Why Do People Leave the Church?
You see it every Sunday – the empty pew where some dear brother or sister once sat, a dear Christian who has now turned back to love this present world. Why? Why would a disciple who had seen the goodness of God ever wish to turn back from following Him? People leave the faith for many reasons, but we want to look at ten in this article. Prayerfully, exploring these ten reasons people become unfaithful will fortify us against unfaithfulness and help us reach the wayward brother. A future post will explore methods of reaching the inactive Christian, but for now let’s simply explore reasons people walk away.
Reason One: Manipulation from the evangelists. When people see the evangelist in the role of a salesman, they are highly unlikely to convert. But, when they do convert, these new Christians fall away in alarming numbers.
Reason Two: Lack of further instruction. When churches fail to carry out the final mission in the Great Commission – i.e., “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20, ESV) – new converts commonly fall away.
Reason Three: Conflict. Nearly all of those who fall away experience anxiety from conflict immediately prior to their inactivity. Typically, this conflict arises with the minister, with another church member, or with a family member.
Reason Four: Change in Motivation. Those who leave the truth often encounter some change in life that removes their motivation for faithfulness. This change in motivation could be that the children whom they wanted raised in the church have left home, that they have accepted a new job which required longer hours, that they have found a new hobby that consumes their passions, or something comparable.
Reason Five: Assimilation. Those Christians who walk away from the Lord often do not feel needed by the local church. On the other hand, those who are helped in using their appropriate talents usually remain faithful.
Reason Six: Worldview. The way an inactive Christian looks at the world differs dramatically from the way an active Christian looks at the world. For example, when facing a serious personal crisis, active Christians are much more likely to turn to Scripture for comfort than a non-active Christian.
Reason Seven: Doctrinal Disparity. Active members and inactive members view Christian doctrine quite differently, according to a number of research studies. For example, inactive members normally demonstrate some ambiguity when asked concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures; active Christians do not.
Reason Eight: Supportive Relationships. Active Christians have a majority of their close friends in the local congregation, but inactive Christians have few close friends in the church.
Reason Nine: Marriage. The choice of one’s spouse greatly affects faithfulness to the Lord. As a rule, families strive for religious unity; therefore, marriage outside the body of Christ greatly diminishes the likelihood of faithfulness.
Reason Ten: Change in Perception. Those who drop out of a congregation often change their outlook after their conversion. For example, they may have believed the church could meet some perceived need that they quickly discover is not met in the church; they then look elsewhere to fulfill their desire.
These are some of the reasons research has uncovered that people become unfaithful. What are some of the reasons you’ve seen?