A new series: Why people are leaving the Church

In my last post, I blogged about people are leaving church and the Christian faith in record numbers.  I will begin a series to dive into this.  As a missional church, we need to be asking tough questions to address some reasons why people are leaving church or congregation.  Today, there seems to be more books out there that discuss why Christians are leaving church.  Therefore, I think we are beginning to “smell the coffee” and wake up to the reality of our age.  Many of our churches are suffering decline but are not addressing the needs of people.

There are many reasons why people leave.  Here are several reasons that I’ve gathered from some books, but I’m sure there are a lot more.

  1. Irrelevance
  2. Unanswered questions
  3. Lack of purpose and mission
  4. Stages of faith development
  5. Use of money

I may add to this list of reasons as the series progresses.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

9 thoughts on “A new series: Why people are leaving the Church”

  1. TC, I’d be curious to know how many people there are on any given Sunday who are sitting at home glued to the tube watching church-TV or internet-church when they could be in a real-live community at a real-live church. I would suspect the number would be quite high.

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  2. I think you need to perhaps redefine what church is. While many have left the institutional church, many of those same people are meeting in small fellowship groups or house / work groups. For them, this is their church.

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  3. Craig, that’s a good point. I think I may have to redefine what church is. Our definition of church cannot be boxed into an old paradigm that many can no longer relate to. I may have to do another post in the future to discuss this too. Thanks.

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  4. My wife and I amongst those who departed.
    We departed because the Lord said to depart. We attended a pentecostal church which was relatively lively and which we had good fellowship within. However we knew the time had come because there was no way we could go deep with God when a hierarchical belief system kept everyone focused on the pastor’s direction.
    Basically I believe that the concept of hierarchy of leadership in the church, despite being there for 2000 years, is an import from the world’s system of government. Hierarchical control is repudiated by Christ and the NT writers yet it is the very foundation of why the church is going nowhere fast.
    This applies even to lively churches. It is all directed by the pastor or the elders. All the rest are pew fodder.
    Whenever do we truly see the saints learning to hear the whisper of God himself. They know the pastor’s voice but not the Lord’s.
    Most pastors have no clue as to hearing God, so the chance of them encouraging the saints is remote. Most ministers are guided by a programme, rather doing what God leads.
    Most of all, we wanted to know what God was saying, it was impossible in church because of the control from above.
    We have been outside of the institution for several years now, and do not regret it one bit. Learning to hear and follow is wonderful.
    God has become so real. He is constantly providing input into our daily life and teaching us amazing stuff from his word.
    We meet with a few others who have also departed the system. Bliss and joy.
    Nobody is in control other than God.

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  5. Frank, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s regrettable that many pastors seem to let on that they are hearing from God while the rest of the sheep don’t. Pastors don’t always or even often hear from God. It’s a rare thing when they do. But I believe the same goes for regular believers too. We have to be careful that we aren’t rejecting leadership for the sake of avoiding accountability either. We all need have accountability, including pastors. Just my 2 cents.

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    1. Sorry Kevin, but I dispute your concept of accountability. As a pastor you naturally see accountability to those ABOVE. However this is clearly NOT what the scriptures teach. We are called to submit one to the other for the simple reason that there should be nobody above us than Christ.

      The hierarchical system is an imported management system from an unbelieving world and it has no place in the Body of Christ. The fact that God works wherever he can within such a system is no evidence that it is a system which He approves of.

      The Israelites demanded that God gave them a king, LIKE ALL THE NATIONS. God called this an act of rejection of His reign over them. The Israelites still rebelled and again demanded a king, so God after severely warning them, gave them a king. He even anointed Saul with the Holy Spirit, despite it being an act of rebellion! Although God allowed for it and thereafter worked through it, the monarchy was nevertheless an act of rebellion.

      The demand to be led from above by officers of the church, rather than listen to God via his spirit is equally an act of rejection of His kingship in a believer’s life. This applies equally within a church meeting and outside in normal life. Jesus is not truly Lord if we live church via a programme or liturgy. Nor is Jesus Lord if he is not invited to reign, nor listened to on other days of the week.

      I might love the joy of corporate worship. However church services just cause our spiritual hearing to go to sleep for the simple reason that it is never needed there.

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  6. Frank, I admire your thoughts on hearing God’s voice. I too wish to genuinely hear from God…and on the odd occasion, I might say that I may have.

    You said: “The hierarchical system is an imported management system from an unbelieving world and it has no place in the Body of Christ. The fact that God works wherever he can within such a system is no evidence that it is a system which He approves of. “

    I cannot disagree more with what you said. I believe that God has given us people in some hierarchical system of governance, whether low or high hierarchy. That is our decision as to which we want to submit to.

    If you examine the bible closely, you’ll find spiritual accountability all over the bible, both New and Old Testaments. The disciples submitted to Jesus’ authority as their rabbi/teacher. OT prophets submitted to their seniors in the temple/sanctuary. In the epistles, many submitted to the spiritual authority of the apostles like Paul who is the most obvious. In our everyday lives, we need accountability. I need accountability because if I didn’t have any, I should be very fearful of my natural human tendency toward self-centered ways, whether I hear the voice of God or not. Luther called our nature as being curved inward. Without accountability that we get in living within community with one another, we would be evermore wayward creatures than we already are.

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