Reasons Faithful Members Leave the Church

Updated on April 10, 2018
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks writes for HubPages and has accumulated more than 500,000 pageviews over many different topics.

Empty Church
Empty Church | Source

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.

The Bible should be the church's instruction book.
The Bible should be the church's instruction book. | Source

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.

Every church should use the Bible as its book of instructions.
Every church should use the Bible as its book of instructions.

Other Reasons Faithful Members Leave The Church

Way People Feel
Reason People Feel The Way The Do
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.
Dictatorship
The whole church is in trouble when one or a few people make all the decisions without considering opinions from others.
Favoritism
Everybody who belongs to a church also belongs to the family of God. There should be no favorites in the church.
Nepotism
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.
Micromanagement
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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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      3 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      PlanksandNails, thanks for reading and sharing your comments about faithful members leaving the church.

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 

      3 weeks ago from among the called out ones of the ekklesia of Christ

      Unfortunately, many deceived people believe in the corruption of the word 'church' and believe in a religious system that focuses on a building with people in it who adhere to a denominational template with salaried clergy running things. Church members who leave the institutional church system is a good thing because everything about what is called 'church' today is man-driven.

      Christ has fulfilled the tithe and the temple system that the church system needs for its survival.

      The body of Christ is built upon the principles of the Kingdom of God and has no resemblance whatsoever to religious buildings called 'church' and the worldly principles it is built upon.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      5 weeks ago from Houston, TX USA

      I left mainline Christianity because I believe much of the Bible is Blasphemy rather than scripture. Any story which depicts God as: Jealous, Vengeful, Wrathful or Violent is Blasphemy. Why? Because God is Good, All Good, and Always has been. Any story stating God is violent is a Projection of the author and is Not of God. Does anyone understand this?

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 

      5 weeks ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans

      sherry- Jesus does not have any "seeker friendly church" it's His way or the highway. Being a real follower of Christ means you serve him not men. You see that your money goes to whom it is intended, you see that the poor, orphans. truly needy and widows over 62 have their needs met and so forth. You cannot serve man and Jesus at the same time . Scripture says you cannot serve two masters. Serve Jesus by doing all He requires of You not what man requires of you. You must be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God and following it where, when and to whom it leads you, check MT 28:18-20

    • profile image

      sherry 

      5 weeks ago

      Personally, over the last 10 years my family has been experiencing seeker friendly Churches everywhere we go. Super friendly, great music and coffee, upbeat sermons. My family loves to serve but as we have experienced, the Church is only interested in how we can serve, they are all about your family when you are serving and they keep adding to your plate but the min you have to take a step back from serving they are no longer interested in you or your family because you are no longer serving the cause. It’s very hurtful. I am not mad at God. I know we are all imperfect people. This is a pattern I am seeing. I desire true relationships with Believers but it seems as if you are not doing ABC.... then you are of no use to the Church. We all need to do better at loving one another without agendas.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      6 weeks ago from Richmond, VA

      nerissa, I think the problem is on both sides: the ones who run away from the church and the leaders who run the church. However, I believe leaders who have been placed in that position should seek God and be more mindful of what edifies the people.

      Then, on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with leaving a church and going to another one when God says so. There are positive reasons for a person to leave a church just as there are negative reasons.

    • profile image

      nerissa 

      7 weeks ago

      If many people (including old and new members but already invested years as well in the church) leave the church, do you tthink the problem is on us, the ones who left or bcos there might be something wrong on the way the church works?

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Fernando, I am so sorry to hear about your unpleasant situation. I could sense the hurt you are experiencing. Situations like this happen way too often.

      My prayer has been for a long time that churches be pleasing in the eyes of God and be the ones Jesus is coming back for. Blessings to you as God leads you in the direction He wants you to take.

    • profile image

      Fernando Aguilar 

      5 months ago

      I have been attending church at a different city for about for years with my girlfriend that I just got married a few months ago. It's been hard for me attending church with my wife family sense I been here at this city for four years I been treated wrong and have not been accepted as family. I really don't care if my wife family don't want me as a family member but the fact that they don't regard me or give me my place as a brother in Christ really bothers me. I don't want to have bitterness or hate.. I really don't... I'm a very happy person and out going to others. However my wife family her father is a minister and always tells me that he is going to let me teach at church about home grouping and will tell me that I'll will get to mc and direct the worship and all this hasn't been give a chance to practice and grow my gifts. At one time the pastor told me that I'll be sharing some of the teachings for the Bible groups and I saw a laugh and a smirk indicating that the ministers and pastor don't take me serious. I have done everything I can and confronted them... I really want peace in my heart and I don't want hurt my wife because I don't get along with there family. To keep the peace and to grow in my gifts I'm going to move to another church. I'm a man of God that God gave me to choose and I believe that God wants everyone to grow and be obedient to Him and our pastor but when there's no growth or opportunity to excise your gift and there's family problem and your tried.. you did the effort it's better to move for peace of everyone.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      6 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Leah, for reading and commenting on this article. I responded to the e-mail you sent me.

    • profile image

      Leah 

      6 months ago

      This is very powerful and necessary information for every pastor .but sometimes when a church is stil young and their are soo many projects people leave and all the burden is left to the pastors .

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      8 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Donell, thanks for reading and commenting. Your concern is a common one. Some churches are failing when it comes to treating faithful members fairly. More people are leaving the church because of lack of respect from leaders who should know better.

    • profile image

      Donell hohnson 

      8 months ago

      I retired a few years ago. Got back into church for my soul salvation. I have been a member of this church many years.l just feel so unwanted and not accepted.You never get asked to participate in nothing.Members take ownership over duties. There is this one lady she does everything decorating inside and out. If anyone else do anything she is mad. I sing in the choir and can lead never asked. I support every aspect of the ministry. I want tobgo somewhere and use my gift.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      8 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Jay C OBrien, for your comment.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      8 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      . . . the church is within yourself and not in any pope nor preacher, nor in any building but in self! For thy body is indeed the temple of the living God, and the Christ becomes a personal companion in mind and in body; dependent upon the personality and individuality of the entity as it makes practical application of the tenets and truths that are expressed. #EdgarCayce reading 5125-1

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      8 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Patty, thanks for reading and commenting. I felt your frustration as I read your response to the article. Unfortunately, more and more people are leaving the church for the same reasons that you stated.

      Churches are not like that used to be when the leaders would check on the sick. Perhaps things will change and church people will do what right. At least, that's my prayer.

      Seek the Lord about whether to leave your church or not. I would suggest you have a conversation with your pastor.

      I am also on Facebook.

    • profile image

      Patty 

      8 months ago

      Thank you for this articail

      My famliy and I are going through a rough time .

      At our church they don't let you grow and don't let you use your talents plus I had someone to tell me I lost my testimony out of judgement of me .I have been through alot just 2 years ago my husband suffered a stroke and no one reached out to him when he came home ,we also hadn't had any one from church to visit with us .I was wondering is this a sign to leave ?

      Feeling lost I am on Facebook

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      16 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Jay, for reading my article and responding. It has prompted me to check out some of your articles to read your thoughts on other things.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      16 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Greetings, I left a very large and well established church because I do not like the Old Testament (OT). The OT is filled with stories depicting God as a Warrior, Killer, Fighter. The pastors of the church supported this depiction. I left because the Bible itself was wrong.

      God is how Jesus described Him and how He lived: a compassionate Father, who taught Forgiveness, Love even your enemy, etc. The Bible is a collection of Old thinking and New thinking. We should separate the books of the Bible and accept only those books which depict God as Jesus described Him.

    • profile image

      norine williams 

      18 months 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.”

      Blessings

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      18 months ago from Richmond, VA

      wba108@yahoo.com, 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.

    • wba108@yahoo.com profile image

      wba108@yahoo.com 

      18 months 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 imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      18 months ago from Richmond, VA

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

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 

      18 months ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in 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.

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