The remaining three reasons John Pavlovitz gave in 2015 for the exodus from church are challenging and important. Below, with my comments are the three final reasons Pavlovitz believes people are leaving church (again please read his version @

3. Your vision can’t see past your building.

Buildings are important. I love the building in which I have been privileged to worship for the past three decades. But buildings are not church. Church is people. Buildings exist to serve the spiritual well-being of those who use them to support heart opening and nurture a deeper responsiveness to the presence of God’s Spirit. The congregation does not exist to serve the building in which we gather. The building, like the gathering, exist precisely for what will take place beyond the confines of the building.

The real ministry of church takes place outside the sacred space that supports our gathering for worship. Our worship is intended to empower, sustain, and inspire our interactions with the world all the time we are not in a church building. Church exists to help hearts open and soften to the presence and beauty of the Divine Light that permeates all of life. As we open in worship and find a deeper seeing of what is most true, we begin to be able to discern the outline of the sacred everywhere we look.

As Richard Rohr says, “A Christian is a person who can see Christ in everything.” Church intends to train us to see Christ in the least expected places, because it is by seeing the divine reality, that we grow in our capacity to help others see a deeper dimension in their own lives and to live in tune with the sacred Presence.

4. You choose lousy battles.

Pavlovitz’s point here is prophetic and painful. In the church we insist on fighting battles that for most people have been settled a long time ago and are no longer cause for debate, much less battle. Why is it that the church so often seems to be playing catch-up in the conversations of the world? After most people have long ago moved on, we are still squabbling over questions that have simply been settled in the wider cultural conversation. Our battles are irrelevant to the majority of people. It is hard to understand why we insist on dividing ourselves from a culture that, in many cases, has moved on to being more loving, inclusive and wise than the church has yet managed to become.

By continuing to fight battles that have been resolved for the majority, we make ourselves look like an antiquated social club for preserving old fashioned and often destructive values. We condemn ourselves to irrelevancy and give the world outside the church the impression that we are dense, uncaring, and ridiculous. Pavlovitz makes a truly challenging point when he addresses the church saying,

Church, we need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial and pacifists in the face of the terrible.

This brings Pavlovitz to his fifth and most troubling point.

5. Your love doesn’t look like love.

It is true, as Pavlovitz points out, that church often does not look very loving. We often appear harsh, judgmental, narrow-minded, and bigoted. Throughout our history we have so often backed the wrong side in important social discussions. We have lined up with reactionary, repressive forces and have failed to honour and uphold the freedom that is the only soil in which true love can grow.

We have practised guilt, shame and manipulation in an attempt to control peoples’ lives. We have been the allies of the status quo instead of the advocates of the freedom Jesus came to bring. We have viewed ourselves as the superior arbiters of right and wrong. We have condemned those who dare to pit themselves against our version of “God” by disagreeing with our “divinely sanctioned” convictions. We have lacked humility. We appear arrogant and opinionated.

We in the church need to examine our hearts, repent, and return to the Spirit of love that Jesus embodied and that seeks to set all people free to experience fullness of life.

The church’s repentance will be facilitated by a careful open reading of all that John Pavlovitz has to say on these five reasons people are leaving church. Read his entire post here: