Why People Leave the Church

The Christian Post has published the results of a recent study by LifeWay Research that investigated the reasons why some people stopped attending church. The discoveries include:

  • 59% of those who left the church did so because of “changes in life situation.”
    19% “simply got too busy to attend church.”
    17% said “family/home responsibilities prevented church attendance.”
    — Other reasons explained were moving too far from the church, work situation and divorce or separation.
  • 37% leave because of “disenchantment with pastor/church.”
    17% said church members “seemed hypocritical” and “were judgmental of others.”
    12% said “the church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement.”
  • 80% of the formerly churched do not have a strong belief in God, which the study indicated may account for their higher priorities of work and family over church.
  • 42% said they are “Christian, but not particularly devout.” 
  • 24% consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.”
  • 19% said they are “a devout Christian with a strong belief in God.” 
  • 16% of those who left the church said nobody contacted them after they left.
  • 16% said nobody seemed to care that they left. 
  • 14% said the church was not helping them develop spiritually.
  • 14% said they stopped believing in organized religion.
  • 10% confessed to wavering on Christianity.
  • 6% said they were wavering on belief in God.

Every church has people who come and go. You can’t keep every person, and you can’t possibly appeal to every person in your community.

However, you can be sure to offer a relevant and spiritually challenging message that will help keep members solid spiritually and help keep church a priority in their lives. You can keep your church from forming cliques that dissuade or prevent members from getting involved. And you can show that you do care when someone leaves your church.

Following-up with people who leave your church can be difficult especially if you are a megachurch. But it is not impossible. Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) has over 10,000 members but uses children’s ministry attendance records to follow-up with families whose children haven’t been to church in a month. It is just a little way to show people that your church does care. No matter how big your church gets, never lose the ability to make your members feel loved and cared for.