According to a new Lifeway Research survey, most Christians in the United States are moving to another church.
The study found that 60 percent noted a physical move as the main reason for their change. The other 40 percent gave diverse responses.
"After churches opened back up, we of course went back to church and I just began to feel like really, I needed something more," Heather Edwards told CBN News in an interview.
She and her husband, Norm, live in northern Virginia. They noted they felt a disconnect when they attended a large church in Washington, D.C.
"I saw this at the church where we were on staff and I see it at other larger churches where you literally can walk in, walk past everybody, and there's the good, 'Hey welcome home, good morning.' There's a lot of that," Norm explained. "And it's kind and it's nice and the intentions are good but you literally can go to your seat, not get to talk to anybody, go through the very professional, very well-buttoned-up service, both worship and message, and then there's a prayer and you walk out and file out and they say, 'Thanks for coming' and you really haven't talked to anybody and you just go straight home and that's it."
Following the pandemic, the Edwardses sought for more community, a smaller church, and sermons with deeper meaning, rather than just topics.
The Lifeway survey found that 40 percent of “church switchers” are like Heather and Norm, switching churches due to reasons other than changing locations.
"When we dug into the reasons behind that disenchantment, what we find is some of the accusations that we've heard in other settings, that the church was judgmental, the church was hypocritical, sometimes pointing at the pastor not being a good preacher," Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, explained.
McConnell said that the data shows an opportunity for the church to have a more outward-forward approach.
Meanwhile, pastor Alex Young of Crossroads Presbyterian in northern Virginia pointed that the people leave church due to the church not preaching the Bible, people no longer believing, or because they had moved to a different church following a disagreement from where they previously congregated.
"All Christians I think hold those same core beliefs in common, but on these secondary issues, there's disagreement," he told CBN News.
Such issues include baptism, church government, interpretation of certain scriptures, and others.
Nowadays, Heather and Norm attend a smaller church located in Northern Virginia, which they say is a great fit for them.
"I think church is about community. It's about doing this life together. So, we're encouraging each other, holding each other accountable. We're there for each other and we didn't really have that in that bigger setting," Norm said. "And it certainly is not as polished or professional but that's not really what matters to us. It's the authenticity in the community."
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
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