“Nobody Cares About Me” (And Other Reasons People Don’t Call You When You’ve Missed Church)

“Why didn’t anyone call me?”

I have heard this question more times than I can count in my 14 years as a pastor. I’ve heard this question from people who were part of our church anywhere from 3 weeks to 30 years.  I have heard this question from people who show up at our church, as an explanation for why they are looking for a new church home. I have heard this question coming out of my own mouth. 

It is a question that often carries a lot of hurt behind it, and the conclusions we come to about the answer can have big consequences. Sometimes our conclusions will lead to us carrying hurt for many years.  Sometimes they will lead to us leaving a church community for good.

There may be a number of reasons that nobody called (or texted, or messaged, or sent you a carrier pigeon) when you missed church, some of which might surprise you.  Let’s talk about them.

Option One: Nobody Cares About You

This is, of course, a viable possibility. It is possible that the reason no one has contacted you is because nobody actually cares about you.  It is possible that you don’t matter much to your church and you aren’t missed at all. It is possible that people DID notice you were gone and didn’t care one twit about it. 

My experience is that this is usually the default conclusion people make when they step back from their church and don’t hear from anybody.  I can totally see the logic in leaving a church for good if you felt this was the case, and indeed sometimes it is.

But what if that is not actually the reason?  What if there are other options, such as…

Option Two: No One REALIZED You Had Been “Away”

Did you know that today “regular” church attendance is considered attending three services out of every eight?  This means that even if you break this mode, and attend every single Sunday, most people around you are not. This means that it has become really hard to notice when people are “gone” and not just “not there.” 

Let me show you what I mean. 

Let’s say there are two people – Nancy and Jared.  They both attend somewhat regularly – let’s even say FIVE out of eight weeks – and they usually chat and sit together.  Now let’s say that Jared is going through a really hard time and doesn’t go to church for all five of those weeks. And Nancy doesn’t contact him!!  Why? Is it because she doesn’t care???

Well, the first two weeks he wasn’t there Nancy was away herself.  She was visiting some family. The next two weeks she came and Jared wasn’t there, but she didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t strange at all for Jared to miss a week or two, and, besides, she figures that he was there the weeks that she wasn’t. Then Nancy is away another week – she is sick.  She comes back, but again, she assumes Jared was probably there the week she missed. Then two more weeks pass and still no Jared. It is likely only then that she starts to think to herself: “I wonder if everything is okay with Jared.” At this point she pops him a message on Instagram, to which he replies: “I can’t believe you didn’t contact me!!  I haven’t been at church for SEVEN weeks, and you JUST noticed? I guess you don’t care.” 

See how it happens?

It may not be that people don’t care – it may be that people simply haven’t put the pieces together that you are GONE and not just “away.”  

Option Three: The Church has Gotten Bigger

The above story might logically lead you to then say:  “Well, at least the pastor should notice. The pastor is there every week.”  Fair enough. However, I can speak from experience, that if your church is getting bigger, it gets harder and harder for pastors to keep track of EVERYONE in the church.  Our church, for example, has about 350 people that call us home. That is a lot of people to remember and notice when they have been gone (while noticing if it’s just been more than the usual number of weeks that they are away…). I would LOVE to be able to notice everyone who steps back and reach out, but sometimes I simply can’t keep track. Which brings me to my next point…

Option Four: You are Not Connected or Involved

You may be hurt that no one noticed that you are gone, but it may be that you were, honestly, never very connected.  If you have not joined a small group, been part of ministry, or served in any way then it IS harder to build relationships with people that would have a chance to notice you are gone besides the pastor.  To be noticed, you need relationships with people who would notice you.

Option Five: People Feel Awkward

A few years ago our church tried to address this issue by putting everyone in a group of three – the idea was that if you noticed someone in your group of three was away that you would reach out to them, or at least let a pastor know that they had been away or needed support. 

I am sorry to say that this was a TOTAL BUST. 

I was stunned when I would hear people say: “My person hasn’t been there for a long time.” “Did you contact them?” I would ask.  “Oh no,” many would answer, “I didn’t want it to be awkward.” 

I discovered that some people really find this a difficult thing to do.  They feel like it will look like they are “checking up” on people. They are shy. They don’t want to make people feel bad.  I have been stunned by how many people DO notice people are away and just don’t act on it. 

It may be that you are noticed and missed, but people you know simply aren’t the type to call you up about it. 

(Also, there are some generational differences here.  I have been told by many of our younger church members that being called when they are away makes them feel guilty. They don’t feel loved – they feel like they have let people down.  For them, the idea of calling people to see why they haven’t been at church is 100% rude and weird. If you’re away, they may be trying to RESPECT you by not tracking you down).

Option Six: Different Expectations

A number of years ago a woman came to our church who had moved to the area and left a church she had been in for many years.  She went through a difficult time, and I heard from her that she was “very hurt” that more people from church hadn’t visited her.  At the time, we had a team that did a lot of visiting for elderly people in our church. When our team met, I learned that someone had visited her EVERY week that month!   What did she mean that “nobody” visited her? 

Later I talked to someone from her old church. That church was very small and deeply connected. When someone was sick, you know how many times someone visited? EVERY DAY. 

No wonder she felt let down!  We had totally different expectations of what being “connected” meant! 

If you are joining a church, it may be wise to discover how they address people being away, pastoral needs, etc.  It could be good to know if you can expect a visit from the pastor if you’ve been sick, or how much people who’ve been way have follow up.   

You may also want to consider if you have realistic expectations of your church.  Are you expecting someone to visit every day? That is very rare.  Are you expecting to hear from everyone at your church? That is also unlikely.   Maybe your church has felt they cared for you better than it felt to you…


These are just a few options as to why you might not hear from people when you’ve been away from your church. I haven’t even mentioned that people might not know how to contact you (does your church have your contact info?), that they may be trying to give you space, or that they don’t get your status updates in their Facebook feed when you passively aggressively share that you miss your church. 

Why did I write this post? Because I grieve the hurt that people feel when they assume their church doesn’t care about them.  It is even more sad when that assumption is not true. That’s why today, if you have felt unloved or forgotten by your church, I invite you to consider what you could do to address options 2-6. 

Reach out to a friend or a pastor and TELL them you’ve been away and ask to talk.  Get more involved so that you form deeper connections. Show up more than 3 out of 8 worship services a month.  Let people know how you would like to receive care, and then talk about if it’s reasonable together. Make sure the church has your contact info!  

Most of all, don’t give up too quickly. The hurt of feeling forgotten is real, but it may be a hurt based on things that aren’t true.  Before you despair, check out all the options. You may be loved more than you realized. 


Add Yours
  1. Diane

    I’ve been thinking about this article for a long time. I wish that there was an article encouraging people to reach out more often, instead of explaining why it doesn’t happen (and maybe giving people who might have reached out a rationale for why they shouldn’t or don’t need to). We should encourage those people who “aren’t the type to call or text” to just do it.

    Perhaps the relationship has to be there already for someone to feel comfortable joining a Pod or attending an event. I agree that the hurt felt is unfortunate, but I think that the onus falls on the Church to express the love of God. If the efforts are genuine and not forced, they shouldn’t be perceived as rude. There is a major difference between “I was thinking about you” and “You missed church last week and I’m checking up on you.” Who knows, the phone call or text might make the difference between that person coming the following week.. or not.

    Understanding is certainly needed, but in my view, love is action and reaching out provides an opportunityfor the church to show that love. Waiting for people to come searching for it seems like a missed opportunity.


    • leannefriesen

      I do agree we need to encourage people to do those things – I have written a few articles on that very topic. One of them was about being a welcoming church called “That Time I Visited Fourteen Churches in Four Months.” The reason I wrote this particular article was because I so often hear people lament that they feel nobody cares about them, and I wanted people to hear that there may be reasons they hadn’t thought of that may not be because no one cares. The best example I think is the one I mentioned about when people are away on different weeks and no one simply NOTICES that someone is gone. Unfortunately, we can’t even reach out if we don’t notice someone is away simply because we have different schedules. All that to say, this wasn’t an article to justify that people don’t need to reach out – I apologize if that is what you heard. I do and will always encourage that and do it myself. But in a constantly growing church we also need to remember the reasons we may not have heard from people so that we don’t assume we are not loved. It makes me sad to think of someone thinking that people from their church don’t care about them, and I hope this may help someone who may be thinking that to consider that maybe there are others factors at play. Thanks for commenting.


  2. Mary Sires

    No matter what their reasons for not reaching out, I still say that true love is shown in action, just like Jesus did here on earth.


  3. Alvin Low

    We have been members of a local church since 1990, and the church supports us as missionaries. We are back to the city, and have informed them (both phone call and emails) that my wife has been admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19 FOR THE PAST 10 DAYS, and I myself am being quarantined, having tested positive. NO ONE RESPONDED TO OUR CALL FOR HELP. NONE. IN THE PAST YEARS, I HAVE ALWAYS ASKED THE CHURCH TO CALL MY WIFE WHEN I AM TRAVELING FOR MISSIONS. NONE. NO ONE EVER CALLED SINCE 1990. NO ONE CARE. IS THAT WHAT A CHURCH SHOULD BE?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leannefriesen

      I’m sorry that is happening to you. Sounds like you have done what you can by letting them know and asking for what you need, as my post suggested you do. I pray your wife gets better, that you do not contract it, and that your church reaches out soon. If they do not, I highly encourage you (as I said in the blog) to set up a meeting by phone or Zoom to meet with the pastor and share your hurt.


  4. Irvin R. Rzepinnik

    I to had the same problems. I was invited in many ministries. Help setting up the strange and music ministry I àllways helped out ware needed, setting up the chairs, sound equipment, tables etc. We were mobile for awhile, in school gyms etc. I just liked helping out. It was a church. Oh yeh, I had a pickup truck. They called me alot to move them, mostly the sisters. I had two kids, and was divorced, , they never gave me gas money to move them either, they would never date me. Yea they like to use people for Shure.. I was just a resource for them and my truck. This was back in the 90’s. Well I got hurt out after awhile. I left after six years of servitude. They never call me now, I got rid of the truck. I learned a hard lesson. I was a giver they were all takers.


  5. Don James

    Second time I have read this. Tomorrow is the funeral for the one guy who called me after I had a pulmonary embollism last March. I had told the church I was taking a sabbatical. 30 years with them,Founded the Church, and taught Sunday School for most of that time, 2-3 week a month.
    I will attend via zoom, but still very bitter about the lack of contact, 5 e mails I think!


    • leannefriesen

      I”m very sorry to hear this happened to you. Sometimes churches really do let us down and it is absolutely awful. This post isn’t trying to address those situations – but more for those times that people may not have thought through some of the reasons that it can go unnoticed that we have been away. It sounds like that wasn’t the case for you, and I’m sorry to hear it.


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