12 Reasons People Give Up On The Church

Most, if not all, of us know someone who attended church but then simply gave up on God’s people. Based on my work with churches and the unchurched, here are some of the reasons I’ve heard:

  1. They see nothing different in Christians. They come looking for the difference the gospel makes, but they find only people who act like the rest of the world acts.
  2. They hear nothing but judgment. Presented lovingly, judgment is part of helping people see their need for Jesus. The problem is that they too often hear it presented unlovingly.
  3. They hear only stories and humor. They come to church desperately wanting to hear something from God to help them with their chaotic lives, but they instead hear little or nothing from the Word.
  4. Nobody connects with them. They may come with some desire to be anonymous, but most do not come with a hope of being ignored. When nobody talks to them, they see little reason to keep coming.
  5. They see no relevance in its message. Frankly, I lay this issue at the feet of preachers. If we don’t help folks know how to apply the Word in their lives, they leave with head knowledge rather than heart change.
  6. Somebody hurt them or their family. Sure, they need to forgive and press on – but some folks aren’t there yet. They carry their anger with them and depart the church.
  7. They have other options today. Via the Internet, they can “attend” church virtually and listen to sermons electronically. And, they can do that without putting on their "church" clothes.
  8. Everything is “over their head.” Nobody taught them the basics of Christianity. They struggle understanding what they hear – and they’re too embarrassed to ask for help.
  9. They’re tired of church drama. Some of the most ridiculous interpersonal fights I’ve ever seen have been among believers. It’s no wonder some people walk away from the silliness.
  10. Nobody answers their questions. “Just because the Bible says so” isn’t always the best answer for seekers who are asking honest questions in their spiritual quest. 
  11. They feel unneeded. They’d love to get involved, but no one’s asked them. As far as they know, the church doesn’t need them.
  12. They’re not ready for the commitment. When they really do hear the gospel, they hear its call to give up self. Those who aren’t ready for that commitment avoid its call by leaving the church. 

What other reasons have you heard? 


  • They feel condemned by their lifestyle. It seems that many who are living out of wedlock, etc. feel condemned no matter how gracious the message is.

    • Anonymous says:

      I feel like people “feeling condemned” is a fine line… On one hand, if they become part of a church, it IS part of the church’s responsibility to lead its members towards what the Bible says. If a church believes that living together before marriage is wrong (as most churches do), they do have a responsibility to point out sin in someone’s life. That is a big reason why church is important: not just learning, but also community that can help you grow in the right way.
      On the OTHER hand, no one should EVER feel “condemned”! They should feel guided. The problem is when someone says “you are judging me”, but really, they are feeling convicted, but have no desire to change.
      It is a very fine line, which is why it is important for pastors to study God’s word and figure out the best ways to walk that line.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Thanks, David.

  • Matt says:

    The lyrics to the music are not biblical and the music is too loud and the ‘worship leader’ (I still have no idea why they get paid) sings too loud or the leader picks songs that are too high to sing.

    Churches are cliquey now and you feel excluded.

    The pastor acts like a rockstar and only talks to the people who will make his church bigger.

    The church is no different than the world.

    There is no set beliefs in the church and the pastor can’t define them.

  • Anonymous pastor's wife says:

    As a former pastor’s wife, I totally understand why people grow seriously disenchanted with ‘church folks’. The unkindness, gossip, and rampant disregard for the Gospel in many churches I’ve been a part of made me want to walk out many Sundays. But the problem isn’t that Christians don’t know how to get along, in the South, the problem is that many in the congregation aren’t Christians. Unfortunately, the term Christian is painted with broad strokes so that people who are truly living for Christ (though not sinless) get lumped together with those whom I mentioned above. It’s a difficult and deeply imbedded problem where I live.

  • Larry says:

    Imagine a family in which all th church are found sitting around the table at the age of truth in diapers throwing fits because mommy and daddy didn’t buy their favorite brand of cereal. Furthermore imagine a father who liked it this way, this sick dependence. This is not too far from what I have witnessed in most churches I have ever attended. Wise people who love Jesus know that the problems with the very structure and aims of American churches are more than skin deep. Many churches are simply filled with people trying to be good and placing some kind of doctrinal robe on as a bandaid. And the Lord is not unaware of the role the professional pastorate play in all of this tomfoolery. A good father insists that his children grow up, but most ‘good’ pastors are content to have them ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Among the DONES are some sinners, but many of the DONES simply woke up and saw a woman in scarlet riding in the back of a beast and decided they weren’t going along for the ride any more.

  • Susa says:

    I’m 72, and haven’t been in a church for decades. Reason being I was told that I was ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘not in the modern Today crowd’ for the preachers were willing to ‘compromise’ with the World to open the doors to this Modern, Hip Crowd–the Rock-n-Rollers were welcomed. Media/Cameras/Cell Phones/Computers/MegaChurches/Rock Bands–the Future of the Church! There was a big movement to ‘Plant churches’. I’ve watched these men get their degrees, put on their clerical collars, take on titles as Preacher, etc. Some 300,000 men have done this I believe. One after another being ‘ordained’ and saying the Lord had called them all. What a sight to see! Everyone being ‘lead by God’ in various church doctrines and practices. I noted they all had things in common like desiring a Consecrated Building, White Weddings, Sacred Burials and Graveyard, Sunday Schools, Altars, Pulpits, Choirs/Bands, One Hour Services, and a host of various TV Programs and Overseas Revivals.

    That’s CHURCH! I always said, “If it takes all that to bring Righteousness overwhelming to America–go ahead, BUILD, BUILD, BUILD–A MILLION TIMES A MILLION CHURCHES WITH MILLIONS OF PASTORS. Preachers called me, A Lone Wolf, Disobedient to their Voices, Troublemaker, Unruly, Hateful, Trying to Destroy God’s Church, Totally Going to Hell…because I didn’t submit to THEIR VOICES.

    What absolute LIARS–Gowned themselves up in a Religion that promises ‘heaven’ –quoting God’s Word — just Go To Church and you will be called an Obedient Child of God. Not much is ever required, but that dollar bill in the collection plate. These poor souls are under such delusions!!! Unclean, unholy and unrepentant MINISTY–JUST CARETAKERS OF IDOLS. They tear me apart like wolves–mocking and scoffing at my wisdom. It’s so obvious they’re just protecting their JOBS!

  • Lee says:

    People come to church for 3 reasons (known as the 3 ‘F’s)

    – Friendship
    – Family ( to marry)
    – Function (to contribute)

    However, what they experience are the 3 ‘L’s

    – Lies (over 14,000 Protestant denominations all contradicting each other on over 100 points of doctrine)
    – Lack of Love (no marriage option)
    – Lonliness (no friendship)

    I am 42 now, been in and out of church since I was 16, God never gave me a girl, or ainistry or companionship IN THE CHURCH!

    No point in going when God doesn’t care about me!

    • Cherry Pie Ishikawa says:

      If a man wants to marry he has to ask a girl, he has to propose marriage. Though some church members bring their young adult children to church in hopes that their children will find faith. For their children to find a person to marry is not the main purpose. In Japan the society has an ingrained practice of arrangements of bringing a couple tegether with the end purpose of marriage unity for the couple mind. Ofcourse this meeting up is pre-announced and discussed/arranged by consenting parents, dates, time place and all. Often times the girl and her parents, are invited for dinner in the home with the purpose made clear. From the first meeting up will insure the next steps of pursuing marriage, like civil registration and others. It is a very family oriented and culturally adapted thing that I sometimes hear about on t.v. In this set up, it’s ovious to say that the minds behind the arrangement is from the parents making a step for their young adult children’s future.

  • Jane Doe says:

    People are tired of having no peers: all elderly, or elderly and children only, no singles, cookie cutter messages because so many leaders and teachers don’t really understand the Bible, blasting music to songs that sound like you make up the melody as you go

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