I read a lot and last week someone shared a wonderful post by John Pavlovitz that I feel everyone needs to read titled “Dear Church, Here’s why People are Leaving”.
After I read it, the words kept rattling around in my head. After reading and re-reading it a few times, I came to one simple conclusion:
He nailed it.
People are leaving the church because the church is leaving them.
Instead of being a welcoming place for all kinds of sinners to gather and learn about forgiveness and love, many churches are focusing on telling people who can or cannot worship with them. Instead of loving everyone they limit who can only partially participate in services and who cannot participate at all.
The “you can’t sit with us” attitude of the modern church has created a theological Mean Girls sequel many people do not want to be a part of. Pastor Regina George, anyone?
When people are openly told they are not welcome, of course they’re not going to stick around. https://johnpavlovitz.com/2019/05/14/dear-church-heres-why-people-are-leaving/Neither are the people who love them. We are told countless times in the Bible to love and welcome all – not just those who are like us. This seems even more obvious since we are all sinners. Who are we to decide who is better or worse? We are in no position to decide who is worthy of God’s love and who is not.
People aren’t just leaving because they don’t love God or find religion outdated. They are leaving because so many in religion are literally telling them they do not belong. Church leaders can act confused and continue scratching their heads in wonder all they want. They can blame it on Satan and host all the emergency meetings they want to try and fight this evil away, but until more churches start looking inward at their actions it’s not going to get any better.
When you side with oppression, promote omission, and continue to shame anyone different than you, you will end up losing every time.
Jesus didn’t ask us to judge and exclude. He asked us to follow him, then led us straight to the most marginalized people and embraced them. He told us to love them too.
We cannot hold others to our flawed human expectations and continue to wonder why people are leaving churches.
It’s not because of a lack of faith, it’s because of a lack of decency.