Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1


Being on the other side of the Exodus sucks, doesn’t it?

I see the panic on your face, Church.
I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories and scan the exit polls.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control for the fence-sitters, and manufacture passion from the shrinking faithful and I want to help you.

You may think you know why people are leaving you, but I’m not sure you do.

You think it’s because the culture is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that they are all walking away.
You believe that they’ve turned a deaf ear to the voice of God, chasing money and sex and material things.
You think that the gays and the Muslims and the Atheists and the pop stars have so screwed-up the morality of the world, that everyone is abandoning faith in droves.

But those aren’t the only reasons people are leaving you.

They aren’t always the problem, Church.

You are the problem too.

Let me elaborate in 5 ways…

1) Your Sunday productions have worn thin.

The stage and the lights and the bands and the video screens have all just become white noise to those really seeking to encounter God. They’re ear and eye candy for an hour but they have so little relevance in people’s daily lives, that more and more of them are taking a pass, seeking God in the quiet and the still.

Yes the songs are cool and the show is great, but ultimately Sunday morning isn’t really making a difference on Tuesday afternoon or Thursday evening when people are wrestling with the awkward, messy, painful stuff in the trenches of life—the places where rock shows don’t help.

We can be entertained anywhere. Until you can give us something more than a Christian-themed performance piece, something that allows us space and breath and conversation and relationship, many of us are going to sleep-in and stay away.

2) You speak in a foreign tongue.

Church, you talk and talk and talk, but you do so using a dead language. You’re holding on to dusty words that have no resonance in people’s ears, not realizing that just saying those words louder isn’t the answer. All the religious buzzwords that used to work 20 years ago, no longer do.

This spiritualized insider-language may give you some comfort in an outside world that is changing, but that stuff’s just lazy religious shorthand and it keeps regular people at a distance. They need you to speak in a language that they can understand. There’s a message there worth sharing, but it’s hard to hear above your verbal pyrotechnics.

People don’t need to be dazzled with heavily foot-noted eschatological frameworks and complex theological systems. Talk to them plainly about love and joy and forgiveness and death and peace and God, and they’ll be all ears. Let them hear the unfiltered words of Jesus and people will listen. Keep up the Christianese and you’ll be talking to an empty room soon.

3) You can’t see past your building.

The coffee bar, the cushy couches, the high tech lights, the funky Children’s wing and the uber-cool Teen Center are all top-notch—and costly. In fact most of your time, money and energy seem to be expended to lure people to where you are, instead of reaching people where they already are.

Rather than simply stepping out into the neighborhoods around you and partnering with the amazing things already happening and the beautiful stuff God is already doing, you seem content to franchise out your particular version of Jesus-stuff and wait for the sinful world to beat down your door. It seems like you’d rather build your brand and upgrade your campus than hit the streets and wash dirty feet.

Your greatest mission field is just a few miles (or a few steps) off your property and you don’t even realize it. You wanna reach the people you’re missing? Leave the building.

4) You choose lousy battles.

We know you like to fight, Church. That’s obvious.

When you want to, you can go to war with the best of them. The problem is, your battles are too darn small. Fast food protests and bathroom sign outrage may manufacture some urgency and Twitter activity on the inside for the already-convinced, but they’re paper tigers to people out here with bloody boots on the ground who really are about bringing justice and healing to the marginalized and hurting.

Every day we see a world suffocated by poverty and racism and violence and bigotry and hunger and hurt, and in the face of that stuff you get awfully, frighteningly quiet. We wish you were as courageous in those fights because then we’d feel like coming alongside you—then we’d feel like going to war with you.

Church, we need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial and peacemakers in the face of the terrible.

5) Your love doesn’t look like love.

Love seems to be a pretty big deal to you but we’re not getting that when the rubber meets the road. In fact, more and more your brand of love seems incredibly selective and decidedly narrow, filtering out all the spiritual riff-raff, which sadly includes far too many of us.

It feels like a big bait-and-switch sucker-deal; advertising a “Come As You Are” party, but letting us know once we’re in the door that we can’t really come as we are. We see a Jesus in the Bible, who hung out with lowlifes and prostitutes and outcasts and loved them right there, but that doesn’t seem to be your cup of tea.

Church, can you love us if we don’t check all the doctrinal boxes and don’t have our theology all figured out? It doesn’t seem so.
Can you love us if we cuss and drink and get tattoos and God forbid vote Democrat? We’re doubtful.
Can you love us if we’re not sure how we define love and marriage and Heaven and Hell? It sure doesn’t feel that way.

From what we know about Jesus, we think he looks like love. The unfortunate thing is, you don’t always look much like him.

That’s part of the reason people are leaving you, Church.

These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack these positions line-by-line, but we hope that you won’t.

We hope that you’ll just sit in stillness with these words for a while, because whether you believe they’re right or wrong, they’re real to us, and well that’s the whole point.

We’re the ones walking away.
We want to matter to you.
We want you to hear us before you debate us.

Show us that your love and your God are real because we want to believe that.

Church, give us a reason to stay.

Note: Part 2 can be found HERE.
Part 3 can be found HERE.

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943 thoughts on “Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1

    • I wholeheartedly concur with Nortinamariela. It breaks my heart the way we are allowing satan and his minions to win because too many of us are too busy being entertained in a building to get out of the building to sow seeds for the Holy Spirit to nourish and grow and for Father to harvest.

  1. You cover a lot, but I can’t disagree with any of it. Churches compete with one another to be relevant, somewhat of a self-preservation dance that never seems to have a conclusion of when they have reached their goal. But then again, I guess that is the essence of relevance; a never-ending re-evaluation of reaching the mission field without losing sight of the mission.

    The result is mega-churches, coffee bars, entertainment centers and so on. He who has the most toys wins, I suppose. Or at least they think they will. But at what cost?

    I understand the philosophy that to stay relevant, you morph your church out of pews and into foldout chairs, and away from pipes and robes and into early morning rock concerts masquerading as worship. I guess the theory being that if we don’t, then we will lose out to the church down the street because there is a finite group who will ever step across the threshold of a church. Flawed but popular wisdom.

    I don’t know what the answer is as to where you draw the line on the accessories of what a church offers. I like that churches offer entire family services as I think it helps mold people and provide a full-life support system. Where I see so much failure, however, is the obvious sell-out by this generation of church leaders to one certain political party. I have had more than one pastor tell me of being inundated with emails from his conservative members asking that he take a position politically to their liking. To me it is an obvious result of the congregation being politicized in their daily walk, convinced that Christianity is best measured when, as you said in an earlier post, that perspective is made “through a window, to the mess, flaws, and failures of other people.” Today’s churches appear more inviting when we approach them, but when we measure their effectiveness by the sincerity of the masses, we often find misplaced political priorities that run contrary to the very biblical teachings that should be the foundation of the mission. Too many of the members feel free to espouse their untenable belief that as long as one subscribes to the message of Fox News poli-religious guests as to what is or isn’t Christianity – even if it leads to the disenfranchising of the very field that is your mission or those who are among you with good hearts to serve the mission – so be it; there is a higher political calling.

    In my opinion, the Church is going to have to have a fight within itself to wrest itself free of the death grip that conservative politics has on it. Until then, its effectiveness will be limited and each church will find itself under the subjection of a political brood of vipers.

    • To think that the present day Christian Church is not being effected by politics is foolish. For the lack of knowledge we perish. If we wish to continue to worship freely, we had better learn from the sacrifices of our forefathers. Scripture is of no private interpretation; so, we may wish to search them daily so that we may base our behaviors on fact rather than emotion.

      • First, where does indeed politics come into play in the Kingdom? It seems many Christians have gone to their horrible deaths due to politics, without change of those policies being relevant — or even noticed by the martyrs, beyond the basic Christian relevance of how we treat our fellow man (who happens to be killing us). Almost as if politics was ‘way behind… well, as you said, “There’s a message there worth sharing”, and it’s not whom to vote for.

        Second, I’m not sure what you mean by “Scripture is of no private interpretation”. Being an ex-Catholic, I thought that’s exactly what Protestantism is, although I am probably ignorant of such things.

        Oh, third, and apologies, this is just me: “affected by politics”. I think you meant.

        I very much enjoyed your post.

    • Not very relevant remarks. What church have you been to or do you even attend one? I haven’t seen any of that. Maybe in the south that’s a problem? I don’t know but none of that is relevant or occurs in the north west churches. Blessings

      • i live in the northwest and was raised in the churches here. your assurance we are different here somehow? straight up self deluded

  2. Pingback: Because John says what I’m thinking, only he says it better. | My Because Blog

  3. To understand why the church has become so polarized to the right, it might help to read The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. It is the nature of people strongly drawn to movements to see the world in terms of right/wrong, black/white, true/false, good/bad, etc. Jesus transcended this tendency of the Pharisees, but unfortunately many of His followers can’t. I’m grateful to be part of a church that reaches out far more than it looks inward. The mission field is just outside the doors.

  4. Wow. We “left” the church about 6 years ago. It was all just such a production and a club for showing off your righteousness. We are in our 50’s and our children are grown. They all attend church faithfully with their families – and for that we are grateful – but we just can’t force ourselves to get back into it. We’re tired. We don’t want to be entertained or busy – we are busy enough and can entertain ourselves – we would just like a quiet place to pray, a listening ear, a support system – but they have been lost in the loud music, the power point presentations, the long altar calls that are for numbers only – so we stay home, sleep in, putter around the house, and skip church. You were spot on with this. I only hope they will have ears to hear. Whoops – slipped into church talk there. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for these words, Lanette.

      This is my heart. I know so many people who feel this way. I’m hoping to create the kind of community that you miss, or at least to build one online that people like you can share in. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement and honesty.

      Stay in touch. 🙂

    • Lanette, are we clones? 🙂 We are in our 50’s (well my hubs of over 30 years is 62), our kids are grown and enjoying incredible church communities with their growing families. My hubs keeps saying, “We’ve spent our whole lives ‘doing church'”, and we want reality, community free of competition, the corporate presence of God enjoyed by the unity in the spirit etc etc. And so we stay home too. And long for what we know is possible, and for what our kids are experiencing…but they live too far away to join them!

    • I am very sad that the true Love that Jesus has for everyone hasn’t been demonstrated by his people the way he truly meant for it to be. I pray you will experience the Love that he does have for you through a people he is raising up in these last days. Yes I agree the Love of God has not been revealed through most of the Church. The reason it hasn’t been is because the Church has been living under the Old Covenant. The covenant of law! Which says you must obey the 10 commandments to be saved and Loved. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one obeys the law perfectly! It is all by Gods Grace! The Grace and Love of God is what draws a persons heart to know The Lord. All of us by human nature are seperated from a Loving God. It is this self Righteous attitude and Conscious that has seperated us all. The Church has not taught the true meaning of Grace. Why??? They are afraid it will give people a license to sin. Yet Grace and Gods perfect Love towards us does the opposite. I love you all by the Grace of God and it is this Perfect Love of God that enables me to look beyond a persons weaknesses, and faults. We as humans cannot Love like Jesus in our own strenght, or ability. It is his Love manifested in us by Christ himself that helps us to Love unconditional. Gods Love is about to explode all over the World. He is raising up those who will die to their own self Righteousness and allow him to be God and give his Righteousness as a gift. Get ready it is coming. It is amazing!

      • A lot of preaching and “insider” language here for those on the outside of the church, but I hear your heart and I’m with you totally in that Love will win the day.

        Thanks for sharing!

    • One of the churches my husband pastored for the last 7 years in western Pennsylvania is a small country church and would be perfect for you (PCUSA though). They say they are for the empty nesters, no kids in the congregation, attendance is 20 people, 5 in the choir, hymns only, no altar calls (visitors are rare), very low-key, no activities besides church dinners and Sunday school (and the twice a year rummage sale and once a year apple butter making). There are so many churches out there that are like that – nice and quiet, not entertaining at all (no technology other than a microphone). I almost died but then I’m just under 40; it sounds like just what you’re looking for. Seriously, they’re out there, and they wouldn’t expect anything of you.

    • If the spirit of God is gone from you ,you will complain we have gone far not preparing our onw through prayers Sunday to sunday alone .we need to meet within the week and come Sunday spirit of God in you will be moving you will not experience noisy

  5. I’ve “left” the church in the past due to various reasons but I have come back. I have to agree with what Philip Yancey said about how people leave church because there is so little grace but they come back (some anyway) because they found grace nowhere else. May be it’s not so much church, organized religion, etc that’s the problem, but the corrupt leadership. For me, going back to church has also been about simple obedience, of meeting with fellow believers and serving, and quit playing hard-to-get.

  6. Not my church. 1. We are a worship leading choir on a platform not a stage. 2. Our pastors have preached & will continue we are all broken and need Jesus. 3. Are love is beyond our walls to the local community & beyond (city reach, navajo, other missionaries). 4. We pray for guidance and the problems of the world but haven’t seen a boycott or protest yet. 5. We follow the Biblical love of Christ and the doctrines of the Bible.

    Not sure what church you went to. No church is perfect, make sure you are there to serve Christ and do is the leadership and your church and look like mine.

    • Shannan, I’ve been in local church ministry for 18 years, so it’s more a collection of stories and observations than a single community. Glad yours is blessing you. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • I had a similar reaction to Shannan after reading this, then I realized the language in your article was one of the Church not a church. We are all members of the body of Christ and the negative examples of one particular community can dilute the ministry of us all. Thanks for writing, John.

    • Shannan

      You may not feel that way but sadly everyone that does feel that way thinks your church is no different, because of your response. John wrote towards the end of the post,

      “These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack these positions line-by-line, but we hope that you won’t.”

      People are tired of having to hear a defense of the church. The church shouldn’t be defending itself it should be defending people from the harsh realities of this world. It should be the first line of defense against the real problems poverty, starvation, abuse, racism, etc. I’m employed by a church and HATE, HATE what the Christian Church Universally has become. We have lost our way and are no longer the “hospital for the sick” (sorry for the churchy language) but we are a club for the self-righteous.

      Sorry if this was offensive to you and your church but its what I honestly felt you needed to hear. Don’t defend what doesn’t need defending.

      Thanks for the post John

      • To me this is a collection of accusations with the addendum “Don’t even say anything (other than amen)”. It just doesn’t seem fair and balanced or even constructive. You’re hosting a bash fest. Great. Meanwhile there are still some of us trying to gather, not scatter. You’re not helping us. You’re scolding us. And getting a lot of applause. Does it make you feel better? Is this Christ’s body? Bruised and battered? By whom? It’s just… wow. You do a lot of the same ‘not listening’ here that you say is not done in the church. I’m in ministry and I feel torn down, not built up. No longer really curious what the intention behind this blog was. It’s either done its thing or totally backfired.

        • Not a bash fest, Karin. It’s letting a huge percentage of people who are never heard, be heard.

          It’s not about their applause, but it is good to know that people feel like their hearts are being heard.

          Only those who do what the post talks about should feel any conviction. Having been in the trenches for 18 years, I understand the challenges of serving faithfully and finding the right balance of compassion and hard words.

          Here’s what I dream The Church could and should be:

          • The way you have moderated this just doesn’t feel right. Lots of outrageous statements left unchallenged and uncorrected, uncommented. Makes me wonder where you stand exactly. But it’s your blog, so… if you have peace about what you’re doing also with unbelieving audience in mind, then great. I just don’t see it.

            • The number of comments makes it all but impossible to send in-depth responses, especially to long comments. Just trying to keep everything civil.

              As far as outrageous statements, I’ll simply say that these are expressed in Part 2. People are often sharing what they have experienced, not what they simply have decided from a distance. It’s their story, so as wild or extreme as they seem, it comes from emotions that are real.

              I’d love if you would keep checking back, as I hope you’ll hear a great balance in the blogs I share, as I am on the side of The Church, for as much as I am disappointed in it.

              Thanks very much.

        • Karin, you sound conflicted and borderline depressed with your own sense of dissatisfaction with the collective church. Sorry to say, it was only a matter of time before you felt torn down anyway. John is basing his criticisms of the institution on common anecdotes witnessed by many church goers. If it would improve your outlook, you should take a well-deserved hiatus from “ministry”, which too often effectively means empire building for someone else’s benefit.

        • Karin, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, but you realize, don’t you, that having joined ministry work, you have in some measure been assimilated into the Borg, and the church is the hive shared by religious drones. As such, I cannot blame you for feeling exhausted, torn down, and sensitive to criticism.

          Your comments echo those of other church leaders to us “scoffers” whose message seems to be: “We are the Church. Your monetary and voluntary surpluses will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.”

          I respond to you in Trekkie Speak instead of Biblical language because it is somewhat refreshing. The leaders of American churchianity and their minions have twisted the literary masterpiece of the King James Bible to their own ends for so long that even devout Christians that quote scripture sometimes risk being associated with either Wingnuts or Moonbats in the minds of decent, honorable citizens.

          I think that you may enjoy a more peaceful and successful life, in the eyes of both God and man, if you resign from ministry and do something else. You likely have a heart to help people, but you are seeing little success of it by working in your present venue. My hope is that you find a rewarding use of your time, talent, and labor. Sadly, modern churchianity does so much to mitigate the potential effectiveness of the laity. Be blessed.

  7. Want a REAL encounter with Jesus? You can experiencing him in the flesh through the Eucharist as a Catholic. Come give us a visit. You are so welcome and wanted. 🙂

    • Hey Sarah. I was actually raised Catholic, and still have a great respect for that tradition… and I absolutely LOVE the Pope. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • NO! that is a LIE! Not all are welcome! It is stated over and over again in Catholic Churches that only the few(ONLY the faithful Catholic’s who follow ALL the rules in their eyes) may experience the Eucharist. But they want your Money that is for sure!!

      Speaking as a lapsed Catholic who reached her limit when the Bishop wrote a letter that should be read at all masses, Stating that the man who won a lawsuit with the church: “He would have been an alcoholic anyway, He had no right to take our money. Send More!!” The ONLY thing That Bishop carried about was the money! SO WHAT this man had been sexuality abused by his parish priest (who was know to have abused many other children and it was all kept hidden as this priest was quietly moved to different parishes to protect the abuser; NEVER the Children). The Bishop’s ONLY Concern was MONEY!!!

    • I was raised a Catholic, went to Catholic schools all my life but until I read the bible and understood the depths of Christ love and that Only by grace are we saved did I understand the True nature of God. I was was blind and now I can see. He loves me with an unconditional love that we can’t understand in the Catholic church because they do not teach forgiveness, and love and true faith and belief in our Lord. Salvation in a Gift, not thru works, lest any man should boast. The best thing I would say to ANY Catholic is to read the Bible and ask God to help you understand him love for you

      • What Catholic Church did you go to? The one that I know teaches the unconditional love of God. Works are only an outward sign of your acceptance of the grace provided by him. Given freely back in love.

    • No thank you. Your “Eucharist” is stale bread and cheap wine, and it has absolutely no power to change a human soul one whit. Catholic congregations are in just as an appalling state as Protestant ones, with similar falling away. Only welcoming and experiencing Jesus in one’s heart can produce a miraculous change. Styrofoam wafers and vinegar are not needed.

    • Sarah, American Catholicism is loosing members just as fast as Protestant liberal denominations. The sense of dissatisfaction among the sheep is rampant, and this sentiment cuts across cultural, demographic, and socio-economic lines.

      I too was raised Catholic and have no desire to bash this religion, which I regard now as simply inadequate in many respects. At some point, the harsh reality dawned on me that having a REAL encounter with stale bread and cheap wine (no disrespect intended) does not solve many real-life, pernicious problems.

      If churches cannot figure out how to meet people’s needs, then what hope do any of us have? Again, no offence, but maybe we should focus our attention on communication with God in personal devotions rather than on fixation on a liturgical prop.

  8. You are so right about the performances in churches these days. I am ready to leave the church I go to, but there isn’t one in my area that interests me. I am a senior citizen and I want to hear the gospel of Jesus. Our minister gives good sermons, but I bet a lot of people dont know what it means to be saved.

    • Ferne, have you talked about your concerns with your pastor? He can’t change if he doesn’t know that something might need to change. At the very least, he might now where you can find the kind of church you are wanting, if he can’t/won’t provide it.

    • I hope that you stood up and walked, Ferne honey, before your get up and go done got up and went! Blessings to you.

  9. It sounds like he knows exactly what the church needs. So john, I’m a pastor and I’m inviting you to come to our church to help make it a better place. We do a clothes closet once a month for the community, we could use your help. My point is…great article, but let’s see those words become actions. That invitation is open to you.

  10. I grew up in church. I was there for every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night meetings, and even Tuesday night visitation from the time I was a child until two of my own children were in High School. We are now in a home-church because I just can’t seem to find a church that fits my family. I am truly convicted (sorry, I guess that is a church word) about the fact that I can’t find the “perfect Church” .. hmmm, maybe that is because Jesus was the only perfect human, the rest of us are flawed.

    The way I see it is the Churches that I grew up in were simply out of touch with the real world. We had our own language, our groups we grew up with, and a way of life that we saw as pleasing to God. I, along with most people in the church started realizing that we were being hypocritical, exclusive, and judgmental. Church leadership all over started realizing that to the outside world, church had become undesirable, because no one wants to feel judged or looked down on, kind of what you are describing in point 2 & 5. Therefore, churches have tried to change their culture in order to be welcoming. Sunday mornings became more modern music, better lighting, convenient video screens, well, the production in your point 1. They changed the look of the buildings from intimidating illustrations of Biblical times, stuffy wingback chairs, and pews to coffee bars, cushy couches, and chairs, like what you addressed in point 3. They stopped asking for congregations to silence their cell phones and starting encouraging them to use their Bible apps on their smart phones, giving updates on Twitter, and became a part of Social Media as a whole, so that they could stay in touch with the people. They became involved in the topics that made the news, like the ones in point 4, so that they could be a part of the people’s daily life, not just a Sunday morning production, which goes back to your point 1, people need church on days other than Sunday. None of us can ever do enough to help our Community, and reach out to other parts of the world, but if churches are following the example of Jesus, they are to reach out to others without fanfare, not advertising it for everyone to see. Maybe before we criticize the church for not reaching out, we should consider that maybe they are reaching out, just not publicly for the world to see. Benevolence (another church word) is usually done quietly so as to not humiliate the ones being helped.

    I am not defending all churches or all church leaders here, remember, I am in a home-church now because I got tired of dealing with it. However, I feel we need to step back and ask ourselves, what it is we expect the church to be? Who is considered the church? I don’t think church leaders should be considered the church, I think the people, the Christ followers, the ones who claim the Gospel, WE are the church. Maybe WE need to examine ourselves first. Are WE reaching out to our Community? Are we the church?

    • Love it, Karla. I am part of a house church for the same reasons you shared here.

      Having been in local church ministry for 18 years, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges. There are certainly thousands of faithful, wise, passionate leaders serving in churches throughout the world, but sadly, we are more and more, measuring church through a corporate lens, and that is often the root of a great deal of the problems.

      Doing me best to change it from within, while inviting those who are on the outside.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Karla, you do not make the point explicitly, but I also suspect that you and many other fellow congregants became overwhelmed and exhausted by the time and task demands that the hierarchy had placed on all of you, either by subtle or not-so-subtle coercion. I have seen this same pattern crop up in several churches I had joined over the years. I no longer judge folks that just want to bow out of church gracefully to pursue a quieter life of devotion. Not at all.

  11. You forgot laziness, selfishness and narcissism. Lots of stories of people leaving mega churches because they tired of the show. Not many stories of them joining the small church down the street that faithfully preaches and lives the gospel. It’s so easy to criticize the church as if we ourselves aren’t the problem.

  12. Maybe the cause is the internet’s ability to make skeptical literature available at the touch of a button, and information isn’t the friend of superstition. Perhaps Christianity simply can’t withstand scrutiny, and for the first time in history the information necessary for informed scrutiny is widely accessibly to all.

    • I think it’s more about the Internet giving the powerless some power. I think Christianity (or Jesus) can stand up to scrutiny, but that the Church has become something quite different.

      Thanks very much for contributing.

      • Very true! However, as we gather in community and try to live our faith out, things begin to get messy. The challenge is to retain what the Church’s mission is as we live together.

        Thanks for reading!

  13. Well written and accurate. I’ve been a part of the Church of the Brethren all of my life. The CoB is a non-creedal denomination and for the most part, doesn’t have megachurches as described here, yet these ideas apply to it as well.

    I would like to clarify something though:
    “Church, we need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial, and pacifists in the face of the terrible.”

    I am a full fledged pacifist and I believe that Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker and pacifist. Therefore, the word ‘pacifist’ should never be used to describe a non-action. Pacifism is simply the rejection of violence to solve a problem. It is an active choice, a loving way to solve conflict, which, because we are human, will always happen.
    Violence does not always have to happen, but conflict will. They are not one in the same.

    For example, Jesus talks about walking the second mile. In those times of Roman occupation, Roman soldiers could force anyone to carry their heavy pack up to one mile, no more. If they forced any more than that, they could face repercussions from their commanding officer. So once that one mile was up, doing a second mile was a problem for the officer, but he would have to face the fact that he forced someone to do something against their will in the first place.
    For Jesus to ask people to walk the second mile, he was essentially giving them a pacifistic and systematic way to eventually keep the oppression from happening at all.

    Essentially, I would humbly ask that we remember this:
    Pacifism is NOT passive. It is an active showing of God’s deep love for humanity

    Thank you, Peace be with you

  14. Well written and accurate. I’ve been a part of the Church of the Brethren all of my life. The CoB is a non-creedal denomination and for the most part, doesn’t have megachurches as described here, yet these ideas apply to it as well.

    I would like to clarify something though:
    “Church, we need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial, and pacifists in the face of the terrible.”

    I am a full fledged pacifist and I believe that Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker and pacifist. Therefore, the word ‘pacifist’ should never be used to describe a non-action. Pacifism is simply the rejection of violence to solve a problem. It is an active choice, a loving way to solve conflict, which, because we are human, will always happen.
    Violence does not always have to happen, but conflict will. They are not one in the same.

    For example, Jesus talks about walking the second mile. In those times of Roman occupation, Roman soldiers could force anyone to carry their heavy pack up to one mile, no more. If they forced any more than that, they could face repercussions from their commanding officer. So once that one mile was up, doing a second mile was a problem for the officer, but he would have to face the fact that he forced someone to do something against their will in the first place.
    For Jesus to ask people to walk the second mile, he was essentially giving them a pacifistic and systematic way to eventually keep the oppression from happening at all.

    Essentially, I would humbly ask that we remember this:
    Pacifism is NOT passive. It is an active showing of God’s deep love for humanity

    Thank you, Peace be with you

  15. I agree with some parts but not all. There are different services to fit different people. I know of some churches that have traditional service and a nontraditional service in order to meet what is wanted by all the community and not just a few. I was a Methodist minister. I quit and attend church now on rare occasions. The reason I left was because there was always a certain group of people who wanted to run everything. The ones coming for the right reason were too timid to stand up and tell the intimidators to either shut up or leave. Every program I started from youth groups to Bible studies were put down and eventually done away with. The last church I was the minister in was dictated to by one woman. She destroyed our Wednesday night potluck by demanding that she be allowed to tell people what they should bring and then she would cook for the whole group and put down what others had brought. She stood up on Sunday during the closing prayer and started screaming at me for not doing what she had told me to do. It wasn’t much later than she got the PPR committee to agree to get rid of me. The next Sunday I told the congregation that I had been told that if they could find someone to replace me I was gone. I picked up my Bible and told them goodbye and good luck. As I walked out the lady shot up out of her seat and screamed at the top of her voice that I was a damn liar. I later found out that a lot of the others left soon afterwards because they had grown tired of being told what to do.
    Then their are those that want to deem whose is worthy to be in their church or not lots less reach out to help those in need in their own community.

    • Fred, my heart breaks for those in your story who may have been led astray from God’s Good News by the woman you described. As I read your words, I wondered a couple of things:

      1) What in this woman’s life made her so controlling and negative? We each have a “wound” in our hearts that we need Good to heal. I wonder if any pastor ever tried to help heal her heart’s wound?

      2) Why didn’t those many people who left after you not stand up and tell her that her behavior was inappropriate? As Christians, we are to correct our fellow believers out of love (a desire for what is best for them) and a desire for them to grow closer to God. It reminds me of the quote “All that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.” Please do not read this as “we should attack everyone’s behavior who disagrees with us or doesn’t do what we want them to do.” I’m not even trying to call this woman “evil.” (Although, I would say, from your description, that she is misguided in some of her thinking.) I am advocating that we, after much prayer, take our concerns to the person with a humble, loving, but firm attitude. If we hold each other accountable as Christians out of love, as Jesus did with His disciples, then maybe we can start to make the changes needed in our churches.

      I hope that you can find a part of the Church with whom to fellowship, Fred, whether it’s a traditional church, home church, or just a really good bible study! God bless you!

    • Thank God that you had the good sense to walk away, Fred. You blazed the path that in fact liberated a lot of the other oppressed congregants from that sick place.

  16. Our message in church yesterday parallels this article. I love that our church makes ppl feel welcomed & loved & wanted, reaches out to those in need. That’s probably why we don’t have a decline in attendance but rather record numbers of ppl joining. I guess we are fortunate. I hope others figure it out.

  17. Hey John, lobed the article.

    Quick question though, are there any statistics behind these 5 points? Just curious…


  18. Very thoughtful. Churches are in a tough position: how do you bring people into a welcoming, accepting environment while maintaining a set of certain beliefs and values? I want authenticity. I don’t want to see someone acting one way on Sunday morning and another way Tuesday afternoon and another way Friday night.

    Also, if churches are going to draw in children and teens, they have to lose the lengthy sermons. Today’s kids are stuck sitting inside school all day long, no longer having the outlets of recess, PE, and the arts. They live with Twitter and Snapchat; why would they want to sit through service Sunday mornings getting preached at some more?

  19. Very thoughtful. Churches are in a tough position: how do you bring people into a welcoming, accepting environment while maintaining a set of certain beliefs and values? I want authenticity. I don’t want to see someone acting one way on Sunday morning and another way Tuesday afternoon and another way Friday night.

    Also, if churches are going to draw in children and teens, they have to lose the lengthy sermons. Today’s kids are stuck sitting inside school all day long, no longer having the outlets of recess, PE, and the arts. They live with Twitter and Snapchat; why would they want to sit through service Sunday mornings getting preached at some more?

  20. I see that my church fits into your description. I found God there a number of years ago but every year it gets harder and harder to find him over the rock music and extreme noise. I love my bible study group and they are the only reason that I stay. The people are good people but the church is less and less the place to find God.

  21. This is most certainly true!! 73 years of playing the organ and organizing the music for the service has left me searching for more. Where is the prayers that matter? Where is the forgiveness that changes lives? Where is the Bible study that explains what it is all about. AND…… (you need to understand I have been Lutheran all of those 23 years) WHERE IS THE LOVE AND THE GRACE. I hunger and thirst for this. But for sure, by leaving, I will never find it.

    • Gwen, thank you for your service to the Lord all these years! Have you thought about making some of the changes that you would like to see in the church? My experience is: If you truly believe that a change needs to be made, then you should pray about what part of that change God wants you to do, do it, and pray for God to work in the hearts of the others that are to help. God bless you!

    • Okay, so I read your article and about half of the comments and your replies to them. I agree with most of your article, and what I disagree with is mostly not a big deal.

      I will say that I would have liked a little more clarification about the “shows” put on for worship time. I understand what you meant (and have been to churches that operated that way), but it read a bit like “if you have modern music and a lighting display, then you’re wrong and you’re not worshipping God.” I do NOT believe that was what you intended, however. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you were speaking more about the heart and focus behind making those changes.

      Also, a quick note about the Church- speak: Some words and phrases that are considered “Church words” now were a part of everyday language just a few decades ago, so we should all be careful in passing judgement on others over this. That said, we should each consider our own words in each circumstance and be sure that the message we are trying to send will be the message that is received by our listener.

      Now, on to what I liked:

      I love your heart for your hurting brothers and sisters in Christ! This is a difficult subject to broach, as it always is when offering constructive criticism to those who generally think they have everything right. But, I hear a humble heart in your words, especially in your responses to comments, and I’m sure you spent much time in prayer about this topic.

      I agree that much needs to change in our churches. I have attended a great variety of churches and have known God-fearing people and self-centered people in all of them. For me, what it comes down to is this: Churches are not for the lost. They are for discipling (teaching and training) the saved, part of which should include going out in various ways and teaching the lost. If this is our purpose in church, then we don’t need to try to draw people in with a good light show and amazing music. Our words and actions will draw the unbelievers to Christ, and they can each be trained in how to find a church home that fits them and their family.

      My only other note is this: We all need to be careful about passing judgement about what kind of church service is “right.” My experience is that, because being a Christian is about a relationship with God and not a religion as the world sees it to be, we need what most thriving relationships need: connection of the mind and connection of the heart. In other words, we all need a church that will teach us to grow in or walk with God AND one that will help us to worship who God is. A healthy balance of both is needed, but, just like different people’s bodies need similar but different diets, our church needs will vary some.

      Thank you for giving us your time and your love, John!

  22. Pretty interesting that the majority of these comments come from those who have left the church. Thing is…the church ISN’T ABOUT US! We can’t afford to have a “Country Club” mentality ie….”I pay my dues so I get to voice my opinions. If not heard, then I’ll just quit going”. The prob with that mentality is the Church was meant to be a family. We just can’t “up & quit & divorce” our family. We have to talk things through, become part of the solution, & keep fighting the good fight of faith! Just a thought!

    • Hey Becky. As someone who’s been on staff at local churches for the past 18 years, I can tell you that even as a staff member it’s been difficult to bring change, so the average “pew sitter” certainly has their work cut out for them. That’s definitely still the goal; to bring change from within, but this post seeks to give a voice to those leaving.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Amen. Good thing is, Jesus assured us (Peter) long ago that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. The church is the bride of Christ. I want to be found faithful in it when He comes; He will judge.

    • Sure we can up and quit a church – it has never been easier! If you have carefully read enough of these stories, Becky, you may pick up on the theme that many people are the happier for leaving. They have abandoned only oppressive control paradigms and empty noisemaking to embrace peace and liberty.

  23. They are also leaving because they are exhausted by the unnecessary activity, expectations and demands. Been there, done that, found a smaller, gentler church to attend.

    • I enjoyed reading this…I wanted to share this with you, I hope you check it out….
      Most of the answer many are longing to have the answer to can be found here at It has answers to Life’s Big Questions.
      It is accessible in about 500 languages, with publications available for download in almost 700 languages, is the world’s most translated website.

      Over one million unique visitors go to each day. The site features articles and videos offering practical advice to people of all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances.

    • Church! It is not an is me…. I showed more concern for 1) Programs 2) I spoke in a language they did not understand…full of cliche, 3) I have walls that suit my own myopia, 4) I shoot at shadows on the wall of the cave, 5) I struggle to be like Jesus but I look more and more like …well, me. It is me, after all. Me.

    • Your article I find disturbing for the simple fact that so many feel this way. I would urge those who are unhappy with “church” to shop around. Before finding my home church I visited several of the churches you all describe, impersonal, production like, I felt like they existed more to serve themselves than anything else. I would also question where everyone is located as this can make a huge difference in they types of services offered. I am in the deep south, you can still find a little white church on almost every street. I have been blessed to find a church that offers a service revolved around hymns, scripture, prayer and a message that is relevant to today without steering away from Biblical truth. Churches are like people because they are run by people, sometimes you find someone you click with and many times you find some you can live without. The message from God remains the same throughout the ages and while I don’t think one is required to attend church to receive salvation, I do think it is good to find support and love within the family of God. I hope each one of you will continue to search for your own “home” church as mine has been a blessing in so many ways.

      • Thanks Lisa. I’ve been a part of some really great churches (and still am), however I hear hundreds of stories from people each week. Many of them are defeated and damaged. Hopefully some will be encouraged to keep going, or at least know they are not alone; that a pastor cares.

        Thanks so much!

      • I love this piece. It absolutely echoes my heart.

        I would say “defeated & damaged” accurately sums up how our family feels after some really rough church experiences. We have 6 kids and, at first, our church was so wonderful and welcoming and really felt like home. However, when we began to step outside the box and to do/question a few things we saw or contribute ideas that were a bit left of center, we were very quickly ostracized, truly awful rumors were spread about us and the church quickly became a place that we felt uncomfortable bringing our children because the bad behavior was largely perpetuated by the deacons and elders of our church. We felt strongly that we didn’t want our children seeing the behaviors that had become commonplace at our church as examples of what a Christian looks like.

        We are currently looking for a new church home but, at this point, I feel like my religion has been hijacked by a bunch of people who don’t look anything like Christ to me and who I do not want to be associated with. I feel like I need to apologize when I say I am a Christian and follow it up with – “But I won’t hurt you. Promise”.

        My mantra, ad nauseum, is – If you are using the Bible to hurt people you are doing it wrong. I just feel a bit lost at the moment and really unsure where I fit as a Christian.

        • Libby, Thank you so much for sharing your heart here. Trust me, you are not alone in looking for where you fit.

          As an 18-year minister, I’ve experienced what you have, both through the stories of others, as well as firsthand. It’s a terrible wound, and the way it separates people from faith is a disaster.

          I’m glad to you for reaching-out. Please connect with me on social media. I’ll be building an online community for people walking this road.

          Be encouraged.

  24. Your examples are probably true for many people, but they miss my reason for quitting religion. I’m now a secular humanist. I stayed in the church far too long, but kept losing touch. I examined the message of the bible — especially the old testament — and found it repelled me. The god of the old testament is a monster who kills unbelievers and enslaves their children. He drowns unbelievers, even animals. The new testament is better, but conflicted — the Jesus of peace came not to bring peace, but a sword? And I’m not broken, hopeless, worthless. I’m a pretty decent example of homo sapiens and refuse to hate myself as the church seemed to demand. Now, when faced with a question, I think. Amazingly enough, it works. I don’t need magic, and I couldn’t believe it anyway.

  25. Oh my God, a thousand times yes. I’m a Catholic who has walked (mostly, I have friends there) out of a high church and walked into a middle-of-the-road Anglican church with a vicar who actually *loves the people* and the liturgy is actually a *vehicle to God* rather than an end in itself. My experience would use different words: incense and Latin; pretty vestments; gold; but you have absolutely hit the nail on the head.

    The other thing one gets sick of is being the punching bag for their issues that they refuse to face or deal with, so it spills over onto everyone else, mostly those who won’t prop up their egos, but especially strong women. And their conversations on facebook are as worldly as they get – self-absorbed, amoral, money, privilege, being wittier than each other, mocking the laity – then having the NERVE to scream about Mosul – seriously, if they’re God’s chosen, I’m done. They use Jesus choosing Peter as an excuse, but they miss one key thing: Peter REPENTED. Peter CHANGED. Peter BECAME what God meant him to be. These guys are sinning in the same ways over and over and over – and even worse, revelling in it. I’m so done. The only thing keeping me marginally Catholic at the moment is Pope Francis, who is what a priest is meant to be and what living a relationship with God looks like.

    *Deep breath* /rant

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Whatever our form of church, THIS is why we are walking.

  26. There are some great points made in this, but the overall conclusion reached fumbles badly. I think the article misses it’s own points, the more I think about it, about what Church really should be. The suggestions offered aren’t as revolutionary as the article implies and still seems to promote the exact same kind of doomed Church critiqued in it’s “reasons.”

    • In 700 words there’s certainly no closure or solutions possible, but I think the questions are still valid, as the reality is very real; that there are problems. I think if you read elsewhere in the blog, you’ll find some idea; none may be “revolutionary”, but they’re a start.

      Thanks for reading.

      • I don’t think it was a lack of elaboration that took it off course for me. I felt it made it’s thesis very clear in 700 words. It wasn’t the lack of solutions. It’s more about the true purpose of Church still being missed, despite the article’s valid examples of how Churches are currently missing the point.

  27. AMAZING! The responses are what is amazing! I didn’t find what I was looking for so I stay home! Home church? Most people define that as staying home and watching a sermon (from a church, no less) on TV or online. No rules. No leader. No drama. And may I mention NO ACCOUNTABILITY!

    For years church leaders listened to members demanding better music, better presentation, don’t look so much like our grandparents church, don’t look so much like a business, shorter sermons, more Bible study, more coffee, less donuts (really no one says that!), … You get what I mean. Now, there are too many requests. I too, have been in the ministry for 20 years. I have lived through quite an assortment of hardships at church. Each hardship has been a blessing in the long run. But only because we kept pursuing the prize.

    Too many people are looking for a spiritual pillow. People want easy street. The last I looked, churches are full of messed up people trying to get right or trying to get comfortable.

    Stay in church! Make the changes listed in the article. Take the Gospel to your streets. Fight to be authentic! I can only make myself to be authentic. Perhaps the Lord will use me to move someone else to make themselves authentic, too. Iron sharpens iron (I read that somewhere!).

    Love doesn’t quit (I believe that was #5) and go home!

    (No church words were harmed in the typing of this message.)

    • Thanks Tom. As I’ve shared elsewhere here, I’ve been on staff at local churches for nearly two decades, and even with that platform and “power” it’s often been nearly impossible to change church culture. Many people who are church attenders would be hard pressed to simply make the change in communities that you describe, even though that is a noble aspiration.

      Anyway, I’m still here participating, but I understand those who no longer feel they can.


    • Tom, there is some truth in your side of the story which you have witnessed in ministry for many years, especially about churches being “full of messed up people trying to get right or trying to get comfortable”. Not to be indelicate, but the same could be said for the church hierarchy and staff. Accountability is a two-way street, and simply having a gaggle of paid staffers in the senior pastor’s pocket does not enable accountability.

  28. Great thoughts. I was part of a church that is guilty of all you stated. I am now in a small country church, with my husband, who is pastoring there. We don’t fit nor do we believe in doing church, as you described, but we strive to be a church who will love God and love others. We have been there for seven years now, and we find that people want the “lights and show” and “shop” around for churches, instead of seeking God and asking Him where they would attend, and SERVE. I do believe that the North American Church has greatly lost the mark, but at the same time, I don’t know if that is the whole picture. I think it is also reflective of desire, in other words, do people truly want to seek God, are they hungry for Him and His presence? Our small church is getting smaller year by year, and I see this in all types of churches in North America. I pray that this will change, but if it does not, something very difficult, I believe, will shake us up, because God will do whatever He has to, to keep his Bride for Himself.

  29. Okay, but now what? We are facing this same frustration. Our biggest complaint is there is no discipleship outside of the weekend. They offer plenty for the new followers and are into their kids ministry, but there is nothing to help the members to mature in their faith and we are left hungry for more wondering “what now?” With a pastor led church we feel challenged in accepting some of the staff changes and overall decisions the church makes. We keep praying that whatever is going on that is unethical will fall in on itself and wrong can be made right again. It’s hard to trust your church leaders, and remember that they are humans, and aren’t God even though we put them up on marble thrones and expect perfect. If this type of church doesn’t work, all that’s left is to go back to the other that didn’t work either?

    • Great questions, Chandra. Those are the challenges we face trying to be a part of a community of flawed people. There will certainly always be mess in churches, but for me, I think we need to fundamentally change some of the ways we view church. Maybe what we now have in America is far off the mark from what the whole thing was supposed to be about.

      The pastor-led church is a huge issue for many reasons, and it’s one of the greatest abuses of power. That will always be a challenge to navigate.

      Keep asking those questions. There’s no silver bullet, perfect answer, but the hope is that you will find a community that either better reflects the leadership of Jesus, or that you can affect change right where you are.

  30. I agree with you that most churches are this way. But I will say that not all of them are. We have found a church that is real, is concerned with what Jesus is concernd with and our pastor stays so far away from the political storm that it actually offends some that he just keeps sharing truth instead of politics. We teach living life together in the real world. Gathering together is important, but where the church gets real is when we are gathering daily as one on one hanging out and eating together. As two go help a friend in need. As a few help a homeless man or woman. That is the church!

    • Totally agree, Billy.

      Not all churches are this was in that they are not guilty of all of these things, but all are guilty of at least some of them, to one degree or another.

      Glad you’ve found that kind of community. Feel free to give them a shout-out!

      Thanks for contributing.

  31. Wow; some good things, also some judgment (ironically – not very loving in its flippant superiority). I know that some people left our church because we stood on God’s word and spirit and they were angry that we didn’t conform to their ways, which were not good (believe me). So we’ve redefined success and failure; shrinking numbers not being something we beat ourselves up over anymore. There are a lot of fence-sitters and fair-weather friends who have heard the gospel many times and frankly, we no longer feel the pressure to have to try and figure out how to hold them. There’s tremendous freedom in that and we sleep and breathe better. It almost did us in. But now all we say is, all we have here is Jesus. We ourselves fail but He never does. Look to Him.

    • Thanks Karin. Critical or confrontational does not necessarily mean “judgmental”. To me, judgmental is when one attacks the heart or motive. These are simply response to the actions of the church, or to the feelings it has caused others. What may look like, superiority, is just the desire for something that works better.

      Glad you have a community that you see Jesus in! Thanks for contributing.

      • Ironically, I think the “rock show” churches became that way because younger people found church too stuffy and archaic, and in an effort to give the people some modern reference point or make them feel welcome by looking and sounding more like them. Sell-out? You decide. And now they’re told that that’s not right either. No wonder 70% of ministers exit the ministry within or after the first 5 years – the same percentage of pastors and pastor’s spouses suffering from depression. These are people who went to seminary because they wanted to serve God’s people. Only to find out they can’t please God’s people int he various preferences. My husband succumbed luckily only briefly to a panic attack (in the pulpit) during a time of church politics and conflict, and thank God his bout with depression that followed was brief and today I have my husband back.

        • Totally agree with you. The church tried so hard to be culturally relevant that it sold its soul in a way, not to mention sold people on a false kind of church; one based on entertainment and emotion.

          The Church has certainly taken a toll on our family, but it’s blessed us greatly too.

          Trying to stay in it and bring change or at least start conversation.

  32. This makes me sad. Not all churches are like those described. Some churches have Holy Communion on Sunday morning. Some churches have a pantry for those nearby who need food. Some churches co-operate with each other to serve lunch to those in need. Some churches co-operate to serve breakfast on Saturday or Sunday to those in need. In other words, some churches feed the hungry and clothe the naked, like Jesus said. I have been a sponsor for several years at a youth event in which we volunteer in churches in our community that do these things. We have LGBT people, rich, poor, and in-between people, people of several ethnicities. And you’re leaving us too. Why? Come join us, if you’d like. The Episcopal Church welcomes you.

    • Thanks for sharing these wonderful words, Duchess.

      Certainly not all churches are as described in this blog, but far too many are, and far too many people are being damaged and excluded.

      I’ve definitely seen the heart of Jesus reflected in many Episcopal churches.

      I’ve been in local church ministry for 18 years, and am still trying bring change from the inside. My intention with this post, was to give a voice to those who no longer feel they have one.

      Where is your church? I’d love to visit!

  33. There are places that are trying to do it another way. is a great place that is not perfect but I don’t see any perfect people anywhere.

  34. I have alot to say regarding this but somehow feel closed to doing so. though I myself am not a part of it anymore I still feel strongly about kicking the bride when she is down. and I do feel like that is the case. It is easy to rail against the bride of Christ and her shortcomings (and there are a few) and even harder to dole out acceptable advice nevermind solutions to the marginally opiniated. all I can say is I still believe although I am not there any longer. take what you will from that.

    • Eric,

      I think using the term “The Bride” is part of the religiously alienating language I talk about in the piece. People with no connection to the church would have no way to understand or interact with that word.

      I think the church needs to be able to speak clearly and plainly to people who don’t know the story.

      As for solutions, here’s some possible aspirations.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • I think this poster has an excellent point. You mentioned that this post is for people leaving the church. So people who were once in Church would probably know what the Bride is. For other readers, the “Bride” is all the believers in Christ who make up the church at large. It’s a Bible term, (and a Jesus term) not just a church term. But knowing that Jesus loves the church and gave Himself up for the church, as it says in Scripture, should we really issue open rebukes to his church even in front of unbelievers? Are we really loving Jesus by criticizing his “Bride’s” faults in public? I know if anyone did that to me, my husband would not be happy about it. No person is perfect and as long as the church on earth is made up of imperfect people, the church will be flawed. So is the answer to leave the church and then rebuke it publicly in front of unbelievers? Is that what will draw people in or will that give more people ammunition to not want to be part of it? Jesus loves the church. Shouldn’t we? And if we have problems with our local house of worship, of course those problems should be addressed, but shouldn’t we also follow Jesus in how we do that? He spelled out specifically how to handle disputes in Mt 18 and it never involves public shaming of “His Bride.”

        • Of course we can openly rebuke the Church. The problem of insisting that people simply be silent or try to change the Church from within, ignores the reality that it is often impossible for average pew sitters to affect change.

          Matthew 18 assumes both relationship and mutual accountability. That, sadly, is not how most churches operate these days.

  35. Stop! Turn around! Don’t leave!
    Here’s your reason to stay…..JESUS!!!

    We must not confuse places of worship with ” The Church”.
    “The Church” is made up of those who believe and receive forgiveness of sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    “The Church” simply gathers at places of worship to be renewed, refueled, and equipped.

    I agree, that places of worship are full of imperfections. WHY? Because they are made up of people who are still being perfected in Christ. (For me, this is part of the beauty in God’s design,) Knowing this, God’s word still encourages us to come together and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Iron sharpens iron. We need the encouragement, accountability, and even the correction that comes through one another. It is through this process, we are ALL being perfected into “The Church” that Christ will return for one day.

    We must remember that when we leave our place of worship, WE ARE STILL “The Church”.
    Jesus loves and values “The Church”. I do too!!
    I’ll be looking for you on Sunday!

  36. Church is supposed to be different….it shouldn’t look like a rock concert or Starbucks, etc….the words such as the “bride” etc are not meant to alienate…they are different because the topics that we (hopefully) discuss are not mundane and require alternative language….. Look at it this way, a mechanic wouldn’t want a doctor to describe his condition in automotive terms,so why should we expect churches to describe spiritual topics in a secular fashion. The “other-ness” of worship sets it apart from the things we do routinely….it needn’t be dumbed down or made too trendy…we’ve got a two thousand year tradition of “doing church” and don’t have to reinvent the wheel every Sunday. Go back to liturgy, Eucharist, and reading the whole bible systematically instead of just the portions that a specific pastor uses continually.. Sound familiar? Good old fashion denominational Christianity ! Be it Roman Catholic, Episcopalian or Preabyterian, Baptist, etc….

  37. I work for a church. Thank you for your honesty and thank you for your honesty. We need to learn from what you and others that feel the same way have to say.

  38. I left primitive, neoconservative Christianity because they believed in a form of tough love that said that “righteous judgement” was okay, but that also took Bible quotes out of context. I left liberal Christianity because everything boiled to “once saved, always saved”, and from what I know, faith without works are dead, and they did nothing to help the community; always preached to the crowd.

    As much as the liberal churches tried to say God loves gays, their Bible said we couldn’t have sex and marry.

    During both stints, I always kept to my dhamma mindset. I don’t follow cafeteria Christianity in any form. As Siddhartha mentions, when you are given an idea, you test it. If it doesn’t come to a logical and consistent conclusion, disregard it. With religion, however, you cannot just pick and choose which parts of a teaching you like, and disregard the rest. That builds, rather than diminishes, ego. I don’t follow cafeteria Christianity in any form.

  39. Why despair? If Church really is the Church of God, then surely God will protect His Church and send His Holy Spirit to ensure Her protection.

  40. I long for a church where people find god and not entertainment! I’m thinking about a place where people can pray, worship and learn from the scripture without pastors and priests and worshipleaders… just a quiet place to rest, to recover and to reflect. Sure I like christian music and art and they should have a place but they can never replace the way of every singel person to talk with and worship god. Pastors should give their best to advise, to enchourage, to train people so that they are enabled to live a holy life befor god. This must happen in a personal relation ship and not in a sermon for 1000 listeners (learn from jesus, he was talking and disuccing with people not just preaching!). God created men to have a counterpart. We are not made to listen and to obey against the world but to rise our voices against war, inequity, racism, and the violation of gods creation and for peace. Only people with a developed personality, which are hold in god can do this. The church are the people, and they need to change! The bad thing is, that it’s exhausting to develope your character so most of the christinas prefere to sit in lulling church programs where modern priests do all the actions substitutionally for them and they get angry if anyone (especially the pastor!) wants to disturb this fatal peace..

  41. Charlie is the quintessential example of why people are leaving “the church.” The path to life (eternity) is narrow (for the few), the path to death is wide (for the many). The “many” are drawn to lifestyles that directly contradict what God prescribes for His Children, and “showing up” to deal with that truth is a difficult thing indeed. Easier to not show up, to not follow, and live a worldly life. To what consequences? We all shall see sooner or later…

  42. “Can you love us if we cuss and drink and get tattoos, and God forbid, vote Democrat? We’re doubtful.”
    Why would you want to cuss, drink, get tattoos, or align yourself with a political party with such immoral views? Please don’t soil up our pews with your sin unless you are there to seek cleansing from it. People are leaving church because they never “belonged” to the church, they were merely visiting in the first place. The “church” are those who labor for the Kingdom, not those who show up on Sunday hoping to fondle the idol of salvation.

    • Joshua.

      This response clearly illustrates the kind of contempt and elitism that is causing people to leave the Church in droves; not because they don’t belong in it, but because they haven’t found the love of Jesus that they see in the Gospels.

      I’ll gladly introduce you to people who cuss, drink, have tattoos, and are Democrats (maybe even all four), and who know and love Jesus, and live lives that reflect the character of God.

      • “I’ll gladly introduce you to people who cuss, drink, have tattoos, and are Democrats (maybe even all four), and who know and love Jesus, and live lives that reflect the character of God.”..
        No John, I don’t think you will. The reason being is that people who do that stuff don’t love God, no matter what they profess with their lips or what pew they sit in. When one loves God, they stop doing that stuff because God has commanded them to. If the have “died to sin, how shall they live to it any longer”? And this is why this article is fodder, because you can’t distinguish the “true church” from the people who visit on Sunday.
        “If you love Me, you will obey My commands”.
        The true church is not going to turn into the world so the world will like her. Christ has come so that those who are sick of the world can escape its corruption and serve with clean hands. Those who enjoy wallowing in their filth, those of whom you speak of, are not of Christ nor have they ever been.
        Discern the distinction John, everyone loves the idea of salvation, few love the Lord and his ways. “If you love Me, you will obey me”.

          • A very interesting read…It does give pause and inspiration to pray for the wisdom and know-how to walk the balance beam between cold, unloving orthodoxy and accommodation of a “have it your way,” God forsaking, people pleasing, humanity-centered approach versus doing God’s work God’s way! The work of ministry necessarily must be done by God’s instruction not contingent on humanity’s feelings and opinions.

      • Jesus articulated true love is evidenced by obedience to Jesus’ teaching. While authentic relationship with Jesus is not the “perfection” of an individual’s earthly life (behavior, speech, etc.), it most certainly is evident in the “direction” of an individual’s earthly life. A lifestyle of unapologetic, consistent sin devoid of contrition and repenuance reveals one who has rejected Christ, not someone who has rejected or been rejected by His church.

    • I do all those things. I also volunteer for charities that help humans and animals, give food to the homeless, treat people of all kinds of backgrounds and mindsets with respect, and love my family with all my heart and soul. I can’t speak for someone I’ve never met, but I’ll at least guess that if Jesus were here he’d care more about those things than my tat, my dropping the occasional f-bomb, and my fondness for craft beer.

      • Jesus is here. He lives and breathes today. If you know Him, and are following Him (aside from the good works you publicized that you are involved with) I would surmise that the Holy Spirit within you (the result of your pursuit of life in Him) has caused you to seriously reconsider adding another “tat”, has made the occasional dropped f-bomb appear LESS frequently, and distanced you from that “fondness for craft beer” a bit.

    • Your reply Joshua is one of the many reasons I no longer attend church. I don’t want my kids to attend church in fear that they will meet people with your attitude about life. I want them to meet loving people that teaching them about Jesus love for us. I want them to learn to serve others. To learn kindness. Not to condemn those who believe differently. Thank you for reminding me of why I’m staying home on Sunday.

      People can have different beliefs but still love Jesus.

    • I’m pretty sure this makes Jesus weep. You are so concerned with others “soiling up” your pews, but you are turning a blind eye to your own self righteousness and pride which is pretty dirty and ugly all on it’s own.

      I grew up in a church like the one you describe and now I am a Jesus loving, beer drinker with tatoos. I also have a colorful vocabulary if I get riled up about something….and at 42 years old, I have a more vibrant and alive relationship with my Savior than I have ever had in my life.

      So why can’t we all put down our stones and petty differences and just come together to love Jesus and share that love with the world. Isn’t that what He would want?

  43. I pastor a (very) small church that tries very much not to be what you describe. I agree with you, but the church is still God’s call. The truth is,no, people won’t beat a path to your door. Sleeping in and puttering around the house is very addictive. Even sincere Christians can fall in love with their own appetites and rationalize that they don’t need any other Christians to rub up against in order to follow Jesus (which would be a big surprise to the Jesus of John 13). Our little church is enjoying our walk together and trying to be sensitive to what God is calling ss us to do. We don’t fight the little cultural battles. But yeah, unless there is a change in a few years, we’ll lose the building and close. Perhaps that’s God’s plan. Or maybe the folks who keep writing about what’s “wrong with the church, ” but never darkened our door, could have found what they said they were looking for…but they never looked.

    • Love this, Sue, though I would say that instead of waiting for people to darken your door, that you’ll meet them in their neighborhoods.

      People need to know communities like yours exist, and they may never give another church a chance. Yu may need to bring your ministry to them.

      Keep up the great work!

  44. I left church 14 yrs ago. There comes a point when you realize the word ” church ” has been totally misinterpreted. The original word for church is a Greek word called ” Ekklesia”. It means ” called out ones ” or ” Assembly “. The original intent of the ” Ekklesia ” was a group of advisors or leaders who came together as a community to help solve local issues. King Ceaser in Rome implemented the idea from the Greeks into his government and formed a group called the ” Ekklesia ” who would sit with the King and the King would give the ” Ekklesia ” orders to carry out in the Empire concerning his subjects. The constitution of Heaven never instructed us to build buildings to have services. Nor did the constitution instruct us to stay away from the people that he so dearly loves. All religions were created out of man’s intent to find The Kingdom of God. There is not one scripture where God commanded us to have religion. Because the fact of the matter is , we did not lose a religion. Jesus never spoke about a religion called Christianity…. He spoke of one thing , and only one thing. The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not about a religion. The bible which is the constitution of Heaven is not about religion. It’s about a King , a Kingdom , & A Royal Family. A Kingdom is opposite to a Democracy. So unless you have lived in a Kingdom , it is impossible to understand the Holy Bible. I had to discover that for myself. Ignorance is dangerous. It is not about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s about the Gospel that Jesus preached. We were never called Christians as a point of reference to describe God’s people. That name was given to people who followed Christ , from Antioch. Jesus never called his followers Christians. He called them his ” Disciples “. Disciple is not a religious term. It’s an academic word. It means ” student “. But we are also God’s children. Which makes us royalty , not religious followers. May your minds be set free from the religious mind-set that our cultures have made us to believe is true.

    Sincerely , Kingdom Citizen!

    • Thanks for this, David.

      Definitely a challenge to show people what the Church (the body) was meant to be and do. Lots of junk got pasted on to it for sure.

      A “treasure in a field”, for sure. Keep up the great work!

  45. I usually don’t even comment on blogs and just share, but I really agreed with this post so much that I had to leave a comment and say what a great job you did with this list! I especially loved “Your Love Doesn’t Look Like Love!” I think we don’t realize how we express love through our mouths and are constantly find new ways to be unloving in our actions to those that are different. And the idea of showing love and hanging with people that don’t fit the mold of a “Good Christian” definitely warrants the “love” that says I can tell you how to better.

  46. While all of these replies sound so valid I would just say that you and all who gave replied have lost the true meaning of Church . It is what Jesus asked us to do. Come together to praise Him and His Father. The other things we do are just because we love Him and want others to see how he loved us by following His lead. Whatever the reasons people leave church is strictly coming from their own heart. Our plight as Christians is to show the way. If we are doing that in all that we do God will bless us. Look into your own heart and ask,”Am I going to worship for me or is it for HIM.”

  47. Not all churches are like that. One of the churches I serve does welcome you or anyone who wants to find out more about Jesus and be loved for who you or they are. We are getting outside the walls of the church into the community to be with people in their needs – not to do something “for them” but with them. We don’t have all the bells and whistles of larger churches – but we do have love to share. Please don’t write off all churches.

  48. I guess if a person doesn’t want to go to church they can always find a ticket not too. All the excuses…. I’ve been a Christian for 27 years now. I had no one leading me to church except the Holy Spirit. Nobody testified to me. Nobody did “spiritual calisthenics” or pulled any tricks to get me there. With the kind guidance of the Holy Spirit, i began to crave God, and get super curious about Him, and then He brought me in to the church, and i was GLAD and GRATEFUL to be there. I remember the thing my pastor said just before my baptism: “Always remember WHY you came to church in the first place. It was all about Jesus. He’s the reason for it all. Sometimes you will notice that other church members are not being very good Christians, get your eyes off them and onto Jesus. HE is your Example. Not any human. ” When times have been tough and i felt like “packing in church'” I’ve remembered my pastor’s words. People in the world judge us, and use our inconsistencies as reasons to “dump church.” Remember, when you dump church, you are dumping Jesus Christ as well. Is that okay with you? Inconsistent Christians in a church are not so surprising to find. If we were all perfect, we would not need church, God/Jesus. At least give us some credit for being in the right place! People outside our churches: don’t come in and judge us because its not good for you. If you are looking for perfection, look at Jesus, not at me. Sometimes i try to imagine Jesus running an evangelistic effort. Can you imagine what kind of music and messages He would choose? There’s a part in Isaiah where it says Jesus stood up to read Scripture. Pretty simple. Could it be that our churches are trying so hard to cater to the public that meaningful messages are getting drowned out? There is no simpler and yet timely message than the sermon Christ gave – sermon on the mount – and it hit right on on life. And there were no bright lights and amazing acoustics to entertain. Just Christ’s voice. And that was enough. We STILL do have Christ’s Voice. Its in the Scriptures and in the songs people are inspired to write and sing. Who is willing to listen?

  49. From one perspective you are absolutely right. But it is one perspective and has done what so many millennials do: They paint the church with broad strokes. Please allow me to give you another perspective to think about.

    Concerning point 1. If you don’t want a show, that is great. I applaud that. Go to a small church. Less than 100 people. You won’t get a show, you will get average people serving to the best of their ability. However don’t expect to drop off your kids without being asked to serve in children’s ministry. Don’t expect your children that are raised in an entertainment culture not to complain they are bored. Don’t expect a message that is delivered with great polish and depth every Sunday. They don’t have the budget or manpower to give you all that you have come to expect. They are average people who are serving God with the gifts they have been given. If you don’t want the show, that is great. Don’t expect the apps of the latest “smart church” either.

    Concerning #2. Personally I do my best to communicate clearly without all the lofty verbage. However I find it a little disingenuous (hypocritical for those of you that didn’t pay attention in school) to be totally fine with learning how to work your latest smart phone application, (otherwise known as app) in techenese, or complain to your BFF (best friend forever) in textenese about how hard it is for you to understand Christianese. How about being a little more willing to learn some words that you do not quite understand? Why is it always the church’s fault?

    Concerning #3 What is stopping you? The church is not the building. Of that we both agree. However it seems that you are just looking for one program to replace another. If the church is supposed to have a vision outside the building, then that means you. What is stopping you. I do not know one small church pastor that would tell you not to reach out to your neighbors, friends and community. I do not know one small church pastor that would tell you not to get involved with feeding the homeless, stand up against racism, or for that matter, go scrub toilets at the local businesses in the community. You seem to want a program yet you decry program style Christianity in reason #1.

    Concerning #4 You are right. The church picks lousy battles. The reason they pick lousy battles is because they seem to always fight a symptom and not the root cause. The root cause in this is a human nature that is contrary to the nature of God. It is called depravity which may not be a common English word but is in the dictionary if you want to educate yourself. That is the battle that the church needs to fight.

    Finally #5 Once again I agree that the church has not and does not love perfectly. Becoming more like Jesus is a process that all Christians are in. Some allow it to happen faster than others. I totally get that the church has used the bait and switch method in their message. It is not right. However this perspective needs to be seen as well.

    The church is filled with imperfect people. Families are filled with imperfect people. My parents loved me. They did not always show it perfectly. Neither has the church. However they are my family and I love them back. Think about this…. What type of love leaves because love is not shown perfectly? Is it not hypocritical to demand perfect love when you yourself do not or cannot love perfectly yourself? It is easy to love one another while staying home and watching TV or playing a computer game, or having a picnic in the park. It is hard to love people face to face. Not only for the church, but for those Millennials who are leaving because they are not being loved perfectly. Christ is the head of the church and the church is His body. I would like to challenge you that you cannot really love the head, and abandon the body.


    Pastor Duke Taber
    Mid-Peninsula Vineyard Christian Church
    San Carlos, Ca.

    • Amen, Pastor Taber. As long as we are still in this body, we will always be fighting the sneakiest enemy: ourselves. Christianity is about Christ and his Word given through the Bible.

      Millennials have a tendency to want Christ and His Word to fit them instead of the other way around. Jesus is the Standard; His Word is the Standard, and Christ expects US to conform to HIM and His Word. We have two choices: accept the truth of scripture or reject the truth of scripture.

      I have read many responses where writers have referred to Jesus Christ’s mixing with the “sinners”–the tax collectors, prostitutes, and others who were not accepted by the Pharisees. However, Jesus does not ever accept their sin. He had dinner with Zaccheeus (sp?) but Zaccheus repented! The woman caught in adultery found grace from Jesus but was told to sin no more! The prostitute who cried all over Christ’s feet did so out of joy for being forgiven from sin. Yes, Christ loved them all just as they were in their sinful state, but once they came in contact with Him, they each had to make a choice: “leave my lifestyle and wrong desires and follow Him OR hold on to my life like I want it”.

      Here’s the deal: Being a Christian will never be cool, popular, or respected by the unbelieving world. It will be always be counter to the culture, and Christians will always be criticized for it. It will always be hard to die to self, and yes, it’s a daily thing to do. It does take discipline, and it is a choice, not a feeling.

      For other readers, if my vocabulary is churchy, Christianese, Bible-ly or metaphor-laden, then find a Vine’s Dictionary of Biblical Words or a Strong’s Concordance and learn!

      • I think these words, reflect an elitism that see yourself as cleaned up, and other’s not.

        Yes, Christianity will always be counter culture. I believe the Church now needs to go counter to the Christian culture we’ve created.

        If you’re waiting for the people who are walking away from the Church to simply “get a concordance”, you may be part of the problem.

  50. The dominant overriding theme or point of this article is “Jesus loves me but the Church doesn’t”. How can this be if the bible teaches (clearly) that the Church is the body of Christ? If your goal to point out the humanity ( the weakest element of the church, which includes sinfulness) of the church, and then say “this is your problem”, that “I” want nothing to do with, that “I” want no part of; Well then mission accomplished, welcome to humanity. All humanity needs Christ’s love, both inside and outside the church. Perhaps some, both inside and outside of the church do NOT fully comprehend the fullness of Christ’s love, especially the aspects of discipline.

  51. Couple of things:

    1) First, you are largely targeting the “mega-church” when you cite things like showy performances and coffee shops etc… essentially, you are attacking the modern day western culture version of the church – and that is one easy target. The church was never meant to be a major popular hang out. The Bible makes it clear that very few people actually respond to the true calling of Christ.

    2) Going off of that point, the entire premise of this article assumes the church cares about “numbers.” Yes, today’s church does… but it shouldn’t. God repeatedly shows in the Bible that his followers are few, and He doesn’t particularly seem to care – He doesn’t need an army of 3,000 to topple a city when 300 will do.

    3) The reason the church is dwindling is because it has nothing to offer that isn’t already available on any talk show or in any self-help book. The more the church has tried to become just like the rest of the world, the more people have tuned out.

    What needs to happen is churches need to return to solid theology – the exact opposite of what you are suggesting here. Yes, sinners SHOULD be welcomed in – yes Jesus DID hang out with sinners Himself. The world loves to point this out – what they always fail to pick up on, though, was that Jesus did not LEAVE these people as sinners… He met their needs and then He expected them to “go and sin no more.” The church isn’t here to sit idly by and pretend there is nothing wrong. We aren’t supposed to be out yelling at and shaming people – but neither are we to just ignore them when they bring their sin into the church. The people are welcome, the sin is not.

    The church SHOULD be dwindling – but it should be dwindling because it is holding to the standard of God and not letting people get away with anything less.

    God is not a bean counter – He’s not interested in having the most people, He’s interested in having the holiest people.

  52. From one perspective you are absolutely right. But it is one perspective and has done what so many millennials do: They paint the church with broad strokes. Please allow me to give you another perspective to think about.

    Concerning point 1. If you don’t want a show, that is great. I applaud that. Go to a small church. Less than 100 people. You won’t get a show, you will get average people serving to the best of their ability. However don’t expect to drop off your kids without being asked to serve in children’s ministry. Don’t expect your children that are raised in an entertainment culture not to complain they are bored. Don’t expect a message that is delivered with great polish and depth every Sunday. They don’t have the budget or manpower to give you all that you have come to expect. They are average people who are serving God with the gifts they have been given. If you don’t want the show, that is great. Don’t expect the apps of the latest “smart church” either.

    Concerning #2. Personally I do my best to communicate clearly without all the lofty verbage. However I find it a little disingenuous (hypocritical for those of you that didn’t pay attention in school) to be totally fine with learning how to work your latest smart phone application, (otherwise known as app) in techenese, or complain to your BFF (best friend forever) in textenese about how hard it is for you to understand Christianese. How about being a little more willing to learn some words that you do not quite understand? Why is it always the church’s fault?

    Concerning #3 What is stopping you? The church is not the building. Of that we both agree. However it seems that you are just looking for one program to replace another. If the church is supposed to have a vision outside the building, then that means you. What is stopping you. I do not know one small church pastor that would tell you not to reach out to your neighbors, friends and community. I do not know one small church pastor that would tell you not to get involved with feeding the homeless, stand up against racism, or for that matter, go scrub toilets at the local businesses in the community. You seem to want a program yet you decry program style Christianity in reason #1.

    Concerning #4 You are right. The church picks lousy battles. The reason they pick lousy battles is because they seem to always fight a symptom and not the root cause. The root cause in this is a human nature that is contrary to the nature of God. It is called depravity which may not be a common English word but is in the dictionary if you want to educate yourself. That is the battle that the church needs to fight.

    Finally #5 Once again I agree that the church has not and does not love perfectly. Becoming more like Jesus is a process that all Christians are in. Some allow it to happen faster than others. I totally get that the church has used the bait and switch method in their message. It is not right. However this perspective needs to be seen as well.

    The church is filled with imperfect people. Families are filled with imperfect people. My parents loved me. They did not always show it perfectly. Neither has the church. However they are my family and I love them back. Think about this…. What type of love leaves because love is not shown perfectly? Is it not hypocritical to demand perfect love when you yourself do not or cannot love perfectly yourself? It is easy to love one another while staying home and watching TV or playing a computer game, or having a picnic in the park. It is hard to love people face to face. Not only for the church, but for those Millennials who are leaving because they are not being loved perfectly. Christ is the head of the church and the church is His body. I would like to challenge you that you cannot really love the head, and abandon the body.


    Pastor Duke Taber
    Mid-Peninsula Vineyard Christian Church
    San Carlos, Ca.

  53. Pingback: Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1 | john pavlovitz |

  54. I am so happy to read this post.
    We feel the same way.

    I have a lot of mixed beliefs. It’s not that I don’t believe in Jesus. It’s that my beliefs aren’t identical to the church. Therefore, I don’t fit. Many of my friends don’t fit. To be honest, I don’t want to raise our kids in todays church. I don’t want them to fit in a box. I don’t want them to think one way is the only way and therefore look differently towards those who believe differently.

    I have found peace elsewhere. At this time, I have no desire to go back to church. We visited a house church last year and found it to be more accepting and loving. It was just too far of a drive to keep up with. It’s too bad though. The house church was accepting of everyone. There were muslims, atheists, pagans and buddhists. No one was trying to convert you. The pastor read a scripture from the Bible and we had a meal together. We prayed. It was a loving and welcoming atmosphere. That is what we need.

    I already see people reading your blog and ready to defend the church. But in the end, we still feel this way. We can’t help the way we feel. It doesn’t matter what you try to do to defend the church. We still feel this way- so something has to change or we’ll keep staying away. A new person could walk into your church and leave feeling this way. You won’t have a chance to defend your church to that person. The change needs to happen. We need to see Jesus in the church.

    • Mandy it sounds like you want the church to change to fit your expectations. I don’t know you so I don’t know your background. I can tell you that is not how it work.

      If you want to follow Jesus you will try to follow him fully. That means fitting “in the box” of his commandments.

      It isn’t easy but is simple. You cannot pick and chose the parts you want, it is a full meal deal.

      Please keep looking Jesus is there, find a church that teaches the bible. No some place that is accepting, not some place that welcomes everyone, not a place that is tolerant. A place that teaches the bible.

      • I’m sorry. I didn’t state I was a Christian. I should have mentioned that first. I love Jesus. I don’t follow organized religion. I find peace and hope and love in a variety of religions.

        I can pick and choose- because that is what I want to do. Isn’t that that amazing? I have a brain that I can actually use. I can feel inspired by a Buddhist teaching. I can celebrate an earth based holiday. I don’t need someone to tell me I’m wrong. I don’t fit into a box. I don’t label myself.

        But I know Jesus. I believe He exists. I read the Bible. I just also read other religious texts. I don’t need to fit into a box as you say. That’s your belief. That’s your interpretation of the Bible and Christianity. It isn’t mine.

        I hope you don’t ever tell people to “come as they are” to your church. You don’t really mean that. What you mean is “come dressed as you are the first time, but don’t tell me your beliefs. I need to convert you to the way I believe. And if you don’t try to change, you need to leave.” You don’t believe God can change the hearts of people while they are in church. They aren’t welcome long enough. You open your mouth and people want to leave before they even meet this God you speak of.

  55. Every once in a while I go with a friend to a church about 20 minutes away from my relatively quiet, conservative, rural church. The music at his church is too loud, and the smoke machine seems unnecessary, and the lights and video presentations all seem overdone, and although the coffee bar is nice it’s probably superfluous, and the blue-jean wearing pastor is too hip for my taste.
    But man they love Jesus. And they’re out in the community every week–painting a house, mowing the local bar’s lawn, handing out bottled water, supporting local ministries . . . And they love people. They’ve got focus groups and small groups and support groups–they’re connecting. So I tolerate the service, because I realize that the substance is there regardless of the style. I’m not worried about people leaving or joining this church or that church. Do your thing for Jesus. He’ll draw the right people to it.

  56. Lol. I liked and was surprised to see Sarah’s comment. I was thinking the same thing, ie, that people are looking for an encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, either via the liturgy or Eucharistic Adoration. I think Christ often speaks to us in silence. There is a growing number of Latin Masses being offered now too. I usually go to the “new” Mass, but in some ways I prefer the Latin Mass. It is a bit more Eucharist-centered.

  57. We need to encourage one another and build one another up, not tear it apart and be so negative. This is the problem in a nut shell. It takes one person to plant a seed of doubt about the Church but it also takes one person to plant the seed of truth! Trust God, and not everything you read.

    • Criticism and disagreement don’t always equal tearing people apart or being negative; unless you believe people should only be honest if they like church.

      We all have our stories, and all are valid. This blog hopes to give a voice to those who feel they no longer do.

      Thanks for reading, Kathy!

  58. 100% accurate! As an incarnation all missionary sent to those beyond the reach of the church – boom. Exactly. It’s not the liturgy or music, the idea of a sermon…though most are out to lunch- it’s the cotton candy attraction all model all together. Ugh.

    Thanks for this.

  59. Your comments about how many people are still trying to figure out where they stand on the various social issues is good, but are such persons really open to finding the truth on those questions, or are they just using “I’m still searching” as an excuse to reject what God has said in His Bible about them?

    • Greg, it sounds like you have already decided how the Bible interprets everything, and how all people should be dealt with.

      Many people are not as settled on those things, especially on how to treat them.

      That’s part of the reason people are leaving; when they encounter intolerance or judgement.

      • If they don’t like intolerance and judgement they are probably not going to like God. No where does the Bible say God is tolerant, God is just not tolerant. Being judge yup for sure that is going to happen.

        Have you conducted some surveys to collect these views or are they merely your opinions and your issues with your first world problems?

        • YOU aren’t God. That’s the problem.

          People can’t reach God through that kind of treatment.

          This is my blog. It’s my opinion, based on 18 years of local church ministry; of hearing thousands of stories, and thousands more through this site. The tens of thousands who have shared this piece this week, show me that I’m not off base.

          You’ll never talk to them, because you’ve already determined who they are. I choose to speak to them.

          Thanks for reading.

      • Never came close to saying I was God, John. I certainly am not and do not think that is a problem.

        Are you saying you are righteous because people share your blog?

        Are you saying people justify you?

        If you have been in ministry for 18 years you should know better.

        • I’m saying that thousands and thousands of people are saying that they hear THEIR story in this piece.

          That makes it valid.

          I don’t need justification to share my heart, as it’s mine.

          That’s what you’re missing in all of it, which is the point of the blog. People are leaving, and your blinders miss them or minimize them.

          Thanks for reading.

  60. I grew up in a “mega church” and thought it was normal to have state of the art facilities and rec leagues and pools and light show sermons. But as an adult, when the real life burdens and struggles are real and yours alone, the smoke and mirrors clear and I only see a church that was as lost as most of us. I long for a service that is filled with the Holy Spirit, that brings tears and laughter and a feeling of peace and fullness, whether that is with a light show or without. I want a church family that accepts me for exactly who I am and helps me grow and follow the path laid for me. I want to feel safe and loved and forgiven. Now I don’t attend a church or have a church family. I seek Christ everyday and on my own.

    • I disagree with John that is not great stuff that is sad stuff.

      While you may have realized a mega church seen is not for you going through life alone is not how Jesus wants us to live this life.

      Finding a church family that will help you grow in your faith is important don’t give up looking for that fit.

  61. John, you are right on.

    My observation is that the churches who try to be all things to all people in the spirit of “inclusiveness” are ineffective and don’t reach people where they live.

    A pastor should challenge his congregation and make them at least a little uncomfortable about what they believe and how their beliefs are demonstrated in the everyday. Complacency is the enemy of the true believer. People who are willing to face their weaknesses, shortcomings and failings are the ones who, ultimately, become stronger and more effective in their faith – they are the ones who will be truly equipped to bear the “fruit of the spirit”.

    Can’t wait to read the next installment.

  62. I could not agree with you more. I am a Christian, and have felt for some time that church is coming up short on support and love. We get too caught up in doctorin and dare I say neglect the hurting, even those hurting and dyeing in the pew next to us. It was always supposed to be about love, and we have polluted our God’s message. He desires to reveal himself to his children, but if we’re too caught up with the music not sounding right we miss him completely, and therefore have nothing to offer the hurting one infront of us whom we were supposed to love. I strongly urge you to check out the Movie Father of Lights, it opened my eyes to love and it’s importance in just functioning through my day!

  63. I saw a link to this post from one of my former theology professors and I really appreciate what you’ve shared. My dad has been in ministry positions for my entire life and my husband and I have served in churches as well. I’ve seen how the church can hurt people and turn them away for 28 years, including a few run-ins personally. Incidentally I’ve also seen how beautiful it is when a church works the way it “should,” for lack of better words.
    Something my pastor has been preaching for the past several weeks is that people are never the problem. People have problems but they are never the problem. I feel like the same thing can be said of the church as a whole. The church isn’t the problem. Churches have problems but the Church is not the problem.

    After finishing this post I found myself asking, “OK, so what now?” If we’ve established that churches are hurting people and turning them away and if we are content to just live with that fact and don’t see it as a call to action we risk becoming nothing more than a jaded and bitter part of the rhetoric. And by “we” I don’t just mean people who are actively involved in a church, the people who probably have knee-jerk reactions to these kinds of posts. Healing is available to every single person who has been hurt by the church. Opening yourself up to healing and not continuing to live out of a place of hurt and mistrust is so hard, but it’s worth it. Jesus wants us to live the good kind of life and he wants us to live it together. It’s really a lovely way to live.

  64. One of my friends put it this way: “I did not leave the church. The church left me.” Mother Teresa was once asked why women joined her order. She said, “I give them Jesus.” The questioner persisted in asking what made people work so hard, give up so much, meet so many demands on them. Over and over, she simply repeated, “I give them Jesus.” So many of our problems boil down to this: The church is not giving people anything they can’t find somewhere else. Entertainment? No problem, go to a movie, a concert, a ball game or just turn on the TV. Salvation? Plenty of TV preachers, pundits, books that will tell you exactly what to do. Social interaction? No problem there, either, lots of places to find like-minded people. Activism? Making a difference? No shortage of people who will tell you what to think, where to volunteer, what to protest, when and how. Just pick your side of the fence. Spirituality? Lots of options there, too. Or are there? Our society has that one confused with emotionalism, so I’m not sure there really are a lot of other options. Unfortunately, the church has followed suit and many of them also have spirituality mixed up with emotionalism. I do think the church is supposed to ask things of us. Jesus certainly made demands. There is a difference between forgiveness and permissiveness. I’m not at all convinced that the church is supposed to be “relevant” to our world. I suspect the church is supposed to be the alternative to the world, and that’s what we are missing. As a church musician, I’ve seen it repeatedly, in many places and in many denominations. We have lost the concept of Sanctuary. Instead of being the alternative to the world and a refuge from it, churches invite the world in and hand it a beer. We cannot go out among the people and make much difference if there is no place of support, of rest and quiet to study, reflect and regroup. Even Jesus needed that, and if he did, how much more do we?

  65. When our two sons were in their late teens they got an apartment together and we were amazed after being raised in a church and a christian family they were searching for something better and set out to prove there was no God. They had many many books on every “religion” we had ever heard of and they studied them all. They asked God for proof and to make a long story short they both became pastors! They are in different denominations at both ends of the “church spectrum”, one very laid back and a congregation of people who were mostly down and out with drugs. suicide attempts and very unhappy with life and God.
    God has blessed many of them with His Mercy and they have become new people since then and who are extremely active in the church, loving the new persons into the kingdom, and so thankful for the new persons they have become.

    The other son has a more formal liturgical church , many who have learned to love the Lord much more and also reaching out to others and helping them find the Lord.
    It is absolutely a miracle that ONLY God could bring about!

  66. Pingback: What “How” Does Leviticus Seek? |

  67. I’m a Children’s Pastor, and this breaks my heart. Like others, I believe you’re spot on. Church members would prefer to stay in their comfort zones than to act like Jesus would act in their own community to their next-door neighbors. They check the church box, which really means they managed to get out of bed that morning and chose church instead of warm donuts and coffee in front of the TV. Good for you! Let’s celebrate! Obviously, not all church members are like this, but the majority definitely are.

  68. I am definitely what you would call a conservative Christian but I agree with most of your points. Maybe all but with clarifications. I agree that Jesus and that the church should love people where they are. Sure. But neither Jesus nor the church should love them so little that they are okay with not encouraging people to become more than that. That is the hard part of living in a community where people really know you and love you. These same people who care for you no matter what also will not sit back and watch you sin and disobey God. what I am saying is that it is all nice to be loved and supported even though you cuss or get drunk but a real loving community (church) will not let you wallow there. The church will encourage and challenge one to grow closer to God and become more sanctified. But often that is the part of community that many (including myself at times) do not like. It is great when people accept you for who you are but not if they want you to grow. The church members (being humans) will probably not be perfect at doing it either. They need to grow also. And that is all part of community. It is sort of like marriage. Sometimes fun but always work. I have seen many who claim that the church just cannot love them for who they are run away from church because they do not like being lovingly called out on their sin. Jesus called people out all the time. He sure hung out with sinners and tax collectors but he was clear that they needed to “Go and sin no more.”

    I do think that poverty, racism, hunger., etc. are bigger issues than many of the trivial things the church fights about. However, often the church does not fight over the even bigger issue of the Trinity or the incarnation (who God is) or fight for the salvation of sinners and their eternal destinies. We sometimes split over which political party to back but not care about the souls of the lost.

    I have mixed feelings about the foreign tongue part. We do need to be able to share the gospel in words people can understand. However, I am a believer in the church being something separate from the world. I think it is good for people to have to learn a new culture when they become members of the church. Part of this is learning some new language. I think that is fine. There can be a balance here.

    I do agree that churches need to get out into the neighborhoods and the workplace. They need to be where people really are.

    It might seems I disagreed with most of this piece but I just highlighted where I disagreed. For much of it I could say Amen!

  69. I am not sure if my first post went through so I copied it and I am posting it again. Please delete if this is duplicate.

    I am definitely what you would call a conservative Christian but I agree with most of your points. Maybe all but with clarifications. I agree that Jesus and that the church should love people where they are. Sure. But neither Jesus nor the church should love them so little that they are okay with not encouraging people to become more than that. That is the hard part of living in a community where people really know you and love you. These same people who care for you no matter what also will not sit back and watch you sin and disobey God. what I am saying is that it is all nice to be loved and supported even though you cuss or get drunk but a real loving community (church) will not let you wallow there. The church will encourage and challenge one to grow closer to God and become more sanctified. But often that is the part of community that many (including myself at times) do not like. It is great when people accept you for who you are but not if they want you to grow. The church members (being humans) will probably not be perfect at doing it either. They need to grow also. And that is all part of community. It is sort of like marriage. Sometimes fun but always work. I have seen many who claim that the church just cannot love them for who they are run away from church because they do not like being lovingly called out on their sin. Jesus called people out all the time. He sure hung out with sinners and tax collectors but he was clear that they needed to “Go and sin no more.”

    I do think that poverty, racism, hunger., etc. are bigger issues than many of the trivial things the church fights about. However, often the church does not fight over the even bigger issue of the Trinity or the incarnation (who God is) or fight for the salvation of sinners and their eternal destinies. We sometimes split over which political party to back but not care about the souls of the lost.

    I have mixed feelings about the foreign tongue part. We do need to be able to share the gospel in words people can understand. However, I am a believer in the church being something separate from the world. I think it is good for people to have to learn a new culture when they become members of the church. Part of this is learning some new language. I think that is fine. There can be a balance here.

    I do agree that churches need to get out into the neighborhoods and the workplace. They need to be where people really are.

    It might seems I disagreed with most of this piece but I just highlighted where I disagreed. For much of it I could say Amen!

  70. If that is how you feel about where you are attending services, you need to speak to the leadership or move on to another place of worship.

    The message is still the same and will never change. God for some reason loves humans, all of us. As bad as we are messed up , as terrible as we have been throughout human history, as poorly as we treat each other He loves us beyond anything a human can understand.

    The church is us. We are the church. The church is not the building or the leadership team or the pope and his team. The church is US.

    If you need a better relationship there is a blueprint to follow in the bible. It is pretty simple but it is not easy.

    First and foremost believe that Jesus is our LORD and savior and confess it with your mouth. Next love God with all your heart and soul. Establish that relationship through prayer and not just on Sundays and not just for big things when you are in dire need or trouble.

    God wants you every moment every day. You can’t go to church Sunday and get “recharged” and think that is supposed to keep your spiritual battery charged for the week. It does not work that way.

    Part of what you said I agree with. We, the church, are not supposed to be in our safe place waiting for the broken world to come to us. We are to pray and GO. Pray and DO. Pray and be MISSIONAL.

    In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said “on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

    That is a battle cry the gates are not protecting the church from hell, the gates of hell will not withstand the force of Jesus’ church when we assail them. That means we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone to get out there in this world and take the Gospel to our broken brothers and sisters and share it with them. Share our stories, share our brokenness, let them see how it is possible for God to save them too.

    I pray that you and some of those who have turned their backs on God will get something from my response to your writing and that God will open their eyes and soften their hearts. There are gatherings of God’s people with pastors who teach God’s word with and without the flash who get it.

    If you are not satisfied with your relationship with God work on it, pray or better yet just talk to Him.

    If you aren’t satisfied with the people you worship with talk to them don’t walk away without at least trying. If it doesn’t change God has a better place for you, go find it.

  71. That was indeed, very well said. I have a church that I attend, moreso for working there and being a part of at least a small part of the fellowship (at least the music ministry/praise ensemble, even though I do not play as part of that group, I am the sound engineer and have a job to do, and it most often feels like the music ministry is regarded as a lowest priority and largely unappreciated, but that is not what we seek and not why we do as we do).

    I have never formally “joined” the church membership. I disagree with the sort of exclusivity that it involves. I disagree with many of the basic premise, most often, the habits of taking the Bible out of context and out of chronological order, in order to use the mid-term books of “church law”, (the same “church law” books which the pharisees used to condemn Christ and the apostles), to justify personal opinions, judgements and misinterpretations, or in the worst of cases, to judge and condemn others because of narrow views and assumptions of people they do not understand.

    Yes, I attend A church, but My church is elsewhere. My church is in the streets, at home, where I would meet these people who would need the guidance and assurance much more than the people sitting in pews who already have access to the word. Why preach solely to those who are already there and cater to the wishes of the elders in their set ways, with their own access to the word, who have already heard the message, when there are so many more who are afraid to step in to the door, or feel too judged and criticized to even risk a “hello”?

    My ministry, my mission, is to surround myself with those that the church fears, my brothers and sisters who bear tattoos, who have used or tried drugs, who love another sincerely, not carnally, without regard to gender or politics. My ministry is to lead by example and guidance, not ostracization, judgements, ridicule and insult. My ministry is to understand others, so that I can relate to them and better communicate to them. To skip those steps, wilfully refuse to learn the lingo, or to tread the dark alleys and shadowy streets, to go where the people need it most, is to be lazy and fearful. Wost of all, it is to lack the conviction and the courage called for in the book.

    The stories of the Apostles, their sometimes disreputable origins, were not included to be only a side note, they are outlines as example that these are not people to be judged, but rather example of the acceptance and willingness to understand and give the chance, regardless of who they are or were.

  72. I don’t want to try and “rival” your list, but people leaving “the church” is nothing new and it will never stop.

    It happens for multiple reasons:

    1) they lose their love for the church’s founder (Revelation 2:4; John 15:14)

    2) they are afraid of offending the world (Revelation 2:9; James 4:4)

    3) they fall prey to false doctrine (Revelation 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1-4)

    4) they become numb to sin (Revelation 2:20; 2 Peter 2:20-21)

    5) they try to make the church something that it was never intended to be (Revelation 3:1; Ephesians 2:10)

    6) they rely upon their own works for spiritual satisfaction instead of the work of the gospel (Revelation 3:8; Galatians 5:6)

    7) they become too spiritually lazy to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:15-17; 2 Peter 3:18)

    Even if the church did everything “perfectly” all the time, people would still leave because they become more consumed with self than with God, and because that’s what people do (John 6:66-69).

    • That’s certainly one list Eugene, though one that conveniently ties into the select Scripture quotes that you’ve chosen to share.

      The blog post is about the failure of church leaders and the institution gone off track. There are tons of Scriptures on that too.

      Thanks for contributing,

      • Leaders who don’t meet the qualifications and the loss of mission are an important factor for sure, but nonetheless the fact remains that the people allow it to happen and even when the church does the right thing people will be unsatisfied and the majority will never be interested in being a member of the body of Christ because they want to be fed with the wrong food instead of feeding on God’s word (Matthew 7:1).

        Denominationalism (made up of “followers” and “leaders”) has become a doctrinal and directional scourge that creates severe blindness to the truth of God’s gospel and the church that’s meant to proclaim it (1 Corinthians 1:10; John 17:20-21; 1 Timothy 3:15).

        Thanks for the reply and for your time, John.

  73. Oh, my. Numbers 4 & 5 on your list have been on my heart all day … even before I saw this. Although raised Protestant, I now attend a racially diverse Catholic parish. I’m so weary of people saying “peace be with you” to me at Mass but not meaning it. I know they don’t mean it because of the opinions they express about a Trayvon … or a Jordan Davis (I happen to live in the city where Jordan was killed) … or a Mike Brown … or an undocumented immigrant. It’s especially painful to me as a mother of two African-American sons who have been profiled; I fear for them often. I’ve seen the same mentality in racially mixed churches of other denominations. Now I attend church rarely and only for community’s sake, but call myself an agnostic. And don’t even get me started on the doctrine / dogma. I’ve found more empathy and sense of justice from atheist / agnostic friends than from many of the religious. If religion obviously isn’t necessary to make me a better person, I see no need to constrain myself with it.

  74. I to have quit organized religion. There is too much gossip, many are very unfriendly, or you get people who get to involved in your business and want to control your every move. I have found many who claim to be Christian to be judgmental and have a “better than thou” attitude. There is also way to much politics happening in the church. My mother attended a once great church that was ruined by the demands of those in the church and the politics. They now have maybe 15 members and and have not been able to recover. They can’t even keep a minister there for very long.

    • These are crazy times, Rae. Th etude is definitely turning. People are rejecting these old false versions of the Church, and are walking way, or starting new things.

      Keep going! Good stuff is ahead.

  75. Well, we know one thing – John can stereotype with the best of them. Way to paint tens of millions of people with one broad brush there John. Yes, some churches are not doing everything like you’d like. Some are not doing it like God would like. Some are. We are still sinners, just saved, and doing the best we can. In the end, only God can call people to Himself and save them. We can help or we can be in the way, but in the end He will have those who are His. While I do believe in loving people where they are, we also have to remember that the entire reason for salvation is because we’re sinful. At some point people do have to come to an awareness of their need for salvation. But if we act like nothing is wrong, then why would anyone see the need for salvation? And how are we any different from the world. I have no doubt there were people in Jesus day talking about how “cliquish” the 12 disciples were and making up whatever reasons or rationalizations they could to reject God. Excuses are just that, excuses. No one church is perfect, or perfect for every kind of person. That is why there are tons of them. You CAN find a good church if you want to.

    • What you call stereotyping, is many people’s reality, so to them (and to me), it’s reality.

      If you can’t appreciate that, you’re underscoring why I wrote this piece in the first place.

  76. That’s because in today’s society of this Americanized type of Christianity, with this “feed me, feed me, fill me up” selfish type of mentality, it’s all backwards. The “church” is the body of Christ, the believers, not the building or place where we worship corporately on Sundays. The body of Christ is supposed to be out in our communities Monday through Saturday meeting needs and SERVING people, just as Jesus came to SERVE and not to be served, and being a living example that draws people to Christ. Then we come together corporately on Sunday to worship God for what He has already done in our lives. Non-believers come to our corporate worship and are confused and feel left out. We should be focusing on the lost/non-believers in our EVERY DAY lives and meet them where they are, not trying to lure them into a corporate worship where they are confused. The bible in James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I love the fact that when my church here in NYC is out serving and loving on people in the housing projects several days a week, that you would never know which one was our pastor, because he’s in the trenches serving with the rest of us! I came from a mega-church and I PRAISE GOD that I got out of it and that I now serve under leaders who practice servant-leadership, which is the model of Christ. My pastor said something that I think you’ll appreciate. He said “The world doesn’t need more podcasts of sermons, or more worship conferences/concerts, or more youth conferences, or more blogs, or more worship songs written because we’ve got enough to last a lifetime. What the world needs more of, is people who love without hypocrisy.”

  77. I’m a pastor John…and I’m listening or reading that is. I’m willing to not have a knee jerk reaction and listen. I think that too much talking isn’t healthy any way. So…I’m sure I’m not the first and I might not 100% agree (I don’t 100% agree with anyone), but I’m definitely willing to listen. Is that cool?

  78. Thanks for sharing this. I could add soo much about my church past and how much is screwed us up for a long time and how really there’s so much more judgement than “real” equal love in the church. I actually had an old church friends mom Message me a couple weeks ago bc I posted how I love leaving yoga class and wrote the word namaste. She messaged me “concerned” for me, and went on to say about how she tried yoga once for her back and how she never liked the feeling of doing yoga bc of it’s background meanings in Hindu and Sanskrit. And sent me a YouTube video of an ex yogi turned Christian who says that chakras and connected to he communication of the devil. I was really hurt and offended by that. Just so ridiculous that she would say this to me. I know she is trying to help, and this is her beliefs but it’s not helping when I left the church years ago after too many closed minded people and hypocrites were around me judging me. I even had the old pastor make a whole sermon on tattoos and judging me after I came home from college at 18, with my first one. Yet he had many from his “old biker self” days. Ugh.

  79. Thanks for sharing this. I could add soooo about my church past and how much is screwed us up for a long time and how really there’s so much more judgement than “real” equal love in the church. I actually had an old church friends mom Message me a couple weeks ago bc I posted how I love leaving yoga class and wrote the word namaste. She messaged me “concerned” for me, and went on to say about how she tried yoga once for her back and how she never liked the feeling of doing yoga bc of it’s background meanings in Hindu and Sanskrit. And sent me a YouTube video of an ex yogi turned Christian who says that chakras and connected to he communication of the devil. I was really hurt and offended by that. Just so ridiculous that she would say this to me. I know she is trying to help, and this is her beliefs but it’s not helping when I left the church years ago after too many closed minded people and hypocrites were around me judging me. I even had the old pastor make a whole sermon on tattoos and judging me after I came home from college at 18, with my first one. Yet he had many from his “old biker self” days. Ugh.

  80. Your article resonates heavily, not just with me, but obviously hundreds, if not thousands and tens or hundreds of thousands as evidenced not just by the response here but the “exodus” from the church institution. Church has become a literal “big business” over the past few decades in the US and other countries rather than the body of Christ it was created as. My wife and I left this hollow expression four years ago believing that surely there must be more to church than what we had experienced for the past forty years, served in and raised our children in. We have found “real building” and are now meeting with a group of like-minded Christ followers living in a shared-life community that is spread out literally all across our metro-plex area. We come together and share Christ with each other without a pastor or worship leader, sound system or pulpit. We have discovered Christ not just in each other but in everything around us – nature, every day life, Hollywood movies (really!) in addition to scripture. Our kids and relatives think we have joined a cult but this expression of the church is so much more like the new testament church we read about in Acts than anything we have ever experienced or seen before. NOW I don’t feel like I have left the church, but instead, have finally found the true church – the body of Christ, the bride of Christ and the real house of God. Christ is our Leader, our Head, our Salvation and our Hope – our ALL. We did have to wander in the wilderness a season after our Exodus, but feel like now we are in the promised land – our Canaan. I was glad to find your blog (posted by my son who thinks we are crazy on FaceBook) and hope that those who read this will be encouraged to trust in the Lord and hold on until they are led from the wilderness into His rest. Blessings!

    • Love it, Mark. Glad you found the blog, but more excited to hear you’ve created something beautiful. We’re doing something similar here, and the interesting thing is people who want it to be part of a “church” before they will support it and attend, not realizing that it is a church!

      Keep up the great work!

  81. The Word admonishes us to Let our conversatio(manner of life always be that that becomes the gospel (or the name of Christ). When you used “suck” you lost my attention! Praying you wil KNOW HIM.

    • Sorry you so easily shut down to a great deal of thoughtful ideas over a word. You will certainly run into people who don’t express things the ways you would like, and miss them because of that attitude.

      I think that sucks. 🙂

  82. Not impressed with your thoughts and opinions! After all… It’s just You, that feel this way! So I ask…” What are you doing for others to build on Spiritual living,”

    • Didn’t create the blog to impress you or anyone. It’s my heart, and the product of loving and living alongside people for 18 years in ministry.

      That’s what I’m doing.

      Thanks for reading.

  83. While I agree with much in this article, I disagree in part with numbers 4 and 5. Standing up for the Light and the Truth is what we are called to do. As Jesus Himself said to the Pharisees: “You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

    The article is an opinion piece by a fellow human being and, as such, is prone to fallibility and incompleteness. The Church is called to be different from the world, not only in form but also in function. People who imply or state that the Church’s only function is to love are as clueless as those who believe that Christ only taught about love. Christ also taught that sin is serious business to God, so much so that Christ gave Himself redeeming us from the slavery of sin. “Therefore, you have been freed, but in your freedom, do not indulge your sinful nature.” “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” A Church that does not encourage its members (participants) to leave sin behind is not a very loving Church, especially in regards to the First and Greatest Commandment: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Christ taught His disciples to practice true righteousness, although he disapproved of SELF-righteousness, such as that of the Pharisees and other teachers of the Law. The Church would be just as wrong and off-track to embrace sin as it would be to keep Christian love inside the four walls of a church building.

  84. Wow, how awful for you to bash Christians and The Lord like this. The church is Christ’s bride, and although some churches have turned away from the truth in God’s words from the Bible, many still preach the teaching and truth of God’s word. God will definitely be correcting the church to a place without any flaws, and Jesus will be coming back someday in physical form, although He lives in our hearts when we accept Him as our light and salvation. Where is the hatred and judgment in a Savior who was crucified on a cross to pay the price of YOUR sins so you wouldn’t spend eternity lost?

    “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-27‬ KJV)”

    I will pray for you, yes, you. That you repent of insulting the church, Christ’s bride, along with mocking God.

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (‭Romans‬ ‭6‬:‭23‬ KJV)”

    • Criticizing something does not equal “bashing”; unless you only want words spoken if they’re complimentary.

      I’m not repenting of loving the Church enough to demand that we do better.

  85. Pingback: Millennials, Here Is Why The Church Isn't Listening To You.

  86. I would add a 6th reason – sermons lack depth and seem to come in two varieties, fuzzy wuzzy feel good and fire & brimstone. None of us are in the same place and can’t all benefit in the same ways from any particular sermon but give us something with depth, something that challenges us without being judgmental. You can challenge our thinking and choices without yelling at us about how terrible and sinful we all are (we need to come to our own conclusions).

  87. All true the mission field (church talk again ) is right outside your door. I’m sure people would rather belong to a church that is relevant touching people’s lives in very practical ways Isaiah 58 says it all.

  88. I totally agree with the reasons people leave church. I had pretty much decided a had a strong dislike for church and organized religion. I was pretty surprised to find the church I am in now. But there aren’t many out there I want to step foot in. The metropolitan community churches are the least Judgemental and most community oriented church I’ve been to. But, like I said..I had written off any kind of church before that. I still am not happy with organized religion as a whole. I still do not agree with much of the religious obligations and rules.. But at least I’ve found like minded people who pretty much feel the same way. We want to worship pray and help others without all the attitude, judgement, and junk. I wish more church leaders would read these 5 reasons and actually think about them. Not belt it from a pulpit.. But think about it privately. Maybe a few would open their eyes to reality.. But I doubt many would bother.

  89. That was like a letter of Paul to the Americans. Guilty much? I don’t think you should be so hard on yourself. I left traditional church, but I like a good show, good coffee, and both simple and complicated theological messages, so none of those things bother me enough to leave church. I find people from traditional churches working hard in the neighborhoods. I feel that they are loving and welcoming and that they try to make their messages relevant. That’s not the problem. What’s wrong with the traditional church is that believing in a god requires suspension of reason. Following the Bible means accepting a set of contradictory books with contradictory messages and the morality of a desert culture a few thousand years ago. It’s wishful thinking or willful delusion to believe that a girl was impregnated by a god or that a man built a rather small ship and saved all the species from a flood or that world was created in few days. These are good stories made up by people. Other myth traditions have their own good stories. But I just can’t go to a church that believes they’re real. I wish I could because I like churches and church people.

  90. I’m at work right now, but I will say we dont need a boogie man, we need a father, we don’t need a judge, we need a teacher, we dont need a church we need a home. Christ has done everything else.

  91. I’m the pastor of a tiny church, and many of our newer folks are refugees from bigger churches with hurts to heal. There’s no doubt that in some places some very toxic things that are going down. There’s also no doubt that anywhere there are going to be conflicts, dumb stuff someone says, and ways in which things aren’t going to be the way you like them. But Jesus really did command us to love one another the way he loves us, which is with grace and looking forward to who we are becoming. You really can’t do that and stay away from other Christians, conclude all churches are evil because of the three you went to, and decide it’s just you and Jesus from now on. Obviously, you can do what you want. And if you are following Jesus, I believe he will lead you into some form of community with other followers. But in reading all these comments, while I certainly see some folks quoting scripture AT others who obviously don’t find that authoritative, I also hear a lot if venting at churches, where perhaps 90% of the people would have loved you forever but the actions of one person ruined it. Writing all churches off that way may feel good but it’s pretty intolerant and unfair. It is also, in my opinion, intolerant and unfair if I say, no, my church isnt like that, and if you then tell me I’m part of the problem! I’m not saying you don’t have a right to your feelings – I’m just saying maybe your feelings shouldn’t be the only way you look at this question. The people who pour themselves out to “make” churches are people, too. I work pretty hard at not doing or allowing John’s list. I’m weary of being essentially told it doesn’t matter – we’ve already condemned you.

    • Awesome stuff, Susan. Obviously in 700 words we can’t get into all side of such complex stuff, but the hope is to begin conversation and get people thinking and looking at the part they play, which it seems is happening.

      It’s true that many people will see any church as ‘”the church that they have been damaged by or find hypocritical”, but that is true of all stereotypes.

      The only thing you can ultimately control is you and how you use whatever influence and power you have to love people well and to affect change where you see the need.

      That’s what I’ve tried to do for nearly two decades, and this blog is the place where I can interact with tens of thousands of people a week, which is a blessing.

      Keep up the great work. As Jesus said of the woman who broke the alabaster jar of perfume, “You are doing a beautiful thing.”

      Be encouraged.

  92. Thanks for sharing this. I could add soo much about my church past and how much is screwed us up for a long time and how really there’s so much more judgement than “real” equal love in the church. I actually had an old church friends mom Message me a couple weeks ago bc I posted how I love leaving yoga class and wrote the word namaste. She messaged me “concerned” for me, and went on to say about how she tried yoga once for her back and how she never liked the feeling of doing yoga bc of it’s background meanings in Hindu and Sanskrit. And sent me a YouTube video of an ex yogi turned Christian who says that chakras and connected to he communication of the devil. I was really hurt and offended by that. Just so ridiculous that she would say this to me. I know she is trying to help, and this is her beliefs but it’s not helping when I left the church years ago after too many closed minded people and hypocrites were around me judging me. I even had the old pastor make a whole sermon on tattoos and judging me after I came home from college at 18, with my first one. Yet he had many from his “old biker self” days. Ugh.

  93. I have not read all of the comments but to me it also seems that way to many churches (and other “christian organizations”) have made it largely about money and “guilting into giving”. Although the bible talks about tithing Jesus was all about helping others, not about the almighty dollar.

  94. Yes to many poor choices we have made, and are still making, starting with vocabulary.

    My list of definitions for “church” now totals 24, and we don’t see how we are the problem? We don’t even clarify which definition we are using.

    Other misused words: visitor, member, communication, Word, committee, voting, stewardship, they, others, everyone, fact, truth, should, ought, have to, need, offended, I, prayer, and Christian…

    Good words to use more often: Holy Spirit.

  95. I agree wholeheartedly with this. There is only one thing that I feel should be clarified. Yes we are to love people where they are and welcome them in. The only thing is that we are not to indefinitely ignore blatant sin and keep them in the church in spite of it. We are to have nothing to do with a brother or sister who is willfully practicing sin. Otherwise it will spread like wildfire throughout the church. Now how long do we give that person to repent and begin the walk out of it, I don’t know. It’s a matter of prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit, but it should be stated in love but clearly, that what they are engaged in is sin. That is the only truly loving thing we can do for them and the church as a whole.

    • We never give-up, Shirl.

      The church is full of sinners: 100 percent of us.

      We can’t “keep people” in or out. Only God can do that.

      That’s part of the dangerous place of assuming we’re “gatekeepers of the kingdom”.

      We ALL have junk that we refuse to let go of, and we still believe we should stay.

      If sinful people get booted out of the Church, we’re gonna have some really empty buildings!

      • I don’t understand why you, as well as so many others can’t, or won’t understand the difference between falling into sin, repenting and then striving to not do it again as opposed to living blatantly in sin with no repentance or trying to change. Should a married man be able to keep committing adultery with his mistress and remain in the church? Or how about an unrepentant pedophile? I would rather be in the smallest of churches with people that truly love the Lord and follow the Word than be in a huge, growing church filled with people who reject God’s Word as the final authority on what sin is.
        1 Corinthians 5:9-13
        Immorality Must Be Judged
        9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

        12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

        I’m sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree with you and stay in agreement with the scripture on this one.

        • All Christian churches “follow the Word”. You’re simply saying you want everyone to follow the Word as you decide, in all instances.

          I can throw select Scripture quotes around too to agree with a point, but I won’t, because you’ve shown that you’ve already determined what God says about everything, and that you know exactly how to interpret it all, and understand context, history, writer intent and culture and understanding of that audience.

          Yes, we will definitely disagree, because I haven’t yet.

  96. You are so right however there is always an exception to the rule. 1 This exception being the Holy Ghost. If you go to a church with The Holy Ghost the Sundays make a big difference during the week. Matter the fact you can feel 5 he change instantly. Because God is tangible. 2 I’ve been going to the same church for 3 years and I have no idea what church speak is. 3 the members of a Holy Ghost filled church know that it’s the bars are the ditches that need the word and that’s why we practice what is preached everyday. Because Jesus said we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. That is a big responsibility. 4 It’s about be lead by the spirit because we are nothing with out him we could possible make a difference with out him. It’s the little things that make something great. He who can be trusted with little can be trusted with much. 5 Jesus is love and the Holy ghost is Jesus and God is three divine beings in one. The name along is not good enough you must have his presence or its just words and noise there is no meaning no back bone there for the “love” aspect is question. But where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. these being the last days the devil is doing everything he can to keep us away from the truth, he is a liar he will do anything to keep us blind and that includes keeping us out of church. It says in God’s word it’s required to go.

    • Angeline, my understanding is that the Holy Spirit also inhabits people; that we are living, breathing churches, so He is present not in as much spaces, but in people.

      Definitely one of the most difficult things to define and measure. But I’m glad you feel that presence in your community!

  97. I’ll add….
    – When churches announce attendance numbers, barf.
    – When churches do mission trips to other countries when people need help next door it’s called marketing.
    – When churches to outside help and put too much effort into showing everyone how awesome they are, it’s marketing and grosses me out.
    – When the church band is the focus not God.
    – When the pastor is super happy all the time, it makes me feel like everything is fake.
    – When the pastor dresses super hip into cheesie, think Jon Bon Jovi as a pastor.

  98. You have done a great job of telling me what church should not be, what it should not look like. PLEASE tell me what you expect church to be so that it draws you to be a part of the fellowship. I am not just talking about Sunday morning but I am talking about Sunday morning.

  99. Hi John, I’m new here and I thank God someone shared this on Facebook. I’m a pastor in the South Bronx, NYC. I’ve been in ministry since the 80s and a few years ago, I actually “left” church for a year. I did this for my family’s spiritual and emotional health which was bruised by church and by ministry. I won’t belabor anything said here which I agree with, by the way. What I want to say is that unfortunately, the problem is cyclical. Bad disciples make bad disciples. We become disillusioned once we begin to see that the Jesus of the bible is not the one reflected by the body and we leave church. I respect anyone’s decision to leave but if we all left (I’ve wanted to stop attending church MANY MANY times), who will be there to love truly when it’s unpopular to do so? Who will be the healers? Who will be Jesus to the lost?
    May God continue to bless you and everyone who has posted here.

  100. We at the United Church of Christ couldn’t agree with you more. That is why we have led the way in so many social justice movements, practice what we preach as Open and Affirming congregations, encourage same-sex unions and preach the gospel of a Still Speaking God.
    Many of our churches are a haven for those who left organized churches for just those reasons you outlined above. And here’s a way to find your spiritual path back to a community in relationship with God
    I’ll look for you at the front door!

  101. I tend to believe that some Christians just analyse the Bible way too much. My experience is that those who have too much knowledge on Biblical principles (analysing, memorising, cross-referencing verses) are the ones who allow themselves to interfere with other people’s lives. They end up hurting people just because those they see “sinning” sin differently than them! And the funny thing is that they do it out of “love”. This behavior drives people away from churches and from Christianity. Knowledge-driven behavior has the tendency to foster self-righteous actions.

    I believe the church should be an open, welcoming and safe place to ANYONE without making any judgments and just loving people for who they are. If God’s idea about churches was a weekly exclusive gathering place for the holy-people, why would he go through the trouble to sacrifice his own son?

  102. Pingback: Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 2 | john pavlovitz

  103. You make excellent points, John, and so do many of the comments. Since childhood, I belonged to a small church, very basic, hymns and scripture…no bands or potlucks. Good, faithful people. But as an adult, I got involved in the administration, as one must in a small congregation, and found much pointless bickering and, for lack of a better word, politics, even there. It was disappointing and tiring, and I finally left. I still act with love and joy and understanding and patience and all the good qualities my church is based on, but I do it in my daily life, not in a building on Sunday. And I find it coming back to me the same way. Jesus didn’t work from a building…he worked from his heart. If we all did that, truly, what a wonderful world this would be.

  104. John,

    Interesting piece. Your points are spot on, but your premise is flawed.

    Sure, the church has problems and has had since Jesus ascension. Why? Because it’s filled with imperfect people. That’s nothing new. The majority of the New Testament has stories of imperfect churches. Each of your points has merit and deserves to be addressed. Glitzy services, Christian-speak, an internal focus, foolish leadership and unloving behavior are problems. We could probably list hundreds more. Anyone can point out problems. That’s not much of a challenge.

    Unfortunately, the “leaving the church” answer to an imperfect church is a demonstration of immature Christianity. Using excuses about poor church behaviors to “sleep in” on Sunday says far more about those sleeping in than it does about the church. We are called to serve. There’s no caveat to the call to service that says you can just not show up if you don’t like what’s going on. Jesus didn’t like what was going on…which is why he came. Go and do likewise.

    If you don’t like they way things are going at your church, get involved and make a difference in the way your church is working to worship God, minister to the faithful and reach the lost. If you’re “sleeping in” on Sunday, perhaps you should spend some time reading the Bible looking at passages about the uncommitted.

    • Amen! Oh thank you for this response. Spot on. I logged back in to say that if anyone leaves their church, to please direct your written explanation to THAT particular church. There’s no point in painting with a broad brush and broadcasting the failure. And like I said before, pray for those who wronged you, plug yourself back in somewhere else and don’t just go there with expectations of just how you like to be fed – offer yourself and be the change you want to see. We’re all on a journey, including church leadership teams.

  105. In only read the first of these comments so perhaps someone else shares my opinion. This should be re titled “American Church, Here’s Why…”

    Iraqi and Syrian Christians are fleeing for their lives, we’ll never know the truth of the persecution of the church in North Korea. Even in my adopted country of Colombia there are frequent murders of Christian pastors in rural areas. Voice of the Martyrs estimates over 400 Christians a A DAY are killed for their beliefs.

    American church — get over it already. Nobody cares about your little pissy fits and your boring, weepy stories about how “I left because the church didn’t understand me!”

    Pray for missionaries, give of your time and money, connect with your local ministries and offer your help, get out of debt, lose weight, read your Bible, live your Bible. Stop whining.

    • The people of those churches care, even if you don’t.

      Does it compare to being tortured, jailed, or killed? Of course not. There is still a toll.

      People matter; all of them.

  106. OK. So you just made al that up. I get it.
    However, if the modern church is to be at all relevant we must make sure our leaders wear blue jeans at all times and never ever be seen in public with shirt tails tucked in.

    • I’ve been in local church ministry for 18 years; have seen and heard thousands of stories, and met thousands more here through this blog. Nothing is made-up; it’s simply my perspective, and it seems to be resonating with people, and that is the hope.

      Not sure what clothes have to do with anything. People can be good leaders in suits or blue jeans, and lousy leaders in both.

  107. I could have written this, and felt like doing so this past Sunday, when I walked out of Mass with my kids in tow. The priest was doing his pre-Mass warm-up, talking to the parishioners about the readings of the day. One of them was from Isaiah, and spoke about “foreigners”. Our priest explained that this particular passage was revolutionary in its day, because it spoke to Jews and non-Jews worshipping together, which was unheard of then. He talked about how the Catholic Church had been a leader in the world when it comes to inclusion. And the more he talked, the angrier I got, because that has not been my experience. As a child, I watched my beloved aunt not be able to receive Communion because she’d been divorced (from an abusive husband). I was a young adult during the sex abuse scandal. It was demoralizing, to say the least, to see the Church rush to protect the priests, not the children who’d been abused. And now, as a mother to three, including a beautiful, kind, funny little boy with Down syndrome, I have been made to feel unwelcome at Mass more times than I could count. Invariably, people stare at him. Not just the second look to confirm that yes, he has Ds (we’re used to that), but protracted staring. If he speaks or gets even a little antsy, the stares turn to glares. My son doesn’t shout, but he has a speech delay and yes, his speech sounds different than other people. He loves choir music so he sings along, which earns us more negative reactions. NEVER, not one blessed time, has ANYONE in our current church or the last ever spoken to him kindly, or had an encouraging word for him. Our son also has a blood disorder that meant he was too immunocompromised to attend church, among other things, for nearly two years. That period was a really hard time in a lot of ways, but I have to say, it was a relief not to have to deal with the stress of worrying about how he’d be received at church. Now that his blood counts are better, rather than one of us coming with the other kids, we’ve all been going. But between the frosty reception, the antiquated wording of the prayers that makes them even less accessible, and the hypocrisy of the Church crowing about its track record for inclusion (my final straw moment), they’ve lost me. I’m done. I cannot expose my family to this anymore. As much as I hate the notion of “church shopping”, that’s what we’re doing. I’m hoping to find a church that actually wants us there, that sees my son as the blessing that he is, and to hear a message about God’s love that jibes with how that church treats the world. I love the Pope, too, but his message is not being lived at our church.

    • Thank you for your honesty, Kate.

      I understand completely your frustration and sadness. Keep going. There are indeed great communities who are doing their best to show people the character of God.

      The place you find my be outside your tradition, but that’s OK. god is bigger than a building or denomination.

      Be encouraged.

  108. Nothing new here. All that has changes is that the Church is much less overt about demanding your money to pay for its gold-embossed crosses, inlaid-leaf stained glass windows, and a call to arms of the Middle Ages. The Church isn’t about you and me, it’s about the Church. Which is why things like the Catholic Church’s massive sexual abuse cover-up occurs instead of those criminals being outed, NOT protected by reassignment, and true reforms being made.

  109. While I can agree with a few of your sentiments, you’re asking for more of what has plagued the American church for decades…. Watered down theology, feel good truisms, and social justice aren’t going to draw people in (at least long term). Christianity is not a humanitarian mission to make sinners feel better about themselves, it’s to save sinners by the grace of Christ. The American progressive movement has compromised the mission of so many churches, making them political extensions instead of proclaimers of the gospel.

    • I would argue that what the American Church has also been plagued with, is politicalized, extremist theology, that reflects very little of the Gospel Jesus actually preached.

      Matthew 25 shows Jesus telling those who refrained from justice work, would not inherit eternal life.

      People on both sides of the extremes have clearly compromised the message.

      • I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to when you say “extremist theology.” There’s nothing extreme about the Augustine, and the reformers (unless you’re Pelagius).

        What brought me back to the church wasn’t some tattooed minister with an Obama t-shirt screaming about white privilege. It was John Edwards, George Whitfield, and the church fathers of old. So much of what we do in the American church has no basis in scripture, or even sound logic. Everything from the alter call to praise and worship….to ordaining gay bishops to appease interest groups.

        Obviously we agree that the church has been politicized, but from two very different points of view.

        In studying church history, you’ll find many accusations lobbed at the church have literally word for word been the same as those 2000 years ago.

        • Glad that’s what brought you back to church, but I can assure you, it’s exactly what has pushed hundreds of thousands away.

          You’re presupposing that your tradition’s or your view of Scripture is the optimum version, and that the way you decide it should be translated into the Body is too.

          I think that’s a dangerous place to be. It’s where the Pharisees lived.

      • I’m not presuming anything. And I’m not going to appeal to authority to make my case. Pharisees? Nice straw man. My view of scripture isn’t based on the affective instability of pop culture, or catchy hashtags.

        The doctrines of grace don’t drive people away. It’s the human heart that innately resists the Holy Spirit. This however underscores an understanding of human nature where we probably won’t agree. In fact this whole line of discussion is just rhetorical masturbation, unless we acknowledge the conflict of philosophies.

        My church and denomination are growing. It’s certainly not because we look like an urban outfitters. There’s something attractive about the boundless grace and mercy of Christ, regardless of who you are.

  110. I hope everyone can find a church they love to attend–one that fits their unique needs and a place where their gifts can be put to good use. It’s all about relationship. Having said that, however; you can get into Heaven without church. You can’t get into Heaven without JESUS!!

  111. John…I commend you for your posting here. It really hit home with me…and here’s why.

    The first part of October, 2013, I left my ex wife after almost 5 years of marriage. I was distraught and seeking not only physical, but spiritual help. I immediately called upon the Elder and the Pastor of the church that I was attending. I, at this point, was homeless, hungry, and my soul was aching. The Pastor told me to call the Elder, so I did. What came out of his mouth destroyed me. “Be safe. We’re praying for you.” What did he just say?

    Before all of this happened, I was the Lead Usher for the church…always carrying out my duties beyond what was asked of me. I cut the 7 acres of lawn every weekend without complaining. I prayed with people and assisted wherever I could. To hear the Elder say that destroyed me. Needless to say, the Pastor never reached out to me, either.

    While sitting at a bus stop trying to stay warm, I opened my Bible and it lead me to James 2:15-16. This scripture is about Faith, but it also applied to how the Church (and the members therein) should act. My heart hurt at my church turning me away.

    Since then, I stopped going to that church and really doubt I will ever enter another church again.

  112. Mmm this was a great reminder for me right now.

    I’m part of a team that’s planting a church on the campus of Central Washington University this fall (if you’re interested, I’ll be posting about our time at and it’s all too easy to get caught up in the presentation of the service rather than just relentlessly pursuing loving relationships with these people. I’m hoping Part 2 includes some encouragement for churches who want to make a difference.

  113. I found this interesting, but also disappointing. Disappointing for two reasons. One is, that, though you may not have intended it, you have described a situation that seems particularly American. I’m not saying the same sort of things don’t happen other places, but what you have described does not resonate with my experience in the U.K. – even in my local area. And two, you have allowed no space for churches that are doing what you hope in some measure to be acknowledged.

    • Thanks, Neil. You’re right. Sometimes I can only speak directly on my experience as an American Christian. I suspect there are still churches elsewhere have some similar traits, but I get that it is a limited perspective.

      I will try to feature some of the great churches out there. Thank you!

  114. I agree with most of if not all of what was written in here, so my question does not come from a point of defense but more of one seeking clarity. How did the author arrive at this conclusion? How did he arrive at these five things? Was there surveys done of individuals who have left the church, conversations with a large group of people who have done the same? Were these revelations from God and the Holy Spirit? I only ask because they are made as definitive statements, but at the end of the day are just opinion and are subject to the same scrutiny as an individual who holds a completely opposite position.

    • Jeremy,

      This is a subjective piece, though one informed by 18 years of in-the-trenches ministry in local churches; of hearing thousands of stories of people who have left or want to leave, and of meeting thousands through this blog. This list is also informed by lots of reading, as well as conversations with pastors and former pastors.

      Of course it’s opinion, but that’s why it’s my blog. It’s based on my experience, and in the case of this post, is ringing true with tens of thousands of people, so while it could be critiqued as opinion, it’s one that echoes many peoples’ realities.

  115. I so agree with all of these points. Unfortunately this paints with a broad brush and lumps “the church” into one big group.
    One things for sure if we lost the church tomorrow the world would be in a a lot of hurt. A high percentage of charities, nonprofits, food banks, hospitals, Third World outreaches, clean water projects and a host of other life altering initiatives are started by churches and these would all disappear if the church went away.

    It’s easy to find out what’s wrong with the church and unfortunately a lot of those who control, lead and promote church culture are not listening. But one things for sure, reform is needed not revolt. Human beings never change from external pressure they change from within because all meaningful and lasting change comes from within. The church will never change with pressure from the outside it will only change when something takes place within its walls. The only people that will change the church for the better will be those who remain determined to heal the church from the inside out. Leaving the church will communicate a message than hopefully will be heard but real and lasting change will only come when those who are committed to the church stick with it and bring reform because all meaningful and lasting change starts within not from outside pressure. As frustrated I get with the local church and the institutional concept of people gathering together to worship, I remain committed to it because I never seen anything that makes an impact on the world like the local church. As sick as it may be it’s still the best solution to sustaining the planet making a better world.

    Christians that operate as solo agents can do a lot of good but nothing compared to the collaborative effort of Christ centered community.

  116. Pingback: Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1 by john Pavlovitz 8-15-14

  117. Or….maybe some of us are just deciding that believing in god and jesus, and participating in their churches has been a lot of wasted time. We choose to shake off religion and its churches. We choose to live now; instead of waiting on some life that comes later. I mean….I guess some of the things in this article might be true, but…… aren’t you tired of all of these conversations? I am. A lot of us are. And we’re done. I genuinely hope that all of you will choose to enjoy what life is left.

    • I’m tired of these conversations, but I still believe they’re worth having, because I do believe that God is real, and that there is more than here and now.

      I’m not willing to believe that this amazing life that we have, simply happened, and so I do seek beyond it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  118. I have so many thoughts on this. Had a pastor tell our study group that we too often skew our focus of “church”. It is not about us. It is about praising our Savior and if we praise Him with every pore in our body. We will be so saturated with His grace that we would live and treat people how we should. We would know the great God we serve and do His will. Unfortunately the “church” is made up of sinful people. And I am one of them. I often forget to share His love, compassion and grace. Grace is free….but it came at an incredible price and I should never forget that.

  119. Hi John,

    Wonderful article. I think it’s a beautiful thing you are asking for and I hope that you and others can fuel a church/community where the words are real and the people sincere. I hope that you can convince some to stop their cultural wars and spend their time taking care of each other. At the end of my journey with Christianity I was most definitely turned off by both extremes: mega churches who spent insane amounts of money on entertainment and spoke unendingly of how ‘cool’ and loving Jesus was, and small conservative churches who spoke too much about judgement, hell, and hate. However, I think that you have missed a key fact here that the church cannot change: many people in my age bracket (25 -35) grew up in churches. We feel at home in churches; church people were our families. We speak the language, we love the songs, and we enjoyed the experiences….but we have stopped believing in gods at all. In fact, many of us miss church, but we can’t participate because we can’t pretend. We have read , re-read, and investigated the Bible and other holy texts, and we have concluded that all of the talk, and the prayers, and the scriptures, are not worth spending time on. We have concluded that religions are man-made, and while we do not want them to disappear, most of us are very happy to see that churches and religions are becoming less relevant. We hope to raise our children in a different kind of community; we hope that they will not feel left out because they do not attend church. We are agnostics and atheists, and no matter what becomes of the church, we are not going to become Christians (or Muslims, or Jews) again. What we long for in this moment is for our Christian family members and friends to accept that and accept and love us, regardless of our decision to leave religion behind.

    Dear readers; if your children or grandchildren have left the church or religion entirely, please know that their reasons have been well thought out. It is a very difficult thing to do and most do not take the decision lightly. Please respect them and love them, even if their beliefs are different than yours.

    • Thank you so much for the eloquent, thoughtful words, Shannon. I am very aware of this reality, and am actually writing something about that now.

      I know there are many in, and just outside the church, whose faith is nonexistent, even those in church leadership. In many cases, I call them “closet Agnostics”.

      I also believe that many people who have come to the conclusion that you have, have done so after thorough, careful, passionate, and long study, seeking, discussion and prayer. Many Christians choose to wash their hands of people, condemned them, or dismiss them as “lost”. I refuse to do that.

      Thanks so much for sharing this. Please stay in touch here, or through social media. Glad to know you.

  120. It’s not about church, it’s all about Jesus. Your opinion of why people leave the church is humanistic. When you find Jesus, He changes your life, attitude, and goals. So what goes on at church is not what it is about, it is going to church to be a blessing to God and others. Keep hopping from church to church, but you really need to find the one true God and His Son Jesus.

    • That’s easy to say, but not practical. Thousands of thousands of people leave churches all the time, and it isn’t always that they haven’t “found Jesus”. Often they have found him, but to keep Him, they need to leave.

  121. If you go to church for the church, then you never had a real relationship with Jesus in the first place. If you left christianity, you never had a real relationship with Christ. Satan likes you to to turn your back on Jesus and his followers because he wants people to follow him instead. You’re either for God or against Him. I’m for Him, and praying for you, that Jesus will remove the scales of lies and deceipt that Satan has put there and that you’ll see Jesus for who he is. But you have to be willing; he won’t force you.

    • Vickie, a little preachy here, and also a little too simplistic.

      For one, I am still part of the Church. To say that I have “scales on my eyes” is presumptuous on your part.

      Also, I know may people with great, vibrant, real relationships with Jesus, and yet their interaction with people has damaged them enough that they do not want to come back. (Many have commented as such here). To say whether a person has a “real relationship with Jesus” is a fairly arrogant place to live from.

      I can be “for God”,and still not be pleased with His people or His Church.

  122. There is another side. Some of us want the traditional church that loves people and does service. The funky wild, Wild West show does not appeal to everyone. The young and unchurched find this appealing and it gets them in the door which we all want. The show brings many to Jesus, again what we want. It’s just not keeping some of us.

  123. John some of what you say is true but this shoe does not fit all churches and people.
    There is still generous Christians in the world. As a matter of fact Christians are the most generous.
    If the church you go to does not feed you spiritually then find another one.
    Perhaps you should read a book By Thomas Rayner. SURPRISEING INSITES FROM THE UNCHURCHED.
    True today there are those who say they are Christians and have no real clue what that means. JESUS HIMSELF HAD 5000 FOLLOWING HIM BUT TURNED THE. AWAY.
    The real problem is as one Muslim convert said. “In Islam God is a big circle and in that circle you are small dot. Everything you do revolves around God. Christianity the individual is the big circle and God is the small dot. If Jesus was walking with these people today do you think he would turn them away?
    As a pastor of a small church. I have knocked on doors, traveled to hospital s in the middle of the night even when I had to be at work that morning.
    Tell us John are you knocking on your neighbors door? Are you feeding anyone that’s hungry? Do you read your Bible everyday to learn more about the one you say you love? Do you talk with God everyday and give him thanks for his son? Until he becomes the big circle that you revolve your life around you will continue to be unsatisfied.
    You see the Church was never meant to be a place that keeps you happy but a place to share each other’s burdens.And yes many places who call themselves a church have gone far away from what church means. A church just means a gathering of people. Home, Office, or where ever. Satisfaction and happiness comes from a personal relationship with him.

    • Certainly doing those things; leading a house church community that reflects the heart of Jesus well, but I’ve also been a part of the big American Church machine, and see that in addition to doing what we can on the ground here, that I can and should use this forum to create a bigger conversation.

      Thanks for your contribution.

  124. Pingback: Church: Who even is John Pavlovitz? | Freezer Stew

  125. One of my friends said it best, so I’ll paraphrase him here: “If the church needs to change, then it is you or I that need to change.” You want a different church? Start building it and stop expecting everything to be handed to you on a platter.

    • Not everyone has the time, the means, or the experience to build a church. There’s a wide chasm between wanting to see change, and “wanting everything handed to you”. Many people simply would like to be heard.

      Having said that, that’s exactly what we’ve done; start a church, and we’re still part of The Church.

      Yes, change is an “inside job” for sure.

  126. The church grievance list the author presented comes mostly from a ‘what is in it for me’ mindset. Plus it was painted with a “I want to be a better Christian than you can help me become” spin. There is no need to defend the church against that other than reminding readers that regular church attendance is more about giving and not so much about taking.

    • You’re assuming that everyone who has been damaged, mistreated, or excluded, have all been people who simply have a “what’s in it for me mindset
      “. I think that’s incredibly disrespectful.

      • For the most part I read your first person telling not someone elses. I meant no disrespect to others and so I won’t allow you to use that angle as a shield. Your penmanship here clearly had a “what is in it for me” mindset. With respect, if I am wrong and may have missed something that should have tuned me in then please be specific about what I may have missed (quoting from the story) that would be a person described as damaged by the Church. My word search found you began using that descriptive term “damage” for ‘feelings of discontent’ in response to comments. You used it once in a fence sitter damage control sentence but that is not an instance of the Church having damaged a person. I am keenly interested in what I overlooked that would give you cause to accuse me of being disrespectful about others being injured. I wrote of negative response to your article, that’s all. I simply don’t agree with you and many others here that your article was as great as you think it is. There was little need for your defense mode to kick in but the smart in your articles 3rd sentence hinted that it would. Thank you for trying to help.

  127. All valid points, John, but you missed one…and it’s the most important one. The world, singularly due to the ease of sharing information via the internet, is becoming informed at a rate never seen in history. Gods don’t make sense anymore. We know how and when the earth came into existence, we know the sun causes the wind to blow and that there is no need to claim “god did it” when we don’t have an answer for why or how something happens. THIS…is why people are leaving the church, and the rate of apostasy cannot be decreased.

    • I’ll disagree here, Gene. We still can’t explain how matter came to be; how whatever began things, began it. So no, we really don’t know how the earth came to be; that is, what was before whatever Science sees as the beginning.

      I see Science as clearly demonstrating a complexity and order that can only be explained by something outside of the system. For that reason, it’s a God story; one that is completely compatible with Science.

      Thanks for commenting!

  128. Who is the Church??? ALL OF US! I believe, we get out of church, what we put into it! To blame it on others is unfair!! Choosing to stay out of church goes against Biblical teaching!! If you are not getting what you need in one church, I am sure there are others that will meet your needs! We definitely need to show love to everyone! I think it’s sad that anyone would use this as an excuse to stay out of church!! When we give up, we let satan win!!!

    • That’s a little like saying, “You’ve been abused in your marriage, but keep staying married, or at least, go get married again!” People have real, sensible, earned pain, and often that pain has come from a people or system that represents God.

      I’m still a pastor, and am still here, but I never begrudge someone who cannot reconcile the stuff they’ve dealt with, and a church that represents God.

      So while this blog seems to attack the Church, it’s as much letting people who are hurting know that someone hears them.

      Thanks for the comment!

  129. I hear your worries and annoyances based on your observations of a few churches. I have a very emotional reaction to your blog. I really hope that my comments below will help you just as your blog seeks to help others

    Firstly, I feel really sad that you seem to have not been able to find a church where you can meet with God together with other worshipers of this amazing Savior. Surely one of the main reasons to go to church is to meet with our God. I believe if you have not experienced a church where God is, you have only been to a club meeting or a show. I think if Gods not there, then why should I be. If there was a sign saying that the gas station was out of gas I’d go to the next one that had the fuel.

    Secondly, I feel let down by my family who just walk away seemingly with no real desire to communicate their concerns. If love is something we should be living then it works both ways. I’m not going to leave my wife and kids because I don’t like how they talk and sing or because they do not see the poor and the needy as I do. Surely we work it out together even if sparks fly.

    If we are in Christ as Ephesians says then we are part of the same body. WE are on the same team. You can shout things from the sidelines. but nothing changes till you get back into the game and work this thing out together. Ephesians 4 is very clear about being eager to maintain unity and being built up in love.

    I’m praying for people to meet God every Sunday through Saturday. Whether inside a formal planned meeting or out on the sidewalk of someones office. Like Romans 12 says about being living sacrifices.

    Jesus be glorified! That should be our hearts cry. I hope that you can see that the problem is also with those who leave. Maybe they should never have joined the club and found a church that enjoys God together or maybe they should have stayed and worked things out together in love.

    We are on the same team. We always will be.

    • Great stuff, Lawrence. And yes, I am part of two weekly church communities, yet I see the pain and dysfunction, and still wrestle with stuff, not to mention counsel people all the time who want to leave or have left.

      There are beautiful communities and great people everywhere, so this is definitely not a hopeless situation. I simply want people who may be oblivious to the problem, to know that it exists; that many people are leaving, and to ask them to consider the wounds and needs of others.


  130. @johndpav, I’m just now joining in the conversation after reading the article. Like several of those respondents who are now in their 50’s, I too cut my teeth as a young follower of Jesus in a Charismatic mega-church that is exactly as many have described here. It had all the trappings: super star pastor, latest technology, loud and rockin’ worship music, a youth department with all the latest video equipment and enough free pizza to feed a small army. Yet, as I matured, I found all the razzle-dazzle and the populist teaching to be quite shallow. Ten years after graduating from their particular brand of Bible college, which was just as shallow, I found myself yearning for something far deeper. This yearning put me on a long path of discovery. I began to ask myself, was I being rooted into the fresh soil of God’s love for humanity? I wanted to engage in something meaningful, lasting, and fruitful for Christ.

    And so my journey put me on a path in search of a deeper Christian faith community, one that is more intimate and caring. But I couldn’t find one. Later, I became an ordained Anglican priest after I discovered the beauty, symbolism, and interaction of the Anglican liturgies. It was then that we (my wife and I) decided to plant a very different sort of church in a city full of mega-churches. One that would embody what so many others were lacking. Something more ancient in practice and yet spiritually enriching and vibrant. Something that was centered around the Communion table and yet went out into the world with good news! Something where people became ingrained in each other’s lives on a daily basis, not just on Sundays. Something that was intentionally small and yet willing to serve each other and the community around us. A place where people could explore the kingdom of God without restraint, where Christ is the center of the teachings.

    This amazing, caring, compassionate, loving and radical group of disciples worship God together, Democrat next to Republican, young next to older, black next to white, ex convicts next to grandmothers, cancer patients, drug addicts, and an occasional Goth eating together, caring for one another, serving each other. We are truly a band of misfits. But as their pastor, it is the most beautiful thing to watch and participate in. And God gets all the glory!

    • Love this, my friend. So glad to hear about communities like this.

      Would love to visit you if I’m ever nearby. Please share where you are.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

  131. The church is so varied, each with different problems and successes. Your broad brushes here cover some of the problems, but I know so many churches and Christians that are doing really well in these areas, and some are still struggling and some are seeing real breakthrough.

    Changing our services and language might go so far, but I believe that these are periphery to the wider problem…where’s God? Yes he’s working, but I think we’re so busy, so half heartedly submitted to him, so seeking our own comfort that he cannot work at his fullest. We are not letting him.

  132. Thanks for the article. I agree with you.

    Question: if the government shut down your church today and didn’t allow it to open its doors ever again, who would miss it?

    Seriously consider this question, if the answer is those who attend, then it’s nothing more than a social club for people who call themselves Christians. If the answer is the community surrounding the church, non believers, businesses, the elderly, the afflicted, the poor, then that IS the church of Jesus Christ, no matter the denomination or creed.

    • GREAT stuff, PJ. I recently had this asked of a pastor who asked it about his church, and I know the answer was convicting, to say the least.

      Thanks for this, and yes, it’s a question all churches should ask. I may write a post on the question, if you don’t mind!:)

      • Sure John. I “borrowed” it from the guy I consider my pastor. I too have left the church after years of “service” I however, have not left God and my relationship with him is deeper than I could have ever imagined previously.
        I get a lot of my bible teaching from

        God bless you in your journey.

  133. I have left a couple of different churches. Grew up Catholic and found little of walking the talk. Found little real compassion and bigger churches seems to be the mission. Then when the issue with some Priest assaulting children and the church tried mightily to try to cover it up was the end for me. Changed to Methodist and found a lot of the same attitudes towards bigger is better and very few words or actions living a Christian life Daily. So I try my best to live a Christian life without any church..

  134. Yes, Jesus hung out with lowlifes, prostitutes, and outcasts, loving them right there, and also calling them to repent, leave their sinful ways behind, and change their lives to ones of righteousness. Are you saying that Churches who welcome anyone & everyone, and then encourage those people to make changes for the better, are somehow bad?

    “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but exhorting one another; and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
    Hebrews 10:24-25

    • I’m saying that we all are lowlifes, prostitutes, outcasts.

      We all have junk in our lives, and yes we all even have stuff that we refuse to give up, repent of, and leave, if we’re honesty enough to admit it.

      I’m saying that Jesus warns us to ask that the measure we use against the sin of others, be used for ourselves, and that Paul reminds us that we all have sin and all fall short.

      Too many Christians define SIN as “The bad stuff that OTHER people are doing.”

      No matter who you are or where you are, GOD is the only one who can do the changing. My suggestion, is that you trust God to do in someone’s life whatever He decides to do, and dwell more on the change that may or may not be happening in your heart and mind.

  135. Pingback: Why I’m not leaving the church. | Jessilyn Justice

  136. “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”
    (Proverbs 18:17)
    This is argument by assertion. It’s protest without accountability. A comprehensive understanding of churches everywhere; wow, now that IS quite a feat. At the end of the day, no ones’ excuses; no ones’ complaints will be with churches, church goers, or church leadership but with God and He seems to love His Bride–which is The Church. I’m sure it feels pretty good though ripping on the myriad of nameless, faceless churches “out there.” The Church is flawed to be sure; after all it is comprised of flawed people–that’s precisely why we need a Savior. And yet in spite of it all, the Lord uses we flawed people to save those who are being drawn. At the end of it all the complaints and criticisms and excuses will not be with the Church–it will be face to face with the Living God and I don’t see anywhere in the Scriptures which I have studied now for about 40 years and have read cover to cover for most of those years annually, anything that would be affirming of the complainer who will face God saying, “They, them, those, the others, or the Church said or didn’t say, the Church did or didn’t do…” The Lord rather will say, “Let me show you YOUR life…”

    • It doesn’t feel good to say anything negative, but sometimes things need to be said.

      The Church is an institution, and with all institutions, there are abuses of power, drifts of vision, and pockets of dysfunction. Technology allows these conversations to happen, and they should.

      It does feel good to see tens of thousands of people, sharing these pieces, and telling me their stories, sharing their hearts, and being encouraged to stay connected to The Church, because they see that someone does indeed see and care.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  137. I don’t have problems with anything you said and actually agree with most of it. I have a problem with one statement: “Jesus hung out with …” The truth is that Jesus hung out with His followers. Yes, He spent time sharing His love with the unlovable but don’t ever get the mistaken idea that He “hung out” with them. Jesus spent most of His time with His disciples, those who desired to follow and obey Him.
    I have heard people use that statement to encourage us to spend all our time with unbelievers but that is contrary to Scripture. We are to spend our quality time with the church as exemplified by the church of Acts. Yes, we are to go out to the world. Yes, we are to spent time sharing the love of Christ with those who do not know Him and who we view as the “unlovables” (I hate that term). But the church exists to exalt the Savior, to encourage one another, and to sharing Christ crucified to sinners. Let’s not forget that.
    Also, one comment mention Jesus turning water into wine, this phrase has been used over and over as a blanket statement to justify the use of alcohol. Jesus never condones the use of alcohol and the miracle is a weak justification, in fact, the Bible is full of Scripture that warns of the destructiveness of “wine or strong drink”. Please be aware of this.
    Thank you for this article. It can help open some eyes to the needs of the church.

  138. Mr. Pavlovitz,

    I am deeply saddened by this post and the response some have given. Forever we will be in a spiritual battle with ourselves to make the right decision for our family. This is where extraordinary instances take over that we can only rely on through faith and prayer, answers are found through our Christian upbringing.

    Thousands are leaving the church everyday, but please do not fail to mention the thousands that are coming back as well! I am Catholic. I to can understand how easy it is to run from something we do not understand and realistically the Bible is not something easily understood and that is why we have Pastors, Lectors, Priests, Worship Class, Bible Study, on and on to try and understand it!

    I am a Catholic Apologist, meaning I do my best to provide factual, convincing answers to people’s question about Catholicism. Through these facts I believe ring true throughout the Christian World not just Catholicism that those who are searching for God stop looking within but look “UP!”

    In direct response to this post:
    Understand that this is in reference to many of the churches like Christians. Its all about the entertainment but with no substance. I believe this is what happens to people when they leave the Catholic church(or have not found the Church.) They find there is no substance, no Eucharist, no sacraments. This is what separates the Catholic church. We receive the actual body and blood of Christ. It is then up to us as to what to do with that in our daily lives.



  139. Nail…head. Perfectly said. Thank you for writing what so many of us (I, for one) am thinking. It helps to see someone else put it into words.

  140. Here’s my take on this: 1) Agree Sunday services have “gone to hell in a hand-basket, basically meaningless 2) Churchy language IS offensive, even to lots of folks who attend regularly, let alone those who don’t. 3) Agree We do need to interact with the unchurched more, but I’m not sure of the best methods 4) Disagree. These are just the pop-culture and left wing “causes”, and have little relevance to the real world. Wake up and notice how they’re deceiving you. 5) Maybe you haven’t noticed all the good the church does in the world today! Do some research on Samaritan’s Purse, or Catholic Charities or Texas Baptist Men, or Samaritan Ministries (different from S. Purse). You might be surprised!

  141. This is very interesting. The thing that confuses me is that Point #1 and Point #2 are talking about churches on TOTALLY opposite sides of the spectrum! One is a “mega church” and the other is a “traditional church”. The thing that people get so caught up in is that the “church” is made up of people just like them…trying to do right…trying to do good. Everyone THINKS they’re doing the “right thing”. The only difference is, some stick it out, and some leave b/c they’re “offended” (for lack of better word) that they may not get along with everyone there or may not “fit in” or there may not be others with “like beliefs”. The truth is, there are probably many others who feel the same way you do. (Not necessarily YOU, but the inclusive you). People don’t go to church b/c of “church people” but they’re no better b/c they stay away and then “judge” church people for “talking churchy” (which btw I know alot of “church talk” is just people quoting scriptures…and then they get criticized for it.) You have to hold on to your OWN beliefs and convictions and “let everyone work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” as the Bible says. Most people don’t agree 100% with everything their spouse says or does, but they don’t leave them b/c of that. They both have common values and that’s what holds them together. You can’t just say, “well, they do this wrong” etc. and leave. Those people are still your brothers/sisters in Christ and while you may not agree on everything, that isn’t a reason to “forsake the assembling of yourselves”. It’s not up to you (again, not necessarily YOU) to say that this church is doing this wrong b/c they aren’t “reaching out to people like me”, etc. Ok, I wrote way more than I had planned…sorry

  142. I love your post. And I know how you feel, but I also know God lives, he speaks today, and he does not do it through theatrics, or hide behind entertainment or coffee bars, he is not afraid to deal with the messy and the difficult, he offers peace and speaks in the quiet moments, his living water quenches thirst amongst the drought. I feel his love and his strength and peace as I daily turn to him. God is not silent, nor does he speak from the past. He has the answers to the questions you are looking for. There is a light amongst all this darkness, and it is still, and always will be Jesus Christ. If you want to know for yourself you can contact me.

  143. I love my church but rarely go. When I do, I leave with a headache due the the WAY to loud music. I also feel that I am just a random face in the crowd, even though I do know many people. I love going to my in-laws church because it is smaller and everyone knows everyone.

  144. If the government shut down my church (building) today and did not allow it to ever open its doors again? . . . Hmmm . . . . At least a few of our neighbors, including some who are Buddhist and Moslem, would miss us because of our ESL program that they may attend or volunteer in, the privately owned, but excellent church-housed Montessori preschool and daycare (educational philosophy resonates with Christian understanding of every child as a child of God with wonderful God-given potential), the playground out back that is open to all neighbors in the “off-hours”, the interest our church members who live in the neighborhood show to other neighbors, the availability of our facility for community functions. The pastor and members of the church would find a way to be loving and caring to each other and those within our sights who had needs we could address, to gather for devotions and fellowship, to pray for the world, to give, even sacrificially — of our time, our financial means, our energies, etc. — in an effort to help people according to their needs and to make the world a better place. The existing members of our small community also would not have the constant headache of having to keep up the building.

  145. Please don’t imply that pacifist is inactive. While I appreciate the “Church, we need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial, and pacifists in the face of the terrible.” Line, I feel it would be more accurate to say passive rather than pacifist.

  146. Someone famous once said of the church, “I hate her and I can not leave her, I love her and I can not live in her in peace.” As for my experience, spot on. When we begin to live the words attributed to St. Francis, “Go and preach the Gospel, and only when necessary use words” then we will be a consuming fire that transforms the world. Otherwise we are a spiritual equivalent of the Water Buffalo Lodge (Sorry Fred !!) a social club with nice statues and shiny things that will eventually pass away.

  147. Pingback: Why People are Writing “Why People are Leaving the Church” Posts | D. A. White

  148. John – I saw your Part 1 on a friend’s wall this morning. She posted it knowing some of her Texas friends might be upset or even angry but she knew many more were going through something similar. I was one of those and when I read your blog post, the words just jumped off the page as if someone were staring into my soul. I was so moved and so understood in that very moment – I wanted to go outside and scream my head off – YES YES YES!!!

    My story is probably not much different than many others for all the reasons you stated but even more reasons – seeing first-hand how so many people in the church who are either clergy or employees of the church do things that are unethical, how they treat those who have lost jobs – even going so far to say that if they were living their life right, this wouldn’t have happened. They ignore those who are hurting – from financial struggles, marital struggles, death of a loved one – or in my case many of them within a 2 month period, and a whole host of other struggles. And these are members of the congregation who attend regularly, give regularly and serve the church with their gifts. I’m not even talking about reaching out to the community and the world to help with all of those things you mentioned.

    I could go into detail of all of the things that happened to me over a long period of years but it took me a very long time to forgive and even longer to let go. Being brought up in the church, I was very active as a young adult, then as a parent. I was going through a great deal of these painful things when my girls were growing and as they matured, I shared some of my pain and what all happened. My daughters both understood and also understood there was much wrong with ‘church’. I left the church for awhile but would always go to church with my daughter when we visited her church in college, then in DC where she interned, in Nashville where she received her MDIV and now in Atlanta where is now a Methodist minister. The churches she attends have all been loving open, welcoming, and very much ministering churches who are more out in the community than they are in their own building – much like you said things should be. I know these exist but they are far too few and far between.

    After years of being away from the church (but having a much closer relationship with God than I did when I attended church), we joined a small church about 5 miles away with a congregation of about 30. I was home. I had let go of so much of the pain the church had caused me and thought I had found a loving church. The minister would preach about how we needed to be in the community helping people – with after school programs for kids, feeding and clothing people who need our help, opening up our building (since it’s so empty) for programs such as scouting, AA, and other organizations who need places to meet). He felt we were called to serve. So did I.

    Others in the congregation – more the ones who have lived there for generations and had given lots of money – BIG money to the church wanted to build a building. They wanted a new nice big brick building. You know – if we build it – they will come. There was not ONE person who ever attended under the age of 40 so how could they have grown the church? There was a huge screaming fight after one of his sermons talking about this – him not agreeing with building a building and preaching from the Gospel. I couldn’t believe my ears – screaming, name calling, and even fearing there might be punches thrown. We went back and showed our support of the minister but the congregation began their witch hunt calling everyone getting everyone on their side to get rid of the preacher. They succeeded and we never went back. Anywhere.

    I thought I would become involved again after we retire and move away but next year is retirement and we are staying put in Texas because of elderly family living close. I miss the church – the ones like I know there can be – the ones my daughter attends. I asked her once why she would spend 10 years of education to become an ordained Methodist minister since she is not a pulpit preacher but more in missions – bridging the gap between church and community. She said simply – to be a vessel for change. I pray these changes happen. For all of us whom you so eloquently spoke of.

    • Thank you so much for this. I appreciate you sharing your story.

      I know that for every loud voice screaming that I’m making this up, or that the problem isn’t real, I know there are a thousand stories like yours, most of whom are never heard.

      Thank you very much for reaching out!

  149. You can criticize me for Christianese, but I’m talking to church-goers here: Church is not an image to portray, not a political voice, not a show/entertainment, not a game, not a “culture,” not a way to make a living or to make converts, even. Shouldn’t it be genuine, real, worshipful, growing, sacrificing, vulnerable yet safe, forgiving, fellowship? If it’s not, change it for the better starting with you… or find one that’s Word centered with the power of the Spirit at work changing lives (not just showing off). But understand from the very begining the church has been full of conflict (see the book of Acts). Living a life of evangelism and making disciples (in obedience), we need to know the Word well and we need one another, despite our screwed-upness. We need to not forget God’s character and promises, like we tend to do, with the whole world lying to us. We need the testimonies of those who are overcoming (and there ARE many and always have been). We get our strength to live sacrificially and victoriously from the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word, and our Jesus-likeness by excercising forgiveness for the people we hang out with. For church to work, our minds need to be engaged, and our hearts need to be willing to be humbled. Church sure doesn’t work, though, for those who want to get through life as easily as possible.

  150. Sounds to me like you are talking to the mega churches. The independent baptist church I went to is small and involved with all sinners. Doesn’t matter what you look like, smell like or dress like. But don’t get it confused, pastor Wayne will call you on your sin. Not directly but through a sermon. I quit going because I live with my girlfriend. I need to marry her before I return to church or I’m a lier in my own eyes. How can I go to church and knowingly break one of God’s covenants. I can’t so I stay home until I marry her. So all of you that are leaving the mega churches find a small church that will call you on your own sins and fix them. Then be a blessing to others.

  151. From where I am living this article is spot on and describes the church I had been attending almost to a fault. They do “reach out” to their community and have big events (complete with media coverage) but fail to minister to people in their own flock that have supported them faithfully for years. Several families that have been there for 40++ years are leaving and nobody in the church seems to even care !!!! I have had 7 surgeries in less than two years I have spent hour upon hour struggling alone and pretty much all this church has offered is to say they love me and are praying for me but that even a phone call was not something they were able to do. Love the article…. thanks for sharing.

  152. Amen to that – you have hit the nail on the head. I am a committed Christian but I don’t go to Church mainly for the reasons stated above. If you don’t conform to the ‘standard’ whatever that is, you aren’t told but if you transgress then ostracisation, in many subtle ways, occurs. We are constantly told of how we need to support the church but I have seen very little of the church supporting either their own people or those outside.

  153. Here’s my problem with this article and every person blaming the church for all sorts of issues. The issue is not the church, its the people in it. People today have such a selfish “church is for me” view. Yes, the church has its issues. There are prideful men and women leading congregations all over the country. There is entertainment in some. There is lack of depth in others. But where in Scripture do you see a “checklist of church qualities?” You dont. But what you do see is alot about challenging people to be Jesus. To share the Gospel. To serve. To be externally focused. I believe most churches preach this to their congregations every week, but people dont get it, or refuse to get it. So in return, churches start entertaining to try to get you to understand. They make the stage look cool to try to grab your attention. But those things arent the problem. Its that people continue to ignore the heart of the Gospel. So people leave. As a pastor, I will do whatever it takes to make Jesus famous. Maybe instead of leaving the church, you should become part of the solution in the church.

    • where is your congration
      . I for one will attend. I’v been to many congregations in the past 15 years and have not found one likes yours claims to be.I hope you are right,but seeing is beliveing God Bless You Pastor

  154. I agree with all of what you have said, especially about the church becoming all about entertainment. However I since an undercurrent of discarding any talk about sin? The line about voting Democrat increasingly stands out when you consider most church’s preach against them because Democrats support anti Christian stances such as abortion, gay marriage, talking churches etc. I’m just curious if you believe we should only hold onto the warm and fuzzy things of the new testament while casting out any thought of sin and conviction.

    • Sin is a funny word. It’s a word we like to use when taking about those we might want to exclude, disapprove of, or see as morally inferior to ourselves. It’s not a word we usually use as a mirror to our own lives.

      If you see Democrats as inherently sinful, then I guess you’re comfortable lumping an entire half of the population as sinful. I’m not willing to do that. There are lots of Left-Championed cause that also seem to reflect the heart of Jesus: equality, compassion, caring for the poor, honoring for the environment – I’m not sure jesus would call those “warm and fuzzy” ideas.

      In any event, if people have genuine sin, GOD will determine that, GOD will convict them and GOD will do what HE desires to do in them. You and I can do nothing spiritual, only God can.

      The problem with many church folk, is that they talk and talk about the “power of God”, and yet seem fixated on doing His job.

      • John, to quote you:
        “The problem with many church folk, is that they talk and talk about the “power of God”, and yet seem fixated on doing His job.”

        WOW! You really nailed it with that statement! What I have experienced is that many in the Church are trying to take the Holy Spirit’s job away from Him! Or as the Scriptures say in Mat 23:27 – For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

  155. Reblogged this on you can call me lauren and commented:
    One of my professors who was once a missionary to the people of Argentina once told me that the people there believe that you have to earn your right to speak to them or preach to them. In other words, you better form a relationship with them before you start telling them what or what not to do.
    I agree with this mindset wholeheartedly.
    How do we draw others into the light and love of a Savior worth knowing if we don’t show them His love and grace in our daily living??
    ~A church-goer who has wanted to leave

  156. While the overall point of this is true, from the need for love to seeing beyond the drywall and the stuffed wallets that helped build them, there is one big, bad issue with this article – and I hope the reason is not “willful ignorance.” It misses point 6 which should go something like this… “You forget that Christ changed lives, so you don’t share that part anymore.” I want to be VERY clear here. The point that Christ met people where they were is very true. In fact, we can quickly change this to “Christ meets us where we are now!” But here’s the other part of the gospel. He loves us unconditionally, but blesses us justly. He beckons people to leave where they are and FOLLOW HIM so they may experience His blessing. It is an if and only if kinda’ deal. Get that? People have the option to stay at the well (John 4 – nice metaphor for longing and thirsting) or to leave their nets (Matt. 4:20 – nice metaphor for bondage to sin). HE DRAWS, AND HE CLEANSES; and although we who are saved still struggle, it is our love for Christ (which came after salvation) that keeps us struggling to change. It is for Him. We want to please Him. That is why we change – because He beckons us to change. Sharing the ever present love of JESUS CHRIST that has the POWER TO CHANGE LIVES according to JESUS’ WILL will take care of itself. It will draw people in. I have seen it. What I hope and pray is that the author of this article is not aware yet willfully ignoring the fact that people’s lives are changed when they decide to follow Jesus (not speaking financially as many preachers do). This is THE MOST missed point in Sunday sermons when the show is big and flashy. It seems to be a bit of a trend. I see no break in that trend in this article. SIN KILLS (Only God can judge me? He will). CHRIST ALONE SAVES (Very popular message). WHEN SAVED, LIVES CHANGE (most people don’t truly want to leave their sins). What does He save us from? A very real damnation which separates sin from a beautifully perfect God. This is the WHOLE GOSPEL which built the church in the first place and will sustain it now. May Glory be to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life forever (a bit more of that high-follutin’ churchy talk for y’all.)

  157. I thought the Church was the Bride & Christ the Bridegroom?
    Yes/No? Wait – theological speak isn’t allowed according to this article. It’s all jargon.
    This article has nothing new – complaints about flashy lights, production, money, numbers etc ad nauseum.. The article is unnecessary. It’s a letter you write because you’re cheesed off – but you don’t send it!
    If you don’t like your church – move.

    Or maybe change what you like! There’s a point that John didn’t add to his article.

  158. There’s nothing new in the article – in my personal opnion.

    Do we love to attend a concert by – say – U2, Coldplay or Rhianna?

    We love them cos we only get to see them live once every 5 years.

    What if U2 were your pastors & church band? Exciting?

    Every week – the same show – the same songs – the same Bono banging on about the poor in Africa (a good cause by the way)…

    This John guy would be writing the same article in no time. But he’s not writing the article about U2’s show now….

    U2 would be a novelty…for 5 minutes.

    In addition, 1000s of people are (paid up) members of football (sports) clubs. They sit in the same seat every week – watch the same players run around (although some retire in time) and the same game is played – usually singing the ONE SONG! Only ONE SONG!!!!!!!!!

    I am yet to read a complaint letter to these sports clubs about their “show”. I am yet to hear of a Liverpool FC complain that they no longer wish to sing “You’ll never walk alone”.

    The pastors I know are genuine, caring brothers & sisters, working within the Bride of Christ. Yes, she isn’t perfect but she’s BEAUTIFUL!

    Personally, I’m in love!

    • I want a show from U2 and Football games, not from the Church. Not sure why that’s hard to understand.

      One is entertainment. The other is spiritual shepherding.

      P.S. I find more spiritual food at many U2 concerts. 😉

  159. Pingback: A Response To ‘Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You, Part 1′ | Thou Shalt Think

  160. I think it’s sad that Christians are attacked by you… Other Christians for not being accepting of earthly things.. Christ tells us we are not part of this world. We are different, we don’t fit, we aren’t the same. I have been blessed to be part of many churches that accepted anyone, didn’t care what they looked like as long as they wanted to hear or learn about Jesus. The best thing satan uses against Christians is the, you can stand up for your beliefs, you can’t believe how you feel lead, if we think it’s wrong. You can’t be political… No no no… Not Christian. Yes yes you can, how on earth tell there is any difference if we Aren’t different then them? Why accept Jesus at all? You know every other show on TV or movies portrays Christians as stupid and God a fairy tale. Don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites has been used by the lost and backslidden for ages. Where do you think those people need to be? Are they not allowed? Well then… Who? And the hot button, gays, drinking, smoking dope, sleeping around, pre-martialsex. It’s ok because now it’s not politically correct? That’s why there are problems, watered down messages, preachers scared to preach the truth or Someone will be offended. I don’t care anymore… Because I have God to answer to… And He’s pretty clear about sin and not sinning and seeking forgiveness and sinning no more. Accepting sin is not the answer, loving people and telling them about Jesus. Jesus will move hearts.. Jesus Slavs not us.
    And for the grandparents that don’t go to church because they are tired and did their time. You don’t realize just how much your actions are noticed by your kids and grand kids… They are watching and your actions speak louder then words.
    Sorry this is so long, I’ve heard it all and been called names and hated because I am a Christian… God deserves out best

  161. I spend alot of time with Jesus it is in these intimate times with him we are changed.For he is Love it relationship most people don’t want to spend the time to get to know the person who understands the most.There is in church today a soulish worship hipes you up then there worship where the glory come down and where change the anointing breck the yoke.People are hunger for a genuine move of God they want to see Jesus not man.But trust me we are on the verge of the greatest out pouring of God nothing is going to stop it and no man will get the glory.It will fill like when you are so undone as the word say.Best we can do at this time to prepare is humble are self cry out to the father with all are hearts ask to cleanse use created a clean heart restore a right spirit renewed mind. This is serious time seek the Lord.

  162. Pingback: Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1 | PLUNGE

  163. You should visit our fellowship. You would find it quite different. We don’t own a building. We don’t meet in the same place all the time because we move around. Our resources go either directly into the people we help, or, they are used to help proclaim the gospel. Feel free to contact me!

  164. Interesting read … this post and many of the comments captured my attention for quite a while tonight…but all your generalizations just seem so schizophrenic and inaccurate. I’d like to find something helpful in it but just can’t. Most of the “rock show” churches I know have a very low percentage of their staff and ministry energy focused on the Sunday experience and a very high percentage of their staff and ministry energy focused on the midweek day-to-day lives of hurting and messed up people. You’re just never gonna hear about all that because it’s all very sensitive and confidential. They’re also spending a significant amount of time organizing and equipping the people of the church to love and care for other people in between Sundays. Sure, Sundays in those churches might feel like a production but Sunday isn’t the church. It’s simply a gathering of the people of the church for celebration of who God is and what he’s done. The church is working at it’s best during the week in small groups, around kitchen tables, at the local soup kitchen, in the confidence of a pastor’s office. You say “church” but it feels like you really means “pastor” or “preacher.” Don’t drag “the church” into this if you have different idea of how to be a pastor. And, it seems as though you’re implying that “the church,” whether that’s the Sunday experience, the Pastor, or the people, should appeal to your preferences (and that of others like you) for 1) style, 2) language, 3) vision, 4) convictions, and 5) values. Seems to me that one person’s “rock show” is another person’s “encounter with God.” What is perceived as “church speak” to one person is experienced as an inspiring “message worth sharing” by another. Furthermore, people enter and exit the church for all kinds of reasons. You may be speaking on behalf of some of those who have left the church but certainly not all.

    I’m just saying there’s a lot of over-generalization here that quickly becomes useless when you really break it down.

    My prayer would be that how we discern our God-given call and vision for our churches as pastors would not be expressed by our reactions to the things we don’t like about other churches but rather our response to the needs and culture of our own community.

    • Thanks Jim! Yes, in 700 words, oversimplifications and generalizations will be inevitable. Just hope to start a conversations where people are. Glad that’s happening!

    • Jim, wonderful insight turning it back inward. Truly we may feel the burden as pastors and perhaps it is in fact our own unwillingness to leave our buildings and our preoccupation (and justifiably so) with the Sunday event. May we have the courage to own our own junk and equip and encourage the congregation to be the church in the world. The gathering will look different as the church does her job in advancing the gospel in society. I appreciate your thoughts brother.

  165. I have left the church I have attended for thirteen years, because I feel there is not enough caring of people, unless you are either the right age or in the select inner circle. The pastor is not a shepherd, seems to have not much interest in some folk, certainly not in me or my family, and I am returning to my Anglican roots, a community, family church close to my home, and really hope there will be more genuine interest and concern for people! We will see! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect people to beat a path to my door, but in a recent serious operation of my husband, so few people bothered to check on him, and the pastor was not one of the few. No wonder people move on. For a long time now, I have found more comfort, encouragement and love in watching Songs of Praise each Sunday morning, best half hour of the week!

  166. Reblogged this on Everyone Has A Story… and commented:
    I rarely reblog anything on this site, but sometimes I run across something so powerful and perfectly conveyed, I have to share it. Since we’ve been talking about churches and their glaring problems, this fits right in.

  167. Talk about white noise. All the crap posted on the internet. Turn the electronics off for a while and have a conversation with a live person.

  168. Some of these observations are accurate, some aren’t. The church has exploded outside of the West in the past 20 years. The evangelical church in the West has held its own.

    It is the Roman Catholics, the Orothodox, and the mainline denominations that have taken the biggest hit. This is due primarily to a lack of evangelical fervor and a low view of Scripture, resulting in major compromises to historical Biblical Christianity.

    The seeker church (consumer church) among evangelicals has dumbed down their Christian education and moved away from worship to performance and entertainment in an all out effort to be culturally relevant. This is largely failing.

    • I think we could all write a book on how churches have done or NOT done to us. I have been a christian for over 45 years…spent most of my time in the church doing this and that. Things are very different now. Gadgets in churches now, new technologies, new music, people are different then all those years I’ve been in church. Do I agree with all of it? What I feel is the biggest thing missing is that the LOVE in the church (the body of Christ) is grown cold…(you see them in church with big hi and then you see them at Walmart and they like try to run into the other aisle so they don’t have to say hello)…the pastors have changed too (once upon a time they were all in your face telling you what you should and shouldn’t do and now total opposite….) Members are given handouts (exp: money) but not taught how to manage it. Parents have children in church that are rude and disrespectful…(no one want to teach a class on how to raise your kids cause you might offend them and then they would leave or maybe they just dont see it or don’t care ) but it makes it hard on other people to be there. Many times I would like to stop going …but the verse saying: “Do not neglect your assemblies” Heb 10:25 comes to mind.
      I love my Lord and want to obey in the little things…..So the things that bug me or don’t see eye to eye….I look up and say “Halleluia none the less”

  169. Pingback: Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1 | Deenakdrowaln

  170. The response the Church should give to this article is simply: STAY IN AND HELP US CHANGE! If the problem with your Church is the expression of its theology, you can cop-out and drop-out. Or you can work with others to accomplish change for the better. This last statement is an expression of the Christian idea of “fellowship.” If, on the other hand, you have a problem with Church theology, this is much more difficult to change. Churches tend to restrict the content of their teaching and won’t tolerate for long what they consider false doctrine. This conflict seems to me to be a legitimate reason for disfellowshipping. It is quite possible to have a satisfying spiritual life (living, growing, and using your gifts) outside the confines of a public, structured worship community.

  171. no church is perfect. people aren’t perfect… but the church i go to is real…authentic…sacrificial. oh yea, we mess up all the time…but…
    1. our sundays look like a production. they do include lights and a band and sound. but don’t judge so quickly. our worship pastor uses all volunteers and has four bands. he uses what you call a production to reach and love and disciple dozens of people. sorry but not every production is what it seems.
    2. we use a foreign tongue. words like sin. repentance. obedience. prayer. holiness. grace. mercy. hope. joy. love. gospel. eternal life. not of the world… the language of Jesus was foreign to his audience. Just read John 6. people completely misunderstood him. but like Jesus, we try to come alongside people with the Word and show them the life of Jesus and the ways he lived and described. until one is born again, they have a heart of stone…the language of the church ought to be the language of Jesus.
    3. we could do so much more. but we have left the building. but we also gift our building and land to the city. voting. scouts. neighborhood groups. fitness classes. birthday parties. reunions. anniversaries. weddings. soccer clubs. banquets. parents night out. and we have left the building… ministering in word and deed in our city with hundreds engaged in life on life servanthood in schools, after school programs, mentoring, feeding the poor, serving in shelters, and even housing homeless people. it is in most communities the church doing the work.
    4. we are at war. a cosmic battle of eternal proportions. and yes, we have gotten caught in trivial pursuits. i didn’t pick the fight, but i am a part of it. and my neighbor and community is not my enemy. the world, the devil, and the flesh are. so i have to ask, with a society succumbing to what is so destructive, as outlined by God and His Word… is sexuality worth fighting for? is marriage worth fighting for? are abused people worth fighting for? are suicidal teens worth fighting for? are single parents worth fighting for? are poor people worth fighting for? i know you think they are. and many churches are on the front lines.
    5. love. oh the church needs to be more loving. but don’t confuse real Jesus kind of love with the tolerance movement of if you loved me you wouldn’t judge me and let me do anything i want even if my Savior says its wrong. Jesus healed and loved and delivered…but he also said to go and sin no more! isn’t it loving to tell the teen who is looking for attention by her or his dress that they don’t have to do that because they are accepted by Jesus? isn’t it loving to tell the mom who cusses at her children that her words to matter? isn’t is loving to tell the man who tells racial jokes that he is out of line and grieving God?

    i guess i just wanted to say that here are so many imperfect churches out there who are seeking to be Jesus with skin on. we are imperfect. dysfunctional. make mistakes. but we are still the bride of Christ. I would just love to see more posts extolling the virtue of a body seeking to fulfill the gospel rather than generic attacks on the church. let’s be a part of the solution. be in a local church. make disciples there. and then send them to every corner of the world till the name of Jesus is famous and he comes back.

  172. Pingback: Church, Here’s Why People Are Leaving You. Part 1 | A disciple's study

  173. Very true and thanks for sharing. I can add to this:

    Because, church, you see people as guilty until proven innocent and put them on probation for a few years (to sit under the word) before they are allowed to use their gifts

    Because your leaders, especially younger women, lack sensitivity towards ‘normal’ people and don’t treat people right – I think power goes to their heads

    Because of the spirit of control to which you have succumbed and which makes you feel the need to keep people under your power and control

    Because your traditions get in the way of the power of the Spirit

    Because, contrary to scripture, you do not empower people to move in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit in your gatherings, but make them fill seats and empower your gifts instead

    Because you are teaching centres but call yourself ‘church’ and lead everyone to believe that this is all church is

    Having said all that, I love the real church, the people of God!

  174. Yes, Jesus went to the poor and broken, but His words were, “Go and sin no more.” Yes the church has many faults, but if they don’t expect you to change from the way you are and live like Christ, they are failing the message of Jesus. God loves you too much to leave you in the sinful life you are living. No one is perfect and that’s why we need Jesus.

    • Thanks, Dave! I will agree, however, it will be God, not the Church that does the work in people. We’re ALL a mess, so I think it’s time we allow everyone a place at the table, and realize none of us will be sinless.

  175. I’m sad for those that this is your experience with church. But some churches are really doing the work of Jesus Christ and carrying that message to our children. The UMC of REd Bank, NJ we work for LGBTQ rights, feed the hungry, work with the poor, help each other, we are a Greenfaith community and have solar panels on our roof, we donate to missions around the world, Support Africa University, work and house teams helping victims of hurricane Sunday, travel to Appalachia to help the poorest of the poor in our country, have a backpack crew to fill backpacks of hungry children on weekends STARTED BY CHILDREN, support scholarships to college, worship pretty traditionally so far and the list goes on and on. A church together to do the work of Jesus is a second family living and loving ALL PEOPLES just as God intended. And yes we are losing families. Our lives have become so crowded that God is no longer in the forefront for most families. Sports, needed sleep from our exhausting lives, crowded schedules technology and the over connected society. This and more lead to less people in worship. But Im going to keep working hard as The Children’s Minister to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and how alive God is in the world. God bless everyone; No exceptions.

  176. Thank you so much for this. I’m going to repost it several days in a row on Facebook. After 18 years in ministry as music/worship ministers, my husband and I planted and are pastoring a church for people not already in church. No productions, no politics, no building even. We’re a mobile church that can meet anywhere…currently in a community center in a “bad” part of town. It was a very difficult separation from what I refer to as “Church World.” We had every intention and desire to partner with and be an extension of the large church we came from, but despite initial support and confirmation, when it became clear we were not going to look or act like what most consider church to be (despite being very clear on what we were doing and why) we were rejected outright. I’m completely ruined for the type of church experience you describe in this piece. I could never go back. Being where God is doing something and going to where people are already is the shnizzle. After 2 decades in ministry, the yolk finally does truly fit and the burden is light and pastoring is a joy.

  177. I’m thinking since you have such a good handle on what is wrong with the church, perhaps you would be the perfect person to start the ‘right’ kind of church.

  178. I am very weary of the barrage of people attacking the Church and pointing out why they are leaving it. These articles are a dime a dozen. The Church isn’t the problem, self centered people are the problem. “I am leaving the church, the Church doesn’t give me what I want, I don’t like the music, I don’t like the sermons, I don’t like the lack of out reach.” All self centered and self righteous statements exposing why they are leaving the church, it’s all about them.

    The Church isn’t about you, or me, or us, the Church is about Jesus.

    Colossians 1:18
    He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

    Ephesians 1:22
    And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,

    Ephesians 5:23
    For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

    People can go ahead and leave the Church.

    1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

    Leaving the Church makes you the problem not the solution. True Christians can’t leave the Church, Jesus is the Church. When you make yourself the center of it and not Jesus that is why people leave. If you don’t like it change it, if you decide to leave, go. I will stay and seek Him.

    • Hope you don’t counsel hurt people by just listing some Scripture sound bytes and tell them it’s “their problem”; ‘stay in an abusive relationship”, “stay in a dangerous environment”.

      While you’re quoting Scripture, you might try: Matthew 9:36

      • I never said any of that.

        Stay in the church. The church is Jesus.

        If you think the Church is an abusive and dangerous environment it isn’t the Church you are saying Jesus is dangerous and abusive. Go find the Church.

        Man centered theology is where you are failing. All theology is Christ centered.

        Matthew 9:36 is referring to people with out a Shepard. The church has a Shepard he has come, he is now, he is Jesus. Try pointing people to him instead of themselves.

        • Think you’re a little off track in your theology as far as the Jesus/people/Church distinctions, but I know ultimately we’re on the same side, and neither of us owns the Truth.

          Appreciate you being here.


    Hey Friends.

    I’ve been overwhelmed with the reaction to this piece and its follow-up, found here:

    I’ve done my best to respond to each comment, however that has been nearly impossible over the last couple of days. I will be approving as many as I can tonight.

    I am grateful for all of your responses, whether they agree with the posts or not. The bottom line is that these are important conversations to have, and I’m glad you all are a part of them.

    Thanks again for your participation and support!


  180. If all the people in the pews on Sunday morning would simply go out and FEED the hungry, clothe the needy, help the poor and ailing and lonely – – there would be no need for this article, and a lot of world problems would disappear. In other words — it’s time to leave the building.

  181. Kay this is an interesting story, I wouldn’t mind receiving extended stories of it. I’ve went to lunch with mom (Martha) this past weekend, we had a great time. We went to the Zizziler,had a salid
    I just wish time wouldn’t past by so fast! Don’t you? Love and hugs. Lynn

  182. OK, I really think this speaks to many many people around the world. I especially like that the Church needs to go out its doors to the neighborhood and that it needs to show love and tolerance of those not like parishioners. I remember as a teen bringing my younger brother to church and overhearing ladies say what a behavior problem he was as a preteen and that he wouldn’t sit still. We stayed three weeks to give it a try after that, but then I never took him back. He was a kid and wanted to have an enjoyable time, not be bored. Now as an adult, I am sure that other people felt the same way. If this happened to us, I am sure it happened to others that didn’t fit the mold. Oh and I did have to look up the word ‘eschatological’, which hit your point of using archaic words.

  183. God said that He’d build His church – but megalomaniac and insecure leaders who are not fully submitted to Him always seem to want to build it for Him and predictably to the ‘expected format’ of the age or season. But God will ALWAYS find a place for those who desire and seek deeper intimacy with Him, even though they may have to wait a while until a door or opportunity is opened.

  184. “Can you love us if we’re not sure how we define love” /// Well, no, at least from your perspective. If you can’t define “love”, then, the statement “the Church doesn’t love me” has no actual meaning. It’s about the same as saying “the Church doesn’t xghjf me”.

  185. What? The church is imperfect??? Sarcasm may not help here … but I struggled with the church when I was younger. There is so much hypocrisy and you are right, NOT enough love. But isn’t that because they CHURCH is made up of human beings? If a church with a major rock star production on Sunday mornings is not your fit, find your home. Be part of the church that invites the “less desirables” and puts more emphasis on equipping you to love your neighbor and invest in your world. Vote for the kind of church you want by going to that church or challenging those around you in your church to look more like Jesus. I agree the church is not perfect. But that is the church …. when powered by grace the Church (capital C) is the hands and feet of Christ making a difference. I think you make some great points, but we have to take our convictions, because that is how God speaks to us, and transform ourselves, challenge our friends, impact the church? I think you could get further that way than bashing the church. Create grace and let it be reproduced, be a disciple maker and watch grace spread.

  186. Wow, spot on. Some of the commenters don’t see the difference between “Church” and “Christianity”. I want to return to a church but I will always follow God and Jesus, I just don’t need some sinner to look down on me for how I choose to believe.

  187. Quite a few people have put the time & effort into reading what you’ve written, thinking about it, and writing a response in which they disagree with you. Some you have responded to, but many you have not (the ones that I suspect are the most challenging to you), but I hope that you’ve at least read all of them, with an open heart and an open mind. There is much opportunity for you to learn and grow from what they’ve said. They have very valid points. I think that it would be very wrong of you to ignore them, or to be dismissive of them, or to think that you have nothing to learn from them. I hope that you’re open to the possibility that you could be completely wrong, both in what you’ve written here, and in general. I realize that much of what you’ve said is based on subjective personal impressions and perceptions, but even those can be incorrect when grounded in false presuppositions.

    • With over 500 responses to this post alone, I simply can’t respond to many posts in a meaningful way, especially ones that are extremely long (many are longer than the original posts themselves). It doesn’t mean I haven’t read them all (I have), or appreciated them all (I have). I enjoy when people disagree with me, actually!

      Any responses to the challenges will certainly be included in future posts.

      Thanks for your response.

  188. Amen (sorry for the churchy amen) but I agree 110%. Left the church I grew up in after I was ostracized for going through a divorce. Tried to go back but just didn’t like all the hoopla or the politics or the belittling or the hypocrisy. Yeah, maybe that makes me judgmental or a hypocrite myself as I know we are supposed to look at God as our example. But I don’t need to go to church to be good to people and live a good life and to love God. I also don’t need to go to church just to come home angry because of the way the “loving Christians” act. I’ve seen a post that said, “Going and sitting in church doesn’t make you a christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car”.

  189. Oh my god thank you. Reading this gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes because it is exactly how I feel/have been feeling for so long. Thank you. I’ve skipped all the comments because I know they would just drag me down deeper into this spiritual wasteland I feel like I’ve been in but this is so perfect. It’s speaking my heart so thank you.

  190. Hi, I was reading the article and I think this price is spot on for those who have a heart for God. I was also reading comments and I got through the first 20 or so and agree with the majority of them. Something that I long for in the church community, body of Christ, is for a real representation of Jesus. I’ve been in church for the past 13 years of my life and have been on 4 mission trips to Brazil, in fact just returned home a week ago. And as John put so eloquently, there is a very tangible difference in the churches here and out there.

    One thing for sure is that the hunger is different. There have been times when we would be at a church in Brazil with just a piano, guitar, a mic and a speaker and His Glory litterally pour out on people and you see a very real difference in the people. There have other times when a church will have all the nice equipment and lights and it seems like a show. But the flipside is true. We went to this one huge church in brazil that had bought a old theater and pimped that sucka out with the latest and greatest and I swear by the time worship was done there wasnt a human standing because of the realness of God in the building, and no one even spoke yet. I speak of Brazil because thats my only version of church I’ve been to outside of the US but it also taught me something. Jesus is real to those who believe and want Him.

    Im from Chicago where there is a church on almost every block, and I was privileged to be at a megachurch and was taught many good things there. So I know first hand of being accustomed to the showmanship of church. I grew up in youth ministry and when we all hit college age many of my friends left except a few. But those who stayed were looking for the real God that seemed distant on Sunday. And it wasnt because of the lights or hypocrites. It was because somewhere in our bibles that we carried was a promise that said if we looked for God, He would be found. And most importantly that God WANTS to be found. And I’ve seen that this isn’t a issue just in America as im sure many of you guys know. But its an issue with knowing the real Jesus and presenting in Him to an honestly ignorant world who just honestly doesnt know about the Truth of Jesus. Then it becomes about the Christians having a true and honest relationship with God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and not just one or the other as so many different preachers present. What Jesus did to change the world was being authentically Himself as Himself and challenged His followers to do the same. And if people didnt know themselves He would correct them (Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul, Abram to Abraham, etc..) and send them on their way. We as followers of this same Christ are to do the same. And then these sign shall follow: we will do what Jesus on Earth did and greater because they people now live in a different culture and generation, and yet be marked by love because that is how the world will tell the difference between the real and the pretenders.

    I agree with what John said here and present a solution to the problem of the church. The people need the real relationship with God first before adding things to draw people. Jesus didnt have any of the said resources that we have nor the influence on us to follow someone else yet still healed families, cities, nations, and changed their lives. And as evidence that it wasnt just Him, His disciple s did the same after He left. What i see across the world is people longing for the truth of God and really doesn’t care who gives it to them. Im no saint and definately do not think I am doing everything right, I have my mistakes too, as im sure many of us do. I dont think just because I do missions or am in church means im without fault, by no means. Just something I long for is that the Church to have a real representation of Christ. I believe thats what the world (and the Church) is looking for. At the core of this article, I agree with the authors heart on this issue…

  191. #5 plays on the old (false) assumption that Jesus told the ‘lowlifes’ He loved them, and then left it at that. No! He told them He loved them, and then said “go and sin no more.”

    • Not always. He actually said that to one woman.

      Sometimes he ate with them. Sometimes he listened to them. Sometimes he healed them.

      A couple times he fed thousands and thousands, without asking them to repent, pray, change, or deserve it.

      • Christ almost always followed the “both/and” approach. It’s not that he just ate with them or simply listened to them. He did this *and* he spoke to them about their sin (this is why I didn’t mention the healing or the feeding. These don’t quite apply, as Christ often healed someone to prove a larger point, e.g., He had the power to do so, ailments do not indicate sin, etc.). We can also look to the Apostles, who both fed the widowed and orphaned AND preached (St. Paul was so good at it, it once killed a man who fell asleep! Yeah he brought him back from the dead, but I loved that story as a kid).

  192. So, I was born and raised in a very strong catholic family. Church every Sunday all holy days, CCD weekly and I was forced to complete my confirmation. All of that “forced” religion when I had questions pushed me away from the church rather than raised me to love the church. Don’t get me wrong, there were aspects I that I did love. The sense of community, the fish frys, the bingo fundraisers. The pastor knowing all of us kids and talking to us on the street. It was all the “church talk” that bored me. And bores me still. I don’t know how I honestly feel about God, but I can say I don’t want anyone trying to save me. What is that term really anyway? “Have you been saved?” What The Church needs to really do is stop concentrating on saving people and instead concentrate on knowing people. Don’t push God and Jesus down people’s throats, instead push goodwill, love, trust. Stop making everything about Jesus and God and make it more about one another and the love of people today and now. Don’t tell me I should love other people because Jesus tells us to, let’s want to do it because it is better for humanity. Rather than an hour long “Praise and Worship” singing songs about “our lord” how about writing songs about peace and love. About caring for one another. About helping each other. Perhaps once people have found the love in their hearts for one another, the love for God will come more naturally. And even if it doesn’t, wouldn’t it still be a benefit to the community and to the church to have to those “non-believers” who still want to love and help one another, be a part of your church family in whatever way they can be?

  193. I see these kinds of posts from time to time about why people leave the church, and while I’m sure they are representative of many people’s experience, I didn’t leave for any of those reasons. I find that my reason is never listed in posts like this one.

    In my most recent church, I was frustrated with the politics and the lack of caring for the poor, but I stayed. I was not always fond of the music or the preaching, but I stayed. But when I came to the conclusion that I simply could not believe that the theology was true, that’s when I left.

    Before that, I had spent years as a “Christian with doubts.” asking questions and getting answers. I doubled down on my faith, studied apologetics, prayed for God to increase my faith, and genuinely tried to believe.

    But the answers were filled with logical fallacies, circular logic and confirmation bias. As time went on, I learned more, observed the world around me, observed the variety of religious claims and the claims of Christian theology, and I simply found that it did not comport with reality. However there was another idea that did seem to align best with the evidence: the idea that religions — all of them — are manmade institutions that evolve with culture.

    I found that it is futile to “try to believe”. I don’t think I can choose to believe anything. I can choose to attend church, sing songs, and use religious jargon, but I cannot choose to believe something which my mind is not convinced is true. (And boy have I tried! Let me just tell you that living in cognitive dissonance is painful.)

    At this point, I don’t have any reason to believe that any deity actually exists.

    I still think the church, (at it’s best,) can be a useful (human-created) social institution. I’m glad to see churches who heed your warnings and put less emphasis on fighting and more emphasis on serving the poor. I’m grateful for my experience growing up in church because that experience fostered my heart of servanthood, which I still carry to this day.

    But I can no longer bring myself to lie by singing words I don’t believe to a God I don’t think exists. Leaving the church was the only way I could be live a more honest life.

  194. People want a “feel” good Church……. sure you can talk to them plainly about love, and joy, and forgiveness, and death, and peace, and God, and they’ll be all ears…that’s why there are many followers of the “feel good” television shows.

    But many don’t want to hear the REAL deal in the Bible……………or it’s not all about making THEM feeling good………it’s much, much more……’s about GOD……and yes, the wrath of God…..keeping the Ten Commandment.

    People want a show …..instant gratification but all they really need is to read and heed God’s word…..just live by the word……… can lead a horse to water…but you can not make it drink………………what good is a huge Church if God, and the true word of God (all of it) is not there?

  195. Excellent article! I am happily de-churched because of some of the reasons listed in your article, and…….because of spiritual abuse from the pseudo-Christian cult of my upbringing. The information in the link below describes my experience, in part:

    And, here is a good link as well:

  196. “We see a Jesus in the Bible, who hung out with lowlifes and prostitutes and outcasts, and loved them right there…”

    This isn’t an uncommon excuse used by people who don’t want to take responsibility and give up their preferred lifestyles for the sake of following Jesus; and in fact, this statement in itself seems to be the embodiment for not being a part of the church. However, here’s why this poor excuse does not hold water:

    1) he’s Jesus, which means
    2) his EVERY actions were never without intention or selflessness, and never done without God’s direction, which also means
    3) he was seeking those to follow Him, and if THEY CHOSE NOT TO,
    4) he shook their dust off his feet and went on his merry way, in search of those who would, as God led.

    My advice for anyone: Find a local church, stop pointing fingers (for every one pointed out, there are three more back at you), and master following Jesus in every way the Bible commands… Then there shouldn’t be a problem with Jesus’s church, nor people who are making excuses not to be a part! 🙂

  197. I’ve recently moved to a more conservative church for 2 main reasons – solid teaching & inclusive community. “The church” is 2 things the building/ organisation & the mass of people. Unfortunately I think a lot of the congregation have forgotten they are responsible for how they treat the people around them on a Sunday morning & how they extend that into the week. No matter the size of the church or what programs are provided being in a church where you are seen as a individual, known and are able to share both the joys & the struggled is what keeps people in a church. And sometimes the disatisfaction is just a product of our own pride and selfishness. Leaders need to facilitate ways for relationships to grow. But the congregation needs to be prepared to commit for the long haul. Most don’t. Stuffy old fashioned churches won’t discourage an outsider if they feel loved & accepted by those already in the church.

  198. I think you have stereotyped here, just as the criticism often is by those outside of Christianity. Is there legitimacy to some of your statements…..absolutely. And there are a few bad apples in each congregation that may not necessarily represent the church body or Christ’s desire for what we should be. But that is true is all walks of life. Ultimately each must choose the church home that is right for them. And as much as those in the community and as a church family witness and desciple for Christ, it is Chist himself that moves a person to seek him.
    We have a saying at our church at the end of each service…… “Now go out and BE the church”. It’s not the building that is the church, it’s the people that make the church.

  199. I’m having a problem with items 2 and 5 here.

    2) Christians speaking a foreign language. Because you haven’t given examples within the article, I’m not sure where you’re proposing Christians draw the line. If the complaint is with biblical words like salvation and sanctification and righteousness and holiness and sin, well I think it’s fair for Christians to explain these things, but it’s silliness to remove them from the vocabulary. If it’s not that, then what are you talking about, and how might we remedy this?

    5) Christians and love. As a Christian, it’s my experience that non-Christians have pigeon-holed me as an unloving self-righteous bigot right off the bat, and decide that I can either adhere to the bible or I can be a loving person, but not both. Yeah, Jesus spent a lot of his time with prostitutes and tax collectors, who were perceived as practicers of extortion. But he didn’t spend his time condoning prostitution or extortion. He adamantly rebuked these behaviours. A lot of people, in my experience at least, expect that if you see immorality or foolishness in the way they live, that you’re their enemy. If you’re intentional in redirecting anyone outside of the flock to God’s morality or God’s wisdom, then you mustn’t love them, or so the mantra goes. It genuinely feels as though people only want to hear about God when God reinforces the way they’re living, whereas Jesus’ love is extremely intervention-shaped (or do we think he allowed himself to be crucified just because?), and so Christ-shaped love is also intervention-shaped. People who don’t believe that there’s anything going on in their lives for which they need an intervention are always antagonistic towards interventions, and so will not see the love in it.

    I’m not saying that Christians couldn’t be more loving, in more ways. By and large, we certainly could, and therefore should. What I’m saying is that Christ-focused love will be received as hate by the majority of people, increasingly so as the focus on Christ increases. If you can think of a way in which a Christian can effectively say: “I love you. Stop sinning and come to Christ,” that isn’t offensive, I’m all ears. If you won’t, then it seems to me that this is just an appeal to stop taking Jesus so seriously in how we love others, which is to undermine both love for Jesus and love for our neighbour.


    Just wanted to thank you for all keep the dialogue respectful.

    It’s encouraging to see that people can have honest, passionate, conversation, without destroying or attacking one another. Good to see that even when we disagree, that we can do so in a way that’s honorable.

    I appreciate it .

    Thank you all for continuing to share here. That’s why this blog exists.


    • It really comes down to the if the church actually follows the Bible. It was foretold that “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will grow cold.” Mat: 24: 11,12. This means that simply the love of God period, would diminish. I’ve heard of many people question their religious leader about the Bible or have questions and their preacher can’t answer them. The preacher might simply say that God is a mystery, or they may even say, if you question me, then you have no faith.

      So it was foretold about false prophets and that badness would come and people’s general love of God would be gone, the Bible says, Acts, 2 Tim 3:1-5 “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here” It talks about how people in the last days would be, which is lovers of themselves, lovers of money, disobedient to parents, disloyal, having no natural affection, without self-control, fierce, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, and having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power. That certainly rings of truth for people today.

      Churches are part of the problem, but people themselves are also. We are supposed to keep on searching for truth, not relying on what some man tells us, but to find the truth from the scriptures ourselves. We cannot love God only through what a man tells us, God wants us to know him like he is our father and our friend. If every church was acceptable to Him then he wouldn’t ask us to keep searching for it as if we were searching for silver. “If you keep searching for it as for silver, and as for hidden treasures you keep searching… will find the very knowledge of God. Prov. 2:4,5

      Some churches teach that people who sin (even though every single person alive does) will burn in a fiery torment for eternity and the devil is in charge of this place. They use this threat as a way a causing people into having Godly fear. Many people hate this teaching, of course, why would they not. It is basically saying that God is not merciful or loving, for what parent even in today’s time would do that to their child? No one! Plus if someone believes in Hell, they are basically saying that God made an agreement with Satan, which is God’s enemy, to torture His creation even though it’s Satan’s fault all of us sin in the first place! How does that make any sense whatsoever? It doesn’t because it’s not a Biblical teaching.

      Many people think that God is to blame for our problems. It’s understandable though, they’ve been mislead. I’ve heard many people say that “it was God’s will this bad thing happened”, or “God doesn’t give us more problems than we can handle”. Basically, they are falling right into Satan’s trap and believe his lies and end up blaming God for their problems instead of blaming Satan who is the reason for it all. The Bible says, “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone”- James 1:13. If you really think about it and reason it out, why would God invite us to pray to Him about our problems and rely on him, yet he be the one giving the problems? That logically makes no sense. “while you throw all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you” – 1 Peter 5: 7 or “Throw your burden on Jehovah and he will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to fall.” -Psalms 55:22 (Jehovah is God’s personal name, Psalms 83:18). Also, one more thing we need to understand as to why there is so much badness, and that is knowing who really is the ruler over the world right now, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” 1 John 5:19

      If it is the true religion it would be global where it doesn’t matter what your nationality is. It would be united in it’s worship no matter what part of the world you’re in, no matter what you look like, what happened in your past, but where people genuinely love one another, where they are truly brothers, where they don’t take up arms in the military against anyone or anywhere else at all. The place to go to find the answers to the Bible’s questions, the most important life questions = JW.ORG It is a beautiful website where the whole website can be translated into over 600 languages in an effort to spread truth worldwide.

      Keep on searching, keep on seeking and it will be opened to you, but it is up to us individually. Sometimes though, we need help finding these answers “How will they call on Him if they have not put faith in Him? How, in turn, will they put faith in Him about whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?” – Romans 10:14

  201. As a non-Christian, I think the biggest problems with the “church” are the “representatives” of Christianity. The ones we see everyday on the television. The ones spouting off from the mouth with lies, judgement and general disrespect. People watch this and the good churches end up suffering the consequences via guilt by association.

  202. I really enjoyed this thought provoking article and the Church worth coming back to. There is definitely something missing. It seems like the broken are being forgotten in some churches. Some people don’t want to deal with messy and broken. I suppose I have been like that at times, but God is working on me through being broken and messy through some difficult years. The good that has come of those tough times is that it is easier for me to relate to those that are hurting and not feeling like turning to the church, and need someone to love them where they are at. Jesus went after the one that was lost and that’s what we need to let Him do through us. I have been reminded and convicted of this over and over many times lately.

  203. i never comment on things like this… and this article gives me pause because it seems to be broad brushing the entire “church” which is SO diverse.

    this seems to be focused on “some” types of churches but it can not be addressed to the whole church and be accurate.

    i wish when people wrote articles like this, they singled out the part of the “church” they meant to be addressing like perhaps the example given in “revelation” in the letters to the churches. each was directly targeted to a “specific” church.

    i think writing more specifically would be kinder to the whole “church.” i’m sure your concern comes from love and caring yet that’s not really conveyed well in your piece or it doesn’t come across to me, perhaps the same way you point out how the churches “love” doesn’t come across to others.

    i do believe you, like other churches you are mentioning do care yet somehow it is getting lost in the delivery.

    just my honest feedback.

  204. I agree with much of your article and it’s not traditional church that you are talking about I am sure, it’s today’s entertaining methods that are wearing thin. We and many more don’t want to gather as God’s people as Bis children to be entertained anymore. Sick of the structure and programming that has crept into today’s modern church in many instances. Jesus said actually commanded us to GO and make disciples of all nations. Celebrate and fellowship together definitely….sorry but tired of programs!!

  205. AMEN! I myself just wrote a post pointing out that folks have lost their focus arguing over whether or not you can be gay and Christian, when it is a question that is already clearly defined. The point is, how are you going to treat those gay people hungry for God until HE cleans his fish. We are havens of CORRECT DOCTRINE and we are sniffing each other looking for “phonies” when we should be about the Father’s business! Sure folks are deceived and in sin. They should be drawn TO us and not repelled BY us. I got news for you folks, in all of our correct doctrine, each group differs slightly. That means ALL of us have SOMETHING wrong! We are not judged by what we get wrong. We are SAVED by faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone!

  206. Your article resonated with me. In these past few years I have become more involved in many ‘extensions’ of the church, such as homeless outreach, inner city relationship type groups… etc (and my wife in prison ministries) but we haven’t gone to ‘Sunday Morning’ church in a while. So for us it hasn’t been about leaving the church, rather – we left the building. We don’t like the big show and the other things you described but it still has value. There is bigger issue at steak.

    If we really heard from the pulpit what it means to be a Christian… themes such as ‘not storing up wealth for ourselves, getting involved with people lives in the world, seeking justice, that being a Christian means ‘serving others’ – then there would be a large number of people who will leave… but a smaller group of people who are seeking authenticity would return or show up for the first time. But we need to remember, Jesus said ‘narrow is the way’. It’s narrow because the true Christian life is hard this side of eternity. Our western culture however, has made it easy. Currently we hear our church culture say it’s ok to live for God and for yourself at the same time. And I am not talking about drinking, smoking, dancing, and sex. I am talking about hording material goods and consumerism. Those are the accepted gods in our churches today.

    If these idols were addressed as Jesus addressed them while he was here on earth, the mega church mentality would shrivel up and die. Thanks for your article. There is no one single way to address all of the issues we face in the modern day church. Thanks for getting the conversation started.

  207. Reblogged this on Life In The Question Marks and commented:
    yep. The voices crying out are everywhere. As a dedicated church-goer/participate and volunteer leader, I grew tired of points 1 – 4 in my own life, and when I began to have doubts about certain doctrines and raised questions, I fully experienced # 5. Make sure to read part 2 on this gentleman’s glob as well.

  208. Pingback: Good Reading This Week | Northwest Leader - Brian Dolleman

  209. Some interesting points, there is some real nonsense going on out there, much of this quite foreign to my experience, thank God.

    Your post would be much more credible if you opened with decent grammar and language (‘sucks’ doesn’t help), but more importantly if we heard from God’s word on the matter over and above your opinion merely. The ‘stuff that needs to be said’ is the stuff that God says. And God says that He loves and promises to bless the church and build it as we follow His design (Matthew 15:16, Ephesians 4). He is immensely patient with us as we follow Him, even if we stray into a focus on buildings or blogs that neglect His precious words to us.

  210. I wasn’t able to read all the replies, so someone may have commented on this. My belief is that the decrease in attendance has less to do with the “show”, and more to do with how society has changed its view on Christianity. We have been called weak minded hate mongers. We have been told Christianity is a crutch and a scam. Hollywood and Washington have made it painfully clear how they feel about Christianity. Modern society seems to have trouble dealing with accountability. If I am a faithful and believing Christian, I find it difficult to knowingly commit sins. Being a faithful follower is not easy. There is a lot of guilt when you do things you know are wrong. So…If you decide that religion isn’t valid and relevant, you can do as you please without having to feel bad. Telling yourself that religion is hateful and self righteous makes it easier to do bad and immoral things. I am Catholic, converted 3 years ago and feel I have finally found the faith home that I have been searching for. But people repeatedly bash Catholics as being hateful and intolerant. They are not. Some of the doctrine can seem exclusive at times. But Catholics are some of the most mission oriented people I have ever met. Going out into the community and helping. There is also a very large church in my community that is growing exponentially! They are very much into the music and showmanship, but they are also very much into the message of Christ! I know the pastor and his family as well as many members who are integral to their Church. They do an amazing job of bringing people in who might be too intimidated to go to a more formal church. They have such great programs for youth, that actually teach the Bible and the messages of Christ. Not just entertaining.

  211. The problem goes further than that… Yes tattoos, drinking, and voting democrat automatically make you an outsider in many churches. But let’s be honest being “edgy” is cool and I know tons of churches where tattoos are the uniform. The problem I see is that the widow and orphan aren’t being taken care of… In our society it’s often the single mom and her children who have no place in the church. They simply don’t know what to do with us. We aren’t “single” as in just out of college looking for a husband and we aren’t married either. And our kids have great, huge needs! We have great needs bc we can’t be home all the time to take care of them. It’s an epidemic and it’s frankly overlooked. Also, many of us have been told to “persevere” in marriages where emotional, physical, spiritual, and yes sexual abuse are dismissed as “marital struggles”… Or a problem due to an non-submissive wife.

  212. Good topic. Was thinking, maybe God is also just hardening hearts in the West, as we had His truth and blessing but took it for granted and turned lukewarm. I’m not sure churches in China or India are that much more genuine per say, but people there are hungry for God, even desperate for Him, and the church is growing.

    If that’s the case, then yes we still need to work on improving numbers 1-5 in the West, but it would also be helpful to know it isn’t just us. So we can prepare for a season in the West where people hear and do not believe, and being a believer is frowned upon, even dangerous. If that’s what’s happening, it wouldn’t surprise me, because he loves us too much to let us stay lukewarm.

    He has a habit of that: giving us over to our sin, even hardening hearts, so that as we feel the consequences of our disobedience we will once again be hungry for God… even desperate for Him again.

  213. A church is a place to worship. It is free to anyone. Come as you are. We place to much emphasis on perfection in a church. The church is just a reflection of the people who lead it. Hopefully they are being led by God. If you aren’t finding that, find another church or start your own. Criticizing will accomplish nothing. “Better churches” come from loving hearts and servitude and applying the fruits of the spirit, not in complaints and fault finding. The church is not to blame for unfulfilled seekers. Only repentant, God seekers will find the true joy and comfort in church, and overlook the imperfections of man within those walls.

  214. Although I agree with the points entirely, the final note after I have to touch on. The Church is for all the ugly, including those that stir up these troubles. We have to view ourselves in the same camp as them, not separate.
    Now that I’m church-searching, I find I’m very wary of those same listed problems. But I also realize that I need to allow them in, to sacrifice my best sheep to the Church as well, not just my leftover spotted sheep. Our call is to love the Church as Christ loved us – that means sacrificing my anger at hurtful experiences and putting on grace. I’ve DEFINITELY not mastered it, but it’s a crucial part to finding a church home, and I thinkyou missed out on an opportunity to heal by not presenting that side.

  215. Allow me to make some suggestions. Going to get a bit bold here. Probably not too popular. I don’t care. Some here have mentioned Martin Luther (not “Jr.”) and the fact that what we call the Reformation is going to be 500 years old in ~2 years.

    Agreed, the “church” is really missing it. However, it is much beyond the present — “worship wars.” I’m a [confessional] Lutheran, we have a unique perspective. Check out C.F.W. Walther, and what he said in 1844. See if it does not apply to this very nanosecond. Also look up “From Sea to Shining Sea” via itunes. Free download, but will require sacrificed free time to comprehend. Also look up Frank Hart of CrossPoint Church in Katy, TX. He is a true expert here, and has studied this dilemma extensively. I think it speaks volumes alone, how he began as a Pentecostal, and ends up [confessional] Lutheran. To the chagrin of many, DOCTRINE does matter!

    My further suggestion is even bolder. Luther actually suggested (or alluded to) this himself in his day, before the phenomenon took root. Speaking to choosing “losing battles,” and “stop being warmongers with the trivial, and pacifists in the face of the terrible.”

    The “church” (particularly conservative ones) and “conservative” society as a whole need to recognize the State of Israel (1948), specifically the Likud Party for what it is. It is not wholly the “Synagog of Satan.” However, it is a paramount extension of it. This present “Israel” is not the biblical one. The prophet Amos and even Jesus himself explained that to us. For that debate/discussion I point folks to Veterans Today. I’m a veteran myself. I do care about this nation, and — the church. I am a warrior in both this “left-hand” kingdom/realm and the “right-hand” kingdom/realm. There is a spiritual battle/war and certainly a physical battle/war. We cannot escape either, until the Day of the Lord..

  216. Two thoughts. First, if you don’t understand Shakespeare it isn’t his problem. It’s yours for being too stupid. Get with the program. Second, I drink like a fish and swear like a sailor and vote solid Republican. Better to have the last person turn off the church lights than compromise one iota. Suck it.

  217. I’ll go back to Church when my LGBT friends are welcome (wholeheartedly welcomed) to sit beside me, when there isn’t some part of the sermon about “those homosexuals”, and when everyone (the divorced, the homeless, the adulterers, the Democrats, and all who want to be) are welcomed, no questions asked, no qualifiers. I’ve heard of churches that actually vote on and approve members (happened to a family member, it’s true.) Church, to me, is the one place where it seems everyone should be welcomed with open arms, and it isn’t. I don’t want political messages in the children’s Christmas play (actually happened), or to hear how evil I am or people I love are because they vote a certain way. Jesus loves everyone, but apparently the church doesn’t.

    • But do we get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we believe? If so, aren’t we creating God in our image instead of conforming to HIS ways? Not saying at all that we should hate homosexuals but that we should love them in the same way we love those we know who are adulterers, liars, etc. We cannot ignore scripture but we should do what scripture states by sharing the truth in love, whether we are talking to adulterers or homosexuals. The problem is that some churches are more focused on the sin of homosexuality than on other sins and this is not right. Your homosexual friends should feel no more uncomfortable than any other sinner convicted by scripture and the Holy Spirit of their sin. If, however, you feel as though homosexuality is not a sin and should not be addressed as a sin at any time in any sermon, how do you come to this conclusion if you believe the entire Bible?

  218. You are so right that people have been leaving the church. Your article mentions what the church is doing that is wrong but doesn’t address what they should be doing to correct the exodus. I am a strong believer that when people understnd HOW Christianity actually works, they become better believers. The church generally says things like”If you have problems in your life, you need Jesus!” and the non-believer may take a chance at this church thing to solve their problems. But, when their life situation isn’t solved to their satisfaction, they leave the church. However, if people understand that “It’s appointed man to die once and face judgment” and that judgment determines if you go to heaven or hell, they may take a different position as to why they need to attend church.
    When we are judged against the 10 commandments, we are found to be short on all accounts! We deserve hell based on God’s standard. However, for believers in Jesus Christ, even though we have fallen short on all 10 commandments and should be sent to hell based on our own actions, Jesus steps forward and covers our sins (i.e., similar to paying our fine in a courtroom)! Without sin against us, we are not condemned and are free to go to heaven. We have done nothing different than the non-believer (i.e., we have both broken all the commandments), but, by the grace of God for those who believe in His Son, heaven is granted! We need church to remind us that we cannot get to heaven on our own actions and that we need to try to sin less in the future because we can never be sinless on our own. If we try to sin less (e.g., don’t lie, don’t steal, bless others, etc.), we will be blessed more by God while on this earth. However, we still NEED THE PEOPLE TO KNOW that we need a Savior named Jesus for our afterlife!!

  219. Commentators who aren’t theologians have no business writing about the church, as they have no clue what they’re talking about. THIS uninformed individual starts with a completely false premise and his conclusions are therefore wrong in these ways:

    1) Sunday is a FALSE day of worship. Essentially EVERY “christian” denomination and pseudo-christian cult gets this wrong. The sabbath is Saturday. True churches don’t TRY to entertain, they TEACH. That’s why my ordained title is Rabbi.

    2) The language of God is timeless, and there are dozens of translations more modern than the King James version. What a profoundly dangerous, ignorant man! The message of the Bible is true, and you can’t change the truth, despite the efforts of thousands of years of men under the influence of The Adversary. What an shame! What makes you think intelligent people will follow your plan to dumb down the world and bring on its destruction?

    3) Every time we true Christians leave the building, WE are the ones persecuted. God doesn’t like homosexuality, abortion, and many other things we picket. WE ARE out in public, and we’re abused like no one else when we are. There IS hope for some of you, and there are fewer left every day. We’re working on it.

    4) We put on the Gospel armor and fight God’s fight. YOU ARE BY DEFINITION an Antichrist, and I’m about to stop casting my pearls before you, because GOD SAYS YOU ARE SWINE. THIS IS NOT MY OPINION; I AGREE WITH GOD. EVERY step you take on the wrong path is in the wrong direction. RTFM!

    5) It’s called tough love. I’m not calling you names; you ARE a USELESS LIAR and a pawn of SATAN. You get no respect, because YOU DESERVE NONE. No church advertises come-as-you-are unless it is of Satan. EVERYONE is a sinner, EVERYONE is guilty, and your arrogant assertions that you don’t need God will deprive you of his glory for all eternity.

    THE REASON TO STAY IS WE’RE RIGHT AND YOU’RE LEFT. If you don’t get it, you are literally a waste of our time. And we are told NOT to care.

    I pity those who agree with anything this man says or believes. You are about as lost as you can be. His initial assertions for why we believe people are leaving the true Church are dead-on, and I’ll include this idiot in my prayers despite believing there is any hope for him. THAT is the love we have – even those we WOULD judge get a break, since we AREN’T the judge. Get a clue, John Pavlovitz!

  220. I’m not sure what groom would accept criticism of his bride without offence. Even if the church has faults Jesus loves the church, He died for the church (Eph 5), it’s His bride. So you just wrote a whole article slamming Jesus. Speak truth, He is way more worthy than criticism.

      • I commented on this blog early on, and have been reading most of the posts and replies as they have gone up. I don’t pretend to be a religious person, but I have had an experience that might add something to the conversation.

        When I was 20 and my youngest brother was 10, our mother passed away. He was still attending CCD classes at our Catholic Church. Understandably, he was having a very difficult time, and was acting out in class (mostly just talking out, looking for attention.). The head of the education program decided to suspend him from class for being disruptive. That was it. Nobody came to us and asked if there was anything they could do to help him or us get through this very difficult time. I would have certainly spoken to my brother and handled the situation with love. I know he would have responded, because after I did get to speak with him about it, he changed his behavior.

        I went to our Pastor and spoke to him about the punishment, and he said to me something like…Saint Paul said, “punish the children.” (I think he said St. Paul…it was a long time ago.). That was that. I relayed the conversation to a trusted friend of mine…a dear teacher, who had become my mentor and also my friend. She was a Christian, and she told me that the quote was more like, “TEACH the children.”

        That to me, summarizes this entire conversation in a nutshell. Some believe that teaching is about punishing. However, any GOOD teacher knows this to be false. From what I know of the stories of Jesus (and I don’t pretend to be an expert,) Jesus was an example of a GOOD TEACHER.

        Inspired my my mentor, I went on to be a teacher myself. I’ve worked with some of the most challenging students, in some of the most challenging environments…children whose parent’s couldn’t care for them for various reasons.

        I’ve had many colleagues throughout the years, some who have been good teachers, and some who were not as good. The ones that were not as good always yelled at the children. They yelled out of their own frustration with being unable to get the children to listen to them. The ones that were good could silence the room with a smile. The children respect those teachers, because those teachers respect them.

        Notice that I did not say that the good teachers get good results because they let the children do whatever they want, or because they call out the child