowship of the congregation are the most influential qualities.
What is the Church?
What is the church? Is the church a building? Is it the place where believers gather to worship? Or is the church the people—the believers who follow Christ? How we understand and perceive the church is quite important in determining how we live out our faith.