Why We Leave

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple years now and I’m sure I’m doing something wrong because even after such a long time, I currently only have 233 followers.  *Shout-out to my Twitter followers!*  I notice (and usually take it a wee-bit personally) when someone stops following on Twitter.  It stings just a bit.  Not enough to ruin my appetite for lunch, but still. (By the way, follow me on Twitter by clicking on that link over there.)

And as a pastor, I’ve got to admit that it also stings when someone leaves the local church I’m on staff at.  I take that personally too, even though it often has nothing at all to do with me.  I wonder, “What did we do?” or “What didn’t we do?”

Now, there are plenty of dumb reasons for leaving a church and I’m sure those of you who’ve ever voluntarily left a church for another church up the road can attest to the fact that your reason wasn’t one of the dumb ones.  Of course not.  Never.  But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to list a few of them.

Too hot. Too cold. Uncomfortable chairs. Untrimmed mustaches on the ushers. Bad coffee. Bad parking. Low lights. Wrong Bible version. Not enough candles. They shook my hand too hard. I got hugged. Stale donuts. Everybody smiles, so they must be fakers. They took an offering. The worship leader’s soul patch. The pastor says “uh” a lot. The lobby smells like egg salad. Children are too noisy and act like children. The teenagers aren’t Amish. The preacher preaches too long (besides, I felt convicted during his sermons). The bathrooms are cramped. Standing too long for singing. Too many baptisms. Not enough communion…

(There are others, but that’s what the comment section is for.)

By contrast as far as I can see, there are far fewer legitimate reasons to leave a church:

  • They don’t believe/preach/teach/obey the Bible. (A lot could fit under this umbrella)
  • They don’t follow the leading of God’s Spirit.

So, let’s hear it.  What are some other dumb reasons or legitimate reasons to leave a local church?

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5 thoughts on “Why We Leave

  1. How about a connection factor? Our church (yours and mine) really pushes small groups to ensure that people are connected at the deepest level, where they are not only loved but also held accountable. If you don’t have a community, a connection within your church, are you really part of the body of Christ? I know that this has certainly made the biggest impact on my walk and I appreciate how my small group has supported me at the right times and called me out when necessary as well. I’m not saying that we aren’t capable of finding these “accountability partners” elsewhere in our lives but I would think it’s easier within one’s church. Thanks for writing and I really look forward to hearing from you this weekend!

    • Niki, so true. I’m curious; what do you think is the “newer” person’s responsibility to get connected, and what is the “established” person’s role to play? I ask that because I’ve seen people leave the church citing “I didn’t feel connected” where from all indicators they really didn’t seem to seek connection. You know what I mean? By the way, thanks for the comment!

      • Can I just say that I’ve started my reply to this at least three times? Then it hit me at church on Sunday. Shoot, it may have even been said aloud by someone. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. I think that applies here. Both parties have responsibility, for sure, but no matter how many times you invite someone or encourage them to connect, if they won’t they won’t. It’s like no matter how many times the doctor tells you that if you don’t lose weight you’ll die, you can certainly still choose to just go down that deadly path. Once you know the groups exist, once you know you’re wanted and/or invited, once you know you’re going to die if you don’t put those Swiss Cake Rolls away, the ball’s in your court. That doesn’t mean that if and when another circumstance arises in the Newbies life that may be the window we needed, we as “established folk” don’t use that opportunity to try again but it’s always a choice to become connected. We choose to find a small group, a new friend, an accountability partner and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and from there we find connection.

      • Funny Jerry … And accept my apologies for chiming in on such an old entry but I’m catching up but it the couple of times we’ve talked I’ve mentioned how “cliqueism” in churches can be a HUGE issue. Now I totally get it , who doesn’t want to be surrounded by friends and the people they are comfortable with but how intimidating do you think that is for someone to walk into a new to them small group in someone’s home where there are pictures in the mantle of the group trip to OBX that are like 5 years old? What chance would you feel like you had of breaking into that circle and connecting ? If your relationship is strong enough with your small group you are friends and will continue to be even if your you decide to branch out , get uncomfortable ,and make new relationships. I posted a question on my Facebook page asking “Who would you want your kids to be friends with ? (Coolest , nicest , tallest ,etc…..) admittedly I was baiting people but my answer for my kids is pretty simple, if my kids could only have 1 friend , nothing would make me prouder than if they chose to befriend the kid that was sitting by themselves regardless of how pretty , well dressed , or “connected” they are. It also broaches the whole “Sins of our fathers”thing also , it’s pretty obvious in “some” churches by watching the kids and teens who they’re parents small group is, so are we as a church building the next generation of Cliques , or are we challenging ourselves to be people reachers and in turn teaching our kids to be the same ? Hopefully ? But are we ? The Small Group ministry could be a very strong chance to grow a church family but only if you work it , drop insecurity , and reach new members. I come from a Southern Baptist (sorry , I read your views on “denominations”) where Sunday School was the norm , a we meet here before 1st service this is the age group , and they have “X” age kids…. Antiquated ? OBVIOUSLY , but easier than breaking the “secret handshake ” inner sanctum of some small groups . Not trying to be Judgemental and painting with a 4 foot wide paint brush but how many people do we see every week …. even ones that serve and are active members who aren’t in small groups or connected? There are always options , Start a new group , join a newer group that’s not established …… Don’t know just some thoughts ?

  2. First note that I define the “dumb or legitimate” part as “Dumb is legitimately in the mind of the beholder”. That clarified, Reasons (Dumb or Legititate) that I belive I have seen are:

    The back row is all filled up.
    The two days a year we go require too much work.
    In the context of people meeting “half way” – they move 1% and the don’t know why the other side didn’t cover the 49% gap.

    All go at a posture of “Here I am! I’m in this! But not really into it”

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