Why Members Leave Church What Can We Do About It?

Why do some members leave church? And how do we bring them back?

These are core questions for those who have a concern for their church family.

A group of pastors and lay members contacted Dave Livermore, Upper Columbia Conference church growth coordinator, with a plan to find answers. From this group, the Why I Quit Church bus wrap and the WhyIQuitChurch.com Web site came about. (See the full story in the November 2008, GLEANER).

After nearly four months, the survey is providing answers.

Antonia, one young respondent, was attracted to the Spokane transit bus. She resonated with the Web site, logged on and took the survey. She then attended a free movie Lord Save Us From Your Followers at the Garland Theater. Antonia was delighted to find she was not alone in wishing Christians were more like Jesus. Antonia, a self-proclaimed non-Christian, knows what she should find in a Christian.

Her story has been replicated over a thousand times as people from all walks of life fill out the survey.

Of the more than 1,000 people filling out the online survey, the results show nearly 30 percent quit church within the past year and nearly 55 percent left due to hypocrisy, credibility of leadership and unkind attitudes or behavior.

"My greatest fear was realized," says Livermore. "I can deal with doctrinal differences, or people moving, but over half of the people left because of unkind treatment." Livermore heard directly through e-mails from hundreds of survey respondents, some very angry. "I tell them many of the people have felt as they do and it is our hope and prayer we can take their responses to the churches and share their stories." Livermore says, "We need to open up church conversations and confront ourselves with how we can treat people better and value them the way Christ would..."

The bus wrap is opening up dialogue and people are sharing. The challenge is: listen, learn and change.

April 01, 2009 / Upper Columbia Conference