Are churches losing their best people?

Using the wrong methods of communication will frustrate the active, intelligent adults in any organisation and cause them to vote with their feet by leaving. In the past century of church life, we’ve watched helplessly as church numbers have drastically declined across the Western world. Instead of asking why we’re losing people from our pews, start asking who we’re losing. Are we losing the thinkers; the doers; the leaders and the youth? Will we ultimately only be left with the passive; the needy; the followers and the elderly?

Are we alienating men (and many women) by placing them in a passive, subordinate role? There’s a very real possibility that the very people we need to help the church change for the future are the ones who have already left. These are the same people who don’t like to be treated patronisingly as children needing to be educated; as consumers needing to be entertained; as followers needing to be led. If you can identify who is leaving the church, the why will become more  obvious. A passive model of church is going to attract passive people.

We seriously need to reverse this trend as soon as possible, so that the church can become a place of innovation and creativity in the twenty-first century, which is a time like no other. In the industrial age, it was in everyone’s interest for the church and the education system at large to churn out factory workers – passive, capable followers with a healthy respect for authority. In this post-industrial age, where technology is changing the way we do everything at breakneck speed, we need creative, courageous, critically thinking, innovative people who are willing to take risks and try new things. We need to re-think our model of church so we can create the type of environment which will develop these characteristics in our people, and empower them to impact the rapidly-changing world around them.

6 thoughts on “Are churches losing their best people?

  1. Interesting way of looking at it. Makes me want to go back to some of Reginald Bibby’s work to see if he’s got some stats on people who leave.

    • Hi Jane, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      I think you’ll find lots of stats based on age-group and gender (young people and men tend to have left the church in greater numbers) – but I’d love to see some research on different personality types, education level etc – what types of churches these people attend, and which groups have left church altogether.

      Let me know if you find anything interesting,

      – Kathleen

  2. I think the people who are leaving are the people who don’t fit. So they are the people with radical ideas, with challenging approaches, who could help the church.

    Of course they are also the ones who the churches find it hardest to work with, to accept. As they reject the radical.elements, the church naturally becomes more and more conformist, meaning the radicals are less and less welcome.

  3. started going to church about a year ago. At first people were really happy to have a young person join…. then slowly started getting comments about shirt not being tucked in etc. priorities??? I signed up to be part of your church not your generation!!!

    • I love your quote, Poppy – “I signed up to be part of your church, not your generation!”

      Don’t go tucking that shirt in too quickly!

      – Kathleen

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