003 Exit Strategy: Stopping Church Attendance

Actively becoming inactive

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
— Herman Hesse


It’s one thing to decide to leave the church; it can be another thing entirely to figure out how to actually stop attending. For some, it feels easier to just relocate than to figure out how to extricate yourself from your ward.

For Mormons, church attendance is so much more than being a body in a pew. It’s difficult to be a passive participant in Mormonism. It’s why we refer to church-attending Mormons as being active and why Sunday is a day of rest in theory only. Oh, and it’s not just Sundays either.

As an active Mormon, fully engaged in the work and community of the ward, you likely have a calling; you have a job to do, and folks rely on you to be there and do that job. During that three-hour block, you’re needed. You belong.

So when it’s time to leave, this aspect of Mormonism presents some rather large obstacles. The feeling that you’re disappointing people, like you’re leaving them in the lurch, fearing that you’ll be rejected by those you care about–these are big issues and can be enormously difficult to navigate.

In this episode,  we share our individual experiences with stopping church attendance and how we dealt with some of the difficult aspects of the decision, and give some practical suggestions you might consider as you make your departure from the pews.


  • Some of the practical considerations involved in the decision to stop attending church might include: the need to get out of a calling; navigating the decision with a believing spouse, children, or other family members; choosing whether or not to discuss your choice with your ward leadership; maintaining relationships with believing friends.

  • Mental health considerations include: the loss of community and a sense of belonging; a shift in core identity when your foundational self is tied up in church experiences; the need to set healthy boundaries; the experience of conflicting emotions, including both grief and relief.


  • If you’re struggling with stopping church attendance, just know that it’s completely normal to feel anxious and conflicted.

  • In many ways, stopping church attendance requires you to “actively become inactive.” Untangling yourself from the knot of callings, belief, and identity takes time and effort.

  • Also, talking with a professional therapist could be a really, really good idea as you work through this process. It’s hard, yo.

Thanks for listening!

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Oliver ChristensenComment