I have been thinking about those that no longer go to church anymore. Some leaders call this growing group of people the “dechurched”. Some say there are 12 million and I have heard up to 30 million followers of Jesus in the United States, people who love God, and they no longer are part of a faith community. I know there are many reasons for this, but I want to express my encouragement to those that have walked away.
Why do people leave their church or faith community
1. They don’t believe it is relevent anymore.
2. Their favorite pastor moved on and the new pastor is not the same.
3. The busyness of life. Church just fell of the map.
4. The high expectations put on them, and the only way to avoid that is to leave.
5. People put high expectations on the church, and when the church/pastor/ministries can’t meet them they walk.
6. Some people offend easily and have left for very petty things.
7. Some people have been deeply hurt by the church and leadership mistakes and their pain is real.
8. Many are barely connected, don’t get involved much, and no relationships keep them there.
10. People are sometimes just lazy, and look at the church and involvement as a burden. They would rather do other things.
11. Culture has immersed people, through media TV, and more things in life gain importance than being involved in a Faith Community.
12. A good church will confront people with the real realities of life, sin, family, healing and wholeness, and some do not want to be confronted with their mistakes or their pain caused by others.
13. Tragedy. Some have walked because they have encountered deep tragedy and loss in life and believe God should not have allowed it, is responsible, and the pain of that seems like it can’t be overcome.
So here is my open letter for those that have left the Body of Christ and still love Him.
I know you have walked away from the church, but not your faith. You still believe and love God. You have called upon Christ to save you and you have been forgiven, yet you find yourself in life, not part of your church. You have walked away. I know some have many reasons, and many confess to me they need to get their faith more active and return to their place of worship. Let me appeal to you to return.
I believe the church is imperfect. It is filled with people, and we are all imperfect, striving to do our best, but falling short at times. Please consider the humanity of the attenders and leaders. You may have walked away because of being hurt, offended, overlooked, or passed over. People, all people usually disappoint at one time or another. Internal pain is real. I can only encourage you to do the right thing for you. That is to forgive, don’t hold grudges and bitterness. You are suffering more than who or what upset you into walking away.Let it go, and return.
You may be out of the a local fellowship because life just got so busy, and slowly the involvement just lost priority. You are losing out on a lot.
Before you stay out of a faith community forever let me encourage you to return for the following possible reasons.
1. We need to worship our God through Christ. God is seeking worshippers. We do need to gather together as the Body of Christ and lift Him up. It is encouraging and we connect with our Lord.
2. You don’t have to go to a faith community to be a Christian, but to be a growing one, I believe you do.
3. Your family is being greatly impacted. Most families that walk away, talk openly with kids present, why, and the bitterness can be passed down to children/students/young adults who take on your offense, thus they live a life void of church and probably void of God too.
4. One can’t be moved, touched, encouraged, taught by the Spirit if you are not present.
5. Your absence is a loss for the Body of Christ. Everyone is a minister. Everyone has gifts. With you not being part the ministry of your church is hampered. You can’t teach anyone, encourage anyone, pray for anyone. You lose touch with the heart of God and the heart for people.
6. The enemy loves believers that are disconnected with the strength of the Body of Christ. You can fall prey to sin, return to your life before salvation, allow old habits that are hurtful to resurface. Active faith combats that. Unbelief incubates better and grow faster when there is not much exposure to the light or the sun (Son).
7. All churches and all pastors/leaders are not like the one(s) that hurt you, so don’t paint Christianity with too wide of a brush. Maybe you need to forgive and pray about a new local church to be part of.
8. He loves you and his people do. Sorry if they were mean to you. Christians say and do stupid, imperfect, and insensitive things too. Many have hurt me also. I have to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have to have the love of God in my heart for all people. Most don’t mean to hurt anyone, they talk before they think, not weighing the impact of words, being void of wisdom. It might happen again if you return to be honest. We both have also been guilty of this too, so lets receive grace and most importantly, let’s give it.
I know these can all be rebutted, especially by a hurt person. But I just want to encourage you to do what you once loved to do. I know it might be very hard, take courage, and more love and forgiveness than you think you have. But you still love the Lord and He will help you. He needs you active, present, and there. You have more to offer, more to give, more to learn, and more to influence for Jesus.
Thanks for reading. Don’t give up on the local church yet. Give it another go. We need you.
My Pastor’s Heart,