Why Do People Leave the Church?

Every Church has seen the sudden disappearance of some of its members.  Sometimes this happens because people move away.  Sometimes it happens because sometimes Church members cut way back on their attendance.  And sometimes they quit completely.  It’s the latter group that causes the most consternation, and invariably people in the Church ask why.

There are a couple of reasons.  First, sometimes the fire of spiritual interest grows dimmer over time and other things become more important.  Or at least they become more important to the ‘dropout’.  Jesus’ ‘parable of the seeds’ explains how this happens.  Second, sometimes there is a death in a family and when that person, who is the ‘spiritual driver’ of the family passes away the other members of the family either cut down on attendance or drop out completely.  With the ‘spiritual driver’, the person in the family who makes sure everyone else gets up and gets to worship departs this life the family left behind loses its motivation for worship and fellowship (usually because it was never really there in the first place and they simply felt that they ‘had to go’ to ‘keep peace in the family’).

But sometimes people leave the Church simply because their hearts were never really in it in the first place.  The Bible describes this kind of person:  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 Jn. 2:19).

In other words, they were never really Christian at all and when a proper ‘excuse’ arises to leave (whether it be a disliking of the Pastor or a perceived sleight or some innocently spoken word by another member of the Church) they take advantage of it and take off.

Devoted Christians put Christ first.  But the truth is, not everyone who sits in a pew is devoted.  And sooner or later that truth shows itself.  Never for the excuse or ‘reason’ given by the departing but simply because the departing want to go.  And so they do.  So pray for them.  It’s the best thing you can do on their behalf.