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 validatedand 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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About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a 3rd year Doctor of Missiology student (a subset of practical theology) at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, is available now at your local bookstore. He is also a contributor for Time, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. Ben is also co-host of That God Show with Matthew Paul Turner. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • http://theoddduckout-natalie.blogspot.com/ Natalie ._c-

    I’m neither a millenial nor a Christian. Which leads me to another reason that people leave the church that you didn’t mention. That is, they simply stop believing in God, let alone Jesus. When we see innocent people die in natural disasters, for example, it is very hard to believe in a loving God. Because a loving, omnipotent God would not allow babies to die crushed under fallen buildings in an earthquake, or drowned by a tsunami. And a loving God wouldn’t allow babies to be born with crushing disabilities, or allow people to contract long-enduring agonizing illnesses. Just to give a couple of examples.

    Sin is the least of our worries — nobody needs to have a Jesus to die for their sins — we need to take care not to commit our own sins, and we are not responsible for the sins of others. We need atone for our own sins as well — apologize when we’ve hurt someone, and make whatever reparations we can when we’ve damaged something. We don’t need an afterlife, either. What matters is our actions while we are alive, and it absolutely doesn’t matter what we believe theologically — it makes no discernible difference.

    I don’t incontrovertibly believe in the non-existence of God, but I have seen no good reason TO believe. Meanwhile, I follow the philosophical teachings of Judaism (which Jesus himself did) on how to live an honorable life, and strive to be a good person. But I don’t need a church or temple for that.

  • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com Ryan Blanchard

    Natalie, I agree with you on your main point – a bunch of people leave because their faith is gone (though arguing against natural evil doesn’t matter if God doesn’t exist, in my opinion. If there’s no God there, the idea of a hypothetical God being non-loving doesn’t really matter). For the sake of this entry, my assumption is Ben was talking about people that leave church but retain their faith. Why people lose their faith is a whole different discussion, somewhat connected to these things, but only superficially. To really be able to say why someone lost their faith, they’d need to have gone through it themselves. I appreciate that Ben isn’t trying to tell ME why I lost MY faith.

  • http://sukofamily.org Caleb Suko

    #10 and #8 are huge for our church! Another issue that you didn’t mention, which I have often seen in our church is simply sin. People who leave church because they’ve decided that they enjoy their sin more than their relationship with God and God’s people. It’s sad but true.

  • donna harris

    I started to attend a small church in a community where many members were related and had known each other all of their lives. When it came time to elect a new pastor, world war three broke out. It was between two pastors…..my husbands uncle and a pastor from ‘away”…..I truly felt that my husband’s uncle was a novice and had much to learn, while the pastor from away was more what the church needed. We voted and uncle didn’t win the vote, he left and took half of the congregation with him. I stayed at the church for awhile after(I didn’t vote for uncle) but felt that I was ostracized from the friendships I had made (with people who followed uncle pastor)..some wouldn’t even speak to me on the street..I was a traitor.

    The church itself went through a procession of many many pastors in the next few years…with each pastor…changes…they finally ended up changing the name of the church and the mission statement, their rules became more strict and less loving..and so …off I went.

  • The Irish Atheist

    I’ve seen a number of lists like this recently, detailing why people are leaving the Christian Church in droves. And all of them, this one included, seem to miss the number one reason, or dodge around it, or allude to it without addressing it directly. Well here it is. People leave the church because the Christians they are surrounded with are bad Christians. Not just bad Christians, bad people. They are overwhelmingly hypocritical, judgemental, and elitist at best, and emotionally abusive, violent, and murderous at worse. I’ve already made a post about why I left the Church on Rachel’s blog, so my apologies if it seems familiar to anyone. I do, however, think it’s relevant to this article, so here goes.

    I left the Church because I remember Christians slaughtering thousands of my people.

    I grew up in Ireland during a recent time period called the Troubles. The Troubles of Ireland were a religious and political conflict between militant extremist Christians, The Catholic IRA from the Republic and the Protestant UVF from Northern Ireland. It was a brutal, horrific time to grow up in Ireland. People were murdered for walking out of the wrong church, for marrying into the wrong religion, for associating with the wrong denomination, for simply being in the way of the true targets, and for no other reason that the Christians wanted some more press. Men, women and children from both sides, and from neither side, like me and my family. My uncle and his wife were dragged out of their car and shot to death in 1981 because he sold a horse to a Protestant. I grew up listening to prayers in Mass for the deaths of Protestants. I watched the Protestants on television burning the Tricolour and cheering for the deaths of Catholics.

    I remember the exact moment in August of 1998 when I left the Church for good. I was ten. I was visiting the village of Omagh in Co. Tyrone when the IRA bombed the market as I played there with a friend. 29 people were killed. I watched children shredded to death in front of my eyes, and when I finally escaped the market, my white trainers had been stained red. At that moment, I knew I could never have anything to do with the god, the church, or the people who orchestrated such terror in my home. To even pretend to be anything other than spiritually opposed to everything Christianity stood for would be paramount to rubbing shoulders with those who supported the murder of my people.

    As a side note, I thought things would be better once I moved to America. They weren’t. I had to attend a conservative Lutheran high school in a denomination called the WELS (unlikely that anyone has ever heard of it). It soon became very clear to me that the vast majority of American Christians were no different than those in my homeland, especially when it came to the LGBT community. Gays in America murdered by Christians, gay children tortured with electroshock therapy, one of my classmates bullied into suicide, Christian hospitals refusing medical treatment to gays. It never ends. That’s why I fight so hard for LGBT rights. Because I saw what the Christians did in the nation of my birth. I know what it’s like to be their target. I don’t want that to happen in the incredible nation of my adoption.

    When I try to explain to Christians here in America that I broke away from Christians forever because extremist Christians butchered thousands of my people, I am immediately shouted down, rebuked and rebuffed, shamed for associating the actions of those who acted in accordance with their faith to those who haven’t done such things. When I ask why giving money and time to the organisation(s) that funded terrorists in my homeland isn’t equivalent to tacit approval, I’m told that I need to search the Scriptures for answers and peace. I am told that I must not have had a true relationship with Christ, that I just didn’t understand the Word enough, that I had chosen my own sinful desires above what god demanded from me. When I try to explain my personal history with Christian terrorists, I’m laughed at, because apparently there are no such things. So why would I want to associate spiritually with any of you, anyone who’s brothers and sisters in Christ spread violence and terror in my home? Ireland is the only home I have. If we are going to save it, the power of the Church must, must be destroyed before they destroy us. And yet I am the one with no morals. Or sense of values.

    So it wasn’t a lack of community that drove me away. Or drama, unskilled teachers, lack of authenticity, or social climbing. It was butchery, murder, and blood flowing in our gutters. Maybe you can include that one in your next list, Mr. Corey.

  • gimpi1

    Ben, I would say all the reasons you list for leaving the church are also reasons some of us never get there, especially 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Well stated.

    Caleb, I would suggest the judgemental attitude you display, “…love their sin more than their relationship with God…” might be the problem in your church. Try accepting people as they are, and they might be less likely to bolt.

    Irish Atheist, I’m of Irish decent, though I’ve always lived in the US. I have relatives back in Ireland, and know more than I care to about the Troubles. I, too, have brought up the IRA and UVF as terrorist organizations – some of the most active and dangerous organizations of the 20th century – and I, too have been told that they weren’t Christian terrorists, because there is no such thing. Anyone who believe it’s good to hurt, shame, violate or kill someone in God’s name or because of their beliefs is a terrorist in my book. And far too many people, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Animist and none of the above fit that bill.

    I understand your decision that the best course of action is to dump the whole thing. It’s true believers of many faiths have done fine things for humanity as a whole, but they have also conquered, tortured and killed in the service of their beliefs. I don’t know what to say, except I suggest believers listen to what Irish Atheist has to say, and try to understand. With understanding, it may be possible to get that nasty beam out, before worrying about someone else’s mote.

  • James

    “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.”

    I would lovingly exhort you to apply this principle to yourself, because I get the impression from other posts here that you’re a hypocritical Christian if you vote Republican.

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

    @James-

    While I left the republican party about 4 years ago, the majority of my friends haven’t– and that’s fine. I didn’t leave it for a different party, and am now without a political home.

    I don’t believe in a blanket judgement that “all republicans” are somehow hypocritical Christians, just as I wouldn’t apply that to the other side either. Here, I critique individual positions, not blanket affiliation.

    Are there positions in conservative politics that would make a Christian a hypocrite? Certainly. Are there liberal positions that would make a Christian a hypocrite? Yes.

    That’s why I fall in neither category. Whenever I critique something on this blog, I am usually critiquing my own position from just a few years ago.

  • Celeste

    Your descriptions are valid, but Scripture also teaches that people leave church because of their own sins (unforgiveness, love for the world or for money, deceit), not just everyone else’s. By reading the above list, one might think that whoever the “saint” was that left the church had no spiritual issues of their own.

    The list also assumes that everyone interested in church is interested because of the right reasons: they want community, they want church authority, they want Jesus. But based on Scripture, few people actually do want these things; naturally, we create divisions, stiff-arm people we feel “judge” us, and don’t seek for God. To really want all aspects of Christ and the church and the Christian life is a sign of a very high level of maturity that I have only seen in a handful of Christians during my entire life, to speak from personal experience at least.

    As I said, you’ve given some understandable reasons, but the overall viewpoint of the post gives us humans way too much credit. It’s not merely everyone else’s sins that cause people to leave the church. We are “the church,” and sometimes it’s just straight up our own depravity.

    I say this not to bash (I really do like reading the blog, by the way), but to try to expose the :”saintly-victim-me vs. everybody-else-at-church-who-is-messed-up” syndrome that I see in myself and other believers often.

  • The Irish Atheist

    Incidentally, it’s interesting to compare the differences between this article and one written by a conservative Lutheran pastor on virtually the same subject. While technically Mr. Corey’s subject is people in general, and Marc5solas is talking about ‘youth,’ in my experience there’s not much difference.

    http://marc5solas.com/2013/02/08/top-10-reasons-our-kids-leave-church/

    If the link doesn’t work, apologies in advance.

  • http://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/ Micael Grenholm

    I also think many leave church because it many times lack power and claim to follow a wonder-worker that has been raised from the dead while they themselves are uninterested in miracles. I have a dear friend, Micaela, who became a new-ager since the church she grew up in was so boring. Then she got saved though and today she is one of the most prophetic people I know, telling people the secrets of their heart and leading many to the Lord through miracles and deliverances.

  • Terry

    I enjoyed reading this article because I am one of those who do not go to church for pretty much most of those reasons. I have read the comments and there are some valid testimonials here. Being judged, less-favored, tortured or having the threat of torture, being shut up by others when you try to point out the problems with the intent of hopefully resolving them, being told you are sinful because you walk away from the churches where sin is far worse then in the secular world, being rejected when you apply to work on ministry teams, being threatened with hell-fire if you leave a church without the pastor’s or leadership’s permission. These are reasons I cannot associate with the church.

    As far as God is concerned, I haven’t had any of my prayers answered, I haven’t had any revelation or words given to me from God Himself, I have not seen anyone miraculously healed, and have been told by so-called prophets (more like fortune tellers and horoscopes) that God is going to reveal himself to me soon. (many years ago) and even that it’s overdue.

    When I ask why God Himself doesn’t come around, I am told things like I have unresolved conflict in your life, or that God works in mysterious ways or in his own time, then finally that it must not be God’s will. Then I ask the following: If it isn’t God’s will and god is going to do what he wants anyway, then what is the point of praying? I have also had people tell me that God has turned his back on America because of the wickedness of this nation, and I believe that could be true, but it is unfair to those in America who truly want direction from Him and not some pastor or religious leader who only claim to be of God, but don’t really live it or act it.

    If I were to ever start a church, it would be stressed that people love the Lord and love their neighbor as themselves. If you don’t want to be tortured and killed, then don’t torture others. If you don’t want to be shunned, don’t shun others.

    I do not see any church making any effort to deal with the sin in their fellowships (if you can call them that) Instead, they sit and debate the atheist, the evolutionist, the homosexual, the Muslim, even those within Christianity with different views. No one reads their Bibles, they just debate on when the so-called Rapture is going to be or weather or not to vote Republican. They are not reaching out to the poor, the widows, the sick, the needy, or the least of society. They are not serving anyone but themselves. Then when they do go out to “share the gospel” and win converts, they do so only to brag about it at their next church meeting.

    I always hated sitting through testimony time because it is usually a bunch of Christians trying to outdo each other with a better story and rejecting those who can’t at least make up a testimony that entertains and impresses people. I get the feeling that a lot of this stuff was exaggerated or just plain made up so that people can look spiritual. I cannot be a part of that kind of dishonesty. I want people who are real and tell it like it is and who don’t play the pretend games that you have to play to be accepted into an American church today.

    And if there is a God and he does come to judge everyone, he will start in the church, and I am not going down when the American churches are finally destroyed (or destroy themselves)

    If any church is interested in cleaning up it’s act, I will be glad to help, otherwise, I want no part of religion. But God is perfectly welcome to appear and talk to me any time, because I have a lot of questions for him.

  • MG23

    I’ve read all the comments and it’s quite apparent that the lessons learned in the Old Testament must have been overlooked or dismissed as just mere stories without merit or truth.

    Everything that has been mentioned above has already happened over 3,000 years ago and still goes on today. As the bible says, there’s nothing new under the sun, so why be surprised and turn a blind eye to the truth.

    Before you open the bible, pray and please be sincere and ask God to allow the Holy Spirit to help you understand the scriptures, soon these questions will be revealed:

    Why would God allow this or that?

    Why would God do this or that?

    Why would people do this or that?

    Why would people, who say they believe in God (the trinity), do such things to others who believe or do not believe (the trinity)?

    Why God loves the LGBT’s, atheist, non Christians, but how their inner denials are not in accordance with His will.

    How Satan obscures and twists the truth. (don’t get it twisted, Satan is powerless)

    It’s been said, that only a fool would represent himself in court. You are a created being, and there is no way you are an expert or know enough to repair what is broken within you. You can’t save yourself or exonerate your own sins.

    In God’s written word, it explains that ALL men are sinners, we were ALL born that way, there is no escaping that fact…look around you, it’s also evident in what you all commented about.

    God looks into YOUR heart and he sees what YOU feel and believe; that’s how you are JUDGED…no created Human being can judge you for what you do or don’t do. There is no heaven or hell they can put you in, only God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit can do that.

    That’s why He sent His only begotten Son Jesus, so that we don’t have to be shackled to sin, that we can be free from those bonds. The only thing that stops your freedom is YOU.

    I challenge you to do what God has done for all of us that believe in His Son JESUS, that’s to FORGIVE and FORGET and to LOVE unconditionally.

    Believer/Christian:

    Renew and Recharge, attend church and get involved, get connected with the church’s ministry through your service, spiritual gifts and talents.

    Non Believer/Atheist:

    When you can find that place in your heart to forgive others and yourself, only then can the healing from all the pain, death, anger, frustration, disappointment, lies, and seperation from God, can begin. It starts by reading the book, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (BIBLE)”, scribed by spiritual men, led by God and the Holy Spirit.

    Topic:

    The main reason people leave church is because, there is no connection to keep them there. They are not involved with its ministry, its mission or vision…once the connection has been severed, there is no interest.

  • Cynthia Mahan

    Amen. I have absolutely no criticism. And no comments to add because you have effectively covered all the reasons I could ever think of. THIS is the kind of stuff I would like to see more of from you.

  • http://www.ludicraft.com Jenn

    All of these items hit home for me, but mostly 10. My husband and I left the church because we had no community. All of the young couples our age were having children, which was greatly encouraged in our church, and if you chose not to have children, such as my husband and I have, you were excluded and looked down upon. Inevitably, a well-meaning person would always ask, “When are you having children?” Quite uncomfortable. Upon staying a while, we realized we had very little in common with the couples our age with children. Going to Sunday school was miserable. We had no one to connect with, no community, so we left.

    Other reasons? The rigidity to be a carbon copy, the loneliness, isolation, and cliques made it impossible to stay. Due to other circumstances and people, it was decided my family wasn’t “good enough,” and we all left that church. Strangely, this is the second time this has happened to me in two different churches; once while growing up and now as an adult. I’m hesitant to ever go back.

  • Troy

    Enjoyed reading this article and the comments, and found your bio fascinating… There is a definite difference between those who leave “a church”, and those who leave the Christian faith entirely. I pastor a church in Canada, and one of the things we try to do is to be sensitive to people who’ve given up on going to church, though not necessarily given up on their faith. I’ve seen congregants who went months or even years away from church because of the reasons you’ve listed, and then they get invited by a friend and they are willing to try again. We try to emphasize that no church is perfect, and the bottom line is grace… Not just God’s grace to us, but being gracious to each other… What a shocking concept for a Christian!

    My heart goes out to the Irish Atheist commenter and others who have left the Christian faith entirely. I am forever convicted by the words of Philip Yancey: “If grace is so amazing, why don’t Christians show more of it?”


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