Thom Rainer wrote a great book titled, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, which is subtitled “12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive.” This quick read is full of insights into why churches die. An obvious reason churches die is member attrition. People move and people die. We cannot do anything about those, but what about the folks who just quit?
Of the many bad reasons people leave churches, I will list five. And, remember, the church is profoundly important to God. In Ephesians 5:25 we read, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (CSB).
“I don’t like the music, message, décor, etc.” Rainer notes that dying churches are killed by folks with me-centered attitudes. They will either drive away others by their preferential demands or leave to look for the church matching their list. But a healthy church is full of people who put others first and serve with a Christlike attitude. Why not stay and promote a positive, serving attitude in your church?
“I can listen to better music and messages elsewhere.” That may be so, but you will miss out on the interaction all of us need with other Christians. And if there is a need in your life, will the pastor you watch on YouTube travel a thousand miles to help you? We need the relationships that come with a local congregation. Why not stay and build those strong relationships with a local body?
“My church does not do what it should.” Perhaps your church is not praying, loving, evangelizing or serving the way it should. Is it better to jump ship to another church that appears better from the outside? Or could you be the catalyst to help your church do what it should do? Fill a gap. Use your gifts and abilities. Be the one to raise the bar. Why not stay and help your church become what she should be?
“I can commute to that church in another county that has everything I want.” Megachurches are great at what they are doing, but if they are not in your community, how does abandoning your neighborhood help? Taking your talent and support away from your community drops its spiritual temperature immediately. Why not stay and become the missionary God wants you to be where you are?
“I don’t like the preacher.” As a pastor, this one is hard to write about, especially when I deal with broken pastors regularly. Most pastors lose followers because of personality conflicts and disagreements over how to operate, not basic doctrine. If that is the case, why not help the church work through those issues? Why not lend your support, which could make your pastor better?