There are a lot of church goers in our county. What happens in the churches and what the churches do affect many people. I want to look into the Bible for an answer to a most important question.

The question is, “Why do people leave the church?” I’m not talking about changing churches, although that seems to be a problem in Van Buren County. The question is why do people leave THE church, not A church? What makes a person do this?

You know of people who have left the church. Why do they? What have you heard people say? There may be any number of reasons: they got their feelings hurt, there was a better show down the road, they just lost interest, didn’t like the way things were being done (maybe some changes that were being made), too busy, conflicts within the congregation, they were offended by what someone said or did, or didn’t say or do. The list goes on. But what does God say about why they leave the church? Whatever God says is the real reason. Whatever else anybody says is just their excuse, a surface issue. What is the real reason people leave church? God tells us. His word is right and His word is final. Better to get the truth from God than the opinions of others. They may give all kinds of reasons for leaving but they are surface symptoms. God tells us the real reason and there is only one.

The reason people forsake and leave the church is found in the word of God: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that none of them were of us.” (1John2:19) It is hidden in the little expression: “they were not of us.” They weren’t really one of us. They may have been permanent visitors, but they never really became attached in a meaningful way.

They never were really connected. They were not one of us. This is why people bounce from church to church, and why we want them to stop the bouncing once they come to our church. A lot of church growth comes from fish changing aquariums. Fish jumping from one aquarium to another. A man was stuck on an island in the Pacific for months until a naval ship found him. As he was showing the sailors around the island and how he had survived, they noticed he had built two churches. When they asked him why He said, “Oh, that’s the church I used to go to!”

I called leaving the church a sin because that’s what the Bible calls it in Hebrews 10:25-27, and a most serious sin at that. In fact, it is spoken of as the sin for which there is no sacrifice. “There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment…” This is over the sin of forsaking the assembly of the saints. So, I want to encourage everyone to seriously consider their actions concerning the church. If you left the church because you left a church please consider finding a church that suits you. There has to be a church within your driving distance that you can attend and serve. It may take a while to find it but I’m satisfied you can find it. The alternative is committing this sin which according to the Bible has catastrophic consequences. Christ is the head of the church and He has a local one just for you. Find it. You’ll be glad you did.

Terry Simpson is pastor at Grace Church, Clinton