11 Weak Reasons to Leave a Church

By Chuck Lawless

I know there are legitimate reasons for leaving a church (e.g., the message is unbiblical, you’ve moved to another city, etc.), but too many people leave a church for the wrong reasons. Realizing that there are always exceptions to any of the reasons listed below, here are 11 “weak” reasons to leave:

  1. You’re angry at somebody. You’ll simply carry your anger elsewhere. Plus, unrepentant anger is ungodly.
  2. Because you don’t like the worship style. Preferences are seldom a good reason to leave a church. Churches change, and so do our preferences over time.
  3. Because your ministry passion is no longer supported. It may be that the program or ministry you’ve grown to love is no longer as relevant as it once was. At least be open to this possibility.
  4. Because you don’t like the pastor. At a minimum, graciously address the issues with the pastor. Leaving without a conversation is unkind, and it could prove hasty.
  5. Because they ask for money. Sure, some churches overemphasize dollars, but every church should be teaching financial stewardship. Be willing to hear them.
  6. Because you don’t like the message. The message might, in fact, be the gospel – and the gospel is often offensive. A church preaching a message that doesn’t make you uncomfortable is likely not preaching the Word.
  7. Because the congregation’s getting too big. Regardless of the size of the church, you’ll still develop genuine relationships with only a few people. Growth doesn’t automatically hinder fellowship.
  8. Because there’s sin in your life. You need to be under the Word of God if you’re living in sin. A strong church should be calling you to repentance.
  9. Because the church is changing. No church stays the same forever. What matters most is that God and His Word don’t change.
  10. Because no one’s asked you to serve. That doesn’t always mean they don’t want you to serve; it might be that they need to improve their assimilation and recruitment process. Don’t wait –  ask somebody about opportunities.
  11. Because you just “know the Lord told me so.” He might direct you to leave, but listen to Him through His Word, His Spirit, and His people. Living according to feelings — especially if you’re really not walking with God — is risky.

What reasons would you add to this list?

Posted on November 20, 2019

Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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  • Changing churches because the church is changing is an oxymoron.

  • Kevin Smyth says on

    I’ve often found that if you sit with those who make these excuses. Sooner or later they will leave. I think #1 is the stump and bitterness is the root. I have seen as David Bell said “I’m not being fed” as one of the biggest but in one church it was true Pastor had his pet doctrine and somewhere in that message he would end up going there. After a while the hearer just hears that pet doctrine and frustration sets in and the mantra “I’m not being fed” becomes there reason to leave. Why the reason is weak I would say a Pastor who hones his craft will have less “I’m not being fed” in his congregation.

  • I have had people tell me it was to cold in here i will not be back, they tell me it is to hot in here,

  • When the pastor lies to you and when confronted is unrepentant.

    • How about 1 Timothy 5:19-20? Nothing there about leaving the church when a pastor sins.

      • In many cases, the pastor is seen practically to stand in the place of God by the congregation and/or board if one exists. Sin on the part of such a pastor is rarely dealt with by churches, and often that sinning man has tremendous power and influence over the direction and actions of the church. I know of several cases where such a man had the members who confronted his (well documented) sin shunned by the church. It is unhealthy and spiritually abusive situations that often require godly people to leave.

      • Amen!

  • I agree that none of these are good reasons in themselves to leave a congregation. I thought a couple of them also had opposites that were equally bad reasons to leave.

    12. Because the church is too small
    13. Because the church is not changing quickly enough
    14. Because they ask me to serve too much and I’m in burn out

  • 7 A – because the church is getting too small


  • My reason is very different. My husband and I were very much active members, contributors and servants of our church. It was a time of celebration and worship for us as a family. Sadly, my husband died last year and I struggle to be there without him. I absolute want to be a part of a church, but being at our church without him has been very difficult. I am asking the Lord to order my steps and take the focus off me and my pain.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Please know that I’ve just prayed for you. I’m sorry for your loss, and I pray you’ll find a place to worship again.

    • God give you grace dear. He will wipe your tears away. It’s so tough but may God give you wisdom

    • Jervetta,
      I’ve been through this myself. My husband passed away 11 years ago now. I know it’s not easy but it’s worth it.
      I’m praying for you!

  • Butch ORiley says on

    People would rather not confront the Pastor and let them know what’s troubling them.
    It’s just Easier to leave the church. Moving to another church until there is something at their new church that they don’t like.. Church Hopping continues..

    • Many parishioners think the Pastor doesn’t want feedback or criticism. Most of us, me for one, do. Critique/criticism is not personal and if it is we can deal with that. I have had people leave and give the excuse “I wasn’t getting anything out of your sermons.” The better response was, “it would have been helpful to know before you decided to leave.”

      I may not change based on criticism but I will always reflect on the criticism, and ask the critic for help in finding a solution.

      • Bill Pitcher says on

        I fully agree. Years back, as a deacon board, we attempted to address a couple of character issues–mainly truthfulness–with the pastor. He turned his defenses on high. Another deacon and I, along with our families, left.

      • Chuck Lawless says on

        Confrontation isn’t easy for many of us, but leaving without an honest conversation is problematic. It’s also problematic when those confronted exhibit no teachability.

      • What happens when the those in power demonize the people who want to talk about changes? The powerful have the bully pulpit to spin everything in their favor?

      • @Bill, I recommended one time that the young go lobby the old and powerful to get some help for themselves. Treat it just like a capitol. The rest of us just left for other denominations and some left Christianity.

      • What does that even mean?

      • For the young who wanted some aspect of the sermon to be directed towards them, the preacher was not approachable. The leadership wasn’t going to go along since they weren’t big donors, so going to the powerful and big donors was the next option. Basically they were trying to get a lobbyist for free.

  • Rick Bowman says on

    A UMC was luke warm pertaining to inclusiveness with the lgtb lifestyle. Many members approved, including a mute pastor. Many others did not.
    The word of God was/is being ignored, consequently my family left. When there is a pounding in the soul….and an ache in the heart…with scripture clearly identifying a forbidden practice pertaining to sexual sin….run, don’t walk out.

  • David Bell says on

    “I’m not being fed” is a popular, yet weak excuse. To which I reply “what are you doing to generate an appetite for the things of God?

  • We need to realize that church really isn’t all about us. Not even close.

  • Philip Brown says on

    Looking for a better church, better kids ministry, better youth ministry, better this, better that. I say stay where God has uniquely positioned and be a part of the solution by being a better church member rather than looking elsewhere. Serve, help build a better church, better kids min, better student ministry.

    • Chuck Lawless says on

      Thanks, Philip, for your thoughts.

    • That is fine if you are permitted to contribute to the solution. In some churches, only certain are allowed to do so. However, it is hard when you are a kid and there is nothing for the youth and your parents won’t leave.

      • You are absolutely correct, Mark.

      • Darren Moore says on

        Maybe. I’m a Minister, my son often is the only one his age, or only boy. We have gone out of our way for him to have other Christian friends, we’ve not raised it as a problem, he happily hangs out with adults, joins in adult Bible studies and likes to help. Already he’s thinking about Uni – wants to go where we know ministry families are to help. We train our children to be servants, or consumers.

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