5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials)

Ever wonder why generating momentum in the local church seems harder than ever for most leaders?

You’re not alone; the conversation about momentum and shifting attendance trends is happening at every level of church, including some of the largest and fastest growing churches in North America.

Everyone is feeling at least two realities:

First, even people who attend church have stopped attending as frequently as they used to (I wrote about how to reverse that here).

Even in communities that are home to growing churches, the overall percentage of the population that attends church continues to drop, especially among under 30s.

Recently, the Barna Group released a new survey citing (among others) five compelling reasons church attending continues to decline, particularly among Millennials (those 30 and under).

The good news is that once you spot the trends, you can work at reversing them.

 

5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church

In the study, Barna cites 5 specific reasons Millennials have stopped attending church that drew my attention:

1. The church is irrelevant, the leaders are hypocritical and leaders have experienced too much moral failure

Yes, I know. That’s three reasons in one. But the Barna study groups all three reasons together as one reason.

And I think that might because that’s what most people do in real life. I mean, just have a few conversations with unchurched people.

They will go something like this: the church is irrelevant (why would anyone go) and full of hypocrisy…just look at the moral failure of so many of its leaders.

To some extend, I can’t blame people for this perception. I wince every time I see another headline announcing a new moral failure. And far too many of us have been burned by the judgmentalism of the perpetually self-righteous.

So what’s the antidote?

Just because many churches are like that doesn’t mean yours has to be. It’s more than possible to create a counterculture of integrity and grace.  It’s actually a bit strange to call things like integrity and grace countercultural (even within the context of church culture), but they are.

Jesus said that it would be by our fruit that people would recognize us.  Live a life of integrity with each other and outsiders, and your church will become a magnet, not a repellant.

 

2. God is missing in the church

People go to church looking for God but are having difficulty finding him.

This one hurts, but in an age where perception is reality, you can’t ignore this criticism.

The paucity of personal experience with God is disturbing. It would be easy to point at rock show churches and blame them (I lead one after all), but the truth is that people in all kinds of experiences from liturgical to charismatic have left the church in search of God.

Although some would disagree with me here, I’m not sure leaving the church for an individualized, personal or even home-based experience of church helps people any better. Although our consumer culture certainly applauds individually tailored experiences, what if the real paucity is that we had have even lost a sense of what true maturity and the experience of God is?

So how do we address this? Seeking a new definition of spiritual maturity (also blogged about that here) is a great place to start.  Andy Stanley also outlines the five ways people grow spiritual.  I taught through the same 5 principles recently here.

A clearer understanding of Christian maturity and experience could go a long way in better helping people connect with God.

 

3. Legitimate doubt is prohibited

Honestly, I simply agree with this criticism. It is very difficult to have an honest conversation in many churches today.

In many  conservative churches, legitimate questions get dismissed with pat—and often trite—answers.  In many liberal churches, there is often so much ambiguity that questions that actually can be answered are left unresolved—as if leaders were taking people nowhere.

Church leaders today simply have to get better with handling the tension that comes with questions.

At Connexus, where I serve, we’re heading into a 9 part series called Skeptics Wanted where we’ve actually invited people to ask their toughest questions about Christianity. I’ll certainly present some strong evidence for why the Christian faith makes sense, but rather than trying to ‘slam dunk’ every argument with Christian evidence, we want to series to be an invitation into a deeper dialogue.  (You can subscribe for free to the videocast of the series here. The series launches April 6th 2014)

 

4. They’re not learning about God

It’s amazing to me that people come to church seeking God only to not understand anything they’ve heard.

One couple that attends our church told me that they tried to go back to church when their kids were young only to give up in frustration after a year. The reason? They couldn’t understand anything the pastor taught. The woman said “It was like he was speaking a foreign language.”

After 5 more years out of the local church, they decided to give it one more shot when they came to our church. I’m so grateful they were willing to try again.

The truth is you and I can relate. Every one of us has listened to a sermon for 45 minutes only to walk out the door tremendously unclear about what was just said. And—preachers—come on, we’ll all given more than one of those message.

The solution to this is simple: clarity.

Speak in everyday language, not in church speak or in a meandering way. It takes far more work to be clear than it does to be confusing.

Have a clear point to your message.

Be clear about what you want to have happen when people leave.

 If you want to read more, I outlined how to write a message series for unchurched people here.

In addition, my friends at Preaching Rocket are offering a free online conference that can help anyone become a better communicator.  You can register for free here.

 

5.  They’re not finding community

The Barna study points out that despite a growing epidemic of loneliness, only 10% report going to church to find community.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s because people expect the church is the last place they’ll find community. And that’s tragic.

Of the many criticisms that can be levied at the church, lack of community shouldn’t be one.

Nobody should be able to out-community the local church.

You can make a legitimate argument that one of the reasons behind the explosive growth of the first century church was because of the way they loved each other and the world. Love should be a defining characteristic of the local church.

If we loved the way Jesus loved, people would line up out the door.

As your church grows larger, small groups become essential. For us at Connexus, everyone has a place in a group…from pre-schoolers right through to seniors. No matter how big or awesome the weekends might be (and they can be awesome), small group is where life change happens deepest.

 

Personally, I’m so grateful for research like this latest Barna data. It can only help us get better at being the church as Christ called us to be.

If you have to add more reasons, what would you add?

Any other ideas on what could help all of us in the local church better realize our mission?

____________

By the way, join me and over 5000 other leaders next month in Atlanta at the Orange Conference.

I’ll be speaking along with Andy Stanley, Mark Batterson, Perry Noble, Jeff Henderson, Derwin Gray, Ron Edmondson, Geoff Surratt and many more.

Plus I’m hosting a special track exclusively for senior pastors, executive pastors and campus pastors You can register here.

154 Comments

  1. DeeDee on January 23, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    I have received and learned so very much, just from the 5 reasons given on today. I am told that I am considered as a leader in my church, where I have worshipped for several years. I am very active in womens ministry, am an assistant adult Sunday School reacher, a certified Christian Chaplain, a published author, radio personality and gospel music promoter. I could not have accomplished anything without Jesus Christ in my life,(Philippeans 4:13). I know how it feels to experience the blessed Holy Spirit, stirring in my soul. Yet over the past couple of years, while sitting in service at my church, I have not been feeling the safe (a word leadership does not like to use in the Body of Christ), environment to express my praise and worship. I am discerning that I have been oppressed in many ways and that my deeds, words, teachings and service to the Lord, are not received by the pastors and the leadership, in the same way that Christ does receive it who had no respect of person, (Romans 2:11). Seems as though only certain persons, in the services, are allowed to express the joys of the Lord. When I attempted to share this wound with my senior pastor, his answers were most passive and dismissive. And he sometimes call issues of concern, complaints. I can assure anyone, I am not a complainer, I am a mediator and problem solver. However, I still stood on the promises and praying without ceasing, and giving thanks, ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
    My main concern is, how am I to give all my best, my first fruits, which He deserves. And continue to grow in Christ, while at the same time, consistently feeling isolated, restricted and dismissed by leadership?

  2. Angela Norwood on December 7, 2018 at 4:38 am

    😂😂 I have a peeve with that too and with grammatical errors. However, it may be an oversight on my part about the typos and misspelled words but overall it’s an article in which I agree BC I am experiencing these things right now to the present day.

  3. Kate on November 22, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    This post needs some serious spelling checks.

    • Yvonne Jenkins on November 27, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Churches made of brick and stone are businesses. Not once did king Jesus build a building to conduct services in. The church/temple is your body. These pastors and their families make merchandise out of people. Jesus Christ came to serve not to be served. If you want to please God give to charities that will feed, clothe, provide medical attention to people who are in need. Stop putting money in these churches for the money is going into their bank accounts and their children will inherit their ministries that they say belong to God…

      • Dale Miller on January 4, 2019 at 6:20 am

        So true, and they tell you to give so that God can bless you when the preachers are the richest ones in the church. I have been involved in different churches and seen this repeatedly and don’t care to see it any longer!

      • DeeDee on January 23, 2019 at 12:46 pm

        Wow. This statement is so interesting because another worshiper and myself, had a similiar conversation, recently. The mutual feeling is that the church is not for the congregation and the people of God. It would seem more for the children and grandchildren to inherit, like a business would pass down. Now I know that we all love our spouses, our children and grandchildren, family and friendships. But I must ask the question, is this the way that God intended?

    • A.N on December 7, 2018 at 4:36 am

      😂😂 I have a peeve with that too and with grammatical errors. However, it may be an oversight on my part about the typos and misspelled words but overall it’s a article in which I agree BC I am experiencing these things right now to the present day.

  4. BANNERMKR on October 29, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Honestly its because the church is too big it’s now all about glitz, glamour, and putting on a show. If people go it’s to blend into the walls. The pastors are not accessible they have security guards around them, no real ministry by pastors anymore people are just funneled off into groups. I’m a preacher’s kid and believe that everything has been lost with stupid megachurches it’s too much of a circus now

    • Rodger Niemeier on October 29, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      I hear what you’re saying, Bannermkr: not sure if your only experience has been with a “mega church”. It’s interesting that only 2.41% of America’s Christian churches are “mega” (1k or more members). Even large churches (500 to 999 members) are only 4% of all the churches; 35% 100 – 499 and 59% are just 7 to 99 members (http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html). Myself, I’ve always liked the smaller churches, simply because they often don’t get into the “circus” of performance-audience clamor and the opportunity for real relational connection is more likely (though, still, leadership has to promote and demonstrate this).
      The other wonderful thing about the smaller church is that it’s more apt to respond to change (yes, they possibly can have controlling pastors/elders, too) when a member or a few begin to express and pray for getting back to any lost sense of the Lord’s Presence and community in Christ. I’ve been in small churches where there are enough truly sincere lovers-of-Christ that they respond to a fresh wind of the Spirit and spiritual renewal; and I’ve also been in churches where it became apparent any attempt for change would not be welcomed.
      I have a feeling, though, this is not a new thing. Yet it will be up to those Christians who are sensing the need to break the apathy of sleeping churches, by prayer, by sharing concern with others, church leaders….. I think it’s where we have to start; and if church leaders resist even a kind approach, perhaps we need to find a fellowship where the attitude is different and open to the Lord’s leading; or, get together with any like-minded believers who want to seek the Lord anew, afresh, and see if the Lord wants to start a new fellowship on the “right footing”.

      • Arturo Sanchez on January 14, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        Roger, truth and the following 4 angels of life which lead to Jesus Christ is what needs preaching in every Church of God. Belief, preaching the four angels of life will always lead to Jesus Christ and all the blessings come from God. When we preach Gods heart, all things begin to happen even to cause the enemy to rise against anyone preaching this everyday. The 4 angels of death will come seeking to destroy the truth and the 4 angels of life which then lead to our Lord Jesus Christ. Theirs only one true church of God and its not called catholism, mormonism, methodist, baptist, JWs, 7day adven., its called the true and only “Gospel,” which we find in MATT: 28.19. We have left and as such we have many splinter groups just as we did back in “33 AD” The Nostics, Mountainist, Marichians and Novations. After this period came Sabellist, Calvinist, Arianism and by the way, many others who were seeking entrance into the Cannon when it was finalized sometime in 325 AD. We havent left. Currently, im in direct church with God our Father, Jesus Christ and they Holy Spirit and guess what? They neither lie to me nor do they hide from me amen..99.9% of all churchs in this world are not entering heaven not because i say but because God has spoken. Terribly sad. Having false doctrines, brothers and sisters who preach not the word of God but the word of mankind does not help. May God help us. Amen

  5. D. A Taylor on September 26, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    When will people start following Christ (the real Shepherd) instead of self-appointed pastors (a word that means “shepherd”)? Jesus plainly said He is the ONLY Shepherd!

    • Rodger Niemeier on September 26, 2018 at 11:39 pm

      Amen! No one should follow “self-appointed” pastors; nor are we to follow pastors at all. Pastors’ biblical role is one of tending to the followers of Christ wherever they come together, to encourage and support one another in edifying fellowship. As Paul said, “He (God) gave some to be pastors, evangelists, teachers – etc. – for the purpose of building up the believers …”. Do we need them – of course we do! Jesus ministers through His appointed/called ministers to the Body, so that we’re all together following Christ, supporting each other in the most challenging venture on earth. So Paul said, “Follow me even as I follow the Lord”. I wasn’t calling for people to make Paul God and follow him, but rather exhorting them to follow Jesus with every bit as deliberateness as Paul himself was following Christ. Those God raises up (as opposed to “self-appointed”) are there to encourage individual believers, as well as the local assembly of believers, in following the Lord carefully, prayerfully and rightly. They are part of the Body, too, just serving in the pastoral role, as the Lord directs.
      As the old saying goes, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”. You can’t generalize and be truthful, and call all Christian pastors, ministers and/or leaders, “self-appointed”. If you’ve never had the experience of being called into church leadership or pastoral ministry, be careful not to diss those who have. They are fellow Brothers & Sisters in Christ, with all their own issues they’re still working on in Christ, just called to a leadership role for whatever length of time, as our Father so leads. There are some pastors/leaders who are “off”; but there are some who are genuine in their relationship with Christ and take their calling to leadership very seriously, and humbly. Surely we should seek out a local fellowship where the pastor and/or leaders are humble, devote followers of Jesus.

      • D. A Taylor on September 26, 2018 at 11:52 pm

        Thus the commandments of Christ again become meaningless!

        In the Bible., the words “shepherd” and “pastor” are the same original language words. And Jesus said He is the ONLY shepherd/pastor.

        Furthermore, Jesus said He is our only spiritual leader:

        But do not be called Rabbi; for one is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ (Matthew 23:8-10).

        So why do you disagree with the teachings of Christ?

        • Rodger Niemeier on September 27, 2018 at 12:14 am

          Christ’s words never become meaningless; but there certainly can be the problem of us not accurately understanding what He meant. Context, context, context: you can’t pull even Jesus’ words out of context and rightly understand His intentions. He was speaking this to His disciples in light of the interaction He was having with and about the Pharisees, who coveted titles of importance, out of pride, for the purpose of being held in awe and basically worshiped – which, as Jesus was emphatically addressing, robs God of His glory. For the same Jesus was preparing His disciples-become-apostles to feed His sheep (to Peter, 3 times), to take oversight over the young believers who would come to Christ, and nurture them, not for recognition as leaders (prideful hungering for power or glory), but to serve humbly – to fulfill a particular role in the Body of Christ.
          If you take Jesus’ words out of their context, then you end up with a contradiction of even Jesus’ words. For if he literally meant to not even acknowledge your earthly father and call him father, or someone who, in Christ, teaches His Word to build up believers in Christ, as they are called to do, then Jesus doesn’t make sense. But if you understand these words of our Lord in the context of His teaching His disciples (which we are to be doing, from Jesus’ own words and commission given just prior to His ascension: “Go TEACH…and make disciples….” (Mt 28). Jesus spoke these words to negate the Pharisees’ abuse of titles for the purpose of being authoritarian and dominating: that’s what He was speaking about in regards to those who follow Him.

  6. Dereck on September 10, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Great article. I’m assuming the 5 reasons have not been given in order of importance or magnitude, but if I were to arrange them in order of magnitude, Id’ say the biggest reason people are turned off, is (2)- God is missing in the church and (5)- They’re not finding community.
    This bizarre and tragic, but the name of our blessed Lord Jesus is not uplifted and magnified in far too many churches. As a result there is no fire, no movement of the Spirit – therefore no power. Too much worldliness in the church.
    Also, churches can be incredibly lonely and unwelcome places, especially the big ones. People soon congregate into their small cliques of ‘like-minded’ people and discuss work, sport, holidays and other worldly concerns. Newcomers can find it extremely hard to break into these well established ‘small clubs’ within the church. So that many churches are in fact huge collections of small clubs. They don’t resemble the body of Christ.

    • Matt on November 9, 2018 at 10:49 am

      I agree with you 100%. At one church my wife and I atended for 3 yrs and in that time the Holy Spirit was taught only once. And that time it was taught that it was not for today to speak in tongues and that the moving of the Holy Spirit as seen in certain ministries of the 80’s and 90’s was wrong. Also taught that laying on of hands was not for today. Needless to say we felt released to leave that church that Sunday night after presenting the truth to our small ” life group” and being completely ignored and shunned because of it.
      I think that most Pastors today wouldn’t know what to do if the Holy Spirit was to begin to move in their church. Most churches has so structered the service to make sure there is no time for that stuff.

  7. Keith on September 9, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    This was a good article. My journey has led me to be a member of three churches, and all three have gone through tragic church splits, with much in-fighting, back-biting, pastors leaving, etc. I guess I can’t pick’em. I’m waiting now to hear from the Lord where to go. Meanwhile, what’s the point if you’ve been burned by a fire three times, to jump back into a fire to get healed? That’s what everybody says I should do, i.e. go back to church, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Too many bad memories. I love Jesus, just not his people at the moment after what his people did to me (three times!).

    You asked if there are any other topics or complaints why people don’t go to church, and my friends (I am a man) all say that churches are mainly too feminine, controlled by women, and pastors who aren’t “manly” men. They don’t relate. Also, the songs are way too high for men to sing. Just a thought. And that’s why they seek out bible studies, or promise keepers or other non-church events or fellowships for their edification.

  8. Marc Jelinek on August 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    I agree with Cameron Rowe to some extent. I too have worked in the Church, and unless you are in some sort of “group”, you really don’t feel connected. I believe this is what the American Church is missing – it’s connection to men and women.  I don’t believe our Churches have equipped the elders to make a difference in it’s member’s lives. We are too concerned with growth or Church “projects” instead of taking care of the people that are already there. How do I know this? Because, I believe our culture is a reflection of what is going on in the Church. Our businesses are more focused on quantity over quality. Loyalty only lasts as long as the money lasts, and our faith is wrapped up in how the economy is doing. Our Church leadership is modeled by worldly standards. People in today’s Church do not know God’s Word, and what little they do know is taken out of context and worn as a badge of honor, which, in turn divides. Any serious discussion of what’s going on in our society turns into a political debate, instead of falling on our knees and praying for. In a world with information at our fingertips, we have become spiritually unaware. I believe this is the spiritual war talked about in Ephesians 6. We have so many distractions in this country of affluence. “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens”(v12). We must, as the Church in these United States, repent from these distractions, and focus on the only One who can set us apart, and make us holy through His unending mercy, love and grace. Only then will we be able to truly be united through our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ, the one and only Son of God, in whom we can find the ultimate redemption from our sin.

  9. Phyllis on August 16, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    One of the many reasons my Father led me out of organized churches was because almost all preachers do not care to go into the scriptures deep enough to get doctrinal issues correct. What we believe has a direct impact on our relationship with God, relationship with each other and our quality of life. They preach what the attendees want to hear for fear of member loss.
    For example, the apostle Philip had 4 preaching daughters. Paul named a female apostle. Junia. Paul told women to cover their heads (just a custom) when they prophesied, which means inspired teaching. Etc. etc and etc.
    So, total male domination leaves a church handicapped for the word of God needs to be filtered through a female’s brain occasionally. This is only one example of the many false teachings coming from the pulpit.
    Stagnation is a disease that will stunt our growth and cause a church to rot. We/preachers are supposed to be looking into scripture on a regular basis to find out where we are wrong and have the courage to share it with the congregation.
    I actually was told by a pastor of a large church that they have all of their doctrinal ducks in a row. Wow! I can’t believe that people actually think that they can be perfect like God is with their thinking. Scary.
    Pastors that are teaching that tithing will bring blessings for them are teaching the opposite of new testament doctrines. Hebrews chapter 7 makes that very clear and the apostles never, ever took money from the brethren.
    After 38 years of attending church God led me out and my spiritual growth took off.
    I still get together with other believers as God helps us find one another yet I wish I could find that group of believers that can dump their pride and admit they can’t be right about everything as I struggle to do.

    • Brenda R. on September 26, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      I love this response. Where did you go when you went out.

      • William on November 11, 2018 at 9:29 am

        People claim to want to help the Church or help out in the Church. The same people who are helping act wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Those people who help, will not speak to a new person nor let that new person. Even if the person tries to ask a question they are ignored like they dont exist. GOD will judge them accordingly. They dont care if they hurt someone feelings. So how is that one can come to Church every Sunday for the last 2 years not be liked for no reason is beyond me. People have jealousy in thier heart? One has to think I will not be mean or not say hello. They can ignore that one person. Next time some people you see them by the coffee machine. I shall not engage in any conversation at all. It’s really there loss as they act like they are so much better than you are. I am not exactly sure of the reason and dont not care, it’s silly to be so immature like a little child. We are suppose to be adults not act like little children.

  10. Joyce Orenson on August 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Although I agree with this list of reasons, I think one glaringly obvious reason is being overlooked…and most likely on purpose. Who was it who said, “It’s the economy, stupid”? IMO, a major, perhaps the major reason that people have stopped attending church is because they simply cannot afford it anymore. Church has always been, for the most part, a product of the middle class, which has provided the money for its existence. Prior to Reagan and the Moral Majority/Christian Coalition’s unholy alliance with the GOP, one man could work one full time job and support his entire family. He could pay for a house, a car, a vacation to Disney or the Grand Canyon once a year and could even afford to give the local church a tithe. Thanks to trickle up economics, those days are long over. Now, it takes two people working two jobs each just to survive. People simply don’t have the luxury of giving 10% of their income to a church anymore. It’s no different than sneaking into the YMCA’s pool without paying for a membership. Eventually, somebody is going to notice and tell you that you need to support the church if you want to continue coming. Why subject yourself to that kind of humiliation?

  11. Rick Owen on July 30, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I would say all five reasons turned me away from church 8 years ago, at the age of 54, after attending regularly and actively contributing in a variety of ways since my teen years. Sincere love toward God and sacrificial love for one’s neighbor, which the grace of redemption is supposed to enable believers to practice, should be a daily habit. If you can find a group of likeminded believers who encourage and equip one another toward this — where the local church functions as a mutually-edifying ‘ekklessia’ (i.e., a Christian ‘congress’ of co-equal believer-priests pursuing kingdom truths, issues and projects; such as NTRF.org promotes), versus a stage show — then this can be very helpful. Substitutes for the ‘real thing’ are not very helpful — in fact, they can be detrimental — but one can still live according to and enjoy the fruitful benefits and blessings of loving God and one’s neighbor even when local churches are spiritually barren.

  12. Melissa on July 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    I agree with some of you article. Under 30s biggest problem is they grew up socializing on electronics and most wont answer a phone, they need to be texted. They have very little face to face skills so it’s no surprise they don’t do well in church socialization. Though the main point of meeting at church is to worship God, receive God’s forgiveness of sin, gain strength to obey Him in a sinful world, and comfort in times of sorrow.
    I don’t disagree with some people may be confused by sermons but that is not likely the case for people who were raised in the church. Babies in Christ are going to need a Bible study class to learn the basics but even at that many churches give weekly bulletins to follow along and fill in the blanks. But its also important that people understand you need a relationship with God and He will tell you in various ways what He wants you to know. Sometimes He speaks in an audible voice, sometimes through music, sometimes through people, once he spoke through a donkey!. As a person grows in God you rely more on God. It’s a learning process. All of us started at day 1 at one point and had to go from there.
    I agree many non believers feel judged but that’s what is supposed to happen not by people but by the Spirit of God. If a pastor is speaking on adultery, a person in sexual sin will probably be convicted but it is the Holy Spirit doing the convicting so the person can confess, repent of their sin, and be saved. The Bible details how to handle sin in the church. The elders, deacons, are to confront that person in private. Those people do have to discern, not judge, that a person is living in sin, say a husband cheating on his wife, in order to hold them accountable: the 2nd purpose of church. When you love people you don’t turn your head when they are injuring themselves, you intervene.
    Non churched people don’t understand that church people are different only by one decision: they have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They are not sinless, they struggle with the flesh (sin) every moment of everyday. When convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit they repent. Christian’s do not claim to be perfect but knows the Perfect One.
    I agree there are self righteous church goers and ones who are there for social purposes but there are many more there broken and on their knees before God. It’s like the gym. You have the already fit muscular people that intimidate the full sized out of shape. If you are there to get in shape and feel better about yourself you ignore any negative comments or stares and get on with getting healthier. Same in church: if you are there to know God and learn to live in Him you can ignore any people that get in the way.
    It’s about you and God, period.

  13. anna sisay on July 25, 2018 at 7:27 am

    This is Great message and needs very serious attention. since the God loves his redeemed souls. he anointed pastors to lead through until his coming. as Jesus Christ speak to peter If you love me keep my sheep. that does not mean responsibility of Only few pastors in the church. it is responsibility of all believers in the church. in our church we are planning to do survey on the factors that forces believers not to come to church. this will be a hint for this survey. thank you for message God bless you Dear pastor.

  14. DidNot Leavea Name on July 23, 2018 at 12:04 am

    It is helpful when churches honor people’s time. If the service is 1hr…stick to 45min to an hour. Quicker on the transitions betweenssongs, readings, prayer. Otherwise, the service seems out of control. Often people have activities right after the service. Respect people’s time.

    • Peter Lagasse on July 23, 2018 at 1:39 am

      I thought we had come to worship God and that God’s time came before our time. He’s the King and we should be honored that He even wants to meet us

      • G on August 3, 2018 at 5:35 pm

        Peter, I think you may be improperly equating sitting through a long church service with giving God time. In fact, it can be that churchy mentality that becomes the real turnoff. Over the decades I’ve sat through many church services and come out with the sense of wasting valuable time, feeling like the service was more about the pastor and his programs than about time with God. On the other hand, I’ve had some of my best times with God apart from church services. Most of our church services are nothing like New Testament gatherings of Christians.

  15. Sheila on July 21, 2018 at 2:35 am

    I too left church participation and Sunday Service attendance due to lack of genuine community. No one cared enough to find out why I stopped coming. I just got a letter from the leadership asking me to sign a covenant for membership that included attendance. I was furious and heart broken. They took the pains to check with me if I was staying or going but nothing else. It felt like they were just cleaning up the membership list and someone said “Hey I haven’t seen her here in a long time.” This highlights what is wrong with today’s church. It is not real. People cannot be real. It’s not okay to be hurting or damaged in any way. Sermons are either too ethereal, intellectual or basic and don’t help with application in the person’s life. God can’t be found because the people in the church aren’t being the hands and feet of Jesus. The barriers? a pastor may want to make changes but the board may hold him back. So nothing changes. The church may have no focus or direction that leads them to change. And the average church goer/ consumer votes with their feet…which can destroy a church, especially a small one.

    • Peter. on July 21, 2018 at 7:45 am

      I pastor a small church in Maine. As I read your story my heart was breaking. I love my congregation and they love my wife and I. As with any church we do have people leave but we immediately reach out to them to see what we can do to help.
      Usually they have already made up their minds. I still contact them to let them know we are thinking of them.
      Of course If they start going to another church I won’t do that but bless them in their new place of worshi.
      For me when someone leaves with out any reason given it hurts just as when our 25 year old son died. I realize we can’t be all things to all people.
      I guess the greatest concern I have with people today is when some people come to the church to see what it can offer them instead of coming to worship God as their primary purpose.
      My family when I was a child taught me through their actions we went to church to offer our thanks to our Lord and savior. And offer our abilities to serve the church.
      The church as with any family would have their problems but we went through those times and grew stronger.
      I am thankful for parents and those at the church that taught me it’s not what the church can do for me but what I can do for God.
      As a pastor now I do reach out to the needs who come and aim to teach we are a family with our warts and all that will fail at times but we desire to have a place where people can come to worship God and to love one another at the place we are and praying we will all grow to become more like Jesus.
      I pray you will find a church family that all love God and will in turn love you.

      • Rochelle on July 21, 2018 at 11:30 am

        Thank you pastor for being authentic and having a heart for God and God’s people. May God continue to keep and bless you, your family, church family and ministry. Thank you also for that word of encouragement to the writer.

      • Rodger Niemeier on July 23, 2018 at 12:31 am

        I think there is just a big disconnect – where than we pastors tend to realize – between us and our “lay people”. The “professionalism” of ministry (John Piper: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals), borrowed from the world categorizing pastorate as another ‘job’, profession, has promoted a distancing between “clergy” and congregants. Both leadership AND congregants have bought into this perception. It is a cultural influence that seems to parallel the professor and his/her class of students, and the pulpit is the professor’s podium of the sanctuary classroom.
        This certainly doesn’t mean the pastor fills an important role of leadership, teaching, and overseeing the flock; but we’ve taken it to mean that we as leaders should be aloof from our church members, like medical doctors with their patients (but who does rejoice when they find a medical doctor who is more personable and easy to relate to!?).
        As to members leaving our fellowship, it should be a rare occurrence when someone leaves and surprises us by it! If the shepherd knows his/her flock and has interpersonal relationships with those called to minister to, he/she will know to a good extent what’s on the hearts and minds of their “sheep”. “Visitation” used to be considered as essential a part of real “pastoring” – and not just when someone was in the hospital or died – and so pastoring to the surviving family. When I was a youngster (I’m 66 now), I remember the pastor coming by at times just to visit and pray with our family. To my parents, “Hub” (short for Hubert) was not just their pastor, but a friend – and you could see it in how they greeted and talked with each other after a Sunday service. But even Hub eventually ceased his rounds – which was sad.

        How do you minister effectively to those you don’t really know – and know what’s on their hearts and minds, and the things they are grappling with in their day-to-day lives?

        • Rodger Niemeier on July 23, 2018 at 12:43 am

          Forgive me for too many mistakes in my post (that will teach me to do this late evening!). I couldn’t find a means provided to delete or correct posts, so please accept my revision here:

          I think there is just a big disconnect – more than we pastors tend to realize – between us and our “lay people”. The “professionalism” of ministry (John Piper: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals) borrows from the world the categorization of pastoral ministry as another ‘job’, profession, promoting a distancing between “clergy” and congregants. Both leadership AND congregants have bought into this perception. It is a cultural influence that seems to parallel the professor and his/her class of students, and the pulpit is the professor’s podium of the sanctuary classroom.

          This certainly doesn’t mean the pastoral role of leadership, teaching, and overseeing the flock isn’t important and biblical; but we’ve taken it to mean that we as leaders should be aloof from our church members, like medical doctors tend to be with their patients (but who doesn’t rejoice when they find a medical doctor who is more personable and easy to relate to!?).

          As to members leaving our fellowship, it should be a rare occurrence when someone leaves UNEXPECTANTLY! If the shepherd knows his/her flock and has interpersonal relationships with them, he/she will know to a good extent what’s on the hearts and minds of their “sheep” – and any intent of moving on. “Visitation” used to be considered as essential a part of real “pastoring” as preaching – and not just visiting when someone was hospitalized or deceased (visiting the family). When I was a youngster (I’m 66 now), I remember the pastor coming by at times just to visit, ask us how we were truly doing, and pray with us. To my parents, “Hub” (short for Hubert) was not just their pastor, but a friend – and you could see it in how they greeted and talked with each other after a Sunday service. But even Hub eventually ceased his rounds – which was sad.

          How do you minister effectively to those you don’t really know, and truly know what’s on their hearts and minds, and the things they are grappling with in their day-to-day lives?

          The short answer is: you don’t!

          • Peter Lagasse on July 23, 2018 at 1:33 am

            I too grew up in a time when pastors and the those in the congregation were much closer and visitation was just a normal activity of the pastor. Also those that had been in the church longer than we had would often drop in and talk about the Lord and pray for each other’s needs.
            In my first pastorate in the 1980’s visiting people in the church during the week was a common practice along with spending time with those in the hospital or nursing home.
            In my present pastorate I am often not told If someone is entering the hospital. If I do and offer to come sit with those in the waiting room during a surgery of their love one they never take me up on the offer.
            I spend time with the people as I serve the food during the Bean Suppers or work along beside on our work days at the church.
            Visitation has been become difficult when most parents work and they are not up to an evening visit..
            I try to spend as much time as possible after the morning service talking to the people.

            Then as one writer shared we pastors must be mindful of the people’s time. So we pastors seem to consider what the people want more than what God wants. Growing up we usually did stick to a time frame but we did understand that God was the one in control of the service and at times the service might run longer. We were not upset if it happened because we had come to worship the King of Kings and He was the ultimate one to determine when the “meeting” was done not we His subjects.



      • G on August 3, 2018 at 5:50 pm

        Again, I truly think the problem is in the church-centered mentality, even in the attitude of “What can I do for the church?” Church leaders should be equipping the saints for service OUT FROM THE CHURCH, not bringing people in to get churched. (Eph. 4) I wish our congregations would do an about-face from attending to the pastor and worship team and turn around and face the world, going out from the church and into the culture to transform it for Christ. (And we are badly losing the battle for the culture, with the ungodly culture affecting the church more than the church the culture) But people are too busy going to church services, listening to speakers, and attending men’s breakfasts. Even good things reach the point of diminishing returns. There comes a point where a Christian’s maturity is in DOING the work of the ministry, and he doesn’t need a pastor leaning over his shoulder to do this. Our churches have become like a strange family where the children never really grow up. Instead of leaving their parents, they marry and bring their spouse into the parent’s home and raise their children under the grand patriarch (the pastor). Paul admonished in Hebrews that at the time they ought to be teachers they still have need for someone to teach them. Where is the maturity? Why the perpetual pastoral bottle-feed? I once asked a pastor who his very favorite speaker was, then asked him if he would like to listen to this person (his very favorite!) 40 times a year, year after year for several decades. Yet that is precisely what is going on in most of our churches. No wonder people become disinterested!

      • Billy Pope on December 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        I’ve been in church for over 40 years read what you wrote as well as what the young lady wrote you were responding to and though this is just a observation you both are right and wrong and possibly me as well anyway the church is for worshiping the Lord true but it’s also for disciplining the unchurched that takes time and the love of God which in my humble opinion is the main problem in the church no time or love

    • Rochelle on July 21, 2018 at 11:27 am

      This is an unfortunate truth. Although, I still am attending church, I am just going through the motions. I have been attending a friend of mine and her husband’s church as a support for them. It is going on two years and I am still the only member with the exception of their family. The church as a whole is lacking authenticity and transparency. I am more,so getting fed by ministers who are not sugar-coating messages and not always preaching blessings but the word of God and daily practicality.

  16. Cameron on May 8, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    I quit church about a year ago. I even worked in the TV ministry at my church for years. Church, I’ve found, are full of cliques that do not want me (single and not a professional-type) in their lives. I know people in the TV ministry got together outside of church. They frequently talked about how they all knew each other, talked on the phone, etc., etc. But, not once did they ever invite me in.

    Do I miss church? Nope.

    And, even though I worked in a department at the church, not one single person ever called me to ask how I was doing or why I quit. Not one. I was totally invisible. I worked there, paid tithes, donated, etc. It was not good enough I guess.

    I’ve found this to be pretty much the case at many churches. If you are not their coveted church goer, you are never invited in to the cliques. What is coveted? Married, professional, kids, or just simply professional if single. Note: Baptist are the worst at it I found, and the single women toss themselves at a professional man like whores do in downtown. Baptist also are the biggest hypocrites (yes, I am a hypocrite,too!) of the lot. Pentecostals think the world is out to get them (and God is just waiting for your to screw up so he can punish you).

    Pastors so often talk in another language like everyone totally gets what they are saying. Few explain anything. Preachers have their “power” scriptures ready to toss out whenever there is a lull in their carefully crafted presentation. Pentecostals are definitely the best at riling up the crowd with power scriptures and anecedotes of how God is magic if you figure out the steps. I often joke, “Read Joel Osteen’s new book: 12 Steps to a Blessing” since that is all this guy ever talks about. And, then there are the pastors who spew the “SOW your seed, son! And, God will give you the lotto numbers!” LOL

    A lady above said, God loves you, you get saved and you can do no wrong in his eyes even if you do nothing. I WISH I WOULD’VE HEARD THIS 25 YEARS AGO!!!!!! She’s absolutely right. You get saved and you are God’s special creature now. I actually created a tract and am going to pass it out to people. I just leave one here and there. Plant some seeds. Let Jesus do all the work. It’s his job to save not mine.

    I’m sure there are some awesome people in churches all over. But, I think they are far and few between. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet many of them.

    And, by the way, for the guy way above that had the experience with Dave. I had them with guys just like Dave. I agree: F U, Dave. Enjoy your clique, um, country club, um, church.

    God loves the church. But, more and more, I think he’s invited to very few of them. I remember this story about this guy sitting outside the church on the steps telling God, “they kicked me out and won’t let me in.” God said to the man, “Don’t worry, they don’t let me in either.”

    You know what the problem is? Church has become about the money. That’s why they covet the professional man (or woman) with a family. They see dollar signs and not people. Hey, gotta finance those cathedrals with something.

    But, you know what? God can do more with a nickel given with a pure heart than a million dollars given with a bad one.

    • Christopher Lochner on May 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Church is definitely a moneymaker. The “richest’ parish in the Archdiocese of Baltimore (Catholic) had a slide show “sermon” a number of years ago. And I am not kidding, while Fr. White said, “…and Jesus died for you…” {a slide of a cross appears} “…so that you may do this.” {a slide of a collection basket appears} . I walked out and waited around to talk to other churchgoers. “Isn’t that terrible?” being my question. “Not at all” was the response. Pay to pray and be part of the hive mentality. In reality, while the words in service may have value, there is very little implementation other than for fund raising purposes and ritualistic theatrics. Having been involved with and worked for a different Catholic parish, I can tell you, from my observations, that so very many do not truly believe what they say. Scripture knew of this as evidenced in Matthew 15:8 – “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” In modern times people are not as easily duped by the false piety of religious leaders. And don’t get me started on the amount of theft involved, known to the priests, but acceptable since they liked the thief who was on the staff! The Office of the Bishop claimed this to be a parish matter and not of their concern. If people really knew what went on in the parish centers they would leave in droves!

      • D. A. Taylor on May 20, 2018 at 6:16 pm

        It’s really no different in Protestant churches — except they use the Big Hammer of the tithing lie. Just like in Jesus’ day, the Christian Religion is not much more than a ploy to inflate egos and keep people employed.

    • Patt Hardaway on May 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      I am sorry you were not loved enough in the church. That is it’s main function. If you lived in Memphis, TN we would show you a different experience, Christ’s way. watercc.org

    • M.O.G Ricky T on June 23, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Before I was save I told the lord that I was tired of my meaningless life and If I wasn’t afraid to go to hell I would kill myself. He saved me and eventually called me into ministry. The church that I was sent out from, the people were so evil and full cliques; I was so happy to leave.

      I use to have my own church dealing with people here in the U.S.A, and other countries, my heart has always been pure about the Lord since I got saved. I was teaching with revelation and what the church is doing today, God pulled me out through illness sort of like Job. I lost my health, job, and family; and couldn’t understand why God would do such a thing. I didn’t accept any pay they offered me because I worked, I later found out that all of the churches are doing basically the same thing.

      They have kicked God out of what they call His own house and turned it into a den of thieves. He didn’t want me doing those things in His name, so He pulled me out of the institutionalized church into the Kingdom way of doing things. I go where He sends me into the streets, people homes, or wherever He wants me to be, I give the simplicity of the gospel. The church has fallen in love with immorality, money and whatever evil thing it can get them.

      Jesus told us not store up treasures upon the earth, where rust and moth destroy, but lay up your treasures in heavenly vessels. We are in the final time if ever before, and we need to teach the people to look up and get focused on the Lord. The gospel is the most important message that we have in the earth so lets go where He sends us with the Holy Spirit as our Guide, God will take care of the rest.

      If Jesus were here He would be to wore out from overturning the money changers table to do anything else!

    • Rochelle on July 4, 2018 at 9:21 pm

      I hate that you had to go through what you went through by way of the church. I pray that you don’t give up on God because of the foolishness of men and women who call themselves children of God but are far removed in their actions. I pray that God will send some real friends your way who has God’ heart.

  17. 2 REAL Reasons People Don’t Go to Church on February 21, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    […] with pain or church with interfering with your pleasure, you probably won’t go. Those are the real reasons people don’t go to church, but they still shouldn’t be what keeps you out. Here’s […]

  18. Dave on February 18, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    The author of this page reveals the real problem, when he writes, “At Connexus, where I serve …”

    Serve?

    I’ll willing to bet that he is paid a salary … right? Now if we were talking about the apostle Paul, who refused to accept money for preaching, then this author might indeed be a “servant.” But instead. he is a “hireling” (Jesus’ word), and the Lord said the hireling does not care about the sheep.

    And this is one of the main reasons why churches are failing. Jesus prohibited paid preachers: period, end of story. But of course, the hireling will never admit that he/she is disobeying the Lord.

  19. Brian Masinick on February 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I am so sad that controversy, name calling, and even foul language appears in a discussion of why people leave a church.

    All of us, whether pastors, lay leaders, church members, or people wondering why a church can’t meet their needs – or others, who wonder why churches have been in a long state of decline, have plenty in common, in spite of the obvious conflicts in the words expressed throughout this article thread.

    In the local church where I attend, there was a recent conflict within a committee which was formed in order to nominate potential candidates for church board office. There was even a disagreement within the committee that nearly escalated out of control. Fortunately all of the people love their church, and all of them were of a common mind when it came to nominating people from all ages and groups, and they mended a growing quarrel about how to review the nominations.

    As I thought about the “quarrel”, loving each of the people involved in it, I realized that the answer to such things is the same thing as someone else noted and shared within this conversation: Jesus overcame many things during his earthly life and ministry, and so did his closest followers by loving those around them and people as a whole.

    I appreciate the comments about socialization, laziness, and other stereotypes. As the author of one note realizes, whether we actually are lazy, bored, confused, scared or not (or add your own adjective) it’s important for the vital church to embrace everyone in love.

    I also love those in ministry who are transparent, and openly speak about their own issues, problems, and limitations. I’ve always found leaders who speak in this manner to be much more “real” to me and others. I always know that I’m a sinner and a needy person, but it’s comforting when we can all relate to one another, realizing we all need to be loved, accepted, appreciated, and valued, whether we’re a leader or someone who avoids the crowd or anything that would draw any attention at all.

    I long for people and places that are kind, loving, and open to everyone. Places where I feel like I am being leered at – whether sitting in a seat or standing in front singing, speaking, or sharing in any way, can be extremely uncomfortable.

    Friends, I’m not a pastor, but from time to time I have been a leader. I have been appreciated at times and scorned at others. It’s easy to notice it, especially when you’re in the front. But as someone else noted, it can be just as uncomfortable, probably much more so, when you are a quiet, reserved individual and you just want to quietly observe and worship, not become part of a stage play or a show.

    I thought the article written brought some interesting insights, but I was equally alerted by the responses across the spectrum. All I can say and do in response is to plead for all of us to model the life of Jesus Christ – He did not strike back and He did not withhold His love. Even the leaders and those seeking His life were included in His prayers. Can’t we do the same for one another? I’m doing my best to love each person). Let’s consider Christ; I’m sure we’ll find that we all come up short (I do, so do others. Therefore, let’s put on the mind of Christ as the epistles often remind us, let’s become true messengers of love and peace.

  20. Yanni on January 24, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Lots of hypocrisy going on in many church’s.
    Jesus warned us about the hypocrisy in His church.
    Jesus was a homeless and poor man.When you take communion on Sunday you are in communion with the homeless Jesus.
    Then on Monday you pass by the homeless man on Monday and marginalizing and oppress that homeless man.
    That man Jesus on Sunday is the same homeless man on Monday. As Christian’s we should love each other how Jesus loves each one of us every day.
    Proverbs 14:31
    The hyprocite behavior of many church parishioners is shameful and blasterme towards the Holy Spirit.
    Glory to God!

    • Yanni on January 24, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Nailed it!

    • Sheila Dalton on February 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      You are correct. I feel the same way. It was very difficult for me to be part of the food pantry at my church because the top people left to run the program and ” believed” to be the holy ones of the church, all talked about those who came for help.
      The hypocrisy runs all along the top of the church. Why are the people answering the phones judging the callers. And then why when I needed proof I went to the church did they tell me that because I don’t donate in envelopes with my name on it they can’t help me, even though they knew me from church. It’s just too much. Being part of a church shouldn’t be so difficult. Trying to help others shouldn’t put you on the path to be judged.
      I find God in me when I help a homeless person on the street, when I show my children how to help others in need without judgement and even long walks through nature. Life’s better when you eliminate the stress that comes from trying to”fit in” in a judgey’ church.

      • The church on March 18, 2018 at 3:19 pm

        Going to hell. Don’t want to be around believer s cause it convicts you and not them. We understand . Hiding won’t protect you from God’s judgement who really counts not people

        • D. A. Taylor on June 9, 2018 at 5:27 pm

          God’s judgment? Haven’t you read these Scriptures?

          John 5:22: For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).

          Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man (John 8:15 — KJV).

      • The church on March 18, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        Sounds like my church but I love the Lord so I’m going to keep going inspite of the weeds, I’m the wheat

  21. […] 5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials) […]

  22. William on December 17, 2017 at 1:58 am

    We spent years at a Methodist Church in Coon Rapids Minnesota. Every Sunday I would say hello to Dave. That’s his real name. Dave. He was in the choir, played Santa every year, and so much more. Dave never so much as did a double take. When I say hello to people, they know it because I mean it.

    I had the good fortune of basically cornering Dave in the grocery checkout line one day. Dave was stuck. No one else was talking to him and he was now sandwiched between me and the 3 people ahead of him. Perfect.

    “Hello, Dave!”, I said. Well, Dave couldn’t hide or play deaf and blind today. I’ve never seen a person act so awkward and phony-and uncomfortable- in my life. I actually felt bad for him as he feigned a kind hello and asked if he knew me. You tell me, Dave. When I told him I saw him every Sunday for numerous years at church I thought his head would fall off. It was disgusting. But it wasn’t just Dave. It was a fossilized, familial, generational clique of the passive -aggressive. It was the band members, youth ministers, and virtually every other member of church doers and “leaders”. A virtual mirror image of high school hallway psychology. If I had to name it, I would call it pious bullying, and it was commonplace.

    It was sad and sickening. The church slowly lost its luster and didn’t feel like a haven. We did meet wonderful people, and many of them left, as well. We were the legitimate congregation. We are still in touch with friends we made there. I own my opinion, but so many others have echoed similar sentiment.

    I love God. But, f**k you Dave. Enjoy your church.

    • Peter Lagasse on December 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      When we love God, we are also to love people says God’s Word. No matter who they are. Your last sentence does not show that in my opinion as I read the following verses.

      John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
      John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
      Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
      Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
      1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
      1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
      1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

      • Anonymous on January 10, 2018 at 8:40 pm

        Well thank you Peter, for clearly illustrating point #3 of why people leave the church! This man faithfully attended a church for years, trying to make connections with Dave and other members of the church, members that would seemingly be easier to make a connection with, only to be ignored and “piously bullied.” Instead of sympathizing with how hard it must have been to feel rejected by your own congregation for several years… all you could do was tell him he was wrong and spout off bible verses?! No wonder people are leaving the church when they are judged for sharing their legitimate feelings! If you want to keep people around, you need to actually LISTEN and seek to understand, Peter, before condemning them.

        • Peter Lagasse on January 10, 2018 at 9:21 pm

          I am amazed that I am condemned for quoting scripture while the other person was telling, Dave, “F**k you Dave. I do not condone Dave’s behavior. Or anyone else in that church that may have done the same, However, I will not be ashamed for telling a person to love those who hate you instead of saying, “F**k you”. Jesus quoted scripture all the time so he must also belong in the same group as I. Not listening and, therefore, not understanding. And I am in NO WAY placing myself with Jesus, .
          I may understand the writer much better then you think. You see, I was a pastor of a church for six years. Everything was going great and then I got sick and had to take a month leave off. A person who I had confided in, whom I considered a best friend, and this person was also a board member as well, decided that I could not be a good pastor, that I must be living in some secret sin etc. They called other churches and pastors to get their opinion about me.
          In six months both due to my lingering illness but also because they were those in the congregation did not see me fit as a pastor, I respectively resigned and remained as their pastor until they found another,
          I felt totally betrayed but this person and the few other who had agreed with this person. My health was not the best, I lost my job, my wife had to resign from hers also as we also had to sell our home.
          I could have allowed my anger turn into bitterness and become someone that should never be allowed behind a pulpit again. However, God began to remind me of the scriptures I quoted earlier and months later when this person called me I was able to forgive them through the love of God. It could have been much easier to tell the person when they called, F**k you but God showed me I had to forgive and still love them no matter what they had done,
          I, therefore, have felt rejection, humiliation, and so much more. However, I had to do it God’s way and not my way and I do not, therefore, apologize for using God’s Word to the person who was hurting.
          I have shared my legitimate feelings. Are you actually LISTENING to me ? I hope so, I really hope so.

          • Me on January 22, 2018 at 12:53 am

            Church sucks…the end…



          • Peter J Lagasse on January 22, 2018 at 9:35 am

            Sorry that church is so bad for you. For me I thank God for the church I attend. After losing our son in October 2016 age 25 it has been God and the church family that has been our strength and encouragement.



          • Paulo on January 27, 2018 at 4:25 pm

            great way to reply Peter!
            love your enemies 🙂



          • Sheila on July 21, 2018 at 2:52 am

            Peter, I read your comment regarding scriptures. I think sharing your story with the person who was clearly hurt and angry at Dave might have been more effective than simply writing a list of scriptures that point out how that person’s behaviours are not scriptural. I believe that is what ANONYMOUS was trying to get across to you. Your second comment seems to say that you think that what you did was okay because it was scriptures. I do think that you are missing the point. You may have experienced something similar and good for you that you were able to overcome it. But exhorting a person with scriptures may not be the first thing to do. As Stephen Covey says – seek first to understand.



        • Sheila Dalton on February 7, 2018 at 9:26 pm

          You are correct. I feel the same way. It was very difficult for me to be part of the food pantry at my church because the top people left to run the program and ” believed” to be the holy ones of the church, all talked about those who came for help.
          The hypocrisy runs all along the top of the church. Why are the people answering the phones judging the callers. And then why when I needed proof I went to the church did they tell me that because I don’t donate in envelopes with my name on it they can’t help me, even though they knew me from church. It’s just too much. Being part of a church shouldn’t be so difficult. Trying to help others shouldn’t put you on the path to be judged.
          I find God in me when I help a homeless person on the street, when I show my children how to help others in need without judgement and even long walks through nature. Life’s better when you eliminate the stress that comes from trying to”fit in” in a judgey’ church.

          And now here is my very clear reason
          I would rather spend my time around more accepting loving people and I have not ever once found those people in a church.
          People in a church believe they are better than anyone who isn’t in their Church.
          They will spout out every reason in the world including quotes from a Bible to explain why they are better.
          Sorry he who loves doesn’t have to prove it.
          Love is an action

    • Michael on March 11, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      Hi William, I guess that is the new, but not necessarily imoroved way of saying “forget” you Dave… LOL In all seriousness, as we all know, shaking the dust off our feet was modelled in the Bible when persons did not receive the Good News of Jesus Christ. If you are a believer, hence Jesus lives in you, and Dave did not receive you and the Good News you bring (repeatedly), then it is the same as him denying Christ. If you aren’t a truster in Jesus, still Dave denies Christ (“did unto the least of these… You did unto Me.”). Bottom line: Dave is to be pitied, because he is evidently merely a religious person! :/ Pray for Dave, that he may see and know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. There is another possible explanation which Dave could suffer from some sort of behavior issue like Autism (that’s where understanding someone’s background and discernment comes in). Either way, pray for Dave and love Dave, even if it has to be from a distance. I’m sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience with that church.
      I hope you find a good fellowship to meet so you can be blessed and be a blessing to others! Take care and God Bless! 🙂

    • The church on March 18, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Hahahaha, Dave Winn’s and he shouldn’t have but one bad Apple ruins the bunch. I had the same incident to happen to me at pfi in Detroit by pastor’s high end help and it’s very discouraging but I’m putting on my breast plate , my sword, and badge of honor to the Lord it really pisses off the Dave’s of the church who will eventually be in hell where they belong

      • Peter. on March 18, 2018 at 6:41 pm

        I thought you Christians are suppose to love everyone. If I remember in Sunday School there is a place in the Bible that you are suppose to even love your enemies. When I hear someone say that a certain person belongs in hell, I don’t see any love shown there.
        But maybe it is not true for everyone. Maybe you Christians can hate other people.

        • DA Taylor on March 18, 2018 at 9:38 pm

          One may love their enemies and want the best for them. But this does not demand that you spend time with them and allow yourself to be abused.

          • Brian Masinick on March 18, 2018 at 10:46 pm

            What is the most important thing?

            We can find the answer in the Bible, both the Old and New Testament. Jesus Christ gives the answer in Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus was being questioned, but He had the answer: love God with all of your being and love one another.

            It’s consistent with the Golden Rule.

            Look, the best one of us has failed in this. We’ve been unkind, thoughtless, greedy, you name it. Does that mean that we are hopeless? Not at all. God loves each of us in spite of our failures. God made us and God is able to redeem anyone willing to allow God to perfectly accomplish what each of us is unable to do ourselves – perfect love and complete forgiveness.

            I embrace and love what God is doing in me, definitely a broken vessel, yet a person who genuinely is forgiven, loves and forgives others as God has forgiven me.

            Let’s bring love forgiveness wherever we see broken faith, broken relationships and phony (fill in the blanks). When we fail, give the real work to God. All God wants is for us to love God and one another…



          • Peter on March 19, 2018 at 12:02 am

            I do not believe my main point was spending time or allowing oneself being abused by your enemies or hypocritical Christians. My main point was you Christians saying how certain people belong in hell. And if I remember the person was speaking about a hypocritical Christians belonging in hell.
            I thought all you Christians believed your Jesus taught you to love, pray etc for those that don’t treat you well. Not say they belong in hell.
            But with so many things changing in our world today maybe you Christians don’t believe that stuff anymore. Maybe you are all realizing your Bible isn’t the word of your God any more.



          • DA Taylor on March 19, 2018 at 12:24 am

            God does not accept anyone without repentance. And when we do wrong, He calls us out through the Scriptures. “But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Mark 8:33)



        • Sheila on July 21, 2018 at 3:00 am

          Wow, Peter, for a pastor you have some forceful words to share. Unfortunately these types of provocative statements just come across as arrogant, angry and finger pointing. When people are hurt, they retaliate – in words or deeds. Perhaps not everyone has your level of ability in this regard. But we need to connect with people in their hurt with healing words and not more condemnation. I would suggest that you find a better way to connect with people.

  23. Just Me on December 3, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    I do not go to church because I quite simply feel fulfilled without it, and the experience of church has not improved my life or the way I live it. I feel that I get the things church is supposed to provide (moral education, community, spirituality, charity) from other sources: friends and family, literature, personal meditation, volunteer work. I do not feel closer to god at church. It’s really just that simple.

    I think that this generation is more self-reliant. That isn’t a bad thing. There is kind of this underlying assumption in some of these posts that Sabbath breaking=moral deterioration. I just don’t see the connection between morality and church anymore. A lot of great people don’t go to church. I know some fantastic atheists, to be frank. I also know some horrible Christians. We’re at a place societal where we are starting to judge people by their actions, not by their religious affiliations. This is actually a good thing. Being a Christian that goes to church every Sunday no longer automatically equates to “Good” because ANYONE can be good. Church is not what makes one good.

    Speaking more personally again, I feel that the church has gotten too involved in politics and that has soured a lot of people i know (both liberals and conservatives alike). While it is totally understandable for one’s faith to shape their values, and their values their politics…special interest church groups speaking out explicitly on really controversial topics like abortion, gay marriage, etc. has pushed a lot of my friends away from the church. Recently my father-in-law almost walked out after the pastor condemned Trump. At a church sermon, these topics are not open dialogue. I think people today want more interaction. More dialogue. Not someone telliing them what to think or how to feel. As a result of these poor sermons, church has come to be stereotyped as old-fashioned, narrow-minded, and even bigoted. This goes back to #1 on the list, but it can be hard to find peace, hope, and moral guidance from an institution that has been close-minded and hypocritical.

    I know that not all churches are like this. And if you are a person that goes to church and comes away from the experience enlightened (my mother-in-law is a shining example of someone who’s faith has given her strength and compassion) then WONDERFUL. The experience SHOULD be uplifting. And when it is degrading, then of course people will abandon and seek out other avenues for moral education, community, and whatever else church has offered people in the past.

    • Peter Lagasse on December 3, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      As I read your comment some ideas came to mind. It won’t necessarily change a person’s view about church.
      1. There have been churches very involved with political issues for at least a thousand years. Some of this can be read when reading about the crusades, or Henry VIII had England leave the Catholic Church, or the many pastors that spoke about the American Revolution, and those who spoke before and during the Civil War and slavery.
      2. There has been people that have not been Christlike or hypocritical since the beginning of the church, Ananias and Sapphira was struck dead when then lied to Peter.
      3. There have always been issues that have caused people to leave the church over controversial issues. A whole gathering “walked out” on Jesus one day. And Christ was always upsetting some group or another.
      4. Controversial issues doesn’t mean the church does not speak about those issues. Jesus would have had to keep himself quiet most of the time if that was true. In fact, He was crucified for dealing with controversial issues.
      5. There has been people that have felt there was no need for church even when it started that’s why it says in Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
      When a person says to me I don’t need to meet together with you and those you worship with, I say, “Maybe I need you to attend for something I need to hear from you to spur me on.
      6. That is some of my comments for what they are worth.

    • Teabag on January 14, 2018 at 4:39 am

      Firstly I can see why it’s on the decline ashame. The reasons are various. its like this their are genuine reasons for it’s lack in popularity. The songs are in essence back in the day & people in todays society feel the wordy songs aren’t co herent. That makes me feel sad – changing of times & of society. You can’t turn the clock back when all things bright n beautiful sang. Firstly, faith it’s for all people. It says it’s all inclusive affirming reality is – my sincere experience I don’t feel it is. It’s the subject of minority communities I think all people would understand what I mean by this. I went to a Carol service & the church wouldn’t let me in. The Christian community.

      • Teabag on January 14, 2018 at 4:44 am

        I think it’s sad that people no longer attend I really do. As I say the people that keep the faith groups going are the people they look down their noses at thus being minority Community’s.

        • Teabag on January 14, 2018 at 4:46 am

          Many people though watch songs of praise.

          • Peter J Lagasse on January 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm

            I just returned from a church service. It was uplifting to me. First, though I am a shy person it’s nice to remember we humans are social creatures and when I get out of my comfort zone I gain some much needed social interaction. Second, the church people gently remind me I am not alone and others can empathize with the issues I am going through. Third, I can help others because I am there to encourage them. Fourth, the church sing a variety of styles of music and if I really read or listen to the song, I can receive something from those words. Fifth, hearing a sermon teaches me more about God through the people God said he gave to the church for our good. Finally, I came together with other people to worship God. We have been told to meet together in the Bible
            No church is perfect, but neither is any family perfect, and no person is perfect. Therefore, I can’t expect a perfect church and if it was perfect then once I entered the church it became no longer perfect.
            I thank God He set up the church as it is shown in the Bible. It has never been perfect but together I am learning to become more like Jesus and reach out to other people God tells us to do.
            Thank you Lord for the church service this morning and for all the different people that was there



    • FS on January 15, 2018 at 2:39 am

      Because of you I am glad I am going back to church. I have missed because of illness or things had to be done for house repairs. Fellowship is a challenge for me as I love church but dont care to get to know people. But that is my issue. But your post reminded me that church is a place of sanctuary. I think you are missing the point. I am glad the church doesn’t try to be all things to all people. It can be a place of everything that is important if you use your free will. I can almost break down your argument as the church needs to get with the times. But I bet if there were an imminent natural or man made disaster you would not hesitate to be in church. I thank God for you. Because he sent me here for a purpose and to get back to church. Thanks.

  24. Rev. Jean Smith on September 28, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Best article I’ve read on the subject. Thanks so much.

    • Peter Lagasse on October 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      I understand what you have written but I also see where people don’t want to come to church because of the underlying desire to put themselves first before God. Other issues, activities, and even hobbies come before God. They thank God for what He did for them but they don’t want God’s will to encroach on what they want to do.
      Moral failures have been happening for centuries. Some Pastor’s sermons have been going over people’s heard for years while at the same time some very deep sermons were understood because the listener had been studying God”s Word over the week
      We do need to make sure we are being relevant for the people and make sure we are meeting their needs. Sadly some people want their desires met instead of their needs.

  25. Glenn Powell on July 10, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    The article was excellent. Lots to contemplate and apply.
    <<< You can register for free here.? for Preaching Rocket, but when you look at the video , the guy is selling me a 99.00 course for 79.00 , so I was disappointed. I thought this was for free, but it's a business. I can't imagine Jesus charging for wisdom, especially if the "Free" tag is used to get me in the door and then a guy is telling me what a deal he is giving me. Thank you again for the article

  26. Rad on July 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Some reasons I think young people aren’t coming to church:
    1) they are taught atheism (evolution) in schools.
    This is the foremost reason
    Evolution is presented as fact.
    Under 30s just simply don’t believe in God so why would they bother attending a church?

    2) Access to information:
    Do a quick Google search for “Bible contradicts itself” and see how many pages pop up. Giving lists of hundreds of ways the Bible contradicts itself..Starting right at Genesis : God created man then animals yet he created animals first then man. 2 different chapters of Genesis two different account. So which is it?

    I’ve heard it argued that ” if the Bible is the word of God how come God doesn’t even know in which order he created man and animals?”

    Forget the “big philosophical questions”… Young people want to know how these contradictions come about and if you can’t give a SOLID answer… You’ve lost them right there. It doesn’t matter anything else you say because now – the Bible “doesn’t even know what it’s talking about from chapter to chapter”

    Add to this list, pages which give numbers of times (often with scriptures cited) of how many times the Bible talks about incest, rape, murder etc… And now they can easily present the Bible as some sort of “ancient middle eastern horror story”

    I think (well I know..Because I discuss this frequently with people and I’m quoting what they tell me) people have a hard time seeing Jesus message when the OT gets mixed into it.

    3) Love God? In an age of internet dating and social media people are accustomed to getting to know someone else through written description before experience. (Even myself at 38yo I met my husband (51 yo) thru mutual friends..On Facebook)

    Everyone knows that Jesus taught the first law is to Love God with you whole heart mind and strength
    The problem for people (not just young) is that they aren’t finding enough in the Bible that reads as a good “profile” for God.
    They see “the God of the Old testament as a God of war who’s killing children, sending plagues and generally just “not a very loving God” (see end of point 2)
    That doesn’t read like a very nice profile.
    Not only that but the Bible doesn’t give much Description of God … He’s usually depicted an an old man in the sky and “aside from causing plagues and death, he’s just resting”.

    Compare with eastern traditions which give full description of God’s appearance, his daily routine, his likes and dislikes (right down to what he likes to eat, what games he likes to play) and it’s easy to see why young people who are spiritually inquisitive and more inclined to look to the east in order to “get to know God”.
    You can’t love someone if you don’t know anything about them.
    And much less if they appear very negative (or at least if the internet is making a very strong case against them)

    All the other points in the article are very valid points also. But rely heavily on a presumption that young people who aren’t coming to church do believe in a Christain God.
    Absolutely I would state most young people are either atheists or believe in a different religions version of God.

    Perhaps the Christian churches need to refocus on how to present Christ , put more emphasis on Jesus 2 laws instead of OT teachings (“he came to put an end to the old law so why do churches still have billboards with the 10 commandments in the front yard?” – I’ve heard this one a hundred times)
    And find a way to present God as more personable.

    Thanks for sharing this article, it’s informative and I like the discussions it is generating.
    I’ll be sharing it.

  27. long time believer on July 2, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Important topic, but just touching on the tip of the iceberg. Now, most USA young adults do not have time for *any* social interaction (supposedly) but instead sit in front of their tablets, phones, computers and televisions for 10 hours a day, while being paid too little to survive…this doesn’t just affect church, but just about every social institution in the country is being affected…

    • Loretta Lee on September 4, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Love the article and the posts. As a lifelong Christian, my husband and I tried several churches. At one, We went to eat with the pastor and his wife. She told me that church isnt about the social piece. This contradicts everything I was raised to believe in and what is in the Word. No social piece? That’s what it is all about!
      A second one we attended for over a year, we made multiple attempts to reach out. We went to a community group, but it didn’t feel like a community. A close neighbor committed suicide, and none of the six on the pastor team were available to talk or meet. As I have done my whole life, I had to go to my childhood pastor.
      The issue with churches as they aren’t reaching out and trying to gain souls. Churches have become country clubs and there is mo place for the lost sinner to go. There is no comfort to Christians in a warm community. Honestly, I have met nicer and more reliable people that aren’t in church. We have quit trying, but the Lord continues to bless us and direct our lives.

      • Matua on November 8, 2017 at 7:09 pm

        I agree with you. Went through a difficult period in my life last year and the only people that came to my paid were non-Christians. I no longer attend church, it’s the best thing that happened to me. I still believe in God but choose to walk my own way.

  28. Paula on June 25, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Loved your post. I’m an in-betweener. I go/went to a small church & am struggling to reconnect. We’ve been there for 17 years – through seminary and 5 births. Small churches burn out their volunteers trying to be church. The church has a thriving homeless and free clothing ministry. We sit side by side with scruffy homeless. If someone snores during church we smile and bless them. We wear our everyday clothes so anyone off the street feel a part of our church family.
    I brought in clothing for homeless quietly & faithfully for several years (multiplying our meager funds into bags of clothing, it was tiring but to be that close to God’s work there is a deep peace – it was all him. We were only faithful). When the church found out they asked if I would join the homeless leadership team and gave me a budget. That became managing 2 of the closets. And heading up the art group, curating art shows and community art outreach. My mom thought I’d have a nervous breakdown down. I managed to finish out that season & I stepped down from all but the kids closet – I like the customers & it’s something I can do with my kids. My stepping down blessed the church with others who stepped in with new ideas so it was the right decision.
    In all of my selfishness of this time period my middle son lost interest in the kids Sunday School, there are no kids his age for him to connect with. We’re not sure what happened but he exhibited just total dread of going down there, for a full year.
    I’m an independent thinker so I left split up our family and took the younger ones to a better church program for the school year, not fancy, but where kids can sing kids songs and learn a Bible lesson, that’s all I ask. The little church was loosing them because it’s overreaching and attenders/volunteers are burned out. I’ve come back for the summer but my heart is still gone. It’s not my church. It hasn’t been for a year.
    To make it worse during the year I was gone a dog attacked my youngest and there was no support just emptiness. I don’t hold that against them, or anyone, it’s a part of me they will never be able to understand. My anxiety and depression over his recovery was so high my doctor thought I’d commit suicide (3 months recovery – failure to get over a traumatic event).
    The church folks don’t know what to do with me I’ve been there so long I’m not a newbie they want to get involved and connected. I’m a burned out oldie who may continue to take my kids to a better church program. Im an odd ball.
    As Christians only get our kids when they’re young & I want my kids to know God – not the flashy, Churchy God or everything’s fine fake smile God, but enjoying fellowship with one another God of the Bible.
    Andy Stanley got in trouble for a comment about little churches and parents. He apologised but he wasn’t wrong. Sometimes sacrifice is needed for our kids to learn God & what real church community should feel like.
    I’m fine… My heart is just in-between. There was something completely freeing to go anonymously to a church and soak up beautiful music with no burn associated with it. A large part of me doesn’t want to dive back in to a volunteer burning church again. Not just yet

    • M-A Russell on July 7, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Oh Paula, I am so very sorry for your son’s traumatic event and your own as he had treatment. I have nothing much to add except my prayers and virtual hugs to you. You are carefully treading right now it seems and I agree you need the relative anonymity of a larger congregation for at least this season. Family comes first and if your children are being nurtured at the larger church than that is where you should indeed be. Lots of love in Christ from a Sister in the Lord 💗💗💗

    • Annmarie Leon on August 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Ive felt alone myself and left a church that my kids had nothing for them kids have to know that they have a valuable place in the church other wise we loose them when they are young adults.y ou are not alone Much Love your sister in Christ💖

  29. Kim on May 28, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    I still go to church but skip when needed. It can be very emotional since I’m going through infertility. Church is NOT setup for a person like me. I don’t fit into the community and most people there don’t understand me or what I’m going through. At best they’re ignorant, at worst malicious. Many people use prayer as a form of gossip. Church “Friendships” from my experience requires some sort of mission work verses actually getting together for enjoyment. Mission work being getting more people in the church, not actually helping people in need which I enjoy. The only exceptions are the baby showers I’m invited to….joy. people are insensitive in church (with a few exceptions).

    I never really found God at church with a few exceptions. I enjoy the music and worshipping God with it and I enjoy learning about God which often includes things i miss reading it myself. I actually had a near death experience and real God verses “church” God is completely different. Church God is very strict, harsh, etc. Real God is extremely loving, more than comprehension….like a father who loves his child no matter what you do. You could literally do nothing I life, die and God would welcome you with open arms. More than that it’s not even held against you. I think that’s a hard idea for people and especially christians to understand. God looks at us like we are complete, gods, his child, Jesus. You get the idea. Church doesn’t teach this concept.

    Speaking of judgemental…..my pastor once said he doesn’t believe it’s God when people dream of angels unless they’re asking for something since that’s how it is in the bible. Huh? Does God need anything from anyone? Needless to say I’ve never told my near death experience in church. I wonder who else keeps quiet. You would think church would be the place you would talk about it….. but it’s probably the same reaction you would get with atheists. Also God talks to us all at night. You can even teach yourself to lucid dream (wake up in the dream) and astral project (pull your spirit out of your body) like I do. I can’t talk about this ether with 1/2 not believing you and the other 1/2 telling you your going to hell. So not an open, accepting community at all.

  30. CP on February 5, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Well, my experience has been strictly dealing with hypocrites. No offense to anyone reading this. But, I was invited by a man at work to attend his church and the invite was for the whole family, next thing I know he states “Well, you don’t have to really invite your husband do you?” I thought that was odd. He said the kids could come. Then a few weeks down the road the garbage started about how he “couldn’t stand his menopausal hag rag bag wife.” All the problems in their marriage, then what do I like to do after church? Next thing I know he’s wanting a full blown affair and sexual favors, now mind you he is involved with all the counseling, baptizing, community outreach, choir/band, extra activities the church does and acts like a little lost innocent sheep of a man to the whole general public and it’s all a farce. Come to find out he made it a habit of bothering women at work before me and after and bothering multiple single women also at church. The church was the New Age type and loud cranked up music, more setup like a bar scene and a perfect place for men to pick up women. Then for everyone to deny what the heck really goes on is a joke. The wife of this man turns the other cheek and enables the behavior as long as paychecks keep coming in and she ain’t left alone at her age. The whole experience was a joke. Then for them to claim everyone at their church is NEWLY baptized and at one with God and don’t act out and they don’t lie, drink, abuse porn, steal, covet, abuse $, is also a joke. I mean come on people, I know none of us are perfect, but give me a break. If these men are so dang miserable in their marriages get a DIVORCE or do something about it, don’t go ruining lives in the process.

  31. Ellen on September 4, 2016 at 7:18 am

    A lot of reasons flood through my mind as to why people would leave a church and don’t want to go to church. The biggest reason would be the hypocrisy. Just about every church that hears it responds with, “We are all hypocrites, we have room for one more.” Do churches not see that this a problem? Who wants to spend their time every Sunday with the same rehearsed lines every week only to see the people act in a different way? Whenever a problem is addressed, the response is usually, it isn’t our problem, it’s yours. I think another problem is people try to offer solutions to other people’s problems by digging up Bible passages as the reason. I have never found that to be helpful. Anytime I would try to say something, people would either cut me off and say that this isn’t the time, or just look away.

    I will be honest and say that my mother did not raise us as church goers We didn’t go to church that often. When a friend of mine invited me to come to her church, I asked my mom and she said that it was OK. Only after a few months, it was not OK. It wasn’t OK because my friend was always pushing me to attend her church and the activities. Whenever I would say no, her mother would get in my face and talk to me in belittling tone on why I have to go to church. Sadly, my mother allowed this, even after I tried to put my foot down. What could have been a good church turned out to be a church that represented all five reasons that Carey mentioned in the blog.

    When I went to church with my friend, they would always throw God’s name around, and use Satan as an excuse for being sinful, only to say that it’s no big deal because Jesus died for our sins, so we are saved.

    I haven’t had much positive experience with church community. I have always felt alienated whenever I went to a group function. These groups appear to be more exclusive and don’t want anyone new to come in. Another problem is the frequency of attending events or activities. If a person choose to go to an activity one a month vs. every week, they should be allowed to do that, not shut out because the church group is not always a top priority or a first interest. The reason why I feel this way is because even after going to church groups for a few months, I have never felt any kind of closeness with anyone. With a lot of groups, there is no contact or connection unless you attend every event or activity. There is no feel of family or love in these groups.

    When teaching about God, the tone should not sound vain. I have found that when people use the name of God in everyday issues or occurrences, their tones are more arrogant, as if they know more than the next person. We all need to remember that we do not have the all the answers. We might not have any of the answers.

    As far as having legitimate doubt, the churches have always judged and condemned people for having any doubts. One of the things that our Sunday school teacher would always do is ask all of us if we would die today, would we go to heaven or hell. The response always was, I will go to heaven because I believe in Jesus Christ, or Jesus Christ died for our sins. I will say something about the pastor that was at my friend’s church. When he came to our house to talk to my mom. He asked her if she were to die today or tomorrow, would she go to heaven or hell. And she answered, “God, I don’t really know.” The Pastor responded that he was glad that she felt that way because too many people are confident in their salvation just because of a profession of beliefs, yet never really having to work at it. I thought that it was profound to hear a pastor say that. He wasn’t at the pulpit when saying it, so I don’t know how he would answer the question if he were at the pulpit. Maybe if more pastors used profound statements, it would make people think more about their faith and their way of life.

    • Brenda lott on November 2, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      I feel the same way about people in the church some of them are very fake and if you are very attractive with a nice shape they think you are not save and also jealousy is high in the churches they have they clicks with each other and also try to whole you down if you have gift and talent and say they need you only to win what they call member to me there is know different than people that don’t go they become more of a buniess then doing what god say I remember I was homeless the church was not there for me but they say pay tithes and offering it was my own faith that kept me and god bless me I deeply believe god word but I don’t go to the building because god is with me everywhere I go and I am the temple of god I’m just sick and tired of fake phoney people who just want to be in your buniess and use the word as a weapon against and what I see is s bunch of control freaks who thinks they have god and talk nonsense over the pull pit I just do not go anymore I was marry to a fake pastor I’m just done god still provise s for me I have been in church all my life and find that the church don’t deal with everyday issue we are not in those day any more we need to touch people where they are and be able to show them the way through reality and let people be who they are we are all sinner saved by grace we need to speak to people in the times we live and point them to scripture s that identify with time for example god said that it would be rumors if war look at the terrorist that attacking new York and other place so I say until next time my friend you are not alone god is love and your everlasting king so let not your hearts be troubled

  32. Yaca Attwood on August 1, 2016 at 5:20 am

    You have got to be kidding.

    Churches DO NOT WANT people LIKE ME.

    – I am a Boomer widow, which makes me the carrier of a filovirus (eg: Marburg, Ebola); I’m not part of a Vibrant Young Married Couple With Children, which is what 99.5 of pastors and church leadership pursue.

    – I don’t “fit in” church cliques or “in-groups” – I am a black woman, a Database Administrator (Oracle on UNIX), I like astronomy, astrophysics, science fiction and my favorite NFL team is Whomever Is Playing The Dallas Cowboys….if I actually walked into a church and met someone who knew what a sonic screwdriver was and understood: ‘find . -name “*.log” -mtime +7 -exec rm -f {} ;” (on a UNIX system, this deletes all log files older than seven days) – I would be finding out how cute the local paramedics are, because I would be in complete shock.

    – Churches are not interested in people DISCUSSING, HASHING OUT AND WRESTLING with the Scriptures. Churches are not interested in people that aren’t “peachy-keen”, who dont want to sing praise choruses all day.

    I’d love a church that allowed TIME to be SILENT, to have LONG PERIODS where NO ONE SAID A SINGLE WORD, to simply be QUIET before God. I’d love a church that would have praise songs AND Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor……I’d love a church that has ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE, where there is something for OLDER, SINGLE PEOPLE (never married, divorced, widowed), and SINGLE PEOPLE are, mirable dictu, ACTUALLY VALUED

    Not likely.

    • deepblue9 on August 8, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Very good :-). P.S. I know some of that unix!

      • G on August 4, 2018 at 4:43 pm

        And then there was the Ethiopian Unix in the Bible! 🙂

    • humbledbyobedience on November 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      This is the best response to an article like this (regarding church attendance) that I have ever read. It is spot on. And, while I don’t know anything about those computer program-y words and random characters that you’ve got typed there, I find the fact that you typed them there fantastically interesting and real, more real than anyone I’ve met in at least 2 decades of regular church-going (to standard American-ized churches). Furthermore, I… would… be… absolutely thrilled, perhaps beyond words, to find an assembly of Christians which resembled your last paragraph, Yaca Attwood. To be able to worship God in that way would be so good for my soul (which was nearly stripped from me by domestic violence… which was known about and ignored by my church leadership though I was a leader, and a member of that group.)

    • DidNot Leavea Name on July 22, 2018 at 6:29 pm

      Agreed. It doesn’t change. Most technical people gave up. This is my 7th church in 60 yrs. While husband and kids attended, I was ‘IN’. Privately invited to social activities.

      Show up solo, you’re ‘OUT’. Kids are grown, husband won’t attend. I sit in the pew with the other widows, singles etc (considered rejects). OK to attend the picnics, make hefty donations etc. But good bonding outside church or bible study etc.

      How to get involved? Should be limits on how committees, offices, projects for each member. The same 10-15 ‘INs’ take over. Not much opportunity to volunteer except for jobs no one wants. That’s OK! You do the job UNTIL an ‘IN’ “gets the anointing”…takes over. No one stops them…we’re just supposed to step aside and forgive.

      I’m afraid to face God’s question at judgement. “What did you do for me?” I prayed and did the unwanted work. The short answer? Not much since I attend church solo.

      My advice to pastors who wrestle with this (coming from a long line of pastors): Balance the workload so the same 10 people don’t get burned out. Block take-over activities that attempt to oust a current servant who is doing the job correctly.

  33. Amber on June 3, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Okay, adding another thing–I wonder if Churches are experiencing an epidemic of bad manners? Another Church we visited we walked in, we were early, only the pastoral team and leadership volunteers were there, they were meeting in a gym. A teenager who looked like he had just rolled out of bed miserably shoved a bulletin in our hands, didn’t tell us where to go. So, we walked in, took a seat, all of their eyes were upon us. No one smiled. No one said hello. They went about their business of preparing for the service. I was watching the clock coz at that point I wanted to bolt so badly. Literally, it took over 15 minutes before anyone came to say hello to us, when clearly we were brand new. Again, in the Kids’ Department, no one introduced our kids to the other kids. I mean, would you treat visitors to your home like that? Would you treat colleagues at work like that? Kids in a school classroom? Where else can you find the worst manners but at Church? And when you complain, oh, the defensiveness. . .really, who cares about “Care Group”–why would you ever want to hang out with people like that? (let alone bring your “unChurched” friends and family, you’d feel so embarrassed to introduce them to that)

  34. Amber on June 3, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Just want to reiterate something about small groups–I think small groups have made Churches lazy. Why would anyone want to join a small group if the Sunday morning is utter agony? The music may be fun, the message inspiring–but if your own congregation isn’t happy to be there, if they don’t want to get to know newcomers, why would anyone want to join a small group? At one Church we visited, we were invited to go to “Small Group”, yet, no joke, after the Sunday morning service every person in that Church bolted for the door, running for their cars like school was out for the summer. People with dead eyes shoved bulletins in our hands. Our kids weren’t introduced to the other kids in the lavish kids’ department. We can miss the basics: good manners, a smile, authenticity, honesty. Also, sometimes leadership in small groups is shockingly bad. I don’t know, I think we really, really need to re-examine the small group model. Perhaps it’s hurting the Church’s growth more than we think.

    • G on August 4, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      I favor going to small groups and skipping the main Sunday service, which I view as something to endure, something to sit through, and a thing to further the pastor’s agenda. Small groups are participatory and people can be real.

  35. nick hodge on November 1, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Isn’t the Sabbath day outlined in the ten commandments? Isn’t the true Sabbath on Saturday? I’ve been wondering for a long time and the Vatican changed it to Sunday around 550 a.d. If we go on Sunday, aren’t we then following under Vatican law?

    • Peter Tefft on February 27, 2017 at 2:16 am

      No. Dig deeper and you will see that Sunday was significant when Jesus came and made the Lord’s day not the Sabbath. You must look a little deeper to find the truth about anything. God Bless You to find the truths you desire.

  36. grace on July 25, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I have a question. My parents decided to start a home ministry almost 7 years ago. I have read most of your posts and as I do agree why churches don’t grow… I don’t understand why our ministry doesn’t. We do hold services in my parents home, Wednesday’s and Sunday’s. We hold events in parks, at the beach, etc. The teachings that are taught are thorough… True, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Really the intent of our ministry is to teach others the word of God, and not just teach but instill and live it. I live in an area where we have about 3 power churches. Filled with lights and awesome buildings, and some are great and powerful churches. Then there are those churches that are huge but then a lot of the congregation are spiritually dead. I guess what I don’t understand is that if we’re doing what we know we are being lead to do… Why hasn’t our ministry grown? I guess I struggle with the idea that a big church is the normal and a small church is not really a good thing, because supposedly a small church that doesn’t grow is not healthy. But I don’t know if I can say we are not healthy, I really do believe we are. Should I accept that this is what God has for our ministry right now and that we need to be patient? Or is there something else we should be doing?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 27, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Grace…I love your question and I love that you are passionate about your parents’ church. That’s awesome.

      I think you’ll understand that it’s hard for me to guess from the outside. But a few thoughts.

      What’s your 1 year vision of where you’re going, and do you have a plan to get there? A house church is great, but if people can’t see past the 12-20 people in the living room, the drive to create something bigger will be almost impossible to grasp.

      I’ve never started a house church, but I did lead one with 6 people that could have been in a house. My vision from day one was that this was never about us, but the community. And we grew.

      Of course if you want to stay a house church that’s great too, it’s just that will limit your size.

      So I would cast a big vision and then lay out steps on how to get there. But that’s me. Hope this helps.

    • Sheila on July 21, 2018 at 3:23 am

      Grace, it is always God’s will that the Church grows corporately. However, not every church group does. House churches are great but as pointed out by Carey, space does limit you. A model that might work for your parents’ church is a group of several “house churches”. It is more of a small group model in some ways. Each house has a leader and these leaders work together. Often once a month, all of the house church participants may get together to celebrate and worship. The challenge will be when participants want things that can only be achieved through a more structure church (i.e. children’s church, youth group). While these structures seem wise, there isn’t a lot of evidence to support these structures as successful. This would be a time to consider a family church model where parents and kids are taught together so that parents can be leaders for their kids and reinforce teachings at home. This is a more effective model for raising christian kids. I would encourage you and your parents’ to develop a plan and take action. What you are doing is very worthwhile! and needed!

    • G on August 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Might you consider a different pattern of growth? If there are, say, 20 people involved in this home ministry, why not split up into three groups of 6 or 7 people meeting in three different homes, with perhaps your parents or other leaders floating between them? This gives new people the opportunity to lead, teach, and show hospitality. Then as the new groups reach 12-15 people, divide again and continue in this pattern of growth, with a few threads connecting the various groups.

  37. Rockerfeller on January 19, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    This is a very interesting post. Thanks for linking to the study.

    “People go to church looking for God but are having difficulty finding him.
    This one hurts, but in an age where perception is reality, you can’t ignore this criticism.”

    Whose fault is it that one can’t find God in our churches, the people who come looking or leadership? It is not a perception, it IS clearly the reality in a lot of churches though certainly not all churches. If people can not find God in our fellowships, WE, not them are the problem. Any solution to this must start with what it is we are doing and offering and work out from there.

    “It’s amazing to me that people come to church seeking God only to not understand anything they’ve heard.”

    This assumes that anything worth learning is actually being communicated.

    I know that sounds harsh, but I have seen it over and over and over again. Pastors speaking and not doing any exegesis, teaching out of or even reading the Bible. If a message isn’t based and thoroughly saturated with God’s word, then it is just one man’s opinion. Just because a pastor gives his opinion for 20-30 minutes on a topic of his choice does NOT mean he/she is saying anything worth understanding.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 19, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Whenever there’s a problem, it’s the leader’s responsibility. 🙂

      • Nimblewill on November 30, 2015 at 10:29 am

        Christ in me is the hope of Glory, the manifestation of God, not Christ at Church.

        • Carey Nieuwhof on November 30, 2015 at 11:14 am

          Yes, that’s partially true. But the scripture says the church is Christ’s. He created it, not us.

          • Hondo Stone on June 11, 2016 at 9:05 am

            Carey, the “church” that God created is His people whom are “Living Stones” built up a spiritual house not made with hands!
            When His “church” ( the true born again believers ) are all come to the faith of salvation in Christ alone, then the end will come!
            We are living in that very time!
            Praise God!
            Come Lord Jesus!



  38. Lisa on January 18, 2015 at 8:18 am

    A very good article indeed! I left the church three years ago because of abuse by leadership. It wasn’t the first time I had endured it, but it was so blatant that I was embarrassed and hurt.
    For me to even comment on an article on a ministry website is something that even surprises me, but I could feel the spirit in which this article was written in and its one of love, not judgement or finger-pointing. To be honest, I didn’t think that existed anymore. For 15 years I endured a very legalistic, harsh, abusive church environment. Make no mistakes about it, I was part of it, probably the Saul of the legalism and harshness. I know how messed up I was and I don’t ever forget that. But God graciously opened up my eyes. Am I still hurt? yes? Do I question my faith daily? Sure! But, maybe its because I have seen to much, or studied the bible for to many years to completely walk away. who knows?
    Thank you for the article, nice to read something that admits there are somethings that need to be worked on by us all!
    Lisa Ranieri
    Alexandria VA

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 18, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Lisa…thanks for sharing your story…and for leaving a comment. That’s a huge step.

      I am so sorry for the environment you were in…it sounds oppressive.

      There are some things we all need to work on, and thankfully, I know many church leaders who are. I hope and pray you find a church community which is everything it was designed by God to be. Don’t give up!

  39. lynn on January 14, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Hello. Everyone. ….I. See and read. All your. Comments. And. I. Agree ….church. Is. Not. About. God any. More. ….it. The. Bishop. The preacher. The. Deacons. The ushers. And. That. Clique. In. The church. That. Drives people. Who. Wants. Needs. To. Be. Feed. Spiritually. …….now. Has. Anyone. Heard. Of. Spiritually. Drained. That’s. What. Churches. Are doing. To. People. Whom. Really. Wanna work. For god and serve his will in. His holy. House. …god. Has the first. Middle. And last. Word. ……look. In. Scripture. Johnah. …..he. Didn’t. Wanna take orders. From. God nor hear. From. God. ……and he got. On a boat. To try and flee. From. God. And when the fish did what god allowed. To happen. To. Jonah …..he prayed and when he was. Delivers from what god allowed to happen. …he. Become and. Obeyed. God. ……he went. Into. The city. That god was going. To. Destroy. And he preach. ….to. The city. Like a double edged sword …….he feared god with all he tried to run from gods will. For him. ……..people. In. These. Churches. Are. Sick. They. Are and have not. Submitted. Themselves. Fully. To. God. …they still in. The world .and loving. Worldey. Things. ……they. Are spirituly. Sick. If. They had reacieved god. Then. His house. Would not. Be divided ……its not. God who divides. His house ….its the devil and the love of Worldly. Things …..my. God …and yes. Satin. Sits. In. The churches and he knows all their weakness ..and. He knows how to devide. them. ………until. Churches. Stand. Of. One body. in. Christ. ..the foolisheness is never ganna stop. And churches are becoming. The devils. Playground. ….why. Distractions…. He knows. …and. As. A. Person. Of god when I go to church. I .sit. In. The back. Why. I’m. Not. There for distraction. I’m. There to be spirituality. Fed …amen. ….and preachers. Bishops. And all whom.Are concercrated . ….are acting. Up. Having. Babies. Aids sleeping. Amongst. Each other …god is not. A god. Of. Confussion. But. …the work. Of. The devil. …and he enjoys. It. ……spiritual. Warefare …churches. Have gots. To. Come together. And have spiritual warefare. Everyday of the week even when things are good …..its not. The church. That is built. Thats. Bad. ….it. The evil. Wickedness deciet. Rebellious hate sexual. Evil. Deeds. That. Dwell. In. It. God. …bless. And don’t. Give up. Beloved. …verily verily. I. Say. To. You. Jesus is the truth. And the light. Amen. …be. Faithfull

    • Drood on February 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

      What are you even trying to say?

    • Jim on March 13, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      Your “smart device” is adding all those periods because you’re hitting the space bar twice between words. Remember, one space between words, and two spaces to end the sentence. Or. You. Will. Get. This.

  40. latebloomer on November 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I’m tired of the cliches. People who don’t go to church aren’t bad people. We need people who aren’t afraid to take time to listen rather than pull out the stock Christian cliche answers. Also I think we need not fear being ourselves and being real. You know what I find funny strange is that non Christians seem to be more honest than Christians.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Thanks so much for this late bloomer. I want to be one of those Christian who’s listening. And I agree, sometimes non-Christians are more honest than Christians. Let’s cut through the hype and authentically follow Christ.

  41. Jimmy on September 29, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I have too say, I really appreciate the openness of this conversation, it voices some honest opinions and insight on just a few essential reasons why many people do not attend church. Although there can be so many reasons why church is not the most attractive venue to attend, it remains to be my deepest prayer that the facility or the people do not meet every need or the expectation of every individual. I continuously pray that Jesus himself exceeds the needs and expectations of any & every believer who calls apon the name of the Lord.

  42. Bob on August 22, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I go to church but struggle with the current trend of finding this to be more of a drop-in, drop-out for an hour or two on Sun. mornings. I have even met with the minister and expressed frustration at the lack of Christian relationships or community beyond going through the motions here on Sun. mornings. There seems to be no real caring for one another as the N.T. Christians did, no sense of beyond the walls on Sun. mornings. This is a small congregation with a lot of older people. I have no doubt it will die as a church in the not too distant future. I found a mega church to be even more distant in their lack of community, lack of real Christian relationships, and was more entertainment than anything else (in reality). Just frustrated with it all, with organized religion now. I have a deep faith in God but not much faith in current trends in churches overall.

    • Hondo Stone on June 11, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Bob,
      The churches are apostate now just as the Bible tells us that there would be this great “falling away” in the very end of time.

      Stay the course and trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not unto your own understanding, in all your way acknowledge Him and He will direct your path!

      We art to worship Him 7/24

      After spending many years in the church, involved with committees, teaching Sunday school ( which was a real blessing ) I came out of the church 10 years ago ( for a number of legitimate reasons, and have never regretted it because just as I know the Lord brought me to that church, He also brought me out of it.

      I spend my Sundays passing out gospel tracts that I had printed up and know this to be my part in what time the Lord has given me till He comes, for the great day of the Lord is very near.

      If you’d like to read a copy of it, just drop me an email and I will send it to you.

      Peace Brother!

  43. […] the church, I feel I know enough to say that these reasons are certainly more legitimate than “They’re not finding community.” Churches, I’m going to tell you what so many other blog posts won’t. If you want to […]

  44. Ron on July 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Your article says:I taught through the same 5 principles recently here. It then opens the iTunes list but I don’t know which sermons you are referring to. Can you help me with the sermon series title. Thanks so much!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Hey Ron…my bad. It’s the Pivot Series. Hope that helps!

  45. Nathaniel Hudson on June 16, 2014 at 9:58 am

    The reason why I don’t go to church anymore is simple: I never found God in church. I have a Christian community of friends that I talk with concerning my spiritual identity. However, church has always pushed me away from God. And a lot of this is not due to any of the five reasons you listed.

    One reason is that you go to church and listen to one man’s interpretation of God, the Bible, and spirituality. I don’t need that man’s interpretation. I am well more than capable to read the Bible and make my own interpretations of what it means. I would rather spend my time building my relationship with God by simply doing things myself and asking controversial, theological questions regarding the Bible. “What does this verse mean?” “Does this verse really have much relevance to today’s society?” etc. That’s a huge reason. I prefer making my own opinion, rather than sit idly and listen to someone else’s.

    My second major reason is that with my experience in the church, asking questions is a sacrilegious act. In my view, the Bible is a finite representation of an infinite idea. Based on that alone, the Bible can’t fully elaborate on the being that is God. It’s impossible. So, I hate how the church acts as if they know everything in the Bible and know God’s reason for saying something, or better yet, what verses we should pay attention to. When, in reality, they have no idea just as much as I do. I find the church hypocritical simply because they pretend to be something that they know they can’t. They are no the know-it-all source of biblical wisdom that they claim to be. And, again, they are afraid to ask questions (at least in my experience). Asking questions is how you strengthen your faith, and they discourage that.

    These are some of my reasons. But, some people are just not churchgoers. I understand the importance of church in people’s lives. I know people whose lives have been changed insurmountably, for the better, upon going to church. I know others who have been hurt by the church. Churches need to realize that not even Jesus Christ attended church regularly and not judge people for simply not finding it appealing to go to church. I have a relationship with God, and it is not because of church.

  46. Billiewilliesillie on June 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Reasons why I don’t want to go to church anymore. Lots of people are very fake, very hard to have fellowship with anybody as everybody cant wait to leave after services is over. People and clergy dont have the time and don’t want to talk with you. No love, and sermons that you have heard over and over. Little talk about spiritual warfare and the deeper things of the faith.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 3, 2014 at 5:43 am

      So sorry you’ve had this experience. I hope and pray you’ll have the courage to try some other faith communities. I promise you they are not all like this. Not at all!

      • Elaine on November 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        I have attended a church for 22 years, and it seems as though the culture of the church has changed. I awoke one Sunday morning anticipating to go to church;
        However, the Ebola outbreak hit the United States pretty hard in Dallas. We have had
        Sporadic outbreaks in certain cities. I having a problem going back to church. I am
        Spirit filled and have the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t have the spirit of fear, but I feel as though the culture of the church has changed and I know longer feel like going there
        anymore. What is the Spirit of the Lord saying to me.

        • G on August 5, 2018 at 2:11 pm

          Elaine, I think that church as we know it is the problem and has to die. The church as we know it is like the house built on the sand. We need a deconstruction process before we can be the church. Imagine being in the Catholic church before the Protestant reformation. You’re going to mass, saying your rosary, doing everything they tell you to do, yet it doesn’t feel right. You try to draw near to God through these things, but the more you practice them the more confused you become. I believe the protestant church needs reform also, to the point that on the other end of these reforms we will not recognize it anymore. Our churches today are a collection of disjointed factions, with people congregating around a set of doctrines rather than by location. So when a person disagrees with a particular church, he leaves and takes his nonconforming influence with him (And the leaders are quite happy for him to leave because they don’t want the uncomfortable process of integrating that person’s ideas or of having to either change or publicly negate that person’s ideas.) As time goes by, the church them becomes a caricature of Christianity. So we get extreme faith churches, holiness churches, and so on, with each church becoming an exaggeration of some set of doctrines. The other issue is that our churches are legally non-profit corporations and are therefore entities of the state with the state as its head. They therefore have church boards in order to satisfy the government’s non-profit status, instead of having a biblical church government. They own land and buildings. Some own stocks and equities. If a pastor quits or is removed, the organization must continue on because corporations operate in perpetuity until the board votes to shut them down. All these things work to weaken and compromise the church, and to re-frame the church from being a spiritual community of believers under the headship and government of Christ, into a corporate entity of the state, rendering our churches powerless.
          I don’t know what the church should look like in its final form, but I think the way we will get there is for each person to follow the Lord. He may lead us into and out of church situations, lead us to speak or refrain from speaking, move us to confront or on the other extreme refuse to grace a congregation with our presence so as not to put our seal of approval on it by the fact of our being there. Follow Christ. Again, He may lead you into or out of fellowship, so be willing to do both.

      • Colly on June 7, 2018 at 7:55 pm

        You know your wrong.. most churches are like this!!

  47. […] And another one.  […]

  48. Mark on April 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I am glad you are tackling questions. Dr. Patrick Mead is another minister who answers questions online from people who have no one else to ask. It is tragic that so many questions can’t be answered without bitterness or just the same old answers.

    The one I would like to add to your list is the lack of pastoral care. I do not begrudge the elderly pastoral care especially with end of life issues. However, it seems that they and the sick are the only people who get any. There are plenty who aren’t sure who they can talk to when they really need to. Too often the only time that younger people get to be around or talk to real clergy is when their parent or grandparent dies, and they will likely be asked if they are attending church regularly, which leads them to think that attendance is all that matters. Even then the “next of kin” is the only person who gets the concern.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 3, 2014 at 5:44 am

      Mark…a little late to the comment here but we do care for our church through groups. It’s fantastic. We have 400 adults who gather in groups of 8-12 people each week and hundreds of kids who do the same. It allows us to be a larger church with great pastoral care.

  49. JTapp on April 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I think I agree with #4 but would propose a different antidote. Arguably
    the most important thing a pastor can do is teach his congregation to
    read the Bible for themselves. And there should be an expectation and
    encouragement in the church to do so. If a person isn’t “learning about
    God” from their church, then perhaps it’s because the pastor isn’t
    adequately doing this.

    • RCN on June 12, 2018 at 12:16 am

      So glad you added this, JTapp. Having been in ministry (odd ones, actually – not your typical “church”) in pastoral roles much of the time, it was a revelation to me to realize this: the greatest thing I could do is to (using a familiar Chinese proverb): teach (my congregants) to fish, not just feed them fish every Sunday morning! Pastors should indeed have that aim! It doesn’t mean the Lord doesn’t yet use us to give biblically sound guidance in understanding God’s truths and life principles, but we should help believers learn how to “discover” them, rightly interpret and apply them to their daily life situations. “Preachers” cannot cover everything! I don’t think we’re supposed to. Rather, we’re to model and teach how to “walk in the Spirit”, “abide in Christ”. And there is a little pastoral temptation to this, too: ministers can fall into the trap of feeling like “his people” (her) NEED him/her to rightly understand God and His ways; that they really can’t successfully follow Christ without him/her and his/her leading. That’s when a pastor is beginning down a bad road of self-aggrandizement, and will surely no longer have the Lord’s blessing in his/her leadership.

  50. What Keeps You Up at Night? | Stehr Steps on April 11, 2014 at 12:06 am

    […] Carey Niuwhof’s post entitled, 5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials) he reacts to some research recently released from the Barna Group on declining church attendance. […]

  51. Reginald Gabel on April 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    A very sad statement in your article… “if we loved like Christ… they would line up at the door”. You are guilty of your own words, making statement about people, or attitudes that are correct. Jesus loved the people and most walked away or stood in line to approve of Him being crucified. Yes we need to reach the younger generation… but the younger generation has to really want a relationship and not just knowledge. We can say the time is different, we are brighter, smarter and on and on. But Christ is the same, and church is to worship and praise Him. So many come in the front down expecting to have their own needs meet, to hear their kind of music, their kind of sermon, their kind of class and teaching without think about who church is all about. Yes there needs to be change, but instead of pointing the finger, complaining, how about joining in, start by worshiping and praising God, falling on your knees and ask, “God, what is it that you want me to do?” In Isaiah’s words… “Here am I, use me”. I remember a sermon title from my wife’s grandfather that was dated 1942, “Where are the Youth? if we don’t change they will be gone in 20 years” 72 years ago, wow… it is not about us, it is about God.

  52. Mark Weaver on April 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I’ve always felt that the world is filled with great non-profs. And millineials, like myself, gravitate very quickly to the mission behind these non-profs: TWLOHA, TOMS, Warby Parker, NOH8.

    Regardless of what the the organization is FOR, the people who see their mission and passion are quicky to allign themselves with it…and put their money, time, facebook statuses, clothing, etc, to it.

    I feel many people are fleeing the church because they sense a lack of mission/passion within the church, which should be the most missional.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 6, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      So true. Millennials in particular resonate with larger causes. I totally agree with you diagnosis Mark. Thanks!

    • Youth Culture Report on April 7, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Mark I do see a lot of millineials putting their faith into action through non-prof groups. I would love to see this as a missional focus out of the church, but the good news is they are still part of the body of christ

      • Mark Weaver on April 8, 2014 at 9:52 am

        I really feel the church has two incredible options: create strong partnerships with the groups that exist or create missional communities that have a desire to make a specific impact like influential non-profs

    • Mark on April 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Yes and Habitat for Humanity and soup kitchens welcome them. A lot of churches only want to serve certain people and then don’t want new participants and so they run off the people who want to volunteer.

  53. […] 5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials) by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  54. Lawrence W. Wilson on April 3, 2014 at 6:50 am

    These are dead on, but there’s one to add. Some people leave not because church is done poorly but because it’s done well; they simply don’t want what the church is. People abandoning the faith may be a minority of “leavers,” but it is a growing one.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Actually that’s very good point. People do walk away from Jesus…then and now.

  55. Gary Davis on April 2, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    What if we simplified this?

    Be a Church based on the Truth of God found in His Holy scriptures. If a person is seeking Truth (which by the way is the only way to find life), they will not only find it, but experience it as well and join that Fellowship. If a person is looking for something other than Truth, they will be disappointed and most likely not join that Fellowship.

    It’s always been about the Truth of God’s Word – After all, it is ‘Living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ [ Hebrews 4.12 ]

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Gary…appreciate your heart for the Word of God. I share your commitment to biblical authority. That is assumed in this post. Without it, nothing matters. Ditto with prayer and other core essentials of the Christian faith.

  56. Brent Dumler on April 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

    OK, I absolutely love this post. All 5 points are dead on, but a little voice inside of me screamed “Preach it, Carey” when you said ‘Just because many churches are like that doesn’t mean yours has to be.’ Too many churches have simply given in to the idea that church/life/ministry is messy and will always struggle with these issues…so why try to change it? God’s Church is the most powerful and influential institution on Earth. Church leaders/pastors need to recognize this, tap into it, and BE THE CHANGE in their churches. My prayer is that every church leader/pastor would be more excited and passionate about God’s Church today than ever.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Brent. Me too!

      • Katie on April 27, 2014 at 2:23 am

        Hi! I’ve read similar assessments. I don’t think these reasons are all that accurate. I will speak from my own experiences here but social anxiety played a big part in me staying out of church. And I do believe there are millions of Americans who suffer from social anxiety and panic disorders.
        How about all the PTSD vets out there? Is church comfortable? Probably not.
        I’ve also noticed when I do go a lot of people sit way in the back. This tells me they are not comfortable in front.
        The social butterfly personality can’t fathom people who don’t want to mix and don’t want attention and don’t want to shake hands ( the worse for me) and don’t want to talk about themselves.
        Also, I never go to the movies (can’t stand it) and I don’t join clubs because people make me very nervous.
        I love to pray silently and that can be hard to do in a large church.
        Also if you are raised in a certain Christian doctrine and you go to another church that can be stressful to hear a different doctrine.

        • Carey Nieuwhof on April 27, 2014 at 5:19 am

          Katy. I’m sorry to hear that you struggle with that. For sure that would be a barrier to church and so much else. I’m sure that’s a percentage of the people who don’t attend but likely the other factors also weigh in. — Sent from Mailbox

          • katie on April 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

            Thanks Cary for your kindly reply.
            I heard the priest say at mass the other day that we had to fight
            against laziness as the reason for not going to church.
            He said he too had to fight his own inner laziness.

            I think this is probably a common misbelief among the clergy. The belief is that people do not go to church frequently because they are lazy. I think this is a stereotype and a great misconception. Actually, people are being overstimulated more now than ever in our “modern” world of social demands and requirements.
            The adult life has a faster, louder, more demanding pace than ever before.

            The demands of social media to keep up with tweets, blogs, Facebook, emails and the like is very draining and time consuming. Work requires many jobs that demand ” customer service skills” as we are not a production economy like we were.
            Our kids have soccer, tutoring, piano, dance, scouts and they too are getting socially burned out. Us parents are paying and taking them to all of this and adults too are getting socially burned out! How could we not?
            When you are over stimulated as an adult, and you get one day off on Sunday, do you really have the nerves or energy or desire to socialize at church with more people? I always tell my husband that church would be great if there weren’t any people there.

            So the church’s response to falling attendance is they need to “reach out” and be more social! I think this is a misdiagnoses to the real problem. I think if church became more about being a relaxing quiet community through prayer this would be helpful; with less socializing and more praying & smiling!

            I look at the high attendance to baseball and football games and I recognize how comforting it is to be at a ball game. Nobody is demanding you to walk up and down the park isles and shake hands with Everybody! Nobody is asked how much you will be giving this week. Nobody at a ball game wants to know if you will be coming to the next ball game! Nobody is angry because of donations. Nobody even knows your name and yet people like to get together and view a ball game TOGETHER! This is human behavior that the “social butterfly’s” will never understand. Never…because they are not “in charge”.
            You can relax at a ballgame more than most churches because the church has become too social and energy draining.

            And that is why I truly feel most people are avoiding church. It is way too social and demanding. And if you have any PTSD most church members are just too upsetting to your nervous systems.



          • katie on May 5, 2014 at 8:16 pm

            Just to add a note to anyone who might be interested.
            The NIMH ( National Institute of Mental Health) says Americans with anxiety disorders are about 40 million people.
            To educate yourself about this disease go here:

            http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml?wvsessionid=wv650bd43245ce405884dd789794894544

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/05/truths-about-anxiety_n_5240381.html



        • RCN on June 12, 2018 at 12:38 am

          Katie, I greatly appreciate your post. My wife is a domestic violence advocate and has educated me, who didn’t go through abuse like she did for the first 30 years of her life, about the widespread problem – and it’s devastating effects. I’ve been in ministry among Native People for 44 years – and it was a huge revelation to me, focusing on the widespread alcoholism issue that many are quick to point at, that it was actually an underlying, first-cause issue that was causing it: abuse (both domestic violence, and everything from verbal/emotional to physical/sexual abuse/trauma). When Native women are at a nearly 1 out of 2 as victims of abuse (and men/boys not far behind), this is a huge issue – and the church and most ministers haven’t a clue how to effective help and minister to folks carrying such pain-from-the-past. But it’s not just a Native American issue: as American society has drifted from God (knowing a close personal relationship with God through Christ), included those identifying themselves as Christians, the inevitable consequences come – and by whatever form, emotional pain from various forms of mistreatment and rejection deeply wounds the soul. Jesus Christ is the “Healer of the Brokenhearted”, as one of His titles and attributes: but the church and church leaders have not done well in understanding and appropriating that into themselves and their ministries, for it is the crying need today. Therefore – even as you read all these very honest posts from those hurt by the church – people in need, in pain, come to church and the church seems impervious to their real needs! I know, as a minister, for many years I did not understand this; and now understanding it, this has changed the way we understand “church” and what “it” should be and should be doing! People won’t come to something that doesn’t “speak” to their real, felt unmet needs – where they are hurting. Why would they!? People came to Jesus, responded to Him, not because He could sing good, give a great polished sermon, provide an exciting program, make you part of the elite (nothing elite about Him and His crowd or disciples) – they came because they experienced Him, His empathy, His compassion, His mercy, and His wisdom – and it met them right where they were hurting (remember: these folks were under Roman oppression, persecuted, poverty-stricken, disease ridden, and even felt spiritually lost and wondered why God was letting this happen). Jesus brought REAL ministry that hit them right where they were hurting: and that’s what’s lacking today in too many churches and ministers. I’m still working on this (or, rather, He is working on me) myself. People need to experience the real, living resurrected Jesus in His life-giving, life-changing grace to meet the questions, concerns and needs that are going unmet.
          Us ministers, church leaders: we need to humble ourselves before Him and ask Him to show us where we need to change so that He CAN bring His Message and life-changing grace and power. We need to be truly one with Him and His agenda!

        • Sheila on July 21, 2018 at 3:38 am

          And people who are dealing with grief, loss, hurt, depression and much more. I don’t want a fake handshake and some spare germs at the door either. I don’t want to turn around and greet someone I don’t know just because it’s tradition and the guy up front tells me to do it. It’s not real. So I just sit there. I want to be real with other real people and learn how to be more like Jesus. And FYI, I used to knit at church to keep myself focused on listening to the talk because the note page was not helpful for learning or thinking. I endured a lot of “looks” but it helped me to focus.

          Like some other folks have mentioned, I too, don’t fit into the “target population” of the church. Until recently, I was single, never married, middle aged, no kids, career WOMAN. There was nothing for me to participate in, few other career women in the church, no evening groups for women (daytime only). I was only permitted to get involved once I became a member. Even then I was the wrong gender and thus given a project for providing meals to people in the church who were sick or needy. Not for people outside the church – because after all, we don’t know people outside the church. The bottom line is that the church creates lots of barriers for people to come.

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