I recently read a blog post entitled “5 Reasons People Are Drifting From Church” and in it, the author outlines 5 reasons people create excuses for their own shortcomings in regards to the church. These issues have been around for decades. However, often the answers given places the blame on the person leaving without examining the complaint to see if there is any truth there. For example, when someone attends a church service and says they are not being fed, it could be because that person needs to grow spiritually but it could also mean that the church services themselves have drifted.
Let’s be really clear. The church buildings and denominations are run by and attended by imperfect humans. A church service is like going to the hospital and instead of doctors treating the sick, the recently sick and now healing are treating the sick. Sometimes wounded people wound people. While I definitely think a good portion of people leave the church for the wrong reasons, I also think it’s pretty prideful to blame the people leaving. Instead, let’s humbly examine what we’re doing today to worship God and see if there’s anything lacking in our offering. Today as a member of the church I’d like to look at 5 reasons people are leaving the church.
Lack Of Inauthentic Worship
In our effort to match the world to attract the world we’ve become a poor imitation of the world. This isn’t about the style of music or even the smoke machines. It’s not about the keys being played when a pastor wants to play on our emotions. It’s also not about structure and planning. Thank God for planning. God loves details and the ornate, have you read Deuteronomy? However, if your church spends more time planning the blinding light show and worrying about getting that perfect social media image (seriously, can we stop with the photographers?!) then they do try to craft a worship experience that opens people’s hearts to God’s presence, there might be a problem.
Lack Of God’s Word
At some point in every Christian’s life, they get to a season where they stop growing. It’s usually here that some will say, “I’m not being fed.” Paul describes it as being in an infant state and requiring milk versus heavier food that we cannot digest. During this season it’s time for the Christians to dive into the Word for themselves and start learning how to feed themselves. All my comments are in lockstep with every church leader that faces this complaint. However, the problem isn’t always the believers. In our effort to be more seeker-friendly we’ve lacked the one thing that everyone seeks. The Truth of the Word.
Personally, I think our churches should be the most welcoming and accessible they can be AND embrace the scripture as the tool for instruction and encouragement. Here’s what I know, sermons, stories, and messages can sometimes fall flat, but God’s word never does.
Lack of Transparency
Imagine listening to a great sermon that really taught you something about the Word and showed you a side of God that you might not have seen. Now imagine that the sermon was a setup for a request for money, joining a small group, or a smokescreen for employee transitions within the church. First, it’s completely OK that both of these things happen on the same Sunday. It’s absolutely applicable to preach a sermon that segues into an announcement or request. That lack of transparency is going to erode away at trust. If the trust fails then the church fails. You can’t have a team without trust.
Lack of Clear Vision
Building campaigns are often some of the best seasons of a church’s life. The reason is simple. There’s a clear vision of where the church is going and what it’s trying to accomplish. There’s an intense focus on fundraising for the kingdom. As a kingdom driven leader, it’s pretty exciting. However, it’s easy to lose the vision outside those campaigns. It’s the leader’s job to communicate the vision, over and over again to remind the congregation that we’re actually attending church for a reason. God wants us in a church body to be plugged in and in a healthy church, you get access to things that you could never get on your own. There’s some obvious access such as community and resources, the aforementioned weekly worship concert, and prayer opportunities. However, a church’s job is to make disciples of Jesus and equip the saints to spread the gospel.
Lack of Humility
What was attractive about Jesus was his humility. Leaders are leaving the church, not because they are viewing it online but because the church lacks humility. That reads pretty harsh, but I’m not talking about the quality of the people at the church or their hearts. I think in our effort to create the best experience for non-believers and to create systems to allow the church to grow we’ve manufactured the Holy Spirit right out of our worship. Sometimes this is felt by the congregation but the leaders and volunteers often feel this first. If the church culture lacks humility then it’s going to leak out onto the congregation and seekers alike.
My intent isn’t to persecute the church. I’m a part of the church body as well! Instead, I’m simply pleading that we examine our Sunday routines and see if there is any truth to the claims.
Every church worship experience should be like planning a wedding. The key shift I’d like to see is where the worship team crafts moments for the bride and groom to meet. We get the opportunity to worship the one true living God. He has a relationship with us and not only do we get to sing and learn more about Him at church, but He also delights in it. Every service isn’t going to always hit this lofty thought of authentic spirit-led worship. However, there is nothing stopping us (the church) from dropping our pride and humbly approaching worship with authenticity.