Thinking Out Loud

March 6, 2011

People Who Don’t Attend Our Church Anymore

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:29 am

Billy and his mom are walking alongside the stores in the mall, which has a landscaped display in the middle separating the shops on either side.

Billy: Thanks for the ice cream, Mom; this is great!
Mom: You’re welcome.
Billy: Hey isn’t that Mr. Watkins, my old Sunday School teacher?
Mom (grabbing Billy’s hand): Why don’t we walk down the other side?
Billy: But I wanna say hi to Mr. Watkins.
Mom: He doesn’t go to our church anymore, Billy.
Billy: Oh. He’s not a Christian now?

Why do we do this?

It’s a problem that seems to be rampant in the church, especially small to medium ones where the departure of a particular individual or family is more noticeable. You might as well have died. What message does this send to our kids? To the world at large?

I got an e-mail this week from someone who expressed this frustration.

Not one person has contacted me to find out why I have not been there… A terrible place to call a church home…

The church is the body of Christ. It’s much larger than any one house of worship; so much bigger than any single faith family. Why do we not see this?

Luke 10: 31 NIV A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

If we’re to love our enemies; if we’re to regard the Samaritans — the people who the audience hearing the parable would think of as “the despised” — as our neighbors, how much more should we have love for people who have chosen to attach themselves to a different congregation?

Is leaving a church really a sin?

UPDATE: I realized many hours later how related this post is that I wrote a few days ago at Christianity 201.



  1. No. It’s not a sin.

    But it is terrible when a family member disappears and doesn’t call or write.

    People ought check in on those that haven’t seen in church for a while.


    Comment by theoldadam — March 6, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  2. I believe that people are called to a church sometimes for a season, rarely for a life time. Gone are the days when one attends a church just because their parents did.Remaining a faithful, active and giving attendee is important. But if God directs a person elsewhere it can be for many reasons. The ages of our children changes and that church has no activities for them, our eyes are opened to a weakness in leadership that hinders growth, our hunger for things of the spirit is not nurtured…lots of perfectly good reasons to leave.

    The first time I left a church I was stunned by the way they just went into “out of sight, out of mind” But sadly, as I have lived my life, I take this very much as the norm.

    Comment by Cynthia — March 6, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

    • Yes. But that’s what’s so weird about this, it’s considered “normal”.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 6, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  3. We have been in smaller Churches all our Christian lives, but when one folded for various reasons, we moved into a large Church. The teaching there was fantastic and while the people were friendly, the “family” atmosphere was lost with a congregation of 300, and I felt alone in a crowd. (my fault more than theirs)

    We left after a year and joined a small, family type Church. I was amazed to receive a letter from the large Church we had left, thanking us for our time there and wishing us well.

    Sadly, while people DO change Churches more these days than they did 30 or more years ago, it is usually as you say – cut off, never knew you.

    No. Leaving a Church is NOT sin – unless leaving is because of your own upset, or your own desire to follow your own will, or such.

    Of course the Church is the body of Christ universal, but the Church assembly where we meet and serve is/should be the place where God places us – and that place can change according to needs.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — March 6, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

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