7 Characteristics of Discouraged Church Members

Yesterday, I wrote a post about defeated pastors. Because it’s not uncommon for a reader to ask me about church members, too, when I write about pastors, I’m posting these thoughts today. I am writing from my experiences with many believers over the years, but I don’t want to be the next source of discouragement—so be sure to read to the end. Here are some characteristics of church members who are growing discouraged with their church: 

  1. Church attendance becomes more a chore than a privilege. They go because they’re supposed to more than because they want to. Sometimes, it’s an anguish to go and a relief when it’s over. 
  2. Supporting the church financially becomes difficult. That’s often because discouraged church members are questioning if their church is the long-term place for them. It’s not unusual that decreased dollars rank right at the top with decreased attendance to show discouragement. 
  3. Fellowshipping with other believers no longer brings as much joy. Gathering with God’s people can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a challenge when a member is growing discouraged. Nobody wants to be a “downer” in a worship service, but not many people can “fake it” for long when their struggles are real. 
  4. Singing in a worship service becomes an obligation rather than a response of praise to God. Depending on the size of the congregation, someone not singing can be conspicuous—so some attenders at least “mouth” the words when their heart’s not entirely in it. Even when they want to praise God in song, it’s just not as easy as it was prior to this time of discouragement.  
  5. It’s increasingly difficult to listen to sermons without distraction. Sometimes that’s because the pastor (or staff) is a primary source of discouragement, but not always. In some cases, it’s hard to concentrate on a sermon because our mind is consumed with something else in the church. 
  6. Personal outreach and evangelism are almost non-existent. I know few church members who eagerly reach out to others and invite them to their church when they are themselves discouraged about the whole thing. They would almost have to manufacture their enthusiasm to do it, and that can be draining. 
  7. They often struggle knowing how to pray about the situation—so prayer becomes more sporadic. Sometimes they’re still trying to figure out what’s happening or why they’re discouraged. In some cases, their emotions can cloud their perception of the situation; in others, they genuinely love others who are a source of discouragement. It’s just tough figuring out how to pray in these situations. 

So, what do you do if you’re a discouraged church member? Here are few steps that might help:

  • Remember Christ’s love for the church, despite our messiness.
  • Remember Paul’s love for the Corinthian church (1 Cor 16:24), even though they were seriously problematic.
  • Ask God for wisdom in knowing how to respond to the situation. 
  • Ask Him to help you see even glimpses of His work in your church—just enough to offer some encouragement to keep you moving forward. 
  • Know that I have already prayed today for everyone who reads this post. 


  • mark says:

    Some people have been condemned to hell one too many times. If you are running a congregation, pay attention to what is said. If someone needs to called down, do it. If you don’t condemn it, you condone it. Then tell the people what you did. I heard preachers condemn the young including me to hell on many occasions, and yet the powerful people said nothing. They obviously agreed with him. When forgiveness is impossible and grace is denied, what else can occur?

  • Lydia says:

    Sometimes ppl are discouraged with their church or pastor because they are not walking with the Lord as they should. Nothing will satisfy a murmuring attitude in them! No church is perfect!

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