Why Christians are Leaving Church
The Missing Body
Many Christians stop going to church or don't go as often as they once did. This is because of disillusionment with religion, the politics or leadership failure. Your love God but are sick of "church" as usual. In spite of its faults, the church (body of Christ) has been ordained by God and together we are to be the representation of God in the earth.
People, from all denominations, are falling away from the Church attendance, and sometimes God. Spiritual isolation and the un-churched is not the exception, but sadly a regular occurrence.
It is not that these brothers and sisters do not love God, but perhaps because of some emotional, spiritual wound or an inability to fit in with established religion, they refuse to go back to church. The Church is supposed to be your spiritual home, a place to connect with other believers.
When Christians Disappear
You might not know their names, or even noticed when they stopped coming, but they are out there! There are many wounded men and women who go to church looking for love, acceptance, and healing, only to feel that they are invisible. These believers want to go to church again, but seem to be unable to find their way.
If you are one of these spiritually isolated Christians, know that God is not finished with you, and has a place for you in the body of Christ! When I say the body of Christ, I do not necessarily mean the church, but among God's sanctified believers.
Have you ever left a church because you were wounded?
The Benefits of a Smaller Ministry
I may be prejudice, but when I came to the Lord, I attended a little home fellowship. It was small and intimate, and I was able to ask questions and receive prayer and counseling when I needed it.
It was a place where people were mentored and found Godly accountability. That small fellowship has since become a thriving church in the inner city. That little home church has also birthed many, Pastors, Evangelists, Prophets, Teachers and Apostles.
Ephesians 4:11-12: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Many a large ministry had humble beginnings in a home, school or storefront. These pioneers did not mind rolling up their sleeves and working tirelessly with the people in the rural and inner-city neighborhoods.
Should your Church be Well Known?
Some are drawn to big ministries with big name Pastors. Some want to be able to say, my Pastor is Bishop so and so. I feel it is more important to seek God for the ministry you should attend.
He knows you and knows what you need. There are churches that have lost the Glory of God, yet they are filled with people. So seek to attend a ministry, just because it is large.
I sometimes wonder if the mega church has forever changed the concept of what a successful ministry looks like. A successful ministry has nothing to do with numbers, but rather is the will of God being carried out?
There are many wonderful church leaders, with smaller ministries, who walk humbly before the Lord and serve the people with the heart of a true shepherd. Those are the ones you so seldom hear about, because they may be small or hidden away, but these ministries are Pastored by men and women after God's heart.
Michah 6:8: He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Are you Discouraged by...
Lavish Lifestyle of Leaders
Pastors living in homes worth millions of dollars, while members struggle to maintain a simple household. The people are caused to question their own walk with God, when a Pastor drives a $100,000 car and then turns to the congregation and tells them, "see how God will bless you when you serve God?" Is God only the God of the Pastor? Is he not also the God of His people?
I have seen offerings being taken, like a common auction. "Everyone with one hundred dollars, come! If you love the Lord, come running down the aisle now. While the anointing if flowing, run, don't hesitate! This is your breakthrough, come with your offering." What about those who have no offering to give.
I have seen the offering go from, " if you have $100," down to $1.00 finally to, "whatever money you have, bring it now. " I have seen those with the largest offerings receive a Word from the Lord, while those who gave the widows mite receive and pat on the head for a blessing. This type of manipulation is common and can really turn people off.
I personally know ministries where the members were being terrorized from the pulpit. Threats of death and being cursed, was uncommon, to try to keep the people in control. This same ministry required to give thirty percent tithes, and stay in mandatory three-day shut-ins with no food of water even for the children.
I won't go into the recent church scandals, recall you own if you desire. When sexual sin is a problem with the leaders in a ministry. A Pastor's sin should not be swept under the rug, nor should the scripture, "touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm", be used to keep people quiet about the immorality.
Sin is to be condemned no matter who commits it, and if there is repentance, the fallen is to refrain from ministry for a period of time, to later be restored in a spirit of meekness and love.
These are the things that drive God's people from the church and cause them to wonder as sheep without a shepherd.
God is aware that the church is imperfect as He reveals in the letter to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
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How to Protect your Relationship with God
You can not control what others do, and ultimately you are responsible for only one thing, that is the relationship between God and you. If you are in a spiritual situation where you are unhappy, continue to pray and read the Word of God.
You can maintain spiritual strength even in adverse situations. Apostle Paul was imprisoned for the balance of his life, yet he wrote most of the New Testament. Do not allow what you see around you to steal your joy and intimacy with God.
Remain prayerful and keep in touch with like-minded Christians. God never promised you would have a perfect world, but told is, that in this world we would have tribulation. He ended that scripture with: be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. John 16:33. No matter what the situation, God will give you the strength and grace to go through it and come out on the other side victorious!
Finding a Good Church
Finding a New Church
You will never find a perfect church, because the church is made of people, and people are fallible. You will, however, be able to find a perfect church for you. Men and women are human and subject to human faults and failures. This is why the scripture reminds us, the arm of flesh will fail us.
It can be discouraging to be a part of a ministry that you think in wonderful, only to find that there are many problems. Follow a ministry as long as they are following the Word of God. If a ministry fails to line up with the Word of God, stop following that ministry.
1Co 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
It is also important to examine yourself, to determine if you are being overly sensitive or perhaps, the Lord has touched on some areas of your life that needs to change. Are you being resistant to His correction?
Resist the belief that no church is right, or that everyone is a hypocrite. The enemy will use these discouragements in church, to turn away from the Lord.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
I have often heard the saying, God will not have you leave a church unless He shows you where to go! Sounds good, but not necessarily true. It depends on why you are leaving. If you are being spiritually, physically, or emotionally abused, you should leave that ministry for you own well being. Don't walk, but run as fast as you can!
Have you Stop Going to Church?
If you are one of those who is discouraged with the church experience, or you have been, neglected, hurt or have been abused in church, know that God loves you.
You are a part of the body of Christ and the Lord will minister healing and restoration to you. Ask God to help you forgive those who you feel have mistreated you. You may have to go to those you have offended and ask forgiveness as well.
Find a safe place to come together with other believers for the sake of fellowship and hearing God's word. Know that God is still doing a work in your life, and out of your experience, God will get the glory. Continue to read the bible and seek the Lord through prayer.
When looking for fellowship, look for a ministry where God's Word is preached, there is liberty and God's spirit flows. Cell groups, or home group, are a great place to obtain healing and restoration as the group is small and others will minister and counsel you. Just allow the Holy Spirit to minister to every need you have.
What to Look for in a Ministry
The Church is a place to learn the Word of God, receive healing, deliverance, and to develop men and woman for the work of the ministry. God has put in the body, the tools to teach and prepare each believer for the work that God has given them to do. The people of God do not belong to the pastors, they belong to God.
When Looking for a Ministry ask yourself this:
- Is the teaching sound and biblical?
- Is the presence of God there?
- Is the Pastor himself under authority?
- Is the love of God there?
- Is the ministry active in outreach?
- Is there healing and deliverance taking place?
- Does the teaching promote spiritual growth?
- Are people being trained to fulfill their God-given ministries?
- Do you feel welcomed?
- Is there liberty rather than legalism?
You may not be able to find all these in one ministry but look for as many as possible leading with sound biblical doctrine, love and the Spirit of God being present.