Ten Rules for Leaving a Church

This is such a money post that I felt it was better to copy and paste than just give you the link:

1. Do not leave without first examining your heart to find out why you want to leave. Many will say they are leaving their church for doctrinal issues, lack of leadership, a lack of genuine community, or other issues – when really the reason they are leaving because their pride has been wounded in some way. Maybe they aren’t getting the recognition they think they deserve. Maybe they think their gifts are undervalued. Maybe they see someone else getting attention and public applause and they feel threatened or jealous. Too many people leave their churches under the guise of some spiritual reason, when really it is a vindictive act stemming from wounded pride.

2. Do not leave without first having the hard conversations. Some people leave their church because they are offended by their pastor / elder or by some other leader in the church. Matthew 5:21-26 condemns the sin of niceness. You cannot simply walk away when you are offended and claim you are simply too nice, too non-confrontational, too whatever, to not have the hard conversations. You need to confront those who offend you. You need to bring your concerns to the leadership of your church and give them opportunity to hear you and respond to you before you leave. You may find that they hear you and change. You may find that you are the one who is wrong and that you need to repent. Either way, you give the Spirit the chance to work through relationship and bring growth and change to His Body.

3. Do not leave if you have had the hard conversations with the wrong spirit. Maybe you have had those conversations, but you did it behind the a sawed off shotgun – blasting the offender into oblivion instead of going humbly and seeking to re-establish relationship. If so, humble yourself and confess your arrogance and seek to have the conversation in a balanced and humble way.

4. Do not leave if you have not been faithfully involved with your time, talents, and treasure. If that describes you, you are a consumer and should not transplant your consumerism into some other poor church. Repent, get involved, and give more than you get.

5. Do not leave if you have been bad mouthing the leadership or gossiping under the guise of prayer requests. Take six months or a year and commit yourself to either silence or active prayer and support for the leadership. If after that time you are still convinced God is leading you away, you can leave without making ripples of bitterness.

6. Do not leave with some idealistic notion that some other church has it all together. As the old saying goes, if you find a perfect church, don’t go there – you will just screw it up. Every church has problems because every church is made up of people who are a mess of brokenness and redemption, sin and spiritual growth. The church is more like a hospital than a country club, and good thing too, because we are all sick and coming to meet the Great Physician.

7. Do not leave if you have left another church within the last year. Absolutely do not leave if you have left two or more churches in the last three years. You are a church hopper – a consumer who moves from community to community seeking what you may devour. Figure out why you can’t settle down into a single church community before you inflict your unrealistic expectations into some new, unsuspecting church.

8. Do not leave for any reason other than God’s call on you to leave. Maybe you disagree with your church’s doctrine or practice. Maybe you think your church has a loon at the helm. Maybe you are frustrated by your church’s unwavering commitment to staying current to the 1950’s. Maybe you are frustrated with your church’s commitment to getting on board with every new fad before they even become fads. Whatever reason you have – make sure you have taken it to God in prayer, seeking humility, to gain a conviction that God is leading you.

9. When you leave, leave alone. Do not seek to justify your actions or take anyone with you. Leave for God’s glory, not your own. Let God do His thing and don’t get in the way with your own sinful attempts at self-advancement or self-protection. Leave quietly and with grace. Follow God’s call, humbly committing to not undercut God’s work in the lives of those you leave behind… and humbly expecting to be misunderstood by some, and even attacked or misrepresented. Do not cast blame or burn bridges. If you do, go back and read #5.

10. When you leave, seek to leave with grace and with your head high (not in pride, but in humble confidence). Meet with the leaders if possible and explain how and why God is leading you. Be honest and direct (you have already sought to resolve issues – see #2) but not vindictive, self-promoting, condemning, or divisive.

Thoughts?

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3 comments

  1. These are some great guidelines. Leaving a community of people (and therefore a church) is never easy, but these are some great ways to ensure that its done right… in the right way, for God’s Glory, not our own pride.

  2. Whoa. Far from the thought of leaving as I am, I found plenty within those guidelines to convict me on how I ought to be serving within the church – both in encouraging those who struggle with these things and watching myself carefully for evidence of similar sin. Thanks for reposting!

  3. So true. We need to be faithful to the place God has placed us. If we are only led by emotions and not conviction we will never grow spiritually. God has put principles in the Bible to live by, yet we seem to forget that we need to forgive others the same way Jesus forgives us everyday. Satan does a good job at ruining people’s destiny by simply using offenses between believers, yet the offended person does not realize that if they don’t forgive then on judgement day they wont be forgiven because we simply cannot receive something we have not given. What a horrible ending and eternal ending…

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