Why are people leaving the church?
There are multiple ways to address this question, but a significant factor appears to be disillusionment or hurt experienced within the church. Many of us have encountered individuals who have been wounded by their church experiences, and some of us here might even share in this sentiment. This pain tends to revolve around two primary issues:
1. Hypocrisy within the Church:
Particularly among young people, a common refrain is that they refrain from attending church due to the presence of hypocritical individuals who exhibit judgmental and critical behavior. I never challenge or dispute their perspective. In fact, I concur with them, acknowledging that the church comprises fallible individuals, not perfect ones. As church members, our aspiration should be repentance rather than perfection.
Graciousness should define us, considering that we, of all people, should exemplify abundant grace.
While it is important not to downplay the impact of judgmental and self-righteous individuals, I gently point out their own tendencies toward judgment and criticism. I encourage them to seek out a church that comprehends and embodies grace, a grace that leads to humility and a transformation driven by repentance.
It is my sincere belief that New River Fellowship embodies this type of church. Our aspiration is to create a community that resides at the foot of the cross, captivated by who Christ is and what He accomplished for us on the cross. Our degree of transformation through His grace corresponds to the extent of our captivation by Christ.
2. Abusive Leadership and Moral Failures:
Another key reason behind people leaving the church pertains to instances of abusive leadership and moral lapses involving senior pastors. This circumstance deeply saddens me. Recent times have witnessed numerous instances of publicized moral failures, which have shaken the faith of countless individuals, including those in Fort Lauderdale. The documentaries on Hillsong Church featured on platforms like Hulu and Netflix have exacerbated this disillusionment.
I refrain from defending any of these pastors, as their actions are indefensible. The harm inflicted upon the church and its mission is immeasurable. Regrettably, I have encountered several pastors disqualified from ministry due to their transgressions. Witnessing this is heartbreaking, causing devastation to these pastors, immense pain to their families, and turmoil within their congregations.
Although I do not wish to minimize the pain stemming from these pastors' actions, I urge those who have suffered to place their faith not in men, but in the God-man—Jesus. Jesus stands as the sole individual to have lived a flawless life on Earth. He alone warrants our trust and hope. 1 Peter 5:4, tells us that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. He is called the Chief Shepherd because he alone can save us and can care for us. He alone is ultimately worthy of our trust. He is the Chief Shepherd because he is the ultimate shepherd.
So, if you have left the church for these reasons I want to encourage you to re-engage with a local church. Find a church that is lead by a 1 Peter 5:1-5 kind of pastor(s). For more on what kind of pastor this is view my recent sermon entitled “Why Should I Trust The Church?”