What causes you to leave church?

I'd like your thoughts about this: 

  • What reasons would cause you to consider leaving your church?
  • What reasons would cause you to stay?

Look at this sobering statement:

"According to Rainer Research 70 percent of youth leave church by the time they are twenty-two years old.  Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be 'disengaged' by the time they are twenty-nine years old.  Unlike older church dropouts, these young 'leavers' are unlikely to seek out alternative forms of Christian community, such as home churches and small groups.  When they leave church, many leave the faith as well."

– Drew Dyck in Generation EX-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith… and How to Bring Them Back (Moody, 2010), p17.

 

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

2 thoughts on “What causes you to leave church?

  1. Andrew- time for a good coffee! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I resonate with many of the feelings you have.,. And I think many others, if they were honest, would understand. Church should be something more than it is in the typical experience… Though I suspect that you have had an above average positive church experience for much of your life… Still, church in north America in the 21st century is lacking something profound…. perhaps it is a zealousness for God rather than ourselves….perhaps it is deep friendship that exists beyond the time limits of Sunday morning and the place constraints of a building… Perhaps we are missing a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit…. Perhaps we are not as concerned for our neighbor as we should be… Whatever the case, I think your feelings are on to something–

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  2. Hey Ken, Long time no talk. Saw your post on Facebook though and it got me thinking. Just thought I would throw a thought or two up and let you decide whats what.
    Why would I leave church? In all sincerity, it is a question plaguing me for the last few years. I have had my fights with God and my issues with church politics and my grievances with the programability of our services and… well, the programs.
    That being said, I don’t think it is anything like that. Why would I leave? Well, I feel things. I honestly and truly feel things. It sounds funny, but it is the source of the problem. When I go to church, I am taught how to fix my problems, how to live a God-centered life, how to be a good Christian and how to fit in with the corporate structure of the church I attend. That being said, it is primarily a battle for my intellect. If I have a problem, the church has an answer. I can’t hear God’s voice, then you haven’t prayed enough. I can’t understand the Bible, then we have a small group for you. I can’t understand Jesus’ sacrifice for me, good, no one can.
    It seems, at times, to be a hopeless place. I sin, I come to confess and I am told that everyone struggles. It is okay. No one is perfect. Didn’t Jesus tell the woman not to go back to her sinful ways? Should I not feel reprimanded?
    So, we come back to feelings. I feel, a lot of the time, like my church doesn’t get it, or doesn’t care. I don’t know which one it is, but it is certainly how I feel. If Doctor Phil can be brought to bear here, he says that my feelings are valid; I would like to think God would agree. But that doesn’t mean I should leave. There are support groups, there are all kinds of offered segments of the church where people can come and belong, grow and love on each other. Why, then, does the group feel so segregated?
    I guess it is because we don’t deal with things. There is a real level we need to touch, in my heart at least, which hasn’t so much as had the surface scratched. I know the magnitude of preaching a sermon must be unbelievable, particularly when your job, livelihood and faith all come together in one colossal bundle, but really, can’t we be challenged without talking the same schtick?
    Now, I know there are churches out there dealing with real issues, or at least claiming to, but I haven’t attended one yet, so I cannot say if those rumours are true.
    As for why I would stay? Friendships. Sincerely. That is is. I have a group of people I rely on for a sense of community there. I have friends who attend and whom I see little if we don’t run into each other at church. I would like to say it is to meet God, but He hasn’t shown up, or at least shown himself to me, in a long time at church. I go for the social aspect of meeting with people I care about. Why Sunday mornings then? Why Sunday nights? Why do that in a place of worship at all? Maybe it is a habit. Admittedly. Maybe it is something else. Again, it just feels like the right thing to do.
    I don’t know that I am informed or wise enough to speak for my generation or even about a generation at all, but I am looking for something more evolved than what I get. Something less mundane intellectual. Something less dry. If Jesus promised life to the fullest, I want that. Maybe my obsession with new and shiny hinders me from that goal, but I would like to think that if I felt peace, understanding and love I would stay. After all, I have stayed and I do not feel that now.
    Don’t know what that does for you, Ken. Hope you are well.

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