If you haven’t read part one of this post, click here. The disclaimers in that post apply to this one as well!
I really appreciated your comments on part one of this post – it confirmed that this is a topic most church-goers deal with, even ones in other denominations! Thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences with me.
Today I want to talk about the practical “how to” of leaving a church. If you’ve done as we discussed previously and have the proper heart attitude toward leaving a church, these two steps will come more easily to you. Here’s the objective when leaving a church – it’s basically the same as leaving a job – you want to display such good character in the way you “quit” that the door could be open for you to return.
#2 Talk To Your Pastor
I will again refrain from being specific or dogmatic, because I imagine there could be a situation where talking with your pastor is not feasible or best for the situation. However, I think it’s typically best to let the pastor know that you are leaving. The method in which you do this can be determined by your situation, whether it’s the size of your church, your relationship to your pastor or something else like that. If you’re a member of a mega church, you might not be able to sit down with the lead pastor over coffee.
Some pastors will try really hard to make it work so that you’ll stay. Some might not do well with confrontation and simply accept your “resignation.” No matter how the pastor responds, I want to encourage you to consider the best in your pastor. He is not perfect, and neither are we.
There are a lot of things I could say or suggest on this topic, but I have chosen to leave it open-ended. As you seek God’s wisdom on this issue, the Holy Spirit will help you know how to approach your pastor in love and kindness.
#3 Don’t Talk Negatively To Others
Leaving a church doesn’t exempt you from the guidelines of Scripture. We still must speak with grace, humility and kindness. Proverbs 16: 27-28 says, “A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.”
When we left our church last year, I knew people would reach out to us asking why we’d left. I prepared a few sentences that I could share with them that would explain, simply and kindly, why we’d chosen to leave.
Of course there were things about the church we didn’t like – there are things about every church I don’t like! 🙂 Those things don’t need to be shared with others, particularly current members of the church. There was a time when that church was where God wanted us, and I don’t want to cause bitterness or resentment in the hearts of those still in that church. They are there by God’s divine leading in their lives, just as we once were.
I listened to a Focus on the Family podcast this weekend that applies so well to this topic: Letting Go of Offenses. I was very convicted and challenged! They interviewed Brent Hansen as he discussed his new book Unoffendable: How One Change Can Make All Of Life Better. (aff link) This is a topic I need help with in more than just church situations!
It’s so easy to take sides and to view church situations with an earthly perspective. If we can view the difficult circumstances around leaving a church with heavenly vision, we’ll remember that as believers we will all be together…forever…in heaven! I hope this two-part series has been helpful if you’re navigating a church move.
I will close this series by reminding you again that 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. If you’ve treated the pastor and church members with kindness, you can hold your head high when you see those people again – there’s no reason to be ashamed of following God’s direction.
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 for a review of my summer capsule wardrobe! 🙂