Why do people leave?
- Sometimes people leave because of a misunderstanding. Some of the people who left in the early years thought that Seacoast was going to be different than it was. Some couldn’t understand the vision or wanted it to be more like the mother church or another church they had been comfortable in.
- Some people leave because of an offense. A lady told me once that her family was leaving the church because I had not acknowledged her or her husband in several social settings. Truthfully, I couldn’t recall any of them, but they had left an impression on her, so they left. Often they are offended with others in the church and rather than facing the issue, they just leave.
- Some people leave because the excitement of the new has worn off. Long term relationships are difficult to maintain, whether it be in a marriage, a friendship, or a church relationship. In our bigger, better, faster culture it’s easy to become enamored with the new and shiny rather than put the investment in renewing what seems old and dull.
- Some people leave because it is the sovereign will of God. He has a new assignment, a specific mission, or a better fit somewhere else for this season of life. Almost everyone who leaves chooses door #4, and for some, it may actually be the true motivation.
So, how do you respond?
- Some leaders internalize it—they become paralyzed by the rejection. They risk isolation and distancing themselves from future relationships in order to avoid further pain.
- Some leaders externalize it—they lash out to anyone who will listen. They risk collateral damage as they are processing through their pain.
- Some leaders learn from it—they realize that sometimes people leave. They learn to process it in a healthy way and move forward stronger from the experience.
Why people leave the church and how pastors can respond