I hope I’ve made a case for asking significant questions and considering eternal issues as you consider “leaving your church.” If you are just stopping in, scroll down to the bottom and read the first entries in this series so you’ll be in the thought-flow for this entry.
Simply put, there are times that you may need to leave you church. However, in our remote control culture where we change channels on a whim and we have our food made-to-order, we must refuse to allow our consumerism to influence our commitment to Christ.
I provide the following thoughts about leaving your church as a template for prayerful consideration over time, not as a checklist for “how to.” In addition, these thoughts should be applied to most churches. This is not a place for the isolated instances of abusive churches, horrible situations, or moral failings in leadership (though they do exist!). It’s meant to address the typical instance of a growing sense of unease or discontent in your heart as a regular, faithful member of a church. It does not apply to the once-a-monthers, infrequent attenders or the uninvolved church consumer/pew sitter.
- Do not allow your emotions to direct your decision to leave your church.
- Do not allow your personal preferences to outweigh biblical guidance in leaving your church.
- Make sure you’ve had at least one honest, unemotional meeting with the pastor before you leave.
- Your goal is to leave in love, not in frustration, anger or disenchantment.
- Review your commitment to be obedient to Christ and to protect the unity of His body and the beauty of His bride.
- Resolve to not tear down, stir up, or bring people with you as you leave.
- Deal with authority issues in your heart. Are you willing to submit your life to leaders and follow their authority? If not at this church, then what church?
- Seek counsel from godly friends or family outside your church.
- Commit to pray diligently for God’s blessing and favor upon your church and its leaders for 60 days before leaving or stepping out of an active role. You may discover a unique refreshing of your heart as you begin to pray.
- Be as tough on yourself as you are on your evaluation of your church.
This is not an exhaustive list, obviously, and I’d love to hear from other leaders what you might add or substract from these. As a pastor, I know there’s a back door to our church and that people can silently slip out of it – sometimes unnoticed. If there’s a steady stream, there’s a problem. However, a trickle is normal and necessary for many reasons. We’ll cover those in anther entry.
To be continued…