Fixing the #1 reason why people leave churches


  • 10% leave to go be with the Lord
  • 12% Job relocation
  • 12% prefer another church
  • 66% offended – bent out of shape

Story of ministry leader leaving and why

While pastoring in New Mexico, I had a ministry leader leave my church. I called and tried to find out what was wrong, went to her home to reconcile whatever the issue was. However, she ended leaving and a few with her family left as well. I never went through anything like that up to this point as a pastor.

While seeking God, I started to find answers about this leader who abruptly left my church. God began to show me that walking in love was very important and that she was not responding in love and that I was to be sure I did. Then my eyes were open to the reason she left…. she became offended. Her offence, kept her out of the love of God and her offense made her leave and get out of her call to children’s ministry.

I began to experience what made a dedicated believer leave their call and place in my local church. I began to study about offense and learned that Satan uses it as a design against believers to get them out of the local church or not attend church at all.

During this time, one set of statistics was brought to my attention:


  • 10% leave to go be with the Lord
  • 12% Job relocation
  • 12% prefer another church
  • 66% offended – bent out of shape

I was amazed that 66% of people will leave a church because of an offence. When I pastored, I would be further amazed at why some people would leave the church. People would leave for silly reasons; misperceive what someone would say or an action that was taken. When you asked them, they would not tell you the truth, or they dumped on you everything they think you did wrong and most of them said it with an attitude.

I believe we can help change the percentages of people that leave because they are offended.

What is an offense?

No OffensesWebster definition: “The act of creating resentment, hurt feelings, displeasure; The condition of being offended, especially of feeling hurt, resentful or angry.”

Biblical definition: Greek word – skandalon; originally was “the name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence, the trap or snare itself.” “In New Testament skandalon is always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way. Some uses in the bible are: “(a rock) of offense”; “things that cause stumbling” (KJV, “things that offend”), “all stumbling blocks”; “occasions of stumbling” “an occasion of falling” (KJV, “an occasion to fall”).
(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

What does being offended do?

  1. It distracts believers from their destiny. It will destroy their vision & dream. It takes believers away from God’s plan for their lives.
  2. It causes them to surround themselves with people who agree with them. Men’s opinions become the basis on how they direct their lives more than God. Hurts & wounds will cause people to isolate themselves from the rest of believers.
  3. When one is offended, they lose their joy, their strength, their peace, their excitement for the things of God. One can become depressed, worn out, critical and open to betrayal.

How do we fix this #1 problem?

  • Know what an offense is – it is a trap or snare
    Believers need to be aware of what an offense is. According to the Greek word for offense, it literally becomes a snare and or a trap to those who are offended. Realizing that it is a trap can show how detrimental an offense can be. No one knowingly would take bait, if they knew it was a trap.
  • Realize who is really behind an offense – Satan using people as bait
    Using a trap as an example, we know that a trap works because of the bait. The bait draws the victim to the trap. By taking the bait, a believer will be ensnared or trapped.

    Eph 6:10-13 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the Wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In other words, Satan uses people (flesh & blood) as bait to draw believers into an offense or his trap.”

Look closely at Matt 16:21-23 to see this truth.

“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter (flesh & blood), “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus discerned that his real battle was not flesh & blood Peter, but Satan himself using Peter. From this example, we can see Satan is the one setting up the trap, using people as bait, to get us caught in the trap of offence. When believers realize what an offense is, they will be more resistant against its design.
Know that Satan is behind the offense to bring hurt, resentment, offense and woe. He is swaying and influencing the wills of people to offend us or we may be perceiving something wrongly and becoming offended.

  • How should someone respond when they realize they are in an offensive situation – respond by the love of God

The amplified bible in 1 Corinthians 13:5, says,

“It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”

1 John 2:10, reveals the absence of an “occasion of stumbling,” this works for the one who loves his brother and thereby abides in the light. Love, then, is the best safeguard against the woes pronounced by the Lord upon those who cause others to stumble.

Believers should be taught about the love of God and know how to yield to it

Eph 4:31-5:2
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Walk in Love or respond in the God kind of Love – To be led by love, not by the offense.

  • Walk in a forgiving spirit toward others – forgive others as Christ forgave me
    Helping believers not hold a grudge or even have resentment toward someone, but choose to forgive as God in Christ forgave us.

Col 3:12-15
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

  • What should be our attitude toward offense – we should live life without any offense

Paul said in Acts Acts 24:16 “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”

Sometimes we can forgive and release others quickly. However, there are occasions where people could be hurt so badly, it will take striving or laboring at having a conscience free of offense. By experience, I know that the Spirit of God will help each individual believer overcome.

  • Presently you and members can pray over your church – like the apostle Paul prayed over the Philippians Church.

    Phil 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. NKJV

  • Learn from past problems – turn them into a success Learn from the difficulty that came through offense. If we learn from it, we turn a bad event or events (what we may consider to be a failure) and turn it into a success. Forgive by releasing people and giving it to God to judge. A pastor friend of mine said this to me, “I just don’t take it personally anymore when people leave”.

The best antidote is to be preventive.

A pastor should do his best to develop his leadership about this subject and then to his congregation and hopefully, believers will not get offended or be slow to take an offense. Mature believers can look out over one another and keep others free of offensive that becomes a root of bitterness and can create havoc.

Heb 12:15
Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives. TLB

  • A tool for pastors and believers to use – “Overcoming Offenses” mini – book

I have a mini-book entitled “Overcoming Offenses” that pastors are handing out in counseling, to their congregations, offering in bookstores, giving and/or teaching in membership class. This has proved to be a valuable tool in helping people become aware of an offense and how to respond to it. Many, many times I have had people tell me that when they felt hurt or in an offense, they would read the mini-book and it brought freedom.
You can obtain a mini-book, DVD, or 4 CD teaching series on this important message to “Overcome Offense” by calling 423.836.0463 or order it on our website.