Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Why People Leave a Church

  • Jim Townsley
  • Jun 11, 2015
Many people and organizations have conducted studies concerning why people leave a church. Though all reasons people leave a church are not good, there are some good reasons for leaving a church. Sometimes members relocate because of their work. For example, people in the military move often resulting in brief stays in a churches. Sometimes people relocate when they retire. Some people return back to their roots when they retire, while others are seeking a more affordable location enabling them to meet their needs on their retirement income. It is a blessing when young people leave to attend Bible college or when a young family goes to a mission field or starts a church. Though every person will be missed it is understandable when young men and women leave to enter the ministry full time.
There are additional reasons that people may leave a church and remain in good standing. However, some individuals remaining in the area could continue to attend, but for some reason they do not. If every church could determine the names of people who dropped off the role over a period of several years, the church could not contain everyone if they all chose to return.
Why do people leave a church and stop attending all together or join another local assembly close by? One major theme to explain the exodus of church members is a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been met. We recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations which can be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders. But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the primary reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.
Do some of these following statements sound familiar?
  • “The music director refused to listen to me about the songs and music I wanted.”
  • “I was not getting fed.”
  • “No one from my church visited me.”
  • “I was not about to support the building program they wanted.”
  • “I was out two weeks and no one called me.”
  • “The church auditorium is too cold."
  • “I told my pastor to go visit my cousin and he never did.”
  • "There are no activities for my children."
Church members should expect some level of ministry and concern from its leaders. But, for a myriad of reasons, we have turned church membership into country club membership. You pay your dues and you are entitled to certain benefits.
The biblical basis of church membership is clear in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul describes church members not by what they should receive in a local church, but by the ministry they should give. The solution to closing the back door, at least a major part of the solution, is therefore to move members from an entitlement mentality to a servant mentality. Of course, it is easy to identify the problem, but it is a greater challenge to effect it.
Lowering the expectations of members results in reinforcing an unbiblical attitude. It is better to raise the bar of expectations and encourage members to get involved and follow the clear teaching of the Bible. The solution to closing the back door is to train new converts so that they become faithful to all the services and enable them to get involved. This all begins from the pulpit. The preaching should always include the attitude of a servant spirit. The preacher and his family and passes down to the leaders of the church who train others also. Close the back door by moving your people from an entitlement mentality to a servant mentality.