10 Reasons a Faithful Church Member Might Start Attending Less Frequently

Over my years as a pastor, I notice when faithful church members begin to “fade away” from their consistent involvement and faithfulness. When I’ve followed up with them, I’ve discovered multiple causes for their changed attendance patterns. Here are 10 that I’ve most commonly heard:

  1. “I’m having some physical problems.” Illness can be debilitating—and some folks are so private that they’d rather avoid people than talk about what they’re facing.
  2. “I’m taking care of my ailing loved one.” This cause may be as common as the first one, especially when the ailing family member is a parent, a spouse, or a child.
  3. “I’m mad at (church member), and I don’t want to run into them at church.” I’m amazed that some people make this call to avoid church all together, but I’ve seen it happen when the conflict is hot.
  4. “The pastor hurt me.” As a pastor, I know I haven’t always ministered well. It hasn’t happened often, but I still grieve losing church members I unintentionally (and sometimes unknowingly) hurt.
  5. “We’re having a lot of problems at home.” Sometimes, only God knows what’s going on behind the closed doors of church members whose homes seem almost perfect in public. Struggling marriages and wayward children can keep people from church at times.
  6. “I’ve changed jobs” or “I’ve had to pick up a second job to help pay our bills.” My experience is that it’s the latter one that most people don’t talk about. Few people want to admit financial struggles, so they choose to bear the burden without a church family.
  7. “I’m really angry at God.” I’ve seen this emotion when a marriage has broken up, a child is terminally ill, or prayers go unanswered. People angry at God don’t usually want to come to church to worship Him.
  8. “We’re traveling a lot.” Perhaps it’s vacation, work, or youth sports that require the time away from church. Whatever it is, I suspect it’s happening in many, many churches.
  9. “I’m not sure I believe the Bible anymore.” I’m hearing from more and more young people—including many who’ve been raised in church—who feel this way. Attending church no longer matters to these folks. 
  10. “We’re looking for a new church.” We usually learn this information after a family is already looking for a new congregation. Any of these above reasons, however, can contribute to this one.

What other reasons might you add to this list?

6 Comments

  • mark says:

    Another is that the people in the church won’t quit fighting each other.

    Kids want to quit going when they don’t get anything out of it and are made to feel like they are a lesser class. Women want to quit going when male church leaders relegate them to second class.

  • Mike says:

    The church is more like a nonprofit Business that needs volunteers to do all these tasks. And your value is simply based on your availability to do the tasks rather than simply being who you are in Christ. To me it’s like a circus.
    Yes faith without works is dead but who says it has to be in the confines of the four walls? The earth is the footstool of the Lord in the fullness thereof. God is not confined to one building.

  • UDO, IME says:

    Monetary Policy Preaching Syndrome “MPPS” (where members are being over taxed). A practice common in Africa .

  • Marty says:

    Volunteers being overly used and burnt out. When the same people are always called to do all the work they get tired, stretched to the breaking point and suffer church burnout.

    • Shirl says:

      Everybody has something to offer. These talents are not tapped into and also some people soo want to be involved in the church but havnt been able to get into the circle. Inclusiveness is so important. They may leave because they feel less than or that they have no purpose there because of their giving nature. They may be the only one from their own family who attend and are looking for a church family and are not finding it there.

  • Cheryl says:

    It was raining. Seriously! Attendance dips every time it rains!

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