The reasons cited for leaving add up to more than 100% presumably because individuals were allowed to give more than one reason. The top reason given by a 'high proportion' of church-leavers was 'Church irrelevant'
The second most important reason given for leaving - cited by half of church leavers - won't be surprising to anyone who goes to church but it is rarely cited by people ranting about church decline: about half the church-leavers said they gave up going to church because they were excluded by cliques.
Social exclusion was one of the most important reason people gave up church-going! What a challenge to all congregations. Exclusion is so easily done.
Other reasons included:
- Churchgoing was part of growing up (40%)
- Moving to a new area and family commitments (33%)
- Tensions with work (25%)
- Church was too feminine for some men, and too difficult for those sexually active outside marriage.
- Inadequate return for time and money (40%)
- Hurt by pastoral failure (14%)
- Disliked change - e.g. of hymns (20%)
- Worship too formal/informal and teaching too high/low (33%)
- Church leader too authoritarian (RC) or too unclear (Anglicans) (25%)
- Church was too conservative (20% to 33%)
- Lack of boundaries between the Church and the world (25%)
I wonder where this leaves small churches?
The study is called Gone for Good and is published by Epworth Press. Cost is £19.99.
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 Article online for subscribers only.