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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The "Out of Church Survey" Results

I asked my social media friends who felt disenchanted with church and had dropped out or are not attending now to answer several questions. This survey is completely anonymous, so I have no idea who answered and who didn’t. Most of my friends probably go to church, so I had only fifteen responses. But I believe those people have many valid points to share, and I think every Christian can learn from them.

Thank you to all who took the time to participate. I appreciate your sincere comments.

First, I’ll share the questions and answers, and then we’ll compile some applications for both those who attend church regularly and those who don't.

Q Why were you disenchanted with the church?
  • The sermons didn’t reach me personally. 47%
  • People in the church let me down. 33%
  • The church was too legalistic. I didn’t like the rules. 13%
  • I don’t really know. I just quit attending. 13%
  • Other. 66% (Comments are shown in order of receipt and quoted directly.)
          “Dead, slow, unenthusiastic singing.”
          “The church used multiple Bibles.”
          “People seem to come dressed as for a Saturday barbeque, not to meet God. Pre marital sex is standard, music is for wanna-be rock stars. I hear them talk about God but see no action.”
          “It felt more like a social club rather than church. I had more joy being at home than in church, and I grew up in church.”
          “More than ‘let me down;’ people in leadership hurt my family.”
          “The contemporary music was shallow and lame, and the atmosphere was generally slack (though I'm not looking for legalism).”
          “The rules don't even make sense.”
          “Moved and haven't found a new place.”
          “Health reasons Hard to change churches every couple years when we move, and finding a denomination that's similar or the same to the denomination can be difficult. Lack of young people and engaging activities.”
          “I wanted to be a friend of the world more than a friend of God. No one taught me the joy of the Lord, the hard price for bad choices, etc. Though I've been back and right with the Lord for many years now, questions 3, 4, and 5 were my attitude when I was out.”

Q How long were you (are you) out of church?
  • Less than one year. 27%
  • One to three years. 27%
  • More than three years. 27%
  • I am presently out of regular church attendance. 47%
Q Are you presently . . . ? (Mark all that apply.)
  • Living in sin. 14%
  • Struggling with an addiction. 7%
  • I am doing fine. 93%
  • Wanting to get back into church. 27% 
Q What is your attitude toward church people?
  • No one answered “Bitter” or “Angry.”
  • I don’t have a problem with them. 93%
  • Embarrassed. 20%
Q How could the church better serve you? (Mark all that apply.)
  • Change the service to make it more relevant. 27%
  • Accept people the way they are. 53%
  • Be less critical. 40%
  • Accept my sinful lifestyle. 7%
  • Have more social activities. 13%
  • Change the pastor to someone more in touch with the times. 20%
  • Be more friendly. 40%
  • Other. 53% (Comments are shown in order of receipt and quoted directly.)
          “Speed up the tempo of music, lead with passion and enthusiasm for praising Jesus.”
          “I’m trying to figure this out!! I want more holiness I guess but not legalistic! I think I don't see how modern Christians live differently from others. Seems were trying to bring God to our level instead of pushing ourselves up to him. Be nice and comfy instead of awestruck by his greatness?”
          “Allow less worldliness to creep in. Dropping standards is not the way to reach more people.”
          “When explaining scripture making sure to bring the sermons to real life application. Showing love for people where they are not condoning sin, but encouraging and discipline for a closer relationship with Christ. No adding legalistic rules and preferences that are worshipped as if you follow these rules, you are a good Christian. I'm talking about things not clear in scripture which some preach as if it's God's word when it's actually just someone's personal convictions which they try to make others follow and preach Like its God's word.”
          “It doesn't matter; I will not be returning.”
          “Change the service to make it more biblically relevant.”
          “The church is made of people, who have faults. The services and staff generally aren't the problem most places. It's people.”
          “I had assurance of my salvation all that time because God tried and tried to draw me back. I did go to church some of that time, but it did not mix well with 'going out' Friday and Saturday nights until all hours. I also prayed, sang hymns and gospel songs a lot, and hung around with people who did go to church and were trying to get me to get right.”

For those who attend church regularly—I was pleasantly surprised that most of those who responded don’t judge church people negatively, although some admitted they’d been hurt. One of the biggest criticisms, though, was lack of friendliness. I think every church can make an effort to be more genuinely friendly towards visitors and to include them. It’s not only visitors that feel they’re out of the loop. Make sure everyone in your church feels that they are part of a whole. Accept people as they are, and get to know them. Did you also notice the cry for genuineness in Christian living and faithfulness to the Bible in the preaching? Those who responded also wanted music with substance. People want a high standard without legalism.

For those who answered my survey—Thank you so much for your honesty. I would love for you to visit our church in Spain! Since that’s probably not possible, I would like for you to give a Bible preaching church near you a chance. Don’t look for perfect. (There are no perfect churches.) Ask God to guide you to the right one for you. Be friendly, even if you’re the visitor. Try it out for a few weeks. Church alone won’t meet anyone’s heart need, but it is important.

Only Jesus can meet the needs of your heart. He said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Do you feel tired and heavy in your soul? Go to Jesus! He also said, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16-17). Jesus is the answer to your need. Not church. Not works, Jesus. Go to Him.


  1. Thank you so much for compiling and sharing this! My heart aches for so many of our friends who have dropped out of church. We have first-time visitors in nearly every service at our church. This is a timely reminder to make them feel welcomed and loved. Thank you, Mrs. Keiser!

    1. Thank you, López family. It's exciting that you have people visiting in your church. May they truly feel at home and loved! God bless you!

  2. What a thoughtful survey. It was enlightening to see the responses of people. We have been suffering with a shrinking attendance in our church. I can see some of the reasons reflected in the answers - one being music. It seems music is high on the list of why people stop going to a church - that and making the sermons relevant.
    Thanks for this! Sandra

    1. Thank you, Sandra! Sad that people leave because of taste, but it's true that music is important in any church's worship. God bless!


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