Why People Leave/Change Churches

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Why People Leave/Change Churches

Post by tuttle » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:18 am

According to this study, most people who leave their church do so, not because of a new preacher or they don't like the music, but because the theology has changed.

I'd throw in there that new music and a new preacher might reflect the change in theology, but when given a choice theology changing was the main issue.

Image

(Edit by coco: Here is the article that goes with the graphic above. The research methodology is given and you can download a pdf explaining the data.)


(Edit by tuttle: fixed the title to better reflect the OP)
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by FredS » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:41 am

It's important to note that - based on the question heading the graph - it shows why people would consider leaving their church, not why they have left their church.

With the possible exception of the right of homosexual marriage, I've never been part of a church that changed it's doctrine. WTF does that even mean? Does some new guy walk in one day and say "The Trinity was wrong". "We're saved by works." "God loves 'Mericans more than Mexicans." "Jesus was a good enough guy but he wasn't god." I suppose all those are real things but they were dreamed up well before any of us were born and 'churches' that incorporate such theology were founded with those ideas and not somehow organically changed during their course.

A new Pastor, Priest, even Pope may choose to emphasize different parts of the Good News but that doesn't mean doctrine is changed. A 'law and order' guy might be replaced by a 'compassion and mercy' guy but the doctrine doesn't necessarily have to change. I'm reminded of the near-constant reporting that the current Pope is 'changing doctrine' because he has compassion for displaced emmigrants, or grace towards gays.

It's trendy to say "I didn't leave the church, the church left me" but I'd be very interested to hear personal stories of leaving a church because it changed doctrine.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by Winton » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:55 am

I have changed churches multiple times as I moved around the country. At one point, we had two home churches in different states. We decided where to settle down based off which of the two churches was stronger.

Over the last five years, our church has lost many people. I believe that this was because some in the church could not accept a change in christian liberty issues. Once it became obvious, that the needed change would not pass, many searched for churches that matched their convictions.

I suspect that the survey is skewed, because many people won't admit they changed churches, because they were upset by what "Sister Susan" said about them last week.

Churches change theology, but very slowly. Normally, this requires old leaders to die off and new people with different views to take over. Often a visible change will force the issue.

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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by tuttle » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:55 am

FredS wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:41 am
It's important to note that - based on the question heading the graph - it shows why people would consider leaving their church, not why they have left their church.

With the possible exception of the right of homosexual marriage, I've never been part of a church that changed it's doctrine. WTF does that even mean? Does some new guy walk in one day and say "The Trinity was wrong". "We're saved by works." "God loves 'Mericans more than Mexicans." "Jesus was a good enough guy but he wasn't god." I suppose all those are real things but they were dreamed up well before any of us were born and 'churches' that incorporate such theology were founded with those ideas and not somehow organically changed during their course.
It is a good thing to distinguish between consider and have. I got sloppy.

Church doctrines drift all the time. The church I was involved in a few years back initially started back in the '40s (or thereabouts) as a staunchly doctrinally conservative church that, for instance, believed in the virgin birth and the divinity of Christ, which drifted over time to a doctrinally liberal church that did not believe those things, over 50 years or so. Then it made a hard turn back towards a conservatively strong doctrine when the church was 're-planted'. One of the reasons it needed replanting was because it was about a month away from shutting down because members left over time.

I think that's more what people might envision, and like I said, that shift (towards good doctrine or bad doctrine...but change in general) doesn't usually just happen overnight but tends to come in when you get a new pastor or when the worship starts to shift in a different direction.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by FredS » Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:17 am

The virgin birth and divinity of Christ are essentials and I'd say any church that any church that questions their reality are not sound churches to begin with. This is the kind of thing that blows the mind of our cathangladox friends - that there are people running around out there starting churches that aren't Christian in the first place. I've seen it first hand as we visit churches here in CO, but it doesn't take long to see if there's no commitment to essential doctrine and decide not to hook up with them. Unfortunately, I find that all to often, non-denominational churches are non-christian churches with a faulty foundation. I know that will strike some as harsh, but if a church is 'mainstream' enough to accept christian essentials - perhaps the the Nicene Creed? - then they can find a larger group to place themselves under.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by serapion » Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:23 am

A more important question, gentlemen, is why people in the millennial age bracket and down (30 - 18) are staying away from church.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by FredS » Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:35 am

bad coffee
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by UncleBob » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:31 pm

serapion wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:23 am
A more important question, gentlemen, is why people in the millennial age bracket and down (30 - 18) are staying away from church.
I wish someone could or would study this. There are many theories but few solid trends. For example, when I talk with young people about why they may not attend church anymore, they almost always bring up stories like this: Once zealously controlled by a religious sect, a small town tries to rehab its image — with beer. But, upon further conversation, they almost always give some other reason later.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by DAN » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:33 pm

FredS wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:35 am
bad coffee

Or no coffee. Or so my current church leadership seems to think. They appear really to have thought that putting in a coffee bar was going to reverse our decline.

Many people leave because they tire of the class never proceeding faster than the slowest kids in the class. More lated if I get a chance.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by coco » Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:56 pm

serapion wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:23 am
A more important question, gentlemen, is why people in the millennial age bracket and down (30 - 18) are staying away from church.
At the risk of interfering with a perfectly good thread derailment, I would like to point out that the Lifeway study involved potentially changing from one church to another church. Your question, which is indeed important, will certainly involve quite different reasons than that of the study. We are talking about quite different sets of people, one of which would likely self-identify as biblical Christians, the other, I suspect, would not be quick to do so.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by Del » Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:06 pm

serapion wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:23 am
A more important question, gentlemen, is why people in the millennial age bracket and down (30 - 18) are staying away from church.
In spite of the survey in the OP, I am going with “the music.”

We left the large, aging suburban Paris with the contemporary piano songs for a little parish filled with young couples and many, many babies. The sing Latin chants and a few organ hymns.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by Goose55 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:31 pm

tuttle wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:18 am
According to this study, most people who leave their church do so, not because of a new preacher or they don't like the music, but because the theology has changed.

I'd throw in there that new music and a new preacher might reflect the change in theology, but when given a choice theology changing was the main issue.

Image
A couple few years ago, the entire congregation of our local Presbyterian Church "left" / withdrew from the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). PCA considered their changes as upward, "progressive," while the local congregation saw these changes as a down turn, and lowering of standards. So, they wanted out. They are now affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

So, yeah, for many folk, theology is very very important. And it should be.
"At present we're on the wrong side of the door. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so." ~ C.S. Lewis

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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by Jocose » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:51 pm

I wish I could smoke a pipe during the homily. It would compliment the incense.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by FredS » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:03 pm

Jocose wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:51 pm
I wish I could smoke a pipe during the homily. It would compliment the incense.
This one time, when I was at a Benedictine Monastery, I was late to Sunday mass (the fishing in their lake was good that morning) and I smelled something burning when I went through the secret back door of the cathedral. I was concerned enough to sniff out the source of what I thought might be an electrical short and stumbled in to a closet behind the alter where they were burning incense in a muffin pan. The monk on the scene was not happy with my intrusion.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by Hovannes » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:05 pm

No matter how bad the music at a mass is, or how scandalous the homily is, it isn't as bad as what the blessed virgin Mary had to endure at the foot of the cross.
A good priest told me to reflect on this if I find myself at a weird mass.
So I stay.
But I'll skip the coffee after.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by Jocose » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:11 pm

FredS wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:03 pm
Jocose wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:51 pm
I wish I could smoke a pipe during the homily. It would compliment the incense.
This one time, when I was at a Benedictine Monastery, I was late to Sunday mass (the fishing in their lake was good that morning) and I smelled something burning when I went through the secret back door of the cathedral. I was concerned enough to sniff out the source of what I thought might be an electrical short and stumbled in to a closet behind the alter where they were burning incense in a muffin pan. The monk on the scene was not happy with my intrusion.
Awkward......
"And for Freds sake, DO NOT point anyone towards CPS or you'll put them off of both Christianity and pipe smoking forever." ~ FredS



Image

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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by FredS » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:17 pm

UncleBob wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:31 pm
serapion wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:23 am
A more important question, gentlemen, is why people in the millennial age bracket and down (30 - 18) are staying away from church.
I wish someone could or would study this. There are many theories but few solid trends. For example, when I talk with young people about why they may not attend church anymore, they almost always bring up stories like this: Once zealously controlled by a religious sect, a small town tries to rehab its image — with beer. But, upon further conversation, they almost always give some other reason later.
The Barna Group has done hundreds of studies and surveys of the church in modern America over the last 30 years. Their website is an eye opening look at our thoughts and practices.
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by UncleBob » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:18 pm

FredS wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:17 pm
UncleBob wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:31 pm
serapion wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:23 am
A more important question, gentlemen, is why people in the millennial age bracket and down (30 - 18) are staying away from church.
I wish someone could or would study this. There are many theories but few solid trends. For example, when I talk with young people about why they may not attend church anymore, they almost always bring up stories like this: Once zealously controlled by a religious sect, a small town tries to rehab its image — with beer. But, upon further conversation, they almost always give some other reason later.
The Barna Group has done hundreds of studies and surveys of the church in modern America over the last 30 years. Their website is an eye opening look at our thoughts and practices.
Yeah, I am familiar with them. The problem is in research methodology: when one looks at their methodology they have a problem with measures and population for this research question. They are positioned to look at religious folks in general and probably evangelicals specifically but to approach this question one needs to look at general populations. This is a major hurdle due to self selection and convenience sampling. It may be that religion is only important to religious people (or ex-religious people) or it is only important through the lens of politics (at least in America) or even through the aegis of social programs--at least to a general population. Also, what role in cultural expectation influence church attendance? At some times and in some locations the church one attended had ramifications to one's social standing and economic potential. These possibilities are all problematic to religious, laic, and non-religious groups. To gauge this issue one would most probably have to piggyback onto some study that effects a general population.

Many of the studies I have read allow self selection which fosters biased results depending on who generally participates. Suppose Gen whatever really is ambivalent towards church or religion and yet the majority of participants are invested through some agenda.. how does that influence results? What steps are taken to minimize or identify this bias? This is just one problem.

It may be that they factor for this somehow but their reporting on research structure and evaluation is lacking, IMO.
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by serapion » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:21 pm

Jocose wrote:
Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:51 pm
I wish I could smoke a pipe during the homily. It would compliment the incense.
Ask you priest. I almost think mine would allow it! :lol:
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Re: Why People Leave Church

Post by serapion » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:24 pm

I think the title of the thread and the OP are somewhat discordant. My thread-jack is my humble attempt to get us on track.
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