REVIEW – Why They Left: Listening to those who have left Churches of Christ by Flavil R. Yeakley Jr.

Very early in the book Yeakley, lays out in plain language how this study was developed, its limitations, and how it should be used. I appreciate his honesty and candor in writing a book that could have been a springboard for church bashing. Instead, Yeakley weaves a humble and loving sentiment throughout the text that says, “May all involved be closer to God after this study.” Those involved are of course the people who left, the congregations they once attended, and those who want to make their congregation a safe haven for the lost and dying. 
One weakness that Yeakley admits to is the small number of participants (just over 300) that contributed to the online survey in comparison to the overall membership of the Church of Christ nationwide. While the number is not a good sampling, when answers began repeating themselves, it was obvious that a reasonable amount of information had been gathered. Much can be learned from this work.
The book is divided in two parts: the background of the study and then the results. Yeakley opens up most chapters in the results section with personal stories of why people left, but always balances the narratives with obvious notes about how we are only hearing one side of the story; a strong point of the book. The names of the congregations and people are kept private. Yeakley then goes on to give a thorough analysis of the cited issue.
People left for doctrinal reasons, for how they were treated, and sometimes it is the two together. There are chapters on instrumental music (the largest reason people left), homosexuality, and even how churches viewed evangelism. So, a good study will be had on these various topics.
Yeakley is very clear when he says that doctrine should not be changed to please those who disagree. Amen! However what should be taken away from this study the most is the overwhelming idea that we should be careful with how we handle people and the Gospel; otherwise, we may lose those who need it the most.