Why did you leave/stay/return to the church?

A CNN belief blog post today got me ¬†thinking, “why am I committed to the church?” I’m playing Mr. Mom this morning, and I’m reminded of the amount of work and emotonal duress my dear wife has to endure every Sunday morning to get our three warrior sons ready for civilized church.
Why do so many people put aside all their weekend plans to join together every Sunday? To come together to sit, sing, and listen to someone talk about the Scriptures? Why and how do some people come to the decision they just don’t want to do it anymore?
In seminary, we were told that there were two classes of people that we needed to think about in terms of ministry – churched and unchurched. I think there’s a third – dechurched. These are folks who grew up in the church, but for one reason or another, left the church. Church growth specialists have called it a “silent exodus” among several groups. I think this is an ever-growing group, and I’m a bit curious. For those like the blogger who weren’t traumatized or gravely hurt by the church, why do they leave? What about the weekly routine of being in a congregation is unsatisfying?
Leave a thought.

3 thoughts on “Why did you leave/stay/return to the church?”

  1. Why I may have left: boredom, hypocracy, youth, not able to comply with Godly expectations; not understanding that it didn’t matter. None of us can fully comply with all that is Godly. When we can’t, is when we need Him and His church the most.
    Which brings us back to why I stay. Fellowship, recognizing the need for God’s Word, fullfillment, maturity, nurturing, joy, committment, love, spiritual stimulation, music, prayer, a genuine group of people, an open relationship with God. Oh, I forgot, white chocolate latte, no whip cream!

  2. Brian Eisenmenger

    This is an interesting post Mitchell and while I have not left the church, if I did not have young children, I may have or even still might.
    I for one am confused about church. When I was growing up (I am only 40) I went to a liturgical Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. While it was not a great experience, it taught me the fundamentals of the faith – that I am a sinner in need of God’s grace, Jesus died and paid the price for me, reverence for God, the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s prayer, the creeds, the ten commandments and the books of the bible.
    Today’s church is more about being “relevant” – which I take to mean – “let’s entertain the masses”. For children, it is about “having fun” or babysitting so their parents can get fed so who really cares if they learn anything.
    Today’s church (and I am talking in general) does not teach the fundamentals and people are more concerned about “being fed” than serving their fellow man. The result is an uncommitted congregation that relies on staff to do the work because I need to get my needs met. So the message had better be great and the music contemporary and upbeat.
    Just for fun, next Easter on the Friday before when everyone has the day off, go up to random people, or even people who you work with and/or see on a regular basis. Ask them why it is called “Good Friday”.
    Truthfully I am flabergasted and find myself wondering if God is even relevent to people anymore? Yet for all my frustration, Jesus said the church is how he would change the world. In my more cynical moments, I can’t help but think he got this one wrong.
    Brian Eisenmenger

    1. Brian, thanks so much for openly sharing about the church. I think it’s important to keep in mind that the “church” you’re considering is the stereotypically white, suburban, middle class church. While I can definitely empathize, I can also say that I’ve been to plenty of churches that are doing meaningful and impactful ministry in Jesus’ name. I think the question remains: do we flee our churches to join there or do we continue to serve, work, and strive for our church to remember her true calling and mission?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *