I have an idea that a neglected area of church life is ministry to those who once were part of us but are no longer. Naturally we get caught up with the people who come to church. But there are quite a few 'once were worshippers' out and about. Did they leave vowing never to come again? Was their departure a deliberative act of unbelief? Possibly. But probably it was a combination of things, perhaps none of which was significant in itself, with all combining to cause 'drifting away'.
Here is a note from a larger article in connection with North America:
"More Americans have given up their faith or changed religions because of a gradual spiritual drift than switched because of a disillusionment over their churches' policies, according to a new study released today which illustrates how personal spiritual attitudes are taking precedence over denominational traditions.
The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is the first large-scale study of the reasons behind Americans switching their religious faith and found that more than half of people have done so at least once during their lifetime.
Almost three-quarters of Catholics and Protestants who are now unaffiliated with a religion said they had "just gradually drifted away" from their faith. And more than three-quarters of Catholics and half of Protestants currently not associated with a faith said that, over time, they stopped believing in their religion's teachings."
Hat-tip to Titus One Nine. The whole article in the Washington Post may be read here.