In David P. Gushee’s ground breaking book: After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity (2020), the author’s research identified fifteen reasons why people are currently leaving the church.
1. People leave churches to go to other churches.
2. Some leave because their faith in Christ has faded or lost salience.
3. Some walk away because they are burned out from too many years of service.
4. Some drift off to other weekend pursuits.
5. Some leave because they got their feelings hurt.
6. Some quit because they must work all the time or have complicated personal lives.
7. Some abandon ship because they are tired of church conflict.
8. Some leave for silly reasons.
9. Others leave for reasons peculiar to the American evangelical experience. Those reasons begin with disillusionment over teachings that are viewed as harmful to the vulnerable. Some leave over the harm LGBTQ people and their families have experienced.
10. Others leave over patriarchal teachings.
11. Some leave over the damaging effects of purity culture.
12. Others leave over white evangelical racism.
13. Some say: all of the above.
14. People are also leaving evangelical churches over reactionary attitudes toward science and liberal learning, over anti-intellectualism and theological rigidity, over the inability to deal with honest questions or anything other than all-happy-all-the-time faith, and over the identification of evangelical faith with conservative/Republican politics.
15. The most embittered are leaving evangelicalism in a state of trauma, reporting their evangelical experience as one of abuse or violation.
David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and past President of both the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Kingdom Ethics, Changing Our Mind, and Still Christian.