Why People Leaving Your Church and Never Coming Back

There are many reasons why people may be leaving your church and never coming back. Some you can control and some you simply cannot. It is still important, however, to figure out why people are leaving your church and what you can do to prevent it from happening again in the future.



It is a very popular belief that 20% of the people in churches do 80% of the work. We have personally seen this first-hand. There are a handful of men and women who are constantly putting the responsibility of the the church on their shoulders and plowing.

This is not the way Jesus designed the church. In fact, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (Read the entire chapter for even more clarity)

Unfortunately, many people are leaving your church because they are just burnt out. They are tired of being one of the only ones doing all the work with little to no help from other members. They then decide to move on to “greener pastures” where they are not known and can slide in to the church without feeling responsible to keep things afloat.

What Can You Do?

  • You can give your regular volunteers every 5th Sunday off.
  • Take the summer off for some of your programs.
  • Rotate volunteers regularly.
  • Don’t allow people to serve in the same capacity for more than 6 months without also getting an extended break.


People inside the church often feel they have been hurt by other people at their church. This does not only pertain to being hurt by other members but also includes being hurt by leadership.

Sometimes people inside the church can be mean. And it really stinks when that happens! People can say and do mean things, causing ill feelings with others.

Sometimes leaders can even hurt people. They don’t include certain people. They play favorites towards the people they relate to the most. Or they shun other people’s ideas without truly considering them.

But the biggest way we have found that leadership has hurt people in the church is they just do not show people enough respect.

What Can You Do?
We know Sunday’s can be busy. If you are too busy to seriously consider what a member is saying to you, invite them to set up an appointment to talk more in depth when they can have your undivided attention. And then REPLY to them! When someone emails you, email them back. When someone calls you, call them back. Otherwise, they will feel like they just are not important enough to you!


Many times people stop coming to your church because they are just too busy. They have allowed extra curricular activities to take president over their priorities when it comes to scheduling out their lives.

Their kids get busy with various sports and extra-curricular activities. And the next thing you know you now have people attending soccer games all over the country on Sunday mornings and church just doesn’t seem like it’s that important anymore.

Whether it’s their kids activities, NFL football, or something else, these people have allowed other things in their lives to hold more value than coming to your worship gatherings. And eventually, if they do it long enough, it will become a habit of not attending your church.

What Can You Do?
Try to reach out to the people you think may have no margins in their life. Ask them to take a responsibility that would require them to be a regular part of your church (even if it is not a Sunday activity). If they are too busy to do so then if you keep them connected in other ways, they will be less likely to leave your church behind.


Whether it be a divorce or a move, many people will have life events that cause them never to return to a church again.

If it is something like a divorce, they may feel uncomfortable returning to their same church they shared with their ex-spouse. They may also be embarrassed or feel shunned because they went through a divorce and will not return to any church.

If they move away it could be that they think finding a new church that they feel comfortable in is just too much of a hassle. They may even “try out” multiple churches and just don’t find one they like so they give up and just quit going altogether.

What Can You Do?
If this is the case in your church, your best chance for reaching these people is regular communication. Reassure them that your church does not play favorites when couples get divorced. If they insist that they are too uncomfortable with attending your church, help them find another one. Even if the life event is a move, take some responsibility in ensuring they find a new church to get plugged into.


They made a mistake in life. Their sin has either alienated people or they feel that if it were made public, that sin would alienate people. Often times this is more in their head than anything but that is still enough to cause them to not go to church again. They are embarrassed by a decision that they made and either haven’t or just do not think they would experience grace from both the leaders and other members of the church.

What Can You Do?
Speak the language of love and forgiveness and speak it regularly. Reassure people that there is no sin too big for God to forgive and that as His church, you are called to love on all types of people; no matter their past. And then put that talk into action! This will help people understand that even if they have made a mistake, you and your church will always be there.


Unfortunately, there are those people who come into churches and think that they should be catered to hand and foot and always get their way without thinking about the good of the body or what God has in store for the church. They then will be involved in a power struggle with leaders in the church and eventually will cause leadership to become frustrated and lose momentum or they will eventually leave.

What Can You Do?
Don’t let conflict fester. When you see it, take care of it. Don’t allow it to grow and get out of control. Conflict and confrontation is never fun but when it grows out of hand it affects the whole church.


These are the people who come in on Sunday morning and leave after the gathering never to connect again until the next Sunday. These people may come for a while but if they do not get plugged in, they will eventually fade out and never return.

The reason this happened is because these people make no viable relationships in the church, never take ownership and volunteer in the church, and being involved with a body of believers doesn’t happen when you only come, sing a few songs, sit quietly while the preacher preaches his message, and leave.

What Can You Do?
Contact these people. Learn about them. Introduce them to other people in your church with similar interests. Ask them to lead a small responsibility in your church (even if it is buying donuts for a Sunday School class). Find ways that they can get involved beyond just sliding in and sliding right back out.


People don’t need more concerts or shows. The world is full of incredible artists that they can find anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, we believe in doing everything with excellence but often times the church tries to make a show of Jesus.

If you look back in the Bible, people were attracted to Jesus and his personality. People often left their lives for days at a time just to follow him and be near him. We are convinced that if we built real, authentic, and raw community in our churches, the people will be attracted to it too!


Churches often use an insider language that only people in the church for years completely understand. And that is off-putting to many. Imagine if you will, going to a french movie, not knowing a word of french, and having no subtitles. Thats what these people are experiencing.

What Can You Do?
Speak in a language that people know. Speak of joy, love, forgiveness, peace, death, and God. These are the words that get people’s ears to perk up. If you keep speaking in a language they don’t understand, you will quickly be speaking to only yourself and a few other people.


People want to help people. They want to go and do. That’s why after a major tragedy, organizations like the Red Cross and The United Blood Bank receive record contributions from people. People want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves.

When your church’s entire focus is on itself and the people in your seats they never get that opportunity to be a part of something big.

What Can You Do?
Find a project your church can get behind and promote it and participate in it regularly. Support a local foster care agency, form a relationship with the neighborhood school and meet their needs, provide shoes for a local low-income community, anything. Find something that your church can rally behind and be consistent.


Well, it can be for a variety of reasons but these are some of the most common ones along with some ideas on how you can combat them.

Do you have any experiences or tips that were not mentioned here? Please let us know! We’d love to hear from you!

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