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9 Reasons It’s Hard to Attend a Church Once You’ve Been Involved in Leading One


Kind of a strange thing to even say it, isn’t it?

Why on earth would pastors and church leaders have a hard time attending church of all things?

After all, wouldn’t leaders who have led churches be the most anxious to attend them?

Strangely, not always. You can talk to thousands of people who used to volunteer or lead at a church who will tell you they no longer attend. Or maybe they attend, but it’s just ‘not the same’.


That’s a great question.

I want to offer up some reasons I think pastors and church leaders struggle to attend a local church once they’ve led in ministry.

The common issue? Current and former church leaders who struggle with attending a local church.

Many of Us Have Been There

If you attend church but aren’t involved, or if you’re serving right now and love it (which if you are, I’m glad!), you might not even understand why a post like this would be written.

But if you’ve ever served at a local church as a dedicated volunteer or a paid staff member, you likely have an idea of what I’m talking about.

Not attending church after you’ve led in a church is actually quite a widespread phenomenon. Just browse the comments on this blog and it won’t take you more than 5 minutes to hear from someone who used to lead in a church and now isn’t engaged at all anymore.

How does this trend of non-attending former leaders show up?

Pastors who used to lead a church who now just sleep in on Sundays and have given up on all forms of the local church.

People who only attend when they’re ‘on’ the music team, the greeting team, serving in student ministry, or speaking.

People who stop attending the moment they stop serving.

Every time I hear of it, my heart breaks a little more.

Please understand, I know the local church is not perfect. But I honestly do believe the promise of the local church is greater than the problems of the local church. And I realize the Church (as Christ sees it) is bigger than any local church. But to pretend the local church in all its forms around the world isn’t a part of the Church is, well, just not accurate.

And a little disclosure here. Everything I’m writing about in this post, I have felt. Sometimes just a twinge, but I’ve gone there in my mind.

For the record, I intend to be part of the local church as long as I live, whether I’m paid to lead or not. But when I’m on vacation or out of town, I often slip into a local church for a service (or sometimes even the one I lead) and it’s…different. I wonder:

Could I attend here?

Why do I feel so different?

What’s going on?

Once you’ve been involved, it’s just different.

So I’m just wondering if maybe some of the things that go on inside of me might the same as what’s going on inside you or someone you know and care about.

If not, just give thanks. (Seriously.)

If you’ve struggled with this feeling before, ask yourself whether any of these 9 reasons might be part of your struggle.

1. Your identity is tied to what you do, not who you are

So who are you really? A preacher? A musician? A worship leader? A student director? An elders? An usher? A group leader? A staff member?

No you’re not.

You’re a child of God redeemed by a Saviour who came for you.

So many of us define who we are by what we do. I struggle against this every day.

Before you dismiss this, do this simple test that Tim Keller offers.

“If work [or ministry] is your idol, if you are successful it goes to your head, if you are a failure it goes to your heart.”

Boom. Maybe your identity is more tied up in what you do than you think.

2. You like being the center of attention

As Andy Stanley says, anyone who’s ever strapped on a microphone is a little like Lady Gaga; we all live for the applause. Come to think of us, many of us don’t need a mic for that.

Could it be that you’ve grown accustomed to being the center of attention, no matter how small your audience might be?

Often my decision that something doesn’t fit ‘me’ is far more a statement about me than it is about whatever I’m uncomfortable with.

3. You’ve seen how the sausage is made and have lost your appetite

Yep. Church is messy, flawed, disappointing and at times deeply hurtful.

Largely because people are messy, flawed, disappointing and at times deeply hurtful. And we live on this side of heaven.

Hurt, unresolved, breeds cynicism. And there are so many cynical former church attenders who simply haven’t addressed their unresolved issues.

Part of maturity involves realizing that I contribute to messy sausage making. I am part of the problem. And so is almost every leader who has abandoned church.

Jesus never said we would be known for our perfection. But he did say we would be known by our love.

Love owns my share. Love forgives. Love says I’m sorry. Love reconciles. Love works toward a better tomorrow.

Love sees who you really are and stays anyway.

4. You’ve become more of a critic than a worshipper

This one’s hard. Once you’ve been on the inside, you listen ‘at’ a sermon as much as you listen ‘to’ a message.

You ask “What’s he doing here? Why did he make that transition this way? What’s up with his body language?”

Musicians critique the music. Guest services people criticize greeters. Graphic design people laugh at other designs.

And lead pastors critique everything.

What’s missing in this picture?

Humility. Submission. Grace. That’s all.

5. You think you’re better or smarter than the people who merely attend

This one’s ugly.

I don’t know what else to say about it except stop it. Really.

Okay one more thing. So maybe you are smart. Or more successful.

But consider what Paul says:

If you think you’re too important to help someone, stop fooling yourself. You’re not that important.

6. Somewhere in the process, your personal walk with God tanked

Leadership is best when it springs from the overflow of our personal walk with God.

There are many ways unusual church leader struggle with God (I wrote about 5 of them here), but just because you lost your closeness to God while leading in a church doesn’t mean church is bad.

He loves you, and He loves the church in all of its weakness.

7. You’ve forgotten you’re a follower, not just a leader

Originally all of us got into ministry after we decided to become followers of Jesus. That following should never stop.

The best leaders are actually the best followers.

A leader who can only lead but not follow is actually not a great leader. And certainly not a godly leader.

8. You’re neglecting the fact that you still have a role to play

I know it’s cliche, but the goal is not to attend church or go to church. You are the church.

But, for reasons outlined here, I think the church is so much stronger when we are together, not when we are apart.

While we can all use some rehab in a back row of a church somewhere from season to season, ultimately, every follower of Christ has a role to play in the local church. Even if it’s not your favourite role or a role you’re used to.

Being involved is one of the best ways to stay engaged, even if it’s not what you used to do or want to do.

9. ‘Why’ has died on the altar of ‘what’ and ‘how’

Church leadership is a lot of ‘what’ and ‘how’. I find I have to remind myself daily of the ‘why’ of church.

Why? Because

God is good.

He loves us.

Jesus gave his life for a world he desperately loves.

Our cities are full of people who don’t know the love of Christ.

My life is not my own.

The church was Jesus’ idea.

Grace ultimately makes all things new.

Why always reinvigorates and refreshes what and how.

Church Health is a Big Part of Church Growth

So let’s be honest. One of the reasons people struggle with church is that churches aren’t healthy. Some are toxic.

Want to change that?

I address church health: the health of the leaders, the health of the senior leader, and the health of the people in a church in my new Church Growth Masterclass.

Not all healthy things grow, but it’s really hard to grow if you’re not healthy.

The Church Growth Masterclass is everything I wish I knew about church growth and health when I got into ministry more than 20 years ago.

Naturally, I can’t make a church grow. You can’t make a church grow. Only God can do that.

But I believe you can position your church to grow.

You can knock down the barriers that keep you from growing. You can eliminate the things that keep your church from growing and implement some strategies that will help you reach far more people. That’s what I’d love to help you do in the Church Growth Masterclass.

In the Church Growth Masterclass I’ll show you:

  • The 10 reasons your church isn’t growing
  • Why even committed church-goers aren’t attending as often as before
  • How to tell if your church leaders are getting burned out
  • How to know if your church is healthy…or not
  • The 5 keys to your church better impacting millennials
  • What to do when a church wants to grow … but not change
  • 5 essentials for church growth
  • 5 disruptive church trends to watch—and how to respond
  • How to increase church attendance by increasing engagement.

The Masterclass includes a complete set of videos that you can play with your team, board or staff, PDF workbooks that will help you tackle the issues you’re facing, and bonus materials that will help you navigate the most pressing issues facing churches that want to reach their cities today.

You can learn more and gain instant access to the course today.

What Do You See? 

So does that help? I realize these reasons will not address every issue, and that some will flail against any organized church no matter what anyone says.

But so many leave unnecessarily. Maybe you’re one of them. If any of these reasons are true, what will you do about them?

I know that working through them has kept my passion and hope for the local church strong, even if it flickers in the wind some days.

Now it’s your turn. Why do you think it’s hard to attend a church once you’ve been involved in leading one? Please leave a comment.

9 Reasons It’s Hard to Attend a Church Once You’ve Been Involved in Leading One


  1. Murray Lincoln on October 5, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    YEP – 9 Points that point to “guilting” me and or others into going to church. Not likely going to help me.

    I am retired for 12 years now after almost 40 years on the front lines of Religion…- in the same city that I served in – as the Pastor of my last Church. It was at about the 2nd year mark that I realized that it was true, the New Pastor (2nd one after me) – doesn’t visit, doesn’t call – not just me – but most of the congregation.

    BUT I did try to serve for the first year – teaching the Youth in a Sunday School Class – where they really responded positively. BUT then the new pastor, that had followed me, had a moral failure of sorts. Most of the Youth left with their families. I quit too.

    Over all these years I had a rich pastoral, rich evangelistic, rich leadership role in our Main Fellowship Head Office for the country, a rich and wonderful Missionary experience in South East Asia – and even led churches through horrific internal problems. I have watched Volunteers be excited and then drop away – exhausted with no replacements – then watched vital ministries die.

    I have been to WAR – Church War. I have served my time. I know the sound of church explosions that killed many good Christians and they stopped coming because the ones that were firing their Christian Cannons into the belly of the believers could care less.

    12 years ago I started my journey outside the church – into the world – traveling with Jesus to the hot spots that the congregation never knew about. I was amazed that on a Sunday Morning when the Christians are singing their OLD HYMNS or all the NEW CHORUSES(and fighting each other because they didn’t like one or the other) – AND no one out outside new about it – nor did they give a DING DONG. These Millions of People that don’t have any idea what the church is – could care less.

    Shocking for me was that many of People out there had once been IN THERE!

    Today I have no guilt about not attending. I found new purpose away from the church…!

    I watched a PBS TV Show last week – in fact on the very night of the infamous DEBATE on TV… watching the movie DUNKIRK. You know the one where the Leadership made some really bad decisions and left thousands of Soldiers stranded on the Beach with no help – while the enemy bombed these unarmed, helpless men into eternity.

    Towards the end of the show there was a Senior Officer standing at the end of the Pier…helpless… with men being killed all around him. No body back home knew what was happening…no body in the Main War Office… knew about it – nor really cared about these men. I am that Officer.

    Carey…guilt doesn’t work on us old Soldiers that have seen way too much… and you know what…. GOD DOSEN’T CARE if I attend or not. He loves me just the way that I am… as well as all the rest of the Old Soldiers.

    BTW – a host of Lay People with their Tiny Boats did help rescue the stranded soldiers…. It is a good movie.

  2. Victor Layade on September 18, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    Nice write up and I really like the way how people have been sharing their experience, but you don’t cover those that decided to leave stop going to Church due to an horrible experience.
    Let me give you a succinct experience of why it will be very difficult to commit myself to a particular church. As a kid, growing up the church was everything to me, it is not just a place where I go to worship, making friends or learn but the serenity and conducive atomosphere it creates, is something I will forever be grateful for. Things started to change when my brother was about to get married and informed the pastor. On the wedding day, none of the church members that still goes to the church came to the wedding despite my mom telling a handful of people including the widows (which she is one herself). Few Sundays after the wedding, the pastor called my mom to a widows’ meeting telling her that he told everyone in the church not to come to my brother’s wedding, insulted and told her not to ever come again to her church, all this happened why I was in school (as I was only present for the wedding) and my mom called me sobbing telling me all this. As If that wasn’t enough I reached out to all my friends in the church, none could reach out back to me, coupled with the awful experience that my family members have had with different clergymen, it has become clear to me that church isn’t what it use to be I thought it once. This is the church where I grew up in, where I, my mom and my sibling are at one time have joined the work force.
    I was completely devastated by this and it really made me question my religious assumptions and beliefs, which in turn made me drift away from Christianity but through philosophy and a lot of self reflection I’m finding my way back to Christ. Even though, I know the church is important, I have never attend a Sunday service in 3 years but in recent times I have come to realize that you are there to serve God not men, so I have come to realize that I can go to a church but I could always not join the work force.

  3. Lalen on September 15, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Maybe few pastors in this blog could enlighten me with your input. I think one of the reasons why It’s Hard to Attend a Church Once You’ve Been Involved in Leading One is because there is a level of frustration of starting all over from the “bottom” especially if youre coming into a new church having all the ministry experience you have and coming under a new ministry and having to “prove yourself again”. Id like to use our life as an example and I would definitely hear some input from pastors without having the wrong understanding of what i am about to say. Weve been in ministry for 25 years and the last ministry we did was we Pastored a church overseas then when we came back to the US , we became one of the district pastors of a church. When God moved us on from this ministry, we decided to move from Ca to Va. We found a church we felt could be considered as our new home church. Being in leadership for years and carrying all the experienced weve been privilege to grow in, there is a level of frustration of having to start all over from the bottom. Considering that we are so new to the church here in Va, of course they dont know who we are and where weve been, I just wish that there is a better way to get more invested in new people and learn to recognize leadership in them and value what the have done in their past ministry. I feel like if I had a church, it would be a disservice to a person coming in to my church , knowing what this person had been involved with in ministry and I turn around and put him in the parking lot ministry. Its just like saying if Billy Graham was to get involved in my church, it would not feel right to have him work in the prayer team knowing what he has done and his accomplishments in the ministry. But this is now becoming common to any church you go, you have to prove yourself again just so you can be in the leadership team. I wish I could have a better and deeper understanding why this is happening.

  4. John on September 14, 2020 at 5:13 am

    I’ve been at a church for 8 years and I love the church that i go to every Sunday and meetings inbetween. 4 years ago I was called into ministry. God called me to preach the gospel. But the hardest thing is that now i see people am that attend the church younger than me or around my age being positioned. I’ve been told my Spiritual leader. And it hurts me. How can I cope with this? How do i lose the jealousy in my heart?

  5. Stephania on September 2, 2020 at 4:19 pm

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  6. Juliet on September 1, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Sometimes…it could just be that the church is sick. Sick with arrogance, manipulation and unfortunately..false prophets and charlatans. The danger of non-denominational churches being false is a scary thing. I personally am dealing with healing from that kind of hurt now. Sometimes there are people who just should not start churches. They end up corrupting it.

    • Craig on September 14, 2020 at 1:57 pm

      The people lose their vision
      The church becomes a social gathering instead of. Disciple making entity
      A people take far little risks
      Get complacent
      Stop trying
      Put unnecessary burden on people
      Begin comparative leadership
      Create sides in controversy
      Divide people
      Make people take sides
      Dominate and then threaten to leave if they don’t get their way
      Speak I’ll about pastor and or other leaders

      Use the stage/platform for personal agendas
      Speak over the pastors and leadership

      Taint and or tarnish leadership
      Make it unhealthy
      Stop thriving in growth and outreach
      Internalize priorities
      Do everything without good communication
      Start talking at people instead of with

      All of these I faced in a 9 year period as a pastor /church planter
      So before y’all go off stating and speaking out
      Choose your words carefully

      MNy a man and his family have been wronged
      Kicked out
      Deemed unworthy
      By the very people who called them their pastor


      And many others were on the outside looking in

      Just because you are not attending regularly
      You can nurture in other ways

      Social Media ministry
      Bible study
      Small group

      And they can be done as a part of your love for Jesus
      Not just the “local” church if Choice

      So, I went to a church and just wanted to enjoy some season of rest
      They asked if I had ever served!
      I said yes!
      Then they asked if there is something I’d like to do?
      I said I’m not sure
      Then they stated well if you are interested – let me know
      We have a form that everyone fills out and includes your commitment to tithe and accountability for attending if you are a team or group leader!!
      I couldn’t believe what I was hearing

      So, with that in mind i post my cares and concerns


      Rev. Craig Hunnel, DMin., MDiv., B/A

  7. Melissa on August 30, 2020 at 12:53 am

    Great article. I spent a couple hours reading the comments, but only got to a fraction of them.

    I’ve been a burnt out ex-church leader who found it hard to attend again. And have recently been in leadership again. Two issues come up in the comments here that frustrate me. Not that I blame the people but that I wish solutions could be found.

    1) People often feel offended at not being asked to serve, or having their offers to serve be rejected. There can be unhealthy reasons for this, but it can also be that there just aren’t enough volunteers to do the work of creating ways for other people to volunteer. It’s nobody’s job to bring new people in. And in a church like that, the volunteers are so maxed out, it’s all they can do to complete their tasks, let alone try to address things that are being left undone – like creating a way for new people to step in. Seems like new people = help, but if nobody knows what needs to be done, how to get the training, who can give the training, who can give the authorization, etc. It’s not easy to do. Also, a lot of people don’t understand the decision-making structure of the church. Everyone has great ideas for things they think the volunteers or staff should do. And most people who offer their ideas get offended when their ideas aren’t adopted. But they’re not working with all the information. Same with offering to serve. Like offering to sing in the band. People tend to be shocked that there are auditions or that they are paid positions and a proposal needs to be submitted to the Board. And not all Music Directors have the job of creating opportunities for people to sing. Some Music Directors have the job of putting together a band and producing good music. It depends on the church.

    2) When people do get burned out on service and they never want to do anything more than attend, that gets frustrating for the rest of us who are still serving and trying not to get burned out. So many people attend but refuse to contribute. So it’s a few people working their butts off to serve the many.

    I had a Minister who would say, “If nobody wants to do it, it doesn’t want to be done.” Now, with Covid, things are especially hard. And I sometimes wonder if our church “wants” to exist at all. There are about 100 people who will show up if we’re there. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re invested in our church continuing to exist. They haven’t shown any interest in our efforts to keep in touch, minister to their needs, etc. They just vanished. It’s like they came for the dog-and-pony show but they could really take it or leave it. That’s OK. I’m part of the dog-and-pony show and I don’t have an ego-need for people to be more attached to it than they are. But as a church leadership volunteer (business stuff), it’s disheartening to find out that I’ve been working my butt off for something that people could “take or leave”. I’ve actually been giving my whole life to it for a couple of years. And the congregation is like, “Sure…if you want to provide this for me, I’ll take it. But…gosh, I didn’t think it cost anybody anything! You want me to contribute? Uh, no thanks. I’ll just go hiking instead.”

    Again, there’s nothing wrong with consuming and not contributing if something is offered for free. (No money or labor required to participate.) But to find out that they don’t really value it and I’ve been giving blood sweat and tears to produce it, if disheartening.

    Before anyone jumps down my throat for speaking of it as a “production” and being let down that people won’t participate financially or by volunteering, you ought to know that my “church” isn’t a Christian “church”. The mission isn’t quite as altruistic.

    But for all churches, it seems a shame that we burn people out and then they do specifically become “spectators” or “consumers” and knowingly visit lots of churches instead of making one their home, and they don’t let anyone know they’ve got experience, because they’re not going to get roped into volunteering.

    What that leaves is churches full of over-burdened volunteers because they’re trying to serve a huge congregation, many of whom are consciously “taking” without “giving”. So this just leads to another generation of burned out volunteers.

    The cost of burning out volunteers is on-going. It’s a domino effect. Nobody wants to volunteer because you can never resign. And we look to the people who are already doing things, to do more things. So if you volunteer at all, you end up doing EVERYTHING….FOREVER. I just resigned from doing the website, marketing, etc. etc. And I just had to give them a hard date and tell them if they haven’t found my replacement, I will still stop doing the tasks. If the Board values having a website, they’ll pay for it, like they pay for speakers and musicians. And the way things are going, I don’t think that online marketing is what will make or break the future of the organization anyway.

    OK, so that was a rant… Thanks for listening. And…If I weren’t in the band, I’d totally be the next retired leader to go church-hopping and never let on that I have skills and experience in church leadership. But I will tithe to my source of spiritual food. Because, having been a leader, I know that there are actual bills to pay. Nobody’s lining anybody’s pockets. It just costs a lot of money to run a large meeting every Sunday!

    • Steve on August 30, 2020 at 4:28 pm

      Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps the reason people attend but don’t wish to serve is that they don’t find the service and message provided inspiring? For instance, you state – “it’s like they came for the dog-and-pony show but they could really take it or leave it”. Maybe they didn’t come for, as you put it, a dog-and-pony show but rather for an experience that would touch their hearts and didn’t find it. In other words, instead of reflecting on your disappointment that others are not more involved, perhaps it will help to consider the possibility that one’s own representation of Jesus has not truly communicated the power of the mighty word of mercy.

      • tim on August 30, 2020 at 4:52 pm

        Ouch, a bit harsh

    • Steve Murray on August 30, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Melissa. I sense your frustration as well. As I was thinking on what you wrote, I looked back at my 40 years as a pastor (I’ve been “retired” for a year now) and saw where I too often did not see the leaders as peers and friends. In large churches (and I’m in a very large one now, multi-site), I see it so difficult to make friends. I think friends are often a major part of why we attend church and why we enjoy serving. Yes, I know that God wants us to gather together and serve, but that should lead to close friends. When it doesn’t, serving just becomes a routine. Yes, we can do it for God, but that requires keeping a close walk with him that fuels our motivation and joy despite not having close friends or feeling like we are really part of the inner circle. I wish I would have spend more time just being with my leaders and letting them know how much I appreciated them. That should be done in any size church, but the larger churches have much more difficulty doing that. Just my thoughts. But it sounds like you have a lot of talent to keep serving God! Please keep doing it, with some friends!

  8. Mandla Luphondvo on August 29, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    I have only been engaged in ministry for a few years, yet, I have found this article instructive and insightful. It paints a clear picture of why some former church leaders would not want to be part of a local church. This is a sad picture. One can only pray that pastors, currently in ministry, break this pattern of deserting the local church. This is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible. I believe retired pastors have an important role to play in the body of Christ. From the wealth of their experience in ministry, so much can be ploughed back to the young leaders.

  9. Robert D Lewis on August 29, 2020 at 10:50 am

    I still attend but I visit different churches, preach when a pastor is on vacation, and have my membership at a church that was started in 1959 and meets in a home and is down to 12 old members. I have the title of co-pastor. This way I fend off pastors trying to get my tithe by wanting me to join their churches. I call myself a minister-at-large.

    My reasoning goes like this: I have grasped the great divide between Western Christianity and the New Testament Assembly (or Fellowship). First of all, the word “church” is a diabolical translation of the Greek orchestrated by the Church of England. The word “fellowship” or “assembly” is the best English rendition. Why is this significant? Because the church was changed by Rome. It lost the essence of fellowship and minimal organization.

    The original church was a true fellowship meeting in homes, rented halls, and down by the riverside. It had a minimal organization. When it got too big a group went to another venue. Sunday is not a sacred day. They met anytime during the week. When I was growing up Sunday was treated like the Jewish Sabbath day. That’s Old Testament, and not New Testament. Everyday is our Sabbath Rest by walking in the Spirit.

    So maybe all this is a theological problem and not a commitment or holiness problem.

    • Andrea on August 29, 2020 at 11:46 am

      wow – that is good stuff. Thank you for enlightening me and sharing.

    • Erin on August 30, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      Your comment really resonates with me. I do believe you are on to something. I think often we look at the church and hold them responsible for meeting our needs in regards to education, discipleship, and even creating an “experience” we feel good about. I love this idea of fellowship, for mutual edification, mutual encouragement and mutual discipleship. A group gathered like that is free to be both individually and collectively more missional. This is the “church” I want to participate in. The fellowship of the saints.

    • Amandru stella on August 31, 2020 at 11:43 am

      I am very excited with your post and the history of the church. That should be the way to go. Big congregations makes some people lost and its hard to track their spiritual growth. When I was a student in the university, I felt more engaged and involves in the ministry when they divided and assigned us to cell groups.
      Now with the current COVID 19 pendamic, we should have a more better reason to pray in our homes other than demanding for churches to open.
      for the last six months now, I prayed with my family in the house, everyone got involved in the ministry and we collect Sunday offerings which recently I presented to my church pastor. We should go the fellowship/cell way of worship and at anytime not only Sunday.
      Good inspiration.

    • Stephanie Thomas on October 19, 2020 at 11:04 pm

      This is good stuff and I think this is the way forward . Come as you are Jesus said ! .
      Meeting in homes is much more intimate and you go because you want to go . Smaller groups you can get to know each other better and this leads to trust ,and friendship. And deeper worship . A deeper level of leading and learning . Like minded people praising worshiping and praying .Deeper listening to The Holy Spirit. One vision ,the image of Jesus to shine in us reaching those who don’t know him . Those in darkness to see Jesus and walk out into his light .

  10. Paul Hallam on August 29, 2020 at 10:02 am

    I read this article with a great deal of interest. I’ve been the founder and senior leader of our city church in The North of England for well over 34 years now. The church has grown substantially and we have now planted many churches. I have witnessed several great ex- pastors / leaders who continue to give leadership lessons online and at physical locations without attending faithfully any local church. I too am heartbroken at this and both my wife and I have promised ourselves this must not happen with us. The local church is still the light of the world and part of our service must be to remain faithful in serving God via, through and yes IN His church. Thanks for bringing this up. We can not afford as leaders / pastors to stop practicing what we preached just because we don’t have Centre stage anymore !! Goodness me !

  11. Vanessa on August 29, 2020 at 8:29 am

    I read this post with interest because I am in the position of attending and now serving as a teacher at the school sponsored by the church I both grew up in, and for which served as the youth pastor (for 5 years). I stepped down from pastoring 3 years ago to get back into education, and have found it incredibly difficult to re-integrate myself into the church in a new way in my new position. I have felt pushed out of any leadership roles at the church since then and don’t really know what to do about it. I’ve also had to witness the youth group dwindle since I left (I was building on the shoulders of 3 wonderful youth pastors before me!), and it has broken my heart. I’m trying not to be bitter and give up on my church, but my heart is struggling. I am doing a lot of self-reflection, and this post is helpful in continuing to take me down this road. I realize I may be looking for someone to “blame” for this situation feeling difficult, but I’m not sure how to lean into that difficulty and push through it to the other side at the moment. It’s a lonely place to be, and even those closest to me who I’ve confided in about it don’t seem to understand why it is so bothersome. Thanks for taking the time to address this issue, Carey.

  12. Brian L Eichelberger on June 22, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    I think the reasons that Carey has given for why pastors and church leaders have a hard time of attending church are good. Yet I would like to suggest another. I believe there are pastors and missionaries who have had a desire to lead their church out of unhealthiness and into a genuine, obedient, biblical experience of church. In the process of attempting to transition the church and make the necessary changes, the pastor is pushed out. After a time they discover not anger or resentment but thankfulness that God has led them out and given them a second chance on doing church more biblically. They have had their fill of the traditional and sometimes selfish American consumer church. And when they begin to taste church as it was meant to be, going back to a traditional selfish American consumer church is no longer a valid and obedient option for them. And it becomes hard to find a church that is functioning the way God intended. Note: I didn’t say the church had to be perfect. So often these men and women are looking to create genuine, biblical relationships and community in smaller individual and private house church settings. It’s the idea of “why go back to Egypt when you are free” – new wine in new wineskins. New, fresh, healthy, joyful, passionate, authentic worship and relationships in casual and sometimes organic house church settings. This may be why some don’t return to the old ways.

    • Felicia G on July 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      This is really how I feel coming from a church that operated as the bible says and then joining a church that does not has made it very difficult for me. Tradition is very hard to sit under when you know the power of God. Please pray for me this is a hard place to be seeking God as always for his direction won’t move with out it My cry often to God is all I want is a church where the Holy spirit moves.

    • Geoff Cooper on August 25, 2020 at 1:30 pm

      Excellent insight Brian. The article is first class and your thoughts only enhance and extoll the heart cry of many leaders. Thanks.
      Geoff UK

    • Steve Queen on August 29, 2020 at 8:24 am

      Love it! I resonate with your response and have the same perspective in ministry. We are to be a community of Christ followers, living, loving, and leading others to know Christ. Thank you for your response.

      • Rev. Jerry Taylor on August 29, 2020 at 11:00 am

        Great article. I’ve been fortunate despite my lack of success (numerically) as a senior pastor. Coming out of a mega ministry has reinforced the truth that God is in control in spite of ourselves. His soveriengty is spectacular. Thankfully, My perspective has positioned me from most of the pitfalls shared. However, I understand this unfortunate trend taking place. Most of us were trained how to do church and left the church while still leading it. God is extremely faithful and patient with all of us. We must share the inevitabilty of imperfection and wholly lean of God’s loving grace to free us from ourselves. The good news is that God uses marred, imperfect vessels like us to shed His glorious gospel. Anything else is extra. Our personal progressive development and intimacy is essential to our very lives and service unto the Lord.

    • Jondra on August 30, 2020 at 8:25 am

      I agree and wished this had been one of the points in the article. I sent this to a couple who are in this position and looking for a church, before I read the article, then had to write back and explain I wasn’t preaching at them. I think this is a real struggle for people in this stage of life looking for authentic community without all the bells and whistles. It’s not an ego problems so much as having a perspective of what the church should really look like after years of “seeing how the sausage is made.”

    • Maggie on August 30, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Yes. This is very much where we are at.

      So interesting that you highlight home church as being the more comfortable fit for many after leaving church ministry/leadership. We fall right in line with an intolerance of the consumer approach of the North American/Western church having fresh eyes and a new vantage point as being in the pews to see, hear and experience the overall message coming at people. It’s a thing. There are days we gulp and shake our heads that we helped create this messaging/thing.

      Had just begun a house church as Covid hit. Not gonna lie…this forced break is a gift for my soul. I am needing a big break.

      There is much to be sorted through at the feet of Jesus. As we read scripture and wrestle through the theology of what His church was intended to be at its organic roots…the real life factors of church today – the stress, the fatigue, the time keeping, the production focus, the “formula” of doing a service complete with specific words that can and can’t be used upfront…(just to name a few elements of a typical service now) all feel so off.

      This obviously is a timely post for me. Thanks for your insights and comments. Grateful that God’s grace is daily experienced through it all.

  13. Cromwell on June 21, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    This is a difficult post for me to write. Firstly I believe that our Lord has been with me most all the days of my life. Through both hard times and good times. I often wonder at why he does not tire and I know that when I pray (daily) I feel the thought “not you again”.

    Having worked in Asia for a multi national company and being moved on to new assignments on a regular basis it was difficult to be part of a local church – but that was fine – it is what it is.

    Now being retired, my wife and I joined a local Anglican Church but over time found the Bishop profoundly racist in his teaching. Nope I am most certainly not ‘good’ nor ‘precious’ in any way but his teachings were wrong. Polite correspondence was ignored as were phone calls.

    We liked the congregation (good people) but this was an issue that would not go away. So we left.

    Now we have moved to a new Church – I had hoped to be able to contribute in a small and very modest way to the church (yep even as a cleaner or gardener & very proud to do so) but all my offers have been ignored. With a background in finance at quite a senior level I would have also liked occasionally to ‘help out’. Most certainly not looking ‘take over’ – far far from it. Just help when needed and appropriate. But no thanks.

    So now my wife continues to attend this church and I follow some wonderful scripture classes ‘on-line’.

    It is concerning when we see the numbers of Christians who attend church on a regular basis in the West, showing a cataclysmic decline – looking at the Anglican Church attendance numbers. Yet, finding a Church where you are truly welcome and can make a contribution, however small, is such a challenging and daunting task.

    • Felicia G on July 2, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      I understand your concern. I to have joined an online church and a leaders school which has really kept me involved spiritually. When I had the opportunity to minister i was told that we had to keep the pastors before the people and was put in another area. I by no means want to take over a church just want to utilize gifts to bless others.

  14. Rich on June 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Interesting topic- one thing i look for, even in the responses, is an ‘Elihu’… someone that speaks ‘from’ God’s heart.
    Church is a business. Cold fact. Church growth is NOT kingdom of God growth, as leaders ‘partner’ with God, do ‘Gods ‘work’ they build ‘their own kingdom’. Flagrantly oblivious or downright ignoring Jesus saying without me, you are incapable.
    The hypocrisy of doing a work FOR God is the same thing that Jesus dealt with in the temple leaders as they loved the gifts, the praise of men. In John 7 Jesus identified the temple as the world to his own brethren.
    If a ‘body of believers’ has a program, and do not wait on God, as in ‘come before Him, in His presence’ for His leading, they do so because as the world which cannot receive the Holy Spirit, because ‘they see Him not’. God is spirit, yet the church pastor ushers in another lord as he presumes to the leadership, or headship of the church not following God instead fulfilling ‘his ministry’…
    So the question is, why would i want to be somewhere, that God Himself is not welcome?
    As His child, it is painful to be in a place, where God is professed and intentionally pushed away.. you call it ‘church’, Jesus told them ‘their house’ was left to them desolate.
    It cannot be both ‘our house’ and God’s house as in the rule, or headship is one or the other. If it is God’s, His approval will be present. If ours? It is our gifting, and talent we are selling, as that woman of the worlds oldest profession spoken of in Revelation.
    I am not bitter, i am incensed at the debacle. Prayer meetings are gone, waiting on the Lord is done in front of a TV.. .
    Just a short, very short note..
    As in the days of Noah, when those who resisted the Holy Spirit ‘called on the name of the Lord’…
    how did that work out?

  15. Charlotte on April 30, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    The church we attend is structured much more like a teaching center. The pastor insists on “not” being called pastor. There’s no personal accountability, therefore, sin runs rampant. Sadly, it is the most impersonal church we’ve ever attended. People have been lost through suicide, unexpected death. Through financial struggles, one has had a leg amputated. All of this while being kept secret, unsuccessfully. We’re not sure why these people felt compelled to struggle in silence & we had no idea any of this was going on until after their lives got out of control. We are currently searching for a church. We have much to give but the impersonal attitude & secrecy makes it very hard to be used in our area of giftings.

    • Danica on May 17, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you so much for this post. Attending the church was not a problem for me while I am serving God, but I witnessed lots of my co-leaders struggle with it. Some have actually stopped serving and attending. As months went by, I noticed that the situation of the church even gets worse.
      One of those who struggled with attending our church after leading is my boyfriend. I can attest that the leadership broke him severely, yet he is still attending even if it hurts him so much. He was patiently waiting for me to realize that we really need to leave the church.
      Only during this pandemic did I realized that he was right and that a looooot of stuffs were going on in the church, especifically with the leadership that we have.
      Right now, I decided not to serve there anymore and look for another church where we can both fellowship and serve with.
      One of the biggest reasons is because of our overly controlling and unloving pastors(couple) who are liars and are stumbling blocks which caused many to question their faith. They fed us a wrong teaching about them, as a couple, to live together (for like 8 months, which they did) as they take care of the preparation for their wedding after they got engaged. A couple (who are leaders) also lived together because ‘our pastors are doing it’.
      This is the reason why my boyfriend, while he was still courting me, ended up with a bad relationship with our pastors because he cannot trust and submit to them to guide us in our relationship. Then they accused him of having a rebellious spirit and treated him badly. Our pastors were very obvious and blunt in disapproving our relationship. They must have been worried and didn’t want losing me to him since I had a servant mindset at that time so I was doing everything that they told me to do… which eventually led to abuse. The core leaders also didn’t deal with their sins and even approved a couple to live together.
      As a couple, my boyfriend and I longed to enjoy our fellowship with God and his church… it is also our ultimate goal to continue to serve God and the church together with all of our hearts… but with our previous church, I think it’s almost impossible.
      I also have a conviction to confront them about this since no one would really do it. It’s very heart breaking.

      • Robert on May 17, 2020 at 6:43 pm

        Our Mayor of our Town was asked if our church was to disappear, would the town miss the church. His answer was no. So after this message was given the plate was passed around for the mission trips in foreign lands. I had to ask, did our paster have a mental fart? We use the poverty of third worlds to manipulate the emotions of our hearts, yet step over the street people on our way to work. Lets work to make the answers to our Mayors as yes, we would be missed, as we change our focus to the neighboiurs around where we live.

    • Sheila Hilton on June 18, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Sometimes it’s better to walk away but pray on it. Going going church to church may not be a good idea. I belong to a wonderful church. It’s a deliverance ministries, where there is love. Our focus is on helping those who need a change in there lives and all are welcome. I’m in north charleston, SC and our moto is everybody is somebody. Our pastor is a man of god. If your ever come this wsy drop in. Service is at 11am Faith in Action deliverance ministries on ashley phosphate rd. In a shopping. Center, sign above the door. We reveive everyone.

  16. Judy H on April 27, 2020 at 7:35 am

    Thank you for this post. A lot of good replies. but after reading several negative replies, I thought “Did they read your article in complete?” Maybe the person who wrote that your article was condemning is afraid to look at their self. I would rather use the words motivating and convicting to describe what I read.
    I woke up this morning really struggling with regret that has been heavy on my heart for a few years now. In fact I feel like I have failed or am failing now; I wonder at times if I am trying to grasp for something that does not exist. Yet, I know this is not true, because I have lived out seasons of simple peacefulness, knowing I was where I was supposed to be, and trusting God for the results of my obedience and involvement. I must remind myself that we don’t know how much our words and serving benefits others, no matter how unimportant it may seem. I like many people like to see results. I know the needed change and renewal Will begin with admitting and confessing to the thing/sin that has hindered me. I am 57 years old and have served in my called place over the years in several churches, as we moved. But the single mindedness toward Christ that drove my purpose for serving has lessened over the years. That is the reason that am not in that peaceful place with attending, serving or seeking out fellowship. I have felt tormented- not condemned. Fear has kept me frozen the last few years and has definitely affected my perspectives.
    I appreciate the challenging questions. This is a great place for me to begin.

  17. Jacob on April 7, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Doubting the call. Used and abused by the church to do the grass roots heavy lifting while they took my ideas and fed them to someone else backing that person with all the resources, people, and mentorship, then turned around and asked me to shovel more crap. Something inside me broke, or died today.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 7, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      I’m so sorry for the pain you have experienced.

      I hope you can find somewhere where you are appreciated for using your God-given abilities well.

    • Sam on April 8, 2020 at 9:01 am

      Been there too and then my hard work went with the Pastor to another church, as their work. I was used. 18 months later and counseling has helped, but it is not still all gone. Have been away from church for that long too – just the thought of going back to an abusive place, brings up anxiety through out my body. Thankfully, I hear those cries and listen. BUT, my work for Christ is now outside of the church and not for anyone but him.

    • Jim Justman on April 16, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Sorry for the pain you bear. Truly. Hoping that you know your gifts can and will bless others elsewhere.

  18. Pam on February 23, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    While searching for help with a problem I am having about church ministry, I came across this site. I started going to a ministry group who was not doing church but just ministry, out of which a church planted. The leaders of the ministry group became angry that a church was being planted that they split the group in half, leaving a couple as pastors and causing quite a financial rift. I was doing prophetic ministry with the ministry team and was swayed by both groups to either do ministry with the ministry group or stay with the group that started the church. I elected to stay and help build the church. Since that time, I have completed my M.M. and M.Div. and am currently working toward my ED.D. in Christian leadership ministry. However, what is confusing me and greatly bothering me is I have asked to either teach a class, do a sermon and it is as if I have become invisible. They gladly accept my tithe weekly; but, I have watched new people come into the church and asked to speak, give video talks and sermons. I feel that God is asking me to preach; but, there seems to be no recourse but to branch out from the church I attend and see if God might be calling me to serve in another church venue. The church I attend is non-denominational and I have been asked to speak in April at an ecclesial church; however, some of their doctrines go against Scripture and even though this door may or may not be opening, I wish to stay true to the Word of God. However, today, I feel the Holy Spirit telling me that I am close to going in the right direction but need to try some other handles in the denominational arena whose doctrines adhere to the inerrant Word of God. So, I wait and try not to be hurt by those Christians closest to me. The pastor has asked me to do some research for him, which interestingly enough is about the very arena I feel God may want me to step into. There is a conference coming up in May 2020 that may decide the future of a denomination which will bring their denomination back to adherence to God’s Word and boy there will be a fight on the left. However, since I am a member where I am now, I do not wish to burn any bridges and the credentials I do have here may bode well for me if God does move me to a new venue. Thanks for letting me use this site to vent and get some clarity on what God may be asking me to do.

    • Freddie Nichols on February 24, 2020 at 11:37 am

      I very much enjoyed what you had to say so much of it is true how I became a Christian in the military born again filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues in my life I feel that I missing many thanks. I’ve been also injured in the military and it’s difficult to move to get around to walk. I am not an educated man and my grammar is terrible my hands shake so much that I use a recorder you will probably notice that. Many of the things you said I’m so true and I’m missing them I find myself feeling Christian I tortured with the lust of the flesh, pornographic material this is my daily downfall. And I hate it all so much, did I think to myself that how can I go to heaven I want this in my heart. I just want to thank you because I have been on both sides of the spectrum with the pastor’s helper, greater door, took care of the grass-fed vacuuming of the church. And now I am unable and it hurts me.

  19. Joe on October 16, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    It’s had to attend church when the leaders have no accountability or a facade of accountability where they are causing damage in people’s lives and calling I biblical. It’s hard to ever trust church leaders again. Makes you wonder if God even cares what happens in His churches.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 16, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      Hey Joe,

      You are right, it can be really hard. But God does care what happens in His churches, maybe that’s why you are there…

      Cheering for you!


      • Lalen on January 5, 2020 at 1:29 am

        I know this article has been written since last year but I happened to stumble across this article and just started reading it. My husband and I can really relate to your article because we’ve been in the ministry for a long time in our last ministry where we actually were the lead pastors was in the Philippines. I very much agree to the things that you’ve pointed out here but I also have one comment. I know that there are times in our lives where we have to really play a role in the body of Christ even sometimes doing the things that youre not passionate about or even sometimes doing the things you’re not called to do . I know that part of the Christian walk, we need to help out in any capacity we can but at the same time, We need to live a fulfilled life by walking in our calling lest we dry up. One problem that we have discovered is that sometimes certain people who’s been around in the ministry stopped going to churches or attending one is because they feel that once they get underneath another leader ship, that their gifting and calling will not be welcomed under the new senior pastor of the church. Unfortunately there are times that it becomes more of a threat to the new pastor that they are under instead of welcoming what they have done in the ministry and valuing them for who they are. And when this happens, they are not given the opportunity within the church to operate in their calling and their anointing and so they feel unfulfilled and dry up. Or sometimes they will end up serving in the ministry that they are not passionate to do and they get stuck there. We are experiencing that right now. It has not been easy especially if you have been around too long in the ministry and when your heart is aching for the things that God has called us to do and not given the opportunity to operate in those areas , you will never feel Fulfilled Therefore disappointment settles in your heart.

        • Dorothy on February 28, 2020 at 10:57 am

          Joe God cares about what happen in His churches there is a warning in Rev. 2&3 to the Pastors of the Churches. So if yoh are somewhere where they are clearly going against the Word of God pray and ask Him to lead you to somewhere else. It might be a small church but guess what it’s about where the Holy Spirit is and the truth is being preached without compromised.

        • Kem on April 5, 2020 at 10:59 am

          My husband is going through this right now. He has served at our church for 10 yrs on the worship team .
          In July of 2018 I found out I had stage 1 lung cancer and had surgery to remove the cancer in August. Thanks to God I am 1 1/2 years cancer free in saying all that my husband took a break to be with me. In October of last year he talked to the worship pastor and said her would like to put back in the rotation of the worship team. He was told I’ll let you know in April. What kind of answer is that. My husband is feeling very hurt right now and my heart is breaking out because he was and is a faithful servant and serving the body of Christ.

      • Kb on April 6, 2020 at 10:54 pm

        I had the privilege of being a licensed minister, and was nearly ordained, but stopped attending after a 4 years of walking with the pastor. And being hurt by jealous deacons cause if being white. Then being set down. Stayed away from church for 16 years. Then started going again and ended up playing bass in a worship team. And playing out secularly was the reason for the whole judgement to begin with because I was just trying to support my family. Past I know but now being nearly sixty and seeing younger folks come up in ministry and I’m a bass player in the church band, the enemy has had a field day with me. Just feel useless ,. Even though before the virus hit and everything closed I worshiped with all I had left in me. I wonder if I wonder if it’s because I had time and preached and know the inner deeper truth that it is hard to be a subordinate in a younger ministry. Or if it’s just time to walk away from life.
        1.i know that God sent his son
        2 God is in charge and Christ on the throne.
        I’m sick in the body. Dealing with a condition that drains all the energy ( a deficiency) trying to get it corrected and hearing and feeling the call once again.

    • Elle on December 12, 2019 at 9:21 am

      This article is a great example of church in action. No reflection on self and incredibly condemning. I don’t go to church regularly as I found out the leaders were committing fraud and manipulating the congregants…. To read that effectively leaving is my fault is gas lighting at the very least. People who trust are vulnerable and truth be told, we need to be wise and gentle. Wise: ie don’t make yourself subject to fraudsters and criminals in the name of ‘church’ and gentle ie accept that everyone has their walk and it’s sad that this has occurred but remember that wrong is wrong and bad is bad. Seperate self and find people who are genuine and will not be dangerous. Leave the judgement to God and get yourself out of this environment as it’s deception. Sadly the church ( aka a gathering of people) is not always a place of God. God is good churches are not always.

    • Irene on January 6, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Your comment about God is sad. know you might be having a hard time but please have faith in God. Pray and you will definitely get an answer

    • Apiffany on February 9, 2020 at 10:09 am

      Blessings! My brother stop going to church. Because of church hurt and now, doesn’t believe going to church on Sunday is wrong. And that the Bible is wrong?! But my brother doesn’t attend a church that is open on a Saturday? It’s all crazy to me. And he says Jesus, is black… But I see my brother’s spiritual walk has weakened big time. I’m saddened by this…

      • LG on February 10, 2020 at 9:21 am

        It’s easy to stop going to church because of church hurt. It happened to me. The one place you expect not to be hurt, you end up hurt. Hurt by those who proclaim to be filled with the love and spirit of Christ. It’s hard to come back but hopefully he will. Not to start anything but the ethnicity of Jesus Christ as according to scriptures description, he’s closer to black or middle eastern than anything else. That’s kind of apparent. Especially when you look at the region where he was from. But all that stuff is sometimes things you find out once you leave traditional church and begin to search the scriptures for yourself and find God outside of what you’ve been trained to believe. The biggest issue is that we’re not given a choice of what we believe. We don’t study for ourselves. We take the word of others we trust. But they don’t always have it right. And we we realize some truths and share them with family and friends who can’t think outside of what they know, those people tend to make us feel bad and push us even further away from church. Take it easy on him. We’ve made Christianity so difficult, more difficult than what Jesus had planned for us. It’s no wonder so many people leave.

      • Dorothy on February 28, 2020 at 10:45 am

        We must remember that God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and Truth. When Christ was on earth He became Jesus Christ the man. But He is God. Why is it so important whether He was white or black then. It doesn’t matter one iota He is God when He return He wont be seen as black or white. We have more inportant things to think about that because He wont be like He was. Let move beyond that and serve Him for Who He is and what He had done.

    • Dorothy on February 28, 2020 at 10:55 am

      Joe God cares about what happen in His churches there is a warning in Rev. 2&3 to the Pastors of the Churches. So if yoh are somewhere where they are clearly going against the Word of God pray and ask Him to lead you to somewhere else. It might be a small church but guess what it’s about where the Holy Spirit is and the truth is being preached without compromised.

    • Kenneth Bowling on March 27, 2020 at 1:32 am

      I was radically saved 10 years ago from a life of hard drug addiction, rampant fornication, and just about every sinful experience I could try out.

      Immediately I grew a passion for evangelism and teaching scripturally revealed insights from my perspective as a former prodigal who had spent his life developing people skills to survive the streets. I ran through the scriptures multiple times and read every current issues article that I could get my hands on.

      I noticed immediately that even though I know I was a follower of Jesus who had been personally and powerfully changed into a completely new creature, many of the leadership structure and prominent faces could not relate to me at any level. They all spoke the lingo and had been raised in the traditions. I thought we were supposed to resemble the Acts church but It was more like a social club I could never gain access to because I didn’t have the right credentials.

      I felt called to pastor very early in my walk but I had never been around a leadership team and my social grace and tact were non-existent. I was only asked because I had gained a reputation for being the guy who would witness to anyone at any place and always brought new people to church that I had convinced to tag along.(All glory to God) I really believed(and still do) that God was alive and moving in our modern world and wanted to reach the lost through crazy acts of love and salvation power.

      To make a LONG story short, I spent the past ten years unknowingly getting taken advantage of, alienated from community, and constantly overlooked by various church leadership. When vulnerable about struggles from old flesh pleasures(actually warring against) it always seemed like I was the only one in church who still struggled with sin issues And certainly the only one confessing. Members gossiped, leaders used half truths and exaggeration to influence me to serve without support, and some made me question my salvation for being different.

      My family and I are searching for a new church because I know we need one, but I just wanted to share the struggle of being a freedom loving, reformed, former gangster, former youth pastor who God has used in many ways and has crushed in mighty ways. Please pray for us to find an authentic community of those who know they need a doctor. -Blessings

      • Tim on August 15, 2020 at 7:36 am

        Man, I would love to meet you sometime for coffee and hear your story. One of the most honest and real expressions of the struggle to gain from man (acceptance) what Christ has already accomplished. You are good enough and God sees you through the eyes of His Son, you are precious

  20. Maggy on October 8, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    I grew up in the church. My father was a very well educated doctor of ministry. I am an ordained elder. I fear I have joined a cult of seersucker, bow ties, and smocking, and now cannot get my children out.

    I long for deep theology and understanding. No more socialite madness.

  21. Jean on September 15, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    I have some thoughts about all of these reasons you’ve shared. I did not read all 360+ posts before me! Let me begin with comfort, blessings from the Lord:

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
    Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
    Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    Reason #1

    There is nothing wrong with knowing who you are in Christ and knowing your gifts to further the kingdom of God. It can be discouraging to know your gifts and to have a season where you are not using them how you use to. But, my brothers and sisters, don’t lose heart. It is but a season. Have faith.

    Do not worry about not being heard in the assembly, because the church isn’t the moderator your gifts, Christ is the Head of the church. If the Spirit is prompting you to use it, go. Do not feel bad or guilty for listening to the Lord Most High. When the Holy Spirit is a close friend to you, it is easier to discern if he wants you to go and use a gift. If a pastor or leader is not encouraging that gift, it can be so disheartening. It grieves the Holy Spirit. There are seasons where we don’t use those gifts, and it can be difficult. This is where faith comes into play.

    Ephesians 4:29-31

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

    1 Corinthians 12:4-11
    4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
    7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

    Reason #3
    Grieving the loss of being part of a community of believers who might have deeply hurt you is no small feat. Maturity could have something to do with it. I was a youth pastor and one of my kids died right before he was about to go into the mission field. I was so grief stricken, it’s hard to get back into it. Even ten years later. I have needed time to heal, and the thought of losing another kid is absolutely terrifying to me. This is my story. I don’t think it’s always about maturity, I think it is the continual allowance of the Holy Spirit to take tragedy and turn it into beauty. You have to grieve loss. It’s a hard process. And it makes the idea of going to church difficult too. Once you had this “honeymoon” come to Christ and living so care-free. The next moment, you see the curse right in front of you, but you also realize how deep the Father’s love really is. And it changes you. And no one should feel guilted into not wanting to get back into it until they’ve been able to grieve and move on.

    #4 The inner critic

    It’s actually good to be critical, but only if the Holy Spirit is the inner critic. Being critical doesn’t mean to think you can do it better, it means you have a vision of what something could be. It took me a while to realize that being a visionary thinker is one of my spiritual giftings. Visionaries are really vital to the growth of the church. And I don’t mean the corporate church. I’m talking about the moving living church. What drives me crazy is that church is so stationary. I’m being critical, and it’s OK! God has put so many wonderful evangelistic ideas in my head. I can share them with others and they may or may not use them, but if I wasn’t a little critical about anything, the church would fall asleep. It’s also scriptural to rebuke and to confront. Criticism has such a negative connotation. But praise God for visionary thinkers.

    #5 & #6

    If this is true, that is truly sad. But I just want to speak some Godly truths here. We are all beautiful sons and daughters of the King. No one is above another. We are all equal in Christ Jesus. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You are worth the Lord dying on the cross. He humbled himself on a cross, so we could have full life. No matter your past, you belong and you are accepted in Jesus. Come as you are, broken within.


    I am a follower of Jesus, a follower of the Most High. And I still struggle going to church. Not sure how this one plays into how it’s hard to attend once you’ve been in leadership.


    I don’t think that not going to church on a Sunday morning or even being actively part of the organized church is neglecting church. By the way, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, not of organized church. Sometimes he calls us into smaller community that is church, like into recovery programs, it’s not all just not the production of Sunday morning. God moves outside of 10AM on Sunday. “Together” only has to be 2-3. Not 100, 250, 500, 1,000+. It can be simple, it can be small. It can be 12, like the disciples. Spreading the gospel doesn’t have to be in giant groups, in fact that is a little intimidating. I think he meant for his church to move as an organism.


    I gave my life to Jesus when I was ten years old. I’ll never forget how I felt when I knew I’d made a choice to be with my Father in heaven forever. The more I got to know him, the more I realized how BIG he was and how broken I was. The why is always there. I think it’s less complicated that corporate church makes it. If I get to share what my Lord has done for me, and tell someone about the one true God of Abraham and Jacob, then I get to share my journey with them. It isn’t about setting up a building for people to come to. It’s about letting the Holy Spirit move inside you to have relationships with people. It’s about the relationship, not about attending or not attending.

    I pray and hope that you are not discouraged by reading this post, but that the Holy Spirit would fill you with hope and every good work it has prepared for you to do. Do not lose heart. Listen to the Spirit. Father God, I pray your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, heal our souls and our relationships with one another. Father, please equip us with your love, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and mouths to share the good news. Thank you for giving us a way to live for you, to be with you. Amen.

    • Ana Kaizer on October 22, 2019 at 8:08 am

      Wow thank you so much for this post! It spoke so much to me.

    • Gil on October 29, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Brother you have no idea what the Lord did in my heart with His words through you. The timing … Even this blog… Thank you for speaking the truth and being obedient and faithful to His call to “script a word for us (leader or not) at the door of our lives.

    • Isaac on January 19, 2020 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you for these words. They are helpful to where I am with my church-going journey and spiritual growth. Thank you!

  22. Geoffrey B Hansell on September 13, 2019 at 4:39 am

    My current Church does not satisfy me, and hasn’t for quite a while. I can’t really pinpoint any one thing but it feels like it’s one big clique made up of a few little cliques, and I’m the odd man out. I lead the adult Sunday school class which is made up of my family and one other person. I have been rolling this way for a few years and it is getting to me. I love planning the lessons, and all that I learn, but I can’t help taking it personally that folks just won’t show up. Is it me? Sure feels like it. Maybe other Church members don’t feel I’m worthy, but who is? I have wanted to lead a class like this, got the chance and ran with it. I feel worthy , I felt the call and acted on it. Maybe the Church I am at now is not the one for me?? I have invited people, wrote up a nice piece for our monthly newsletter, which was arbitrarily edited by someone, and it lost all it’s meaning. Not sure what else to do but walk away from it all. I’ll continue to be a sucker and see who, if anyone joins this class. If noone new joins, I am done. I will have lost my faith, not in God, but rather in people, Christian people at that.

    Thank you for this article that helped me to realize the strength of my faith, and how placing my faith in man rather than God is a losing proposition no matter how well intentioned.

    • Jack Brooks on November 21, 2019 at 9:31 am

      It isn’t wrong to say, “This isn’t working”, and do something else.

    • Viking 48 on November 21, 2019 at 11:49 am

      I agree with Jack Brooks. We attended a church with the same type of people. When the pastor taught Sunday School the room was full. When he took time off from Sunday School and had me substitute, the attendance was down to 10. I had him sit in on one of my lessons which he wholly acknowledged was good and he supported my teaching from the pulpit, but to no avail.

      My wife and I finally got fed up with the rudeness and toxicity of the congregation, told the pastor we loved him, but it was time to move on. We found a loving church and although its not perfect, we are much better off spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Kick the dust off your sandals and move on. Be blessed.

      • Joe on January 24, 2020 at 7:13 pm

        That was a reference to people that didn’t want to except the gospel. (not church I. General). Matthew 10:14
        New International Version
        If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

  23. Dan on August 24, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Actually the false premise is that ‘church’ is something you go to (a bad word to use in translation out of original Greek texts; Tyndale got it right when he translated ekklesias as gathering or assembly; so everywhere you read ‘church’ in the New Testament writings, think assembly/gathering/meeting, not what you do on Sunday morning/night, etc at a building). A couple of people on here pointed out that it is the corporation/business type model American Christianity has fallen into, with top down leadership and ‘professional’ ministry, that is causing most of the problem. There is no professional ministry in the early ekklesias. Leadership, yes, but professional ministry…no. Culture and context are what a lot of disillusioned people on this thread are after…they want to be part of something real, something intimate, something compelling, something delicious, something passionate, something more…then what a typical program, bulletin pointed, lights and sound stage and ‘sacred’ desk/pulpit has to offer. They want connection in their homes, in their cars, in their recreation, in their gatherings. They want a return to simple meals where faith and Yeshua are discussed. They don’t want an experience…they want an encounter with a living organism. And you will never find that in a structure, top down, professional ministry, sermon every Sunday, American ‘church.’ You will find it among people who have no desire to rule over you, but to exhort you, only ‘lead’ you in the sense that they kick you in the butt when you need it (confront problems/sins in your life) and lend the healing hand when you need it (when others hurt you or suffering comes). You want to know why it’s hard for these professional pastors/leaders to attend a ‘church’ after running/leading/serving? Because a real ‘church’, a real first century gathering would have no place for them. All of us would be ordinary with some mature, seasoned, life-experienced believers among us (elders) who are not professionals but just mature people that have proven they can handle the stress and suffering and setbacks that come with being a follower of The Way. Get rid of the corporation model, get rid of senior pastors making a living only working a few hours a week, a music leader who actually never lets the people lead and share, a deacon board, etc.. Shove it away, return to simplicity, read the epistles in their historical and cultural context. We’re struggling so much because WE”RE NOT DOING IT THE WAY YESHUA and HIS APOSTLES TOLD US TOO. Peace upon you all and grace in your sufferings.

    • Jakki C on September 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm


      • Jakki C on September 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

        Correction: ” why, don’t, Paid”

    • Wanda on September 7, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Well said. I couldn’t agree more! Greemore couldn’t disagree more

    • Sandy on September 15, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Dan, I think you nailed it on the head. The body of Christ is a living organism, not an organization. And the majority of American “church” culture lands under organization. Peace be to you.

    • Dale Casselman on February 2, 2020 at 3:04 am

      Wow. Somebody that actually gets it.

  24. Amy P on August 19, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I’m really not certain what you were attempting to accomplish with this article, but if it was to land another blow on people who have already been grievously wounded, congratulations. You’ve succeeded admirably.

    Even when wounded we still sin. We all need to continually humble ourselves before God and refocus on Him. I’m not suggesting otherwise. But my husband and I are so tired. He has repeatedly been lied about by the head elder in public venues. He has been slandered by the power group in the church. He’s been yelled at. He’s been lied to. Nothing he does is ever good enough, or if it is good enough one month he’s excoriated for it the next. We recently, after two years of this, have learned that the elder board is on the verge of a split over his treatment. While it’s good to know all of them aren’t in support of it, it has only made certain elders more determined to eliminate him.

    The constant uncertainty and abuse has been physically, emotionally, and spiritually debilitating. Make no mistake, this sort of horrific behavior is not unusual. You can see it in some of the comments on this article. You can see it in the comments of any article of a similar nature. Instead of self-righteously blaming the victim, maybe you should ask people why, if they are former pastors or pastor’s wives who say they love God, they don’t want to attend church.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 20, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      Hey Amy,

      I am so sorry for the pain you and your husband have endured. My goal was not to hurt anyone, but rather, show other church leaders that are having a tough time attending church that I can relate with them. That they aren’t alone in this. And maybe even give them a bit of help in better approaching church in their own mind so that they have an easier time attending.

      Once again, I am so sorry.

      Believe it or not, I hope you and your husband’s situation gets better.


      • CeeCee on August 20, 2019 at 9:10 pm

        Carey –
        I just want to say that this article has been very healing for me. It has been almost a year and I have not yet been back. But, I knew after reading your article, that I was not crazy and I was not alone. Broken people HURT broken people.

        I have continued to get the posts sent to me and every time I read one of the posts I heal a bit more.

        Thank you! I think you could to a “part 2” to this article on healing — that it is a journey.

        Thank you!

        • AH on January 27, 2020 at 8:43 am

          Or maybe a “part 2” could be written to suggest how a local church might do better to include retired pastors or pastors serving in an agency or hospital who want to get involved. I have offered everything from helping with the youth program, teaching an adult education on the subject of my DMin project, and helping on the worship committee. We stopped attending one congregation because they didn’t make any effort to help my teenage daughter get involved and I didn’t want her going through her teenage years without the church’s support and guidance. I am glad to attend, to “cover” for the pastor when the pastor is away and to enjoy a casual friendship with members but I would like to be able to use more of my gifts.

          Thanks for the article and the thoughtful responses I have read,

      • Amy P on August 20, 2019 at 10:09 pm

        Hi Carey,

        Thank you for replying. I owe you an apology. I wrote from a place of pain and frustration and ended up being hurtful, which was not my intent and I’m sorry.

        I do think this article, and many others like it written by differing authors, can be painful to read – not because they’re convicting of sin, although of course they can be, but because they ignore the pain that abused pastors feel. Instead of being encouraging or challenging in a good way, they add to the burden and the sense of failure. However, I never thought you intended to cause pain or that you wouldn’t want our (or others’) situation to improve.

      • David Lee on September 19, 2019 at 5:42 am

        She has a point. The article fails to see a larger context of God’s story. I am one of those people. I have found my way back but it was not easy for some of the reasons you mentioned. But also, sometimes people to withdraw are like David, strengthening himself, or like Jesus, who withdrew to reconnect with God. That is the point I want to make. Sometimes people have to withdraw to reconnect and reconstruct a new kind of self in the midst of missional community. So I would also add another reason: Sometimes they are not yet ready to be a part of things and that is ok. Luke 15 reminds us that God finds lost sheep, coins, and sons.

  25. Sue on June 26, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    I am completely burnt out with my church. After putting in so much volunteer time and seeing our church plant not grow hardly at all I am tired. I love the people there and I don’t want to lose them. But I know if I leave I will. They will be hurt and angry.

    I feel like my pastor does not listen to input and only sees things his way. He is great at a lot of things he does. But lacks follow through. He is controlling and says he wants help but fails to let go so people can really help. We have no local outreach at all and for me that is a huge issue. I feel like the church is called to do so much more than meet once a week. I have tried to help. I have gathered info for local needs at his request but it never goes anywhere.

    I am feeling heartbroken and I feel like I know I should find another church. My family is involved in multiple ministries at the church and I feel guilty about leaving when they don’t have a lot of volunteers to begin with.

    I also feel like attending another church and volunteering will be hard. After the hurt I feel from this church it is hard to open yourself up again.

    • Michelle on August 12, 2019 at 9:05 am

      Responding to Sue from June 26, 2019

      You describe your pastor as controlling, saying he wants to help but unwilling to let go so people really can help. You also say that you have gathered local info at his request, but that it never seems to go anywhere.

      It may be that your pastor is dealing with a congregation that expects the pastor to do everything, and if the pastor doesn’t do it, or isn’t specifically involved, it doesn’t happen. This is reinforced by your statement that this congregation doesn’t have many volunteers to begin with. A pastor alone cannot be the solution to what you describe. Have you sat in on board or council meetings or read minutes to see what the pastor might propose and what the responses are? This might be helpful.

      I also encourage you to back off on your expectations of growth. Paul writes that the one who plants the seed is often different from the one who waters and different still from the one who observes the growth and reaps the harvest. The growth that may be occurring from your work is likely invisible, producing fruit that will be visible years from now. Early excitement with a new church plant is intoxicating, but often cannot be sustained in real life, with the realities of people’s lives in community. The continuing excitement must be tempered by the realization that God may be doing things, working ministry through us, with results that we cannot see. Therefore, we trust, and do what we can, relying on God’s promises.

    • Jakki C on September 5, 2019 at 3:35 pm


    • Elspeth Davidson on September 14, 2019 at 4:32 am

      Hi Sue,
      I am so sorry that you are on this painful journey. Often our focus and need for relationship is pulled in different directions. We need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Focus on our relationship with him.
      What has Jesus put in your heart to do? Where is he calling you? It may be to new pastures, or to become a source of refreshment for those around you where you are. Often we get taken up with what we do but in reality it becomes the hay and wood which gets burnt up on the last day but there will be those nuggets of gold, which we may not have realised were there until it is revealed.
      Enjoy and love Jesus for who he is and what he has done for you and try to see others with Jesus’s eyes. We are all broken and fallen people, but Jesus is the one who can restore our souls.
      Praying that you will find your place of peace. Remember that if you do decide to move on, there will be pain and the need to grieve, but there shouldn’t be anger. I am sorry too that you fear others anger. Find your joy in Jesus.

  26. Lizzie on June 10, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for your post Carey! Any encouragement or advice for the new leader with a previous leader now on your team? I’m in the middle of trying to balance gifts, passion, and vision without it turning into a power struggle.

  27. Andreas E Thayer on June 9, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Jesus hung out with the dudes, walked thru fields, healed people, talked to kids….OUTSIDE “THE” “CHURCH”.
    “The church” is helping people save themselves by “doing” churchy stuff/activities. My family is in a cult right now that believes they not only can “stay saved” but will loose their salvation if they don’t stay saved. Not sure then why Jesus had to die if we can save ourselves…
    Imagine being Jesus Christ and trying to “date” your “bride” but the lights are dimmed and the music blaring and she’s so focused on doing some religious stuff and you just want her to come away to a quiet spot where we can talk…just the two of us. That my friends is CHURCH!
    He wants to marry HIS bride and carry HER across the threshold. And so shall we every be with the Lord. I get it, church fellowship IS a big deal…but don’t force it. Stop getting tangled up with denominational crap. Jesus wants a healthy BEAUTIFUL strong bride and we know that in the “last days” there’ll be a big falling away where the chaff gets burned. Please don’t blame Jesus for hurts from a demon I mean denomination. I hurt for people who walk away from God after being abused by “churchy” stuff when God has nothing to do with it. Jesus is a romantic and a healer and a friend closer than a brother. Does your “CHURCH” offer that??? Would Jesus come to “your” church? C’mon folks, wakey wakey. He wants to come back for His bride and His Father is waiting for the bride to WAKE UP!! before sending Jesus back here…so go to church, don’t go to church…that has nothing to do with it. Be the Bride you’d wanna marry.
    Thanks Carey Nieuwhof, I really couldn’t be less interested in what you’re selling tho. Become the bride of Christ sweetheart and your life will change and your family will thank you.
    Stuff like HOW TO BE A GOOD LEADER AT CHURCH WHILE YOUR HOME GOES TO HELL isn’t even christian. Beware beware be smart. I love you johnny

  28. Johnny on June 9, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Orrrrr…. maybe you’ve recognized that “church” is a corrupt, money-centered, self glorifying corporation erected in place of THE church.
    Maybe you’ve acknowledged that the concept of worship being music and that we are to gather weekly to hear someone’s opinion of the word of God are not only unbiblical but they may actually BE the cause of THE church fading into the obscurity of hillsongbethel nonsense- chasing experiences rather than servanthood.
    Maybe you have come to the point that you have repented of your participation in the single greatest offense of “do not take the Lord’s name in vein” and refuse to compromise in spite of the hard to shake, cultish mentality that one MUST attend a building in order to be a solid christian.

    This article is insane. It starts with the premise that the nonattender is somehow WRONG and should change.
    There is no thinking here, only more of the same cult sputum.

    Church is the people, people… where 2 or more are gathered in His name (authentically, not out of fear of rejection from the cult) IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE an “at” or a “where” but a “with whom” and there need not be a preacher, or a band, or communion or any other sacrament- aka there need not be a golden calf in the room- simply people loving and serving one another in light of the gospel and allowing that to spill out into the streets.

    This article reinforces everything that makes me sick about “church”.

    • Larry Smith on June 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

      I started attending a new church two years ago with my wife after we moved. Everyone seemed so friendly at first. I enjoyed the church and I felt the pastor delivered good sermons. I told the Senior Pastor and the other Pastor who is in charge of the music department that I had been a soloist at my former church and I would like to sing an occasional solo at my new church. They allowed me to sing three solo’s during 2018. When 2019 arrived they Music Director stopped using me to sing solo’s. By June of 2019 I still had not been asked to sing any solo and I noticed that most soloists on the singing schedule had already sand twice in 2019 and some three times.
      I approached the music director by sending him an email asking him why he had stopped using me as a soloist while I have saw other soloists are have already sang two to three solo’s as of June 2019. I waited a couple of weeks and I have never received a reply from the music director. So, I approached the senior pastor by sending him an email, he wrote replied to my email and said “I will look into it. Thirty four days later I am still waiting for a reply. I wrote back to him and told him and told him that I would like an explanation as to why I had not been asked to sing anymore solo’s. I feel that i have been discriminated by the music director when he stopped using me as a soloist and I would like to know why that happened and no one will tell me why. It is not that I am a bad singer I recorded a CD in 1997 and I used that recording to start a ministry where I would travel and sing at other churches. I think I deserve an answer but no on will respond back to me an give me an answer. So, I wrote the senior pastor again and told him that my singing has always been a ministry for me and that is what I do for the Lord and if I can’t be used in this church that maybe my wife and I should start looking for another church.. The senior pastor got up in church the following Sunday and didn’t mention my name, but he told the story that someone had told him this week that if they couldn’t participate in a certain program in the church that they would leave and find another church, then he said people like that just “want to be seen.” I was flabbergasted when he said that in a sermon even though he didn’t mention my name. I do not “want to be seen” I sing for the Lord because it is the only thing I can do for him as a ministry and I pray over each song that I choose to sing. I don’t see any reason why the Music Director and the Senior Pastor can’t be honest with me and give me an answer to why I was stopped being used as a soloist in church. Yes, my feelings have been hurt greatly but no one in this church seems to care. Singing for the Lord is one of the few things I can do for him and I may have to find another church to do that in. I am considering making an appointment to talk to the senior pastor and try to explain to him why I sing solo’s for the Lord. My singing voice was given to me by God and it is a talent that he has given me. I could be using my voice to sing in nightclubs which I used to do before I became a Christian. Any comments on how I might resolve this would be appreciated or maybe I should just drop it and start looking for another church. I feel I have been wronged and don’t know why.

      • Chaplain Mike on June 15, 2019 at 11:06 am

        Sounds like it is time to move on. If the pastor is so bold to call you out in a sermon, then it should be assumed that they are also talking about you by name in other venues. We have run into similar problems in being the new kids in church. It seems if you offer your gifts to assist in the church in any way, especially the worship service before you paid your time and have the approval of all of the goats in the church, you are shunned. No one is allowed to serve until you have the approval of the undercover power players in the congregation.

        The pastor was totally off base in bringing out the issue from the pulpit. If he does it once, it will come again. That is a total lack of spiritual integrity and a violation of the principle of the pulpit – to teach the Work of God only – not to use it as an occasion to beat the sheep.

        Maybe its time to leave – pray about it. I am sure that there is a church out there which will be open, welcoming, and have a place to use your gifts. It may be a bit hard to find, but stick with it. A wise man once told me not to worry about practicing your gifts as much as we should be practicing holiness before the Lord. He’ll find the place for our giftings.

      • Mary on July 21, 2019 at 1:21 am

        I think that you can sing from your home and the Lord will hear you. You do not need more audience than Him. After all it is for His pleassure that you sing right? And singing is not a spiritual gift; it is just a talent/ability. So is not such a big deal if the church members cannot hear you. Try looking deep into your heart for true motivations. This is not enough for leaving the church. You look like you are being proud and childish

        • Rebecca on July 25, 2019 at 6:19 am

          That is a honest comment .

      • Michael Stafford on August 1, 2019 at 6:08 am

        Oh, man! I feel your pain. How tragic it is to be unappreciated by a church that you have so faithfully served. I’ve been there.

        Excuse me while I weep for you, my brother.

      • Noah on September 25, 2019 at 1:43 pm

        Sadly, all I hear is this is all about you. Perhaps your voice doesn’t fit with what they believe is ‘good’, or maybe God does not want you to sing in your church because although you are great, He knows it will eventually go to your head and be about you. Who knows ….
        But to not get “your” way and threaten to leave the church if they don’t comply is neither Godly nor humble in my opinion. You may want to ask some close friends where your downfalls and strengths lie. There are other ways to showcase your talent than in your own church.

        • Larry Smith on September 25, 2019 at 10:49 pm

          Everything worked out fine for my wife and I. We did attend this church for two years and this episode did help me decide to move on and look for another church. To tell you the truth this church is a lot like many churches that exist today, after you have been attending for a while you find out that they are not much more than a “social club” instead of a church. There were many, small cliques and a few larger cliques and the people in these cliques are the people that are asked to serve in their so called ministries… bowling ministry, golf ministry, classic car ministry and on and on. This church was simply not a good fit for my wife and I and we did leave.

          As for my singing you know nothing about me. I formerly had a music ministry for thirteen years and I traveled and sang as a guest singer at many churches in eight different states and sold copies of my CD’s at the end of the church service. I was always well received. I have nothing else to say to you and you very negative comment when you don’t know the full story nor anything about me. It is all about Jesus, not cliques.

    • Rene on July 27, 2019 at 6:47 am

      This article has the 9 marx mark written all over it. the fact that the article cites Tim Keller it’s a sign of who else sits at the table of the pharisee like church with the bashing theology of “non church goers”. It happens that in these last days the true church is seeking the pure gospel of the bible because church leadership is corrupting it, they forgot that Christ is the head of the church not them, they are to shepherd the flock with passion and honesty, but instead many abuse the sheep. we are brothers and sisters not members of buildings, we are to have communion in christ not organization memberships.

    • Darryl on August 18, 2019 at 7:44 am

      “This article is insane. It starts with the premise that the nonattender is somehow WRONG and should change”. I saw the article starting with the premise that Christians need one another. But, maybe there is a reason non-attenders need to change. Those of us who are older in the church, and I’m only speaking of the “Amercian church”, see people come and go at an alarming rate; here today, gone tomorrow, in search for greener pastors (pun intended).

      My personal and wholly unprofessional opinion I think people leave is their insatiable desire to be entertained or fed. Christians who leave a local congregation, barring outright hostilities, typically are not involved with the local congregation or/and are awaiting the pastor, “we pay him for this”, to feed them individually.

      We all have grown weary. Life is difficult. The church is filled with people who have been perfected “positionally” but not practically. You’re one of those people. When you’re around a bunch of smelly people, it’s hard to smell your own funk. But, you stink also.

      The reason we keep going to our local congregations is we need one another. I need you to be there. You need me to be there. There is comfort in that. It’s called unity of the body.

      • Scottie on October 2, 2019 at 2:23 pm

        The problem lies in the fact that people are no longer there for one another. YES! Absolutely, we need one another, and the unity of the body. But unfortunately, as another poster commented,… the church today is not what Christ and the Apostles first created. In fact, look at what God’s people in the Old Testament were called out for in addition to idolatry, and look at the mission Paul cast for the church,… and lay those details down beside the actions of the church today…. and needs are not being met, justice is not being upheld, and the sojourner, fatherless, and widows are not being fully taken care of.

    • Jakki C on September 5, 2019 at 3:41 pm


    • Theo on December 8, 2019 at 7:20 am

      God bless you, bro.

  29. Richard H on June 8, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Back in 2012 I made a change (for four and a half years) from pastoring full time to college teaching. It was really hard to just sit in the congregation like a “normal person.” DOING things was deeply engrained in me. There were people to greet and connect, there were dead spots in the worship. Sitting back and letting other people lead (or not lead, as the case may be) was the hard part for me.

    • John W on June 8, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      I am also a former pastor serving on church staffs for over 35 years. My experiences were mostly positive but I now struggle with involvement in a local church. I am a marketplace chaplain so most of my ministry is outside of the church. I have several friends who have great experience in the ministry who are now out of the ministry and each have had a very difficult time finding a church in which they feel at home. I think a great blog topic would be advice on the most effective way a ministry staff should minister to a former pastor, missionary or ministry staff person.

    • Jakki C on September 5, 2019 at 3:46 pm


  30. Brian on June 8, 2019 at 9:20 am

    #4 – any way to beat it if the issue is “you become more of a researcher than a worshipper”? I hope to attend a lot of different churches while on sabbatical, but the hard part for me is how to just worship…instead of looking for the “how’s” and “what’s”.

    • johnny on June 9, 2019 at 2:49 am

      If your research is time given to the lord in pursuit of him and you use your research to encourage others, then it is worship! Don’t drink the koolaid that makes singsong time seem like the only “true worship” – because it certainly is not.

  31. Lily on June 3, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    I am honestly so exhausted of the notion that if a person wants to leave a church or has done so, it is somehow their fault. Every point made here blames the person who has been wrongfully hurt by others within the church. Sometimes people get really hurt by others in leadership positions in the church and they realize those people are not likely to change… does that mean that the person who has been hurt needs to continue looking to that leadership and supporting them? Forgiveness does not mean just letting people do whatever they want and letting them walk all over you.
    I grew up in abusive home, and I realized the only way to stop the cycle of abuse was to discontinue contact with my family. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was necessary because Jesus loves me and he didn’t want others to hurt me. That’s it. I have forgiven them and I pray for them, but I’m not going to let anyone hurt me.
    If your church is not a healthy place to be, get out. Find one that is. And don’t let anyone blame YOU for other people’s problems.
    Btw, after 25 years of membership, I am considering leaving the church that I was youth leader for 10 years. I loved this position greatly and served the youth (and other leaders of that group) with everything I had. I got badly hurt by some other leaders in the church. I don’t trust them and feel I can no longer contribute to the church because I would have to deal with them. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. Will find somewhere else I can. It breaks my heart because there are many other great people in my church that I will be leaving behind, but it is important that I serve… and I can’t do that where I am.

    • @s.wakefield on June 8, 2019 at 9:20 am

      Hey Lily! Sounds like you’ve had a really rough experience at the church you’re at and I hate that you have had to endure that.

      I think the point of Carey’s post is not blaming the person who wants to leave A church, but more focusing on the issue of leaving or disengaging from THE Church. Most anybody who has been a believer for some time has felt God’s leading or like it was the appropriate time to leave A church, even most in full time ministry. The issue is when our hurt or offense or whatever is making us feel we should leave causes us to walk away from THE Church (all churches) because of the reason he shares in this post. We each have such an important role to play in the Body of Christ and I think this post is getting at that point and encouraging people to not give up and walk away!

      Your current hurt is real and it may be time to find another community to be a part of, but to echo this post, don’t give up on churches and leading/serving altogether! We (the Church) need you. 🙂

    • DesertSister on August 29, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      I am sorry we continue to wound others in the name of the Church. Please don’t look for what is wrong with you or believe you must explain yourself to get someone’s approval or an apology when you suffer rejection for unexplainable reasons. All the whys in the world don’t matter. What does matter is God may be calling you forward. It is impossible to go forward while you are looking backward for why. It is an occasion to ask “Where Lord? Where would you have me go?”
      We need to wait for the answer. As move on and we refuse to stop worshiping God in other places we will find we recognize when we are in the right place. We might miss the answer if we linger to continue to examine our wounds. There is a lot of pain created from trying harder to make our own solutions work as opposed to changing what we are doing.

      The world tells us we must personalize everything. Sometimes it really is about the flaws of the other people. Blaming others is pride. That does not mean any of us have to accept the blame. It may be a group of people or one who has lost their way or someone who is defending their experience. Either way blaming is always a component of pride and pride is deaf.

      We all need to notice when our service consistently results in feelings of confusion or discomfort. It is an expression of the safety of the situation. It is a signal for change.

      I have served in many churches, projects and ministries while walking this road. I have witnessed pastors/priests consumed with approval, advancement and money bowing to those who consider themselves the power group who bow to envy, desire for prestige, jealousy and suspicion of anyone new. Of course at the bottom of that is greed – if there is enough for the new person or project it may result in not enough for me thinking. This is often the first symptom of stunted growth and a dying congregation or ministry. It is of course a failure to trust God knows what he is doing and needs human advice and direction.

      I have met many pastors and priests but few shepherds. Shepherds are always about building, listening and caring for the flock. They may direct others but only with the same care. Some people might not get what they want but no one is abused or ignored. They are about celebrating successes and taking failures back to the drawing board. They recognize the human dignity of every person and refuse to be the tool of others bad intentions. They build a good staff.
      Yes! They are out there. Keep looking and ask God for directions. While you are doing that look for ways to improve your own desires and ask that God give you the ability to know that it is him alone you serve. Everyone comes after that.

      Why bother yourself with it? If God has called you to service you will serve. If you have examined your own intentions and corrected any faulty thinking or actions move on. You can not change what has already occurred. You can refuse to continue to participate. Move on to what God made you for: to love and be loved by him. He will not neglect to find a place for you to use the talents and abilities he has gifted you.

      The bottom line to all this misery is the temptation to give up your desire to serve and your love of worshiping God in his house. That is giving human beings more power than God. Ask instead that he restore your joy in his presence.

      I accidentally happened on to this site today. I am glad I did. Take care on your journey and know that God loves you.
      Pax et Bonum!

    • The_skull_inside on September 18, 2019 at 1:55 am

      The “lord” is not my shepherd for I am not a sheep

      • Bubba on October 16, 2019 at 12:06 pm

        Yes, you are

  32. DAVID V. on June 2, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    The church needs more Life, Light, Faith, and Spirit; not for the Sunday morning hour, but for every hour of every day. In the U.S., it’s the church culture that’s failing us. We’re trying to figure out the best ways to do church, but as individuals apparently we don’t know how to BE the church. From what I read and hear, the church is vitally strong and growing in many other parts of the world. Jesus never commanded us to GO to church, but He did say go into the world and take the gospel with you (i.e. live it, speak it, share it – BE the church, His witnesses). My opinion is that most church attenders, even those who claim to be born again, rarely share the gospel of grace. Perhaps they are too self-absorbed. Are they serving Christ or themselves? This morning we sang “Christ is enough for me.” REALLY?! How much time do we devote to activities that enable us to successfully implement the Great Commission? What are we/they doing with our/their lives when we’re not IN church? Jesus said He will spit out those who are lukewarm, so we need to be passionate, red-hot servants (ministers) to the world. That’s why He leaves us here in the world.

    • Bernie on June 9, 2019 at 1:52 am

      This comment is exactly the point Dallas Willard devoted most of his ministry to addressing. Jesus called us to live a whole new life 7/24, with a whole new mind, a whole new set of values and concerns, a life wholly surrendered to God and God’s project in this world, and North American churchianity has by and large failed to inculcate that.

  33. Lisa on June 1, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    All I have to say to (most) of the people who commented is this: Remember the part where Jesus commands that we love others as we love ourselves?

    Matthew 22:37-39: And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

    That means we’re supposed to LOVE OURSELVES, simultaneously, as we LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR. Too small to lift a 400-pound woman? Get someone else in the church — someone much stronger — to do it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you have to harm yourself (Or risk harm to yourself) to serve someone else.

    Can’t say “no”? Then you’re codependent. The church isn’t abusing you. You’re allowing yourself to be abused. Do some reading and dig in your past with a therapist. Take responsibility for your own boundaries and stop blaming the church.

    I’m not saying that all churches are “sick.” But some are dysfunctional to different degrees, and if you’re participating in one, then you have to set your boundaries and walk to another, healthier church, not throw The church out the window.

    • Cindy on June 2, 2019 at 1:23 am

      This comment is not helpful to the people on this thread nor does it provide any great insight to the issue being discussed other than revealing that you are part of the problem. These people are not weak and most of them left because they were doing just that, “setting boundaries”. I have been guilty early in my walk with Christ of thinking stuff like this too until it happened to my family.

      Ignorance is bliss. Isn’t that the saying?

      So, I offer you grace and an opportunity for forgiveness and right relationship in the community of Christ. As a pastor, that is what I am called to do even when people throw rocks and want to kill me. True healing and forgiveness requires reflection in the light of Scripture, repentance and in a situation like this a public form of taking responsibility for your actions and going to those whom you have murdered and asking for forgiveness. (Murder? Yes, that is Scriptural and contextual.)

      PS: I have had Christian therapists advise me to abandon the church because they have seen this sort of stuff before. Verbally kicking hurt people isn’t what Jesus would have done. So, I hope this heartfelt response was a statement of ignorance and not something more sinister. If so, as a sister in Christ, prune your heart.

      Mark 9:42-50

      Scripture is suppose to be lived out not just quoted. Quoting it is easy. Living it is hard. Try it. Repent and try again. WWJD

  34. Viking 48 on May 27, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Wow! What a sad legacy the church is leaving. And now we expect to bring in the unsaved so that maybe they can eventually be abused as well. It almost sounds psycho in nature. It is sad so many who faithfully serve are serially abused. It is sadder yet that they are still leaving the church in droves.

    I too, feel the same way. We have been in church (several) for almost 40 years and have tried to faithfully serve. We have run into silos, cliques, personal ownership of ministries, extortion, gossiping, adultery, assaults, rejection, expulsion from church, graft, corruption, narcissism, lies from the pulpit, using funds for personal comfort and gain, executive privilege, just to name some of the “Christian” things that occur in church.

    Our current church is filled with entitled millennials who have total disdain for the elderly traditionalists who feel they own the church they finance. The pastors are disrespected and abused, the church administrator is hated for trying to do a tough job which includes saying “No” at times, and everyone knows better than they do. Yet they have no problem with singing about Christian love for one another.

    I am done, and ready to quit serving altogether. It is not worth the beatings we take. My wife is ready to quit church permanently. I love to fellowship, but it rarely has had a positive return on investment. My health has been affected multiple times and I need to be there for a growing family.

    I am sure Paul’s address to Timothy in 2Timothy 3:1-5 was directed at the Christians in Ephesus where Timothy served. It certainly can be directed at many churches today. What a sad commentary. No wonder Jesus threatens to take away their lamp stand in Revelation 2 unless they repent.

    If we attend in the future it will be on a rotating basis without getting too acquainted or involved. A sad ending to a life of ministry.

    • Johnny on June 9, 2019 at 2:53 am

      “It is sadder yet that they are still leaving the church in droves.” if you leave the building but remain in Christ you are still the bride of christ- aka still the church.
      The saddest legacy is the corporation model that IMO we should all leave behind.

    • Sheila Beers on June 9, 2019 at 3:03 am

      To Viking 48: I empathize with you, and I really do not see what Cindy’s point is as she seems to take the “blame the victim” stance. Sometimes church leaders just feel burned out and are in need of rest and renewal. Sometimes a person has done all he can do in dealing with so-called believers who never seem to learn or practice anything the Bible teaches, and one should realize that disobedient Christians have made their own bad choices. Even the Lord Himself found it necessary to shake the dust from His feel and go elsewhere. Somewhere there are people in a community or church who are seeking God’s truth in their lives, and a person should pray that God will lead him to such people to whom he can minister and be a witness.

  35. Tj on May 6, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    I quit attending church after 30 years of dedicated service of teaching, leading, cleaning, catering to sick families, catering to families who used giving birth to a baby as an excuse to not cook for their families, even when their husbands took off work and stayed home with them when all the father did was play video games, I drive around in 2 feet of snow delivering flowers and cards that I paid for to families who lost a loved one, even when these families haven’t been seen in church for over 10 years. There is so much more, but some of the last straws were when I fell ill and my weight fell to 102 lbs, I was asked to go to a nursing home and pick up a 400 pound women and bring her to church. The church did not provide a handicapped van. They made me use my car. I couldn’t lift the huge woman into my car so I called my husband to come assist. The nursing home refused to assist. So me and my husband picked up this large woman and put her in my car and trotted off to church with her where we placed her in a wheel chair to move her around the church. And the other last straw was when my church boss lady (president of the relief society) went on vacation and put me on call 24/7 until she got back. I had informed her that when she got back, I would be leaving on my vacation overseas. So I’d take care of everything, but on her first Sunday back would be my first Sunday gone. While she was gone she forgot that I was going on vacation after she got back so she paged me while I was out of range for several days because she needed me to assist a family who’s little son had gotten his finger cut off and was hospitalized. When she didn’t hear from me she sent me a facebook message that stated, “I guess you need a vacation from your vacation!” I managed to get the message because during one day I boated over to the clubhouse where I could log on to the Internet to post some pictures of my wonderful first vacation to the Caribbean Sea. I wrote to her and told her I am still on vacation! She said that, Oh I thought you were gone last week. Du, she was gone last week! One Sunday I woke up and decided that I was never going back. I stayed in bed all day sweating, I had anxiety, I couldn’t eat. I knew this was the worst thing I’d ever done in my life. Here I am 4 years later and I have moved from that town, although they are still stalking me via facebook and Internet and traced my address, I am ignoring them, and I am the happiest I’ve been in my life. I am not well still from my illness that struck me, but I sleep in every weekend, I care for myself, I cater to myself, I am determined to get well. But no church will ever take away my ability to care for them over myself again, when all they wanted was a free ride from someone who loved serving so much that I served sick until I was so sick that I nearly took my life.

    • Sharon on May 30, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      I feel you 1000% and then some. I went through the same (expletive) and the only option I had left was to snip the cord and keep it moving. It was worse than any other “relationship” I’ve ever known. False hope just ain’t cuttin’ it in the streets today.

    • The_skull_inside on September 18, 2019 at 2:01 am

      The church is a business and should be operated as one. The day it stops operating as a business, it will go out of business.

      • Scottie on October 2, 2019 at 2:54 pm

        It was never designed to be a business to start.

      • Edward on October 2, 2019 at 4:44 pm

        The church is not just an organization it is also a living spiritual organism. Therefore, applying a single-focus business attitude towards it leaves no room for the Lord to operate. He operates in a spiritual realm in manners that we are only able to scratch the surface of. We are to be stewards of what He has blessed us with while understanding that we are not operating a bank or a fire department. We are to be wise, but that does not necessarily mean efficiency rules over faith.

        We do not operate in a dictatorship, bureaucracy, or democracy. We operate a church in a theocracy. Failing to understand how that theocracy works and praying about having the mind of Christ in all issues pertaining to the church will run us out of business faster than going broke. True Christians are totally fed up with bankers’ attitudes when it comes to budgeting and spending. That is a main reason they are leaving in droves…they can listen to man’s idiocy all week long at work; they refuse to do so on Sundays. They also refuse to donate if they see no real return. You may have a solid bank account for an empty church – both spiritually and congressionally.

    • Kristi Helvig on February 24, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      I was too curious and wanted to try Robinson buckler then i contacted him through his email, he assured me 100% that he will heal me, i pleaded with him to help me out. My experience with him was great, he healed me just as he promised. he sent me his medication and ask me to go for a medical check up after two weeks of usage. i agreed with him i took this medication and went for a check up, to my greatest surprise my result was negative, i am really happy that i am cured and healthy again. I have waited for 3weeks to be very sure i was completely healed before writing this testimony. I did another blood test one week ago and it was still Herpes negative. so i guess its time i recommend anyone going through the same way. reach him through his email address: Robinsonbuckler @{{yahoo}}. com

    • Melissa on August 30, 2020 at 12:05 am

      Your reference to the RS President lets me know what church you were participating in. I hope you do know that this church is way different from others. While it’s not hard to find churches that will use you up until you’re sick yourself and no one will ever notice, your church (used to be mine too) is focused on “works” (rather than grace) in a pretty significant way. So the guilt thing is a much bigger deal. I hope you have been able to truly forgive yourself for having limits in what you can do, and know that your relationship with God is not dependent on how much service you do. Your “worthiness” to be spiritually healed and renewed and be in eternal communion with God doesn’t need to be earned by your works. I hope that whatever your path is, that you’ve found the support to heal. It sounds like you are happier and I celebrate that with you.

  36. Jarrod on April 19, 2019 at 6:01 am

    I almost 8 years in various types of ministry. I left because I just got plain burned out. My experience with trying to attend hasn’t been good. When it’s found out I have a ministry background I would get 2 reactions from most churches. One, certain staff would get very stand offish like I was there to take their job- which couldn’t have been further from the truth. Second, they would see free experienced labor and not take any time to get to know me- I’ll admit the places we tried I had no intention of getting involved. I was mostly going out of respect to my wife. Today, when I try going, I do not mention my ministry background or really anything about me for that matter. I meet up with a few guys I know well and trust for accountability and fellowship and really prefer it that way. I don’t see myself ever getting involved in another church beyond just attending.

    • Bryan on May 7, 2019 at 11:29 pm

      I’ve had a similar experience. Attempted to enter into vocational ministry. Earned M.Div. Volunteered in a variety of different leadership capacities. I even was an associate pastor for a year trying to help revitalize a youth ministry that I later found out the senior pastor had previously tanked on purpose five years before I was called. That was a weird experience. I’ve tried to pastor since then and have just found that church leaders are either too busy trying to keep the wheels from falling off the bus, don’t appear to like my personality for whatever reason, see me as a great free resource but not worthy of the real pastoral work, or they are just too checked out to appear to care at all. It all rubbed me the wrong way for a while, but now I’m O.K. with the whole thing. I just show up anyways. I try to be loving and simple to whoever God puts in front of me without freaking out any of the ‘real’ pastors that might think I’m trying to steal their jobs away from them. How funny is that right. If they were real pastors, they’d know that title is given by Jesus and it can’t be taken away by a goof like me. Oh, bless 🙂 Thanks for what you wrote. Thanks for being honest. Hang in there dude. God’s not done with us. Eph. 2:8-12

  37. Grace on April 12, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    This is a very interesting article and the comments as well. I was raised in a Pentecostal church from birth, to parents who were extremely overly involved, that also had the family name that was looked up to at the church and by the pastor. The same was expected of me. I grew up learning how to serve, work in church. NO RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, just serving. NO room for error, no room for slipping up and sinning (not that I wanted to), because if you did the judgement and public humiliation was so bad, you’d rather just keep what you’re going through to yourself. I’ve always up until last year served in at least 5 ministries at one time. I was the go to girl, the multi-gifted/talented girl. With this type of upbringing I was never taught balance. I was not taught to say no, but to always say YES, because this is what the Lord wants from his children. To say no is being disobedient to God, and to your leaders.

    I left that church when I was 33 and joined a sister church where I get in way over my head. Because of my known skills, I was pushed to the max. Executive Board, Choir Leader, Media Ministry, Marketing, Women’s Ministry Leader, Nursery Leader, etc. But that’s when I saw #3, saw how it is made, lost my appetite. I’ve seen misappropriation of funds, wicked pastors wives, pastors who have no control over their wives, and due to that pastors who don’t have control over their members. It began to wear on me, break me down. When I would ask to step down, the pastor would beg me to stay. When I would try to take a leave from music ministry, the first lady and minister of music got together to gang up on me to tell me how this was my gift from God and I owed God to do it. I’ve been guilt-ed into serving while sick (because that shows my dedication to God that I will serve him no matter how I feel), I’ve served while working 2 jobs, no sleep and still showing up (because God also will honor my dedication because he knows I’m tired, but the work of the ministry must go on). And in even leaving the first church, I was pulled into a meeting by a big leader saying “:we don’t want to lose people like you because you’re gifted”…… Ummmmmm what about the one’s who aren’t!!!!!! That references #1, I’ve always been identified by what I do, but not by who I am. Actually, most don’t even know me personally that I’ve served with/for. Long story short, I left that church last year, 3 years after I got there.

    I started visiting a church where no one knew me. I just want to sit and be ministered to, because 38 years of my life was spent serving only and never being ministered to. I don’t have the capacity to serve. I don’t want to be chosen because I have a gift. I want to be chosen because the Lord moved upon my heart, and not because the leader asked me to and I feel obligated to. I’ve been visiting off and on for the past year and fear joining. I don’t want to be burned, or see anything that scars me. I’ve been praying for God’s direction, and I haven’t been led to join yet.

    • Lilia Roman on April 17, 2019 at 10:32 am

      My Dear Sister avoid all conflict in someone’ else’s Ministry,
      Get ready you have seen all you could learned from, good, bad,
      So get into a rigorous fast and ask Our Lord God Our Father
      In Heaven in the name of Our Lord Jesus to confirmed to you
      To open a Church even in a small place let God do the Work
      Through his Holy Spirit.
      I think you are ready to do good to people in need of the precious word of God.
      Love you and God blessed you in Jeshua’s, Jesus name.

    • Steph on April 27, 2019 at 11:49 pm

      Amen. I get this.

    • Victor P on May 11, 2019 at 1:20 pm

      What a story you have sister.
      I hope that you find a place where you can call family. The church is a family, where we all share the responsibility to serve, love and help each other. I see the one thing is mostly missing is love. We are so preoccupied in building bigger churches, that we forget the people matter more than buildings.

      God Bless.

    • Annette on May 14, 2019 at 11:56 am

      I really understand where you are coming from. I am in your same position now as well. Keep praying and God will guide and lead you in His direction for your life. I am praying for the same for me as well.

      God bless.

  38. Butch on March 27, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    My family began attending a church about two years ago. This is a small church with many “original” members. We really liked the church, but started to notice that there was room for change or allowing to update to get younger member to come and join. We have a “first lady” who is not only in charge of responsibilities in the church but she also felt the need to give directions out side of church. She basically has a group of women who the rest of the church call them her “Groupies”. I will admit that I was a “groupie for awhile, but then I began noticing how rude and entitled they all were. If someone did not like or could not commit to what she had planned she would make you life miserable. As James said, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2), but a pattern of meanness needs to be confronted, per the instructions in Matthew 18:15–17. I have not been back at church since the drama has started. Its had to enjoy the word of God when I feel like I am sitting in a a middle school cafeteria.

  39. Erik on February 15, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    There are a few items that struck hard on me. I was part of establishing a church some time ago with two other men. I knew at that time that we were all called to serve and not to just sit and take up space. 3 years later, the pastor left as he started he was called to another pulpit. That didn’t work out and I was part of 3 men to rotate the duty of leaving. The others eventually just let me do the preaching as they were often unavailable. A year after pastor 1 left, God showed me that it was time to call a pastor. Myself and 5 other men outside the church had submitted and one of the others was hired. I maintained my role as supporting the pastor as I had with #1. 6 months later he just left. The membership was small but got smaller. To avoid the confusion and appearance of instability, I volunteered to take care of the preaching and teaching. All agreed.

    A year later, we called for another pastor from 125 applicants. I chose not to be considered and just stay long enough to select the pastor through a committee. Once pastor 3 was called and established I met with him and told him my intentions to leave as I did not want to be a stumbling block. The are several in the body that felt that I should have been selected for #2 and that caused some ruffled feathers.

    Well, #3 encouraged me to stay and he and I taught for 5 years and I became ordained under him. The church eventually closed due to lack of funds and the leading of God. We took our knowledge to other churches and everyone became good humble servants.

    4 years later, under a second pastor in the church I attended, the pastor basically shuts me down when I come to discuss anything related to teaching or being recognized as a pastor under him. There’s a lack of calling out hypocrisy and sin, all feel good messages, and we don’t want to hurry anyone’s feelings. This has caused a lot of cynicism in me and a desire to seek out opportunities to target certain crowds with strong messages from the bible to wake people up.

    Obviously this is not the right way to go and now I’m left trying to understand what I am to do next. Me without purpose is not a good scenario. I need prayer.

  40. Grace ambassador (bro Chris) on February 12, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Grace And Peace. And of course, there is “Reason # 10:” Found out about 2 Timothy 2:15,
    Romans 16:25, And Ephesians 3:9, And thus “decided” to STOP “mixing/Confusing” Law with GRACE, thus removing themselves from the “Curse” of Galatians 1:6-9! Amen?

    Why Romans – Philemon? God’s GRACE / Love Letters For us Today For: Consolation, Comfort, Edification, Enjoyment, Encouragement, And spiritual Building Up Of ALL the saints (members “one of another!”) In The Body Of CHRIST!, HIS Church, Seated In HEAVEN! Amen?

    Please Be Very RICHLY Blessed In The LORD JESUS CHRIST, And HIS Word!!

  41. Cindy on January 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I think you have some very good reasons listed here and you have seen a large representative of the wounds that the church (institutional church) leaves and in very large part creates over and over again without reflection or repentance. The one thing I don’t see being addressed in this is accountability. The current systems typically are structured on power of (the temple). I think it is pretty clear that Jesus spent a large portion of his ministry calling the Temple and the leaders within to task. His ministry confronted the sins of the Temple (organizational church). I continue to serve my church but there was a time when it was more joyful. That was a time when I loved God and had not been wounded by the Temple or this physical manifestation we call church today. Now I serve God not the Temple.

    What I mean by that is that my wounds enabled me to see the people of the church differently. I see people as people and that includes the pastors and the administration. All of us need to be held accountable to someone and there are people who build or use structures to insulate themselves from being held accountable to the detriment of others. Our denominational structures are established to establish foundations upon which to build. This leads to accepting some and reject others and we need to get real about that reality and not be Polly Anna’s about it. It is a broken system from the start because of the foundation.

    The physical, mental and spiritual anguish of these people are very real. I myself had to suffer though symptoms that reflected PTSD in light of the wounds I received at the hands of pastors and leaders. No one was “the church” for me in my hour of need because the systems aren’t built to care for the wounded or needy within. They are designed to create others who will care for the wounded and needy outside the doors. For some, it is only beneficial to the systems or powers that be if it satisfies the marketing goals of “expanding the kingdom” but “whose kingdom”? As long as we have to have power and financial constructs to make that system work. It will always be corrupt because we not matter how loved or saved by Christ will alway be ‘corrupted through the flesh’. Money will always be needed and it will always be a temptation to shape ministry around it. Who will hold the leaders to account? I don’t think we will see that on this side of eternity in this kingdom.

    The “Body of Christ” is not a denomination or a building. It will always be the “holy catholic church” universal. We will always need other people in our lives. We will always need Apostles, Teachers, Shepherds, Prophets and Evangelists but to define it in such narrow ways (like denominations and party lines) like we do today is not only dangerous. It is essentially trying to put new wine in old wine skins. It is a waste of time and energy. When the wine skins burst the wine is wasted and the skins ruined. That is what is happening today. Many here reflect that the old wine skins no longer fit the needs of the “church universal” and that there is a general lack of understanding that Jesus’ prayer was unity as a spiritual body not unity in several fleshy man made bodies. People I find are usually unable to defend their faith beyond their own preprogrammed denominational responses which tells me that it most likely is a faith mimicked not manifested.

    All that being said, and despite my own wounds. I have learned that I have to be willing to be like Paul who was willing to lay his life down over and over, facing dangers of all kinds knowing that it would likely kill him in the end. He knew that death wasn’t the greatest thing to fear. The greatest thing to fear was the loss of the hope he had found. That is what living for! Not the “institutional church’ (Who, by the way didn’t really like or truly support Paul, they tolerated him and the blessings he brought to the table). Our offering of gifts and sacrifices are to our “God” first and that means no matter the circumstances up to and including laying down our own life’s blood, our dreams, our earthly endeavors….If we truly love Jesus, it most likely will cost us everything! Those of us who have done so and understand this will live to fight another day, and another battle with the “Temples” of this world. Those who don’t have the stomach for it will sit on the sidelines and wait for the “Temple” to take care of us when we should be looking to where Jesus is leading us in the first place.

    A hard lesson to learn. A hard message for everyone who claims to follow Jesus but if you are feeling beaten up by the church or are angry or outcast or rejected. Remember you are probably closer to being a true disciple having traveled that path because of it. Jesus can turn those ashes into beauty. Look for Jesus to heal you on that path and remember you are not walking in unfamiliar territory alone. This was the path of all those who followed Jesus in the first few hundred years. You are among the chosen few if you will just keep moving forward sooner or later you will realize that you were never alone, never discarded, never so destroyed that Jesus’ ministry cannot bring healing or restore what was lost. Believing that takes spiritual courage, strength to look beyond what currently exists, seeing what can and will be coming when all things have been refined and purified in the light of something better to come. When we see that light, we will see our wounds and those who wounded us in a different way and will be able to lay claim to a new joy and new refined hope, eat hidden manna, and drink of wine better than we ever new possible.

    Although I didn’t hurt you personally, if you need to hear it from someone, someone who knows something of your pain and the silent unheard screams that have gone unanswered. Know that I am sorry the “institutional church” hurt you and that God heard your cries. Judgment is yet to come and healing is on the way. Please believe that….I do.

    Believer and Servant to Christ first, Pastor within the United Methodist Church second

    • Dee on January 26, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Cindy- Thank you! Beautifully stated.

    • Paul Newman on February 7, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      So encouraging.

    • Jeffery Jones on February 11, 2019 at 6:20 am

      I’m really blown away at this article because I seriously thought my experience with this just something with me. I was an active member of Metropolitan Community Church. I had never explored Christianity for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was being told that I’m going to burn in hell for being gay. So I found this inclusive and affirming church and I thought I had found a place I could explore Christianity. I never felt comfortable just sitting in the pews, so I started volunteering right away on the MultiMedia Team. This particular church broadcast their services at first on local public TV, then on YouTube and later streaming on their own website. For 17 years, I volunteered an average of 3 out of 4 Sundays per month, two services per Sunday, mixing house sound, broadcast sound, and running the cameras and video switcher. I am not too humble to say I get really, really good at what I did. The technical aspect of the services I worked were absolutely flawless. Whenever there was a concert or special event, or holiday events, I was always asked to be in charge of tech. I really loved what I did. Tech is one of those functions that if you’re good, people forget you’re there. The ushers were always praised and thanked. The musicians, music director and choir, were always given special accolades. The tech team was always religated to “and everyone else who contribute to make our ministry happen. So the way you knew you were good at your job is when you were completely ignored sitting in the tech booth at the back of the sanctuary. Make a mistake though, and 300 heads turn around like Linda Blaire from The Exorcist to give you a dirty look. I guess I learned to live with that. 4 years before I left, the church had moved to a much larger property and I was hired to be the onsite Facilities Manager. I was in charge of a 22,000 square foot, 100-year old church building and had to manage a $900K renovation project that started right as I was hired. I took great care of that property. I actually fell in love with the building. Long story short, when the Senior Pastor who hired me left, the Clergy, Board of Directors and church members who didn’t like him basically treated me like a doormat. I would try to organize church cleanup days and nobody would show up. Then a BOD member would do it and 30 people would show up. There were holes in the roof, and for 4 years, I begged and begged them to get the roof fixed, and every single time it rained, I had to get up on the roof and tie down tarps to keep it from leaking. As soon as I left, they started a fix-the-roof donation fund because I wasn’t around to risk breaking my neck to cover the holes. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. After that experience, it was like seeing the Great Oz was nothing more than a man behind the curtain. Since then, I just feel like it’s all a bunch of B.S. and they’re a bunch of hypocrites putting on a show, elbowing anybody standing in their way on the way to the spotlight. Honestly, I think one or two weeks after I stopped going, they completely forgot I was there or who I was. I tried to force myself to try other churches, but it all feels so unauthentic now.

      • Cindy on February 11, 2019 at 1:43 pm


        I am not sure you intended to reply directly to my post but I will accept the invitation to do so. What I hear in your note is that you felt important in how you were serving the church and that you feel like you did a great job. I suspect that you were very much in the right on this point. I also hear you saying that you didn’t feel like you had a voice or were heard by the leadership of your church and in the end you didn’t feel that you were appreciated. Welcome to the club! I am sure that most of the people who worked alongside you felt very much the same way. Even the pastor!

        Churches try to get people plugged in to places of service right away to help them invest in the church and make relationships for a variety of reasons. First, we want them to create relationships. Second, we want them to realize that they can make valuable contributions to the mission of the church in big ways no matter who they are or where they serve. It sounds like your church was very effective in making this happen for you in serving but that you didn’t really develop any healthy relationships which drew you closer to Christ and the larger body.

        It also sounds as if the principle under of servant-leadership was never fully understood. I would challenge you to seek a real spiritual growth aspect in your discipleship in Christ.

        We are “called” to serve to benefit the body of Christ not to benefit ourselves. I am curious about what you mean in saying it was “unauthentic”. It is unclear what you mean by this. Are you expecting people to not be people? Are you expecting Christians to be Christians as a leader in the church would you say that your leadership was “authentic”?

        We need to be honest with our own stuff first if we are ever going to be able to expect other to be honest with theirs. Were you serving to glorify Christ or were you serving to glorify yourself? I think your note is pretty clear on that matter.

        Mature Christians are focused on glorifing Christ even if that means we are not. That is what it means to “die to self”. In either case, it was probably a good choice for you to leave your role. Instead of expecting the church to fill that emptiness you are feeling look for a deeper relationship with Christ, it sounds as if you are looking in the wrong place for that fulfillment and recognition. People will never fill that emptiness. You need to go deeper in understanding yourself and why you needed it in the first place. This experience should be a mirror, what did you learn about yourself? Does that teach you something about people in general? What do you see that you need to repent for? How can you love them better in realizing that they have weaknesses like yourself and make errors just as you do as well? Jesus’ gospel was a gospel of repentance and forgiveness…not judgement and condemnation. “Following” Christ is taking up a cross and being willing to suffer and die so that others might live in seeing what they have done and grow closer in relationship with God When we run away and hide, we have just fallen into the trap of serving self not others not Christ. We also fail to grow in our relationship with God. If the way of the cross was easy, everyone would do it. Growing is hard and painful work.

      • CeeCee on February 11, 2019 at 5:50 pm

        Jeffrey –
        I totally hear what you are saying. I was in that position for 4 years – I could go on, but I am healing and there is only two people that I can to dig up that past with, besides God, one is the therapist and the other knows who she is. You are not wrong – I am beginning to see that many pastors have narcissistic personalities and often use gaslighting to control. If you are looking to heal, I suggest the work of Lysa TerKuist – It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way, and youtube Diane Langberg, then find yourself a good therapist who deals with spiritual abuse. You are not crazy!!

        Cindy – Wow….just…Wow!

    • Tracey on April 2, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Thank you so very much.

    • Annette on May 14, 2019 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you so much for those encouraging words. I truly enjoyed your comments.

      God bless you.

    • Melissa on August 30, 2020 at 12:15 am

      That’s beautiful, Cindy!

  42. Aileen Cowper on January 17, 2019 at 9:16 am

    #10… Because I was badly hurt in my last church, where I served faithfully, and I have tried to go to others, but I am burned out and fearful of getting hurt again. It is much safer to worship at home, and serve my community in His name.

    • Aileen Cowper on January 17, 2019 at 10:02 am

      ..and before someone says Christianity isn’t supposed to be safe…I am recovering from heart failure, and all my travelling to find another church had to stop. I feel very close to God, and I am more aware of what the needs are in my own community. Something I never paid attention to, in the confinement of a church building.

  43. Becky Delvo on January 15, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    I am female and was let go from my Administrative Assistant position six years ago after 14 (12 under the first Pastor) years on staff, having been a part of my church since it’s inception. A year later, the pastor who let me go was let go. The church struggled for quite a while and is now in a place of rebuilding. The reasons you’ve listed for not going back to the church after leading in one are some of the most painfully true reasons I’ve come across. Many of them are hard to admit, but they are true. I attend and serve in the same church I was on staff in, but trust, me it has not been easy. I believe my involvement says more about the faithfulness of the God I serve, than it does about whether or not I am there. I have to choose every day to forgive those who never came to my aide, who never said they were sorry about what happened to me; who never responded the way I thought children of God should respond when someone who had faithfully served them was treated. But, I realize each and every day, that none of it is about what I think I deserve. Sometimes I think I’m having an out-of-body experience when I find that I’m still attending and serving in the church where I was so painfully hurt. I’ve struggled with finding employment that has given me as much personal fulfillment, and now that I’m getting on in years, it is especially hard to reconcile God’s purpose in all of it. What I battle most is the spirit of resignation related to my employment now that tells me “this is the way it is and will never get any better”. I continually have to line myself up to the scripture and choose to believe what He says about me.

    • Cyndi on January 21, 2019 at 4:24 pm

      I was the Office Manager for 9 years and was forced to resign about 5 years ago. After untruths were told about me and rumors spread. I am still attending this church. While working I was not allowed to serve on committees, but could serve on a few other things like VBS, solos, etc. But now I am not asked to sing. I have been mentioned to serve on some committees, but then passed over. I have been a member of this church for more than 30 years. I try to get involved, but I am turned down or simply not asked to help. I am considering leaving this church. But I keep hoping that things will get better.

  44. Jean Mikhael on January 13, 2019 at 2:51 am

    – they use same vocal music
    – people are shit! Boring and fuckers
    – pastor is a big fucker
    – same faces of people
    – no excitement and speed
    – it’s boring as hell AND depressing
    – u just sit and stand then stand and sit
    – u feel sleepy and tired
    – u just doubt too much and can’t have freedom
    And biggest reason
    – it belongs to satan himself!
    – u can’t take money

    • Jean Mikhael on January 13, 2019 at 2:55 am


      • Tammy Wallace on January 23, 2019 at 10:46 am

        Exactly! Church isn’t at all the place they portray it to be. I believe the church is here to fear ppl and the fact that everything is a sin In the eyes of the church and the truth of the matter is there just is period no right no wrong we all were put here on earth for a reason and a purpose we all have a path and not one thing happens for no reason! But the church puts fear into ppl rather than spread the word of love which God wants! There’s stipulations to everything they reach u in church, God loves each one of his children and takes them all home but according to what they try and teach u is just the opposite the Bible was man written and worded how he wanted it to be! It is also interpreted in many different ways by all different ppl rather than try interpreting what man has put in words why not listen and talk to God for themselves! As far as everyone saying about the community they live in and knowing the needs that’s a part of day to day life for most people the ones that want to give and help are going to! I believe myself that the church is the most hypocritical place on earth! I also believe that they are full of crapt with their nonsense and what they try and make ppl believe about God! He loves everyone in one sentence but the next just the opposite so which is it does he love everyone no matter what or does he not? Good day folks and God Bless and hopefully one day the whole world can awaken and see for themselves but until then you have a bunch of ppl sitting around listening to what someone other than God tells them to believe and what to do and how to live, and how they tell them is the way! I have a very close relationship with God and until the day the church was outta my head I never could understand anything they ever tried to teach as nothing made a bit of sense at all but now I get it finally and not from a book a man wrote but God!

    • Aileen Cowper on January 17, 2019 at 9:26 am

      Jean Mikhail..Try Truth For Life.with Alistair Begg. He’s on radio, and has his own channel on Roku. He is from Scotland, and has an accept that is soothing to the ear. He starts out with a Bible reading and then a prayer. After that, he speaks to his congregation. His sermons are Biblically sound, but far from boring. Infact the truth of the Bible is presented in such away, you won’t want him to stop. It is so easy to listen and follow along with your Bible, and everything can be applied to your life. Give him a try. You might change your mind about all tv preachers being boring. God bless you.

    • ERIK on February 16, 2019 at 10:46 am

      Just guessing…. is it a Catholic or Lutheran church that you are going to?

      If it is either one I totally understand. Each of them has a distorted teaching rooted in the catechisms which is a product of man, not God.

      My advice is to read the bible and try different Christian churches. But also realize that no church is perfect. The are some that are better than others, but you need to feel welcomed at the church. Notice I said that YOU need to feel welcomed, not hear from the church that you are welcomed. There is a difference. God does us that love is something that is known by the actions of the ones that are giving love. Love isn’t just a verbal phrase, it’s an action.

      I hope this helps.

  45. Erica on January 10, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Wow. This article is truth. I am in a struggle right now. I absolutely adored my church until I started serving, attending meetings, and fellowshipping outside of Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Now I’m like hmmmm. Is this what I really want. I even missed two Sundays if serving in hopes of them sitting me down so I can just merely attend or kick me out so I can freely attend elsewhere…..pray for me please.

  46. Elle on January 7, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Interesting article. Thank you for taking the time to put it in writing for us! But where would “just tired of being used and abused” fall? There are so awful, mean, manipulative and conniving leaders out there who are extremely self-centered and narcissistic. This group of leaders drains the last bit of energy out of hard working Christians. May God help the Christian who can’t muster up the energy (or desire) to serve in another ministry! The transition is a lot! God bless you and thanks again!

    • Jana on January 7, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      This is sooooo on point. I wish leaders would acknowledge this in sincere truth. Many of us are just tired….physically, mentally and don’t have anything to give. My love for God is sincere. Life is too short to “play” church. I want someplace where God is the center of everything….not entertainment….not man made rituals.

  47. Trish Renka on January 6, 2019 at 4:26 am

    I’m finding it hard to attend my church because I was on the worship team there for years and then I was suddenly dropped which has left me wondering why. Now when I go to church it’s hard when I hear the worship team that I used to be a part of and I still want to be a part of. I’m struggling with leaving that church and finding another church to go to, but right now I haven’t because my youngest son is doing his internship there and is serving there.

  48. Jennifer Potmesil on January 2, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Amen. Very well said. Thank you Gary.

    • Trish Renka on January 6, 2019 at 4:23 am

      I’m finding it hard to attend my church because I was on the worship team there for years and then I was suddenly dropped which has left me wondering why. Now when I go to church it’s hard when I hear the worship team that I used to be a part of and I still want to be a part of. I’m struggling with leaving that church and finding another church to go to, but right now I haven’t because my youngest son is doing his internship there and is serving there.

  49. Ann Kramer on December 25, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Thank you Carey! I really appreciate this article. A year ago we moved from the mid-western US to the Southern US. Culture shock, new school, new house, new neighbors, etc. – these have all been a big adjustment. But by and far the greatest challenge has been finding and attempting to acclimate to a new church. I was deeply invested in our last church and naively assumed that my connection to God’s church would simply transfer from one state to another (although I don’t know why I believed this to be true). It has not. And I have been devastated by this reality. As I read your article, what resonates within me is the issue of identity. Your #1 reason – identity – is probably my greatest struggle. In retrospect, my joy, peace, & motivation came from what I was doing not who I am in Christ. Ouch! What a painful realization. But iron sharpens iron so I thank you.

  50. Webbie on December 11, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    First of all Salvation is true & one should as it says, “Study to show oneself approved”. And note, I would pick up the King James Version and no other, not even the New KJV. Also it’s a sad thing to have to say, but Church organizations in this generation are worthless in saving ones soul, because they change the commandments of God almighty to get to your money. Their Pastors or leaders want to be dictators instead of teachers. When they get up to teach their desire is to impress you with their degrees or with a degree they want you to think they have. Now there is why no one wants to support one of them.
    There are a few good pastors left, but the organizations behind them are crocked as a snake, well that is a serpent and we know who that was in the bible. We were told these people would show their face in the end so as it is written study to show you’re self-approved. It says if the blind lead the blind they both will fall in the ditch, so again, study to show you’re self-approved and the weeds will be burnt in the end.
    Also the spirit of God only gives one an understanding of the scriptures not some university. If one was illiterate and a true believer told them what the scriptures says the spirit of God would draw a true picture of what the scriptures are truly saying. That person though they couldn’t read could preach the truth.

  51. Gary Grohs on December 10, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Church in the USA is a business run in the mirror image of corporate America. The church’s identity is tied to buildings and programs, numbers in attendance and material successes. Having been on the inside, this lie is embraced by many if not most. Pastors cling to the age-old human frailty of having to feel significant and successful. We all struggle with God accepting us simply for love because we accepted Christ and not because of what we do. I have attended services in third world countries where churches earnestly struggle to display the Truth that American churches take for granted. Old people, in China, will stand by windows on the outside of the building leaning in to hear any Word from God; listening for a whisper of any hope that there is something more worthwhile than this existence. Eventually more home churches will pave the Way as the Church will survive and thrive despite man’s efforts to make it a corporation. There should be no payment for services rendered and no one should have to depend upon a sick and misled church to support them and their family. Churches need to be smaller, more local, in homes or other meeting places and tithes should go to minister to all less fortunate in knowledge and wealth.

    • Jennifer Potmesil on January 2, 2019 at 5:22 pm

      Amen. Very well said. Thank you Gary.

  52. Bill wilder on December 2, 2018 at 7:17 am

    When churches get Too bureauratic and start putting restrictions on talented and gifted believers. Thats when it gets messy. When the Church just takes takes takes and not give. Why do We have certain rich churches help out other poor struggling Churches from other denominations. After all its God universal church. Thats messy. When leaders get big egoes or get abusive messy! Where is God in all this. He s not allow in and the holy spirit leaves until forgiveness, and true love returns to the believers in the Church.

  53. Jean on November 29, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Well, 255 comments and a few years after you wrote your original article, this is all too real and it is tragic in my own life. The difficult thing is the humility, the ability to be OK with change and allowing others to use their gifts. I recently became a mom and all of my energy has morphed into motherhood now. I once was pastoring, guiding bible studies, was the youth group coordinator, and my college’s religious activities coordinator. I ran everything, lol! And I loved every part of it!! I breathed leadership. When I offer help at the new church we started going to, it’s just hard! The roles are filled and there seems to be no place for me. It’s frustrating and I d really rather just stay in bed. I get discouraged when I offer my gifts and am told they already have a person for that :/

    God is using me in other capacities at home as mom, but I just refuse to believe it. I always identified myself in the leadership role.

    Well, now I’m trying to let Christ define me. But the struggle is real and it is hard to get myself out the door on Sunday morning. A friend told me recently that my thinking was flawed. This is because I would push us to be late, then make the excuse that There was no point if we’d be that late. My friend said, but but you only lose 100% of the chances you don’t take. That includes church. As much as I am resisting going, & I am often depressed about how my role doesn’t seem to matter. But the good news is, is that church isn’t about me. It’s about God. And he’ll be waiting there for when we wanted to come back and be in relationship again. I’ve got a lot of issues though. He’ll take those issues away for me even if I’m not asked to help with anything in the service or otherwise!!

    Just a bit of my story. I’m feeling it today.

    • ClaraJean on May 6, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      I am experiencing just about the same situation and don’t understand why my new church won’t take advantage of my gifts, training and past experiences. When someone is called to the ministry, that calling doesn’t disappear just because you’ve retired. I don’t want to take over anyone else’s job. I don’t even need to be paid. I just want to serve where I am needed. Even though I’m happy to do it and do volunteer for here-and-there needs, baking cookies for funerals just doesn’t cut it. I still hear the “yammering” to serve using the gifts I have been given. Do I become more assertive or more patient? Since I don’t know what else to do, I simply keep praying something happens to lead me in the right direction.

    • Dan Smith on June 9, 2019 at 1:35 am

      Jean you are doing the most important ministry that you could ever do and that is being a mom. You couldn’t have a more important leadership role. The best way to make this world a better place is by investing in our kids. You can be just as much of a servant outside the church as you can inside the church.
      You are on the right track by letting God form your identity. I have spent many years doing good works for God because I was still trying to get my Fathers approval and I put that on my heavenly Father. Partner with God and pursue that unconditional love that He has for you. It will change you and all the relationships around you for the better. God Bless!

  54. Danielle on November 28, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I think this was a great article. It definitely caused me to take a look at some decisions made in my own life. I will say that I disagree with one of your statements and to be honest it kind of made me angry but I’m sure there is more explanation to the statement. You made a statement “Love sees who you really are and stays anyway”. I think that needs to be explained further because I don’t think a person’s decision to walk away, because the situation was so toxic that it was affecting not only your emotional and spiritual health but also your physical health, is an indication that you’re not exercising love. I believe that I have to love myself properly before I am able to love someone else and sometimes loving yourself enough to walk away is the best decision. I don’t believe God calls us to stay in unhealthy and dangerous relationships. Unfortunately, because I believed that statement for so long….I did stay…waaaaay too long. If I would have understood early on that walking away doesn’t mean you don’t love, I could have saved myself from a lot of heartache and saved myself time. Many times people (including pastors) use that statement as a means to manipulate people into staying while they continue in “who they really are” and are not willing to see how “who you really are” is wreaking havoc on the lives of those they lead. It’s referred to as “Toxic Leaders”. With that being said, are you suggesting that people should stay in Toxic relationships whether it’s with a SO, job, or church as an act of Love?

  55. David on November 25, 2018 at 4:46 am

    This article is HUGE. This validates the feelings I’ve held about the modern church for so long now. I have been chasing the “authentic” Jesus Christ for more than 40 years now. I have seen glimpses of him in small churches, where the pastor held a secular job, AND served as pastor. In this church type, everyone contributed and shared responsibilities evenly. There was no need for jockeying for salaried positions. Then I became a part of a “corporate” American church plant. Let me now share that I am a professional vocalist and musician. I sing with bands every week (weddings, corporate, etc) and make good money doing it. I have seen musicians idolize music, as well as becoming idols, so I was reluctant to mention my gifting. Once it was discovered that was multi-talented, I was offered a role on the worship team. FLASH FORWARD 8 years: I have been on stage almost EVERY Sunday for the past 8 years. My issues driving me away now:

    – I am still a volunteer, although the church has hired 5 other staffed roles.
    – I am burned out and would like a LONG break, but I’m pretty sure I would not return to the stage once off.
    – I believe I am being discriminated against.
    – While the church WON’T pay me for my time, it continues to benefit from my God-given ability.
    – I am jaded on the whole “Consumer Christianity” a.k.a., “My custom-designed Jesus” culture.
    I have many beloved friendships that hang in the balance of me just wanting to drop everything and leave. I think this should be number 10 on this blog if you want to capture everything.

    10. My church is sinning against me for their benefit, not Gods glory.

  56. servinglove on November 1, 2018 at 5:16 am

    That’s true. I think what often happens is that someone characterizes one bad local church as the universal norm. There are some great local churches.

  57. Sydney Gifford on October 10, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    I wish I had read this article a few years ago and been able to discuss it with my Pastor. Maybe things would have been different today. I did the power point for church for 4 years and just left the church, to try and heal. I had served on the board during this same time, and ended up as treasurer. God tasked me with being the treasurer who relied on faith for our finances, who followed a treasure who didn’t have anything but the worship of money. It was “HELL” – I ended up finding that the Pastor had been shorted financially – had a board who didn’t want to tell her – so I did – and then being “beat up” about it for almost a year, while those on the board tried to disprove what I spent 20 hours researching, before I even brought it up. I was put in a place I shouldn’t have been and I think in someways that Pastor was caught in the middle, between myself and the board. I got the rathe in the end – but she got her money due. It really was the beginning of the end. But, I was doing the weekly power point and enjoyed working with the Pastor and doing some incredible things for Christ. I spent 4 years going to church 95% of the Sundays and holidays, but not being spiritually fulfilled at church. I tried to explain this to the Pastor and a fellow board member. The board member snickered and I am not sure the Pastor understood why I couldn’t – she was a first call. Not until a week ago, after she had taken a new job, did I once again express my loss of not being able to worship on Sundays, when I so desired to do so. But, this time, she shared what she does – look for the little things during worship. Why couldn’t this have been said to me, so many times before – maybe it was, but not in the same simple way? I don’t blame her, but I long for my joy of worship to return. I love my Lord and Savior – But, I feel so lost and I have also lost a dear friend in her. Yes, I think Pastor’s can be friends, but, it is not easy – it is a journey of hearts. I am not sure when or if I will return to church. I grew up in a fire and brimstone church. Had to find my self spiritually in Los Angeles. And then finally returned to church, 30+ years later only to be disenfranchised with the people who are in charge of the church and don’t see the wrong in how they are controlling the church and how they are turning people away with their “control”. A church should be the church of many, not the church of a few. I have so many gifts to give and freely do so – but I went from giving my all to the church, to giving none. It is so sad. I know I am not alone. I know that there is a journey ahead. This article is one step in healing. Thank you!

    • Anne Ashley on October 28, 2018 at 10:37 pm

      Many who have a long intimate personal relationship with the Lord and commune daily in the Word of God and love Jesus our Savior grow weary of the commercialization and business only component of the buildings called church…we take to the family and community needs right under our noses and become involved where we make and see the evidence of a difference…seed and tithing does not always have to be about money…it gets old and empty hearing that by so many pastors…then here comes their children and grandchildren…really?

  58. Di on September 10, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Wow. I can relate to all the comments. Thank you everyone for your vulnerability and I send you all love. We did ministry/missions for 20+ years. We saw too many things to mention including Pastor misusing funds, a leader embezzling money, affairs at leadership level, abuses…. I feel the worst, was the treatment of the people in the pews. Some of the leader’s mistakes ruined these fragile and hurting people. It felt like the Pastor wanted his family to be in the limelight and churchgoers were vying for daddy’s attention. All the “important people” were the yes men.. the people pleasers. All these broken people came to the church, only to be further broken.. by this jacked up system. We experienced more love and kindness from atheists. …. and when we left…. the judgement… the ugliness… I cried and bled over that for a long time… I even went to therapy. I feel closer to God away from all that toxicity. I’ve tried to visit other places… but unfortunately, it’s all the same. The church is no longer a light.. It seems worldly things have taken over.

    • Rachel on September 11, 2018 at 2:20 am

      Agree totally I find it 1000 times easier having a relationship with Jesus outside any church away from all the spiritual muck and everyone’s mess. I never had much of my inner healing or sanctification carried out within the church environment.

      It was when I came out of the church that I drew close to Jesus and He was able to sort out my mess, heal and deliver me. One to one on my own, with my knees on the floor seeking His face and not His hands, worshipping Him & praying to Him daily.

      Going back into a church environment for me now would be suicide. I visit but don’t stay. People don’t read their Bibles and they are too busy working for Jesus instead of being a Mary and sitting at His feet being taught. Here is where the problem lies, looking to church leaders to act as mediators, the Holy spirit and the voice of God to us.

      If we seek God with all our hearts we find Him. Not in the church, at home on your knees and on your face. Getting rid of sin and getting sanctified. My process has taken 10 years and I’m still being worked on everyday. It’s the blind leading the blind.

      How different our churches would be if we all individually got sanctified first and allowed the Lord to prepare us, then we wouldn’t have so much abuse or scandals going on.

      • Vince on November 20, 2018 at 11:27 pm

        The worst thing about reading your post is that hardly anyone will understand what you are talking about. They’ll think you’ve lost the plot. But you haven’t. They build using their own hands and call it gods work. There’s only one gospel, One faith one hope one lord. What are all these denominations? There’s only one cross, it’s raw and bloody, they speak as though they understand but have not yet died. This peculiar temple based system of worship is an insult to the finished work of jesus, he said long ago that people wouldn’t want the new wine they’d say the old is better. To look in awe up to a holy god and look back down at the church system and services that take place and then call it gods willI needs to spend a while longer looking upward. Nobody can build gods kingdom apart from him. It is not built by human hands the Bible states God is not man as if he needed anything, Jesus said apart from me you can do nothing. I’ll submit this to anybody who might be interested or objects to this lady’s post – if jesus was leading a church in your town I can almost guarantee that nearly everybody who calls themselves a Christian on this earth would say don’t join that guys church he’s a false teacher and a leader of a cult. I see more than most people (perhaps) and after many, many thousands of hours of seeking God I have come to the conclusion that that I would probably not join his church either, anybody who thinks they would should consider just where their really at….. You think I’m being hard? Consider this – Would you leave everything to follow him, leave everybody? Have you turned your back on all in its entirity what the world has to offer? Try giving up the TV and Internet for a year or two give all you possess to the poor… Go preach the gospel and get beaten half to death as a result and see if you go down the road praising God after, and whilst you may be wrestling with some of the statements I just made don’t bother to boast in your own heart in your works you may have done before you consider this – did not god give you them to do? Did he not give you gifts you from heaven? Did he not give you power by his spirit? Did you bear the fruit of his spirit by the might of your own arm? Did you save yourself? Did you bear the agony of the cross for your own salvation? Was it your blood that washed away your sin? Get rid of the cliche, stock christian answers that you might want to retort with. Does anyone really understand just who it is that we are trying to serve? The god of gods king of Kings, perfect, flawless, sinless. There was a time that men trembled at his word, but not today. Will man never stop with his boasting and pride will he never stop trying to make God in his own image? Do people not realise that only good comes from God? I could keep on but what would be the point what do I know.?I don’t even go to “church”. For anyone who’s interested ill finish on this – Jesus said ” if you love me, keep my commands” and he meant it. May God bless you Rachel.

    • Solid C. on September 25, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      The Lord Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
      After reading most of the comments in here, I came to a sad and clear conclusion that what most of people are referring as “local church” in most of the comments; are more of a men organized religion in a building, and not God’s established church. Spirit filled leaders do not treat people they way I read in this comments, because they walk according to the will of God (and I’m not saying they are perfect). So everyone, be careful the way you are commenting about what you are calling “Church” in here; because you might mislead unbelievers and discourage spiritual infants on serving God (you are making God’ church sound like the worse thing that ever happen on this earth).
      True God’s church is by far beautiful and joyful than what is being described in this comments; I’m truly sorry for all the bad experiences y’all have/had about your local churches. Have you ever stopped and asked yourselves if the human organization called “church” you were in was really God’s church to begin with? People do a lot of things in the name of The Lord, but that doesn’t make them His servants. So please, let stop talking about God’s local churches here, and let start calling it what it is really: ( a men made organized religion) and expose it, so people can stop joining those terrible places, and get abused {let use a bit of wisdom here ;-)}! Stay blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Katie on November 23, 2018 at 2:32 am

      Oh my goodness I feel u on such a deep level soo much on this..i cry out in pain all the time in this and feel gods heart in the deception and witchcraft infecting the church…and people are desperate for real love, power and truth and finding themselves starved and malnourished nd overtoxified with false enticing poisoned food..we are seeking real nourishment so we can release living food to starving souls..if never want to pray together my number is 7015410623..

  59. Chris Tucker on August 15, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Attending church is physiologically too difficult for me. Everyday I think of the times that I was sexually abused as a child. Seeing a church from the road gives me anxiety and going inside I break out in sweats and get the shakes. I know God is everywhere and I can talk directly to him without attending any kind of church service. I wish there was somewhere children could go to for help if they are sexually abused by an adult. The thing is, some children do not know that they are being abused.

    • Mary Rios on September 4, 2018 at 11:12 am

      I was sexually abuse by my cousins n brothers n I kept it inide of me for years . I started attending a Christian Church n started going to woman retreats n God has shown me his love for me .n my brokenheart has healed me trendmenosly .so get around people that has been threw your pain .ask God to lead u n he will.i can say now how awesome God is n how much he loves me n where he is taking me too.hope u find that peace within yourself ♥️

    • Jennifer R on September 6, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      @Chris Tucker Hello. I’m deeply saddened by the hurt you’ve experienced by being sexually abused. This is absolutely evil and unconscionable. I, too, was abused as a child, but not in church. Reading this statement “Seeing a church from the road gives me anxiety and going inside I break out in sweats and get the shakes.” makes me think you could possibly have PTSD. There is help out there for PTSD, and recovering from sexual abuse. I hope and pray you avail yourself of it. I’m praying for you.

  60. Sandra on August 14, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Another reason for not going: …I was 45 years in music ministry. It just feels weird to sit in the pews after so many years of being actively involved in worship and sitting at the front. No glory, believe me! But I enjoyed the process of being involved. Now that illness has forced me to retire, I just do not feel comfortable going to church, except on the occasions where I am filling in for the current musician. It isn’t a pride thing. It is a dislocation kind of thing!

  61. dee on July 23, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I really think the today church totally is not what God head in mind, people run from church to the world because of the confusion u find. I have been saved for 10 years, called but nobody cared about my calling, rather was only used for something else. Today I just want to go out there preach to non believers and come home. I no longer have that joy of going to fellowship. It’s a pain. I really think we should only use home sells to fellowship not church that needs more than Faith. Today church feels like jail. Something is wrong. Listen to all this people hurting so bad, because of today church. Something is horribly wrong.

    • Linda Perkinns on August 3, 2018 at 7:48 am

      God never intended church to be this way where people come and are abused but it happens
      just because their Christian don’t mean their acting right, Christians sin all the time, but the answers is in the bible which say If my People that are called by my name , would pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I would hear from heaven I would forgive their sin and heal their land, No where does it say they are perfect. There for we have to change and work with the church to make it better, when they will let us.

  62. Former PW on July 1, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Church is often not a good experience, but even though I sometimes hate going, Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds me:
    “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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.”

  63. chruch nomo on June 29, 2018 at 4:08 am

    Trust me when i say, the Church rejected me, I didn’t reject it.

    • Earl Wallace on July 2, 2018 at 12:58 am

      Regarding point # 5. “Thinking we are smarter than others.” I developed a phrase when as a Christian God was growing me in the secular work place to achieve many things that others around me said was impossible to achieve. I wrote about many of them in “The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context.” That phrase was, “‘We are not brighter, smarter, nor more talented than others. We all are just different,’ and we look at situations from different perspectives. We’ve trained ourselves to think differently so we can do better. This is not exclusive to us, as God uses many people in many walks of life to be three-dimensional thinkers who become great innovative achievers. ” (See

    • Rachel on August 12, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      I have spent time both in and out of the church. My first 6 years out of the church was the most spirituality productive ever. I drew so close to God and He taught me all sorts of things about Him, laid a solid foundation in the scriptures, how to get healed delivered set free from strongholds, addictions, bond ages, receive miracles and breakthroughs in my own life. Things that I never ever learnt in all my 12 yrs in the church. My next 7 years in the church was painful and only served to mess up my thinking, instill unbelief, waterdown my faith, make me more worldly, lose my intimacy with God, get me over busy serving and feeling frustrated meeting people who had loads of problems yet a great deal of pride, selfishness, arrogance & attitude that wanted only to complain, have a social life and stay the same. Now I am back outside the church, much happier, not having to jump over power hungry people who have inner insecurities who don’t know they are demonised and move forward freely in my call with less persecution, jealousy, envy and rivalry. Church is for spiritual babies and people who just want to play and have their bottoms wiped by others. From what I’ve experienced in most western churches they are not living the Acts of the Apostles, not getting sanctified and not growing very much in the Lord. I am so much more happy and stable outside the church walls and being much more productive as a believer in reaching the lost, discipling and changing our world. That is not to brag but its the truth.

      • Adam on August 12, 2018 at 3:08 pm

        Rachel, I very much appreciate this, as I in some ways find your experiences corresponding with my own. I wonder, do you have a community that you share your faith with outside an established “church?” Like you, I find myself struggling with church as it is today, but the first thing Christ did in his earthly ministry was gather a community together for fellowship, growth, etc….I haven’t found that organic “this feels right” niche, so to speak, but I’m not closed to the possibility. Blessings to you!

        • Rachel on August 12, 2018 at 3:38 pm

          Hi Adam, it’s really very sad that both of us feel the same way and have similar experiences.

          Because of what I now do i spend a great deal of time on my own, I believe it is a price we have to pay if we want to be close to Godand really know Him. I find that being in the church and being with people in ‘community’ is only good for me in small doses. To be able to minister now to others I must kelp in the Word everyday and spend time in God’s presence and I do alot if intercession. I do love it this way because I have less interference and less persecution. The loneliness and isolation can be hard at times but I am finding that if i stay in worship daily, ask God for the right people to fellowship with during each week then I can strike a good balance. Churches to me at the moment are a place to visit but not to live if that makes sense?

          I am also finding that I am naturally having conversations with people in my community who are unbelievers when I am out and about and talking with them about God and I’m really enjoying that!

          • Dan Smith on June 9, 2019 at 2:11 am

            Rachel, spending time with others in fellowship is church. I think for the most part it has to be people who are authentic like the people you are asking God for to come into your life. I know people are going to get offended by this but church should not be number one in your life. That pursuit of really pouring into God should be number one in your life, that relationship with Him. Let Him eventually give you the desire to attend a church someday. The only way I can attend church is by taking my eyes off of people and completely focusing on God. If you are not there yet that is okay. What I am reading in a lot of these posts is that people are looking for something outside of themselves when they should be looking on the inside and let God fill whatever we are missing. I believe that is what you are doing. Blessings.

  64. Seth on June 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

    This article is terrible. It is pretty much telling hurting church leaders to get over their pain. What a joke.

    • Silena on July 1, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      I don’t agree that this article is telling hurting church leaders to get OVER their pain, but I think it’s an article encouraging Christians how to work THROUGH their pain. Great read!!

  65. Mary B. on May 24, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Raised Roman Catholic, I attended a private nun-haunted school. Although there are a few okay nuns, most were elderly, mean, and not suited to dealing with young children. That said, I did not attend mass for many years, feeling I was unworthy. When I married a lapsed Lutheran, we decided to joint an Evangelical church. It was huge, like a barn mentality (herd ’em in, herd ’em out). Then, finally, we joined a Lutheran church in our Minneapolis suburb. Didn’t care for the head minister. The others were okay. There was one woman who felt she was my “boss”. I learned a lot in that I won’t allow someone tell me who I am, what I am, and what I should be doing. We left after two years.

    I think of churches as man-organized businesses. My relationship with Jesus Christ is eternal. Consider this: Churches are the only “business” who expect to be paid and also expect the attendees (employees) to work for them. At least most businesses in the private sector throw a little money your way if you work for them.

    I am not bitter; however, if I did see the above-mentioned woman anywhere, I would ask her to please step away from me. Churches, as is the world, are full of people who think they know better, know everything, are insulting, and just plain insidious. I know this to be the truth, as I have a sister (supposedly a devout Roman Catholic) who is this way. I do not intend to ever speak to her again.

    Happy to be a prayerful and reclusive Christian.

    Thank you.

    • Mike on May 29, 2018 at 10:56 am

      I would like to apologize on behalf of the church. Reclusive christianity is a wonderful place for those hurt by the church. As our churches give up sound doctrine and biblical teaching for what seems a mixture of what our itching ears want to hear and thrill rides for the so called unbelievers, we Christians get left in our sin and trespasses without the gospel that sets us free. I can’t speak for you but I need to hear about my suffering as I wander through this wilderness and I also need to hear of Christ each week. I need the law preached and explained from the pulpit each week to bring me to repentance. All of these things come from the text being read in context. Sadly, this is extremely rare these days.
      It’s most likely what your dear sister is really saying is that she, like all feel at most times we don’t belong here. The qualities you mentioned are a red flag that she feels incredibly lost here on earth. For this we Christians can only empathize and try to listen to what the meaning is behind the actions and somehow love.
      I understand your isolation. It’s okay. No need to feel any guilt.
      I would recommend taking the time you would have spent at church to develop your own belief in the text. Asking yourself, “Is this really the word of God” or “What does a Christian look like in today’s world” are great places to start with the text open on a regular basis.
      Again, I understand and my deepest apologies.
      Grace and peace to you.

      • Adam on July 16, 2018 at 11:37 am

        As a former pastor, I can honestly say I am at a point where I don’t need to hear the law every week because I feel the accusation of it every day. At the same time, I can’t walk into the barn churches and experience anything but revulsion toward the consumerism. Honestly, I just want to pray, but Anglicanism is fairly dead in the U.S. and Catholicism doesn’t really need me. Maybe I’m flawed. Maybe the church is flawed. Maybe it’s all of the above. I’ve just honestly reached a point where I don’t want or feel any need for church right now. And it’s not because the technique is wrong. It’s just that everything about church feels wrong.

        • dee on July 23, 2018 at 4:30 pm

          Same here, I feel church has shifted focus, its no longer about Christ but about something unknown. Struggling I really don’t feel like church any more.
          I even asked myself if the idea of today church iscrealky what God had in mind.

    • Julie on June 23, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      Your comment resonates with me because I, too, went to Catholic school all of my life and have experienced the meanness of many of the nuns who taught me. I consider myself a devout Catholic but I have witnessed the backstabbing and hypocrisy that seem to go hand-in-hand with the “active” members of various parishes and with Catholic owned and operated pregnancy centers.

      I once worked for a Catholic non-profit center that catered to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy. People on the outside thought we were one big happy family but in reality, we were one big back-stabbing dysfunctional family. The founder was obsessed with having a “professional” presence and prided herself in advertising that we were a “professional” staff and all college educated. Since the receptionist was not college-educated, they kept reducing her hours until she asked to be laid off so that she could collect unemployment. But leading up to that, they were hoping to find reason to fire her (unknown to her) and began a witch hunt of things that they thought she was doing, such as giving “inside” information to the people out on the sidewalk persuading women not to seek abortions. They had a meeting and secretly asked all other employees to report if they ever saw her outside talking to the “sidewalk counselors”. They asked us to put it in writing. I put it off as long as I could since I did not feel comfortable doing such a thing, but they insisted that I provide in writing what I had observed with her. In short, I told them that , sure, I’d witnessed her outside speaking to the sidewalk counselors but that I could not hear what was being said and she could have been saying, “Hi how are you? Good to see you! Have a nice day and thank you for all that you do.” The worst part of this is that the priest who was our chaplain was also on the board of directors and would make decisions on who would and would not be fired. He also heard confessions. He heard her confessions. This represented a very strong conflict of interest to me and between that and some other things that I had observed there, I put in my resignation. They did not take it well and seemed to hold it against me. I could not tell them the truth about why I was leaving my job with them.

      They were unfair with me and thought I should work weekends and stay longer in the evenings because I did not have any children. Because of this, my personal life was not seen as important or valuable. I was newly married and lived 50 miles away. Yet, they seemed to think that I should spend all my free time there because I had nothing else better to do with my time. I rarely got a lunch but another employee who had 4 children would often take 3 hour lunches to do cafeteria duty at her children’s school………..and that was okay because it was seen as far more important than anything I wanted to do….like get a break. I thought many times that I should report them for discrimination but seeing how they internally operated, I decided against it, feeling as though they would somehow try to ruin my professional reputation. I observed that these so-called Christians were very vengeful.

      They also treated many of the women who went there for help with their pregnancies very poorly. One woman was so sick from morning sickness that she could barely walk to the bathroom to vomit. I pointed to her where the bathroom was and she ran to the bathroom reserved for employees only. My supervisor, a “devout” Catholic who heard the woman violently ill in the bathroom, raised her voice to me and asked me why she was in “our” bathroom. I was speechless. I wanted to say “Well, then go tell her to throw up in the other bathroom!” I couldn’t believe it. She insisted the woman take a pregnancy test (which I can understand) but when she could barely walk I told her to just set the urine sample on the counter. I had planned to take care of it and do the pregnancy test there since the poor lady was so weak. But, again, my “devout” Catholic supervisor told her to get up and carry her urine to a back room. They are very lucky this woman did not pass out in the process. It was all very cold to me. And this “devout” supervisor was a mother herself!

      Anyway, I could go on an on with examples of their hypocrisy but I think you get the point. I think that there is evil everywhere, even in the places that are supposed to be the most holy. A wise and good friend once told me to view the church as one big hospital where sick people go to get well instead of seeing them as an already finished product and good Christians. I have found this advice to be very helpful. I go to Mass to pray, to give homage to Christ,a and feel close to Him. It serves those purposes. I, for the most part, do not expect anything from my fellow parishioners. I’m no longer shocked when they do something that seems non-Christian. I pray for them and I let them be an example to me of what I never want to become. And I go on with my life. I know firsthand how disappointing many of these people are and just like it says in this article, I have seen how the sausage is made and I’ve lost my appetite. But I haven’t lost my appetite for Christ. Just with the people that I expected too much from in the first place.


      • Ms. Elnoa on September 3, 2018 at 9:42 pm

        Thank you all for your wonderful and thought-provoking experiences and testimonies…I am so caught up in feeling I am suppose to have a membership in a church and desiring not too due to my observations of those who are suppose be a pillar to help me encounter God and most often I am disappointed. However I feel the happiest and closest to the LORD then I have ever felt, but there is there is sense of something in the church that is unknown and not in alignment with God’s Word though I want to belong, I rather not serve someone or something that is unknown to me..Anyway I do feel church can be more of a social gathering than a meeting of like-minded people who truly want to be saved. Anyway be blessed people, and may God continually be with you and guide you. Amen

  66. […] Nieuwhof wrote a post that put into words all that I have been feeling for the past ten years. I really appreciate the […]

    • Rex Karu on April 28, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Pride. The described “former minister” that can’t just attend church without being the leader probably isn’t serving because they deservedly are no longer in the pulpit. (1 Peter 4:17)
      For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.

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  68. Michelle on March 4, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    This Was A Very Good Insightful Article You Wrote. So Very True, I Saw Some Of Myself In This Article On Both Sides Of The Issues. We Were Military, And Became Christians Over 30 Plus Years Ago. Because We Had To Move Up And Down The East Coast For Almost 20 In The Air force, We Had Alot Of Experience In Many Churches ; And Yes, Your Article Is SPOT ON. As I Realize I Lived As A Christian Playing All Those Roles Over The Years, Helper , Victim Lifesaver, Mission Impossible Doer, Popular Friends Circles ? Looking For My Reward In The Wrong Place….Not Really Realizing it? “Until I Was On The Receiving End?? Ended Up A Non- Church Goer All Togeather And Finally To The Uncurable Church HOPPER Forever Searching For Something Our Family Lost Over The Years But Couldnt Put My Finger On It Until Now… Great Piece And Eyeopener. Thankyou For Telling The Truth, I Know It Will Help Me To See Things Differently In The Future As I Look At Myself And Ask, What Am I Really Sapposed To Be Focusing On Here At Church And What Would Please Jesus Only? Not Me But Learning To Simply Serve Others Without Exspecting Anything In Return, And Just Accepting People For Who They Are Including Myself. Even If They Dont Care About Me Or What Im Doing? I Belong To Christ And Need To Be Happy Enough Being About My Fathers Bussiness Weather Im Noticed Or Not? Weather They Care Or Not, Because All For The Grace Of God Go I ,Only. Thankyou, I Think Youve Just Helped Me Let Go Of Some Past Church Pain And Jerked My Mind Back On Focus, Thnx Again , It Simply Isnt About Us… We Need To Help Others For Christ Alone And Not Expect Anything In Return , A True Slave We Must Become For Christ Alone, Thankyou For Waking Me Up This Will Help Me.

  69. Janet Oller on February 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    In our tradition, a pastor who leaves a church (retires or for whatever reason) is not permitted to worship at that church until the new pastor is in place and invites the former pastor to return. That is usually a year or two. This is intentionally designed to give the congregation time to grieve the leaving of one pastor and get ready to search for and call a new pastor – and then for that pastor to settle in.
    In the meantime, we are the only church of our denomination in the county- and the next closest one is 40 minutes or more away.
    Yes, it’s true that I could go to another denomination until the necessary time passes and an invitation to return is extended (if it is) but that’s a different set of decisions and discernment.
    So, sometimes, not going to church is for different reasons- and I would offer up burnout as a major factor! AND, I absolutely agree that ego/identity has a large role to play.
    Keep the posts coming!

    • Sola Fide on March 25, 2018 at 10:06 am

      What an absolutely horrible policy! To exclude someone who has served (or hasn’t served) for such a trivial reason is contrary to the purpose of the church. Wow!

      • TJ on June 8, 2019 at 10:52 am

        I know, and I’m speaking from experience as I’ve been on both sides of this, it may seem cruel but it is a necessary kindness. I was associate pastor in a congregation when the senior pastor retired and I was allowed to stay through the call process. When the new pastor arrived it was wonderful. Except that everyone in the church would come to me every time the new pastor made a change, a decision they didn’t like, preached something they didn’t like, etc. It’s called triangulation. I was at another congregation where I was the transition minister and the retired pastor sat in the pew every Sunday and then criticized every change, accepted the triangulation as necessary, and never allowed the congregation to move on or forward. It was hell for everyone and made for church conflict and dysfunction.

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  71. Bro Lee on February 16, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    None of the 9 apply to me or any of the majority of clergy who refuse to step foot in a church again. Most if not all have been drug through hell by the church. We have seen the dark side and managed to get out before it sucked us dry. I left Christianity to find Christ again.

    • Frank Gregoire on February 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Bro Lee,

      Thank you for expressing my thoughts. I couldn’t get them quite out. I was hurt my a church who didn’t want the youth ministry, or church to look like the community. So they disbanded the youth, only to get some one a year late who looks like them talks like them. To reach the ones who are the same. There are more details to which I am not wanting aired out.

      To this day I try to get over it, still hurts.

    • Jaky on March 27, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Wow ‘i left Christianity to find Christ again’ that’s it

    • Deborah Heino on April 14, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      I have to agree with you even though I know that the Bible has commanded us to “not forsake the assembling together,” it’s extremely difficult to get over the hurt and the feeling of betrayal you feel. I have all my life experienced this deep hurt and betrayal from the church, first as a pastor’s kid watching my beloved daddy and mother suffer it over and over again and for the past 40+ years of going through it myself.
      The church that I have just resigned from is a dead church – alive in name only as was the church in Sardis. Every characteristic of those five churches in Revelation (Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, & Laodicea) is present in this church. They has committed unthinkable acts and said unimaginable things about me as the pastor but because they are and have been a dead church since we began there 3 years ago, we have been able to forgive them. But because this is the only church of our denomination around for over 60 miles, my husband and I have chosen to stay here. This was no easy decision for us to make, but after much prayer and fasting, we believe this is where God has brought us and until He tells us to leave, we will remain faithful.
      I’m not sure why He wants us to stay, but I know the He knows why and I don’t have to know. We have told ourselves that it could be for the two or three individuals who have been very hurt by what has been done to us, or because like the church of Sardis, we are to be the remaining faithful ones, or maybe they will repent and return to their first love, or possibly our denomination will use us to plant a new church in this area. Whatever the reason – He’s in control and always will be no mater what happens.

    • Mary B. on May 24, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you for saying you “left Christianity to find Christ again.” What a profound statement. I, too, have done this. While living in this world is unbelievably difficult most of the time, I take solace in prayer, Christian beliefs, and the peace I have found since leaving the “church-going society”. Thanks again.

    • JOHN STEVENSON on December 7, 2018 at 3:16 am


  72. Jeannie on January 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    There is a change in relationship status with the church that can be challenging to navigate. Am I an ex or an alumni? Was I pushed out and unwelcome, needing to recover, or am I a graduate who was released and comes back to a reunion? In my case, it’s a paradox in that both are true and subject to time, perspective and healing. Ultimately, all things have somehow been reconciled in Christ, though we may not see it yet. In that deep, mysterious truth I find surrender, rest and release. He is able and willing to restore all that the locusts have eaten, to set things right, to prepare a table before us, to bring us safely home.

  73. Thomas on January 30, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I relate, however – I suffer from depression. I’m using my various gifts and marching like a “good little solider of the cross”, but I come home drained and exhausted. I sit and cry and no one knows – I spend parts of my day at my secular job, in tears. I submit to whatever is going on, as I realize there is no perfect church – if it was perfect, it became imperfect the moment I arrived.

    I have no doubt of Christ, salvation, or even the purpose local church – but I’ve become one of many that wear a mask on Sunday. I put on a smile, but I’m totally broken inside. It’s a Psalms 77 moment, what sustains you is remembering who God is and waiting for the rest of you to catch up with your spirit.

    I will say this though, just being real, the thought of being with Christ in his perfection is sweet, and no I wouldn’t try and get there myself if you get what I’m saying. But now there’s a longing to be away from here – than going through the sausage mill as you call it – which I’m a part of. Until then, I’m determined to live with it, and try to live through it.

    • Thomas on February 26, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Ok, let me restate somethings, tried to use my gifts, but it ruffled feathers (not the pastor’s but I’m about peace). So now that I can’t use my gifts without upsetting others. I just sit. If the pastor has something that he wants me to do, I do it (stuff that others may not want to do). Still marching like a good little soldier – and I feel so, so fake!!!!!

      On the bright side, I haven’t seen my wife happier – she didn’t like being a leaders wife (pressure). Myself, on the other hand …I’m miserable – still hurting, and sighing. Losing my desire to do anything – and that’s just not church related either. I attend, I put on a happy face, laugh and smile – while I’m crying on the inside (and when I’m alone – on the outside as well).

  74. Wally on January 30, 2018 at 1:03 am

    Its hard to go to church when the gifts you have aren’t even recognised. This applies not just to ex leaders but also the members of the congregation

    • Paul on February 3, 2018 at 2:57 am

      people should have their talents recognized. It’s a shame when worship leaders and their cliques squash someone else’s talent, puts that person in the back. That is a prideful person but will pretend it’s the other way around if you dare want to step out of your confinement.

    • David Hardin on November 5, 2018 at 9:45 am

      I can relate to what your going through. Sometime gifts are not made public. God does not want us to be lifted up by our gifts but only lift him up. Keep praying, seeking God, and be faithful and God will make room for all gifts. Praying for you.

  75. Douglas Chard on January 28, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed sitting in a pew after 35 years of leading worship. I found it so refreshing to be “one of the bunch”, i.e., to enjoy the fellowship of people whom I had formerly led in worship.
    #4 (being more of a critic than a worshipper) is a frequent temptation, however, when I worship in different churches when on vacation, for example; on the other hand, I have learned to appreciate different styles of worship by appreciating some insight shared by a preacher or leader (a positive side to sermon-tasting!)

  76. William Wages on December 17, 2017 at 12:38 am

    I completely understand what it means to leave a church after leading in one. For many years I was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. I only had a few kids to teach and that bothered me because I felt that I was failing due to the lack of kids. I also was the “atta boy” so to speak meaning when ever there were things that were needed to be picked up or done, I was the one to do it and for a while I didn’t mind it. I left church not so much because of the “atta boy” attitude towards me but because of the attitudes of the other leaders. I can tell you that I have worked in the fast food industry and now that I know what goes on in the kitchen sometimes, I wonder why anyone hasn’t got food poisoning or is dead. What I mean is this, once you see how the flawed, yes flawed people run a church, it is impossible to unsee. If you don’t want to know the dirty laundry of the church then stay out of the leadership roles. I felt that the high dollar tither’s were the important ones and the rest who tithed but not as much were left to follow in the footsteps of the great ones. All in all I learned a lesson about getting into teaching or leadership roles, I will NEVER do it again. If I ever go to church on a regular basis again I will not allow anyone to see me as a potential candidate of leading anything. I have had my share of it and I am done. But even now I don’t go to church and don’t intend to again on a regular basis and I believe this is my defense for making sure I am not asked again to do what I know I don’t want to because if I was asked then I would probably do it, foolishly.

  77. Andy on December 12, 2017 at 12:20 am

    What exactly were you attempting to accomplish by writing this? If you thought your simplistic diagnoses and trite solutions would actually change the minds of thoughtful individuals who’ve disengaged from church or their faith, then you’re kidding yourself. For me, this kind of thinking, writing, and speaking was why I decided to step away from my pastoral position.

    Initially I intended to attend another church as a lay person and even visited a few with my family. But after being away from it a bit and gaining some perspective, we realized how little we missed any of it. Churches claim they’re the only places you can find real meaning and real community. But that’s not true.

    I also realized how different my actual beliefs were once I no longer had to “believe” certain things because my my paycheck required me to. There was no intentional intellectual dishonesty on my part at the time but its liberating now knowing what I actually believe.

    • Frank Hopkins on January 28, 2018 at 7:18 am

      I agree. I think the article has a lot of trite recommendations etc. Although I agree with some of it. Been an xp of a mega church, started 4 campuses, led small groups and now it’s a struggle to want to attend church.

      I understand the value of the church. I also understand the issues on both sides. I’ve been around too many leaders who think the church paid team has all the answers and the people are there to follow whatever is said. WRONG!

      I also believe most church teams lack accountability and understanding of where people are today. In a bubble with no clue. It’s a major turn off. I keep going because I’m suppose to. I volunteer and do my best to put blinders on to all the bull.

      I have plenty of my own issues for sure. Just can’t stand the pompous attitude I see of church staffs thinking the people are there to serve the church leaderships ambitions. Church staffs have been given the honor of guiding God’s people. That honor should be taken in a sacred mentality.

      I use to stay up on all the data about church’s losing their relevance etc. It’s simple to me. Most churches are too internally focused and really don’t invest in caring about people. As I write this I’m headed to church to hopefully help some young adults. I’m torn. Much of church sucks. But I still believe in it…

  78. Peter on November 12, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Some of us were so burnt and abused as leaders that we have PTSD about attending church the way we used to. Please add that to the list.

    • Steve R on November 14, 2017 at 11:31 am


    • Franklin on November 17, 2017 at 11:53 pm

      I agree…

    • Eric on November 27, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Or you just wake up one day and realize that it’s all a lie. There’s no love there, just animosity and hate. There’s no Christ there, just a club of people trying their best to cover up who they really are. There’s no real change happening, inside the building or in the community around the building.

      • Stacey Baldwin on January 10, 2018 at 4:11 pm

        I agree with you Eric, wholeheartedly. It had gotten to the point, that I would go home from leading church service and would cry, cry, cry. Because what I saw from the “leaders” was not a reflection of the God, that I served. The way leaders would treat people, talk to those who were not “high tithers”, the judgement and isolation of those who were “single mothers”, or young people who were trying to “find their way”. It was hurtful to see. All I kept thinking was “Woe to them who cause my sheep to scatter”. and As Jesus told the lady at the well, that there will be a time when she would not worship on that mountain or in Jerusalem , but “That the time will come when he who worship must worship in Spirit and in Truth”

      • P. on February 22, 2018 at 5:50 am

        Eric, you are right. That’s what I woke up to one day. You realise you are surrounded by hypocrites whose mission is to destroy your life and everything you are doing no matter what good you have done for God or for them. They are just like that. And what makes it worse is that they are your Pastor and fellow leaders. But we don’t give up on God. It’s people who let us down, not God. So push on soldiers. The war is not yet over!

      • Lydia Matthews on April 18, 2019 at 4:58 pm

        Eric, I don’t know if it is ALL a lie but I do agree. There appears to be little “Christ” being demonstrated in the church and true, no real change happening inside the building or in the community where the building exists. Yes. A club mentality. I am married to a former pastor who (thankfully) works as a full-time hospital chaplain. So my husband was a “leader” in the church. I was also a leader—a church musician who was driven out and hurt by people who knew me my entire life. Watched me grow up in the church. Even though this incident happened when I was 22 years old (I am now 49) I still feel the wounds. I feel more connected to God outside of church than in church, but I just feel guilty when I don’t want to attend. I am at the point where I just want to attend when my husband (who is an associate minister at a local church “club”) preaches. I feel a lot of guilt and shame and pain. When I think about it, I constantly repeat “Create in me a clean heard, and renew a right spirit within me Oh God.” Continued prayers for all who have been hurt. Sending blessings of light and peace your way.

    • Thomas on January 30, 2018 at 11:18 am

      YES!!!! That’s so true!!!!!

    • John on June 29, 2018 at 8:51 pm

      Yeap, I have Post Pastoral Abuse Syndrom

    • Brenda Carstens on September 11, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Yes I agree. In our town I have a choice of two or three churches and will attend from time to time, but not looking to get involved unless the Lord tells me to. Suffered too much rejection at the church where I was a voluntary pastor.

      • Rachel on September 11, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        Sorry to hear that Brenda, Paul spent much time on his own and even he had difficulties with disciples abandoning him, rejecting him and doing things out of envious & selfish motives. It’s a hard old road when you are walking closely with the Lord, it becomes lonelier and lonelier. I just have to trust Him too, he’s never let me down but I do get fed up with lukewarm Christianity. No power or presence just flesh or false anointing or wrong spirits.

  79. Stacy on November 4, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    After 5+ years, I stepped down to protect my church. I decided I wanted a divorce and I knew that if the church fired me, people would be mad. If the church didn’t fire me, the other people would be mad. But my exit from my position opened the door for a lot of questions I wasn’t ready to explain. I needed a little distance. A few weeks turned into a few months, and then it got cold outside and then it rained and then I was tired and then… and then… and then…

    I love my church. GPC was my church before she was my employer. If I was to identify the reason I often skip a Sunday morning, I would have to say it is Shame. I don’t skip because of the reasons listed above.. I skip because somedays, I literally just can’t face the music.

    • Lisa on January 29, 2018 at 9:09 pm


  80. Ken on October 29, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Pretty much 1-9. Thank you for this article. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out for the last year and a half–all of that time spent pointing, blaming, excusing, being indignant, etc., instead of humbly looking inside. I was a part time your minister for 3 years, while also working a regular job. A lot of 1-9 apply to both ministry and career. And what’s the common factor: ME!!! I want to go back and apply these 9 to the other areas of my life–relationships, community, small group, mentoring. Thus is a huge find. Again thank you!!

  81. Jim Neville on October 23, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    I might venture a thought on why key volunteers such as elders and key ministry leaders drop out:
    1. The pastor is trained to know the scripture but has no idea how to manage or lead.
    2. The pastor has an extreme need to control all the decisions and does not know how to delegate.
    3. The pastor does not know how to lead a team or work in the context of an elder board.
    4. Key pastoral staff who do not know how to mentor staff to realize their potential. The churn index among staff turn over is high.

    Making sausage can be challenging at best. People without managerial skill sets create a reluctance to be involed in with the church in the future. Ever business man knows the importance of these qualities. It would make a good class at a seminary. It was a good article. Thanks for the thoughts.

    • Jan on January 29, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      Fully agree with you!

    • Bill on May 23, 2019 at 1:04 am

      How about…
      Making sausage can be challenging at best. especially when the church organist molests teenage boys?

  82. Steve Roberson on October 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    #3 and #9… plus…
    I have always believed in the church, and while I have vigorously pursued to stay active in one, I find that my stamina to tolerate “the business” of ministry and the attacks of people are simply not within my younger capabilities. Honestly, I used to be okay with a good conflict in the past. (Not a degrading or inappropriate fight, but a “fair” push back to church politics.😉) But even with my passions, especially for the college aged demographic, I can’t endure the maliciousness anymore. I still lead a cell group, and I help with an intro class for the church, but I will not tolerate the garbage anymore. I’ll walk first.
    Just like I can’t bench 350 pounds like I used to, I don’t have the endurance to take the church ignorance either. Those pat answers, like “God is still good” (without question), and “serve as unto Him” (again true, but without consideration to scars and the recognition that this kind of serving had cost us in the past) do more to condemn a believer than help. “Since God is good enough and big enough, then obviously I’m doing something wrong.” That answer usually ends up being, “Then I’ll just get out if the way….” The truth is, most of us want to be involved. Most of us have unrepentant callings that linger even when we wish we could put them in hibernation. I learned a long time ago that our gifts can also become our burdens, our blessings can become our curses. Pastors tend to be all or nothing creations. It’s easier to be disconnected than to be minimized. I also think that churches that don’t use their resources will find themselves always wanting. It’s another “talent” they should be responsible for, and will lack if not accountable for it. So, I have preached this unpetitioned message to say, not only should ministers help the church, but the church should utilize their ministers. In the words of Jerry Maguire, “Help me help you!” Let’s help each other fulfill our call.

  83. Carl bowles on October 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Hurt too often just don’t have it in me.
    I have totally quit church
    So hurt
    GOD show my a lot last few years through a very difficult time. It is part of me
    GOD is totally awesome fantastic
    But …

    • Joyce on December 30, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      Ezekiel 34 is for you. Psalm 23 is for you. You can quit church for a “minute”. Stay in the race – as you lay on the ground because you have been “tripped” and made to stumble by brothers and sisters who are suppose to run with you and stand with you – Jesus will Himself offer you His hand and He will help you up and help you keep on running. He will offer you a time of healing and refreshing. Keep on praying and realize that in reality, that it is going to take time for the healing and forgiveness to take place. The devil’s scheme is to make you quit and make you feel all alone and like a “fake Christian”. You realize that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Just as you are, I pray to love (Once again) those who have harmed me) In the end we want to please the Lord Jesus Christ and bring honor and glory to His name. Lean completely on the Lord. He accomplished everything for us on the cross. Jesus has a place for each one of us who truly believes in Him and loves Him – don’t ever give up or give in to despair. John 6:68

      • Liz Cutajar on January 13, 2018 at 9:32 am

        I have also experienced a similar situation where you said we have been tripped and made to stumble …..I am not a pastor am a sister but I have been very involved in the church and I was always aware of Eph 6:12 but are we to be part of the local church no matter what? Isn’t having the joy of the Lord just as important? It is not a case of looking to the left or to the right, the Lord knows how often true believers have to overlook such things .
        I would never deny the fact that Jesus Christ gave us a Biblical Church pattern ..we also know that fellowship is important but again are we to remain in a local church come what may ?
        What are we to do when words ….decisions….keep getting broken ?…year after year …we are told to let our yes be yes and our no be no…
        I will remain open to God’s will for my life …I pray I will be sensitive enough to know it.

      • PG Alderete on January 15, 2018 at 4:14 am

        I love your response to this article. I have been wrestling with a feeling of detachment. My pastor is a female and we didn’t agree on and issue. She asked my opinion and I replied. She hasn’t treated my husband and I the same. Polite but standoffish. I have to remind myself that things have changed but it’s her problem not mine. I go to worship and we had to step back a bit. We meet our pledge and help out as volunteers when possible but it just got more and more demanding and expected for us to do more. So we need to take a step back and reassess if it’s still a fit or we need to move on. I found this article very enlightening

  84. Gina on October 3, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Carey, to be honest, all this IS true to some extent. But, what happens if you lead, serve hard, are totally committed and then uncover fraud committed by the senior pastor and are asked to leave when you try to address it with him? (This despite persevering for months to try to resolve the issue, i.e. this not being taking offense.) When, because of taking up the responsibility as a leader to not compromise on truth, the tables are bizarrely turned in an act of denial and defensiveness and you become the one at fault? How do you ever practically recover from that hurt? How do you ever see the way to serve, let alone attend church, again?

    • Carl bowles on October 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      The bottom line
      GOD is still amazing awesome fantastic keep your passion on him. Healing will come if u focus on him.

  85. Roger on September 28, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    It took me 10 months and I struggled with a critical spirit mostly, I started to pray for God to give me his eyes for his people. I do think your calling is intertwined in your identity & once you lead it’s difficult to go back to follower. I don’t think it’s wrong to feel that way but pride & depression are the areas to attack through prayer if your overtaken by hopelisness. You still have a calling & purpose don’t give up….tough times are apart of your testimony make it a season of overcoming not of defeat. God is near, he has never left lean into his strength not your strength.

  86. Kevin on August 27, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Although most people who know me, when they see I’ve reposted this article to my social media page, will think of me in my most recent role in a large local church that ended three years ago, the fact is I’ve been involved in leadership in church for the past 40 years. In my 45 years as a believer, I can say unequivocally that nearly all my deepest personal wounds have been inflicted by and through the church. But hey, you don’t get wounded unless you’re in the battle, right? So, I get that. I guess.

    What made the last engagement different was that it was my first time serving in vocational ministry – that is (as my former pastor would’ve said), I got “paid to be good” as opposed to being “good for nothing”. I’d enjoyed a professional life that spanned a pretty broad exposure to many fields and responsibilities: people and process management, bricks and mortar construction, facility operations, software development and technology deployment, the list goes on – all against a backdrop of dedication to lay service in the local church as a student ministry leader, deacon, teacher, worship leader, musician and band leader… that list goes on, too.

    After thirty-some years of professional development and church leadership I finally had the opportunity to serve as the manager of facility operations of my church of over twelve years – the only church in our area at the time that was just stepping across the threshold of becoming identified as a “mega church”. It seemed that this was the culmination, the nexus of all the otherwise seemingly disjointed paths God had led me down for so many years. Finally, I had an opportunity to employ nearly every skill and draw on the wealth of experience I’d gained over so many years in the service of this growing, multi-faceted, fast-paced church that I loved. I felt and often verbalized that “this is the job God’s been preparing me for my whole life.” The situation I was handed was the proverbial lump of clay that with God’s help I could mold into something of value, meaning, and purpose. And for six years, though it was far from easy, I was all-in. My team grew from just me and a single maintenance person to fourteen people comprising three divisions that covered maintenance, operations, and food services.

    Then, just as it felt we were hitting our stride, as quickly as it began out of nowhere it was over. The pastor of nearly 30 years was released under difficult circumstances and the church was in upheaval. A gifted teacher, for many he’d engendered a cult of personality and the congregation was divided. After a year of turmoil and the team struggling hard to keep the Body pulled together, the young former associate pastor was appointed by the elders to the senior pastoral slot. Over the next few months, I and several of my management team colleagues were dismissed and the new guard began shaping the place to suit their vision.

    This was the job I’d planned to retire from but had no plans for when that would be. I saw myself serving the church I loved for years to come. Now not only had I lost my livelihood, I’d lost my faith community as well. Even the loss of my own business years before didn’t compare to the personal impact of this loss. So, yeah. Count me among the ones who haven’t since set foot back inside a church for anything other than a wedding or a funeral – and even those were difficult. And although it may not look that way to most, I do still love the church. I do still love God. But I’ve been quite content to enjoy my church services in “attendance” at Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church via their live stream over Roku each week, listening to the sermon with my wife (which barely ever happened in my years as a staff member), and eating pancakes in my PJs. Why? Well, as I prefaced my repost of your article, two things I know: The struggle is real. And its a lot more complicated than you think.

    Its easy to say that my identity may’ve been “tied to what I (did) rather than to who I (was)”, but for the believer at the end of the day isn’t life supposed to be ministry and ministry life? That’s always the way I’d tried to conduct myself even in while engaged in secular pursuits.

    I’m a big fan of your work, Carey, and maybe I’m being defensive (I don’t usually shrink from things that hit close to home), but most of these “reasons” in your post felt like being pelted with stones rather than being offered food for thought. I’m going to go back and reread the whole post. But you asked us to “please comment”, so I thought I’d give you the benefit of my story and unvarnished, not overthought (because I do overthink), knee-jerk reaction. Bless you, man. Keep writing the stuff that challenges, and I’ll keep trying to read with an open mind and heart.

    • Michelle on September 5, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      My experience sounds so similar to yours that my heart aches, not out of pity- but out of empathy. The loss is like none other… and I, like you, am still recovering three years later. I struggle to attend weddings or funerals or any type of church function as well. I watch church online now too, not able to actually be in the church. Never thought it would be like this… not in a million years. Yet here we are. I experienced betrayal, abuse of authority, and so many politics that were tied to age discrimination it was unbelievable. Where do we go now when the church doesn’t feel safe?

      • Adrina Corissa on April 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

        I was RAISED in Church. Having perfection Required of you when you are just Learning EVERYTHING is Abusive. Now that I’m an adult; I’ve returned home from War; I’m completely estranged from the people i told what I learned in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I’m like The Walking Dead to these people now… They still expect me to be a perfect lil representative. I don’t want to sing in all of your choirs. The praise team is exhausting. The effort is demoralizing. The anxiety is unnecessary. WHY DISGUISE GUILT SO PEOPLE FEEL WARM ON A SUNDAY MORNING!?! Hope is Important. I just wish we didn’t have to find it in each other. Now EVERYBODY can figure out their own Soul salvation. Church would only serve as a platform for my personal ambitions. I’d be a stone cold pretender if I Attend any ministry. Cynism is a REAL Thing. When the motives aren’t pure; or manipulation is involved; you’ll ALWAYS see a person diminish. I choose to be Spiritual everywhere I go. I assume life to be easier either way.

  87. Denise on August 20, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Yes I struggle with a lot of things no I haven’t been to church since 2012 where I was going I was a greeter and every church I have tended I was a greeter and then I got wounded at each and every one of the churches I was going to and then I stopped going but never stop serving the Lord in my heart and my studies here at home but it’s not the same I want to be able to fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ I’m looking for a home base Bible reading chapter by chapter church I know it’s not a such thing as a perfect church because we are the church meaning people not perfect I’m looking where I can have commune the beginning of the month or the end of the month that’s important to me and it says in the Bible is important to commune that body and the blood of Christ so yes I am struggling with it and no I have not been to church and yes I pray on it and ask God to lead me wherever you want me to go because I’m a king’s kid and I like King James version I’m not putting down the other versions of the Bible whatever but I do like King James I like thou thee, because he taught me how to read and that’s my story

  88. Ron Hanzel on August 14, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I can not find a church that understands the truth. They cant get past some kind of works to cover their sin. None of them have a clue of the depth of the bible. Terms like salvation, truth, eternal life, born again, kingdom of God, kingdom of Heaven, love, spirit, flesh, etc. are not understood. They do not understand the spiritual walk, are all walking in the flesh and have absolutely no gifts of the spirit or fruit of the spirit although they will make up all kinds of stories to make themselves feel better. When you try to show them the truth in scripture they attack you instead of having an iron sharpens iron type of discussion. They can not show you where you might be wrong in your understanding of the Word so they attack and run.

    • Sue Johnson on August 14, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Check out New Hope the Vision Center live on Facebook @ 7pm Tuesday nights or Sunday mornings @ 8:30am & 11am, in Natchez, MS. The Bishop Stanley Searcy, Sr. presiding. AND Greater Bethlehem Temple Church, out of Jackson, MS, with The Bishop Robert Fortson, Sr. presiding. Sunday mornings @ 11am & Evenings @ 7pm. and Wednesday nights @7pm. Streaming live via Internet. That’s if you REALLY want the TRUTH, straight from the Bible, without holding NOTHING BACK. I live in both of these cities, and these are where I attend! Check them out in person or on Facebook or Internet. You be the judge! Visitors are ALWAYS WELCOME!!! It doesn’t matter your religion or nationally! If you want the TRUTH straight out of the Bible, you are going to get it, with NO sugar coating. Be Blessed and come join us! We might be just what you are looking for. We don’t know you, but we love you and would love your feeback after you check us out.

      • Ron Hanzel on August 15, 2017 at 1:35 am

        thank you. I will check them out!

    • Sarah Jagenberg on April 12, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      Ron, you are so correct about the church of today! I cannot find a church that is in Love, operating in the REAL gifts of the spirit, or just simply preaching truth. Most churches around me are just a “bless me” club and it makes me sick. Lots of corruption and wickedness in the last church where I served. My whole family was abused for standing up for truth. Sorry Carey, but most of what you said is way off base. When i left the church, I grew SO MUCH and God has been so amazing. I truly believe that if you really want to grow in the Lord, you actually have to leave the church!!

  89. larry on August 12, 2017 at 6:57 am

    need to check this book out—-

    • larry on August 12, 2017 at 6:59 am

      THE NAKED CHURCH is an invitation for believers to forsake superficial Christianity and discover true intimacy with God. This compelling book will challenge you to look beyond the externals of contemporary church life with its glittering buildings, extensive programs, beloved celebrities and political muscle and find a relationship with God that will bring his powerful, life-changing presence into everyday circumstances. At a time when it’s popular to be “spiritual” and easy to be “religious,” Wayne Jacobsen sounds the call back to the joy and freedom of a dynamic relationship with the living God

  90. Vanessa on August 6, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I have never believed that there is any validity in being hurt by the Church. Love, grace, maturity and unity are a fantastic arsenal to fight against offense. Until it comes at you with lies, fraud, oppression, abuse of power, deceit, betrayal from the pulpit. It’s easy to say the ensuing cynicism is the result of an unresolved issue, which it certainly is, but forget the hurt is so, so deep, like a spirit that is bleeding out, that only Jesus can heal by way of divine intervention. The Shepherding Movement has become so subtly embedded in Church doctrine and is the root of unchecked abuse of leadership. If this hurts those who are engaged, those who lay down their lives for the Church, lay leadership, how on earth will we be able to protect the Sheep whose faith is fresh and new?

  91. Dave Flowers on August 1, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    So discouraged with Senior Pastor’s lack of leadership and abuse of staff members. One rule for him and his family…another rule for everyone else. Please pray for us. Not sure what the Lord wants us to do but its hard to go to work everyday and enjoy the ministry under these circumstances. I love the church, love serving the Lord here but the pastor really needs to move on…or we do. Not working in a healthy situation. Pray that God would direct our steps as He has for the last 40 plus years of ministry.

    • Fiona on September 5, 2017 at 12:46 am

      Make God first right now whatever you do. Don’t worry about what people may think or feel right now. The Rev 12 sign appears in just a couple of weeks and your pastor would do well to get right with God at all costs.

  92. Hunter on July 10, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    You forgot Spiritual Abuse and Pastor worship. That’s why i left at least. Tired of serving Jezebel.

    • Vandyke Ebbin on July 16, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      It is hard to attend a church after being a leader in one because after awhile you have become accustom to what might feel like the right way a church should be in all areas of ministry. You get use to a certain order of service, preaching style, music, spiritual atmosphere, the attitudes of the people, etc… It could be whatever. I was a leader in my old church and I left because I got remarried and my wife now did not feel comfortable coming to my church while my ex-wife is still a member. My ex-wfie divirced me for reasons that are not even biblical. We just were on two spiritual levels and kept bumping head. Anyway, I left the church and now am looking for a new one. I have been to many churches but for some reason they do not feel right. It is hard and I am strongly considering opening up my own church. Start off small (praise/worship music, short moment for people to talk about the goodness of Christ in their life, tithe and offering, short lesson for children, and then preaching time of Gods word.

      • Nadine Smith on August 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        My prayers are for you to realize why we are a part of the church of Jesus Christ. Christ is the head, and if we are to lead others to him. We must first deny ourselves and pick up out cross and, “FOLLOW” him. We are saved by grace and not we of ourselves. It is Christ Jesus who died for us giving us the right to his inheritance. We must live by every word of the spirit of truth and forsake our ways, and take on the mind of Christ in order not to fulfill the lust of our flesh. Walk in the spirit and not fulfill our worldly lust. Please seek God’s word for the truth, and lean not to your own understanding! Love & Blessings to you!

      • Teresa Ruffin on September 21, 2017 at 12:11 am

        We should count up the cost,it sound easy,but we must know Gods Will, if you have,then hold on ,think about the sheep..

    • Grace on July 18, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Wow….exactly…..esp legalism instead of love!
      Totally agree!

    • Stacey Baldwin on January 10, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      I can relate! Anytime a Pastor tell you that 10% of your income is for tithes, and 20% is for offering. Then you have monthly anniversary fees, pastoral fees, building funds, have to provide toiletress, light bulbs, cups, napkins, and etc. All from a congregation that mainly consist of folks on public assistance, disability, or some other monthly income. The pastor even told a lady who had been homeless and was trying to get disability, that she owed in back tithes. She was required to give over $4000 in tithes and because she was homeless, her mail went to a church members address, and was held hostage until she paid the back tithes. What made it so bad is. The church didn’t think to assist this lady in using her monies for housing purposes. This same Pastor tells his congregation that they must call in if they are not going to be at church or bible study. He even went to a church were one of the members were visiting, and took the member out of the church. smh

  93. Winnie on July 7, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I have read several of the comments and I also wear the ‘BEEN THERE’ badge. My situation right now is that I am unable to go to church and the sadder part is that I am very happy about the fact that I am unable to go to church. It is quite a relief. I know soon I will resume church and that thought is depressing. It will be a new town, a new church, but still! I’m still on my healing journey. Every time someone tells me he or she is a pastor I run in the opposite direction. I love church. I love serving, but I usually say that one of the worst mistakes I’ve made in life is getting close to pastors and church leadership. I quit the corporate world to join ministry and now I am going back to the corporate world but will still do ministry, just not in church.

    • Es on July 11, 2017 at 12:29 am

      Wow… I feel you.

  94. Struggling on July 1, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    I was a paid ministry leader for 15 years and was abused by a pastor who used me as their scapegoat for their wrong doings and many other wrong things that are just to much to go into. i did go to this person and address each issues as they came up even asking what I could do to help improve the situation. I also brought along another pastor and then eventually two more when the situation continued to escalate. This pastor did eventually face church discipline from the elders not just because of what they did to me but what they did to others and has been fired. What I struggle with is the lead pastor not being truthful to the congregation from the pulpit. I don’t believe they need to air dirty laundry, I actually feel that would be harmful, however I don’t think it’s right to lie and say this person retired and then give them a party when that is not truthful and they have hurt so many. I want to attend this church still, I love the people they are my family but I’m struggling with a pastor who is willing to lie. I know it’s my issue and I know in time God will help me heal.

    • Barbara on July 3, 2017 at 11:51 am

      To Struggling…What you have been through was tough. It is so sad what goes on in churches today. But. only with God’s help can you get past this. If we keep dwelling on it, it will rob us from our joy of being His child. We HAVE to look up every day and know that He will give us peace and joy.

      • Vandyke Ebbin on July 16, 2017 at 11:46 pm

        amen! you are right. Healing will come on due season… The lord always takes care of his children.

    • Winnie on July 7, 2017 at 3:24 am

      I absolutely feel your pain. As a teenager I was banished from a church in the most painful ways…through an announcement on the pulpit. I was accused of having an affair with a sugar daddy. The truth of the matter is that the said man was my biological father whom I had been spotted with several times. People didn’t know that he was my father so they made assumptions and I was banished…just like that! IT HURT. SO MUCH. A few weeks later someone in the church went to the leadership and told them that the man they were accusing me of having an affair with was my father. They sent the person to apologise to me but I refused to accept the apology and I demanded that they make the apology on the same pulpit they humiliated me through. Of course that never happened, because the church leadership did not want to admit their mistake.

      • Liz Cutajar on January 13, 2018 at 10:11 am

        so sad for what happened to you Winnie…so sad that so often it is the leadership that should repent and does not.

    • Praying for healing on September 3, 2017 at 6:34 am

      Struggling, I work at a church now and they did that to someone I worked with. The exit tactics for several ministry assistants have been presented in a way that preserve the face of the pastors. I am personally struggling as I cannot do my workload anymore due to the rapid growth of our churches. I find myself struggling with anger and frustration and now I am crying a lot. I have voice my frustrations to my boss and he has been trying to get me help for 9 months and still I sit in a pile of work I can’t stay caught up on. I liked what the article said about I am not my work, my value doesn’t come from that. I wish I could believe that and let go of the burden I feel right now. Ther ware many things I like about working at the church but I’m praying about leaving and getting a non church job. Praying for healing for you and your situation.

  95. Kelley Prescott Stoll on May 9, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Hi, my husband and I recently joined a marriage ministry at our church. We were super gunho and both felt very called by God to serve in this way. My husband missed a bible study with one of the other leaders – to be with our family. Afterwards, we were both criticized and frankly taken to the mattresses about our level of commitment and they said it was because of “accountability”. But, there was no grace – just anger and resentment from them, blame and judgement. We attempted to resolve it, but it still feels like an elephant in the room and now we both feel like we walk around the ministry with a Scarlett A on our chests. Nothing is spoken to us, but now it feels we’ve been made to sit in the corner with the dunce cap on and just wait. Like, we aren’t good enough to facilitate as leaders anymore. Let me just say, that he missed just one night of bible study, which has nothing to do with the Marriage Ministry except similar people are in both venues. I don’t get it. Now, instead of being excited about it, we feel heavy hearted and judged. We are both thinking about leaving and finding another ministry. We would never do anything against the church, it’s vision, or what it stands for. But, the attitudes from others in leadership have left us with a sore taste, wishing we had perhaps stayed on the other side of the curtain. Completely unsure of how to push forward through this. We have prayed on this for weeks. But, we really need someone to talk to and work through it with but it seems like there is no one. Disillusioned and unsure.

    • neanessy on May 16, 2017 at 7:10 am

      Hey there! I am by no means a professional- on any account. But as followers of Christ, we are to be speaking the truth in love- that truth also encompasses the truth of who we are and how we feel. God desires we handle confrontation directly- meaning burying things under the rug is not walking in freedom and reconciled relationships, but rather being emotionally mature enough to identify and communicate your feelings clearly and effectively. Talking directly to the people you have the issue with is the best way to heal and ‘deal with it’. People shy away from telling others when they’re hurt or upset because they feel it is an action that fractures relationships when really, going to the person who hurt you is a restorative action! Plus, lets face it, it is very very scary to be vulnerable with another especially if we are not sure they’re emotionally safe to be vulnerable with!

      The bigger challenge will be for you and your husband to be emotionally mature and stable enough to respectfully and clearly communicate your feelings- paying attention to the tone and volume of your voice, your choice of words, and body language and facial expressions will either convey a heart that is desiring restoration or a heart that is commanding penitence from someone (don’t expect an apology, if they love Jesus fully, they will see the necessity to apologize, but it is not proper of you to expect one. If you expect one and don’t get it, you run the risk of slipping into anger and furthermore into bitterness which the Bible talks amply about bitterness).

      Do you know how to communicate your feelings clearly? Typically, people are more accustomed to saying things like: ‘You never pay attention to me’ and believing that is a clear expression of their feelings, when it’s not. It is ambiguous, it implies the person have NEVER paid correct attention to them, and it also sets the other person automatically on the defensive and they shut down and don’t even bother to empathize. Instead, clear and respectful communication in that instance might look like saying ‘When I was talking to you and you grabbed your phone to answer a text, it hurt my feelings because it felt like I was not as important to you as that text was.’ (Sorry if my example dialogue sounds cheesy!) Can you see the difference. Put yourself on the receiving end of these two comments. Which would you be more apt to really listen to and empathize with? One sounds more like an attack while the other sounds more like a plea for relationship restoration. One is ambiguous and disrespectful while the other is very precise (this is what happened- the facts- this is how I felt). Obviously your situation is not about a phone, but the format usually follows something like this:

      I felt x, when you did y. (Order up to you)

      Also, don’t forget to ask about their experience. You have zero clue what went on for them, that they might have been really looking forward to you guys’ presence at that bible study and when you weren’t able to go, they were let down as well. Just keep an open mind that is ready to empathize with their emotions too.

      Bottom-line: grace. Be mindful that they have needs as well. One of theirs may have been crossed in the situation too. Keep in mind that your husband might need to apologize too (and he probably ought to, because ‘I’m sorry, forgive me’ is such a powerful phrase!!)

      I could keep writing, but I think I might have already overloaded you as is. And also, of course it is entirely your choice to take my advice or leave it; this is based on my experience with conflict resolution and also what God has spoken to me about my own heart in times of relational conflict-whether directly or through His Word.

      May God Bless your efforts and restore you and the other party involved, keeping in mind that we ALL are on the same team and serve the same God.

  96. Susan Scott on May 2, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    I cannot take it anymore. I am working on an exit strategy. Our church has been in steady decline for years. We are down to eight people plus a worship team of 5 and there is zero conversation about how we can change. Anything I have suggested in the form of outreach has been rejected because “programs don’t work” The only thing I hear about is how people don’t measure up. If people leave the church it’s because “they don’t want to hear the truth.” Your points are well taken but how long do you beat a dead horse?

    • Veronica on June 18, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      This is the voice of the disappointed. It sounds like This leadership is in a slump, very down about their circumstances and feeling hopeless about their effectiveness. I’ve been there, thankfully not when our lead pastors are. It’s important to build each other up in the Lord. It sounds like you still have the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within you. Are you hearing from The Lord saying, “go here, do this, say that”? If so, obey His voice and be patient, praying for the btethren. If you join the voice of those who have criticized, you just become part of the problem, not the solution. Ask the Lord if you’re released, if so, go in love and friendship, but if not, stand and serve as an encourager and do what the Lord directs you to do.
      Trust Him Who will lead you according to His ways.

  97. Ruth Grace on April 26, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Hi, I read something recently that said ‘ answer to life is not happiness it is usefulness’
    I think this is why people who have volunteered or served before can’t really enjoy church unless they are serving. All those who are happy doing little are waiting for the time when they will be serving more if not in the church in a fuller capacity elsewhere. I think it’s fair enough that people need to feel they are fulfilling a function that goes beyond just supporting others’ ministry.? That’s how God made us.

  98. Justina Weinstein on April 15, 2017 at 6:23 am

    All of these points were absolutely beautifully articulated. #3 is really what I’d been struggling with, but #7 is the answer to #3 and more. Thank you for sharing!

  99. Thulani M Matshazi on March 10, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Very insightful article. Thank you for sharing.

  100. Faith Bogdan on February 28, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I found this article by googling “Christians hate to serve.” I am a pastor who is currently exploring the possibility of hiring nursery staff from the outside world. If I ever quit the pastorate, not only will I keep attending church, I hope to God I will find the small, under-served church with a great outward vision and walk in with my sleeves rolled up and say, “Put me to work where the ‘mature saints’ don’t want to work.” That will likely be in the nursery. And I know I will be allowing those who truly want to serve–the new converts–to stay in the service where they need to be and hear the sermons. There’d be no need for blogs like this one if we knew who we were in Christ, truly lived the gospel, understood the purpose of church. Sorry for the cynical tone; I’m going to go pray now.

    • Winnie on July 7, 2017 at 4:05 am

      I recently asked a church organization if I could volunteer in an area where I noticed that they are struggling yet I am very skilled at it. They never got back to me but I overhead comments flying around, something like ‘What makes her think she’s the only one who can do it?’. It hurt, moreso that they did not have the courage to say NO to my face but instead chose to talk behind my back. Something similar happened a while ago. It is frustrating. I have been in ministry for a long time and we moved from Africa recently. I found myself in churches where I am the only black person. Back home God had given me public platforms like TV, radio, and I was also contributing to national newspapers occasionally. I usually don’t tell people about my ministry background; I just ask to volunteer where I see a need. Somehow because of my skin colour it is assumed that I don’t know anything, I cannot do anything, and I have reached a point where I now just act as dumb as people expect me to be. I’m now looking into doing ministry OUTSIDE the church, reaching out to the African refugees in the town. Clearly, I’m not so welcome in the white church and neither are my gifts.

      • Bobbi on August 8, 2017 at 9:04 am

        I have no words of wisdom nor useful insight but I am sorry you’re being treated that way. I pray you find a niche for your gifts and a church home where you feel welcomed. I will pray for you!

  101. Peter Tefft on February 15, 2017 at 12:55 am

    I am amazed at all the comments about problems in the church. It just shouldn’t be that way. If you are a Pastor then act like one and do what God has instructed you to do. You can not be a Pastor and be distant to those who God has given you. Just a simple conversation once in awhile with others is enough to garner all the support you need as a Pastor. Continue to be distant from some members and you will in no way encourage them to be part of your ministry and serve the Church and God. My one advice to Pastors is to make sure you come out of your inner circle of friends and be with other people who need you as much as your circle does. If you think this is not a real big problem then I hope and pray the best for your ministry. I love my Pastor and I support him 100%, I encourage him and I gift him and his family when I can but he is very distant from me and only talks to those whom he likes or at least that is what seems to be. Most church members don’t need the Pastor to be a friend or even a close friend. I have been attending my church for more than year now and I don’t need a hand to count how many times he has made any attempt at a decent conversation with me. I refuse to leave the church I love, will not cause any strife or gossip and I will support him with all that I can do, but it hurts a lot.

    • Hugh Mcclenaghan on April 23, 2017 at 1:05 am

      My thoughts exactly, I love my church, my pastor, who is so real, and the people of the church but I find that he/they are always so busy and hard to get a conversation out of, this I can understand as they take so much time preparing a message but if the needs of the newly converted aren’t addressed they can become very lonely nearly to a point that they struggle with the will of God. As I said I love my church, I love my God but we all need purpose and direction. It’s great to be rich in God but if you struggle to share it then we start to think what’s the purpose, I know that I am for heaven some day but struggle with the fact I can’t get the message across to family and friends and it just seems that the closer I get to God the bigger the distance I put between me and them, this is my greatest worry, I pray to God for help but we all need fellowship in the church to share our worries to resolve them, please pastors, step up and be part of your people. Listen to them before leading them. God bless you all for taking time to understand my text.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on April 23, 2017 at 4:36 am

        Hey Hugh..small groups can really help with connection. Once a church passes 100 in attendance, you need to move to a care system that isn’t reliant on the pastor.

    • AnnaET on April 25, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      If you’ve ever been involved in a church who:
      1/ the only time the leadership talk to you is to ask you to lead/serve (consequently most people are serving because of this method and it begins to feel like the only reason anyone talks to you is to get something out of you)
      2/ you then lead/serve (because you feel a genuine desire to help)
      3/ you then several years later burn out (outside circumstances)
      4/ you tell the church you need a break as you’ve become depressed, burnt out and anxious
      4/ none of those leaders (pastors as well as senior ministers) ever follow up on you, even when you are missing services due to the sheer weight of life, instead a year later they ask you again would you like to lead/serve…..

      That’s a problem and that’s what I take this article referring to. Leaders who have well and truly burnt out. I know this particular scenario is potentially singular, although I do know of at least 6 others from a variety of churches whom this has happened (not necessarily anxiety, but borderline depression and most certainly burn out) and they simply cannot stomach church.

      It’s 150% important to realise it is never, ever God who hurts you, it’s people, but desiring to go to church when you know the hypocrisy is difficult. When you hear of it happening to others, in other states, in other church families you begin to wonder if it is a much bigger problem. There is a strong sense of cynicism and when you hear and see those big smiling faces it’s quite difficult not to think “you clearly haven’t experienced life yet”. (I am painfully aware this is not a good attitude, but I would argue plenty of burnt out leaders have thought this)

      I would say to those who don’t recognise these “9 reasons” and are saying “this would never happen to me, I know how to handle myself, I am a mature christian and would never serve with a wrong attitude, after all I am doing it for God” that just don’t think it. Don’t say it. You simply never know what life will throw at you. It is human nature to be disappointed when people don’t appreciate your efforts. That may happen to you one day, you may say “I would never handle it in the way those Christians did” but you just don’t know.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on April 25, 2017 at 8:56 pm

        Those are some really good points, and that sounds like a horrible experience. I guess my question would be, is there a point at which your past no longer directs your future?

    • Sarah House on June 22, 2017 at 11:53 am

      You hit the nail on the head! I am having the same exact experience with my pastor as I serve on the leadership team at my church. I love my church and will not leave because I know the enemy wants me to flee! I do however feel like pastors that have a committed staff need to at least acknowledge their leadership on Sundays just as much as they do the members of the church. A little encouragement goes a long way!

    • Barbara on July 3, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      It seems as if you really have a problem with your pastor. First you say he is distant…then later in your post you say he should not have friends. Maybe your pastor is not friendly or does not communicate well. Have you ever thought about inviting him and his family to your home for just a friendly visit? Maybe things has happened in former churches that grieved him greatly. There are no perfect pastors…we all struggle to exist in this world. Pastors and their wives and children carry a heavy burden. Pray for him.

      • Sarah Jagenberg on April 12, 2018 at 8:20 pm

        Barbara you are wrong. Most pastors are distant and arrogant. It is their JOB to lead the sheep, That means caring for, communicating and appreciating all those who attend and or serve. Why do you call it a heavy burden? When you are truly operating in the truth and in love WITH HUMILITY, it is never a heavy burden to serve God, and ESPECIALLY to ” feed the sheep”. These attention seeking people who call themselves pastors are a shame to true Christianity. I think about all the churches I have attended and served, and I just want to vomit. The leadership is almost always deplorable and lacking in love. I’m not saying all are this way, but it is definitely the majority.

  102. Lindsay Tamblyn on February 8, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Carey, you make some very good and honest insights in your article. As a pastor fresh out of leading a church I have to say it feels very weird not to be leading anything at the moment. We still love the church despite its imperfections. My wife and I acknowledge we are called to ministry, but at this point very broken and in need of TLC. We feel displaced but not discarded and fully expect to serve and function in our calling once we come through this season. For now it’s about seeking God and finding him for ourselves again. It is unsettling after 20 years of pouring our hearts into people and it seems like we now need to find a whole new purpose. Perhaps other ex-leaders feel similarly too.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 10, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Lindsay…thanks for this. You’ve served so well and it’s really strange when you’re not! I stopped being the lead pastor 18 months ago and it still feels strange some days. But the point is the call on your life lasts as long as you live. I really appreciate your comment and the thoughtful way you wrote it. Said a prayer for you, and I trust your new place will become evident soon. Thanks for your great heart and faithfulness to Christ’s church!

    • BR Stokes on April 22, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      I’m a retired from the Pastorate two years ago. Retirement means you take it down a notch and are not busy every waking moment. Plus, I have always had a personal ministry that I am presently recalibrating to be a teaching ministry and plan to go teach at churches and various Christian venues locally and nationwide. So I am looking for a new church home in my neighborhood. A place to pay my tithes, have a Pastor, church home and family, and be acknowledged as a member of the Church’s ministry team that assists the Pastor as needed, no particular title or assignment but being an “affiliate or associate minister” there. Do you think this scenario is realistic and would be acceptable to a Pastor?

  103. Shelli Fitzpatrick on January 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Seems to me if a church was more about preaching and studying the word of God and less about how to do and grow church the Holy Spirit would see to the details. I read a lot about programs and formulas and I am left wondering when did humanistic psychology replace being led by the Holy Ghost?

  104. William R. Floyd on January 11, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    The very spirit/nature displayed by the institutional section of Christendom is completely foreign to the Spirit/nature of God. It’s more of a danger than a useful tool. At best, it’s like bunch of middle schoolers trying to teach elementary kids how to graduate from college. There’s a growing number of believers recognizing this and leaving the systems in order to follow The Lord. This article is very unbalanced.

  105. Jimmie Riley on January 4, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    The congregation was growing numerically and spiritually. There were the normal obstacles and challenges any pastor faces but my long-term goals were coming to fruition. God was doing so much–but after four years I was forced to resign. My wife had become depressed and suicidal after the constant pressures of the elder women and traditionalism of the long standing members. During the four years we were there my wife faced quite a bit of difficulty and judgement and looking back I’ve learned I was not her advocate as I should’ve been. At this time we are not regularly attending a church. I would love it but my wife is still on the mend. I say all of this simply because not all people have decided to ignore church for selfish reasons. I pray we will be able to attend church together regularly again and I would love to pastor a church again. For now I’m taking this time to grow, reflect, and help my wife mend.

    • robin on May 13, 2017 at 5:55 am

      God knows your heart and our families are a very important ministry. I commend you for loving your wife as Christ loves His church. There is a season for everything and this is a time of rebuilding and mending. There is a lot of great things that happen in a mending season. As you know he works all things for good and this is making you more like Christ which is His ultimate goal.

      • Barbara on July 3, 2017 at 12:27 pm

        There may be season for everything…but there is not a season for anyone to be unchristian to a pastor’s wife, or any other Christian..This happens in many churches today. And that is exactly the reason most churches are closing today. Not enough genuine Christian love for one another. Too much criticism, judging, and jealousy among the members. And I might add unforgiveness!

  106. William Hartley on November 24, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Sad to see that all 9 points are negative. One big one is that, when one is gifted with leadership gifts, it’s hard to not see them being used. Like Lumiere says in Beauty and the Beast, “life is so unnerving for a servant who’s not serving.” I fear an article like this might serve to shame gifted liters into not leaving again, even though that’s what they’ve been wired and gifted to do.

    • Susan L Prince on May 21, 2017 at 8:11 am

      This! This is a very good point!

      A servant not serving, or being allowed to serve the way s/he is gifted is grievous and causes that person to shrink over time. It also causes a person to begin to doubt their value and worth which never leads to anything productive.

  107. Aaron Fuller on November 24, 2016 at 7:27 am

    As someone who loves their faith tradition’s distinct form of worship, it is hard to be a member of the community of faith because every time I do, I have to listen to how my colleagues are either not doing a good job or asking me what my future plans are in terms
    of what church I intend to serve next. While for the most part I can politely deflect, it makes it very hard to join the community and to worship.

    I suppose I could just go to any church, and I have, but I find myself missing important elements that help connect me to God and feed me spiritually. As hard as I try, non-liturgical churches don’t work for me, and I think that’s ok to say. I just hate having to choose between worshipping outside of what is meaningful for me, or lying about the fact I am a pastor.

    • Jeremy on January 11, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Spot on noting the blessings of liturgical worship. Nonliturgical leaves me feeling hungry.

      Could you be on “sabbatical” rather than being tempted to lie about being a pastor? Or possibly go to a different liturgical denomination?

    • Mark Jones on March 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      I am also deflecting the comments and questions. “So, what’s next.” My answer is really, “I don’t even know why I am here TODAY!” -and all the while knowing that I had to force myself to do that much. I have sat out a few weeks and that is not the answer because I also know that the postives the local church offer out-weigh the problems. Here is something I found in my inner discussion of where to attend now and trusting the Holy Spirit to use me where ever I can be used: I was disappointed with the search because the search had become about me and the things I felt the church should be and not embracing it for what it is with grace shown towards its imperfections much like Jesus and our own lives. You said the one thing I found was my problem in your comments. “Worship outside what is meaningful for ME”- who then are you worshiping if that’s who you’re looking to make it meaningful for? That’s exactly what I was doing. Looking for it to have a meaning for me and when I could be in community with others that at least recognized if anything Church was never about it being worshiping, teaching about, serving or evangelizing for ME. Praying for you and all the hurt pastors here that I am so crushed have to feel the way we do- but it was for Him that we did it to begin with wasn’t it?

  108. ServantHeart2012 on November 23, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I made the mistake of believing I was being hired by the local church I attend for my skills, abilities, and willingness to “support the mission.” To the contrary, I was reluctantly hired because the person in charge of my department thought I would be a good fit. I am retired from a 33 year career (not in ministry) and was old enough to have fathered nearly every other person on staff! What I found out is that I was resented by many simply because of my age. They felt I was “watching” them and waiting for an opportunity to “share wisdom” with them. (to put it nicely) That assumption was completely without merit but it didn’t matter. They simply wanted to do ministry their way and didn’t want a “parent figure” around to “oversee” their activities and offer criticism as had been their experience growing up in church. They wanted full independence and autonomy to do new things. I wanted that for them! They were and are to this day doing an incredible job in their ministries!
    I should have heeded the “red flags” during the hiring process. The delays. The rescheduled interviews. Being told to report to work on a certain day, but not being asked to complete required documents or being added to the payroll until much later should have all signaled trouble . . . and they did. But I reassured myself; “Everything’s fine.”
    Long story short, I stayed on for 8 weeks and quit without giving notice after several “passive aggressive” incidents made it clear I was not just in the wrong seat on the bus . . . I was on the wrong bus! I stayed away for about a month while watching services online in order to keep receiving the messages. After much prayer and reflection I returned to continue to serve as a volunteer and to worship.
    When I was a kid I fell off my bicycle . . . more than once. It hurt. I have a visible scar from one particular crash. I always got back on my bike after a fall. My experience being “on staff” at my church hurt too. It left an IN-visible scar on my heart. But just as God healed my surface wound from falling off my bike, He is healing the “wounded heart” I experienced when people assumed I was the enemy and treated me as such.
    Nearly two years later I still attend the same church. Admittedly, it isn’t the same as it was before but I intend to worship there until my time on earth is through.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 23, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      This is one of the most encouraging, humble notes I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks for not giving up, despite some shoddy treatment by the team. Remarkable…really!

    • robin on May 13, 2017 at 6:04 am

      Very encouraging! This is how we need to approach the local church. You decided to grow through this instead of getting bitter and moving some place to never be known. That shows a spiritual maturity that I pray is taught to others. I have read several articles about how millennials really want to connect with a more mature generation in the church. We need every generation in the body of Christ to show the fullness of of God in His wisdom, maturity as well as fresh perspectives. It is a blessing that you have such grace on those who did not treat you correctly. The Lord blesses the humble.

      • Lily on June 3, 2019 at 2:18 pm

        No, no, no, no, Robin. The behaviour of the persons toward Servantheart was completely unacceptable and the answer is not to sweep it under the rug and carry on. THIS is the biggest problem of the church! So few people are held accountable for their bad behaviour and the victim is considered “spiritually mature” and full of grace by forgiving abusive people (and accepting that they will keep on abusing). Nonsense. We NEED to hold Christians and especially Christian leaders accountable to their actions. Jesus did so all the time… he called the hypocrites OUT. Forgiveness is important, but when we shrug away horrible behaviour by Christians as something that just happens it reflects on the entire church. Enough is enough.

    • Vicki Heidorn on June 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Well lived, well said. Thanks for sharing. Humbling.

  109. Ronnie Lee Murrill on November 23, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    The unfortunate thing that I see is that churches often do not value the resources to be found in experienced leaders and assimilate them and their abilities into different forms of volunteers service. I attend regularly and quite honestly do not have any contact with anyone in the church unless I initiate it myself. I attend a church that has about 3700 in attendance with multiple services and is really a great church, but they lack an awareness that people need more contact than a packet of tithing envelopes in the mail each month. When I read articles like this, I see that much of the responsibility for this conundrum is placed squarely on the former pastor, staff, volunteer; but where is the responsibility of the church to engage people in ways to create a welcome place for those who may be weary or just retired, I have remarked that we have arrived at the time of the self-serve church and many people fall through the cracks because they just don’t understand that if you don’t make the effort to connect yourself, you may drive away disillusioned.

  110. MakingaDifference on September 21, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Having worked here on staff, it is a mess. What I am having a hard time with is the spending that is going to worship services and expensive equipment and less to ministering to the needed. Too much wasteful spend and not enough focus on the simple things and the business elements of the organization.

    • Barbara on July 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      I find that many pastors are starting Bible studies in their homes for those who really want the word preached and taught. And not with the idea to build another church…just to study the word! Of course they may need a secular job or be retired for their income…But sure beats always putting out fires! There are people out there in the world that would love to attend Bible Studies and to be near real sincere Christians who really care.

  111. Vernon Choin on August 29, 2016 at 4:03 am

    I think a lot of people can relate to this topic… There are a lot of other topics that converge with this.
    My own experience with trying to become involved in service is… I’ve experienced the “Who will go?”, being called and answered ‘Here am I, send me!”
    And in stepping forward found the church that I was involved in said, ” No, We don’t need you.” or just as bad… “We don’t see how we can use your talents.”
    The problem I’ve believe is that of not disavowing my past. I’ve always told people that God called me to Him through the Assembly of God Church. I’ve had the experience of “Speaking in other Tongues.” even though that was a long time ago… and I don’t feel moved now to speak in that fashion. I believe it may have been God’s means of getting my attention at the time. Since I wasn’t listening to anyone at the time. I’ve found that I am immediately suspect once they learn of my experience, instead of looking at my life and what God has done to me in bringing me closer to Him.
    Do we place to much emphasis on having our “club dues” being paid up… Does every one’s experience have to match our own? We have a lot of people who would like to be active in Church a lot of areas who may not be able to tithe fully because of their financial position or mistakes they’ve made managing money.
    Sometimes, doesn’t it seem that we do a lousy job of helping people find themselves, and places to serve because of our lack of vision and lack of yielding to the Spirit? Do we make a mistake when we insist on “Doctrinal” purity, as in Denominationalism.. rather than the Spiritual Essentials that our Doctrines are based upon?

  112. Pam on August 21, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Nikki, I am so sorry for your pain. You have suffered a tremendous loss and are probably experiencing a lot of grief. I am not an expert on grief, but I know that people need to go through the stages of grief before they can recover.

    I have been thinking lately about how the church serves their own. I don’t have a solution – just thoughts and questions.

    I have many wonderful people in my life who serve me well. For example, when I go to my doctor, dentist, chiropractor, fitness instructor, or hairdresser, they all seem genuinely glad to see me and want to help me. They know me well and even often ask about my family. They want to help me get well, have good teeth, have less back pain, and get fit. Some even reach out to me when I am absent for a while. If they did not serve me well, I would not return as a customer, client, or patient. This system works very well.

    Church doesn’t work this way. I pay my church no matter what. I sincerely don’t know what to reasonably expect from the church staff if I have a need. I have been reading on the Internet how members who need help from the church are takers and not givers. I don’t know what to make of this. Many people give their time and money to a church – something goes very wrong in their life, and then they need help. When they don’t get the help they need it doesn’t seem right to me. This system is broken, right? You were a giver for eight years, and then you needed some help. The help you needed seems reasonable.

    I feel sad for your loss. I hope someone with real answers for you will give you some advice. There is a guy that blogs about grief but I can’t think of his name. I will try and look for him when I have time and post his name for you.

  113. Nikki Morrow on August 7, 2016 at 11:12 am

    My husband and I have attended and served in our local church for 7+years. We were highly dedicated to children’s ministry. We taught and learned from ages k-3rd grade. Our church is southern Baptist but non traditional. I thought very highly of the preacher. Where it all turned around was when my sisters fiance had a terrible motorcycle accident. He was in icu unconscious for 2 weeks. The doctors said that he would probably never wake up and if he did he would never be the same. He has a 5 year old daughter. That was crushed and cried every single day for her daddy. Prior to his wreck on Easter Sunday he attended our church. Which is a huge deal because he had really hard bad feelings against God and the church. That day he went to the front broken and crying. And was believed to be lead in the salvation pray with the pastors dad. He contuined to come to church for a few weeks and then the awful wreck happened. He thought the world of the preacher and so did his parents because they seen such a changel in him. Well I called the preacher and ask him to please come pray over him and the family. The family was broken and kept asking about the pastor to come. He came once and visiting hours were over in the icu unit. He said he would be back down the next day. Well the pastorsame wife had broken her arm. Understandable we did not expect him to come back for a while. He texted a few times asking how he was. But that was it. He was in the hospital for 3 months he woke up after the 2nd week. But could not walk or talk or move the right side of his body. Long story short he made a recovery and his home now with constant care from his parents. We have yet to hear from the pastor. I’m so hurt that the pastor wasn’t there for him and the family. We had attended and served in that church for almost 8 years. We never ask for anything. We always volunteered for any event. I’m just torn and broken from the response of the church. I don’t know how to get over this. We tried attending 2 churches after that but it never felt like home. Now I am at a point that I don’t ever want to be a part of the church. My husband wants to go to church. I feel like I can worship God on my own and spread his love to others outside the church. Please help I do not want this to come in between my husband and I. Thank
    you for reading this

    • Mackenzie on January 9, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      I am saddened that your pastor failed to be there. But remember he is human and allowed to fail. I pray you find the grace to forgive him, or you’ll never heal. There could be a number of good reasons why he didn’t come, or there could be no good reason at all. We have to remember that even though they are our pastors doesn’t mean they should be held at a higher standard of living or faith. We are all on this earth and all equal in the eyes of God.

      Don’t forgive some to excuse their behavior but to prevent their behavior from destroying your heart… You see satan is using this whole thing to bring you away from God. Is taking a tole on your faith, your grace, and possibly your marriage?

      Talk to the pastor, let him know how you feel. Forgive him, and move on. Him and the church knowing how it hurt you and your family will help them be aware to know they need to do it better next time. Don’t stay at that church if you don’t feel like being there anymore but keep looking. You Tried 2 churches but they’re are plenty more. Community is important in our faith. God didn’t call us to worship in our homes by ourself and go out and do good alone. He called us to come together with one another, make disciples…

      I’m praying for you. I know you posted 5 months ago, I hope all is well. God bless!

  114. Asret Enoria on July 20, 2016 at 6:53 am

    What if you’re unjustly fired as the result of gossip and manipulation in a smaller community that has destroyed your ministry and resulted in a church split? What if you cannot just move away because you had to get a job to pay the bills and are stuck in the that area until you find a way to relocate to whereversville?
    And what if people who participated in your demise are scattered among remaining Biblical churches in the area, as are the people who were friends and were hurt by the goings on but they want to talk about it and all it does to help them is eat away at your soul to you keep a distance so have no where to go to church that is safe and fresh?
    And what if part of your parting contract was a muzzle from sharing openly?
    And what if every time you make the long drive and attend some kind of decent church out of town your stomach literally feels afire with despair and loss, you can barely keep from bawling your eyes out or wanting to scream obscenities with frustration?
    And what if, sitting in those services, a weird clarity that our church culture has fallen into performance, programming, politics and sales instead of being about God, relationships and obedience take you over and you feel hopeless?
    So then what if you know you need to get back at it but you can’t go back to doing church in that way?
    And what if the idea of telling your neighbour about Jesus without a church to commend to them leave you adrift?
    And what if getting to know someone new overwhelms you anyhow because the getting to know you bit is just to complicated to answer or to be a good testimony would nearly require you to lie or keep them at arm’s length anyhow?
    And what if others you try to talk to get help because you know you’re damaged either drag you down into their own embitterment or give you canned, pithy answers or want to charge you a fee you can’t afford?
    What if your heart is broken because your once on fire for Jesus daughter is now finding her unsaved friends safer to share with than other Christians, plus sees her parents flounder, so has put church and Christian community aside?
    What if????

    • steve naum on August 12, 2016 at 5:36 am

      I’ve been there and as much as the personal pain hurts it is even more heartbreaking to watch those you love struggle because of things that happen within a church.

      It was a process but things got better when I chose to forgive those that hurt me and my family. Every day, whether I felt like it or not I would say “I forgive _____” and say that persons name. There were several to forgive. I would ask the Lord to help me let go of the pain and confess that I trusted him in this. I am simplifying was heart wrenching.

      After some time, when my emotions were less raw and God was working on me, I contacted each person and apologized and asked for forgiveness for any part I played in the situation. THAT was freeing! I only received one response from that group but I was okay with it.

      I prayed a lot but definitely not perfectly. God felt distant but I told Him I trusted Him and asked Him to help me with my faith.

      We took a couple of months off from going to church, which I wasn’t hot in the idea, but respected my wife’s emotions. God led us to a church which isn’t perfect but I know that the Lord’s bride is His church and if He loves people in that church, including me,who let Him down regularly, then I need to love those people as well.

      I’m not 100% recovered from the pain and I don’t expect the pain to go away but I choose to trust the Lord and His goodness and I told Him that I WILL follow Him. So I exercised my will to trump my thoughts and emotions.

      He shows that He is always faithful and I hope your pain is used by Him to make you more complete and that you are able to glorify Him more than you would have if you hadn’t been hurt.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on August 13, 2016 at 7:51 am

        Steve…wow. This is perhaps the healthiest response I’ve seen around this issue. Good for you for owning whatever part you played, praying through it, looking inward and upward rather than just outward to stay angry at others. And thanks for doing the tough work of forgiveness, which I’m sure was needed all around. This is really amazing…And I’m sure you (and the church) are so much better for it. Thanks for sharing this!

      • FedUp on April 3, 2017 at 1:13 am

        But, when you set about to forgive and you realize that the same situation and sentiments exist–not in one person, but in the WHOLE SYSTEM.
        As I wrote in my Prayer Journal—“It’s not the “DOING” (forgiving), Lord. I’m truly not angry at a single person. It’s the “WHO–ING” WHO do I forgive? Because You and I both know the problem would have been the same no matter which church (my denomination) I attend.–Because it’s not a single problem, it’s a systemic problem. He was able to start a NEW church, walk away from the stale, jaded and judging Pharisaical temple. I don’t have that power, authority or privilege. My doctrines are based on the Bible–I can’t just toss it and go “anywhere.”

        After 15 years of every time I walked through the doors (and I held the key and walked through a LOT) having to listen to the snide comments, the willful ignorance (by this I mean, they did not know what they were talking about, yet they refused to just “Come and See” and find the Truth, for themselves.) Feeling worse when I left, than when I came— It finally dawned on me, if I just stopped walking through the doors—-I wouldn’t have to hear it any more. I wouldn’t have to deal with rigid, closed minds, and I wouldn’t have to have my heart BREAK for what COULD have been; SHOULD have been! To see so much potential and promise just tossed to the wind. Why would we stand in our own way?

        • steve naum on May 12, 2017 at 6:44 pm

          I’m sorry that has been your experience and I have to admit that it is similar to mine.
          The tough thing was to lookin the mirror and realize that I was a part of the issue.
          The beauty of the Lord’s love for us (His church) is that He is committed to work out His plan and establish His kingdom through the imperfect people that make up His church. He is longsuffering with you, me, and the other guy that drives us nuts.
          Another revelation, is that all people will disappoint someone. I’ll dissapoint you and you’ll dissapoint met. That means the “jerks” at church will do so also. I’ve lowered my expectations and it keeps my internal attitudinal barometer on the right track.
          The last thing that I’ve come to realize is that when we think someone is doing the Christian life “wrong” it reveals the pride in my heart. When I am upset about the other guys self righteousness it probably means I have some of that running inside of me.

          Love God, Love people. Otherwise you’re going to end up a lonely, angry, and bitter person who doesn’t mature in Christ. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t have other Christians around you, whether they are “good” or “bad” Christians.

          I wish you the best!

    • Nick on August 22, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      I am there – Jesus.

      …a deep anger welled up within him…”Master, come and see”, they said. Now Jesus wept.
      ‭‭John‬ ‭11:34-35‬ ‭MSG‬‬

      I too am in this place. Very similar – whole family set adrift by institutional religion. A PK myself with decades of active service, going low and dying to self the whole way whilst trying to work this programmatic evangelicalistic toxic culture.

      No pat replies from me. There is a very real case for justified holy discontent.

      One of the prime sources of this b#%s&@t are the bible colleges that continue to send out wave after wave of nieve formulaic immature graduates. Drunk with conferences and the in-house trappings of the industrial ministry complex. Happy shiny shallow.

      Here’s an idea, stop. Stop writing. Stop your book deals. Stop your platform building. Stop your building funds. Stop blogging. Stop doing what you’re doing. Put down the mike and just shut up. Stop thinking the church needs a building. We have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling within us, in a temple not made with human hands! That’s our sanctuary. That’s the genius of the gospel.

      How did we get here?! £130 billion pounds spent on maintaining Church of England property alone. That’s just one of the problems.

      It’s not how it was meant to be people and you know it.

  115. Ryan on July 7, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I have grown frustrated with church leadership because most don’t really want to fix anything. Getting things done involves honest, open discussion, hard work and making some tough choices. I have found many church leaders use the church as a place to hide and use phrases like “the Holy Spirit will guide us” so they have no accountability. Most church leaders can’t even tell you what their goals are for the next 1, 2 5 years. Church is messy typically because the leadership is a train wreck and they have no idea what leadership really is. There is no leadership development.

    You have ministry volunteers who are leaders by title but shouldn’t really be allowed to lead anything. Not because they are bad people but because they are not leaders. In a church there are too many feelings. Just because you want to lead a small group does not mean you should. Your gift of facilitation may be terrible but most churches allow it and then wonder why nobody shows up. If you dare mention that they are not a good facilitator you get the song and dance of how they are serving God. Again, not dealing with the real issue.

    Number 5 on the list is comical to ,me because their are many smarter individuals within a church that could help but its never taken advantage of. Church leaders don’t want people smarter than them. It exposes their lack of leadership. If church leaders would realize that members are smarter and have been more successful maybe they could put away their stubborn pride and learn a thing or to. But just like this article shows, its the members fault the members should just stop it. After all church leaders know everything there is to know, right?

  116. Renata Tweedy on June 7, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    While I’m sure I could identify on some level with each of the 9 reasons you cited if I took the time to self-examine, at the forefront of my experience were 2 others:
    1. Mourning your old church
    2. It’s surprisingly hella hard to make connections in a church you’re not the pastor of! (Unlike when you arrive as the new pastor and everyone is quick to connect and help you integrate)

    My husband and I left our church because they could no longer afford to keep a second staff member and so we moved out of the area. But I LOVED our church family, and for a long time going to other churches just made me feel sad and lonely. And not just because I missed my friends, but because it takes time to cultivate new relationships.

    I tried out our local Wesleyan Church for awhile, thinking it would be the easiest place to make connections and that I’d be able to get involved (for the purpose of growing those connections) quickly because the staff knew me. But not so, unfortunately. I don’t know whether churches don’t bother “courting” new people who should be able to connect themselves (since they were once in charge of “courting” others) as a rule, or whether that was just a solitary experience. All I know is that I tried as best I could, in my state of mourning for my old church family, to make a new start, and when I just got too tired and decided to take a break, no one (despite being FB friends with the leadership team) ever followed up.

    Then I took a longer break (a year). I stopped being in mourning, having found ways to keep connected with the people from my old church who I was closest to. I made connections in my new community that were not church connections. And eventually I figured I’d try again.

    I visited every church my GPS found for me, at least once. No one besides a greeter greeted me. No one sat with me. No one (not even ONCE!) even sat in my row! And whatever else could have kept me from coming back (style, structure, quality, environment, theology), it was that feeling of not knowing how to make that FIRST connection, to get my foot in the door, that did it, every time.

    Eventually, my first connection (to a church my GPS had failed to find and I didn’t know existed) happened in a coffee shop, when I happened to strike up a conversation with a young gal who turned out to be a pastor and like me was using the coffee shop as a second office (for the air conditioning). While we spoke, I was Googling her church.

    Honestly, there was nothing about the church that would have appealed to me as a “consumer”. But she was nice, and after my failing #churchsearch, nice was all I needed. And so I figured I’d check it out a few weeks later.

    I was greeted warmly and genuinely multiple times by multiple people, with words, shoulder pats, and a welcoming hug or two. Someone sat in my row and engaged me in conversation after the service. And the pastor I had met – who remembered my name – embraced me and introduced me to people.

    The church isn’t anything special, and really sucks in a lot of ways that most church do. I know there’s stuff going on under the surface that I’m SO GLAD isn’t my responsibility. But I’m thankful to have found a place where connecting seems possible. While Sunday services hold little appeal (they never really did for me before, either), I’m finding some COMMUNITY, and that’s why – though I don’t attend every week – I’m happy to say I’ve found a new church home.

    • Allan Spragg on July 3, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Thank you for your story. My wife and I are in the same situation. Laid off two churches in the area for the same financial reasons. Couldn’t afford to keep us. We made many good relationships that we attempt to keep up but the thought of going to another church right now is difficult. Still love the Church, love God, keep up on devotions but church, well, that is just not happening. I relate to your mourning comment. This is just a short note but thanks for your openness and honesty. There are many people (staff included) that do not attend church and often it is not for the the reasons of identity, stubbornness or bitterness. It never occurred to me that I was mourning but I believe this is exactly what is happening. To have it occur twice in the same basic area only makes it more poignant and a real blow to my heart. Blessings, keep us in your prayers if you think of it. Allan and Karen – Ontario, Canada

  117. chris burris on May 29, 2016 at 11:03 am

    First as pastor or former one I’ve seen the ugly of church, the unrealistic expectations that congregations place on you especially if you serve as a bivocational or tent making pastor. Your family gets your leftovers because you work 40 hours a week at a regular secular job and another 40 at the church or more. Balance cannot happen and yes your spiritual life does tank some. However for the most part congregations have this idea that church should be a one man or woman travelling pony show. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. By the way in this instant burger king society we created people want instant results. That is because we live in the last days. It literally is the days of Noah. So putting all of these aspects together it creates a storm of great proportion. Consider as well as a Southern Baptist the average congregation wants to change pastors every two years. Again this puts your family in great distress. Full-time ministry positions are not the norm.

  118. Debbie Fulthorp on May 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I find it hard to attend church as a former female lead pastor not because of these reasons, but because I have tried to get involved, but there are little to no places for me to serve where I feel my strengths might lie. Give me a small group, let me disciple them, let me teach a Sunday school or a Bible study. Encourage me to be a greeter. Where can I fit in? I feel like a square peg in a round hole. I also have chosen and been called to ministry as a vocation. That can be problematic when I have a family to feed and people aren’t open to hiring a woman in church leadership. So is it difficult for me to attend church as a former lead pastor? yes. I see so many areas that I could help in. At the same time, I am in a transitional place, so I don’t know how much I can get involved, but I still long to be involved. I try to fit in where I can – even if it is in the nursery for the time being.

  119. Anonmusic on March 30, 2016 at 1:56 am

    As a former worship leader, I’ve found that my God given talents are more useful for His kingdom outside of the “church”. I was part of a fairly large church with thousands of members and never got a single word of encouragement. All I ever received was criticism and not in a constructive way. The sins of my past were always brought up as if Jesus never transformed me, while the people pointing the finger were living lives consumed by sin. I’m not saying I’m perfect or sinless, none of us are, but I had come a long way from the life I had been living through Christ. It got to the point that rumors were being made up by people who I thought were my friends. Not only were they making up lies about me, but about some of my mentors as well. They discredited everything that the Lord had used us for and in a matter of weeks had basically ruined our reputations. The treatment of the congregation was bad but a strong character could overcome. What drove me over the edge was learning how the church operated behind closed doors and had done everything illegally. All the permits, all the codes, everything, had been done the wrong way. Everything soon became about money and every message was about tithing and offerings of more and more. It was disgusting. Meanwhile my non Christian friends are the nicest people I have ever met. Homosexuals, atheist, and every other person that the church denies, treated me like family. I felt loved. I never felt anything except for condemnation, jealousy, and hate from my church family. I know not all churches are the same but it seems like every person I know that leaves a church has the same to say about their church. I’m tired of man ruining what God wanted church to be. He wanted a community of believers and instead we have groups of people who judge, hate, and backstab anyone to get their way. I see my community as church and I spread love one person at a time. I think the four walls of church should be broken down. It has become corrupt like the Jewish temples that Jesus destroyed

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 30, 2016 at 3:50 am

      Thanks for sharing this, and I just want to say I am so so sorry. I wish what you said isn’t true, but as you painfully experienced, it is. I agree that this kind of leadership grieves the very heart of God. I pray for the day churches reflect the heart and ethics of Jesus…and in whatever small way I can, am working toward that day in this space and in my local church. God bless you.

  120. Den' on February 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    For me, I just grew weary of not being important to church people unless a guitar was in my hands! The most recent church a served at gave me a huge, unpalatable dose of this kind of medicine recently! In the same seven day period, I buried my mother, my nephew, and my home was burglarized, all just before Christmas! When my mom passed away, the pastor was on vacation. After I got in touch with my brother to let him know what happened, THE NEXT PERSON I CONTACTED WAS MY PASTOR! Again, he and his wife were on vacation, and he had apparently promised her that he would ignore his phone. So, he saw my message when it came in, but “…couldn’t respond to it.” There was absolutely NO follow-up Pastoral Care from this church to my family! Not a flower, card, or phone call! This isn’t the first church to treat me that way. I’m not only a church musician, I am a professional musician, but sadly, if my guitar could play itself, I feel like the average church person wouldn’t even care that there is no human being playing the instrument!
    I served at one church for a long time for free. When the topic of compensating me even a small amount was raised, their leaders encouraged me to look elsewhere! I did, and it didn’t take long to find something! The former church got mad at me when I left! I ran into one of their members months later, and he said to me, “Brother, we sure do miss that guitar!” I thanked him, while thinking to myself, “Yeah. I’ll be sure to let my guitar know how much she is missed!” The majority of people love my talent, but they do not love ME! That’s only part why I’ve stopped playing for churches. It would takes more time than I have to type (and you to read) for me to list all of my reasons!

    • Den' on February 24, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      To add to my comment,; Folks, if I am your pastor, and I get a callthat your parent just died, I don’t care WHAT I promised my wife! I’m going to go to her and break that promise, and tell her, “I need ten minutes! First I need five minutes to call our church member and offer prayer and support. Then, I need five additional minutes to inform the associate pastor of what has occurred so that he can make contact with the bereaved family in our absence. We will check on them as soon as we return home.” THAT, ladies and gents, is what a PASTOR is supposed to do!

    • James Smith on September 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Den, I’m so sad to hear what you went through. I recently went through a similar situation where I was worship leading for a congregation and had something very traumatic happen, and didn’t receive pastoral care. My father committed a crime, and he was later incarcerated. The entire church turned its back on me, and no one (not even the pastor) will communicate with me. I eventually left the church, and was very bitter by it. I didn’t attend for almost two years. I eventually moved from the are found a church that focused on Recovery. I joined a few classes, and have discovered that I had other talents, and a bigger heart for hurt people. Today, I am actively playing keyboards again and supporting a worship leader who understands the pain I experienced. The ministry is very unconventional, but it works for me. I wouldn’t give up. God may indeed have a future plan for you.

  121. leumas2855 on January 28, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Somebody said somewhere that there is One prayer the Lord prayed that has never been answered: That they may be one.
    I’ve been at this church since 1974. (Initially I got there working in their printing press. Even then I asked myself why when people are supposed to work for the Lord leaders will go out of their way to make things harder) except 10 years, where my wife and I went to another church because of overt racial hostility by the speaker, leader of the organisations southern African Branch and brother of the organisations UK branch. We were fostering at the time and usually mixed heritage kids. Nobody stopped or challenged him. Fortunately the church now is multi ethnic.
    The other church we had gone to went down because the son of the previous pastor believed that he should be pastor (not even his mother could agree with that) and with some of his worshippers made life difficult for the pastor, who was able to attract some young people from surrounding area, teaching and encouraging them to follow the Lord, till finally he left.
    So having looked around we ended back in the first church which had changed somewhat. Over the 10 years away, the printing press having been closed, I was working self employed on the premises, continuing some print related activities. A new pastor initially from England had come from South Africa to run church and organisation. As I was in the building I was able to help him getting his head round computer and producing church mag and publications. We had a good friendship going, one of the reasons we came back to the church. This was ok till he left the co-pastor on his own to do some work along a church unity setup locally. Then the co-pastor had to return to Australasia for family reasons. The replacement “pastor” (the church had asked for a local, rather than another SA import) a friend of the one having gone to the church unity, wasn’t a pastor nor had ever been one (great shame his wife wasn’t the pastor!): Christ came Not to break the broken reed, he believed in finishing the job off and setting people against each other, (the good shepherd goes out of his way to safe the sheep, but here one got the impression he would have rather put the lost sheep out of its misery) even setting near enough youngsters up as elders and making longstanding solid elders resign. He promised roles to young people e.g. even to the point where they resigned their job as they were after the administrators job, only the administrator didn’t believe God had told her to go. This carried on for 3.5 years till he went back to Sout Africa to do administrative work. My wife had as her ministry apart from her work and not being musical at all, prayerfully put together a weekly information Powerpoint presentation and with others run the song projection from a table near the front, I had initially as deacon been asked under the pastor and co-pastor to look after IT etc and so cared for the website and introduced life services (I had freedom to do it). reasonable help being given by the sound desk to have a corner for the purpose. That all changed after a 5to1 meeting accusing me of underhand doings (some of the testing and setting up for AV I did on my way home from work (church being more or less on the way) after my late shift) That I wasn’t sharing, that I wasn’t submitting, that my wife and I and another guy (he is known for Not willing to work with anybody else and being deliberately awkward. What’s in his favour is that he is the son of a previous pastor (during the time the organisations london leader died and the initial guy from SA came) and so he will always get his way and get excuses made for bullying behaviour) were splitting the church. After that meeting everything just got ripped out, my wife had to beg for a signal to run the projection, till eventually she gave up. The guy mentioned above Had to have the projection from the back, not that helpful in a pentecostal service where sudden changes happen and you are Not able to whisper to the projectionist from the platform. I was told to hand over the web over night (nothing at all was done on the website for more than a year) The church and leadership were fed spin to justify my wifes and my treatment, preventing me, even when that pastor had left to work in my talents and giftings.
    The church went looking a while for a pastor, then the unity pastor entered the search from finder to candidate and so returned.
    Now things were quite different to before and we felt it! There used to be informative sharing, church being informed and discussed with and generally freedom in ministry given. Then my wife suddenly found herself in a 5to1 meeting where she was accused of things and attitudes that weren’t true: Not a team player, having her own agenda etc. This left her fearful to do anything, even things she was trusted before with and could get on without constant checkback.
    My wife, she was administrator and with my assistance produced local magazine, calendar, leaflets etc. When she died of cancer I continued the started issue and produced a further issue, only using church and wider Church related content. I got praise heaped how good it was and if I was willling to continue with it. Then came the quite unnecessary handcuffs: only local church related stuff to go into the mag. I asked then for the new administrator and the pastor to get content to me. Nothing happened and I did ask repeatedly, not even a contribution by the pastor or the elders or departments and of course I couldn’t produce a mag with just a few regular notices but not being able to e.g. use wider Church relevant things like Missions, Bible translations, outside testimonies or inspirations.
    Then I suddenly found in a Bible College session the pastor saying for people to give feedback how they are finding the studies to “another guy who is producing a more professional magazine” Nothing had been indicated before to me and as that guy didn’t have any real experience it turned out as a one time time wasting experience for many people who neede to help him, especially as he is unable to be taught. Even the pastor, a journalist told me how frustrating it was and I knew as I helepd too.
    So, and I am still willing and able for the mag, I bided my time seeing what would happen. Then another of the pastors friends who had gone to another church showed up intermittendly and I found out that he was going to do the mag (9 months later it’s still not happening, basically he doesn’t really know how to either (I did a music mag layout for him in the past, but rather than have it printed through me where I worked and could keep an eye on it decided to have it printed lots of miles away and when they didn’t do it right then blamed me (being in financial print at the time we used well advanced methods then, now commonplace, before the distant printer knew how to handle files properly)
    After the guy to whom I had to hand over the website over night (we were good friends and later worked complementary together) felt he needed to leave for another church over our church having women preaching. The pastor asked me create a new website. I did and asked for elements necessary and a bit of sticking head together. No help at all forthcoming.
    I found out again accidentally while in the car on the way to a resources exhibition, that he was looking at buying an expensive website package (he didn’t as I reiterated that I am working on the website and need some of the input requested before)
    Just yesterday I’m being told that a young person who I have no issues with (a sweet daughter of the awkward guy) wants to do the website, but as before, rather than working together on it (my regular work is in a young environment with 2 of my colleaggues being about half my age) almost saying let her have a go and possibly fail.
    Design ageism sited Interestingly doesn’t apply to the guy supposedly doing the mag who is exactly the same age as me.
    The bottom line and I believe it’s part of the Curch is that we ignore scriptures on unity, treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves, talking about Building Bridges and yet making each others minitry life hard within a fellowship, even to the point of feeling I go to this church who’s minister is … but I haven’t got a pastor (maybe it would help if I was more successful and leader at work, had more money etc rather than being a pleb.
    The church no longer is being really involved, just being told (maybe) what the pastor and elders clique are going to serve up. That comes a bit hard when the same people used to share in every sense of the word and you felt an integral part. Ageism positionism and division have become the norm; it is said that it is good to have a divers church and yet young and old are not encouraged to work and complement each other.

  122. Darren on January 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Because I find after 14 years of serving as a pastor/ mission pastor/ worship leader of what ended up being an abusive Christian cult that alienated me from friends family and even my own God given gifts… that most of what was and is said in church is not even based in reality. I’ve either led or participated in dozens of healthy and unhealthy churches across the planet and have honestly found… I prefer to spend my time with sinners! They have more integrity than any church leader, or church as a whole. Furthermore churches and their leaders should be the last to pipe up and rail against those who are flawed and struggling as this simply isn’t the model that Jesus set forth! Talk that me about Jesus who turned over tables in the church! Talk to me about Jesus who called people a leaders a brood of vipers… Not too much unlike the common phrase,”sons of b**ches”. Talk to me about a Jesus who made more wine at a party where the attendees were already drunk, and he made more of the good stuff! Oh and did I mention, it was because his mother requested it! Talk to me about the friend of prostitutes… That is the man so many of you claim to follow, yet would never let become a member of you precious little church… I mean really? Why would I or anyone want to participate in the charade of current Christian culture? While I seem less than impressed by church. I still value its role in its dealing of good deeds and see its monetary impact on the world and its significance in helping other parts of the world that struggle and in times of disaster… But I also see it as an opportunistic means to force feed other amazing human beings a message that if you don’t join us, we won’t help you… Jesus NEVER did this!!! Yeah, not to mention the fact that the bible, while it is a great book and one we all should read… It is embarrassingly flawed… It isn’t based on fact. It is however based in mysticism. There is some historical relevance which I’ve come to appreciate, but if you or anyone thinks it’s an absolute… Then here is where we part ways! I’m intelligent enough to know that God isn’t as impressed with these writings as we think he is… There is far too many stories throughout history that precursor, the bibles regurgitated versions of them… Like the story of Noah for example… Check Persian history first! Look it’s like this. I appreciate your wonderful effort to keep people contributing there time, and money to the local church… It helps you sell your books and prop up the system… But please be honest about it all. Uncover the motives, be apparent. Stop parading Jesus through the mud that is the current church, and let him be free to hang with sinners with honesty and integrity of spirit to be themselves… Thank you so much for your efforts, your heart, your passion and drive, also for your openness! I have no doubt you are a well intentioned man! Blessings! I will follow Jesus.

    • Jesse Yamashita on November 19, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      The story of Noah and the ark was written by Moses per the leading of the Holy Spirit. If a similar story had shaken you off from believing God’s word is faultless then thats a good way to cling to Jesus more and prove that His words are far more real and truthful than others who try to debunk Him and His words. A follower of Christ should seek out His perspective first before others

  123. Rachel Srubas on January 23, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Dear Carey. Respectfully: enough with the lists.

  124. Cory on January 23, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I was a youth pastor for 4 years. Grew the program, built teams, salvations…all the stuff that’s expected of a paid staff pastor. It was exciting for a season but I realized about 3 years ago that it was pointless. I was unhappy and depressed. I haven’t been to church since and I’ve never been happier in my life. I don’t think Jesus died so I could spend my life trying to rustle up a crowd for events at some local brick-and-mortar building where those people may or may not make en emotional response to a song or a sermon where we’ll then tally the hands raised and or ourselves on the backs. I didnt and still don’t see that anywhere in the life of Christ. So I stopped doin that and started hanging out with the “wrong” people. I share a meal, a good drink, and a meaningful conversation with folks that are down and out. Sometimes I tell them about Jesus and other times I don’t…whichever way I feel God might be nudging me to go. I’ve never felt convicted about leaving church or inviting people to church. I cannot live within the box that the local church provides and tries to squeeze people into and I’m not confident in any church that I would invite someone to one for a service or special event. I understand pastors/leaders/church folks aren’t perfect…and that’s fine. I still have close friends that serve and lead in churches and we love one another. That’s not my issue. The whole system operates differently than what I’ve read about Jesus. We have different, culturally and sociologically based rules and expectations in the church that Jesus never laid out for us. I think it’s smart what you’re saying about owning our own mess and imperfectness but I don’t think it’s possible for someone to really see Christ and really discover who they really are with the local church leading the way. I think once people no longer have guilt about attending or serving in church they can truly trust God and hear God and listen for God in their own lives. We as the church should be okay with people finding their own way because that in itself is us trusting that God can, will, and does speak to people without our help and without us counting thier raised hands after our services. But seriously, I’m still finding my way like everyone else. Just my thoughts and experience.

    • £ionheart on January 27, 2016 at 4:14 am

      I think there are few reasons why Christians lose their enthusiasm in going to church. Many churches are just stuck with programs. They forgot what their mission is. Church mission is to win soul, teach the soul for growth, train men who shall be able teach other also and send them to reach more souls as what 2 Timothy 2:1-2 taught by apostle Paul. Pastors/leaders should never neglect ministry of the word and prayer as acts 6 taught. Pastors/leaders start to become bored as soon as they neglect to study His word and stop praying. We must understand the battle is spiritual and the battle must be fought by sticking to the truth by means of deep study of His word and kneeling down our knees. This what Jesus and His disciples show us in Acts 2:41-42. Even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Biblically speaking, fellowship and assembly should not to be neglected. I don’t see any reason at all why we should go out of the church.

      • Cory on January 27, 2016 at 8:26 am

        I’ve gotta be honest with you; all of that sounds extremely boring. There is not battle to be fought (Jesus won any and every battle that needed winning on the cross when he died for all of us.) Also in 2 Timothy it seems fairly clear that Paul is addressing Timothy specifically about his calling and what he is to do…I think in America we tend to read one or two scriptures and blanket the meaning to include every church person or every person that calls on Christ. If we operated like this (and globally as a church we do…albeit not every church then we’d push the uniqueness that God put in all of us right out of the picture essentially creating cookie-cutter Christians that follow the rules instead of being let by God.) Same concept in Acts 6: we’re not all pastors/church leaders and we don’t want to be. Here’s the thing though; you don’t know my story and I don’t know yours. Church may be just what you need and just where God has put you. You can’t put that box around everyone else though. There are a lot of folks that love Christ and are like him in many ways that have nothing to do with a church building or church crowd yet they are still part of his church.

        • £ionheart on January 27, 2016 at 10:16 am

          Brother wherever you may be, I would like to encourage you to press on and continue serving the Lord according to the calling He called you for. You mentioned that you were a youth pastor that is why I quoted you 2nd Tim 2. It was pretty clear really that Paul addresses it to timothy’s calling and leadership but the text speaks also of continuity of teaching the truth, keeping the fellowship etc. Men like you and me who are faithful serve as a link to this unbroken chain. I agree that Jesus already won the battle. He atoned us and freed us from guilt. He saved us. That doesnt stop there. We need to grow in grace. Grow in grace means to continue studying his doctrine, fellowshiping, breaking of the bread and prayer. These can only be done in the church. A church is not necessarily a building though. When Paul said he is a debtor to all sorts of person he only not speaks of his own but also to the church as a whole and that is universal. We can not repay God of what He has done even for a lifetime but He entrusted us (the church) the mission to win souls. You and me are debtors. We are eternally indebted to God and the more we realize how great His grace is the more we be in gratitude to Him. Try to listen to John macarthur’s preachings and you’ll be encouraged for sure. God bless you brother.

  125. Sep on January 22, 2016 at 4:18 am

    So all the reasons are because of the person who isn’t attending any longer????
    How about we be a little more honest here about what usually causes this, maybe you could add Reason #10, “they don’t see that the leaders they’ve served or serve are doing it for the right reasons”

    Just like dating or divorce you need time to go back for the right reasons.

    Sheesh-talk about throwing the first stone, I wouldn’t automatically blame the sinner.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 22, 2016 at 6:51 am

      Thanks for the comment. It’s not about blame. It’s about responsibility. Sometimes we just need to own what’s in us. I know when I do, I grow, learn and become healthier.

  126. Colin Nielsen on January 22, 2016 at 12:23 am

    I guess the real question is why are you serving? Is it for you, or God? I think every person who serves in any capacity whatsoever must be just as comfortable cleaning the showers, toilets, and windows as they are preaching. Yes I know there is a verse about serving tables, but not all pastors have the apostolic anointing of the early church leaders. Jesus washed feet as our example.

  127. Debbie McChesney on January 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    This post and all of the comments are so encouraging. Last Spring, my husband and I left our church of 10 years where we had both been on staff at different times, and were always actively serving “off the clock” in many different capacities, from music and drama to hospitality to leadership. Over several months, God spoke to both of us individually about going to another church. When we finally talked about it, and realized that God was calling us to something “different,” it took several more months before we could get to that place to announce that we were leaving. It was emotionally very difficult, especially for me. That was the only church family I had ever known. Here we are, almost a year later, hopping from place to place, and wondering what in the world we are supposed to be doing. We have lost count of how many churches we have tried, but I know it’s over a dozen. Nothing seems to fit, and we just can’t put our fingers on it. And I miss serving in a body of believers. We still look for opportunities to help friends and neighbors anytime we can, but it’s just different. I miss singing with other singers, and praying together until our legs go numb from kneeling, and watching other servants grow into positions of leadership. If God would just stick a big finger over where it is He wants us to go, that would be great, but I don’t think He’s going to do that. In the meantime, we are learning a lot about who we are in Him, and that there are lots of sweet, loving churches in our area. When one has spent a decade believing that in order to be useful to God, one must be plugged into a local body, it’s really difficult to be unplugged and not feel like a total outsider.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 22, 2016 at 6:50 am

      Thanks Debbie…that’s a tough one. Sometimes our identity gets wrapped up in what we do, not as much in who we are. So glad there are sweet, loving churches in your area. Did you ever wonder whether the next step is just to pick one and engage?

      • Debbie McChesney on January 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm

        The identity piece is one of the very first things that God revealed to me. That was a tough one to realize, and I can’t say with confidence that I wouldn’t fall into again. But I do know that there are more opportunities to reach and disciple others when serving in a local church body, so I’ll take that risk.

        I have thought that we just need to pick one and go. The rub on doing that is getting two independently-minded firstborns to agree on which one. 🙂 As with most stories, there’s a lot more to it than there is space to write it out, and no one really wants to hear all that. We will keep searching. Non-attendance is not even an option for us. I would appreciate prayers. This is truly exhausting. Thank you for your response and for recognizing this “category” of believers. Just to know that there are enough people like us that it merited being written about makes me feel less alone in this journey.

      • Gail on February 27, 2016 at 6:53 pm

        Hi Carey and thanks so much for this blog… it is soooo on point. Debbie shared the very words that I’m also going through right now and yes, it’s certainly frustrating.

        As a matter of fact, this is how I ran across your blog. I typed into my address bar: “Lord, where am I attending church tomorrow?” and this is what I found.

        Despite not being connected to a church family, I serve in the community, working with the homeless and the elderly. There are several churches that I absolutely adore, but I can’t bring myself to join. I believe the primary reason, is the fact that the Word of God seems to watered down, but the worship is incredible.

        I enjoy the teaching of Kenneth Copeland, Dr. Saddiki, TD Jakes and Andrew Wommack, to name a few. And how I wish they were in the Houston area, but, they’re not, so I know I either have to find one here, or move. And right now, I don’t hear the Lord telling me to move.

        I also prefer a church home with a diverse community, because this is the Will of God, for us to love one another and come together in fellowship. Where the teaching is Biblical and the leaders of the church and visible ministries (worship and usher) appearances are aligned with the Word of God and not looking like they’re attending a club, instead of coming into the presence of God.

        Am I being too unreasonable and unrealistic in my expectations.

        Can you please give me any spiritual insight… I would certainly appreciate it.

        Thank you

        • Carey Nieuwhof on February 28, 2016 at 8:19 pm

          Thanks Gail. I really believe there is power in connection and participation in the mission of the local church. We are encouraging people to try 5 local churches these days. One should provide a decent fit. A C+ experience in a local church is more powerful than an A+ experience with church online or church on TV. That’s my view.

          • Gail on February 28, 2016 at 9:15 pm

            Amen… this is very, very true. Thank you for your insight… this tells me that I’m on the right path. I’m not giving up and the scripture is clear, when it tells us to not forsake the assembly of the saints. There’s strength and power in solidarity. God bless you.

  128. Marty on January 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    My wife and I were formally on staff at a church before resigning our positions. I moved on to another career while my wife after being out of ministry for an extended period went back as a Children’s Pastor at another church. I’ve found it hard to connect back in a local church environment and have long struggled with how we do church. Lately a challenging question I’ve struggled with is how does a children’s pastor with a young family be a mom when each week they’re expected to be out with children each service while I’m sitting alone with my kids in the pew. Does this kind of busyness actually model poor leadership when part of your job as a pastor is to model healthy spiritual leadership in your own family? I think part of why pastors leave ministry is because they miss many opportunities for connection with God and the church family because they’re busy “doing the work of the ministry”. I don’t see a lot of church leaders modelling family first ministry and I think it’s killing us. It’s killing our pastors and feeds some of the ministry idolatry you’ve spoke of. I think if I had a do over after being in pastoral ministry I would commit less to ministry duties and more to taking care of my own spiritual life and making sure I put my family first. I don’t think Jesus thinks being more busy means you have more connection with him. I find the busier I get the less God gets of me.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 21, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Marty thats tough. Thanks for your comment. I can empathize and relate. I would encourage you to answer this question: how can I live in a way today that will help me thrive tomorrow. It clarifies much for me and kind of establishes boundaries. Hope it does the same for you.

  129. smells like teen crap on November 19, 2015 at 1:00 am

    I have not been in church since 2011 and from than on, i just need to find another church, you see churches around my area are just bad as it is. pastor’s dress like pimps and wearing gold rings. ever since then, i never trusted them. i just need advise and prayer.

  130. Mike on October 21, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Good article. Been on staff full time for 20 years as youth pastor. Feel like a complete and utter failure. I’ve lost the desire to keep going. No real issues with leadership and have a great senior pastor. My issue is mostly with church kids and parents. Gotten to the point I can’t stand them. Think it’s just time to quit. Oh well.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Mike…thanks for this comment. Oh man, doe you think it’s burnout? I wrote a lot about burnout in my new book and maybe this link will help in which Perry Noble and I talk about our burnout: Praying for you!

      • Mike on October 22, 2015 at 9:23 am

        Thanks Carey. Burnout? Probably so. Plus everything else it seems. I read several of your articles last night. I can relate to a bunch of the symptoms. Sad part is, I have no desire to even want to try to be healthy. I love this church, started there my senior year of bible college and been there ever since. The church has gone through many transitions but the biggest in the last 18 months and its been great. But I just feel impotent and of no use and no fruit. Don’t think recovery is is an option cause I just don’t care anymore. Thanks for your prayers and ministry. Take care.

        • Carey Nieuwhof on October 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm

          Hey Mike…I’ve been to the point where I stopped caring about important things. The good news is you can care again, even more deeply. I just want to encourage you to seek some trained help and get some great friends around you.

          • Mike on August 5, 2017 at 10:16 pm

            Hi Carey. It’s been a long time since I first read this article and responded. I just thought I would give an update on the last 22 months. I’ve been in counseling for 9 months now. It’s been good. I sought out the counseling on my own and let my senior pastor know I was going to go. He’s been patient with me. I’m still struggling very much. I live Day by day with the ups and downs and mind games. Still feel burned out but still going. Still not sure what the future holds and that’s frustrating. I’ve never quit anything before, always pushed through so I’m in unfamiliar territory and it scares me frankly. Anyway, I keep up with your posts and articles and enjoy them and learn from them. Even had my senior pastor listen to one of your podcasts. He enjoyed it. Thanks for what you do. Mike.

        • Heather Miller on January 22, 2016 at 2:19 am

          Hi Mike!
          Looks like it’s been a few months since you posted. I hope things have changed for you since then! I can’t imagine the potential for burnout potential with 20 years of non-stop ministry. Maybe a sabbatical would be a good idea–get some time and breathing room, give you and Jesus enough space rest and assess where things are at. I took a leave of absence from work after some very intense ministry. Made sure to surround myself with supportive friends and to talk with somebody regularly (therapist not from my church). God and time healed up the burned-out places.

          Anyways, 20+ years is amazing, and I can’t imagine the number of students, parents and entire families God’s impacted through YOU! Thanks for sharing–the struggle is real!

          • Mike on August 5, 2017 at 10:19 pm

            Thank you Heather for the kind and encouraging words. Mike

  131. KH on September 2, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I’m in a weird spot. The church my family has attended for over 10 years cut my children’s director position I had for two years due to budget issues. I was not hired for the newly created position. But a new member and “friend” of mine was hired. From a friend standpoint, her actions of persuing the job while hiding it from have been incredibly hurtful, I’ll spare you details. What was even more hurtful was the staff committee’s passive attitude towards me through the whole process. I feel very stuck. I don’t want to stay but I don’t know where to go either.

  132. Trisha on August 25, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I was the children’s director for a few years. While going through a pastor change I was let go in a really bad way. I was hurt and still am very hurt. I’m still angry (it’s been almost 2 years) I have been at a new church but we feel God us calling us somewhere else and my husband wants to go back to our old church since they have a new pastor now. I’m having a really hard time with the idea. I don’t know how to tell if it’s God or not telling us to go back and honestly my flesh is 100% against it. I’m so confused.

  133. Bruce D Johnson on July 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Carey, great list. As you can tell by the feedback, you’ve hit a nerve. Thanks for speaking into it and for the grace you’ve offered in responding to people as they’ve shared their pain. Well done.

    As someone who used to lead a large church and then left ten years ago, I’d add another option. Personality Type and The Problem of Knowledge. My wife and I attend church 45+ times per year, (so it’s not that we don’t attend church) but as an INTJ (Myers Briggs, “everything can be improved” type), what I find most difficult is turning off the senior pastor critique mode (lighting problem, poor transition, grammatical mistake on the slide, non-verbals of vocalist off putting, text used out of context, poor title choice, illustration doesn’t actually illustrate the point the preacher is making, actually the opposite, etc.).

    In other words, for some of us, it’s not the desire to be a critic (#4), it’s that it’s hard to turn that part of the brain off (and for those who are like me, we do this wherever we are, not just at church but with associations, restaurants, businesses, relationships, events, etc.). It’s how we’re wired.

    So, for some of us, the reason it’s hard to attend church isn’t because we don’t, it’s because we’ve been on the inside and having designed services for decades, we’ve been trained how to think and once you know something, it’s hard to ever go back and act like you don’t know that thing (re: the Health Brothers in Made to Stick and the problem of knowledge).

    Or, to put it another way, don’t assume every reason why ex-church leaders struggle with attending church is negative. Personally, I’d love to just attend a service and not notice all the dropped balls. I just can’t. When the the lead vocalist is in the dark and the back up is lit, or the slide person doesn’t forward the slide until after the next four lines have been sung, or an illustration doesn’t actually illustrate the point, it’s hard to not notice that.

    So, I don’t disagree with your list, I’m just suggesting that there are some other reasons (I just listed two) that aren’t driven by anger, ego or other negative emotion that make attending church difficult. Because of our commitment to the church, my wife and I attend most Sundays, but probably twice a year I’ll “play hooky” and go for a two hour bike ride for an extended time of prayer and worship on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, those are usually the two most worshipful Sundays of the year … because there’s nothing to evaluate. Hope that adds to the conversation.

    • Myklk on January 21, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks Bruce
      That’s it exactly for me too – a regular attender, a former pastor and someone who notices the details but who is having a hard time not “exegeting” the service. I’ve spent my whole ministry life evaluating and analyzing the service to improve how I lead and manage the various aspects of the church but when I’m not in leadership anymore somehow it turns into complaint. Getting to the point of admitting that it’s not my responsibility any more is tough.

      • Bruce D Johnson on January 22, 2016 at 10:33 am

        Mykik, thanks. I’m with you. In my case, the way I’ve made peace with it is that I’m fine with it not being my responsibility any more (if I wanted that mantle, I’d get back in the pastorate :-). So, I talk with the pastor and program director. I offer ideas. Some get taken. Some don’t. And I’m fine with that. However, I can’t turn off that part of my brain that’s always figuring out how to improve something (which happens all the time whether I’m eating out or attending a chamber meeting or watching a television show or …). Learning to accept how I’m wired has freed me from the expectation of just being able to sit back and enjoy a service. The challenge is to make sure my critiquing doesn’t hinder me from asking the question, “In the midst of all those mistakes and missed cues, is there something that you [God] want me to hear today?”

  134. Geninne Tatum Bridge on July 12, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    All the above points are great, thank you Carey for listing them. One I had hoped was on here was in this article was the fact that you relate to the congregation differently. Your reasons for stepping out of the leadership role changes the dynamic of how people see you and how you interact with them. That’s a source of tension for them and you. It can cause discomfort and uncertainty – especially if there is new leadership.

  135. April Heriot on July 9, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I know all of this can apply to where my husband and I are on certain levels. However, even though we are pressing in and attending speratically, it has been difficult because we feel like when our marriage problems surfaced (even to us) we were no longer useful to the leadership team. We feel like outcasts tossed aside. We feel like no one has been available to really press in and pray with us and to hold our hands through some very difficult things we went thru with our children in the way that we mentored and held others’ hands. It’s difficult and we are heart broken but we are trying to press in. We know some of this with our church may be the enemy wanting to attack with lies and we know some if this is a true reality of what’s happening in our church. We are praying through it and set our minds to be the difference. We are just not sure if it’s time to move on or tough it out SO right now a sabatical and prayer is what we have while trying to humbly and honestly sort out where we are and where our church is and what God is saying. I cried reading this article and replying – it’s all so difficult and heart breaking. There’s a lit if healing all the way around that needs to take place. Encouragement and meaty wisdom without cliches are welcome. Thank you so much fir this blog – it’s comforting to know others have been there and overcome – we are big on vulnerability. God’s blessings to you and all those responding with vulnerability.

  136. Jason King on July 2, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    What’s missing in this picture?

    Humility. Submission. Grace. That’s all.
    That’s me. I have become the critic. I led worship in a mainstream denomination for over 7 years, and they were some of the best years of my life. The relationships I built with my team and congregation members still follow me today. After I was married 11 years ago I left the church (I just couldn’t say no to my pastor when there was any need). We went to a church where they didn’t need me. I struggled with the worship in that church for over 10 years. It was never done just right, they went left when I knew they were supposed to go right (thats not prideful at all, is it?) I could worship to guest worship leaders like Jason Upton or Rita Springer or people from Bethel. But I don’t know why. We left a year ago. I’ve never been without a home church. I don’t like the feeling of church shopping, and well, no one seems to lead worship the way they are supposed to. I know I need a spiritual kick.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 3, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Jason…that’s an incredibly humble and honest reflection. Thank you. Keep going my friend. It’s hard for us who have led church to feel less important, but we started as worshippers and we will finish as worshippers. I am encouraged by your humility and honesty.

  137. Alyce H Cook on June 29, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I’ve been retired 3 years and my husband and I went back to our home church. We have found ministries and activities to get involved with which are very fruitful along with the wonderful fellowship with acquaintances and a few family members.
    The problem is that the pastor is troubling in the sense that he has the characteristics of one who is ADHD. He can never stay focused on any church issue; he jumps from one idea to another; he gets verbally frustrated when members can’t go along with him. We see now why he has never stayed at any location for over 3 years. The personnel committee has lovingly tried to talk with him about his approaches and lack of focus and attention but he honestly doesn’t seem to get it.
    Most are saying that he has no wisdom (which I am now inclined to believe).
    I have, and still do, try to give him only encouraging thoughts and suggestions but he listens to no one. So now, if he asks me anything, I just say, ” pastor, you’ll just have to figure it out on your own and see what happens.” And he is fine with that.
    His sermons have been very spirit filled except for the fact that when he is discontent, it comes out strongly in his messages.
    Presently, I’m feeling like not going to worship on Sundays, but only continue with my activities that I’m involved with. In thinking that, I feel hypocritical in some sense.
    Its just hard for me to listen to his spirit filled sermons and then throughout the week, listen and watch his manner in which he dictates, decides and operates.
    He doesn’t seem to live the life he preaches at all.
    The members are sensing it also, but as a retired pastor I make a point of not saying a word to them because I know I had flaws also while pastoring.

    I’m in constant prayer for this pastor and also praying about why I can’t just be content. I’m guessing that wherever I go, I’ll find some problem. But some are not as bad as others, I suppose.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 29, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Alyce…stay encouraged. The church is bigger than we think it is, and your faithfulness will be rewarded.

  138. Jo Anna McCormick on June 19, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Ouch! This is so true. These feelings hit me the minute I walk in the door of a church. I feel lonely, because everyone doesn’t know me. I wonder if everyone else felt this lonely visiting the churches we led.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

      Joanna…thanks for you honesty! And what a great question. I’ll bet that’s often true. Now you have a heart for those people. Love that!

  139. Tim Bradshaw on June 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I do think you make a lot of great points regarding reasons why leaders leave, and the need for honest self-evaluation of our part/perspective on church polity.

    However, rarely have I seen a modern church not operate in a manner in which encourages the dichotomy between leader and follower. I believe the current climate of church operation is such that it too often mimics the consumerist driven marketplace. It is set up for failure from its very organizational scheme. Too much work for volunteers drives the want of more staff to support growing/attractive programs, which drives the need to justify that staff, which drives performance reviews, which drives agendas to perform, which drives leadership to ‘own’ it more, which drives more control into the leaderships hands, which drives volunteers to feel like a mere hirelings, which drives an ‘us-and-them’ atmosphere, which drives less volunteerism, which drives more pastoral work load, which drives… and on and on. All founded in the basic fact that many people attend a church because of misplaced idols (point number 2, can operate both ways: the applauded and the applauders). And the church feeds that idolatry under the guise of mission (aka programs).

    Church staff is in itself kind of a non-biblical construct. I’m not saying it’s wrong, just saying it isn’t really spoken of in Scripture aside from negative admonishments from Christ on how religious leaders should lead. Frankly, if a church is large enough to need more than a single pastor, it is probably too big for honest, authentic community and too focused on the above programs.

    I am very optimistic that Christ’s church will prevail, and will continue to be a light in this world. However, I am also not so blind as to not see that staff and lay leaders do not have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo for simple financial reasons. Is it really all that different to have flashy programs for attraction, or doves for sale in the vestibule? Both have the intention of facilitating obedience to God. Both have the danger of becoming an obstacle. An ultimately both are idolatry. So why is it that we call people to attend where idolatry is practiced in the very way in which church is operated? Guilt? Tradition? Fiscal need?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 19, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Love your nuanced approach Tim…thank you for the balance and perspective. I’m not sure we would agree on every point (but on much I do agree)…but it’s wonderful to hear a different view so thoughtfully expressed. Thank you!

  140. Lupe Portillo on June 18, 2015 at 10:47 am

    This was helpful for me. Thank you.

  141. amanda on June 17, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I’m so thankful for this post. Even though we have good intentions to serve we need to be careful not to make ministry an idol..the saddest thing is to realize that you gave up things..that God never asked you to.(such as time with children & family) & you can’t get it back. ..although the process hurts…its heart shattering to realize that your identity is so heavily related to what you do..and not who you are in heart continues to ache for those currently in this situation & yet dont know it!! It can be the greatest gift to be freed from position..and to first be a worshipper.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 19, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Thank you Amanda. A heart that aches can be a great thing.

  142. Lois Wilson on June 16, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Sometimes we don’t attend church because we have been beaten and crucified. There is more hate, judgement and narrow mindedness in the church than outside of the church. Your reasons listed above are full of blame. I pray that YOU are never treated by a church where you currently serve or might serve in the future in the manner in which I (and others) have been treated. I am a pastor. A female pastor. A pastor with dreadlocks and tattoos who fed people out of her own pantry when the church declared that they didn’t want poor people lining up at the church door. YOU have judged me without even knowing me. How’s that for a reason for not going to church? I love worship, but not the dog and pony show that takes place in most American churches on any given Sunday. I love people, and see Jesus in the streets and on the trains of New York City every day. Good luck, pastor. The spirit behind Your “nine reasons” (judgement in sheep’s clothing) is exactly why you won’t see me in church any time soon.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 17, 2015 at 5:31 am

      Lois I’m sorry you were treated this way.

      • Lois Wilson on June 17, 2015 at 5:53 am

        Thanks. But unfortunately the people who should apologize, don’t. I have forgiven and pray for them….but line up for more abuse (delivered in the me of God)? No thanks. Jesus spent way more time with the non-religious, and so do I. BTW the same people who think they have the answers regarding why Christians should go to church also think they know why non-Christians don’t go to church. You should ask them some time. They’ll tell you that they feel no real acceptance and love there. Hmmmm. I gotta say that I agree. I tell them that they would love Jesus if they could meet him. It’s just hard to meet him in the church.

    • £ionheart on January 27, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      I am sorry but I need to correct you. There is no luck in the bible. It is all done through our God’s sovereign grace. Just say God bless you not good luck.

  143. James C. Higgs on June 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    I teach, lead worship, do children’s ministry, anything ask. Still do not “belong.” Deep pain remains from the Church split and personal attacks on my character and family. I do not fit in and do not enjoy the people. I am stuck as its my wife’s home Church and she is unwillin. To leave. I serve God and make the most of it. Ot appeatd to be a 3 and 4 on your list. Maybe even a touch of 5. Its a rural church and with my level of education its toigh to communicate.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

      James…so sorry to hear of the pain and the heartbreak. Have you seen a Christian counsellor to work through and pray through the situation? It might help.

  144. Coob on June 14, 2015 at 10:15 am

    My husband and I have gone through all of these phases, but our situation is also a little more complicated. We attend our local Hmong church because it has always been our church. It is a family, cultural, and social church. In the past we were active leaders, and for several years after we returned from overseas, we decided to be good and faithful followers. Then we went through a phase of “you want to see change, you have to be part of that change,” so we got into leadership again. With our commitment to our family and the greater community, we still hold minor roles and positions within our church just to stay connected somehow; However, we feel that our church is not meeting our spiritual needs. We yearn for a closer, deeper, and more meaningful walk with Christ, and we feel that our church does not have resources, personnel, professionals to work with mature Chrisrtians. I guess it is part of being critical, but if we are craving for steak and steamed vegetables as spritifual food, but we are only being served baby’s milk, we feel we are not spiritually growing. We want to look for another church, not for ourselves, but also for our children. However, as we mentioned earlier, our church has always been the church that our family & relatives attend. It is where most Hmong believers go for cultural and social support. These ties are stronger to break away from than you think, so we passively attend and continuously pray that the Lord will give our church a spiritual transformation.
    Any suggestions?

  145. CJ on June 14, 2015 at 8:24 am

    As a military Chaplain, for me, the reason is when I go to church, it’s hard to not see people in the same light as the religious crowd that Jesus constantly criticized and rebuked. I am so disillusioned with the current state of the church (little c) and how the focus is on isolationism and building religious country clubs instead of reaching out to the hurting and ministering to them. The missions focus seems to always be on other countries rather than the local population, while church members look down their noses at those who practice all those evil sins instead of seeing them as Jesus saw them. When you spend all week, or months at a time on deployment, working with hurting, broken people, and sharing the love of Christ with them, going and sitting in a pew seems contrite and fake. I am more comfortable in a field service surrounded by hardened men and women with M-4s than I am surrounded by the suit crowd.

  146. christoph on June 13, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Okay I expected a different swing. Here is one case. A pastor of a local church stepped down after 40 years of ministry. Another new pastor took over that role. Should the “retired” pastor still attend that specific local church? Perhaps that is another topic. In that case he remained, and was more a hindrance to the new guy on the block.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Completely other subject for sure. As a general rule, no. Find another church. But sometimes it works if the character of both pastors in question is very solid and the relationship between the two is really strong.

    • Steven Galindo on June 17, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      The assemblies of God urge retired pastors to attend elsewhere for that very reason.

  147. Amy Mercer on March 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    For me personally – when I was working in Disaster Recovery Ministry in Louisiana and had stepped out of the local church setting – my soul missed the liturgical year – the passing of seasons and the associated planning for special services, especially Lent. I felt out of sync – and like a bystander instead of a participant – until I was back on staff in a congregational setting again.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 2, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      So glad this is your story Amy! Glad you’re back.

  148. Charles Hodsdon on March 1, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    So glad you re-posted this. It is one of my favorites. I keep a link to this post bookmarked and use this list as a kind of checklist for my recovery from burnout. 3,4&5 are still more a part of me than I like to admit. It is tempting to externalize and blame others. I appreciate you helping me to keep it real and helping me recognize that I have my own issues.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks Charles…we all have issues. So glad we’re in this together. Keep hoping!

  149. Tina on March 1, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    #4 is the truest for me. After being on a team planning the services and then critiquing that service it was hard to leave and then walk into services and not want to fix them or fix the environment. It took us two years to find a church and I finally realized why and that’s what helped us find one.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Me too. You don’t participate in a service, you evaluate it. It’s so hard!

  150. Zachary Jeans on December 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

    I appreciate this conversation. I read every comment. It makes my tummy turn to think back on the numerous times I’ve experienced sucker punches, in the church. My heart goes out to everyone who has tasted the bitter disappointment catalogued in this blog, and comments.

    The reality is that we expect better from those who claim to follow our Lord, and we’ve been wrong. It’s one thing to be betrayed by someone who doesn’t wear a cross, because it’s not on their resume. But when it is an associate pastor, youth leader, or board member, it’s another thing. It’s not wrong to have those hopeful expectations; the bible suggests our leaders should be honorable. That said, the epistles spend a good chunk of parchment warning against terrible leaders in the church.

    I’m reminded recently that our hope is in heaven. That is where every tear will be wiped away. That is where death will be ‘dead’. And that is where we will raise a cup of the finest wine ever comprised with our good shepherd, Jesus. (Isaiah 25:6-14) The work, the service, the relationships~ they’re all messy this side of heaven.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Zachary…I’m so sorry to hear about your story. That sounds like a really tough situation to be in. I’m glad your trust in God is strong. Stay strong and I pray you find a great relational church.

  151. leper on May 18, 2014 at 3:47 am

    This isn’t always the case. I was the asst pastor of a local church and after my pastor died, a new guy came in and basically threw out anyone in position of authority. He and his wife were such micromanagers of everything that happened in the church, that if you did not in essence, ‘bow down’ you weren’t even welcome to sit in the pews, let alone the pulpit. The Bible talks about wolves in sheep’s clothing and this guy is definitely a wolf. On the outward appearance he is so welcoming it is like syrup, used car salesman. But behind the scenes he is dividing families.

    All my family did was sit on the pew, pay tithes, and be willing if asked to help in any way but it was only a matter of time before we were told to our face that we had bitter spirits, that we weren’t team players, that we were trying to steal the church from the pastor. I am not sure where he got that idea. I went through a period of cancer, and multiple hospitalizations due to heart issues. I was not looking for any sort of authority. But most of my friends, even those I had brought to Christ wouldn’t even come to the hospital, and to this day still don’t talk to me and even walk the other way if they see me around town.

    So, no. I am one of those who sits on the outside. I get my encouragement online, and in Bible studies with some elderly and nursing homes. I won’t go back to that church while the pastor is in charge. And there is no other church nearby that preaches what I believe. I am left without a home. But it is better to be homeless, than to sit in the tent of those who are looking for victims.

    • christoph on June 13, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Sad story. Thank you for your honesty

  152. Angel on May 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I am going through this right now. I’ve been on the worship team as a vocalist for 3 years now and was told 2 days ago that I was no longer allowed on the team. I was holding hands with my boyfriend on a missions trip and they told me that I as a horrible person and setting a bad example for for all of the teenagers present. That being said, what hurts the most is that I considered these people family every since I moved to this city. I don’t think I want to go back, but I don’t want to go to church and have people ostracizing me and glaring and talking behind my back. I am mature both in age and in thinking and spiritually as well. I still can’t see what I did as wrong.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on May 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Angel thanks for sharing that. I wonder if you are able to have a direct conversation [or even the second one] to clarify and work through what the issue is. Sometimes those can be very helpful. I hope that as you work through the hurt you will be able to find a great place within the church. Our identity is not in what we do but in who we are in Christ.

  153. LL Stiles on April 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

    This resonates so much with me – after a couple decades in pastoral ministry my husband entered denominational ministry which meant him leaving pastoral ministry. As a family, we committed to being involved in a church in a new city and have done so for some time, however, a number of issues have limited our full commitment, (denominational speaking engagements that require being out of town on the weekends and often evenings), but most particularly for me as a mother to daughters is that the church has been sitting on making a decision on women in leadership for over a decade, prior even to our being at this church. Being in denominational leadership also means keeping silent on these particular theological differences, regardless of our personal convictions (the previous two churches my husband had women leadership). I have opportunities prior to our move and in ministries outside of this church to exercise my leadership gifts, but it is an issue that I am more committed to rather than less as the years have gone by. Both my husband and I are less and less involved in the church – both because of ministry commitments, but also as this issue and others (church services when we had invited a neighbor included the pastor calling for all those who loved Jesus to stand up to declare it) … many that we would consider to be significant issues – have meant our engagement in this particular congregation has diminished. I don’t like it – I wish it were different….I don’t know what to do with a conviction (amongst other convictions) of the full participation of the total community of Christ in the ministry of the Church and God’s Kingdom.

  154. C.L. Jackson on March 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Arrg. My Soul groans. 25 years in church. Doing the menial work because it needed to be done. We met at schools and had a lot of setup. Burned out. Couldn’t stand another group counseling motivational speech sermon. Many pastors in American culture have a type A personality and lack personal relationship skills. They are CEO’s and teachers rather than a shepard of the flock. 95% of the leadership looks like them, dresses like them, acts like them, agrees with them. Information only goes one way, the top down. Decisions are made with the assistance of the appointed, like minded, brown nosers and once it’s made there is no altering the course. Image is more important than being real.

    My kids spent 18 years in church and got words, words and more words, no actions. My kids have a deep belief in Christ, but graduated church, like high school, absolutely no desire to return in the 8-10 years since.

    I haven’t attended since 2007. My core beliefs haven’t changed, but church attendance has been beaten out of me. No sense in retuning to my vomit. I have instead invested my time and money with my kids, their friends, my neighbors and close friends. Spending time in real relationships and developing trust, a willingness to jump into the mud has produced more eternal rewards for all of us than all my years in church combined.

    For me, I now sincerely question if “Church” as we know it, is what Jesus ever intended. I also have some thoughts that God himself may be behind our exodus, driving us back into the world. We could all nail our protests to the Wittenburg door of our local congregation. However, we have decided to keep our mouths shut, for the most part. We voted with our feet and are walking by faith into a new land.

    I’ll spare everyone my thoughts on the feminization of the church.

    Thanks for your heart,

    Chris Jackson

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 26, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Chris I am so sorry to hear your story. That’s been heartbreaking I’m sure. I long for the day when we will see thousands of healthy churches. Not every Christian community is a bad one. In fact, so many are great. I am very fortunate to be part of a community that brings life. I hope you find one too.

      • C.L. Jackson on March 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm

        Thanks Carey,

        I appreciate it. I have met very wonderful Christians at church and they have impacted my life. I’ve always been very independent and am not a joiner by nature. Most likely a root of some of my issues with the structure of church.

        Take care and keep up the good work.

  155. EverFaithful on March 10, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I agree with a good portion of this. I am a designer by trade and have been serving for 5 years since our church was taken over by another church. In a meeting I was recently told by a church leader that I am finding my identity in what I do when I came to them questioning how it was that some people were allowed to do many things in the church or had heaps more freedoms even though they were younger and had been at the church less than many people already there. I mean they are in almost every area at the church as are a few of their family members. Is it just me or does anyone else see a trend with churches replacing “older” experienced people with young, hipster types to run (particular technical, design or up front) ministries these days? I do not find my identity in what I do. I love what I do and I love blessing my local church with the gifts I have been given. And don’t get me wrong. I love new young vibrant people coming on the team. But when we start replacing people completely, ignore them and start making them feel used up at 40-45 it makes it hard to know where DO you belong?
    Will we now lean towards a beautiful cool people church or will we see the light and have a balanced, wise, effective church?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 10, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      That’s a tough one. As someone in my late forties, I realize one of my chief goals is to replace myself as a leader. So I’ve been surrounding myself with younger leaders (and a few peers) to ensure our church isn’t just ready for the future tomorrow, but today. I love working with younger leaders and learn so much from them. I think we (older leaders) have a role to play too. There is a wisdom that only age and experience can bring, but for sure I want to yield more and more front line leadership to the next generation. Ironically, that might make an older leader more valuable to the church, not less.

    • Mike Boosalis on October 2, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      We have the same problem in the local Greek Orthodox church in Minneapolis and on the diocese level. The church leadership and priest have their favorites and will only choose those same people for ministries. Only those who are married with children are allowed into the important ministries.

  156. christianmamabear on March 2, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Ouch. That hit home!!! I’m guilty as charged……and it’s even harder when the church you attended before was big and alive and vibrant, and the current choices are small, struggling and the attitude is so much different than any I’ve seen before….

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks for you honesty. Yes…that would be hard. But I’ll bet you can make a meaningful contribution.

  157. Tandy Adams on February 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I was in youth ministry for 20 plus years and a few years ago my MS progressed to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I quit, we eventually switched churches because it was difficult for a new minister to come in and have authority with me there. At the new church I was eager to “just” be a member. I soon realized that was not who I am. God opened up a chance for me to me part of the worship team and eventually lead worship. My issue is, it’s still hard. I am very aware of how I come across and I don’t want people to think I’m trying to take over when I voice ideas or opinions. I do so as humbly as I possibly can and a lot of times I stay quite when I probably should speak up. I think it would be so much easier to just say forget it and become a casual attender. I guess that would be a reason I would add, it’s just easier.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 27, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      I love your story Tandy. Good for you! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  158. bhoward9270 on February 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    What great post, Carey. Thanks for this!

  159. Bobby on February 18, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Alright I want to say I love the things that you said it definitely will make a world of difference to a lot of people especially seeing the heart behind why you wrote what you wrote. I will say this my issue has always been wanting to fulfill the wil of God for my life and also To keep moving forward because of the fact of so many -haters not expecting or thinking that I would succeed in ministry. I have over the years had to try to prove to people who I was until I stopped caring about what they thought about me and Focused on what God thought about me . Thank God for deliverance from people. I think my issue has been because of the fact I understand people and understand the imperfections of human flesh that we are bound to make mistakes and that is one of the reasons why the grace of God steps in . I think my main issue right through here is beginning again in Pastoralship and the struggle of starting fresh .. Now I don’t have a problem with serving somewhere else while I build what God has given to me it is the struggle of walking alone and not having the mentorship that is actually God- lead to walk with me through this.

  160. Richard on February 16, 2014 at 1:07 am

    I have read this post several times now. I think most of the points ring true with me a little bit but, number 3 the most. Added to that, let’s just say I was hurt badly by leadership in my church. After much prayer and discussion with my wife I resigned from my position as a youth pastor three weeks ago. I sit here on Saturday night knowing good and well I am not going to go visit a church tomorrow. I left my church because it was the right thing to do. There was so many things going on I just couldn’t deal with everything anymore. I felt like I was loosing myself in the process. Something happened though after I left.I realized I am much more scarred and hurt than I had thought. I haven’t prayed in almost two weeks, and I have stopped reading. I think the main reason is I’m afraid to hear what God wants me to do, or where He wants me to go. I’m afraid of serving again. This hurt my wife and I so deeply that I think we just need time. I’m feeling very alone at the moment looking at a stack of resumes that I don’t want to hand out just yet. Don’t get me wrong… I love what I do, and I love my Lord and Savior. I have used my gifts to serve His Kingdom faithfully and with integrity. I will again, but just going through some pretty hard times right now. I got a lot from this post, and from the many comments.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Richard. That’s such a tough position to be in. I feel for you and just prayed for you. I wonder if you could get to a counselor to spend some time talking and praying through the hurt. Once processed, it’s amazing to see how God heals the heart.

      • Richard on March 5, 2014 at 8:30 am

        Thank you! Since posting, I have had a couple of churches in my area actually seek me out and have helped me through this time. They were aware of what was going on, and I feel so much better. To have a church understand and get where I am at and what I have been through without me even saying is huge. I have had a lot of tearful prayer in the recent days, and have really just let go of everything. In fact I now feel as though this was way over due. I even had my first interview yesterday, Thank you so much for your prayers. I will continue to heal, and grow during this time.

  161. Juanita Baim Crawford on February 15, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    After serving in musical capacities (singing in choir, choir director, organist, accompanist, etc) I became ill with a difficult, undiagnosable disability and was kicked out of a church (publicly removed from their church roll) because THEY would not permit me to worship in their sanctuary because of my disabilities. My problem was solved through an absolute miracle and now that I’m fairly normal again…..I don’t want to be hurt like that ever again….by Christians.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Juanita, that is a such a sad story. I’m so sorry to hear it. I’m thankful you are better. But I would just encourage you not to believe all Christians the same. We aren’t. We just aren’t.

  162. Mark Aikins on February 15, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Insightful and helpful. I was wounded and let go by several churches I served as a worship and children’s ministry leader. One of the main reasons I left was an unwillingness on the part of the head pastors to deal properly with problem people, many of whose genuineness of salvation I had to question, frankly. Thanks to God I didn’t lose my faith in the organized church…The Lord led my wife and me to a strong Reformed Baptist church that deals with membership and leadership much more seriously. I had tired of serving in churches where there was no sense of biblical discipline and where people were allowed to play at church and never confronted and challenged. Gladly, I and my wife are happy and involved in a church that welcomes strong preaching, God-honoring worship (rather than man-centered entertainment) and humble, loving leadership. Thanks again for your excellent article.

  163. GarySweeten on February 13, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Several years ago we started a ministry for “Seasoned Believers” who have known Christ and been involved in church life for decades. Here is what our research discovered.

    1. Many do not attend Sunday morning gatherings which tend to be set up for recruiting new people, evangelism or feeding people milk. Seasoned Believers want more than milk.

    2. Many Seasoned Believers are deeply involved in Christian service but not in a formal church setting because there is no place for them to serve in the church. Why no place to serve? a. Many current church leaders are threatened by Seasoned Believers. (One Pastor told me he did not want any mature people in his church because they ask too many questions.) Anyone with leadership experience is a big threat.b. Most church based opportunities are focused exclusively as “in the church activities” because few churches do anything for the community outside the church. Many Seasoned Believers must find places to serve in hospitals, schools, community groups, charities, non profits, etc. c. Many morning services are dull, talks aimed at immature, uneducated, people who are called in sermons to “serve the church” more than serve God in church or in the world. 3. Many churches are led by Preachers who attack Seasoned Believers like this article. It totally misses the mark about our reasons for finding non church places to grow and serve. It calls us selfish and un Christian when we want to do more for Jesus not less. Most churches will “allow” Seasoned Believers to pass the plate or teach Sunday school but not minister in any meaningful way. One former VP for a Fortune 100 company retired and volunteers for the Red Cross in teaching other volunteers about reducing risks in serving because the church has no place he can serve.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks for sharing this Gary. I agree one of the mistakes many Christian leaders make is not knowing how to engage high capacity leaders or people who ‘threaten’ them. I truly hope this changes.

    • christianmamabear on March 2, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Amen! As a Christian for 40+ years and one who has served in the music ministry for most of that time, it’s hard to find a place to serve, especially in a small church with….um….control issues in the leadership. They’re unwilling to take suggestions and it’s frustrating especially when they ask for input, knowing full well the only input they want is input saying they’re doing everything right. Bumping heads is NOT my idea of serving… I tend to stay away.

    • Ashlei Moos on June 17, 2015 at 9:45 am

      But don’t aren’t we, as seasoned believers, responsible to surround ourselves with both people who are further in there walk, people who we walk with, and people who are behind us? It’s like saying there grown ups are going to eat here, and the kids table is for you over there. Isn’t it more biblical to live life at a family table and learn from and with people where they are at?

    • Liz on April 1, 2018 at 7:31 am

      It is true brother Gary, I have seen it happen over and over again even in my small country and still happening. Although I myself did not leave because of the reasons you mentioned, though I bear witness as I already mentioned, I now fellowship with a few seasoned believers as you would call them. I am ok but I still yearn for a New Testament Church where one can have all the qualities of a New Testament Church with all the right doctrine, discipline and order… reason which baffles me is why most churches have to have 1 or a Senior Pastor when the Bibles speaks of plurality of elders leading the Church and the other thing which I do not like is denominations which have brought separation within the body of Christ.
      Shouldn’t the 5 fold ministry still be in place ? Where are the apostles planting churches, in my country normally someone would split up from his previous Church and would open up another ‘new’ Church ….apart from denominations which I believe Christ’s Church would be much better off without.
      Saying all this , humility and obedience to God’s word would bring much change within the body of Christ, no matter the situation.

  164. John Creameans on February 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    So much truth here. Thanks Carey for posting it. I would love to see you write about the carnage that occurs in people transitioning out of church work. I’ve been guilty of creating the carnage myself and been the carnage…such a discouragement for so many when vocational ministry doesn’t work out. We have to get more open and grace-filled about church break ups.

    Too often its all about damage control and organizational preservation and image management…Thanks again…this was great stuff to challenge me.

  165. Jose on February 13, 2014 at 12:13 am

    I left church almost 4 years ago. I have many reasons or like they like to call them ( excuses ). But the one that got me the most was number 7. I saw a lot of that, leaders wanting to lead without being followers themselves. If any of us had a different opinion on what was told to us, that just meant that we were the one’s who weren’t right. I grew up in religion, started attending church when I was 5. When I left the church I thought I had spend all those years for nothing. But I do realize that I’ve learned a lot from it, things that I can and have applied to my daily life. Because of it I am a better person. I still don’t think I’m ready to go back to church but I am praying to God to help me find one.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Jose…can I just say I really like you? Love the responsibility you’re showing and the hope that still burns in your heart that things can get better. So appreciate this comment.

  166. Daryl on February 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    I got to confess, this post is a bit of a miss for me. I appreciate your intentions (and I truly believe it does address some people) but I think this post is showing a misunderstanding of what some people are saying.
    I realize this is a faulty analogy, but I hope this helps bring to light what I think some people are feeling: the Church today is LIKE the church before the enlightenment/reformation. Many people who decided to move towards change – who were being called heretics, were being seen as forsaking the church. However, they loved Jesus and were trying to live out his mission.
    Today, many churches that have been influenced by the reformation, have gotten so entrenched (in things like current structures, forms, business models, etc) that they have become what “they” once fought against. This is true in many aspects of history. We often build things to a point where we love them so much, we are unwilling to deconstruct. Even though we are thankful that someone deconstructed before us. I would propose it would be too risky for most pastors to be willing to let their churches be changed drastically. Maybe former pastors are only finally open & able to see drastic change because they are not dependent on it?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 13, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Daryl I appreciate that you and I have different view points. However I think to suggest most pastors aren’t open to change because they’re dependent on it might be a bit of a simplification. I talk to a lot of pastors about change and I’ve found so many who long for radical change. They just haven’t found a way to bring it. Maybe we just know different people.

  167. […] Nieuwhof has made a couple of posts (here and here) responding to Miller’s thoughts.  In the first he outlines “10 Thoughts on Exiting […]

  168. Charles Hodsdon on February 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    #3 for sure fits for me. How the sausage is made turns my stomach, and led me to resign from a leadership position. I put myself on sabbatical, and much of my time of rest has been focused on how I made the sausage making process messy. Part of that was #5. Our congregational model gave people who simply attended more power than those of us who spent countless hours a week in the trenches and studying what works. I know I grew bitter trying to move a church that didn’t want to move. That said it was only a few weeks before we found a church that was starting to think “Orange” . At first I went just for our kids, and my wife just couldn’t take the idea of church. After a month or so she was there with me, and 6 months in we are about ready to start the volunteer training process. We are skeptical, a little cynical, and definitely nervous, but we believe that God has more for us to do in the context of the local church, and Getting back on the horse is the goal.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Charles. Thanks man. Don’t lose hope. And keep working through those issues. As you dig through the hurt I’m confident that you will find healing in Christ. There’s a strong future ahead of you!

  169. […] Nieuwhof has made a couple of posts (here and here) responding to Miller’s thoughts.  In the first he outlines “10 Thoughts on Exiting […]

  170. Art on February 12, 2014 at 11:57 am

    #3 is the one for me. I’m still in church leadership, but if I wasn’t I’d have a hard time being faithful week after week after week after…

    The reason is I’ve seen that the driving force in church ministry is the ABCs (Attendance, Buildings, & Cash). Butts in the seats and dollars in the plate. That’s what we seem to live for. Now, if you are a business (like a restaurant) that is more understandable, but for a church… not so much.

  171. thebassman on February 12, 2014 at 11:40 am

    #3 & #4 very much resonate with me… as a volunteer who has been heavily involved several times in the past – once you’re no longer involved, or not involved at the level you once were, these 2 points so easily creep up on you – and it’s a constant battle to overcome them…

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Hey Tim…thank you. Appreciate your honesty. You’re right, it is a constant battle. And I think it’s a place for real growth. Thanks for battling through them and for all you do to support the mission of the church.

  172. Jacqueline Dorman on February 12, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I think this may be the case for some who still believe in the church model you are talking about but many do not. There are some of us that have realized that the modern church model hurts people more than it helps them. It isn’t about messy, or flawed people, we love them. It’s about controlling, agenda based businesses that call themselves churches. I have been in full time ministry for almost 20 years and I have been a leader at several churches and have ministered at dozens more. It is sad to see what has happened to God’s “model” of church. Silly top ten lists and uninspired teaching. Boring worship and money motivated programs. I along with thousands of others prefer to be in christian community where I’m surrounded by friends and family that love Christ and support one another. This encourages a lifestyle of shining my light to non believers in the marketplace through a consecrated life and a loving Jesus filled heart. You don’t have to go to a glorified building that calls itself a church every week to be fully engaged in the great commission. Jesus’s true model was a “go to” them model not a have them “come to” us model. If it works for you that’s fine but there is a growing number of us that it no longer woks for because we see something new emerging and it isn’t because of hurt or offense or anything else on your list. It’s simply because God has put it into our hearts to want something more.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 12, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Jacqueline, I’m very thankful you’ve found a supportive Christian community and am well aware that this community exists. I guess what I struggle with is what sounds like a categorical dismissal (maybe even cynical dismissal) of the local church as it exists. Although you have served in many churches, they’re simply not all that way. Just as I’m sure all communities outside the established church are not wonderful havens. I’m glad you found one that is amazing. I just would be cautious to characterize with sweeping statements.

      • Jacqueline Dorman on February 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

        Christian community is Jesus’s model. I’m not trying to come across as cynical at all. I actually make my living as a media consultant to large ministries and churches. What exists in America called “church” is not biblical, it’s business and like any good business it has to make decisions that are the best for it not the best for the people that attend it. I have seen the great harm this model does to many people and families and it isn’t isolated to one denomination or even a few churches. I believe God has opened my eyes to this and there is a God inspired movement sweeping the US where people are coming out of the “church” and becoming the body of Christ.

        • Daniel Indradjaja on February 13, 2014 at 1:31 am

          I’m sorry jacqueline but I have to agree with Carey here. To call the current church model unbiblical is really being ignorant of what some of these churches have done to introduce and grow people in Christ. I believe God is big enough to allow different models of church to reach different people. As Carey said, it’s great that you find a community you can belong to (I hope your community is also doing their bit to impact people’s lives who are not yet in your community), but the truth is many other people have also found eternal life through Christ even in the so-called “MEGA” churches. Stop being bitter and just rejoice in the fact that people are getting saved. No church is perfect, and I believe this sits with God just fine. 🙂

  173. Shelly Calcagno on February 12, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I SO related to this right now after transitioning out of a church staff role. The good thing I have learned is that I can’t NOT be involved in church life. It’s actually exciting to me now, after sitting for almost 6 months and just having a time of “rest” and “re-adjusting” in our new church – to think that I can now get plugged in and be part of the family from a whole different perspective from when I was a staff member. I also love that the things I cared so much about in my ministry role, are the same things I still care about and I know I still need to invest in as part of my church – and it’s exciting to think I can give support. As a person who needed support just a few months ago – I know how important that is!
    Thank you for this post!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Shelly. Great to hear from you. That’s so HEALTHY! Seriously…thank you for leading that way!

      • Gunther on October 12, 2018 at 6:27 pm

        I am a deacon at a Presbyterian church, and I love serving my congregation and ‘entertaining strangers” with this ministry. We have 23 deacons and our congregation consists of approximately 500 people. There have been times recently where our head pastor has wrongly characterized decisions made (or not made) during our monthly meetings. He recently presented something to our congregation as having been approved by our deaconate. He used the term consensus as being reached (on a 5 year vision of his) by our deacons. We never had an opportunity to discuss that topic, so how could a consensus have been reached?
        One of our pastors was fired recently for several politically charged sermons and refused to repent. When he told our congregation why that pastor was not there anymore, he told them that when he was hired it was the plan for him to be trained, and then ‘planted’ somewhere else. He denies that he was fired, which is not true, and the other pastors back up his fabrications.
        I have confronted him on these things several times, and he always evades my questions and comes up with answers that I didn’t ask questions about.
        I plan on resigning, and hopefully finding another place to worship. I love the people at my church and believe that they are being fleeced in the form of agenda based false information. In a sense, I feel like I am abandoning them if I leave.
        So I can see why people might be turned off. I am truly heartbroken..


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