There are plenty of reasons why people leave churches. Some are legitimate and others are not. In this short series, I want to focus on illegitimate reasons why people leave churches. Here is one:
"I don't feel connected."
This can mean several things, but the way I am accustomed to hearing it means that very few in the church, apparently, have reached out to said person. She feels isolated as a result; relationships have not developed as quickly as she expected; and in all likelihood, she believes that if she stopped attending no one would notice.
It is a shame when someone legitimately feels disconnected at a church. As Christians, we are called to be hospitable and loving. No one should be left behind. We should be seeking to develop relationships in our churches, relationships that extend beyond the familiar (i.e., those with whom we have been friends for years).
I am fairly certain most would agree with the aforementioned; however, notice what I wrote in the previous paragraph. "It is a shame when someone legitimately feels disconnected." Most often, in my experience, when people feel disconnected at a church it is illegitimate. They have visited for several weeks, maybe a couple of months, and the quota that they envisioned was not met. In other words, they expected a certain amount of people to greet them and invite them into their home. That has not occurred. The result--I don't feel connected.
The problem with this, whether you are newly visiting a church or you have been at a church for a bit longer, is that we often forget that hospitality and friendliness are two-way streets. Every Christian is called to love his brothers and sisters in this manner, which means even those new to a church are called to employ those attributes. Far too often, however, visitors to a church, or those who have attended for a bit longer, sit back and wait to be approached. Essentially, they are testing the church. They want to get a read on its friendliness meter. That is both immature and unfriendly.
Instead of waiting for people to approach you, introduce yourself. Invite people into your home. As the old saying goes, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You should also consider that if you do not feel connected, perhaps the problem is with you. It is easy to blame a church for how you feel, and it is easy to use your feelings as an escape hatch from the church. Be steadfast. Extend hospitality. Love your brothers and sisters. These are ways to ensure, in most cases, you will be connected at a church.