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Why Do People Leave Church?

September 28, 2015

Why do some people leave church, after having been part of a fellowship for years, maybe decades?

Well, in some cases simple health reasons stop people from attending; that’s not what I’m wondering about. My point is: what about people who deliberate choose to stop attending? Obviously, there’s never going to be one answer that covers all cases, but I reckon these reasons are among the more common ones:

  1. The saddest reason must be: somebody in church upset me. Since we are imperfect creatures, this is bound to happen in any group of human beings; church is no exception. But since you’re not perfect either, why should one human’s failure make you walk away from the whole family of God?
  2. One common reason is: wanting to pursue sin. People who willingly go against God’s will (having affairs, dodgy business deals etc) often seem to leave church – presumably to avoid either their own bad conscience, or the accusations of fellow believers. But leaving church doesn’t make God go away, however much you’d want him to!
  3. Often it seems to be simply a gradual slip-sliding away. Maybe nothing much seems to happen, and you’re wondering if it’s just tradition that keeps you going. Maybe you have been challenged by atheistic arguments and don’t know what to believe any more. Or maybe you just find that other things are competing for your time, and church doesn’t seem all that attractive any more.

Do you see what all these have in common? A sad lack of God. There seems to be no recognition of what church is meant to be: a group of fallible, imperfect people trusting in Jesus, who come together to worship God and grow in their faith. If annoying fellow humans, sinful activities or sheer busy-ness can make you leave church, where did God fit into your church-going?

Christianity isn’t about going to church, or obeying certain religious rules. Christianity is all about having fellowship with God through Jesus (1 John 1:3), and the church exists to help you grow and flourish in that fellowship. Some people seem to miss this vital fact, and so, when church seems to have become irrelevant or inconvenient, they quit. But if your faith is based on your fellowship with Jesus, maintained by the Holy Spirit living in you, worshipping God with other members of his church should be one way that you express and grow this faith; why should you allow negative circumstances to interfere with your worship?

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

2 Comments
  1. From my personal experience there are too many wolves and not enough sheep in every church I attended. I am treated better by non-Christians than the so called ones that attend church. I have better fellowship in a small Bible Study group

    • I’m sorry to hear that (although not totally baffled). Most Christians in most churches are trying their best to be Christ-like, but obviously we will all fail sometimes. At least you are part of a fellowship, even if it’s “only” a Bible study group – that’s also church in the biblical sense!

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