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Are You a Potential Church Dropout?

Watch out for these six factors that could put you at risk for taking a leave of absence from church.

1. A major life event. Graduation, marriage, divorce, a death in the family, a sudden change in your finances. Experiences like these cause one to re-evaluate his life—and sometimes explore alternatives.

2. Change in the church. A new pastor, a new location, the loss of your best friends—when your notion of “church” is forced to change, it can be hard to stick around.

3. Prolonged stress. Have you been battling career or financial uncertainty? Long-term illness in the family? Trying to start a new business? Faced with prolonged stress, there’s a tendency to put church on the back burner—or turn it off altogether.

4. A chronic, unresolved problem. Festering conflicts and needs left unattended are like acid on a man’s spirit. Unless he finds resolution, he will eventually become disillusioned.

5. Not using your spiritual gift. If you don’t know what your gift is, and if you are not using it to serve the body of Christ, you are crippling your spiritual life. Few things place you more at risk than this one.

6. Burnout in a leadership position. If your energy and enthusiasm have been sapped through prolonged overwork in church ministry, you are at risk. You need a break—before you break!

William Hendricks, adapted from Exit Interviews: Revealing Stories of Why People are Leaving the Church (Moody), quoted in New Man, November/December, 1996, p. 60