Many church leaders are frustrated that fewer and fewer people are filling the pews. The predominant reaction is to criticize those exiting and question their commitment to God. They should be asking why people no longer feel committed to the church.
Many who have felt alienated from the church have learned God and Church are not one in the same. The church is an institution that can be more focused on preserving itself and its dogma than growing in spiritual understanding about God. Those who worship the church are strongly vested in preserving its teachings and beliefs as "non-negotiable" and stagnant as though everything to be known has already been written. The "spiritual" experience needs to be prescribed and locked in step with whomever is driving the message. The teachings drive an inextricable web of connection between God and church in hopes that followers feel more connected to God through greater connection to the church. That connection is the driving message.
There is very clear evidence that God and the church are NOT one in the same. If you believe in God, certainly you believe God is never wrong. Through the years the church has been wrong on many issues and in many practices.
The church is simply a group of people sharing what that institution believes. There is nothing wrong with that. It can be a wonderful source of community and support. But the church is not God. Promoting and leading the church as if it is infallible and specially chosen as THE voice of God is a huge mistake. It's spiritual poison for those within the church and it is spiritual poison for those who question church doctrine.
This type of thinking within the church causes followers to view those not in the fold as inferior. Those not sharing their commitment to the institution are seen dis-connected from God, not as spiritually driven and in need of fixing. Those who grew up in this type of church and realize a disconnect with church doctrine have a difficult time separating the church doctrine and God. It causes an unnecessary spiritual storm. In both situations it's a destructive result of church worship as opposed to a path of spiritual growth.
God is everywhere in all things. God is the connection of all things. When churches teach connection instead of separation, there will be a spiritual movement that has momentum. The connection is not church and God. The connection is all things and God. The only separation is in one's own mind and that is an illusion.