I’ve been hanging out around a few Christian message boards/forums for the last few weeks just seeing what some post and how some respond. I’ve also been thinking and praying about what it is about a church that turns someone away whether they are a member or simply a visitor looking for a new church home.
This list is a compilation of various reasons why people leave a church and while certain points might be evident at a church you attend. I have no specific church in mind. Feel free to comment or email me privately if you think I’ve left something out. Specific reasons are in bold text.
Here is what I found:
1a. The church does not teach Biblical doctrine. Yes, I believe I’d run from a place like that as well. We can only know Him through the revelation of His Word. A study of the Bible is paramount. The main job of the senior pastor is to teach the Bible to God’s people as Jesus said, “feed my sheep.”
1b. Prayer seems forced, and it is not reinforced. I can’t even imagine being in a church where prayer is not a constant activity.
2. The church offers a rigid form of Sunday school organized around the ages of the adults much like elementary school. One forum commmentor stated, “I was invited to a Sunday school class based on age and marital status---not based on what the class was studying, or if I knew anyone in the class. This meant I was not a candidate for some classes. When I attempted to visit a class I thought might fit me better I was told I was in the wrong place and promptly shown the way to the class for my age group.”
3. 90% of the church leadership is over 50. Several younger people (20s,30s,40s) commented they prefer to see diverse leadership (ministers, deacons, elders, committee chairs, etc).
4. The community outside the church walls doesn’t match what is found inside the church. This matches somethings I read here that said….”Change is the only constant thing. Healthy churches adapt! How well church leaders moderate change and a church adapts to necessary changes is a sign of a church’s health.
5. The church has a rigid music and worship style. While many say no to a rock concert type atmosphere several state they would leave a church if the music was of poor quality or focused entirely on hymns from the 1800s. The same webpage referred to in item four states, “People brought up with TV (babyboomers and younger) will not stay around in a church that does not include Christian music [they hear online, on their Ipods, or from their CD collections.]
6. Bible study is stuck to one particular curriculum series-----there were no specialized classes on Sunday mornings for particular studies such as a Beth Moore study or topics like the history of the particular denomination, Christian history as it relates to the Bible, etc. The commentor that mentioned this stated some Bible studies were only offered on Sunday nights not during the morning Bible study time when more people attend..
7. The church has many members that aren’t attending for the right reasons. They are “posers” using a respectable church as an outlet for career and business contacts where friends can be made with the “right” people, children can play with the “right” kids, and donations will be made to the “right”causes.
8. Relationships among members seem fake and don’t seem to be based on the love of Christ. There are several cliques. A commenter said, “Authentic relationships----loving each other as yourself---can’t be faked.”
9. Bible study groups that have been together for years aren’t very inclusive. Visitors found that the groups did have authentic relationships, however, they weren’t very inclusive when it came to adding new people. I saw comments from long time members of certain churches that were discouraged from inviting people to attend their church because they were embarassed regarding how the visitor would be treated. Long term member or not….if your fellow members are an embarrassment would you be encouraged to stay yourself? Churches need to suffer from Xenophilia, a love of strangers.
10. Too many programs, but no real substance. One comment said it the best, “Any church can run a “program.” They go through the motions and do what is needed. Celebrate----yay, for us we did the program. Glad that is done! Cross that off the list, and pat ourselves on the back.”
11.The church has a wonderful campus….lots of space and various facilities yet members are very territorial about “their” area. “Don’t use our coffee maker….this is only for this group…..don’t move our chairs.” Being territorial leads to bickering which leads to….well, you know….missing members and no visitors.
12. There aren’t many children or youth for my kids to worship with. The person who mentioned this stated they were forced to leave the church where they had been members for sometime because without a base of young people the church didn’t seem to have a future.
13. Finally, many people leave a church or visit and don’t return because there doesn’t seem to be any real growth. Adding members is NOT the goal, but when a church is filled with people who love God so much that they want to share that love they are then more apt to get involved with evangelism, outreach, missions, and social ministry. One blogger I read regularly said it this way, “A healthy church is filled with people who tell other people about Jesus---not about the church---no one is attracted to an institution, but about Jesus. Everyone needs Him---not our programs---Him!” AMEN!
What do YOU think? Am I off the mark? Did I leave something out?
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