10 Reasons Why People Leave Church

Lonely-Walking-Out-The-Door-iPhone-Wallpaper-DownloadWhy do people leave church? This is the question I have heard discussed quite a bit recently (a discussion kicked off by Rachael Held Evans with her article “Why Millennials are Leaving the Church“) and a discussion which continues to flow throughout the blog world. I much appreciated Rachael’s thoughts on why Millennials, specifically, are leaving the church but feel the discussion she sparked is an important one which needs to continue. I’ve been receiving requests from readers to weigh in on this issue, and having given it a great deal of thought, am happy to offer my voice to this worthy discussion.

As I thought about my own opinion as to why people leave the church, it struck me that the actual reasons why people leave aren’t necessarily reasons that apply to one generation or the other. The issues that wound and tear a person down to the point that they walk out the door are typically issues that affect people from all generations and all walks of life. In fact, the reasons I have compiled are issues that led me to walk way from church as twenty-year-old, and still tempt me to walk out again some days– even though I’m not 20 anymore.

Whether you’ve always known what e-mail was, rode your big-wheel in the street without a helmet, can remember seeing ET in the theater, or did time in ‘Nam, here are the 10 reasons why people from all generations leave church:

10. People leave church when they can’t find community.

This is one of those reasons where it can serve as a reason why people come to church in the first place, and also becomes a reason why they leave– people want community. So many of us are tired of doing life on our own, tired of plastic American relationships, and are looking for deep, loyal, and authentic communal relationships. This should be a central goal of churches– building community. Why? Christianity was never meant to be lived out in the context of isolation, but rather in the context of community. When people can’t find community, can’t plug-in or access meaningful relationships, they split in hopes they’ll find it somewhere else. When a church learns to do community well, it is a life-giving experience. When churches fail to build community, church just becomes another item on your list that sucks the life out of you. I have experienced church both ways and can honestly say that I’m finished investing emotional energy into churches that don’t build a culture that values authentic community.

9. People leave church because they need less drama in their lives.

 I don’t know about you, but my life always seems to have enough drama in it– I certainly don’t need anything that is going to add to the drama factor. So often, people seek out church because they need a reprieve, a refuge from the emotional drama of day to day living. However, far too often church relationships find a way to add to your drama. Now, I get that we’re all imperfect and that any group will have their own conflict, but some churches seem to do drama more than others. Our jobs, family dynamics and friendships provide us with enough opportunity to be gossiped about, back-stabbed, and pushed to the margins- we don’t need to add to that. Church needs to be a safe place where one can escape the typical relational drama we all face and instead experience loving support and acceptance. When church just becomes another area that is going to add drama to my life, I need to cut the cord and move on for my own sanity. Which leads me too…

8. People leave church because of unresolved conflict.

As mentioned above, any community is going to have conflict. However, a healthy and life-giving community is one that practices healthy conflict resolution in order to keep relationships safe and whole. Some churches do a fantastic job at helping individuals reconcile their differences in loving ways which deescalate and restore, while others have skewed ideas of what reconciliation looks like. Too often, wounded people are told, or are caused to feel, as if their emotional response to being wounded is somehow wrong or sinful. We can be encouraged to “forgive and forget”, “get over it”, or even told we have “no right to feel that way”. We fail to realize that wounded people need to have their feelings validated, and need to have a place to air their hurts in a way that causes them to feel heard. If we want people to stop leaving church, we need to develop radical humility and become the peacemakers that Jesus claimed would be blessed.

7. People leave church because of controlling leaders and unskilled teachers.

Leaders make or break an organization, and church is no different. When the pastor or church leader(s) come across as controlling (whether it is real or perceived) it creates an environment that doesn’t feel safe to people. No one wants to be controlled or dominated in church– not even the people who assimilate and eventually tolerate such environments. Instead, people want to feel heard and included in issues of decision making and long-term vision. Too often, it seems like the kids who are picked on in high school either become cops or pastors so that they can control other people- and they become increasingly intoxicated with their own perceived power. When people like me smell this, we bolt.

Likewise, you can have a church with a great community and a loving pastor– but a pastor who happens to be differently gifted outside the realm of preaching, and lose people. The longest 45 minute blocks in my life have been when I have been forced to sit and listen to a person fly the plane around the pulpit ten times, without ever landing. Bad preaching is miserable. If people feel like the preaching sucks, they’ll leave in search of something else. We need to make sure we place people in positions to serve in accordance with their abilities AND passions, not just their passions.

 6. People leave church because they get turned off by social climbing, cliques, and nepotism.

Social climbing is simply how I would describe the phenomena where people have to acquire a certain amount of “social credit” with the people of influence before they can serve and be included. As a result, the popular folks at church amass followers, and power. Such a system requires you to play the “game” with people of influence if you want to be a fully included member of the group (leading to the formation of cliques). Some people, like me, refuse to do this in silent protest… instead believing that all people should be able to come together to experience God, equally. Nepotism goes along the same lines– we don’t want to see people elevated to their positions because they were of the right bloodline, or played the game with the right people– we want to see people elevated to positions simply on the basis of their skills, abilities, and calling.

 5. People leave church when they feel like they need to become a carbon copy of an individual or ideal in order to be fully included and appreciated.

During the times when I have found myself church shopping online, one of the first things I look at is the church’s statement of faith. This isn’t so much because I care about what they believe (although, I obviously do) but because I want to know if I’m going to be required to be a detailed copy of everyone else to be accepted. When I see a ten-page statement of faith the spells out everything from “Who is God” to “Why we believe the rapture will happen next Tuesday”, it tells me that there will be no room for me to live, breathe, or be my own person– my acceptance will depend on whether or not I am a carbon copy of everyone else.

People want to be who God made them– they don’t want to be a carbon copy of who God made you. When we feel forced to fit into a predetermined mold as to what a member of this community must look like, we leave (or in my case, I don’t ever go to begin with).

Most people don’t want to be like everyone else, and when a certain culture tells them they must become a clone as a condition of acceptance, many will leave instead of submitting to such a dehumanizing experience.

4. People leave church because they are tired of being told how a “good Christian” will vote.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Evangelical Christianity is that it’s not so much of a faith tradition anymore, as it is a political movement. When I was in seminary I wrote frequently on this issue calling it the “deification of western values”, because Christian culture has picked a few hot-button political issues and married one’s political opinion on these issues to their faith. We are tired of this. All of us.

It is possible to sincerely love Jesus and still not vote for the Republican candidate. PLEASE stop making people feel like voting differently is somehow akin to apostasy. Jesus followers hold a wide array of political beliefs, and that’s okay– they’re just political beliefs… it’s not theology not matter how hard others want to make it theology.

The sooner we can embrace our political diversity, and end this unholy marriage with conservative politics, the sooner we can all start trying to follow Jesus, together.

 3. People leave church because they’re looking for something authentic.

The word authentic means: “not false, but real… therefore reliable and trustworthy”. Ironically, I can think of no more authentic message than the loving and very real message of Jesus.

However, the way we often live that out is far from authentic. In scripture we see authenticity being something God loves; my favorite characters in the Bible are the people who were raw and who told God exactly what was on their mind, minus a filter. These are the people, such as David, whom God calls “friend”.

Yet, church often becomes a place where you want to be anything but real. It’s just not safe to do so- especially with people who are busy pretending they have it all together but still seem to have enough time to be your worst critic.

People want to do church with people who are real, people who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in relationship, and who are willing to sit beside you in the messiness of life. When church feels fake and like it’s not a safe place to be vulnerable, people leave in hopes they’ll find someplace that is.

2. People leave church because they feel lonely.

As you look through items 10-3, imagine how it feels to experience the losing end of one of these issues (sadly, I don’t think many of you will have to imagine that). The feeling of being excluded, by definition, creates an intense loneliness. Being one of the only people living raw and authentically in a quest for community, is a lonely feeling. Being the one person who can’t, in good conscience, sign onto the same statement of faith that the group has, is a lonely feeling. Watching cliques form as an outsider, and watching people who rise to esteemed positions by way of church politics, is a lonely feeling.

People leave church because they start to feel like an outsider, and that makes them lonely. It is an emotion that is painful, powerful, and given enough time, unbearable. If leaving church is what’s needed to stop feeling so lonely and to stop feeling like an outsider– they’ll do it (and it would be the right decision).

1. People leave church when they don’t find Jesus.

This sounds silly on the surface, but it’s not. Church of all places should look like Jesus! Church should be a place where people are busy loving the unlovable, embracing the outcast, serving the widow, immigrant and fatherless. It should be a place where power is rejected, gender and race is irrelevant, and where the most coveted position is the position of servant.

I think we need to just start being honest with ourselves and admit that a lot of people reject our churches because they’re too interested in Jesus to accept a counterfeit version.

When I look at the story of Jesus, I am consistently moved by the way people were attracted to his personality. With the exception of religious conservatives, everyone longed to be around Jesus and went to great lengths and great risk to spend time with him. I am convinced that if we built loving communities of faith that were raw and authentic, that embraced the excluded, and were known by how well they loved others, there wouldn’t be an empty chair in the sanctuary.

Because if a church were really to look like Jesus, people wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • outragex

    I have been in churches and am currently in a church that does a fairly good job of avoiding these “don’ts” and is emphasizing the “dos.” There are genuine and healthy churches out there, so my suggestion is keep visiting new ones regardless of their tradition or denomination. And if you get a chance, share your experience with a trusted lay person or minister…your dissatisfaction is not uncommon. Peace.

  • Pete Laberge

    Discus, sucks. YOu should change to something that works for good comments. It would accept me not under twitter, or g+, or facebook, or under any of my email several addresses or real name. But make something up, and it is eager! Too bad it ate up the well written comment I had made. Well, maybe your deity will find it and give it to you. Me, I’m tired of wasting my time. And you know, that is ALSO why people leave churches and religion. I would tell you who I really am, but discus would object. And you a good Christian! Worshipping a false god! REPENT. But now I know I can post anywhere, so long as I invent a new identity each time. Obviously a bug in the programming. But it will be lots of fun for me!

  • Marie Alexander

    As an Atheist, I can tell you that we don’t leave the faith because we want to sin. It not only displays a lack of understanding of the issue, but insults the people who you are (apparently) trying to help.

  • juli222

    I really resonate with much of what was written. There are horror stories and disillusionment in some of the post below and that is terribly saddening. The one thing I’m not in agreement with is that the building is the church. We are the church. We are the hands and feet of the gospel or at least we should be. Hopefully and prayerfully we all will truly know the in our hearts what love is and I believe that is God.

  • Joel1245

    Irish Atheist, I know you posted this several months ago but wanted to respond to it because of
    a few comments you made that don’t really make sense because the things you
    experienced aren’t necessarily a good reason to walk about from Christ.

    First, you say that people leave the church because the Christians they are surrounded with
    are bad Christians. Not just bad Christians, bad people and then you go on
    mentioning because they are judgmental, elitist, emotionally abusive, violent.
    The problem I have with all of this is that it’s too general to be helpful. In
    what sense are they judgmental? In what sense are they elitist or emotionally
    abusive? How can I know that I can trust your “judgment” on this
    since you don’t define it? Besides, Christians aren’t taught to never be
    judgmental. Jesus himself taught that one should judge with righteous judgment
    (Matt 7:1-5) so saying that Christians are “judgmental” (aside from
    the fact you’re doing the same just saying they are) isn’t good enough.

    The reason I say this is because I also know there are people who don’t put anything into a
    church who would say the same thing. I know people who give excuses and build
    up perceived offenses in their own minds. Some people don’t go to church for
    the right reasons. Some are listed in this blog post. For example, some leave
    because they can’t find community but is this the only reason they should
    leave? Have they made this problem known to others? I know many people who
    never do and leave never letting anyone know that this was a problem. I’ve seen
    example after example of people who never get involved even when members of the
    church have tried to.

    Regarding events that took place in Ireland, this is unfortunate and really a shame since this
    is also not what Christ taught. What seems to be lacking in these churches that
    are involved in this is a lack of authority. I’ll confess and say that I don’t understand
    the politics of what went on between militant extremist Christians, the
    Catholic IRA and the Protestant UVF but all I can say is that if any individual
    did commit harm and murder in the name of Christ then he isn’t following what
    Jesus taught. I’m not Catholic and I don’t believe in the papal line of
    authority; however, as I understand it, unless I’m wrong, don’t Protestants
    hold to scripture as their authority? If so, then anyone claiming to follow
    Christ is not following what Christ taught. In your complaint against
    Christianity, you seem to be lumping all Christians together instead of drawing
    a distinction between those who hate and murder in the name of Christ and what
    Christ actually taught. In essence, you’re throwing out the baby with the bath
    water. Where do these Protestants get their authority for cheering the deaths
    of Catholics? They don’t get it from the teachings of Jesus or his apostles so
    they must be using some other unauthorized philosophy. Therefore, not
    Christian. If I called my dog a Christian, does that make him a Christian? No,
    it doesn’t. Realize the distinction.

    Again, you mention that you moved to America and it was no different and that gays were
    being murdered by Christians and that gay children tortured with electroshock
    therapy, one of your classmates being bullied into suicide. This kind of
    treatment by Christians is unknown to me so I’m not sure what kind of church
    you were a part of. I would have to wonder but I’m going to assume this is all
    true. Again though, you must know that not all Christians do this. Also, if
    there are Christians who do this, has it not occurred to you that there are
    churches that don’t do this and has it not occurred to you that Jesus never
    taught this?

    The fact though that you mentioned the LGBT community (since it was the only specific reference
    to something in your post) tells me that your complaint against Christianity
    may not have so much to do with what certain groups who have referred to
    themselves as Christians have done so much as it has to do with what
    Christianity teaches about homosexuality. I think that you would probably count
    teaching that homosexuality was a sin would also be some Christians do to
    “hate” and cause strife. If so, your whole post loses credibility in my eyes because of that.
    Butchery, murder and blood flowing in the gutters is one thing (and is a good
    reason to leave those churches) but deciding that your worldview no longer
    aligns with Christ’s is another.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    You forgot to ask my mothers maiden name, what I had for breakfast this morning, and whether or not I think American football is a real sport.

    I offered my own account of why I left Christianity. I really don’t give a damn if it loses credibility in your eyes because it includes treating LGBT people like people. But thank you for succinctly reminding me why I am so grateful to be an atheist.

  • Joel1245

    Sorry, I thought you were being sincere. Never mind.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    I’m not the one who wrote a novel of a response to a post I made five months ago apparently expecting a detailed response to each point made. What possesses you to think I am interested in engaging someone who is so arrogant to believe he can decipher my true reasons for disbelief to match his own personal biases?

    I was extremely sincere. And my response was sincerely directed towards Mr. Corey and his readers. But people who read a personal account of the Troubles of my homeland and sneer at it as ‘not credible’ because I also mention gay people deserve nothing more than sarcasm and contempt.

  • Joel1245

    No, I think the Troubles of your homeland are real. I never said they weren’t but your portrayal of every Christian being this way is unfair. If you want to think challenging your viewpoint on that is “arrogant” then so be it. It’s the Internet so people are free to hit the ‘reply’ button and post a response. That doesn’t mean you have to respond though. Anyway, I’ll leave you alone.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    You challenged the integrity of my account, not the viewpoint it led me to possess. Reading comprehension. It applies to yourself as well.

  • Joel1245

    Actually, I was challenging both the integrity of it but also your conclusion as well.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    So basically I’m a liar, the Troubles had nothing to do with my atheism, and it was all because of gay people. Or something.

    Glad that’s cleared up. Thank you for your enlightening insights into my childhood. I’m deeply appreciative, and your Bronze Age idol has become that much more appealing.

  • Joel1245

    It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t that unclear in my original post and you really do understand what I’m getting at. I’ve seen this before. Someone who doesn’t want to answer the direct questions acting like they don’t understand what I’m talking about. However, I wasn’t trying to force you to answer and I wasn’t trying to make you out to be a liar about the Troubles. You understand that far more than I do. However, I said what I said in my original post. It’s not that hard, really.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Your original post was broken into strange chunks, asked a dozen different questions and made even more points attacking my personal account, and at some points was so grammatically off that I had to stare at it before I could even make sense of it.

    So no. Your original post was not perfectly clear and I have no idea which part of your five paragraph ramblings you wanted me to address. Was it the part where you said Christians killing my people wasn’t a good reason to ‘walk about from Christ?’ Whatever that means. Was is the part where you didn’t believe that gay people in America are treated like I described? Was it the part where you rambled on about Protestant theology in a manner I couldn’t even make sense of? Was it the part where you used the No True Scotsman Fallacy to Insist that the only real Christians are the nice ones based on your arbitrary standards? Was it the part where you assumed that my atheism comes from disagreeing with the Bible about killing gay people and not about everything in my life that came before?

    Please, enlighten me on the ‘point’ of your ramblings if you want to. Only this time, don’t arrogantly assume that you understand MY point better than I do, sweetheart.

  • Joel1245

    For some reason, I did notice that my paragraphs were broken into strange, gutted chunks. Not sure if that’s something I did or not.

    I guess what I’m not seeing is your line of reasoning as to why you left. You describe your reasons as to why you stopped believing in Christ due to what others have done in his name but you don’t make a distinction between what others have wrongfully done in his name and how that changes your perception of who Jesus was to you.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    The Troubles, the Christian persecution of LGBT people, the cover up of the child rape in the Church, all of it taught me that Christianity is the most efficient mechanism to hurt people and claim that they deserve it in existence. Christianity is a catalyst for harming others. That is its primary purpose and effect in the world, and I wanted no part of it.

    So as a young teenager I stepped back and looked at it from a distance. Without the bias of faith, I realised that Jesus is merely another deified tribal idol, no better or worse than any other. I took the initiative and educated myself in religious history, science, and apologetics. That’s why I’m an atheist. The life experience was the catalyst, education was the cause.

    And nothing I have ever seen from Christianity since has indicted otherwise.

  • Joel1245

    We both have differing definitions and understandings of what the church is then, I guess. You must have been Roman Catholic, I take it? If so, I don’t blame you as I question why those things persist and ever came about in the Catholic Church since I don’t believe that’s what was established in the first century.

    Just curious, and more of another issue, what was the Pope’s involvement or response to the violence that took place in Ireland at the time of The Troubles? Did he permit it? Did he condemn it and Catholics just disregarded it? To me, that would seem contradictory itself but I’m not Catholic so I don’t know.The reason I ask though is because when the Pope sanctioned holy war against England back in the 15th century and lost that war to England, I would think Catholics would have looked at this and perhaps questioned what they believed since, basically (from what I understand), this was basically God making war on England and losing.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    I grew up with a Roman Catholic grandfather and animist grandmother.

    Pope John Paul can to Ireland and issued a personal appeal to end the violence. Later investigative reporting revealed that the IRA was funded by several factions of the Vatican.

  • Philomelia

    What you’re saying sounds like if these people espoused a transformational belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, there was zero evidence of a beneficial transformation that you could see. There was no difference in these two sects that both laid claim to salvation through Jesus Christ, nor any mechanism to stop them from slaughtering each other, as the belief system would claim. That in fact, the evidence presented to you was that of two groups that had Christianity in common were acting in a way that was obviously, utterly morally wrong.

    In coming to America, you did not see evidence that belief in Jesus had a transforming effect in the treatment of a despised minority, and especially minors of that minority. If one were to follow the claims of Christianity, of the redemption and love espoused therein, one would expect that the results of LGBT individuals encountering Christians would be one where the LGBT individual was edified, healed, uplifted and otherwise helped, in the way that a ship in a troubled sea would be helped by a lighthouse casting out a beam, or preserved from destruction, the way salt preserves food.

    Am I getting your gist?

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    I suppose so. My original comment is four months old and so I’m obviously not in the same mindset as when I wrote it.

    But your summary is a fairly accurate summation of one of my opinions on Christianity.

  • Philomelia

    Okay. I’m glad I understand.

    I am also truly sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the pain that must have brought you and your loved ones.

    If people claim that their beliefs cause a supernatural betterment, then it should be visible and universally moral. If religion is to have a place in your life, I think it should earn it, or you should choose it. It cannot be forced upon you.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the very best.

  • Vanessa Benoit

    honestly, what you went through is a very valid reason for not wanting to associate with religion ever again, emotionally anyway. psychologically it makes PERFECT sense. However joel is still right that youre throwing out the baby with the bath water. Im curious, would you hate me and chastise me for calling myself a christian, even though i also stand on the ground that what happened in your homeland is terribly terribly wrong. And that what is done to gays in other parts of the country is terribly terribly wrong. Cuz i feel it with all my heart and the holy spirit that convicts me? Btw i live in hawaii and go to a very small church. I call myself christian but DO NOT AT ALL SIDE with the people who did such horrible things. But i understand psychologically where ur coming from. I only hope u don’t turn into someone who hates all that follow any spiritual path associated with christianity, before even getting to know their views or stances as an individual. Grouping a whole group as “evil monsters” is exactly how things like a holocaust happened. Or ironically, what happened in your childhood. Catholics perceived the protestants as evil beings. And here you’re doing the very thing u claim to hate…..by grouping an entire group together as disgusting and volatile. Good luck with that. Im not interested in an argument i only hope for the sake of humanity that you find some sort of peace.

  • Pennee

    I am not in sin. I am a Christian looking for a church and community. The church I attend is good, the people are polite, but after 2 years, there is still no real connections. All of the people there have known each other for years, and it is very difficult to develop an actual relationship with anyone

  • Nighten Gayle

    Good article. I appreciate the fresh perspective. I’m afraid many of our churches have become too Pharasaical to be a true picture of Christ.

  • Michael Smiley Gawthrop

    This is a very well written article, but it misses a reason, we’ll call it reason zero because it relates so much to all the others.
    0. The church pushes them out.
    I left the church because, well, I’m gay, and that isn’t going to change. I had been Methodist, and I was given the most convoluted bull about how they recognized there was nothing that could be done about that, there really wasn’t anything wrong with it, but by the way, you’re a vile sinner who is going to hell… that is a very untenable position to be in. The Mormon church looked like it would be a good escape, they were up front in telling me that I was a vile sinner, but do not despair, with enough prayer and devotion (and I learned later sufficient tithes) I could cleanse myself of that sin. When prayer, devotion, and 10% of my gross income wasn’t enough to remove this vile trait from me, I left the church to avoid being excommunicated, and went back to what I thought was a more progressive branch of the Methodist church… they were even listed as an accepting church by a gay christian group (there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one), don’t worry, they will accept you there… yeah, the accepted me as long as I showed up and put money in the offering plate, but when I tried to actually become involved in the church, they kept turning me away. When I wanted to help with the Sunday school I was informed that there were parents that weren’t comfortable with one like me teaching their children… okay, so much for being open and accepting, but that was a group of church members, not the church itself, so I gave them a second chance… I tried volunteering with the church’s relief efforts (they owned a warehouse where they stored emergency supplies for the disaster reliefs and needed people to pre-package the supplies for easy distribution if/when there was a disaster)… yeah, I showed up and for some reason the discussion of gambling came up and I made the comment that “I don’t understand the fervor against gambling, I understand being against the greed that motivates so many people to gamble, but just as many, if not more, people gamble as a form of entertainment knowing that they will lose money and accept that loss as the price of entertainment, not that different than the money you’d spend on a ticket for the theater.” At which point I was informed by one of the church elders that “that shouldn’t surprise me, of course someone who can’t even follow God’s commandments against being a queer would fail to see the faults in other sins.”
    Yeah, the door didn’t hit me on the way out, and I have never looked back at the church. I know exactly how the church sees me, they see my wallet, they see money that they can take from me, all they have to do is pretend that they don’t hate me for long enough to give them my money.
    I haven’t lost all my hope in Christ, I remember there was a time that he did love me and I him, I remember from stories that my grandma told that he wasn’t always the hateful deity that the church has turned him into, but I doubt the church will ever be redeemed for me.

  • Charles

    thank you for your article above. Very good points with conviction. My comment picks up on your list, and number 9 in particular about the desire for personal peace and avoiding drama. The truth is, in fact, stranger than imagined. Church is not a place to avoid drama. Real people have real problems as believers, there will be drama, and we are in the life together if we will remain together, and that is why we need the Spirit, Word, grace and truth. Many, many times the Word calls us to love and forgive one another… yes, it is hard. It’s too easy in the sin nature to cave, justifying leaving to be closer to Jesus, but it is actually an excuse. The church is the Body of Christ. There may be times to leave a church, but the church is not an ideal, and we need to get over that. Church is real and it gets ugly sometimes. Tongue in cheek but true nonetheless, no one could join a perfect church. Your list spurs on toward love and good deeds, but seems idealistic. Who of us can measure up to all that we know we ought to be? The Lord Jesus promised to abide in us and with us, and we need to abide with him and one another. The church as we know it or experience it in our culture or in our personal experience may be awful. It might not even be “church”. The church of the Lord Jesus isn’t perfect, but it is guaranteed, if you get involved with this group, you will get hurt, and you will hurt others, even if by neglect or passivity. But if you will stay you will learn and experience God’s grace and extraordinary power in the lives of real, imperfect people. Every day is not a win, but the end is! Grace wouldn’t be necessary is a perfect church. Living in community with other believers is one of life’s greatest blessings, but also a source of grief and pain, at times. I believe there are more reasons people are leaving the church than these, and that is a topic for lengthy consideration, but remember this, we are in a season for growth of the church (it is exploding, all over the globe, and there is much good), but the experience of many in our post Christian culture, this is a season of failure and decline for many kinds of reasons. None of them are good. I don’t believe that all good, true believers are leaving the church. Some do, and all 10 of your reasons expose many real issues. May we have more grace, to hang in and press in. The real church is more than ideals, it is difficult. Thanks for writing Benjamin.

  • Luke McNamara

    Just FYI as far as the politics goes, if you’re going to mention Republican, don’t bother leaving Democratic out becuae they are political to. You have to mention all not just some.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    No, I don’t– I just have to speak what’s true. There is a massive undercurrent in American Christianity that says you have to vote Republican in order to be a good Christian. There is NOT a huge cultural movement that says you have to be a democrat in order to be a good Christian.

  • Luke McNamara

    Yes you do. And you’re being very confrontational. Yes, you do. My dad is a minister and I know the truth when I see it. I said mention all for the very purpose of telling the truth. Or did you get so easily offended by what I said that you didn’t bother to read the whole thing? Cut down on the confrontation.

  • Guest

    And FYI again, you just contradicted yourself. If you want to speak the truth, you have to share all the information pertaining to the truth, whether you like it or not.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’m glad your dad is a minister. I happen to be a Missiologist who studies the intersection of faith and culture (contextualization and assimilation). I don’t think you understand the historical or modern realities of American Christian culture.

  • Leo Bruce

    Benjamin, thanks for articulating what I have sensed in many respects as to what is happening with church in America. I would like for you to help my understaning further by having you provide additional input as what is meant by “authentic” in the Christian context as well as you perspective on community – what would that look like and how could it be achieved? Thanks, Leo

  • Brandon Roberts

    yeah that’s true jesus told us to love

  • Keena Cauthen

    I left a church basically for a similar reason. They grouped the adults into classes based upon age, so the “Young Adult” class was those newly weds, newly making families, etc. The next was more middle aged. I tried to sit with them, but didn’t feel a good fit, because even though we were older, we had babies. Nothing they discussed in parenting really applied to us at that stage, and several of the lessons were about applying the Bible to raising your family. So I tried the young adults, but because we were established in our home/career, we didn’t fit in there much. Then it seemed to be expected that, as a mother of a newborn, I would quit my job and stay at home and be a “mother” at least until school started, then go part-time only, so as to give appropriate attention to the kids. I had a career well under way at that time and we were not in a situation where I could quit my job, even if I wanted, which I didn’t. So felt very uncomfortable every Sunday going in there. I didn’t fit in with any of the ladies, who would meet for coffee and playdates mid-week and socialize outside of the church but during work hours, and just finally quit going. I knew I made the right decisions for our family and how I was mothering my kids was not wrong, but they made me feel like I was wrong. I think if they had left the groups together, which is how it was when we started there, I may still have been going as I would have something in common with women in both “groups” and wouldn’t have felt like an outcast so much in either group.

  • Xyz9313

    Joel1245 youre an idiot. Respect to Irish Atheist.

  • Maria

    My family left our church over 5 years ago for many of the reasons listed above. We had pastors who were adulterers and non-believers (I know, amazing, right?), so there was a lot of drama coupled with no community and the feeling that we were just a checkbook asked to bring our friends every week with their checkbooks. It hasn’t changed my beliefs or lessened my faith, just chose not to subject ourselves to any more nonsense. I personally miss worship services, miss singing the old hymns (of course those were few and far between since everyone seems to think we need to abandon them and embrace the contemporary stuff, which is horrible!), but not enough to go back.