I have read several articles to develop this case study on why people are leaving churches. The Barna Group, a research think tank that surveys trends in the church discovered in a poll in 2014 that among Millenials, those who are 30 years old and younger, only 20% believe that church attendance is important. Among the GenXers, ages 30-48, and the Boomers, ages 49-67, 30% consider attending church as being important. The Elders, those who are 68 and above 40% consider attending church important.
These numbers reveal one thing church is not as important to people as it was at the beginning of this century. Although the reasons vary as to why people of all ages are dropping out I believe that these seven reasons speak to the large scope of why the church is declining.
The evidence that I have found why people are leaving church are the following:
- No encounter with God: People are hungry for the presence of God. They are broken, discouraged and disillusioned with their lives. They are seeking something different, something greater than what they have now. They come to church hungry and seeking and what they get is distractions, judgments and walls. No one is showing them how to connect with God, how to connect with His presence. Instead they get pressure to join the church, become one of us and if you don’t something is wrong with you. So they leave worse off, no God, no presence, no transformation.
2. Entertainment instead of worship: The church culture has become so competitive that the pressure to perform has overshadowed the priority of serving God in worship. The mega churches are pressured to perform for the masses that seek the best music, the best sound, the best praise and worship. The smaller churches are trying to keep their small congregations pleased and happy so that no one will leave. People are entertained and amused but they are not changed. What they are getting in church they can get in other places even on television.
3. Program based not Presence based: In the nineties the church was inculcated by programs. We went from Seeker friendly to Purpose Driven to Small Groups to growing your Sunday School and on and on and on. All of these programs replaced the fundamentals of church life and spiritual life. These programs brought in many people but they were consumers. They were driven to the churches that met their needs. This focus on needs negated the gospel of the cross that declares he who dies to himself lives to God. This program focus has now driven many from the church because they are exhausted and after twenty years they can’t see the impact of being in a church that meets their needs instead of teaching them how to be servants. They’ve eaten at the restaurant but don’t see the benefit from the meals.
4.Narrow vision; When the churches vision is centered on itself it has a narrow vision. People will support it when they see the benefit in it but eventually they lose their allegiance. The vision of many churches are self-centered and selfish and people are tired of supporting something that’s not greater than themselves.
5. No love: People are looking for love. The love of God in His church. They are looking for something that they can’t find anywhere else and they’re not finding it in church. They longed for a connection with God through His church that can’t be broken by the pressures of life. They are seeking to be a part of something, of belonging to something that calls them to be great. People are leaving because they are not connected and they don’t belong. They have spent years building an institution but who built them?
6. Boredom: People are bored with church. They go to the same place week after week. They see the same people week after week. They hear the same songs, week after week. The same pastor is preaching week after week. Routine is killing the church. People leave because they are looking for something exciting, different, untraditional. They want to see the God of the unusual but if God was to show up in a lot of churches He would be criticized for changing the order of service.
7. No community: I touched on this in number five. But when love is expressed a community is formed. Where there is no love there is no community. When there is no community people will leave. How many people do you know in your church? How many of them know you? What joins you to them? Most churches are not communities, even the small churches.People are leaving because they were never wanted. they were just used. .
These are my 7 reasons why people are leaving the church. Are you one of them? Have you left church? Why?