It often baffles Pastors and church staff why people leave “their” church. Some folks visit and never return. Others who were a vital part of the church community suddenly disappear through the proverbial backdoor.
How can Pastors and church staff grow themselves to prevent loss of life in the church?
This is not only a compelling question, but also the very hinge that holds every congregation together. Life begins within. If the foundation is not strong and properly laid, it cannot sustain outward and ongoing growth.
Jesus said we spiritually know people like trees by their fruit or the lack thereof (see Matthew 7:16-20).
Here are some reasons people leave a church:
1. Lack of warmth, hospitality, and affirmation.
When you first walk into a church, what do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear? If there are no smiling greeters with a sweet spirit to welcome you, it is easy to wonder if you are even welcomed. People like to go where they are celebrated not merely tolerated.
Does your church make people feel like they are burdening or blessing you when they arrive? Do people feel safe or judged in your presence? Do you love people unconditionally, or do you have some ulterior motive driving you?
Die to your agenda and embrace the great commandment to love people.
People are wounded, hurt, and disillusioned. They need to be comforted and consoled. People need a loving touch, kind word, and a hug. A good word makes the heart glad (Proverbs 12:25 b).
Love, embrace, and affirm people in your midst. Many people attend church because they are hurting, feel lonely, and need to be encouraged. Don’t miss the divine appointment and send people away feeling worse than when they came to you.
2. Lack of joy and spiritual atmosphere.
The best way to create a healthy spiritual atmosphere is through praise and worship. Worship is a time when God becomes the focus and we die to ourselves. Only as people focus on the Lord do they quiet their souls and concerns. We all have innumerable cares and challenges, but as we uplift our Creator in worship the Presence of the Holy Spirit can attend to matters of the heart and sweep away all despair within.
Apart from the divine Presence of God’s Holy Spirit, church is nothing more than a religious social club void of God altogether. The Holy Spirit inhabits the praises of God’s people (Psalm 22:3). Therefore enter God’s glorious Presence with singing and gladness of heart (Psalm 100:2).
Fullness of joy is found in the Presence of the Lord (Psalm 16:11) as we open our hearts to the Lord and express our love for God. Joy is captivating and contagious! Truly the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), without which congregations die and diminish in number.
Remember God seeks those who worship Him (John 4:23). God prospers those who serve Him (Psalm 35:27). Grudgingly serving God however is burdensome. Only as we receive God’s love and embrace His heart for us, can we be inspired to worship the Lord our Maker. As God’s love and life is adequately expressed and exalted during worship, we are touched and transformed in the Presence of the Lord (see 1 Samuel 10:9; Ezekiel 36:26-27).
3. Lack of an enriching word from God to build their lives.
The Word of God’s grace builds people up, carrying them into the arms of a loving heavenly Father and empowering them to enter their personal promised land (see Acts 20:32). Churches that become overly encumbered with announcements, exhortations to give, and shouting from the pulpit often lack the nourishing Word of God.
Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Feed the sheep Jesus has entrusted to you with the milk and meat of the Word of God (see John 21:17; 1 Peter 2:2).
4. Lack of a family environment and sense of community.
Families with children want to feel secure and know that their children will be cared for. An excellent and clean nursery with professional staff is vital to instill confidence within people that you genuinely care for their family. Ministries for youth of all ages and adults with various interests all create affinity and a sense of community.
As fellow citizens in the kingdom of God we must endeavor to rejoice in the commonwealth and embrace the household of faith (see Ephesians 3:15). As we do we shall unite and rejoice together as a precious family in God that is one in Spirit.
5. Lack of meaningful ministry opportunities.
As people grow and mature spiritually they want to be able to use their gifts, talents, and abilities to serve. Amazingly, people grow more in six months when doing ministry than in six years of receiving ministry. Otherwise boredom sets in and quarreling will begin among the ranks. The church of the living God is both a family and an army. When the army serves purposefully, they are too focused and tired to fight one another. When the army sits and does nothing, they get frustrated and angrily speak against its leaders without a clearly communicated vision.
Jesus came not to receive ministry, but to minister to others (Matthew 20:28). It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
6. Lack of vision, focus, and purpose for the congregation and its members.
Church leaders must grow in God’s grace and ability to communicate “heavenly vision” and divine direction (see Acts 26:19). We must “purpose in the spirit” as God directs us through prayer (see Acts 19:21).
Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus told His disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:20). We therefore must touch people locally, while also reaching to impact nations globally (see Acts 1:8). As we do so our communities will be impacted and our church members will grow as we “go into all the world to preach the good news” of Jesus (Mark 16:15).
7. Excessive competition, pride, and backbiting among church members.
When a worldwide vision is not imparted to God’s people, they become focused on and bicker about trivial things of no eternal consequence. Murmuring and complaining cut off the life flow of God’s Spirit and quench the warmth within a congregation. Pastors and leaders should be peacemakers and make haste to put out small fires before they spread and do great damage (Matthew 5:9; Hebrews 12:15; Ecclesiastes 9:18).
People have enough drama in their professional and family life. They go to church to get away from drama, not encounter and be overwhelmed with more of it.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace and God’s kids are peacemakers (see Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 5:9). God is love (1 John 4:16), which is first shown through patience (1Corinthians 13). If we say we are born of God, than let us be patient with others as they mature and grow in divine grace.
8. Lack of fathering and mentoring from the Pastor and church staff.
Churches across the country are full of teachers, orators, and preachers. Few however make themselves accessible to the people to touch them at a deep level. The apostle Paul acknowledged this tendency among ministers himself (see 1 Corinthians 4:15). Jesus showed His disciples the Father heart of God (see John 14:8-9). If we want to truly nourish and see people grow, we must give of ourselves to people (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8). Otherwise we are nothing more than a hired hand that cannot be trusted (see John 10:13)
9. Unorganized church life
People need clarity and things to be done orderly so they can follow along as participants (see 1Corinthians 14:40). The best airports are those that are well organized and clearly laid out. Otherwise being unable to discern directions, facilities, and resources one can become frustrated and discouraged. This is how many church members feel.
10. Insufficient fun activities to be social and make friends.
People like to have fun and be entertained. Jesus came to give us abundant life not merely church (see John 10:10). God is a Creator. Be creative and make things fun for people. Otherwise they will go somewhere else. Remember God is both happy and holy. Embrace and exemplify both in your life.
11. No sense of adventure and personal challenge to grow.
Jesus had His disciples leave the comfort zone and “launch out’ into the unknown (see Luke 5:4). Only as we are stretched do we grow. Physical strength comes through resistance training at the gym. Life and ministerial challenges should be encouraged, as they will bring about unprecedented growth in people.
Be like Jesus. Refuse to let your church members stagnate and stink. Keep them moving and give them opportunity to use their giftings.
12. Overwhelming amount of pressure to give resources, time, and talents.
The media and corporate world have made merchandise of people. Consumerism and comparison saturates nearly every level of society, as we are made to compare ourselves with others. Feeling and flipping between being haves and have-nots dwarfs our true identity, while thwarting and hindering our divine purpose.
The Church of Jesus Christ is the one place where humanity ought to be able to sit down and rest without feeling as if they are being made merchandise of (see Psalm 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34:1-4). To fleece and rape God’s sheep for personal financial gain, ministerial fame, and simply to fulfill your dream is insensitive and a misuse of the divine vocation to which we have been called.
Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when taking offerings, presenting needs, and recruiting volunteers. Don’t twist arms and apply undo pressure by making people feel guilty. Let the Lord speak to His people, which if He does not perhaps you either need to work a bit harder to fill in the gaps or maybe lay down a personal agenda God may not be blessing.
13. Lack of genuine interest from the Pastor and staff in the personal life of its members.
Jesus took a genuine interest in people. He spoke in parables to properly relate and enter their world. Too often we are irrelevant and clueless pertaining to the lives of our people. Jesus asked questions to gauge where people were in their lives.
Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32)
14. Ego and individualistic mentality among the Pastor and church ministers hinders the life flow.
This mentality breeds spiritual poverty and animosity within church members. As pride, comparison, competition, and ego become king sincerity and transparency leave. Thereafter walls are erected relationally throughout the congregation as people endeavor to protect and project their image, after which genuine life flow ceases to exist.
15. Lack of humility and service in the hearts of Pastors and leadership.
Jesus said the chief leader should become the servant of all (see Matthew 20:25-26). Lack of heartfelt service flowing from leadership breeds distrust and causes a disconnection among the people. Arrogance always eventually alienates people.
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life” (Proverbs 22:4).
Manifest these in your life and church leadership and all will be well within your congregation. People emulate what they see in their leaders. There shall be like people, like priest (see Hosea 4:9).
Paul Davis is a worldwide minister, church growth consultant, turnaround specialist, and change master helping churches through transition.
Paul is understanding, humble, helpful, insightful, and flexible. Sensitive to cultural and denominational matters, Paul transcends barriers that divide and transforms congregations.
Paul is the author of several books including Update Your Identity; God vs. Religion; Breakthrough for a Broken Heart; Waves of God; and Are You Ready for True Love?
Paul’s compassion for people & passion to travel have taken him to over 50 countries of the world where he has had a tremendous impact. Throughout the world Paul is having wonderful results building dreams, breaking limitations, and reviving nations.
Paul’s Breakthrough Seminars inspire, revive, awaken, impregnate with purpose, impart the fire of desire, catapult people into a new level of self-awareness, facilitate destiny discovery and dream fulfillment.
Contact Paul to minister or for consulting:
TV Guide and NY Times say Oprah Winfrey’s Empire is Crumbling
TV Guide’s Chloe Tse article dated 05-27-2008 reports tremors in Oprah’s media empire.
According to TV Guide Winfrey’s new-age spiritualism and political persuasion is jeopardizing her marketability in the media, thereby diminishing her status.
Perhaps Winfrey’s longtime reign over the media is coming to an abrupt end. For so long revered as nearly a saint because of her uplifting programming, Oprah is now beginning to receive criticism for her views. It has often been said that one should not talk about their religion and politics. Oprah is defying the odds and daring to do both.
I salute her for her authenticity and boldness to express her individuality. Yet doing so is simultaneously hurting her marketability. Nevertheless on the flip side of that argument, we do well to remember that controversy does sell. Who knows the queen of TV could remake herself into an activist for worthy causes and a voice against social injustice. Nobody can dispute Oprah has done and is doing a lot of good in the world. And with such influence why shouldn’t she let her voice be heard?
The New York Times says Oprah’s choices are gaining skepticism and audiences are tuning out. According to Nielson Media Research, for the third straight year in a row, Oprah is experiencing a decline in audience viewers.
Research shows Oprah’s program has dropped 7% of its viewers this year alone. Oprah’s other projects also seem to be suffering. For example her reality show Oprah’s Big Give debuted this winter with a huge audience and beat every program on television except for American Idol, but also experienced the loss of almost a third of its audience.
Winfrey’s readership of O her magazine, which you would think to have increased with the nonstop promotion of Tolle’s book, suffered a beating and loss of 10% over the last 3 years according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Even Oprah’s favorite and highly promoted books in her book club are suffering harsh criticism. Apparently Oprah either didn’t adequately study the demographics of her viewers, or disregarded her viewers beliefs altogether. Women in the deep south who heavily watch Oprah’s program are typically Christian and many supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton. Hence Oprah has cut her own throat by alienating Christendom with her new age books and shows, while simultaneously disenchanting white women when she endorsed Barak Obama for President.
As a Christian who read “A New Earth” and found it a in meaningful book, I understand both how Oprah feels and religious folks who don’t play around with their faith. Certainly not all Christians can eat the fish and spit out the bones when reading spiritual truths originating from another ideological orbit. Politically Americans aren’t very tolerant or understanding either, as evidenced by the great political divide in our country between Republicans and Democrats.
I commend Oprah for being true to what she believes in and bold enough to share what she thinks will empower people to live better lives. Her intentions and motives are certainly pure. If Oprah were solely money motivated, she would not continue to promote her spiritual and political views. Yet being already established financially, Oprah is embarking upon larger more meaningful missions to change the world. O Ambassadors is just one new endeavor Oprah is partnering with Free the Children to liberate and educate kids worldwide.
Hopefully Oprah who says she is a Christian will not find problems with parents concerned about their children getting sold new-age ideas. I think Oprah is doing a great work and deserves our support. Yet at the same time we who have beliefs of our own should not be any less vocal than Oprah.
Anything worth having in life requires a sacrifice. For Oprah it is a drop in viewer ratings, book sales, and magazine distribution. Nevertheless the rewards of the sacrifice should be sufficient to warrant the losses. Often we must first be willing to lose in order to win.
It cannot be disputed that ultimately we attract what we are. We cannot please everyone and succeed. We are at our best when we are true to ourselves and transparent about it. That Oprah is and that is why we love her.
Beyond touching hearts and putting tears in our eyes, Oprah also makes people think. Now raising eyebrows and making us scratch our heads, Oprah is finding herself as she further evolves. She recently said on her program that she admits to not having enough time to truly enjoy herself. Perhaps as Oprah becomes more present and lets go of the ambition of sustaining her empire, critics will be silenced and her true spirit will emerge in purity untainted from the labels many have tried to presumptuously give her.
Dividing audiences is not always a bad thing as even the Word of God itself divides, while exposing our hearts (see Hebrews 4:12). Although Oprah’s television audience is predominately middle-aged white women who support Senator Hillary Clinton, most Americans are awaking to the reality that we need some color in the White House to truly get real and heal the homeland.
Angry criticism of new-age spiritualism and political disputes though a common message thread on the message boards from her website, Oprah will continue to transcend the accusations and come out on top as she honors the God of truth. Love rejoices in the truth and we should do no less.
Next up for Oprah is OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. featuring programming that will reflect Winfrey’s vision of what she considers empowering programming.
You can’t go wrong when you touch, teach, and transform your audience.
It’s not about being the queen of the media as much as it is about living a meaningful life of purpose to impact humanity.
Paul F Davis – international speaker and author
Paul F. Davis is a world-changing leadership & diversity speaker who has touched over 50 countries & 6 continents building bridges cross-culturally and empowering people throughout the earth to live their dreams!
Paul is the author of 14 books. Paul has appeared on numerous internationally broadcast radio shows from Oprah & Friends to Fox News Radio to talk about conflict resolution, peacemaking, foreign policy, and diplomacy. Playboy Radio host Tiffany Granath calls Paul an “awesome” relational coach and recommends his books on love, dating, and sexuality.
Academically outstanding Davis was trained in transformative mediation & conflict resolution (Hofstra Law School); strategic negotiations (Harvard Business School & U. of Washington); advanced interrogation (Reid & Associates founders of the polygraph); and NLP & Life Coaching (NLP & Coaching Institute of California).
Paul humorously and elegantly transforms individuals and organizations.
Paul’s organization Dream-Maker Inc. builds dreams, transcends limitations, & reconciles nations.
Paul worked at Ground Zero in NYC during 9/11; helped rebuild a home at the tsunami epicenter; comforted victims of genocide in Rwanda; spoke to leaders in East Timor during the war; inspired students & monks in Myanmar; promoted peace & reconciliation in Pakistan; and has been so deep into the bush of rural Africa where villagers had never before seen a white man.
Paul empowers people to love passionately and live fearlessly.
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