By Chuck Lawless
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 over the last 20 years, here are some of the reasons I’ve heard:
- 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.
- They hear nothing but judgment. Presented lovingly, judgment is part of helping people see their need for Jesus. The problem is that they too seldom hear it presented lovingly.
- They hear only stories and humor. They came to church desperately wanting to hear something from God to help them with their chaotic lives, but they instead heard little or nothing from the Word.
- Nobody connects with them. They may have come with some desire to be anonymous, but most did not come with a hope of being ignored. When nobody talks to them, they see little reason to keep coming.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 best clothes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?