Someone passed this article along to me yesterday and I really appreciated it. I think that it is very well done and speaks to some real issues. It is a little long for a blog post, but it's worth the read. Enjoy.
Looking for the perfect church? Look no further; it doesn’t exist. The church is made up of people. Until we get to heaven, we can assume churches will have problems.
Regardless of church size, denomination or location, pastors are often troubled by how easily many members leave their church families. When someone leaves, the body is injured. Think of losing a finger or a kidney. You would feel the loss, and so does the church.
Most of us would not leave our biological families, but this doesn’t always translate to our church families. Members frequently leave without a word or with vague answers when contacted by a church staff member who misses them. This is personal for pastors and ministers, evoking emotion, passion, confusion and hurt.
There are both poor reasons and good reasons for leaving a church. Make sure you know the difference.
4 Poor Reasons to Leave:
- Things in the church are changing, and I don’t like it. Your pastors recognize that the world and the church globally are changing, and they want to stay relevant. As your church adapts, it is critical to realize what is biblical and what is cultural. Your pastors feel they can give on some cultural issues, but they also believe in holding the line on fundamentals.
- I don’t like the music anymore. Drums and electric guitars moved into spaces where pianos and organs traditionally ruled. A good way to look at this issue is to realize that, in a church of 400 people, if you have the music the way you want it on one Sunday every 7.7 years, then you have had your turn. Let others enjoy their turn as well. Music style should never be more important than relationships.
- An unresolved difference of opinion or hurt feelings. The church is a living parable on forgiveness, mercy and grace for a watching world. How we treat one another speaks loudly. The Bible is clear on dealing with problems: Go first to the person with whom you have the problem and try to resolve it for your own good, his good and the good of the church. Many times the real reason never surfaces. Instead a run around of easily repaired excuses are given.
- Another church has more to offer me and my family. If your church is lacking in an area, pray to be able to fill the space or for God to send someone who is able. Make the shift from consumer to producer.
3 Good Reasons to Make a Move
- I feel a clear call from God to begin another work. Starting a new church, going into missions or a new ministry, or changing location are good reasons to consider moving. As we grow in Christ, He is able to use us in different areas. Your pastors would like the opportunity to grieve over losing you and rejoice at your new opportunity.
- I have lost confidence in the church leadership. Major doctrinal differences, vastly different values and priorities, unclear direction or compromised leaders may call for a change. Praying for your leaders, pastors and their families is good preventative medicine. If you cannot support your leadership, pastors agree that leaving is better than staying and spreading discontent. Don’t worry about convincing other churchgoers of your need to leave; God is perfectly capable of revealing to others what they need to know and do.
- I am more comfortable reaching people for Christ who are from my own generation or culture, and I need to be in a church more like me in order to be effective. As long as you are reaching the lost, encouraging new believers and continuing to grow and mature in your own spiritual life, most pastors would want you to be where you will best use your gifts and abilities.
If you do decide to leave the church, continue to pray for your former church. In the meantime, be cautious of what you say to others about the congregation you left; the Enemy will happily use whatever we say to cause harm. Use wisdom and discretion about any information you pass on to friends.
Last, but not least, please know that your pastors are only human. They will err, misspeak and otherwise blunder from time to time. The church is one of the best places to find mercy and grace and to extend it to others.
You are an important, valued part of the church on a mission to transform the world.
Determine not to be tripped up by trivial matters.
This article first appeared in the May, 2008 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2008 Gail B. Houston. All rights reserved. Gail B. Houston has worked in church administration for 14 years. She lives in Tucson, Ariz.