3 Reasons Why You Stopped Going to Church


Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After reading the title of this post you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Only three? I can give you ten!” Well, that’s why I have a comment section. I would love for you to leave a comment, especially if you’ve stopped going to church for more reasons than I’m going to give you. 

We all know someone who stopped going to church and usually we can come up with a vague reason why. Over the years I’ve been saddened yet intrigued by those who exit the church silently, seemingly unnoticed, they disappear, only to be seen on your Facebook feed. What happened?  

It’s happened to every single one of us if we are honest. I remember the first time I was going to stop going to church when I was in my early twenties. I was mad and I had every good reason to be upset.  I allowed bitterness to creep in my heart.  I would go to church disappointed and leave defeated and disillusioned.  Have you ever been there?  Fortunately back then a faithful friend reached out to me and rescued me from what would have been a very bad decision.

I’m not saying the decision to stop going to church is bad for everybody because entire movements have been birthed from exiting traditional church models that are working for people who have had bad experiences with what goes on inside the walls. The reasons however are not always good enough for me, so after 18 years of seeing my friends, family, people I love, stop going to church I want to give you three reasons YOU stopped going. You can let me know if I’m right!

  1. People Disappointed You – When people let us down it’s really difficult to bounce back, but when people who go to church let us down it’s that much more difficult to overcome. These are folks that say they are living by the book, yet there actions and words may not align with what you know is true. It could be numerous things but the bottom line is you had an expectation that someone didn’t live up to. You had a need that someone didn’t meet. The person made a promise they didn’t fulfill. They gave you their word and didn’t keep it. That’s tough stuff to overcome when your going church hoping that things would be different. This is where bumper stickers phrases like, ” They are just a bunch of hypocrites” and “Jesus, save me from your people” come from. The fact is when people disappoint us we make decisions and many times it’s a decision to stop going to church
  2. Pastors Disappointed You – If you’ve stopped going to church because a pastor disappointed you probably recognize they are only human. You may find yourself saying, “I don’t follow men anymore.” I’ve heard that statement a few times. I’m a pastor and I know I’ve disappointed people.  If it will help you move forward in your faith I’m sorry for what I did or didn’t do and if it wasn’t me you lost hope in, I apologize for the pastor that caused you to lose hope. When men and women of God disappoint us it’s like a dagger that’s wounded our soul. Every vulnerable place feels victimized. It is a deep emotional wound that causes us to make the decision to stop going to church, so the pain wills stop. I’ve seen it over and over again.
  3. Processes Disappointed You – If you’ve asked yourself, “Why in the world did they do that?” you have probably been part of a painful church process. Processes in church disappoint us because most of the time they are only practiced when something goes wrong. They are not refined, perfected or much less proven. A lot of times a church will adopt a “one size fits all” process that exalts procedure over people. It becomes process first, people second and when that happens people are hurt, families destroyed, and churches split.

Do any of these reasons ring true with you? If so, I would like to hear which one of the three made you stop going to church? If your still going to church, let me know which reason wants to makes you stop!

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15 comments

  1. As long as we consider “church” a place to go to, we will be disappointed. We go expecting it to be an entertainment venue, with music and clergy there to entertain us, to deliver a revelation they received after prayer and fasting.

    Once we grab hold of 1Cor. 14:26 and realize that when “the Church” meets together, we, each individually are responsible to come ready to share a hymn, word of instruction, revelation, tongue or interpretation, then our “church” experience can change.

    “Church” is not meant to be a going to, but rather a gathering of with a pooling of our many giftings, revelations and experiences actively engaging with each other and demonstrating the power of God to an unbelieving world.

    If we can grasp and activate the understanding of the “greater works” that He said we would do as His body, and walked in that, then we would never be disappointed or, more importantly, offended ( which is satan’s great bait to disable the Church), by our Church experience.

    1. Nancy you are spot on! I love your comment “As long as we consider “church” a place to go to, we will be disappointed.” I connect with what you are saying wholeheartedly although with few exceptions people that leave “the place to go” often don’t find themselves in the Church “that meets together” either. The “greater works” that Jesus talked about was multiplication of His works in the earth and that’s hard to do when there is mass subtraction happening in the Body of Christ whether your going to a place called Church or meeting as the Church. Thank you for taking the time to share your insight!

  2. I would say offense, laziness, wrong priorities and misdirected values are other reasons people don’t come to church. The bottom line is when what we think we need exceeds what the church can deliver, we make decisions to stop attending.

    Also, when our personal pain exceeds our need for a “spiritual family” we leave.

    It’s hard to say you are connected to the “head” (Christ) and not connected to His body (the church). A person is who is not part of a local church family is orphaned.

    We might leave a church but never a family. If people “move on” then move on to another expression of the “family” of God but keep attending a local community, His body.

    1. “A person is who is not part of a local church family is orphaned.” Great add ons PG! There are a lot of things that creep in on our priorities that keep us from gathering.

  3. I think a lot of it comes down to misguided passion. I know because that was me. I grew frustrated with my church because it didn’t seem like the body was sold out to being loving and passionate like Christ. Then I realized that bitterness was keeping ME from being loving or passionate like Christ. So I quit my pity party, asked what Jesus would do, and aimed to be a disciple making disciples not only outside of the church, but inside it as well. Not in an arrogant way, as if I knew everything or was some super Christian. But just aiming to be a hot coal warming others around me.

    I’m rambling. Sorry. Very passionate about this subject! Thank you for the post, brother!

    Eyes on the Son,
    Caleb

  4. Dean you are right on. These are deadly attacks employed by the enemy with lethal precision. I know, because I’ve been there myself. When I got back into fellowship and ministry the poison was forced to the surface for healing and cleansing through prayer.
    I urge anyone reading this who is struggling with “the church” not to make it more complicated than it is: Church is led and filled by imperfect people. Don’t let it choke your destiny; get plugged in again ASAP! I promise, you will begin to grow in Him again…

  5. Honestly, none of these reasons really fit my situation. I was raised without much emphasis on church. However, there was a huge emphais on relationships with other Christians. My parents were always super envolved in small groups.

    To better explain, at the age of 11 my mom was saved and did a complete 180, which in turn caused me to as well. I think being so young I was looking to my mom and stepfather to show me how this all should work. My parents atteneded a few churches that had major splits and left them jaded. However, throughout this, they kept a close group of friends (all attending different churches) and went to weekly bible studies and classes at a friend’s home

    I think they modeled to me a flipant attitude toward church while putting a greater emphasis on ones relationship with Christ. Now, as an adult I find it hard to go out and find a church home. My husband and I have lived in 3 different states in 5 years and I loathe the thought of church shopping alone, even though I know we are settled now. However, I have a son now who is a year old and I want him raised with the comfort and security of a loving Christian family so I guess I will get over it.

    1. Relationship with Christ is first and foremost, but our Christian walk was never meant to be done outside community. There are different expressions of church. What you are looking for may be gathering in a home nearby or somewhere else. I don’t like church shopping either, but go until you find a place where you have peace. Take your time, take it slow. Start off by going to one church a month, so you are not overwhelmed by it. Again, I encourage you to look for alternatives, small groups, missional groups, etc. that may be exactly what your heart is longing for.

  6. As a 24 year old woman, I can tell you why I haven’t attended in a while. I grew up in a family that was what I now know to be ‘lukewarm’. Try as they might to put on this great act, they need a lot of work. We are all sinners, I understand this, however the immense guilt I feel going to church drives me away. I physically get sick knowing my church family has bought my family’s ‘pillar of strength in the community’ act hook-line and sinker. My family has no respect for people as human beings. They are bloated with the cliche ‘holier than thou’ attitude and think they are better than people-especially unbelievers, or believers who are honest about their struggles and addictions. They talk bad and gossip about our brothers and sisters in Christ who have come forward-honestly-seeking help and whom occasionally fall down….while they jet off to casinos to blow thousands of dollars over a 12 hour period directly after service lets out on Sunday. Meanwhile I’m working two minimum wage jobs to put myself through school, am barely scraping by and seem to be the only one in my household with a semblance of a conscience for the behavior being exhibited. They need help. I constantly pray the Lord would help us see our own problems and have the drive to address them. Meanwhile, I have to work to have a better life-to get away from this toxic household. I know my relationship in Christ is enough to see me through-He has been with me through the darkest moments of my life and has lead me to this career after much prayer and trust. I don’t feel comfortable in a church where people treat it like a giant one-up game. I’m tired of the act. Maybe when I graduate and move away from here, I can shop for a church where this behavior is less present. Until then, I’ll limiting my time in the church due to the people. This resonates with me: The body may be good-but some of the cells are cancerous and liable to spread.

    1. That’s a tough situation. You are doing the right thing by keeping your eyes on Jesus, but there are communities out there you will discover that are full of authentic and transparent people that are not perfect, but being perfected. I pray you find that community real soon…it is a fresh breath of air.

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