Faith

How To Leave A Church

Although the thought of a family deciding to change their church membership from one body to another isn’t a pleasant one, it happens! Leaving a church doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When you follow God’s direction and leave a church for the right reason, in the right way, it can bring tremendous blessing to your life.

I am speaking from personal experience as not quite a year ago, we left one church and joined another. Today I want to share with you a few suggestions for how to leave a church.

Two disclaimers before I launch into the post:

  1. I am not an expert on reasons why you should or should not leave a church. That is between you and the Lord – and as such I refrained from being specific. I also used a lot of words like “might” in order to not be dogmatic.
  2. I am an expert on church drama! I grew up in a pastor’s home and currently have seven pastors in my immediate family. Because of that, I’ve seen people leave churches many times! If you’ve left a church pastored by one of my family members and think I’m referencing you in this post, I’m not. 🙂 I’m also a regular old church member now, so I’m on your side! 🙂 

And now – how to leave a church.

#1 Check Your Heart

Why are you leaving?

I can’t give you a perfect formula for when you should or should not leave a church. But I think it’s really important to check your heart and consider the reason you’re leaving. Is your church the center of your spiritual life? If it is, that might cause you to take things that happen at church a little more personally than you should.

If your spiritual life – your walk with God – is something that begins in your quiet time alone with Him, church becomes secondary and the changes, offenses and differences that happen there aren’t quite as shattering. It’s just a church, filled with humans who make mistakes.

As seasons in our life change, our spiritual needs change as well. That was the case for us. We found ourselves in a different season of life than the one in which we’d joined our church, and had different needs that couldn’t really be met at our church. We needed to be somewhere that offered help, guidance and influence from others who had experienced this season with victory.

Whatever the reason might be, ask the Lord to reveal pride, selfishness or any other wrong motives that might be in your heart. As you and your family seek God’s will, He will give you direction.

Where are you going?

If you live in an area with few choices for worship, you might have to stick it out and deal with a few things that aren’t your preference. I live in a city with literally HUNDREDS of churches that preach and teach the exact doctrine I believe. There are so many choices, making it tempting to drift from one to another as my needs and feelings are affected.

It’s probably not a great idea to leave one church until you’re settled on a new one. Before you officially “leave” a church, you might take a few weeks to visit around the area. You might also discover that other churches are also imperfect and decide that the imperfections in your church aren’t so completely unbearable after all! Or, you might just discover a church that stirs your heart and draws you to a deeper walk with God.

In our case, we visited one church and immediately knew that was where God was leading us. There was no need to visit any other churches because His direction was so clear.


Again, remember that leaving one church and joining a new one doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I hope these two questions will help as you pray and think through the process of leaving a church. Next Monday I’ll follow up with #2 and #3!

I know this isn’t typical subject matter for Come Home For Comfort, but it is a topic that is close to my heart. I hope you’ll come back on Wednesday when I promise to return to normal content! 🙂 

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19 thoughts on “How To Leave A Church

  1. You’re very blessed to have so many churches available to you. My town has one church in my denomination, so it’s all or nothing. We had a pastoral change recently, and it’s been VERY challenging dealing with the many changes. I’m praying that time will bring less confusion, as the new leadership seems to mean well. Change is often very difficult, but it also can bring wonderful things. Praying that you and Paul find just what you need in your new church! 🙂

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    1. I’m very thankful for the options we have here, you’re right! 🙂 You’re so wise to assume the best in your church leadership – that’s not always the typical reaction. I’ll be praying for your situation! ❤

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  2. So glad you’ve found a church that is a great fit for your family! We’ve been on the church search in so many cities over the years. Some were easy and some were hard. Right now we’re on a the hunt for a church that we can get involved with that will be a blessing to each person in our family. We would love to find a congregation in our city to connect with. We’ve found some churches with good adult opportunities, but the children’s areas are lacking. The search continues. We once had a church tell us that most couples activities were targeted towards older couples so we should come back in ten years.

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  3. Changing churches is difficult. We each have such a personal relationship with our faith and the relationships within the building are sensitive. We move more than most with work and finding a church is also difficult. You think God is there so why can’t I settle in. It really makes you look deep inside yourself. Bless you for bring out this sensitive situation. I understand it well.

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  4. I live in a rural area and go to a small SDA church. Because our services are held on Saturdays, our choices are very limited. We did leave for about a year, but got tired of driving so much and not being connected.
    There were problems at the church we were going to in the first place that helped us decide to try out other churches. When we decided to come back, we were not so warmly welcomed by some.
    Its been hard, but I am always remembering I’m there for God and to help anyone that needs it. Whether its teaching kids or welcoming visitors. I’m trying to make the best out of an imperfect situation. My husband is having a harder time. I totally get what you’re saying here. I don’t think its a catastrophe if people need a different church.

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    1. It breaks my heart to know you were not welcomed back to your Church warmly. We left our Church a few years ago for about 18 months. When we came back the congregation almost shouted with joy. That’s the way it should be. But you are on the right track…….You are there for God not too please people.

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    2. Thanks for sharing your story, Johanna! I’m sorry that was your experience – but it sounds like you’re working hard to have the right heart attitude about it. It’s interesting too that it’s not just Baptists who struggle with this issue! 🙂

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  5. This hit home with me as in the past year our church of under 200 has lost 5 families. It’s been hard! Our Pastor gave us all the book, “I Am a Church Member” to read and we had a “family meeting” to share our thoughts. It was a great book! We need to keep in mind that church is not about US. It’s about GOD ~ worshiping and serving Him. When we lose our focus, we become self-centered. I do understand there may be good reasons to leave, but as you suggested, may our hearts be right when we do so. In spite of the losses, a new couple has come to accept Christ and are being discipled. PTL!!!

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    1. Our pastor preached through a series based on that book a few years ago – it is a good one! It has been my experience that revival often comes after people leave. For whatever reason that happens, it’s always a wonderful thing to experience!

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  6. “As seasons in our life change, our spiritual needs change as well. That was the case for us. We found ourselves in a different season of life than the one in which we’d joined our church, and had different needs that couldn’t really be met at our church. We needed to be somewhere that offered help, guidance and influence from others who had experienced this season with victory.”

    This paragraph resonated with me, and was one of the reasons that I left the church that I had been in for 40 years.
    The new pastor believed with all his heart that the Biblical model for our local body was a “family-integrated” church. I tried to go along with everything for 4 years; however, I soon came to realize that there was no place for me in this kind of church. I did not know where I fit, and if I was even needed in this type of body of believers. I am single with no children. Eliminating the nursery and Sunday Schools so that everyone in the family could be all together in the worship services also eliminated some of the areas/ministries where I could be of service. Also, I personally saw the need for age appropriate Biblical instruction especially for visiting children who were not familiar with being quiet and sitting still during an adult sermon.

    Thank you for writing this. Believe me, leaving a church was a hard decision, but I knew that it was a right one.
    I am looking forward to your next enstallment. 🙂

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    1. Beth, thank you for sharing your story! That’s a great example of a reason you could leave a church and experience blessing in a new place of worship. There is such a stigma over “church hopping” and I wish it wasn’t so. I hope you’ve been able to find a new place where you can grow, serve and be encouraged! ❤

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  7. I usually enjoy reading your blog. This one didn’t set quite right with me. I’m sure your heart was right, but it almost sounds like it is all about me when I go to church. “This church is not meeting my needs at this time in my life, so I will check out different options.” Thank you for sharing a blog. It is fun to see all of your creative ideas and ways you show love to others and your family.

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    1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this post, Kathy. I know this isn’t a topic everyone will like. I know what you mean, it does seem self centered and that is something you have to work through on a personal level. Don’t worry, I’ll be back Wednesday with a normal post. 🙂

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