Many of the most common reasons why people leave a church have to do with the leadership of the church. Sadly for some of the individuals who leave they don’t just leave the church but the faith altogether.
The hurts run deep and the hope is gone. It’s easy to criticise them, but instead we should be running after them with compassion. Here are some thoughts on how leaders and elders can drive people away.
- A critical spirit. If the elders have a harsh, rigid attitude towards the church it will most often result in people leaving. Instead, elders should show care, concern and tenderness in dealing with the saints they are leading. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- A lack of communication. This is a complaint I hear so many times. “The elders don’t tell us anything.” In order for leaders to lead well they need to be out in front where the sheep can follow. This involves keeping the church up-to-date on the decisions that are made.
- Acting like dictators. People want to be included in what is going on within the church. They want to be a part of the family and treated with respect. If elders make all the decisions behind closed doors and don’t invite the input of the whole church, they will cause many to feel controlled. I have seen good leadership engage the church in decision making and the believers feel loved, respected and are far more willing to follow when the elders do give vision and direction.
- A lack of good food. Sheep go where the food is. It’s that simple. Elders are to feed God’s people. When teaching is not high quality on a regular basis the people of God will look for it elsewhere. One way elders can lead well in this area is to make sure that the main themes of the Word of God are taught on a regular basis. Plan what subjects are taught and put capable men on the pulpit to teach these truths. There is a place for developing gift within the church but not at the expense of solid food.
- Playing favorites. This is a challenging point. It’s easy to always give the eager and gifted individuals something to do within the church. But the good leader will work hard to include all believers in the service of the assembly. If a church grows to a size where there is not enough work for everyone, it’s time to consider a hive-off. Every member has a vital part to play in the body and should be encouraged to serve the Lord where he or she can be used effectively.
- Resistance to change. Statistics indicate that churches who refuse to change will slowly (or in some cases quickly) die. This does not mean compromising truth but it does mean applying the principles of God’s Word in a new and relevant way within the church. This includes embracing young people and allowing them to thrive in an environment they are excited about. The church should not cater to only one generation but should be considerate and flexible to every age group.
- Failure to pass the baton. Good leaders work themselves out of a job. If a group of elders do not train and bring up younger men to come along side and help in the work, there becomes a gap between many groups within the church. Younger elders bring life, energy and new ideas that can help move the church forward. Elders who stay in the work too long often lose motivation and therefore resist new ideas because they themselves lack the energy to be involved.
There are many more reason we could mention as to how elders can drive people away. What things have you experienced? Please share them below without mentioning any specific examples.