At one time or another, I’m sure we have all contemplated leaving a church. No church is perfect because the church is made up of imperfect people in pursuit of a perfect God. But is there ever a good reason to leave a church?
In a previous post titled “Picking the Right Church,” I suggested three key elements that should be a part of your decision-making process in finding the right church. With that said, when you find a church that has these three elements present, it is worth its weight in gold. Today, I want to share with you, from my 18 years experience of being a Pastor, the right and wrong reasons for leaving a church.
The Right Reasons
#1 I moved out of the area.
When you find the right church, driving any distance may be worth it, until the distance prevents you from staying connected and serving in the church. When that distance begins to inhibit faithfulness and serving, it may be time to start looking for a church closer where you live so you can grow, be faithful, and serve.
#2 Unresolved moral failure with the Senior Pastor.
Have you heard the adage, “Everything rises and falls on leadership?” Unaddressed moral failures at the top can be destructive to a church. When a Senior Pastor has a moral failure and refuses to be corrected or take time off to be restored, that is an indication of an unhealthy church, it’s time to move on.
When the teaching from the pulpit contradicts scripture, there’s a serious problem. Once you have documented the theological errors and respectfully confront the leadership, yet there is no repentance or change, you should leave.
Heresy can quietly lead people away from the truth without realizing they are no longer walking in truth. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth that sets people free. Until we receive a new body, this body needs to be challenged and confronted. Our eternity depends on it. Transformation is the evidence of salvation.
Now let’s look at the wrong reasons for leaving a church.
#1 I’m not being fed.
It’s not the Pastor’s job to feed you, it’s his job to set the table so you can eat. It is the Holy Spirit who communicates the truth to people. That’s why He is called the “Spirit of truth,” John 16:13. As the pastor delivers the message, the Holy Spirit communicates to our spirit the Word of truth. If we are not being fed, we may be resisting the Holy Spirit.
#2 I’m offended.
The church, that’s you and me, not a building, is called to “the ministry of reconciliation,” 2 Corinthians 5:18. Let’s be clear, being offended is a choice. You choose to be offended instead of choosing forgiveness and reconciliation.
We must set the example to the world of people who forgive as we are forgiven. When we hold a grudge, we reveal to the world that we are no different than those without faith. Work out your differences, don’t run from them.
#3 I’ve outgrown my church.
Let’s say this is possible. Spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how many Bible degrees we have or by how many scriptures we have memorized but by the fruitfulness of the Word of God in our life. We can’t outgrow a church or the leadership, because all our knowledge about God should promote a desire to bring others along to where we are in Christ. Stay planted and serve with humility.
Leaving a church should never be a knee-jerk decision. Soak that decision in prayer and check your heart, spirit, and motives. Seek the counsel of godly men and women. Remember the church belongs to God, not a denomination or the pastor.
Proceed with caution.