Come Home: A Follow-up on Church Dropouts

Blog June 1, 2016

Home is the nicest word there is.

– Laura Ingalls Wilder

There’re many old sayings about home: “Home is where the heart is,” and “Home sweet home” are two well-known clichés. However, just as “family” does not simply indicate people to whom you have a blood relation, “home” does not refer simply to the place in which you dwell. Home can refer to people with whom you feel comfortable, a place to belong.

Now consider your church. Do you think your church is an inviting, welcoming place that draws others in? Do you consider your church your “home?” 

Our past five blogs have looked at the topic of church dropouts. We have examined who they are, how long they stayed in the church, reasons why they left, the Church’s response to them leaving, as well as reaching out to those who have left.

As we saw in our last blog, many of those who have left have expressed an openness to reconnecting.Over two-third of respondents felt that there was the possibility of reconnecting, with an additional 19% being conditionally open to reconnecting depending on the circumstances (Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, 2014).

Also, a recent study (2013) conducted by the Center for Creative Ministry, former and inactive Seventh-day Adventists were asked if they were now attending another church. Fifty percent of respondents indicated that they are not attending any church since leaving the Adventist church. Another 20% indicated that they rarely attend, while 16% reported that they sometimes attend. The smallest percentage of dropouts (14%) indicated they regularly attend another church.

As you can imagine, with half of those who have left are no longer attending any church and over a third only occasionally attending, there is a great hole in the lives of many that church life used to fill. Also, for many, severing ties with church means losing a close personal relationship with Jesus. 

It is time to act!  It is time to bring those who have left back home!  We must show those who have that they are missed, valued, and that we want them to return. It is not only their earthly wellbeing and happiness that we are considering. We must also have our eyes on Heaven. 

To read further:
Survey of Former and Inactive Church Members
2015 General Conference Session Report: Membership Audits and Losses (PDF)
2015 General Conference Session Report: Membership Audits and Losses (PowerPoint)
Retention and Reclamation: A Priority For the World Church

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.