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:
- 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.
- 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! 🙂