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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Top Ten Reasons People Stop Attending Church

There are always good churches around, and the Lord's own words tell us that he is building up the Church as his own personal project. Therefore, we know that the Church (with a capital "C") will never go "out of business." However, for the sake of those who need to know God, honesty requires us to admit that some of our churches do need a doctor. Furthermore, history tells us that churches that don't see a doctor end up getting examined by a pathologist!

With that in mind, here's a list that may make us cringe: 10 reasons why people stop attending church. As Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let Him hear." (Please note that total may be more than 100% because respondents could supply more than one answer. Survey sample = 469 "formerly churched adults.")

  1. Simply got too busy - 19 %
  2. Family/home responsibilities prevented attendance - 17 %
  3. Church members seemed hypocritical - 17 %
  4. Church members were judgmental of others - 17 %
  5. Moved too far from church - 17 %
  6. Work situation prevented church attendance - 15 %
  7. Church was not helping me develop spiritually - 14 %
  8. Stopped believing in organized religion - 14 %
  9. Church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement - 12 %
  10. Got divorced/separated - 10 %
Lots of food for thought here. Three of the top ten had to do with the actual behavior of church members and another one had to do with the church's failure to effectively make disciples as Christ commanded.

Source: Lifeway Research.

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E. I. Sanchez said...

Interesting reasons. Two comments:

The item you highlight: "actual behavior of church members" is a very important one. A lot of us forget that people are watching us and basing their religion on us - fallen beings. This goes together well w/ the 3rd reason: "Church members seemed hypocritical - 17 %"

"New Christians" need to understand that their Christianity should be based and centered On Christ, and not other "Christians". We will let each other down; but Jesus won't.

Having said that, we are to be the light of the there are no excuses -- really.


Stephan said...

Strange that the reason "finally realized that religion means believing in things that do not exist" did not appear. :)

Nick said...

For Edgar:

Hard to say it better than you just did. Like it or not, we are advertisements for Him, whether for good or for ill!

Nick said...

For Stephan:

That may be on the list but not in the top ten. Most people as you know believe in some kind of deity, and even atheists aren't always sure...

Anyway, thanks for stopping in.

Anonymous said...

All fine and dandy, but the question remains . . .

Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that He Himself could not eat it?

Nick said...

For the Burrito Man:

Not only could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that He couldn't eat it, He could eat it, too! (And remain undamaged by it all!)

It's all part of being Almighty. Not to be too flip, of course, but His Omnipotence is far beyond the ability of our feeble minds to grasp.

Another answer I have seen to that sort of question (which is usually phrased in terms of whether God could make a rock so big that He couldn't lift it) is that yes, He could make such a burrito, but His Wisdom would prevent Him from doing so.

The Bible says that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. So fooling Him is not an option.

When they read this in the 25th century they may wonder if it was our equivalent of the medieval argument about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

Anonymous said...

Another reason that maybe should be there (although maybe it falls under #7) is finding another spiritual path. b-44

MInTheGap said...

I think that the opposite survey gives some interesting input to your post. The fact that a majority of people come to church because someone invited them would mean that unless relationships are formed and nurtured you'll find that people will leave to find somewhere that does treat them like part of the group.

No one likes to be on the outside looking in.

Nick said...

To MInTheGap

I couldn't agree more, although we know the Gospel is full of inconvenient truths which make people uncomfortable. When the message is offensive, let it be the message which is offensive and not us.

Anonymous said...

I left mine because my church valued me only as forced labor. The church existed as a social club for a select group of families that had grown up there. No room for outsiders, although I think they were largely oblivious to this. Also, I began to investigate what environments actually do grow disciples. And in a year's research have come to believe that it happens in very small settings. Daily, on one's own, but also in small home groups, and rarely, if ever, in a traditional church. Leaving church, but not God, was the best thing I ever did.

By the way, the burrito joke was hilarious! Why do Christians find the need to respond, though, instead of just getting the joke. Why are we compelled to have the last word, the answer at all times.