Bizarre Reasons People Have Left Their Church

I love the ministry and the people the Lord has called me to pastor. It is an honor to preach God's Word, exciting to see people trust in Christ for salvation, and amazing to witness their lives being transformed by the grace of God as they grow in their walk with the Lord. Nevertheless, there are heartbreaking challenges of the ministry. One such challenge is the revolving door that can be found in churches. As new people come into the church and the church starts to grow, there are others that happen to be leaving the church. Rather than church attendance being like a steady staircase of growth, it can be more like a rollercoaster of going up and down. Pastors are usually heartbroken when anyone leaves, but we’ve heard some reasons that really make you scratch your head. Some may even make you laugh. I asked some pastor friends to share with me some of the bizarre excuses they’ve personally heard. Here is a compilation of excuses us pastors have heard on why people have quit going to their local church.

  • Someone asked us about our salvation experience, and we thought that question was too personal.
  • The church service doesn’t end at noon every week like my friend’s church does, and that’ll make me late for lunch with them every Sunday.
  • The pastor is too young or he is too old.
  • My parents made me go to church, so now that I'm an adult I don't want to go anymore. (Did their parents make them take baths and brush their teeth?)
  • Church business meetings are held during the evening or midweek service instead of the Sunday morning service.
  • Pastor, don't look at the clock! Just keep on preaching till you're done! A couple months later...they're leaving because they think the pastor preaches too long.
  • The pastor doesn't get political enough in his messages, yet to another he is considered too political in his messages, hence they both leave.
  • There are not enough programs and activities to entertain the kids, they have to hear the pastor preach the word of God instead.
  • A couple complains that they can't hear the pastor's preaching very well and asks if he could speak up or adjust the volume some. A couple months later they leave the church saying the pastor is too loud for them.
  • Observing the Lord's Table two to four times a year is not enough, we might forget that Jesus died for us if we don't do it more often. (Do they celebrate Christmas every month so they don't forget that Jesus was born? Did the Jews forsake fellow Israelites because they only observed the Passover once a year?)
  • The pastor preaches the bible during Sunday School instead of teaching a Sunday school lesson. 
  • The church doesn't have as many deacons and/or trustees as I think there should be (although I wasn't willing to serve in that capacity when they asked me if I would)
  • A friend or family member didn't like something that the pastor preached, so I'm upset with the pastor too now and am leaving...even though I know what the pastor said was from the Bible.
  • I am stagnant and declining spiritually, and it's because of the pastor's preaching.
  • The pastor personally bought something for the church, but he never asked the church to vote on it first.
  • The church doesn’t have a potluck meal every week (although the next church they attend doesn't have it every week either)
  • The church replaced the long pews with cushioned chairs, and I think a church should have pews (although the next church we joined also uses chairs)
  • The pastor had the treasurer step down from his role due to him and his wife not being faithful attenders to church, not being transparent with the finances, and they have a gambling addiction.
  • The pastor announced they were having a special offering coming up in several weeks, and the pastor reminded the congregation about it the next week when he gave church announcements.
  • The pastor preached from Song of Solomon, Proverbs 5, and I Corinthians 7, and I don't think the parts of the bible that teach about marital intimacy should be taught in church.
  • The Lord's Table is not always on a Sunday morning. Sometimes it's done Sunday night or during a midweek service. (Jesus didn't even institute the Lord's Table on a Sunday, but rather in the middle of the week.)
  • The song leader sang a song that a member requested to be sung, but it was done as a special instead of as a congregational.
  • I left the church because me and my family are going through struggles: personal sins, having marriage issues, trouble with addictions, etc. (Isn't that part of the reason remaining part of a church family is important?)
  • The pastor is too passionate when he preaches, he actually jumped on a pew while he was preaching, and that's totally irreverent! This church should be solemn and monotone like the presbyterian church I used to go to.
  • The church has dress standards when people are serving in leadership and ministry roles: Sunday school teachers, choir members, ushers, etc. (translation: I am willing to wear a uniform for my job, or dress up for a wedding or funeral, but I'm not willing to abide by a dress code when serving at God's house)
  • A family tells the pastor that they prayed about joining the church and that God is leading them to do so. A couple of weeks later they are leaving the church because "God is leading them in another direction." (They apparently found out something about the church that God didn't already know)
  • I'm not telling the pastor why I'm leaving, I don't think it'll do any good. (Even though their concern was misperceived and had no factual basis)

These are reasons people gave for leaving a church, but it's really an issue of the heart and one's personal walk with the Lord. Sometimes the whole family doesn’t even know why they are really leaving. It can be something simple as a pastor privately and lovingly challenging a man to spend more time with his wife and children. Instead of considering the advice, the man gets angry and through criticizing the pastor repetitively to his family, it turns them against the pastor, who they once loved and appreciated. The ironic part was that the pastor was trying to help them gain more time as a family. Another reason a family may leave a church can be simply because a good man is afraid to lead his family with conviction and righteousness because his wife is a brawling complaining woman and doesn’t like another church member or the pastor, or because their children would rather go to an entertainment styled “church.” Sometimes a person leaves a church simply because they’re routine church hoppers, who are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). When they tell me that we are the fifth or sixth church they’ve visited in the past year, I know they’re not likely going to stay long. 

Regardless of how comical the reasons may be in the above list, the reality is that my pastor friends and I are almost always grieved when anyone leaves. The work of the ministry must go on, so there is no time to have a pity party, there are still souls to be saved and believers to be discipled in the word, and worldwide missions to support. Nevertheless, pastors miss those who have been a part of the flock before and the church family also misses them being a part of the church body. They are people that you’ve grown to love and invested in, and perhaps led one of their family members to the Lord. Some of them even were a support to you and the ministry of the church at one time. Oftentimes those who were the most excited and greatest support to a new pastor coming in, end up being the ones that leave the church and hurt you the most. I still love those that spent a lot of their time criticizing me while they were a part of our church. Moses was a great example to look up to who continued to love and pray for his fellow hebrews even when they sinned and murmured against him and the Lord continually (Deut 9:13-29). As my pastor regularly taught me, “When you love people, you will get hurt, but love anyways.” I never truly understood the weight of that until I was a pastor myself.

Now imagine this! Imagine if instead of finding petty reasons to leave their church, people got engaged in the work of their church! Instead of getting bitter when offended by something, we chose to forbear and forgive one another. Instead of being a habitual critic, we went out soul winning and saw people saved. Imagine if everyone decided to stay and be fitly joined together with a right spirit and personally helped make their church great again! The fruit to the glory of God could be tremendous!

Ephesians 2:19–22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Colossians 3:12–17 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

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.

Let us know in the comments any crazy bizarre reasons you’ve heard people say why they chose to quit their church.


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