The Surprising Reason People Leave Their Church

by | Jun 29, 2016 | Woman

A lot has been written lately about millennials leaving the church. Many reasons have been suggested for this. We’re told millennials are wary of anything that hints at consumerism, and then in the next breath we’re given reasons for attending church that center on what we can get out of it. It’s no wonder we are leaving the church—we’re not even sure what it’s for.

This post isn’t really about millennials leaving the church. It’s not about millennials at all, actually.

The consumer mentality of church members and church-goers is not unique to my generation. It can be found in nearly every demographic in almost every church. Where I most often see it, and where I am most often guilty of it myself, is in the area of service.

Using Our Gifts

My husband and I started attending our church nearly eight years ago. We were there just a few months before people were volunteering us to serve in various areas. We found ourselves part of a newly formed greeting ministry, I was working in the nursery, and we were teaching kids on Wednesday nights. It was a little overwhelming. We didn’t know how to say no, so we “served” begrudgingly.

Truth be told, we were both pastors’ kids, and we were unsure how to function as normal church members. It was easy to think, I’m not sure this is my gifting. Maybe I should find something that uses my talents and abilities better.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to use our gifts to serve our church family. But then again, who would say they have the spiritual gift of changing diapers? Holding doors open? Setting up chairs?

Thankfully, the Lord revealed the selfishness of my heart to me. I wasn’t serving anyone, really. I was performing needed tasks, but my heart wasn’t in it. It’s still easy to slip back into the mentality of considering the Sundays I’m singing with the worship team as more valuable than those Sundays when I’m a substitute teacher in the preschool department.

Why Are We Serving?

When our gifts are unneeded or we go unrecognized for some God-given ability, often we decide we’ll go somewhere else where we’re “needed.” We leave a church with a need for workers in every children’s department because we just don’t feel that we’re being used there.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this: Are we serving for the benefit of the body of Christ or for our own self-fulfillment?

Love for Christ is accompanied by love for His bride. My church family is just that—my family. I can’t imagine saying to my husband, “I’m sorry, I just didn’t change our son’s diaper today because it really isn’t my gifting, and I’m not sure if it would really use my talents well.”

No, I love my son, and I love my husband. If the diaper needs to be changed, I change it. It’s a simple way to serve in love and meet a need. This doesn’t mean my gifts aren’t important. What it means is that sometimes the need for a servant is greater than my need to use a specific gift.

Love for the church means a heart that desires to give. There are weeks I’m tempted to go to church, sit back and be served. Now, sometimes being served is necessary. If we’re always giving, but in pride refusing to receive, that’s not OK. There’s reciprocal joy in allowing others the chance to serve us.

At the same time, if we refuse to serve in the nursery because Sunday is our one chance to get away from kids, we’re thinking of church wrongly. The Bible speaks strongly about the church being our family, even more than our flesh and blood families. Sunday is not a chance to take a break from family—it’s a chance to serve our true family.

When you’re part of a body that loves and serves and gives, a beautiful bond forms. You see people serving in the background, and you praise God for them. You see the joy of service in others, and you want to follow suit. You see a need, and you long to meet it.

Serving in our local church is not meant to meet our needs for self-fulfillment or self-worth; it’s about the joy found through self-denial.

Because of Christ

The church is the bride of a Bridegroom who emptied Himself and took “the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7). He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross. Our Savior did this for us—on our behalf. He freed us from trying to one-up each other. He freed us to serve in love just as He did. He freed us to rest in the knowledge that our service does not earn our salvation.

We love because we have been loved, and we serve because we have been served. Churches are looking for people to serve in a wide array of areas. Let’s not wait to be asked.

How can serving in areas that might not be your “gifting” benefit others? What needs exist in your local church that you could help meet? {eoa}

Copyright © 2001-2016 Revive Our Hearts. Reprinted with permission. During nap times and between loads of laundry at her home in Nashville, TN, Catherine Parks is a writer. At other times of the day you can find her either pretending to be a cheetah wrangler with her two small kiddos, or trying to convince her husband, Erik, to become a coffee drinker. Catherine has a BA in English literature from Bryan College and has finally put the degree to work in A Christ-Centered Wedding.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Young, old, rich or poor—nobody is immune to the feeling of brokenness. Jesus' life, death and resurrection on earth is a constant reminder that death no longer has a sting. Fear and hopelessness lurk throughout the earth trying to find an opportune moment to consume...

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Actor Kevin Sorbo is known today for his roles in faith-based movies, like "God's Not Dead" and "Left Behind," but the iconic "Hercules" star's Christian roots took form at an early age. Sorbo recently told CBN's "Faith vs. Culture" he first read the prophetic book of...

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

In this article, cessationism refers to the doctrine, practice or belief that the ascension ministry gifts and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit ceased with the early church and do not function in the present church age (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12: 4-11). The...

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

We all have the same amount of time—four hours a day, seven days a week. And the longer I live, the more I discover that time is too valuable for us to waste any of it. That’s why it is so important that we learn to live on purpose, for a purpose. The truth is if you...

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

This article was first released by Curt Landry Ministries. Note: This is the first of a two-part series of articles. When you enter heaven's courtroom to do spiritual warfare, you are asking that the will of God, what is written in His books, be released from heaven...

RECENT ARTICLES

The Spiritual Awakening of Buffalo, New York

Monday night, Jan. 2, 2023, God drew our nation to prayer as Bills player Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on live tv. Could this have been the largest spontaneous prayer meeting in the...
Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Read Time: 4 Minutes 43 Seconds Of the many artificial sweeteners out there, such as aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet’N Low) and neotame (NutraSweet), aspartame is one of the most common. How common? Aspartame is an ingredient in more...

Pin It on Pinterest