Just an observation … but in a Calvinistically leaning church I used to attend, the Sunday population has dwindled from around 500 (in two services) to less than 200 over the last seven or eight years. No doubt there are a number of reasons that people leave one church to start attending another. Or they stop going to church altogether.
COVID has certainly played a part in many people no longer attending church. Those people who left and haven’t returned due to COVID are perhaps the weakest of Christians.
I suspect many people stop going to church for ‘physical’ reasons such as being dissatisfied with the preaching, the music, the overall stage presence, the seating, children’s programs, how fresh the coffee is, the drive-time to church, how welcome they’re made to feel or any number of other similar reasons.
But I suspect that churches are primarily concerned with the ‘spiritual’ reasons as to why folks are leaving. And that’s what I’ve tried to compile below.
1. Testing arguments presumed to be true against arguments for other perspectives.
2. Believing that the tenor of Scripture plainly teaches the opposite of a few favorite proof texts.
3. Questioning determinism and realizing that actions, events and activities could have been done differently.
4. Realizing one’s love for each of their own children and wondering why God wouldn’t give everyone a sufficient opportunity to seek his grace and mercy?
5. Seeing unspiritual responses and calling it something else.
6. Rejecting that one’s failures and sins are because of God’s predestination.
7. Researching opposing explanations i.e. Romans 9.
8. Seeing how some faith teachings can produce a fear of God rather than a love of God.
9. Understanding early Christian teaching is significantly different than what’s taught today.
10. Lacking satisfactory answers to plaguing questions and wondering why fellow believers avoid answering.
11. Finding out God’s mercy is less merciful to some than others.
12. Understanding the duplicitousness of evangelism.
To greater or lesser degrees, I can relate to all of the above. But for some reason, I’m bothered most by #12 – the duplicitousness of evangelism. In my opinion, this is particularly pointed with respect to Calvinism. In this regard, it’s wasted time and effort to seek out the lost. God has already chosen his ‘elect’ and he will bring them into the fold in a manner and timing of his choosing. There’s nothing that can alter God’s plans. But another part of the duplicitousness of evangelism relates to the unwillingness of so many to share their faith. Well, congratulations to LDS and JW for leading the way on that point. And, too, I was always troubled when sending youth groups to far away countries on ‘mission trips’ when there was so much need within our own neighborhood, city, state and country. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I’ve never understood the need to send kids away. But maybe that’s a discussion for another post.