12 Reasons People Leave a Church

Whether they’re valid or not, these are common reasons people leave their church.

12 Reasons People Leave a Church

Over the years of my ministry, I’ve talked to many people who chose to leave a church even though they still lived in the same area. Here are some of the primary reasons given for leaving (without commentary on the validity of each one):

  1. Relationship conflict. Somebody got mad at somebody else, and one (or both) of them decided to find another church.
  2. Weak preaching. A congregation will put up with a lot of poor leadership, but many—especially young people—will not long sit under poor preaching.
  3. Authoritarian leadership. Some leaders do not permit opposing views, and they expect everyone to follow in line. In turn, some members simply don’t stay under that leadership style.
  4. Poor children’s or students’ programming. Even though it’s not good, it’s one thing for adults to have little opportunities for growth; it’s another matter completely when our church provides little for our children and young people.
  5. Neglected pastoral care. Right or wrong, some church members give their pastors only one shot at pastoral care. If the pastor somehow neglects a need, members start looking elsewhere.
  6. Personal sin. Sometimes it’s easier to leave a church than to sit under preaching that convicts week after week after week…which also means it’s apparently easier to leave than it is to repent.
  7. Burnout. Members who are really faithful to a local church at times overcommit themselves based on the needs of the church. Few people are willing to admit they’re just worn out, so some will simply leave instead.
  8. No connectedness. Lonely church members—regardless of whether they’re lonely because the church is unfriendly or because they choose not to get involved—don’t usually commit for the long haul in a church.
  9. Congregational strife. Even if you’re not in the middle of the battle, constant conflict wears out even the best church members.
  10. Theological disagreement. Sometimes this difference is over actual theological beliefs, and sometimes it’s over moral right and wrong.
  11. Political positions. Granted, this reason is often more apparent during campaign seasons, but it happens.
  12. Perceived irrelevance. Members who think the preaching and teaching do not speak to the reality of their day-to-day lives will often seek that kind of teaching elsewhere.

I’ve written elsewhere about “Weak Reasons to Leave a Church” and “Better Reasons to Leave a Church.” Let me know your thoughts about all these discussions.

This article originally appeared here.

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .