Ok, that title was tough to type. Why?
Because I love the Local Church.
I passionately believe that there is no greater organization on planet earth than the local Church! And yes, I love Bill Hybel’s famous quote…’The local Church is the hope of the world’!
But, in the midst of all the beauty and the hope, sometimes,
local churches can get messy and ugly.
To be honest, I hated the Church when I was 14 years old. I HATED THE CHURCH and I wanted to leave! Now, what I really hated was a person in our church, not the church. But, I put all hate towards the church.
Obviously my love for the Church came back in full force and everyday I thank God for the tremendous privilege He gave me of leading a local Church! So, back to the original question…
So, when should you leave your Church?
I was meeting with someone recently and they asked me this question. They were really struggling with the thought of leaving and have been praying through it.
This is a tough one for me, because I really hate the phrase…’Church Shopping’. I would never actively point someone to SHOP FOR A CHURCH! I don’t think Jesus, after He died and rose again for the Church, thought…well, just shop around for a bit and if you like it, go with that one. I think there’s so much more to it. But, if you’re at a place where you think it’s time to leave your Church, here are some ideas for you…
Leave your Church if…
Your Church doesn’t regularly and passionately Preach the Gospel.
Yeah, that one is pretty important. But, if it’s been weeks or months or years since the gospel has been presented, you may want to start looking. Now, some churches never have new people, so they don’t feel the need to present the Gospel, again, not good.
Your Church doesn’t point people to Jesus.
Again, another important one. If the name of Jesus is not loudly and proudly proclaimed, yeah, that’s not good.
Your Church doesn’t change and is stuck in the past.
I have known many people who are sticking it out at their church in case the leadership gets the idea that growing organizations change. Not that tradition is bad, but so many churches worship the traditions and not the Savior and they refuse to change.
Your Church doesn’t believe they should INVEST in the next generation.
Now, many churches just don’t have any of the next generation to invest into, I get that. But, I have been a part and know of churches that view kids and students as a burden and not an investment. If kids and students are not included and aren’t valued, yeah, you may want to start looking.
Your Church doesn’t care for the unchurched.
Two pretty big church philosophies out there. One says the Church exists for those who already know Jesus and the churches purpose is to disciple them and then send them out. Nothing wrong with this one, I’ve just found (sometimes) that the passion for those who don’t know Jesus is pretty low in these churches.
The other says that the Church exists for those who don’t know him or have given up on Church. To be honest, this is tough. Why? Because sometimes there are very well meaning people who forget its not about us and its about helping others find a personal relationship with Jesus.
Your Church never teaches about money, tithing and generosity.
Oh wow, I just went there. Yikes! But, if your Church never approaches something that Jesus talked an absolute ton about, that’s probably not good.
Those are some bigger reasons and things to look out for and pray about. Here are a few more…
You Should Leave IF
You can’t support the Pastor.
This is a tough one. But, ultimately, if you don’t believe in the vision that God’s given your Pastor for the Church, its probably not the right church for you. And, believe me, your Pastor knows if you don’t support their vision for the Church. Trust me, they know.
You aren’t giving financially because there’s something you don’t like.
Again, if you’re at the place where you withhold your giving because of a decision that’s been made, you should probably pray about where God is sending you.
You aren’t serving regularly because you got upset or offended.
Conflict, conflict, conflict! People are messy sometimes, right? So, if you stopped serving because of conflict with a Pastor, staff member, team leader or someone else, you have to work through that.
You aren’t ALL IN.
This one won’t get me brownie points with the ‘consumers’ who attend Churches, but for petes sake, its time to stop attending church and be the Church! I think you should be ALL IN like you are for your favorite TV Show or Sports team! Read every email, pray everyday for your church, serve whenever you can, give till it hurts and love your church!
Ok, my list is not the all inclusive list, just some thoughts and ideas. But, most important, eave your Church if you believe that God is leading you elsewhere. If you’ve heard from Him, GREAT! He may be taking you somewhere else to help you grow that Church or to Grow you!
Here are a few articles that helped me as I wrote this blog post:
7 Disappointing Reasons people leave the Church by Ron Edmondson
5 Reasons People have stopped attending your Church by Carey Nieuwhof
And, for Pastors, 5 Reasons it is so Painful for a Pastor to lose a Church Member by Thom Rainer