Follow & Post!

Thanks for visiting my blog! I'd love to interact with you. Feel free to follow and post your comments.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When to Leave Your Church, Part 1

Church life is tough, to say the least. The reason is simple: there's the possibility (probability, really) of backbiting, gossip, spreading dissension, conflicting personalities, differences of opinion, and so much more. Really, there's the probability of being hurt by someone else from within your church.

I like what Ken Sande of Peacemakers Ministries said at one of his great conferences I attended, "If two or more are gathered together, there will be conflict." Pretty funny, eh? And true.

Before I get into the depths of this topic, I wish to give a preface. I'll call this Part 1.

Over the years as a pastor, I've seen and heard of many people leave their churches for various reasons. And the reasons most leavers give, I've noticed, really aren't the real reasons.

"God is leading us away." That's too vague.
"We don't really like the music." Really? That's a reason to leave your church?

I know what some of you may be thinking, "Is it really everyone's business why one leaves a church?" And that's a very good question. Of course, I should not make an "across-the-board" statement. However, if you are thinking of leaving your church, then you are actually thinking of leaving your church.

You're not leaving your building. You're not leaving your programs. You're leaving your people. Please allow me to present a unique and often neglected perspective of your church. The Apostle Paul wrote a phrase numerous times in his epistles that may be taken lightly: "one another." Bear with one another, love one another, look out for the interests of one another, carry one another's burdens. I can go on and on. The idea is of familial intimacy. (Most churches miss out on this extravagant gift from our Lord.) When you decide to leave your church, you are leaving "one another."

So is it my business that you are leaving my church? Yes. It's my business because you are part of my "one another." Now, it's not my business to spread rumors of why you are leaving. And it's certainly not my business to hold a grudge against you for leaving. But if you leave my church, you are leaving me.

Interesting perspective I think this is. It's not a perspective we usually think about when we decide to leave our churches, because usually the reasons why we leave carry the negative and dangerous ingredients of anger and bitterness. Those are not "one another" emotions. Those are "me and no other" emotions.

Usually, when a church member decides it's time to go, he leaves as quietly as possible. Perhaps an email or letter is sent, but he doesn't face anyone (or very few) in his church telling them his plans.

We're quick to call our churches "families." But when one leaves, even because of conflict, there's very little course of reconciliation. I couldn't imagine if one of my kids just disappeared! That would be tragic! How unfortunate that we don't view one another this way.

Tragedy strikes many churches each week. Members leave because of something they don't like. And most of the things they don't like have nothing to do with essential doctrinal issues. Most of the time, the real reasons church members leave their church families are because of relationship issues with their church family members.

It's much easier to just run away than it is to obey. Confront with love and grace. Forgive. Ask for forgiveness. Be full of grace and truth. These things are difficult, but they are commands from our Master.

There's more to this topic coming in the near future, but for now--I know one good reason NOT to leave your church. Bitterness.

It keeps me from living above the common. Believe me. I've been there.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic article, Chad!!!
    I couldn't agree more.