Pew Research interview 35,000 people at a time. So their figures are worth looking at.
In order of importance, here is their top three;
- Just drifted away from the religion. (71% Catholic and Protestant)
- Stopped believing in the religion’s teachings. (65% Catholic, 50% Protestant)
- Spiritual needs not being met. (43% Catholic, 39% Protestant)
Most Pastors haven’t heard of Pew Research. I always ask, although I confess, I haven’t quizzed 35,000.
Wannabe pastors and preachers clamour for Youtube and social media space on their path to spiritual destiny. We can’t summarise all their opinions here. Nevertheless here is a sample. It boils down to three reasons for leaving church;
- The Relationally De-Churched
- The Missionally De-Churched
- The Transformationally De-Churched
So, there’s not much similarity with the Pew survey. How come the differences?
Perhaps the first Pew finding is illuminating – people just drifted away. That suggests the Pastor was boring, and that’s the biggest insult you could hand out.
On the other hand, why is the Pastor boring?
One answer is that our mediatized society has lots of buzzy exciting things to do rather than attend church. In a comparative sense therefore, the Pastor is boring if you have the option to watch Bruce Willis movies or go to Disneyland.
Go back to the Middle Ages, and everyone in Europe attended church. How come? The sermons were the same then too, but there was no entertaining competition. Church was in fact the only live channel in town. Attending was exciting compared to whittling pegs on the porch.
In other words, don’t blame the Pastor too much – he’s doing his best against this mediatized world.