5 Tips on Leaving a Church the Right Way

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Do his bride the honor of leaving well.

I met yesterday with a friend who is leaving our church. We had a good conversation about his reasons for leaving (they are legitimate) and then some discussion about how he can “leave well.” I told him that, based on my experience with people leaving our church or coming to our church after leaving another one, most people don’t leave well.

Here are a few ideas on how to leave a church well:

1. Have a good reason for leaving. Before you go, evaluate whether your reasons are good, legitimate and God-honoring. Here’s a thought-provoking post exploring good, possible, and bad reasons for leaving a church (and here’s a discussion about this post). I don’t think this list is comprehensive, but it’s good to make you think. If your reasons are good, go. If not, stay.

2. Communicate your decision to leave with the appropriate leaders. If you’re an active part of the church, leaders will need to know you’re leaving. If you are serving, communicate it to your Ministry Team leader. If you are in a Community Group, communicate it to the leader. If you are connected with an elder or pastor, communicate it with them. Personal communication is preferable to written communication, but make sure you communicate.

3. Tell these leaders the truth about why you’re leaving. If you have legitimate reasons to leave then you have nothing to hide or worry about. If the reasons for leaving will sting church leadership, deliver it in the spirit of Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Scripture commands us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), which means you don’t couch the real, sometimes difficult reasons behind a bunch of spiritualized nonsense. God may use your reasons for leaving to help the church or its leaders. I’ve had at least one “exit interview” that was immensely helpful to me as a leader — some of the truth of it stung, but it helped me grow. Whatever you do, don’t just leave without telling your leaders.

4. Appropriately transition or conclude your ministry commitments. If you’ve been an active part of ministry, your role will need to be transitioned. Hopefully you’ve been training and developing somebody to take your place anyway, but if you haven’t, give your leaders an appropriate time to find others to serve in your capacity. This period shouldn’t drag on, but you also should not just drop the ball on the people you’ve been committed to.

5. Leave graciously. In Ray Pritchard’s post on this topic, he writes:

“[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.”

If you’ve read this post and realize that you didn’t leave a church well in the past, it might be wise to circle back to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. If you have gossiped or stirred up division, you should make it right, apologizing not only to the leaders of that church but also to the people to whom you gossiped.

In the end, remember that Jesus loves the church you’re leaving and the one you’re going to — His blood was shed for both. Both churches are part of his bride. Do his bride the honor of leaving well. 

Acts 29 Network Over the last ten years, Acts 29 has emerged from a small band of brothers to almost 300 churches in the United States and networks of churches in multiple countries. Scott Thomas serves as president and director of the network, which focuses on the gospel and advancing the mission of Jesus through obediently planting church-planting churches. Founders and contributors to the Acts 29 movement include Mars Hill teaching pastor Mark Driscoll and lead pastor of The Village Church Matt Chandler.

More from Acts 29 Network or visit Acts 29 at http://www.acts29network.org/

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  • dpwinters

    Well-written and exactly the encouragement to do well what is most often done very poorly.
    It is easier to “just walk away”, but it is God-honoring to do so with the proper motives and communication.

    • Catie

      Article= good & needed
      (Almost) Everyone’s comments= not surprised, no one wants to feel guilty for leaving…

      • http://blog.alphalim.me/ alphalim

        No one should feel guilty for leaving, if they leave in a right manner.

  • Jdccmacho

    this is soooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooodddddddddddddd thank you

  • Susdgs

    I don’t like the movie, I get up and leave. Why make a big drama over it?

  • Pastorvabalos

    The Body of Christ needs a paradigm shift about the concept of Church.. Jesus said I will build My church….If you belong to the “church” that Jesus is building then there is no way you can leave this church. Church is the body of believers and we are connected with one another. Your legitimate reasons doesn’t give you the liscense to disconnect your relationship with the body of beleivers. Yes, there are many groups of believers fellowshiping in separate localities but it does not make the body of Christ disconnected. Yes, there are different roles, functions, levels of understanding of the truth and distinctions within the dody but never division because Christ is never divided. In reality, you cannot leave the church as long as you are following Christ. You cannot separate yourself from your brother or sister who offended you. true beleivers of Christ are eternally connected with each other.. So get a grip, no matter how legitimate is your reason for leaving the “church” you cannot be separated from the body of Christ..

    • sincerely

      It sounds to me like most who leave, do Not, feel like they are part of the body and some who never have felt like they truly belonged to that body. Although eventually every believer will be one. But, we joined a church too quickly out of obligation feelings as a leader when we moved with members of our old church to a new one and I don’t feel this means I should now be obliged to stay regardless of the circumstances of this new church needing help just because we stepped up too soon. Everyone has a right to go where they feel led to the truth and not just wherever they’re told they belong.

  • guest

    This was helpful. It sounds very good, but in reality much more complicated. This article assumes that you can just honestly tell your leader why you are leaving and he will listen and move on. This information is hurtful and if your leader is hurt, he could not let it go, especially if you are close to him. Even as we are experiencing now this could be seen as threatening  and threaten references for future leadership positions. Maybe an article on how leaders can let people leave well;) 

    • redneondot

      I met with my pastor twice to discuss some important issues, not even mentioning then that I was considering moving on. I felt the Lord was telling me to “wipe the dust off my feet”…But I really wanted to try and work things out first so that I would know that I had done all I could do to keep the peace between us. Both times he assured me that “all is well”, then both times publicly humiliated me from the pulpit within a couple of weeks afterward. I decided that meeting the third time with him would bring nothing good, so I quietly left. I now have reason to believe that he found out where I was going once I left there and contacted the pastor to bring a bad report about me. The Lord reminded me of a dream he gave me about 3 years ago in which I saw this pastor publicly embarrass me, clearly this was a warning dream. I believe I will pay closer attention to dreams God gives me from now on. I know that God gave Joseph dreams; his brothers were jealous of him, and felt threatened by him. I forgive him but I will be much more careful when dealing with authority figures. I pray that I will always have respect for them, but sometimes I see that telling a pastor you are leaving is not always wise or the best thing to do. It is a case by case decision and should be done prayerfully. In my situation, I think he would have been angry either way, whether I told him or not. I then found out from someone in the church I attended, that there were inuendos that people that were leaving were backslidden. Isn’t it time that pastors start searching their own hearts for answers. Instead of assuming that anyone leaving for any reason is simply a “rebel”

      • Catie

        Dude…You’re an easy target. Keep feeling sorry for yourself and people will keep targeting you. Stop whining and get bold. Stop using the bible to support your persecution pitty party. Make a sound decision when picking a church and be confident that you’re where God wants you to be and don’t blame God for needing to “move on”. At least take the blame and say, “its me, i wanted out, i didn’t want to deal with the pastor anymore even though God can handle it all for me, i know i should’ve stayed” God doesn’t just change his mind so you can run away…. Hes God, He can handle it!! That’s the devil lol wanting everyone to break up and be sad and offended and hurt and scarred and sad… Come on man!!!

        • Mike Giles

          I appreciate a little of where you are coming from Catie but at what point and how do the broken hearted get bold? They are broken……. Jesus came to save and heal them too-It is not a quick overnight process. If the Pastor is either side-stepping the issue or involved in their own thing, there comes a point where people really do have to move on for their own good and the good of those around them.

  • L Waveney

    I am in the process of leaving the church that i attend,i am an evangelist,my reason for leaving i feel like i am in a colt they do things that is man made doctrine bcause they think they know everything and its too much compromising so i am dusting my feet and moving on………

  • Comments

    Did you have to explain when you joined, probably not so why should you have to explain why you are leaving.

    • C

      It seems to be more focused for leaders. My husband and I are leaving because we’re relocating and both of us hold leadership responsibilities. It’s almost like leaving a job. :)

      • http://blog.alphalim.me/ alphalim

        Yep, if you have responsibilities, then it’s responsible to talk it out.

        If regular attenders without leadership roles feel compelled to justify their leaving, it’s usually a warning sign of a church awry.

  • Moorewayne13

    People never leave if CHRIST is (in) there heart, they make the adjustment and grow past human foolishness

    • KR Taylor

      That’s an idiotic and unfair statement, that sounds extremely cultish. I left because the lead pastor was an abuser and misuser of scripture. He had assembled things in such a way that he had no accountability, and his “elders” were only allowed in the inner circle if they were yes men. When confronted on areas where he was behaving in an unGodly and unbiblical manner, you were shown the door, then gossiped about, slandered and shunned. I will NOT be under the leadership of such a man, and it is BECAUSE Christ is in my heart that I left.

    • James

      Their*

    • L

      Moorewayne13….Do you think that it’s never appropriate for someone
      to leave a church? I once felt the same way. I have been born-again for
      25 years. I attended a church for most of those years and was a faithful member.
      I saw people come and go, but for the most part the majority of the people
      stayed on for years. I loved them like family. I too thought there was no reason for people to leave except that they had to be backslidden or rebellious. Until it happened to me, that is. The head
      pastor became verbally abusive to me, even rebuking me in public and accusing me of things I had not done. I think it started when I was a teacher in the church school and had to go to him with issues concerning his youngest daughter.Being her teacher I was her authority in the school, and yet I felt he didn’t believe my report to him about her behavior. It was hard for me to go to him,as I was easily intimidated by him at that time. Yet, I felt for her good I needed to let him know. For years he abused me verbally. I didn’t want to leave because I had established friendships and loved my church in spite of bad treatment.I have a heart for God. Leaving there after all those years does not mean I’m backslidden. It means for the sake of my spiritual growth I had to leave.When I went back for a visit I was shunned and treated like an
      outcast. Do you think they had a heart for God to treat someone
      like that? Remember, I did not leave because I was a troublemaker and
      under church discipline. I left because I was being abused. One thing to
      remember is just because someone is sitting in a church on Sunday or
      every time the door opens does NOT automatically mean his/her heart is right with God. At one time I would have thought anyone leaving was
      foolish; now, being on the other side of the issue, I see that it’s not always
      the case. I once heard a woman say from the pulpit (in another church I
      had visited once) that she would never leave her church and shame on those
      that would do so…….6 months later not only had she left the church, but
      taken her family with her. And she still lives in the same town so it’s not
      because she moved or anything like that. Only God knows the “whys” behind
      the “whats”. Don’t put everyone in a box of your making, please. And pray
      for those that have left as well as those that stay. Chances are if someone
      leaves there is a struggle you know nothing about.

  • pastorswife2020

    I wish churches who have hurt pastors would do follow the same advice!

  • Elm

    It’s a tough one…some of the leaders I know are amongst the most sensitive and emotively driven. Going to see your leader to tell them you’re leaving is indeed the right thing but by no means easy! I think it the discussions should ALWAYS start way before you leave, that way leaving need not be inevitable and can be a platform for discussion. Rather that than…’I’m leaving, goodbye’?!

  • jb

    This article is helpful and written without anger twords church’s. In my current church I feel like my future is “pre-destined”. They keep pressuring me to go into children’s ministry as a children’s Pastor and it is expected that I will go through their Bible college started by a couple outside of the church.I also am working full-time and going to school. I stepped into a position in children’s ministry there that just did not work out. When I stepped into the ministry I feel lost and frustrated. I dreaded having to prepare the lessons every week, find teachers and have little help. I got out of the ministry but overall I am not happy. It is very hard to leave a church with friendships. I don’t want to affect them or pretend and stay in church to keep my friends. Maybe I just don’t have a heart for the kingdom of God.

    • Bobbie

      It is sad to see you think that you may not have a heart for the kingdom of God. When you trust and rely on the spirit of God to lead you then the frustration and feeling of being lost will not be there. I had a similar experience of being pushed too fast into children’s ministry and fell apart at the seams. I tried to explain that I was not on a solid enough foundation spiritually to do it. I did respectably leave that church and was pulled toward the childrens ministry again at another church. This time I had a better relationship and learned how to trust the leading of the spirit and it was a far different experience. The scripture tells you that you can do all things through Christ and that is truth. If that is not holding true to you then seek out a more personal relationship but do know that your heart was created for the kingdom and everything you go through is preparing your heart for its purpose. I encourage you to be straight forward with those who you deal with, you never know how God intends on using this situation for growth not only for you but for them as well. God’s glory will be revealed when you operate in the truth.

    • Victoria Adam-Smith

      Hello, I just don’t think it’s right for your church to pressure you into the children’s ministry. It’s okay for them to suggest, “Oh, and by the way, you can join the children’s ministry”. However, no one should force you into any ministry, especially when you don’t feel you’re called to it. The fact that you dreaded lesson preparation indicates that you weren’t meant for the children’s ministry. I believe, ultimately, you have a heart for the kingdom of God; it’s just that you have to find where within the church you’d like to serve.

    • sincerely

      It’s not that you don’t have that heart for it. It’s because you needed the right ministry that inspires you. I was doing the same thing until I realized that. At one time I wanted to teach young kids but when I was assigned the job, my heart for it diminished by the time it happened because I was much older and not interested in it the same way. I still loved kids but I also wasn’t allowed to teach in the way that I felt led according to the Bible. I was given forms to follow that I didn’t agree with or that I didn’t feel spiritually led to teach on. So, those things make a difference too. If you have a lot of personal struggles that hinder your abilities, and you need some guidance that’s okay too. But, I was told if I need that, then I’m too spiritually inmature and that I’m too spiritually old to go back to the pew on babys milk, and I didn’t feel that was correct. Everyone has struggles, and I never said I want to go back to sitting around in church for more sermons. I wanted something I felt more led to do. Something I felt I could actually feel inspired to do while also being allowed to teach or lead biblically. This is probably all you needed too.

  • Brian

    My Pastor suddenly quit after twenty years of being there last week,

    He was my Pastor since I was 6.

    When I decided it was better for my spiritual health to leave I went to talk to the new pastor.

    My old Pastor was replaced by His brother, who said, “everyone that leaves backslides”
    and “you and your girlfriend will break up.”
    I feel that these were scare tactics to keep me to stay because there were many others who were leaving.

    What do you do when a man does that? what are some good scriptures to encourage you, and reminder you, that just because you leave a church, that doesn’t mean you’re backsliding or leaving Jesus.

    • http://blog.alphalim.me/ alphalim

      That is not healthy behaviour for a regular joe, much less a spiritual leader. Sure sign you need to find community elsewhere and not subject yourself to abuse.

    • Victoria Adam-Smith

      I believe your “new” pastor said that as a means of condemnation. It’s also not fair that he “predicted” that you’ll break up with your girlfriend.

    • Brian

      Wow I forgot I posted this. Well how about an update a year later?

      Me and my then gf left that church.
      We got married this month and I have honestly, never been this happy in my entire life.
      The ministry we left was, obviously, toxic and abusive. Reflecting back on it now it was a ministry that had started off on track but ended up pretty much a cult.
      It’s what happens when a minister has no oversight.

      Also me and my wife had to do a lot of counseling to help us get through the pain and the scars of what an abusive ministry did to us. Mainly me cause I was there for so long and then pre marriage counseling to make sure we get off on the right foot. Honestly I would have been messed up without her, how happy she makes me did a lot to work through a lot of what was said to me upon leaving.

      • Brian

        Also an update on the Pastor that left.
        Upon leaving he said that he would take . “No less than a year off to get help and mend his family”
        Instead he started evangelizing two weeks later and started a new church two months later in a different part of the city.
        His brother then told everyone to go over there and shut down what was left of the ministry.

        That Pastor apparently appeared reformed for a few months until slowly changing back into the same style of preaching and ministering…
        I know this because he had a FB page briefly with sermon clips until the backlash he got made him suddenly close those accounts.

  • Edilson de Melo

    Well, I am in the process of finding a new church for me and my family, I just left mine 3 days ago.

    • http://truthforfree.com Nobody777

      How did you leave the Church? Did you leave Christ? If a person belongs to Christ (being born again into the family of God) that person belongs to the Church. There is only ONE Church that the Lord is building. The only way you can leave it is if you leave Jesus… I doubt that is what you meant. ;) Christians talk about the “local church” verses the “global Church”, but Scripture never uses these terms. Scripture only speaks of the Church; the body of Christ. Some of the body may gather together here or there, but they are not a separate church; they are members of the same body of Christ. Until we all understand this and identify ourselves with the Lord’s teaching on this, we will continue to divide into denominations and center our lives around religious organizations rather that Jesus himself. Sorry, I did understand your meaning, but I wanted to offer this comment because it really is significant and maybe others with think more about it as well. Many of us place far too much emphasis on meeting places rather than the One we intend to meet with. I thank God that His Church can manifest anywhere, anytime… because it is His people who are assembled in Christ – regardless of physically gatherings or religiously-dedicated buildings that man calls “churches”. Such are man’s definitions… I am interest in only Christ’s. How about you my friend! :) AMEN???

  • D.B.A

    I am a Minister with a church, we relocated with my family. we moved from City A to City B where our church of A is not present and had to join another church after trying 2 church. we spent about 5 years in City B and have to now relocate to City C where we have the church of city A which i have joined and already part of the ministerial team since i moved about 1 year before my wife. Now she has joined and do not wish to join church A but prefer the city B church and have already join them. this has brought alot of tension. I need an advice..ADB

  • Brian P.

    I read the other, linked to article. I’m one of those unbelieving spouses that would rather go to another church or not attend at all. The reasons I’d prefer another church over the one my wife likes are several. Our church knows little of church history, little of Christian theology, little of outside world views, etc. The musical content is self-absorbed. The liturgy is slip-shod in its planning. Given I don’t believe in the Resurrection and things like that and don’t have angst about eternal this and that, it can make it painful to watch others caught up in what they’re caught up and ways that don’t either seem to be transforming them to deep inner joy found in living a cruciform life. Frankly, it’s all quite uninspirational. I don’t want to be where they are. I’d rather be free and honestly seeking freedom in living for others. That I have to do such through living a lie (living in the closet as if I were a believer) before those who think they’re the real believers can be difficult at times. In these articles that disparage others/outsiders, please remember that we are real people too and that same of us sincerely want to make this world a much better place.

    • http://www.signal-7.com/ Andrew

      Dude why, as a nonchristian, are you even going to church? It’s not for you. It’s for people who have been regenerated by Gods Holy Spirit.

      • BillVA

        I disagree.

        Would you not welcome people into your church who are in the early phase of learning their faith?

        Many people walk through the doors because they have found no satisfaction in worldly things and are still searching for some meaning. Would you turn them away because they have not yet been regenerated by Gods Holy Spirit?

    • Godsown

      I hope that you continue to go and just maybe change your mind. Me personally…. I’d rather believe in something so great than to believe in nothing at all. ………..God is real. I respect you for even going to church though

  • Redeemed

    I’m not one for changing churches like I change my pants, but I do think that we sometimes place too much importance (or stressing too much about it) of someone staying with their church or not. Your church home is part of “the Church” and I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where anyone is warned, called out, or otherwise counseled on leaving one gathering and going to another.

    As you recall, the first “churches” were people gathering in a multitude of homes, not in large church buildings. There were many different homes and I would suspect many different approaches to as to how the gospel was being taught/preached. I can’t imagine anyone sweating out the fact that Mr and Mr’s Matthew were going to leave Mr. and Mrs. Paul’s home and start going over to Mr and Mrs. John’s home for worship.

    I have been at my current church for 13 years and plan on moving to another church this coming year. I have discussed with the pastor, on two occasions, my concerns for our church (lack of growth and his not being more engaged in the day-to-day operation of the church) and he has chosen to continue his way, saying that we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I feel that if I stay, I will be a negative influence (as I can’t sit quietly while I see what I believe to be the pastor taking advantage of the membership’s largess) and I certainly don’t want to be that. So, it’s best for me to move on to another fellowship. I will take with me many fond memories and blessings of my many years there and will continue to pray for God’s leading at that church.

  • Joreg Sogsey

    how to do you leave when your leaders, have you under discipline for over 1 year and half, what would be the right words to express without causing any problem?

    • Ralph Horque

      Is this a serious question? I will assume so.

      The answer is: None required. You don’t have to say a thing. Just. Leave.

      However, F*** *** may be an appropriate parting message for an especially abusive sect.

      • Jonathan

        Find one Scripture in the Bible that refers to a church having the right to discipline you… Then if you find one, read it in context to the New Covenant message of Grace. Read the chapters before and after…learn what the Author was saying. Too often the “church” exercises power through a fearful disciplinary process. Also, analyze why you were “disciplined” before the Lord and allow Him to comfort you. I too was “disciplined” by my church many years ago and it was a horrible experience. It was like I was shunned… I wanted to return at one point but was told I was not allowed just yet – and all I wanted to do was come to the church campus for Family Night and mingle with my old friends whom I loved dearly. If discipline was Scriptural, then why does [it] feel like it is not? All of the verses that speak of corporate discipline point to the un-repentant; however, what has happened is the church determines whether a person is repentant or not…that is the problem. Church discipline results in temporary absence of relationships, stress and worst of all fear. None of these results remind me of Jesus.

    • Diplomatpaul Sheriff

      Some leave because of your comment…..some churhes do not know how to win soul…

  • Ralph Horque

    Nobody owes any church anything. If someone wants to leave a church, they’re completely free to do so. Any church making it seem as though it’s otherwise is being dishonest.

    Step 1: Leave.
    Step 2: Not required.

    • Ralph Horque

      Oh, and the author of the article was magnanimous enough to declare the person leaving the church had “legitimate” reasons. This is sad! ANY reason is legitimate.

  • Jonathan

    Just yesterday I announced to my leaders I was leaving church I have been a part of. I just recently turned 39 years old. I married and have three children. I also work at a company as a financial advisor and the business is run and operated by the senior ministers son and my dad. After reading this post I realize that I went about leaving my church the wrong way. I had no idea, or I should say, I was not aware of bringing my leaders into my decision. My decision was not one based upon anger, bitterness or dislike for anybody but it was more based upon Jesus Christ not being Center of the message. Unfortunately, my church is fed regularly a mixture of law and grace… Way too much for my told the bear. after meeting with my parents and a few leaders… I was told I was screwing up my family and given scary Scriptures

    • sincerely

      I think if you were told anything about messing others up, that sounds like a guilt tactic and maybe you did actually do the right thing. This is one of the issues I am facing too. Why I feel apt to leave. I’ve been told similar but also I’m told not to worry if I leave, it’s okay so I feel that’s another tactic that bothers me. But, if I leave it won’t be due to what others say, it’s because I have other issues with a variety of things mostly within my self that aren’t addressed well at this church and at home and I’m trying to search for the real reasons to remain or not.

      • Jonathan

        I appreciate what you said. For me, I was sincerely searching for God, and I wanted to move on…He was urging me to move on. In the end, moving on was the right thing – now that I look back I clearly see it does not really matter if I left the right way or wrong way. In fact my approach to moving on was not well accepted and I believe they would have discouraged me through “other” tactics if I would have asked them for guidance. Now that I have moved on, 1,200 miles away, my life has improved in ways I could not have imagined. My advice is to follow the prompting of God in your heart…

        • sincerely

          I’m glad to hear that. I agree with you. I’m glad you saw that. I agree. God Bless

        • Blessed 001

          I am blessed by the last comment. Yes it is worth considering that God prompts us to leave. He does take us out for change and for growth . Ultimately God desires that we find fulfilment, purpose and achieve our destiny. This may require changes and moving to somewhere or something else for the next level of growth. Too many sit in one place because although it is unfulfilling it is their comfort zone and they are afraid of change.

  • BB

    I’m leaving my church because they believe I’m “professing” autism over my son. Church leaders have carte Blanche to say what they want to members without any consequence. If a member dare bring up their concern they are shunned or harassed. Matthew 23 comes to mind to describe today’s “church”. Too much of “you’re doing it wrong” and very little “here’s how you do it right”. And leaders that seem annoyed of having the responsibility of tending the flock.

  • http://truthforfree.com Nobody777

    Forgive my bluntness here, but that’s probably one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read! The only reason anyone needs to have to leave a church is that they want to leave! The self-inflated egos of religious leaders might wish to convince the flock that they owe them some explanation, but they don’t. The only reason a person needs is that they want to leave.

    We are disciples of Jesus, NOT men and not men’s church organizations. Especially in cases where some churches have exhibited spiritual, mental, emotional or other kinds of abuse, the worst advice on planet earth would be that you have to tell leaders why you’re leaving. That’s just stupid. If I had a friend who was in a cult and they told me they wanted to leave, can you imagine me telling them, “Well, maybe, but you should really communicate with the leaders first… oh, and also make sure you replace your position with someone else.” hahaha… Of course no one in their right mind would recommend such a thing, but even though we are not necessarily talking about a cult situation here, some of these responses by the writer of this article almost reach a cultish level because it places so much importance on the so-called “leader” and virtually none on the person who has the conviction to leave… The conscience and conviction of the person leaving is of utmost importance (as is their own response to the leading of the Holy Spirit), not what any so-called leader thinks about it. Why do they NEED to know you are leaving? No they don’t. That’s ridiculous!

    And the final line of that article that said, “remember Jesus loves the church you’re leaving and the one you’re going to – His blood was shed for both,” is complete error. Jesus did NOT die for a religious organization that men label their “churches”. The Scripture teaches that the Lord is building ONE Church, which is the Body of Christ. The fact that a person leaves an organization does NOT mean they are leaving the Lord’s Church, nor does it have to mean they are severing relationships with God’s people. Many times though, church folks are so ignorant about the true nature of Christ’s Church, that they are the ones who cut off those that leave the organization and they will not talk to people after they leave.

    The devil has infiltrated the modern church system, and it does not represent the Lord’s ONE Church but often serves to persecute the Lord’s Church. It has lifted up the institution that has been manufactured by man, and stolen the label “Church” from God’s living stones and applied it to lifeless buildings and programs. What a great deception. And here is this guy having the nerve to proclaim that Jesus shed His precious blood for religious institutions. Absolute garbage!!!!

    I am not against Christians gathering together or meeting in buildings, but I know that the Lord’s Church is His Body and is not a building or religious organization. It is NOT a temple made with man’s hands. It is a spiritual house of living stones, whose names are written in heaven, not some organization’s membership roster.

    Acts 17:24-29 – The God who made the earth and everything in it, He, being Lord of heaven and earth, is not housed in buildings made with hands; And He is not dependent on the work of men’s hands, as if He had need of anything, for He himself gives to all life and breath and all things; And He has made of one blood all the nations of men living on all the face of the earth, ordering their times and the limits of their lands, So that they might make search for God, in order, if possible, to get knowledge of Him and make discovery of Him, though He is not far from every one of us: For in HIM we have life and motion and existence; as certain of your verse writers have said, For we are His offspring. If then we are the offspring of God, it is not right for us to have the idea that God is like gold or silver or stone, formed by the art or design of man.

    If you want to leave an organization, leave. Especially if God has directed you to leave. That is all the legitimacy you need! Ministry is NOT a profession or a position in some religious organization. Ministry (according to the Bible) is loving service of the brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. That loving service does not depend on titles or obligations to religious programs (let alone getting a paycheck for doing such), but on love and devotion to Christ alone. If Jesus says, “Time to leave,” then your “ministry commitment” is met fully. You best leave! Plain and simple!

    Yes walk in love… Yes, follow the Spirit of God… but don’t be bullied and manipulated by religious men with expert guilt trips and control tactics. This article is full of unbiblical nonsense and religious manipulation. Perhaps the author means well, but I believe that is only because he has been programmed to think this way by the very organization mindset he was influenced with. YOU folks have only one obligation; to be a disciple of Jesus. Do what HE says and don’t worry about the religious anxieties of men. He whom the Son sets free is FREE INDEED! Don’t ever become entangled again with a yoke of slavery.

    To me, church is like going to the movies… I hardly go. And when I do, I’m not obligated at all… and if I don’t like the movie, I leave. No big deal, because the movie is just a show. Today’s church program is little more than a Jesus-themed show. There is no requirement from Scripture to obligate ourselves to it. There is no indication from Jesus or the apostles of Jesus that anyone was ever commissioned to build one or attend one. There is ONE Church and ONE Body of Christ – PERIOD! It’s time we get a revelation of that truth and respond to one another accordingly instead of shoving this massive religious machine in the middle of every relationship. Just as with family or friends, we may go to the movies together and have a good time, or we may not. They remain my family and close friends and our relationship continues whether we ever set foot in the movie theater or not. It’s not the house that makes a household! The Lord’s Church is not defined by a building or it’s religious program. It is defined by PEOPLE who are members of the ONE body of Christ; whose names are written in heaven. Belonging to a religious organization called a “church” does not validate them as being true Christians, but being born into the family of God does!

    The institutions of men are just that; institutions of men. Sometimes they do good things. Sometimes they preach good things. But they are not essential to life in Christ and the Body of Christ may exist and thrive without them. Singing worship songs may be inspiring, but worship is not a song service; it is how we live each day before the Lord.

    Sometimes these institutions are mighty distractions and even hinder the work of God’s Spirit, promote false teachings, and lead people away from a pure and simple devotion to Christ as Lord and Master. The entire clergy/laity system is a farce. God never ordained it. While this author says you must tell your leaders, he apparently forgot that Jesus told His disciples (in Matthew 23) not to ever call themselves leaders or masters or spiritual fathers – for we have one Master; Jesus. Yet what happens in today’s church system? Men revel in their religious titles and their supposed authority over one another. Everything in the modern church operates on a pyramid-style top-down form of leadership. But newsflash, this is the world’s system in play – NOT Christ’s! Jesus told His disciples to NEVER follow that example! Therefore, all those who do not heed Jesus’ instruction are not true leaders at all:

    Matthew 20:25-28 – But Jesus said to them, You see that the rulers of the Gentiles are lords over them, and their great ones have authority over them. Let it not be so among you: but if anyone has a desire to become great among you, let him be your servant; And whoever has a desire to be first among you, let him take the lowest place: Even as the Son of man did not come to have servants, but to be a servant, and to give his life for the salvation of men.

    Peace love and truth to my brothers and sisters in Jesus!!!! Be free in HIM!

  • Felicia Ball

    I will pray for those of you who feel there is no need to have accountability to church leadership. It is amazing that we will operate in obedience when in comes to the secular world, we follow instructions, rules and regulations each and every day while we drive, walk, shopping and at work. However, when it comes to following protocol in church, some of us walk in the demonic spirit of rebellion. Let’s look at Hebrews 13:7 & 17 which says “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct…Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give and account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” FOOD FOR THOUGHT: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, each having their own assignment; however, I don’t believe Jesus and the Holy Spirit ever get together and not submit to God, and/or usurp the authority of GOD! My final thought is this: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” ~1 Corinthians 14:40 Be blessed!

    • Brian

      Remember them that have the rule over you, is not referring to Pastors, they are not dictators that rule over us. This scripture is talking about Employers, governmental leaders, remembering in those days people were servants and even slaves.

      • Torria

        That’s bogus and completely ERRONEOUS!

        • Brian

          Ok then tell me, who rules over you.

    • BillVA

      When Jesus died the curtain between God and man was torn, thus giving us all access to Him, with Jesus as the sole intercessor.

      Jews will vigorously debate their faith and their interpretation of the scriptures, because scriptures are so much a part of who they are. These debates help them test their beliefs and bring them into focus. Debates also deepen their understanding.

      I believe that Christians have much to learn from this practice. I believe that we [generally] all too willingly submit to the authority of “leaders” because it relieves us of the responsibility of doing the legwork and studying of the Word ourselves. Then when there is a conflict, it is on secular grounds and not theological grounds.

      Regarding your analogy over the obedience of the Trinity, I do not believe that pastors are the equivalent of God. The Bible admonishes us to be skeptical: to test everything, to beware of false prophets, even to test that your pastors do, in fact, speak the word of God to you, or if they add to/take from it. For if they do not speak the word of God, then they are not your leaders. But you need to know what the word of God is in the first place.

  • BillVA

    Interesting reading all of your comments.

    I found this article because I am considering leaving the church I have been a member of for about 4 years. This is a congregation that was established during the early founding of our nation, with the current building being about 175 years old.

    It is a VERY small congregation…a typical Sunday will find 5 or 6 of us there, including the teenage child of a couple. Occasionally there are others who drop in, but they are not regular attendees. So it’s impossible to “just stop going” unnoticed.

    This is part of a multiple-church group, where we share the cost of the pastor. She does a service at every church every Sunday. Ours is by far the smallest of the congregations.

    I’ve done a lot of repairs and maintenance since I joined, all gladly done. Our new pastor (of about a year) has expectations to increase attendance that are impossible to meet with the few number of hands we have. Each Sunday starts off in a state of anxiety over the “honey do” list of stuff or just general complaints. And a long-term member’s wife has a hard time acknowledging the contributions of others. I’m caught between the pastor’s implied “you aren’t doing enough” and the other member’s “I do everything around here.”

    But this is the superficial stuff I could (and will) address with a couple of honest conversations. I think the core issue for me is that I am burning out on “church activities” (which is likely what is behind the other member’s “I’m so overwhelmed” position). Between fundraisers, building repairs, bake sales, yard sales, creating reports for the denomination’s hierarchy and everything else, I’m feeling that I am a slave to an organization more than I am serving God.

    I work with a charity that does home repairs for folks that cannot afford to pay to have them done. These repairs range from simply rebuilding a collapsing front porch to some major rehab work. I feel like I am serving God more when I do this work for people than I do at church. I am also the treasurer of this organization, and even the paperwork I have to do feels like there is a God-focused purpose behind it.

    Right now I am on the internet looking for a pure Bible study group. That’s it. Just getting into the word with other people. No distractions. No facility. No maintenance. No budget to meet. No pouring time and money into a building (or raising money for the building) while thinking of all the other good that could be done with my efforts and with the funds.

    It’s funny, as I go through this thought process, I wonder how many formal congregations started out in someone’s home, and (because that is how we are meant to worship) it becomes so popular that it outgrows the basement into a formal facility, and then becomes something completely unrecognizable from how it started.

    It makes one wonder what Jesus intended when He told Peter to establish His church here on Earth. What are we doing wrong?

    • Stephana Marie Greene

      I am in an eerily similar situation. Except mine is 3 years and our congregation is about a hundred, and 3 different locations in the 3 years i have been there.

      I am seeking a pure bible study group as well. For my ffamily and I. I feel like i have wasted the last 3 years and the leadership lives lives far beneath even trying to live kingdom living. I pray God sends you where He has for you and please pray for us, the Greene family as we begin the process of moving on.

      I found this article as I searched for the ‘Right Way’to leave a church. I just wanna be where I’m nit a heckler in the crowd, where i am surrounded by like minded believers, who love God, adhere to His word, and are sincere. Not a corporate wanna be mega church where people are broken down into manservants and a an illusion of a hierarchy that has NOTHING and i do mean NOTHING to do with scripture.

      My one reason for hanging around was my faith in my pastor, and after today, God showed me his heart. He stiod behind his staff publicly while admitting privately tge error. I want to be a part of something tgat is real. Real as the God I serve.

      That’s all.

      • BillVA

        I try to remind myself that Christ chose some very, very diverse disciples for a reason. Just another reason why we should me mindful of being tolerant of each others differences.

        I go to a Methodist church. I think what is missing for me is actually studying the Bible. Services consist of a couple of read prayers, several songs, one New Testament reading (with no context), one Old Testament Reading (with no context), and a sermon that is not focused on scripture but is a story. This is not a Methodist issue. I went to a Christmas Eve service at a local Baptist church and it was basically the same structure.

        We did a six week Bible study class on a few Psalms. When asked what we might like to do for the next session, I pushed for an overview of the Bible so that folks have a context when they are reading it. Many people try to read it as a book, and not as a collection of books. So I thought that studying the structure of the Bible, the historical context of each book, who likely wrote it and the subject matter might give folks a context for when they read on their own. I even sent my pastor the outlines and materials I had done when I was considering hosting such a class to help people out.

        So she agreed, and we had our first such class last week. But at the end of it, she looks right at ME and says “Does that help you understand?” Well, I had already told her that I had done this study on my own and that it really helped me in my understanding of the Bible, which is why I recommended it. Her statement was meant to reestablish the hierarchy of our relationship…just like the other woman in the congregation who says “I do everything around here.” I don’t NEED credit for my efforts (although it WOULD be nice and I sure WANT it), but I certainly do not wish to be diminished like that.

        But again, I remind myself of the disciples walking behind Jesus actually arguing over which was his favorite!!!!! So I try to put my personal hubris on hold and remind myself that there are all those folks in the class who are now receiving Biblical guidance that may help them in their walk with God.

        I’m thinking I might continue to attend this church as I locate and attend Bible study groups and then see where God leads me. It does NOT have to be an either/or at this time. I’m in a very rural area, and the nearest group I have found so far is a 45 minute drive (which is actually close in terms of country distances) and meets at 7:30AM. Perhaps it will lead to something more convenient for me.

        I WILL keep the Greene family in my prayers. It sure seems that we humans are forever destined to fall short of the Glory, doesn’t it?

  • CF

    I’m thinking very seriously about leaving my church. The reason being, there is a lack of unity. I’m in the worship team and normal practice should be to pray together before service but most people refuse and the leader says nothing at all.

    I have discovered that there is some type of fear of new members and visitors. People regard them with suspicion. I brought someone to the church recently and most people were quite cold. I felt quite bad for her.

    I know church is not a social club by any means but fellowship with brothers and sisters is so important. I found another church that focuses on unity, is so welcoming and full of fellowship and volunteering opportunities.

    However, the pastor in my current church has taken me on as his daughter in a way. That is partially what makes leaving difficult.

    • Brian

      the worship thing is usual I think in alot of churches the other things are concerning though.

      • CF

        Really? I’ve been to other churches where it was the practice to pray together before worshiping. The worship team really should pray together…

        • Brian

          I meant worship leaders having a problem like this to fix is usual, its not some thing you want to have forever, idk I’m still drinking my first cup of morning coffee lol

  • Brandon

    Hi. I am the worship pastor at the church I go to. I have been leading there for about 6 years now. I have felt God tugging on my heart for about 2 years to move my family to a church that is a little farther away. I heard my pastor talk sometimes about how he is tired of people using God as an excuse to leave the church and serve somewhere else. I think he feels like once you start serving in a church that is where you are supposed to be the rest of your ministry. I have been praying about it and seeking council and everything is telling me to go. I know I need to take my family to this other church to serve. I am just dreading the conversation that I must have with my pastor. Does anyone know of any scripture to back about what God is telling me to do?

    • BTs

      Some Suggestions:
      1. Visit the other church with your family and develop fellowship and friendship.
      2. Tell them your desire and ask them to pray about it.
      3. Give sound reasons to your pastor as to why you feel you have a calling to serve at the other church.

      Yes, the scripture does not advocate being comfortable in one church all their life. God had to use persecution to scatter the christians in the first century to spread the gospel. No church should have members beyond a 100. We as christians have to be a ‘lamp stand’ in as many places as possible. It is through churches a community itself develops because there is blessing where the Lord’s name is lifted. So brother it is a right thing to do, if you have been led in that direction.

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