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Study to examine why some leave Churches of Christ

The question of why some leave Churches of Christ — and others stay — takes on renewed importance as the number of men, women and children in the pews shrinks nationally.
The 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States identifies 12,629 a cappella congregations with 1,578,281 adherents nationwide. Those figures represent 526 fewer churches and 78,436 fewer people in the pews than just six years ago.
“The issue of our kids leaving the Church of Christ is huge,” said Tim Shoulders, body life minister of the Sugar Grove Church of Christ in Meadows Place, Texas. “Some of our kids get so sick and tired of the bickering that they want nothing to do with God and church.
“Other kids, whose faith in God does develop, begin to seek out churches where the focus is on God instead of bickering about the ‘true’ way to do things. Sometimes, they find a Church of Christ, but many times they have to look elsewhere.”
His brother Allen Shoulders left the Church of Christ in the 1990s and attends the Gateway Church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas. Gateway’s Web site describes it as a “non-denominational, spirit-filled Christian church governed by an eldership.”
“Gateway is less than 10 years old and already has over 15,000 members, many of whom are former Church of Christ members,” Tim Shoulders said.
Some experts blame the overall Church of Christ decline on the “graying of the pew” — churches marked by increasingly older memberships as young people leave.
To study the issue, Flavil Yeakley, director of the Harding Center for Church Growth in Searcy, Ark., is conducting an online survey titled “Why I Left Churches of Christ.”
At churchesofchristsurvey.com, the survey asks:
• Why did you leave the Churches of Christ?
• Do you have any advice or suggestions regarding things Churches of Christ could do to improve and do a better job of meeting the spiritual needs of those who are still members?
• If, when you left the Churches of Christ, you joined another religious group, what church did you join?
Also, please comment on what you have found in that other church that meets your spiritual needs better than what Churches of Christ were doing.
“It won’t be a random or even a representative sample,” said Flavil Yeakley,, a church growth expert who said many church leaders, including presidents of Christian colleges and universities, encouraged him to pursue the research. “But it’s the kind of thing where words sometimes are more important than numbers. If we can find a pattern and learn something about why people are leaving us, maybe we can do something to improve.”

  • Feedback
    Why do some leave the Church? The same reason Judas left the principle of Christ. Why are there increasing number leaving? The same reason only few would be saved. Ungodliness is a mystery.It’s not understood like social studies.So is godliness. Why do somw stay in the Church however few they may be? Is it cos they do not hurt? Why do some leave and go into some other lifestyle, is it cos the other life style don’t hurt.What those who are leaving give as reason for living are there for me to give but they re abslotely FOOLISH REASONS TO ME!I WISH I COULD SWEAR TO THE HONESTY OF THEFACT THAT THEY ARE INDEED ABSURD TO ME. THEY LEFT.
    Leke Adegbola
    Church of Christ , ketu, Lagos
    Lagos, Lagos
    May, 13 2012
    Post modern Christianity. I agree with Just Read the Book comment, “superficial social club”…Far more emphasis is put on “fun” and “entertainment” and very little emphasis on the word HOW to live inside the teachings of Jehovah and his son Jesus Christ. I struggle with leaving the CofChrist or not. I haven’t been in a while due to job schedules so I haven’t left so to speak. When (we) I did attend I always left feeling empty. If one receives very little of the ‘word’ which is what we most hunger for, how can we be filled with “Spritual food”? I think people are starving! As a young girl raised in the CofChrist I learned you are judged by an inner circle. This actually pushed me away into the secular world!!!
    Linda Heffley
    None at present
    Granbury, TEXAS
    March, 18 2012
    There are two reasons the Churches of Christ are losing members (IMO): 1) Legalism on issues not based on Scriptures (such as non-instrumental music – young people are turning to Independant Christian Churches with music, or other groups); 2) Lack of teaching of basics concerning the Restoration Movement (Many have never heard of Alexander Campbell/Barton W. Stone – let alone read anything they wrote); and, 3) Poor Preaching and teaching from the leadership with the preacher giving an invitation without even mentioning baptism.
    David Pease
    Bozeman Church of Christ
    Bozeman, Montana
    United States
    December, 10 2011
    I left the Church of Christ to find Jesus. After 40 years of hearing constant bickering over petty issues and legalistic doctrine, the joy was gone. I realized that I was no longer comfortable raising my family someplace that seems to put more hope in “getting the issues right” than they do in Jesus. Legalism doesn’t save us. Jesus and our relationship with Him does. Period. Now my focus is on the true teachings of Jesus, starting with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”
    Alyssa Pedersen
    Solid Rock: A Jesus Church
    Tualatin, Or
    August, 15 2009
    There are two reasons to leave Churches of Christ:
    Reason 1: Churches of Christ are superficial social clubs that attempt to retain some semblance of the religious traditions of the past, so they cannot compete with social club churches that completely ignore the Bible in favor of fun and entertainment.
    Reason 2: A careful student of the Bible won’t find anything remotely similar to the modern Western Church in Scripture. No buildings, no collection, no missionaries, no bank loans, no programs, no salaries, no business meetings, no fancy clothes, no passive sermons or schedules, no stale ritual, and most importantly, no feminism.
    Just Read the Book
    The Midwest & The South
    Springfield, Missouri
    August, 2 2009
    The question, “Why did you leave the Churches of Christ” exemplifies the problem. When one is immersed, God adds them to the church (the called out). The only way to leave the called out is to return to the world. The question says the Churches of Christ are an organization one can join and leave at will. That is not correct. One is either added by God or not. Do not forget, when Jesus comes he will have the tares removed from the wheat.
    April, 8 2009
    We should understand that lacking relationship with God is the main reason. Those people have not understood the truth.
    April, 4 2009
    We should know that a number of surveys of recent time show that Christianity as a whole is losing ground. George Barna, IRIS (Trinity College) and come to the same result. So, Churches of Christ are not the only ones, but that should not make us feel good.
    March, 12 2009

Filed under: By The Numbers Uncategorized

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