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Reasons Faithful Members Leave The Church

Updated on January 26, 2017
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks: Ordained Minister of Christian Education, BA English; MA Christian Education; M.Div. Divinity, Writer, 2011.

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Faithful Members Leave The Church

Pastors and top leaders can't help but notice that people who have been faithful for many years sometimes leave the church. Some pastors tend to overlook the trend and say they are called to preach only to the people left in the church. They should seek to find out the reason people who were once faithful are finding it necessary to leave. If they knew the reason, it might help to prevent others from leaving.

They should seek to find out the reason people who were once faithful are leaving. If pastors knew the reasons, perhaps the reasons could be addressed to prevent others from leaving.

Not A Spur-Of-Moment Decision

If the truth be told, most people do not leave the church on the spur of the moment. People have reported that they have endured many months and even years of being dissatisfied before they made the ultimate decision to leave.

It is usually the little things that add up that convinced churchgoers that it would be in their best interest to leave.

Hard Decision For Faithful Members To Leave

It is never easy for members to leave a church, and it would be wise for pastors to find out the reasons. If a faithful member leaves, it must be a good reason to do so because a faithful member would never leave a church a church he has invested in for years.

Usually, when a faithful member leaves, it is the lesser of many evils as the saying goes. The member more than likely is between a rock and a hard place. He is miserable and doesn't foresee any changes in the future.

The situation becomes like the biblical story found in 2 Kings 7:3-4 about four lepers who decided they were going to die if they stayed where they were. However, if they got up and left at least they had a chance of survival. Spoiler Alert: They left and they did survive!

Two Groups of People Who Leave The Chuch

It is important to know that there are many people who become church dropouts. People in that category are those who go to church out of habit because their parents forced them to go when they were younger. Therefore, they keep up that tradition. They attend church, but they never become committed. They don't connect with people in the church or get involved with any ministry.

It is much easier for those people to leave because they haven't really invested in the church, and the church really hasn't invested in them.

However, there is another group of people who leave the church. That group includes faithful members who have had active roles in the church and have done considerable work within the church. They have invested in the church and at one time the church invested in them, but the church has ceased doing that. These people were faithful members with leadership positions, but then they leave. Why?

Signs Members Are Considering Leaving The Church

Here are some signs that indicate a member is not satisfied and is considering leaving the church.

  • Irregular attendance. The first sign that a member is not satisfied at church is when he or she stops attending worship service and other church events on a regular basis.
  • Giving has stopped. A big sign is when a member stops giving, especially if he had no problem giving before. The faithful member will reduce his usual tithes and then stop giving altogether.
  • Not involved in ministries. If a person has no interest in ministries, small groups, Bible Study or Sunday school, it might mean that the person is no longer interested in the church.
  • Not fellowshipping with other members. When a person is not satisfied with the church, he might not want to communicate or fellowship with other members.

Gradual or Abrupt Departure

Sometimes faithful members leave the church rather suddenly without any signs. However, sometimes members take a long time before they leave because they want to make the best decision according to God's plan for their lives. So, their leaving is gradual because they want to make sure they are doing the right thing.

Same Reasons In Different Churches

It is safe to say that the reasons faithful members leave one church are usually the same reasons others are leaving their churches. In other words, while the people and churches are different, the reasons remain the same.

Through consultations, interviews, and surveys, the followings are main reasons people leave churches they have been members of for many years. This article will list some of the top reasons; however, there are certainly more.

Conflict In the Church

People have conflicts within their family and on their job. They shouldn't have to deal with conflict within the church. No church is perfect, but there should be a certain degree of harmony in the church. The church should take inventory and find out why there is so much discord in a place that should be a refuge for all people.

Faithful members want harmony in their church.

Members Not Given Needed Support

Sometimes people don't get the support they need from the church when they go through a personal tragedy or traumatic event. When those people don't get the support they need from the church, they decide to discontinue their support to the church.

God's Command To Pastors

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,

saith your God. (Isaiah 40:1)

Church Burnout

Sometimes faithful members feel burnout because of the church's demands on them. Much work is given to faithful members because they can be counted on to do it efficiently and in a timeless manner. Those who are loaded down with programs, needless meetings, unnecessary training and other responsibilities eventually get to a point that they are so burned out that they don't enjoy going to church any longer.


Not Being Fed

Too often people say they left a church because they were not being fed. In other words, they believe they were not getting the teaching or preaching they needed to strengthen them spiritually. Sometimes they are right. However, it should be a shared responsibility between the church and the people.

Churchgoers should not rely totally on a two-hour worship service on Sunday mornings to give them everything they need in order to develop spiritually. They should participate in their own blessings by reading the Bible and studying it on their own. They should attend Bible Study and Sunday school where they can ask questions about what they don't understand. However, pastors and teachers fail the people if they don't provide spirit-filled preaching and teaching.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Using Sermons From The Internet

Pastors fail the people when they download just any sermon off the internet and preach it regardless of the issues and concerns in his own church. It is acceptable to get inspiration from sermons that other preachers have preached, but the most effective sermon comes from a pastor who has received it from God for his own congregation at a particular time. A sermon preached in North Carolina last month might not be the sermon that a congregation needs in Delaware this coming Sunday.

Good advice for preachers is never try to stand tall in the pulpit on Sunday morning without first having knelt before God days in advance.

Other Reasons Faithful Members Leave The Church

Not Validated
People are left out and forgotten on the job or in the community. Church should be different.
Spiritual Abuse
The church fails its people when it overlooks the spiritual needs of the people.
Unfair Treatment
God is no respecter of people, but everybody in the church is not treated the same.
The whole church is in trouble when one or a few people make all the decisions without considering opinions from others.
Everybody who belongs to a church also belongs to the family of God. There should be no favorites in the church.
The church fails when family members are considered more important than other members of the church.
No Confidentiality
What's shared in the pastor's study shouldn't be aired from the pulpit the next Sunday.
Unfulfilled Expectation
When the needs of a person are not met, he believes the church isn't doing isn't job. People go to church to be helped; not to be hurt.
Pastors and top leaders fail miserably when they don't give members freedom to use their gifts without interferring.

Advice For People Who Leave A Church

There is nothing wrong if a person leaves a church when directed by God. No one is advocating church hopping, but when people are absolutely sure God is leading them away from a certain church, then that person will be disobedient if he or she doesn't leave. However, that person should connect with another church as soon as possible.


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    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 7 weeks ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      you left out the most important reason. they have been studying the scriptures and realize that what you call church is not part of the ecclesia of Jesus Christ and is an abominable work of men and not of God. In the new testament there is NO CLERGY, NO MAN IS "OVER" ANOTHER, ALL ARE EQUAL, AND GOD IS WITH US WE DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO A MAN MADE FAKE "CHURCH" PATTERNED AFTER THE ABOLISHED TEMPLE SYSTEM.

    • revmjm profile image

      Article Written By Margaret Minnicks 7 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      celafoe, you are exactly right. I will add what you have said to my article. Thanks for the addition.

    • profile image 7 weeks ago from upstate, NY

      As an elder in my own church, I can relate with the concerns you mentioned. The leadership in churches often invest more in people who do nothing than in those that have been faithful for years.

      There's a lot to be said for nurturing relationships, many misunderstandings could be avoided if leaders and church members put relationships above even the work of the church.

      I think your point about burnout is relevant, in almost every church it seems the same core group of people tend to do all the work. This is a sure recipe for burnout!

    • revmjm profile image

      Article Written By Margaret Minnicks 7 weeks ago from Richmond, VA, thank you so much for your valid comments. They seem to be in line with what I wrote in my article. My goal for writing the article was to bring awareness to top church leaders so they can evaluate why faithful members are leaving their churches. Hopefully, they will make the necessary changes so people will be more willing to stay.

      I am an elder in my church and burnout has been one of my main concerns.

    • profile image

      norine williams 6 weeks ago

      I have a problem with what "man" calls 'a church!' The Bible is our ‘example’ of how and what we are to do in this life. II Peter 1:3 says “According as his divine power hath given unto us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness…” Therefore, EVERYTHING we need to know concerning “life and godliness” is in Scripture and “The Church” is no exception. Consequently, we MUST use Scripture to determine the definition of “The Church!”

      If we’ve “studied” (II Timothy 2:15) Scripture, we know Jesus told his disciples he had to go away (John 14:1) but [paraphrasing] “not to worry he would send us “Help” (John 14:26). The “Help” came on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2) which was The Holy Spirit! Jesus “Promised” the “Help” would “lead and guide us into ALL truth!” But FIRST He “commanded” the disciples to “wait” (Acts 1:4) for the “Promise” (John 14:26) which would give us “Power” (Acts 1:9) to be “witnesses” to the world! The disciples “believed” and “waited” with “prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14) “with one accord” which came on the Day of Pentecost.

      This is our “example” of how “The Church” was and should be established. Do modern day ‘churches’ do this? NO! That’s why we have over 33,000+ denominations in the US alone! MOST have not “obeyed” His *LAST* commandment to “wait” (Acts 1:4)! MOST have not followed the “example” given in Scripture. Therefore (as one Hubber put it) “RELIGION” has become” stale, lifeless, legalistic and powerless” and is the main reason “Faithful members leave the church!”

      Without “obeying” his *LAST* commandment, I John 2:3-5 says “And hereby we KNOW that we KNOW him, IF we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him and keepeth not his commandments, is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth [ALL] his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby KNOW we that we are in him.”


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