8 Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church

Justin Johnson

Last week we listed 8 good reasons to leave your church. Those reasons are good, but they are not popular. The most popular reasons to leave a church are the worst ones. Why?

Most people who attend church do not know what to look for. Either they are unsaved and as such spiritually blind or spiritually immature and leave for carnal reasons. (If you are both saved and mature, then your reason to leave better be good.)

Leaving your church for a bad reason is much worse than just leaving.

So, what are the most popular worst reasons to leave a church?

1. Personalities

Church hoppers are known for being personality followers. It is now a cliché for people to leave saying “I didn’t like the pastor” as their reason.

Preachers have all sorts of personality flaws and idiosyncrasies, and when people are looking to follow a celebrity or a clique instead of compliment a body of believers, they will leave for the smallest personality differences.

Sometimes the best places to grow in ministry are filled with people of diverse and different personalities than you. Being like-minded does not mean being alike in personality.

If your church has people of different tastes, backgrounds, and ages than you, don’t let that get in the way of an opportunity to grow together in God’s word rightly divided (Col 2:19).

2. Environment

The first thing you see when entering a church is the building, pews, walls, smells, sounds, architecture. These are all good things to consider when buying a house, but horrible if they are the reason you are leaving your church. Know ye not, that a church is not the building!

Whether the building is old or new, and the atmosphere is musty, rusty, or chic should not matter. More important than the form is the function. What are they teaching and why?

If your reason to leave is that the people do not seem that friendly or the environment does not seem warm, you are focusing too much on the physical rather than the spiritual. (No, spiritual does not mean smells, bells, and stained glass windows.)

3. Your Lifestyle

If you are leaving your church because your lifestyle does not fit well with the church’s programs and activities, then you have stumbled upon a bad reason to leave.

If “there is nothing there that interests me” is the reason you are leaving a church, then it’s time for a reality check. Are you interested in what God is doing? God is in the church building business.

It should not matter that the church does not have a youth gymnasium, Playstations, a concert hall for the worship band, missions trips to warm places, and social gatherings for every generation and particular interest (e.g. Christian geeks, Christian mechanics, Christian cooks, Christian sports, Christian movies, etc.).

Church programs that serve your interest are not why God invented the Body of Christ. We come together in church because of a single common interest in doing and growing in the will of God rightly divided.

4. Sin

There you are sitting in church when suddenly you hear that someone is struggling with sin. What is your first response? Is it how can I help restore them? How can I encourage them to do right? How can I provide good spiritual counsel?

If your response is to make like a tree and leave, then something is quite wrong. It should not be a shocking revelation that people in the church struggle with sin. If it is, then you are either weak in the faith or not in the faith. The gospel is of grace, and grace provides for sin, kills sin, and deals with sin. Grace is greater than sin, except of course to those that can’t handle ministering to sinners (Rom 3:10; Rom 5:8).

Doesn’t the gospel of Christ minister toward sinners? An important duty in the church is to help each other put off sin by God’s grace. The only time sin becomes a good reason to leave is when the church leadership does not deal with it, mourn it, forgive it, or oppose it.

By the way, if you are the one who is struggling with sin, the worst thing you can do is leave a church that knows the grace of God. You need to learn this: “where sin abounds, the grace of Christ much more abounds” (Rom 5:20).

5. Music / Worship

“There is not enough praise and worship.” “It’s not my style of music.” “The songs did not move me.”

If this is the deal breaker for you staying in church, then you ought to consider the true function of music at church. God did not design church to be a concert hall, night club, or the entry level to your career as a professional musician.

Paul says singing in the church ought to teach and admonish the word of Christ. If the words matter so much to God, then apparently it is more honorable to sing old hymns out of tune with right doctrine than it is to sing world class modern worship music filled with emotional pablum.

The church is not your spiritual juke box. Music ought to serve the function of communicating truth. Worship is your response to right doctrine, not whatever drives your flesh into an emotional frenzy or sentimental fervor.

6. Your Children

Many people decide to leave church because there is not a children’s ministry or youth group that their children enjoy.

Children also do not like doing schoolwork, cleaning their room, and eating vegetables. I suppose we need a church that lets them play, make a mess, and feeds them junk. I just described most churches in America, and why for many parents a “better” church is just down the road.

Better than youth groups, playrooms, and pool tables would be classes that teach sound doctrine at an age appropriate level.

Of all the immature reasons to leave a church, this has to be the most obvious. If your children are deciding what church you attend, then you need to rethink who is ruling the roost and how.

Grown children will stay in church when they get the gospel and sound doctrine when they were young, not because they were entertained.

7. Meeting Size

There is no reason more carnal than to leave a church because the meetings are too long. Then again, I suppose the living God only deserves so much time and it should always be shorter than a tv sitcom, right?

Some leave because the church is too small. If this is you, then you should reconsider what you are doing filling a pew in the first place. If it is to be served, then no doubt your hell is never having enough people to fill your needs. However, if it is to do service to God, where better than with a small group that values every member.

If a church that teaches the Bible rightly divided, gets the gospel right, and preaches Christ according to the mystery has 7 people, then you should be the 8th. Sometimes the reason churches do not grow is because people do not stay when they are small. Your presence matters.

If you require the church to be bigger, then perhaps it is you that is small not the church.

8. Too Much Doctrine

The worst reason on this list of eight bad reasons to leave a church has got to be the complaint that the church is just too doctrinal, spends too much time on doctrine, or takes their doctrine too seriously.

Are you serious? No, I mean it. Are you serious for the Lord, or are you pretending? How could this ever be a reason to leave what is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth? Then again, it explains a lot when someone leaves for this reason.

The one thing people dead set on doctrinal immaturity cannot tolerate is too much doctrine. Especially, if that doctrine is mid-Acts Pauline dispensational right division.


Church has the function of equipping you in God’s will and word rightly divided. If a church is doing this, you have found the jackpot even if it is filled with odd unlikable smelly people who struggle with sin, songs, size, and study for long periods of time.

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Published: December 10, 2016
Last Modified: June 3, 2019
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