When Is It “OK” for Church Members to Leave?

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It's painful, but sometimes a departure can be a good thing.

When is it OK for a member or attender of your church to leave?

First, let’s state the obvious. It’s never just “OK.”

When someone leaves by choice to go to another church in your community, it’s a dagger through the heart. If someone says differently, they’re lying. Few things are taken more personally by church leaders, and the community left behind, than someone leaving. It feels like rejection, abandonment, even betrayal.

But that doesn’t mean that sometimes a departure can’t be a good thing.

For example:

When someone leaves because they have been confronted with harmful, abusive patterns of sin in their life that were harming the community, and they refused to repent;

… that’s a good departure.

When someone disagrees with the church’s historic mission, doctrine or values, and openly tries to make their case at every juncture to new believers or members;

… that’s a good departure.

When someone vocally refuses to trust, follow or support leadership that truly deserves to be trusted, followed and supported;

… that’s a good departure.

Now, having said this, I am not saying that leaders should have a cavalier attitude toward such departures. I consider each one a personal sense of failure or loss that we weren’t able to “reach” them and bring them into the community in a more healthy and holistic way. Separating from a church, and the tough confrontation that might have been called for on the front end, is always saddening.

And I am not saying there aren’t times when people should leave a church—and have God on their side! There are churches that lead people astray, teach falsehood, allow patterns of abuse and more. If that’s your setting, don’t leave … flee!

But that still leaves a lot of departures ill-defined and ripe for emotional discouragement.

On both sides.

And that’s where I want to offer encouragement.

James Emery White James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

More from James Emery White or visit James Emery at http://www.churchandculture.org/

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  • elaine logan

    i am so encouraged by these words of wisdom from this article why because as i was reading this i sat on my bed just thinking of someone who a few weeks ago that came to me and say i will be going to another church, someone who we nurtured in the lord she was baptized in our church and so much more, i must say i was so hurt and i still did get over it. but each i am getting over it.

  • http://gladassociates.blogspot.com/ chet777

    A wiser person than me once said “A church has a front door and a back door. Both should be used with vigor.” We should have very open communication with people about their leaving before it actually happens. If there is a capital campaign, somewhere in the beginning the senior leadership needs to say in clear terms that this might make some feel uncomfortable, and that’s OK because God is not in the business to make us feel comfortable, The Bible was not meant to make us feel good, God uses his word and the Holy Spirit to change and correct us. He uses stress and disasters to make us more like his son. There is nothing comfortable about that.

    • NaNTHuel

      Actually I think The Spirit Of God adds to Sound Reasoning and To Your God-orientated Direction… but that is The grounds for change in Your Personal life. Somehow I remember The Story Of Church Door being shut and with a Note upon it pinned with a Dagger from William Tynedale. Not all in The church are counselors, asseignes, impassioned with The Word by which You Become the expression Of His Divine Will. Too much Dogma, too much creed, too much, thus too Many Sects and so few assemblies where You may even feel The Spirit Of God encompass You. We May Be in This World and Of This World yet Being a separated People is a continuing Work Of salvation. Does justice and Mercy fail us in The Church in that Love cannot Be found there or Gods’ Great Salvation Plan for Your Transformed Life. Maybe You find THe church in actual facts Dead…and hence could Be called a ‘kick against The pricks’.

    • Ben

      Chet777, did i hear you right God uses stress and disasters to make us like His son. wow, didn’t Jesus say He was going to sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us so much for the comforter. what kind of church to you belong to? the church of pain and gain I am
      so surprised, why to yo think Jesus died on the cross. I can’ t even think. wow. Ben

    • http://gladassociates.blogspot.com/ chet777

      Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:2,3 – God humbled and tested Israel to see what was in their hearts and for them to live by God’s word.

      Though He was Son [of God] by nature, yet He learned obedience from the things which He suffered, Heb 5:5 – if it was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me.

  • balasamson

    Nice message and I was blessed, it sure hurts when people leave – but it is inevitable in church ministry.

  • ServantHeart2012

    The fact that people come and people go for many reasons is one of the truths of church that we sometimes don’t like to face. Many mainline protestant churches are required report their “numbers” to a central governing body which makes it all the more uneasy for the leaders of the local church. If we ensure that someone (if not a pastor) reaches out to each person or family that leaves, not to “wrangle them back in,” but to truly understand why they felt the need to leave maybe we could get a better handle on how to preserve the ones we have. A sort of “exit survey” if you will. If done in a sincere and personal manner (not a letter with a “mail back” card) it can also reassure the person leaving that they are still cared for even though they leave, and that’s a good thing!

  • Pastor MT

    Great article.
    I feel you have missed a big one, “Life change”. Often times as retirement, relocation(in town), marriage, children are born, children mature, promotion, demotion, empty nester, divorce, these are big reasons people leave. We see them coming/going to/from our church as we are next to a military post. It is difficult waters that we try to help them negotiate. Yes they hurt when friends/family leave but I would rather it be in their car rather than a hearse.

  • http://www.iwokeupyesterday.com/ Jenny Bolt Price

    Thank u. I needed this clear picture of both sides. My heart as pastors wife is brutally worn out lately by “well intended” “truth tellers”. I am tired. Sad. Worn. And yet I trust.

    • newsdiscussions

      Prtaying for you!

    • deandeguara

      It can be tough and disheartening! Church hurts…sorry your have to experience what your experiencing.

    • darleen

      As a pastor’s wife AND staff member I remember being that tired and sad. People do what makes sense to them…remembering that helped me listen “with a grain of salt” to what made no sense to me!

    • chad crockett

      Lifting you up today!

    • Darin Richard Roberts

      My wife was a fairly new Christian when we met a Bible college, did outreach ministry together, got married, and took a position at a church plant as children’s pastors. The first 2 years almost destroyed her faith as people came, leaned on her, then went somewhere else when they did not like her using Bible to show them why they were facing all the drama. She was crushed when people would befriend her, then leave. When that first position ended, it took almost fifteen months to get her back into ministry.
      I, and she, will be praying for you. Pastor’s wives are the most difficult, least recognized, least appreciated, loneliest, yet biggest and most necessary one out there. Know you are not alone, His grace is sufficient, and usually there are other Pastor’s Wives to lean on.

  • newsdiscussions

    I love the back door…the most recent back door experience was with a man and his family whom I invested countless hours of my time and life into them. The man confessed one Sunday to me of infidelity….I walked with him through restoration for more than a year. Spent hours on the phone listening and counseling…in the middle of that his wife’s mother got sick with Cancer….I did the whole visitation routine in hospitals, home, health house services, and spoke at the funeral. In between all of this I was there to minister to the family we ate together, took a Saturday and went to another community to participate in some activities. When they got through all of this….they left the church saying they needed to start over. Funny that they said they never connected to any at the church, but he and his wife would start working in a ministry (both saying they felt called) and they would just leave it without any follow through. When they left, the gentleman wanted to maintain that same call schedule and wanted to continue to discuss the church. I spoke for a moment and cut the phone call off and I no longer feel obligated to take his many phone calls. I will leave that to his current pastoral staff at this time.

    • MeeToo

      Absolutely! Pastors are the most “used and discarded” people in the Kingdom. I have had people leave my church to go to the mega-church a few miles away (for the music) and then have the gall to call me when a crisis comes to their lives. The pastor and staff at the mega-church down the road were never “available” to minister to the need. I too am not obligated to be the door mat for such people.

  • deandeguara

    Hard topic that can be exhausting for pastors. A precious lady who was the founding pastor’s wife spoke at our church and has been attending our church for 50 years. After hearing her yesterday and the things she’s been through, it’s worth staying and sticking it out if you can. What a legacy!

  • Dave Ekstrom

    Excellent post. It deeply hurts when people leave. The devil is there whispering all the things you could’ve /. Should’be done. Church breaks your heart because your opponents are really good people. If they were apathetic they wouldn’t generate the energy to oppose you

  • Ben

    the reason people come and go they them selves are stable and are looking for something special or an imagined thing. when these people get some relief in there spirit the will come back or find some where to stay. Now if we are playing the numbers game look at Jesus He started with 12 had over 5000 follow Him and ended up with 11 men. yes people will come and go because we are human. Ben

    • Ben

      reply to Ben, people are not stable.

  • Ryan

    I left when I relocated for a job in another state but everyone was warned that I was looking everywhere east of the Mississippi and that if and when I got a call, I would be gone that week. It happened.

  • Chazzer

    Nearly agree on all points. Disagree with the church-switch based on the student wanting to join his/her chums at another church’s youth group/parent wanting to nurture child’s well-being. I think that simply teaches a child to be a consumer rather than a congregant. Why not stay and help the home church have an even more powerful and dynamic youth group that makes a real impact on the community through saving souls and making disciples, thus, it grows? That’s a much more profound and significant way to nurture a child’s well-being.

  • Chazzer

    …But kudos on really good work with this article. Very good.

  • Steven Leapley

    I have left churches for the stupidest most selfish reasons…some that could have been dealt with, but i just walked away instead… Recently, we left a church, and not intending to. Id like to share a glimpse into the story to help other pastors and church leaders out there..

    We had an issue with a friend (our daughters) that occurred in an offsite location.. when we approached the children’s director, we asked if she had seen any similar behavior..she hadn’t we also asked for her to keep it silent.. She told the pastor, they invited us in to talk about it (The other family….mom… refused to discuss the situation).. when we were invited into the office.. I knew it was bad…because the pastor only requests to meet in his office when he wants the upper hand (a conversation in which he told me a few months prior). To not my surprise we were treated as if we were creating waves there….and that although they didnt like other people they still stayed there and avoided them… now this would have been a workable option had there been more than 4 kids in my daughters class…..

    After a few discussions, we decided to take a break and not leave, then subsequent discussion made us back away further (Some caveliering on the pastors part)..

    My point (and thank you for allowing me to tell this) is that I know every situation is not going to be perfect…. however as leaders, we must strive to work together…especially if you market your church as a community minded family church…

  • Kevin

    As a pastor there are also times we should leave! When we have changed in our direction or style of ministry or have removed those with whom we disagree and the church is suffering we must know when to go!

    • chris

      I am contemplating leaving my place of worship which has been my spiritual home for years. The minister doesn’t listen and there is abuse in the church which the minister won’t confront. I have tried talking to the minister and confronting issues and nothing has changed. It has been very difficult and the church is diminishing because people havn’t been confronted by the minister for issues to challenge them. Its difficult when individuals are controlling when Jesus should be in control.

      Thank you Kevin.

      • Reginald

        Been there…..done that Chris. I can only offer this to you in encouragement……..Knowing that moving on is the right thing to do, but knowing the right time is also a huge piece of it. And He knows that timing better than we do.

        When I was in that position and prayed to Him for permission to go, He told me no; because there was anger and hurt in my heart. He knew that He ultimately wanted me to go, but He didn’t want me to take that with me to where He wanted me to be. I didn’t understand that in the beginning of His “no” answer. It wasn’t until I simply trusted and accepted His will and committed myself to focusing on nothing but Him, joy overcame anger and having my eyes squarely on Him shielded me from seeing or caring about that which had hurt me.

        Once He dealt with me, then He gave me my release to go where He wanted me to go and take root. We can never follow the direction of pain to reach the place of His desire for us. Only a peaceful heart and spirit can clearly hear His direction.

  • Miriam

    To Ben if you have not experienced some stress or pain in your journey you are doing something wrong. Most often when we need to change old habits that keep us from growing more like Christ, He uses stress to show us the way to let go. The worldly did not accept Christ when He was here, and they will do everything to humilate, degrade you for believeing in Him, this is often a cause of pain in christian life. Even when you are striving very much to do outreach to those who most need Jesus, there is rejection. So spend a little more time in the good book because Jesus told his disciples that there would be pain and suffering in following Him. I say this to you because I am leaving a church after serving as treasurer and having to choose between serving the Lord or serving the popular clique leader who misused funds serving individuals in their circle. Of course they had the support of those who they gave money to and the support of those who they promised church funds to. However no outreach to those in actual need in the church or the surrounding community which is #1 in the state for HIV cases and continues to grow.No compassion for the sick and shut-in. The more I tried to plead with them to do right by these persons, the more I was ridiculed and rejected. Yet this same clique would be the first ones to rush the altar for prayer. So I am leaving after doing the best I could to remain true to my Saviour in a atmosphere more social club than church.

    • Ben

      Hi Miriam, thanks for your post. i am sorry you have to leave your church, but change is good, it is in the way one will accept this change, it is gone to be hard, how much will i miss my friends or accept it with the joy of the Lord that you will be used some place else and be appreciated more than before. Miriam have you been to the exchange room with Jesus, did he not say exchange your burdens for my burdens and my yoke for your yoke for my yoke is easy and my burdens are light. we are not carry any burdens unless Jesus is there to help carry them, pray for the the people who would not hear you and for give them as Jesus has for giving you. Miriam I am going to give a little tip serving our Lord is a lonely at times or it seems like it is, road why He wants you to all of Him self. so you see i do study the word. Ben you brother in the Lord

  • B-Faithful

    To wokeupyesterday: Keep trusting! life has some very hard bumps and Jesus felt them, too. Also Apostle Paul. But keep your eyes on the goal and ask God for help to forgive, forget, overlook, or at times maybe just laugh at some of the remarks that you know are wrong. Praying that you do not give up, dear sister in Christ.

  • http://tonymyles.blogspot.com/ Tony Myles

    Ouch… and ahhhhhhh.

  • coopersview

    Sometimes you AND your church change at the same time. I struggled for a year and a half with the certainty that growth/changes within my own church (capital campaign, new leaders, new music, worship “performance” expectations) were pushing me out of the ministries which I had been called to lead/serve in, until realizing that I was holding on to something I’d grown out of, versus letting go and letting God. Even though it can be hurtful, and demoralizing (to a degree) feeling /realizing you might not fit into your church “family” anymore, it may not be that your church no longer has a place FOR YOU, but that God is leading you towards a NEW PLACE. In my case, once I finally “let go” my prayers to be led where HE would have me go were suddenly answered by a dream job on the East Coast and immediate relocation last month! This life-change transpired in such a way that shows me God was in control throughout. I am looking forward to find my new church home/family; and the hurt/ambiguity I once battled daily (for more than a year), has faded every day since.

    • guest

      Thank you, cooper. I have been in my fellowship for 15+ years after moving to this area. Over the last couple years I have felt pushed out of ministries I have long been involved with. Re-admittance would mean my accepting some changes that I just cannot. I have stayed for there are many people there whom I love. I no longer have young children and my youngest has long passed the time when she must be responsible for her own faith walk. I do visit other churches, I do not want to walk into the middle of a similar situation in progress…there are some serious, and I fear very wrong, changes in beliefs. The denomination with whom I worship has embraced these changes. I am sad, and may have to leave. I am still seeking the Lord’s will in my life. I don’t want to leave unless I am led to the new place, even if I cannot see it yet.

  • Walt

    Excellent article – nailed it. Except for the first example of switching youth groups. It was an awkward example in the middle of an article that is right on. Too many parents let the kids make the decisions that parents should be making. If the first church and youth group are excellent teach them faithfulness. That example is not a fair departure, it’s consumeristic and non-Christ centered.

    • steve

      I was hoping someone else would pick up on that. If there is no youth group why not invest by being the one to start one instead of consumeristicly seeking one out. I do not get this at all. It is lazy and unbiblical to leave because you want someone else to minister to your children.

      • MarciH

        Especially since I’m not a big fan of youth groups anyway. Most kids want to be a part of a youth group because they do fun things, not because they’re being discipled. I also think it is very unbiblical to have someone else training your child. The Bible is very clear that parents (and especially fathers) are responsible for training their children. This is a harsh judgement, but I feel much of the reason that our kids are leaving the church can be traced back to youth groups and the abdicating of responsibility by Christian parents.

        • Michael Waldron

          This comment opens pandora’s box on the subject of youth groups and their good-and also their bad…As a former youth leader for 10 years, I have seen the bad all too well although I have seen good as well. Much could be said about this but I presume most would not like what had to be said.

  • Haroldsays

    A well written article but I did not read any Scriptures in the article to support the author’s claims. Much of what he wrote is from a man’s perspective and not God’s. His reference to a pastor’s becoming too narrow in his “Calvinistic” teaching for one example as a reason for people leaving a church…we are to preach the Gospel, “Christ crucified” and NOT the doctrine of men as they were the doctrine of God. Pastors are to “preach the Word!” The bottom line is not man’s feelings, man’s thoughts or man’s ways but rather what saith the Lord. I do agree that if people are “divisive” or practing sin the “spiritual” of the church should try to “restore” them and if they refuse to listen should be expelled by the whole church (and with a broken heart and not self righteousness or any sense of pride). Pastors and the people of God have pretty much lost their first and second love in the US…God and Christ first and all others second and for far too many “Christ followers” they are NOT loving one another as Christ has loved us, praying for one another, serving one another and several “one another’s” in the NT letters. This article would not have been acceptable to Jesus Christ, the apostles and the members of the early church and such thinking should not be acceptable today among Bible believing Christ followers today. God have mercy on us and help us to love him and others as he wants us to and not just as it suits us or is convenient.

    • Craig Piefer

      I noticed you didn’t have chapter and verse in your little note… So I can completely disregard it, right?

  • Praizchick

    And sometimes people are called out, much like Abraham, to something yet unknown, void of conflict and offense. Even when it appears ridiculous to on-lookers, it is important to release because ultimately loyalty to Jesus is more important than loyalty to a particular church. How one leaves is the question and I believe honor is paramount. Never speak evil of the church you are leaving, and if at all possible, keep the door of relationship open. I am a firm believer in faithfulness to those the Lord puts you with and the saying, “Where are you hopping to now, little church-hopper?” has always made me laugh. Truthfully, it drives me nuts when I hear of people “visiting” churches and never really plant themselves in a local body of believers. But when God calls (and you know it’s Him), and His whispers turn urgent, then you better move out of your comfort zone and into the faith realm. I know people who have left the institutional church for the organic, and not because they have any offense or conflict. They just can’t “do” church as it has always been “done”. In the end, the one leaving must show honor (and appreciation) to the Pastor, and the Pastor must honor (and appreciate) the one leaving. Somehow we’ve got to stop finger-pointing and thinking we know what’s best for another and his/her family. We are all capable of hearing from Jesus, directly, and responsible to go when and where He leads.

  • tony

    i am from the bahamas, i have going to a church for 15yrs and this here i am in making of leaving the that church , this other church fellowship is of the chain and i love it .

  • Clifford Senyonjo

    Whether it’s for the better or for the worst, sometimes leaving is a necessity, if it’s God ordained.

  • The God of Jacob is mine

    “And I am not saying there aren’t times when people should leave a church – and have God on their side! There are churches that lead people astray, teach falsehood, allow patterns of abuse and more. If that’s your setting, don’t leave … flee!”

    It seems to me that this is a selfish attitude to leave the rest of the family to falsehood and abuse?

  • Aaron

    Not happy,, theres the door:) and be another churches pain in the butt

  • I believe

    The Bible says if your other arms causes you to sin, cut it off, its better to go to heaven with one arm than to go to hell with both arms. Same as the church, if a church causes you to go to hell cut it off. If its misdirecting you, leave. If a church leader is going nowhere stop following. READ THE BIBLE AND IF THE CHURCH LEADER IS CLASHING WITH THE WRITTEN WORD, leave as fast as you can, otherwise he will lead a whole lot of his followers to hell. Not only God has shepherds, even the devil has many in the churches. If in the last days you find yourself on the wrong side, its anybody’s fault because God gave us His Word to read and discern the spirits.

    • Ceece08

      I agree

  • Jon

    I don’t think it always hurts when people leave. I can honestly say that it has been a blessing on more than one occasion. Some people are bound and determined to fight te leadership at every move. When these people leave, it is refreshing.

  • http://bloggingforwisdom.Wordpress.com/ tweeting4wisdom

    I believe if you feel God is leading you away you should go. The reason is irrelevant compared to the will of God. My family has been at our church for thirteen years so I’m not approaching this from the angle of a “church hopper”. Pastors and staff members leave all the time. Some leave and even stay in the community. I agree when people leave it is often taken personally by leaders and members alike. Most new growth is transfer growth. Christians leave one church for another. However, If a church member or leader believes they should go it’s probably best for both parties. The best thing a pastor can do when they loose someone they feel should stay is to let them know the door is always open. I’ve seen people leave and come back six months or six years later. When I considered leaving to take a staff position at another church our pastor felt the other church’s leadership might not be a good fit for me. My passion for ministry and the other churches’ passion would not line up He let us know our church would be there for us if we decided to go.

  • MyoungSr

    Very subjective. So I would like to offer and equally subject and opinionated reply.

    Calvinism? Why didn’t you add the far more destructive and abusive “emergent church” philosophies? Or, compare Arminianism to Calvinism? How about the modern day practice of Gnosticism in churches? Or, postmodernism? Or how about the Rob Bell philosphies of universalism? Etc.

    I find this article subjective and obviously slanted by the author’s corporate-Christianity worldview. It is narrow in scope, and worldly in its perspetive.

    So, please forgive my sarcasim when I say,” I guess it is a good thing that Jesus also followed ideas or similar ‘management techniques’ as the author’s – or just imagine what a mess the church would be today!”

    It is my experience and studied opinion that reaching the world with the inclusive and life changing Word and of Christ is what is important.

    The WORD of God is divisive in and of itself: Dividing sheep from goats, truth from error, wheats and tares. We don’t need to add man’s management techniques to divide the Body of Christ.

    (Although all the things mentioned by the author might be desirable by some and useful at times, they are not required and are often devisive and are usually manipulative. Join a church. Be faithful as a follower of Christ, a faithful giver and supporter of the church and pastor, only to have everything change and be told to ‘get along or move along’. It’s just sad)

    • Twinsfan1

      Myoung, he is not saying Calvinism is wrong. He’s using it as an example of when a church chooses a particular theological bent that is different than what you believe. He could have just as easily used any of those you mentioned, and the point would have been the same.

      • RealtySanta

        Twinsfan1, I disagree. He could not just as easily said any of those things. There’s a slight difference in Calvinism and Armenian, but they are both they are still within acceptable limits of basic doctrine.
        The Gnosticism, Rob Bell’s universalism and others like this are, in my opinion way off base of acceptable beliefs.
        Just take the Southern Baptist affiliated churches (and for that matter seminaries) Walk into one SBC church and you may hear a strong Calvinist message. Go 2 miles down the road and the same message could be preached with an Armenian approach.
        That’s much different that a Calvinist church message and a Rob Bell style message.
        While I don’t entirely agree with the writer, I understand what is being said. When my boys were young, they left for a church with a church nearby with a stronger youth ministry. We later followed them to that church. I meanwhile remained close to my former “home” church famiiies and still do to this day.
        We have people at our large church that have left to worship at a nearby church that is more traditional in style. If it facilitates the spiritual growth of that believer, he/she should go with the blessings of the church body.
        There are and will be many reasons a member changes the location of where they worship.
        Blessings to all

      • MyoungSr

        Yes, I see that. Please note that I started my reply that I am being subjective and opinonated. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the 5 points of Calvinism, but, many good Christian men and women do. So, I felt that remark was disparaging to a patently Christian group of folks and unnecessary to make his points. (If you know the points or doctrines of Calvinism and the opposing views, then you know that it can be and usually is contentious).

        However, thanks for point this out. But, I still take issue with the author using the subject of “leaving a church correctly” as cover for a pastor or a church politic setting policy or developing programs which historically divide a church..and then say it’s OK because it is expedient (he uses the word ‘necessary’ and ‘OK’ instead of expedient)

        And again, I say I am guided by experience and the bible – so it is my opinion.

    • Craig Piefer

      I think a lot of times we read these GREAT articles and in our insecurities we are jealous that no one ever asks us to write an article. So when we read it, we aren’t reading it to learn, but to pick apart and show the world, that WE are worthy, smart, successful, fill in the blank, enough to be the writer that readers read. Maybe that’s the motor behind your reply maybe it’s not. But think about it.


        Either the bible is accurate or isn’t Ephesians 4 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.…DO MINISTERS IN AMERICA HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT ? ◄ 1 Corinthians 3 ►New International Version
        The Church and Its Leaders 1Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
        5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, GOD’S building. DEAR LORD DO WE BELIEVE THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE ANYMORE. TO READ THIS ARTICLE WELL Revelation 2:15-16 tHE NICOLATION DOCTORINE MEANS CONTROL LAITEY. JESUS HATES IT.

        • MyoungSr

          Good remarks, Using the bible!

      • MyoungSr

        Funny thing about criticisms. They reveal a lot about the critic. You are DOING the very thing you accuse me of doing! So? What is it? Are you jealous or why else would you criticize me instead of my response to an article?

        Feel free to criticize an article, a message or an idea, but you cross a line of sorts and ‘up the ante’ when you attack a person. So, that makes me wonder…do you consider yourself Christian? (see? this is how that works. It’s unneccesary isn’t it? and it feels bad, doesn’t it?)

        My reply (above) is my opinion of another man’s opinion. It’s called a discussion. That’s why there is space for replies, etc. Does it bother you that people can agree or disagree with each other’s opinon but still be civil? I would rather hear what you thought about the original article rather than hear your ‘potshots’ at others.

        • Craig Piefer

          Wasn’t really an attack, just sharing how I (notice I use “we”) feel sometimes and that it comes from a place in me where I don’t let the Holy Spirit dwell. Am I jealous? Yes, it would feel great to be asked to write and be read, but that is not what God has me doing now, maybe never. I’m going to choose to take the response as brotherly love and hit the ground running today. God bless your day, do what you can do and let God do the rest.

          • MyoungSr

            Thank you. Peace and grace to you.

    • OneWingedButterfly

      Thank you, I had noticed that immediately, and based on articles I have read concerning Christian discernment (this site calls it bad mouthing or being slanderous towards pastors) BTW there is a difference between being slanderous and discerning of the church or its “leaders.”. It appears this site is trying to dissuade or make Christians laymen uncomfortable
      to discern their church leaders. Newsflash, it is scriptural, it is
      expected for Christians to discern what is of God’s and what isn’t, and
      the church belongs to God NOT men’s. Pastors are to be servants of God
      not dictators. The solutions this site offers to pastors is to hurriedly show discerning Christians the door.

      KJV Ezekiel 34:1 And
      the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2
      Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say
      unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the
      shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the
      flocks? 3 Ye
      eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye
      feed not the flock. 4
      The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which
      was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye
      brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was
      lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5
      And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they
      became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6
      My sheep wandered through all the mountains,
      and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the
      earth, and none did search or seek after them.
      7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the
      word of the LORD; 8
      As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a
      prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was
      no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds
      fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9
      Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10
      Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against
      the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to
      cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any
      more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat
      for them. 11
      For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my
      sheep, and seek them out. 12
      As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that
      are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all
      places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

  • Rod

    Just a thought..as a pastor, I always ‘send them away with our blessing’. Always have a sweet spirit. In time, they may be back!

  • chorner

    A former pastor once preached a sermon on how we needed his permission to leave the church. We were already leaning towards changing churches. We were invited to a church closer to home that friends of ours attended. They also had a much better children’s ministry for our daughter. Our being told we had to have permission was enough to push us into the change – and we did it without permission – and it was the best thing for us. We were able to get more involved throughout the week and our daughter flourished in the new church’s AWANA program. By the way, we never had an email, phone call, or even a letter or card from anyone from the previous church when we went AWOL. I guess no one even noticed we weren’t there any more.

  • Old ‘n Rich

    Church is a strange little. Isn’t it strange that reputable banking institutions loan money to such a shaky structure as a church?

    • Old ‘n Rich

      Strange little world

  • Rev John Jackson

    Sometimes people leaving is just about the best thing that can happen to a fellowship and I speak it from good experience. Many years ago when I was just a humble attendee ( no responsibilities- no position!) we had a group of about 8 for whom church could do nothing right. They were very vocal about what was wrong with church and the Pastor – most people were generally sick of hearing them. They then decided to leave and join a much more ” progressive (larger) fellowship” than ours. Within a year they had persuaded the assistant Pastor that he should be the Pastor and were part of the group that split the fellowship in half. Six months later this new fellowship split again and the 8 went with the new group. A few months later this new group split again leaving only the 8 who had left us! In just under two years they had been part of 4 splits! The common trait being them! After they left,the church we were part of experienced exponential growth in those two years with membership almost tripling as the atmosphere without them was not nearly as toxic. Nothing changed except they left and nobody was in any hurry for them return. Unchristian?No just honest.

    • MyoungSr

      I am sorry you had to endure what you describe. It is hateful, hurtful and unnecessary. But, repeatedly, from situations like you describe, the lesson that I learn, is that when we / anyone starts a fellowship, a church, etc., you state the central “theme” purpose UPFRONT: JESUS… and stay with it. We will be loving, polite, kind, civil toward one another – as stated in scriptures. Anything less disqualifies.

      Then, get ready for the ride of your life.

      I pray that God blesses you as you go forward.

    • Pastor Ray


    • just a thought

      dr rebecca brown book He came to set the captives free.
      A former satanic highpriest who’s life was wrecked when she became a Christian.
      the theology within may be a bit light the testimony is extremely worth the money. What you describe seems to be standard training now for occultists in the U.S. lester Sumrall and smithwigglsworth dealt with them constantly in churches. Sadly in America well without the gifts many are going unnoticed. Dereck prince warned about this many decades ago and so did leonard ravenhill. norval hayes also has a very sobering testimony of a demon possessed satanic highpriest God revealed sitting in on one of His meetings. It’s no joke a good free message on the web is dereck prince false religion. He lays out the old and new testament scripture that pertains to this period of time…


    It just amazes me at the arrogance of this article. Either the bible is accurate or isn’t Ephesians 4 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.…DO MINISTERS IN AMERICA HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT ? ◄ 1 Corinthians 3 ►New International Version
    The Church and Its Leaders 1Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
    5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, GOD’S building. DEAR LORD DO WE BELIEVE THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE ANYMORE. TO READ THIS ARTICLE WELL Revelation 2:15-16 tHE NICOLATION DOCTORINE MEANS CONTROL LAITEY. JESUS HATES IT.

    • terrep263

      I agree! this article is so telling about the attitude of ownership that is so prevalent in many churches today. We are one body, not one particular church with super connections. Today’s church has become about the number of people, their education and their social position rather than the word of God and serving in the Kingdom.
      I recently left the church I attended for 6 years not out of anger or spite , but because after many days of fasting and prayer my wife and I were lead to, because the next stage of our spiritual growth is at hand. I could not believe the behavior and attitude of may people we thought were truly brothers and sisters in Christ. We left because our heart and desire is but one thing to be the servents that God has called us to be nothing more.

    • http://www.timothyburns.com/ Timothy Burns

      God’s family is also tribal. The 12 tribes of Israel all had their own head, their own customs, and they served the same God. Israel got in trouble when they wanted a king, a single leader, like the world around them. The early church didn’t rule under a single ruler, as one church liked to believe. They governed as a council, and individual churches became distinct with their own unique cultures. Not until Constantine demanded that the entire Roman empire become “Christian” did the idea of a single, monolithic church begin to be taught, and we can see how well that’s done through history. I can be in unity with brothers and sisters who don’t believe exactly the same as I do. God says in 1 Cor that our differences are supposed to bring us closer to him. Let’s stop complaining, and get to work building the kingdom.

      • DUH

        The articles complaining and with almost know scriptural validity. You have good points though the books of Corinthians is the model for the new testament church. God set 1st Apostles 2nd Prophets and 3rdly teachers. there are two other ministries also. In around the third century churches scattered and fractioned many believing the pastor could entirely equip and mature saints by themselves thereby creating a traditions of men ruled religious system in which very few acknowledged biblical instruction as to equipping and maturing Gods Gods scriptural usage of the offices and people leaving in large a system that really doesn’t even reflect the new testament model off church. So as to your comment might I recommend a book It’s called R.W. schambach God speaks to pastors God moved on him to write it in addressing the sheparding movement he lays out a good deal of what God expects from the pastoral gift and more than a few scriptures of why God turns against the pastoral office. take that with Kenneth hagins the gifts and callings of God (which at that time he had little understanding if any of the apostles office) anyway with these two books you may see and see clearly that many professing pastors today are going to have a huge acoountability and a lot to answer for/

        • http://www.timothyburns.com/ Timothy Burns

          Yes, I agree completely with the model for the church out of Corinthians, and I’m not trying to create a new, over-arching doctrinal statement. To be honest, this is something I’m currently wrestling with, coming to a biblical perspective on leadership, unity, and church organization.

          Looking at history, Israel was tribal, and God was angry that they wanted a single king. The early church was lead by a council, a plurality of leadership, not a single person. Each local church had their own leaders, which were accountable to the apostles, but not directly led by them. They found, followed and obeyed God from the local church level while being accountable to the apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers for instruction and correction. Neither Paul nor the apostles tried to implement a single govt over all the churches, rather they followed the teachings of the apostles, and the Word of God.

          Looking at history a bit wider, God condemned the efforts of Nimrod, and the tower of Babel, an attempt to implement a single leader and a single power center. The Roman emperor Constantine’s edict to Christianize the Roman empire wasn’t godly at all. That decision and the resulting effects lead to the first serious split between the church in the west (Rome and Roman) and the church of the east (turkey and the Byzantine empire). Furthermore, The Roman Catholic Church has serious problems, stemming from the idea of a single, all powerful leader and council of bishops that govern the entire global church, and and doctrine, traditions and practice enforced from a centralized authority.

          I’m just saying that single, global leadership doesn’t seem to be God’s plan. He’s the one we are all accountable to, and the Word of God is our final authority and guide. We also need to be accountable to and in relationship with local leaders. Without the accountability and the relationship, it’s hard to build real discipleship and life change.

  • Tim Wright

    I left my church because I chnged how I see God from Reformed to Arminian. I couldn’t go to a place where they believe God chooses certain people to go to Hell.

  • Rose Brooks-Kinney

    We left a couple because of falsehood, quenching of gifting and the quenching of the Holy Spirit. I can discern a Shepherd from a hireling. There are many hirelings and very few Shepherds. I need true doctrine, five fold ministry, Holy Spirit led, family welcoming and actual outreach ministry “Great Commission” not afraid to go into the world church. I found two after visiting five, thank you Jesus!

  • pmlmll

    This subject is a sensitive one for me. Currently I lead our worship team, but havent always been a part of this denomination. Lately, I have become troubled by some things that are upheld and taught, and feel I am alone in my convictions. One is the baptism of babies and toddlers, and the Pastor repeated “You are now sealed by the Holy Spirit.” I brought a recording of the event home to relisten to it to make sure I heard him correctly. Isn’t this against what the Bible says, that only when a person becomes born-again does he received the Holy Spirit? I believe he read this from a lturgy. A baby isn’t born again yet. He should be dedicated, not baptized. The other practice that is bothering me is the selling of things to raise money for missions, etc. This is an annual event, and it’s a big thing for the church. This past week, when I came in to the sanctuary to check preservice Advent videos, there were bags of goods sitting in half the pews, ready for the sale the next day. I became very upset, thinking our Holy Sanctuary had become a storehouse of goods for the market. They argue with me that they don’t keep the money but give it to missions. One person told me that our bodies are the sanctuary, and the building is just a building. When I placed my complaint, they became irrate with me. Is the Holy Spirit giving me a discerning spirit, to see what others don’t see? Or am I being too critical and bothered by something minor? Will someone please offer your insight on this? I am wondering if this is God’s way of moving me on to another church. I love the people, but my spirit is troubled.

    • RealtySanta

      It’s seems that these doctrinal issues are quenching your spirit. In spite of the fact that you love your church people, you have a stumbling block to your ministry there. My first question while reading this is, ‘why change denominations’ but I realize God must have had a mission for you there. Maybe one reason was to strengthen you and your core beliefs. Is it time for you to return to the denomination your spirit is most aligned with?
      While my core beliefs align most with the Southern Baptist Theology, I have friends in many other groups. An orthodox priest recently told me :We may have a different theology but we are brothers in Christ”
      Don’t let the differences affect your relationship with friends, but I believe you need to seek affiliation with a church that fits your core beliefs.

      • pmlmll

        Thank you for your insight. I realize there is no perfect church. But because of issues in my personal life this past year, I have been deeper in the Word and clinging to the Holy Spirit more than ever before, so there is a keener sensitivity arising in me. Things I was able to tolerate before are becoming more troubling to my spirit. Yes, when I first came to this denomination, I felt God had a ministry for me here. And there have been so many opportunities that I have been able to partake of that I probably wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t joined this church. God moves people for His purpose, and people shouldn’t take offense to that. It doesn’t mean the ones left behind are necessarily doing anything that wrong, but that God wants to use that person in a different setting. The doors are indeed opening to an affiliation with a former church we are more comfortable with, so I am waiting on God to confirm that. Again, thanks!

        • RealtySanta

          Will be praying for you and that the opportunity to serve in your former church will come to fruition. It could be that your mission in this other church is nearing completion. .

    • Hello

      A very interesting post indeed pray and ask for wisdom. Find out if God is showing you some things to intercede over possibly to avoid or begin to seek Him on so that He may teach you. As to wether you are in the right place. That is a matter to seek God on even if your not be sensitive to seek Him for the time the season the actions to take and the strength to move if needed. Funny thing about denominations. In the bible Christians where encouraged to continue steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine. Sadly if everybody sought the Holy Spirit there probably would not be so many denominations. That being said there are foundational things to Christianity that we cannot be tolerant of going astray on. There are other things that God may order confrontation over at a later date or even tolerate. Not that it won’t come up on judgement day barring repentance that is. But none the less a good question you have asked and some positive things to go seeking God on. Have a good day!

      • pmlmll

        Thank you for your insight!

      • lindiwe

        What if it’s a case of immorality on the side of the Pastor and you are his object of constant practice?Do u still need to seek the face of God in this?

    • http://www.turnaroundpastor.com/ Bud Brown

      I don’t want to rain on your parade. Nor do I want to usurp the Holy Spirit’s role in your life. But (based on my experience coaching and mentoring others in vocational ministry), you’re on your way out.

      I don’t know your life situation. I don’t know your family needs. I don’t know your financial condition. There are a lot of variables that I don’t know about you. But my basic premise in life (something I learned from my father) is “the sooner you rip that bandage off the less it’s gonna hurt.”

      I hope and pray things go well for you. I feel your burden.

    • Ryan

      I realize I’m responding 6 months after the fact. I was raise in a Baptist church and when I moved, went to a Christian Reformed church where they baptized infants. I had issues with that. The pastor got pretty slick with piecing parts of scripture together to make that sound right. I studied that out to the nth degree and concluded that infant baptism was a man-added religious practice that does not exist in the bible. Keep in mind that you were not saved into a belief system to which infant baptism is founded. You were saved into a relationship, a family, the family of God (Father, Son & Spirit). You were saved from the slavery of sin into freedom, not to be a slave again, not to sin or religious system or any religious practice… any, none, zilch. You are free to leave any church at any time for any or no reason at all because God is not going to judge you by how regularly you attended somebodies business call ‘church’. God is focused on the state of your heart, not by how well you practiced or upheld some denominations personal beliefs and religious practices.

      • pmlmll

        Thanks for your reply Ryan. I am seeking the Lord’s direction in my decision whether He wants me to leave or not. Now, a new development: The administration of this particular denomination I am in has voted to allow benefits to married spouses of gay employees, and gay pastors are allowed to be interviewed. I haven’t yet spoken to my pastor on what he feels about this. I am wondering if this is the falling away before the return of Jesus. I’m also wondering what God thinks about all of this, and if I stay, am I being a Lot in Sodom and Gomorra? All the times I left other churches, God already had shown me another church and denomination He wanted me to be involved in. Each and every one along the way was a valuable stepping stone to who I am today as a child of God. God has definitely taken me on an exciting journey! Being involved in music ministry has been His gift to me and I passionately give it back to Him. If He decides to remove this position, I am praying He will give me a passion to do something else for Him.
        God bless!

  • Russ

    John 17th Chapter says most of what is needed.. Galatians 5:22-26 gives the needed instructions and Revelations 3:15-22 gives the full warning for this church age.

    • Daniel Slane

      Thank you for adding some scripture to this! I kinda liked this article, but it definetly lacked in Scripture to back up its points.

  • Cobus

    Leaving is as old as humans live on this earth! It started in Genesis 3! Sin and the nature of sin causes seperation, splits, division etc. Does not matter on which side of the coin you are, it is the truth! People are broken, sinners and I am one of them! I can be judgemental, I can point fingers and I can cause trouble! However I can allow the Word of the Lord to change me by applying the Word, allow it to wash my stinking thinking pattern and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me (Rom 8:14-16). When my fellowship or relationships go astray, I can apply Matt 18 or do my own thing! Going to a person or leader on a one to one basis, if not working take someone (mature unbiased person) whith to solve the problem and then if not winning your brother, tell it to the church! The Bible teach us also in the multitude of counsellors is wisdom. I was in a church where all problems break lose, I could leave also. Sometimes the Lord do not want us to move the mountain, but giving us strength to go over the mountain. We all need John 17 and we all need to test the spirits at work (1John 4). We need discernment! If safe and secure in Christ He will lead the way as long if it is not ME! Believe me, I AM MANY TIMES THE PROBLEM! Help me Lord to see the diamond in others! Blessings!

    • trebor

      Power hungry pastors with tunnel vision drive people away …. Maybe not to another religion but to another church of the same religion where the spiritual leaders think of the congregation more than themselves.

  • Mae Roede

    Great article.

    I would like to point out, however, that although I have seen many articles that discourage members from leaving (and for good reason, especially if their only reasons for leaving are selfish), I have seen very few about when it really is okay to leave (as is addressed in the last page of this article). I know far too many people who attend churches where the leaders are dishonest, or manipulative, or powerhungry (in one case–even unsaved!) and those people feel guilty about leaving that church, or even believe that they are called to stay and minister, even though that ministry is not going anywhere because, in the church’s practice, God is not welcome there.

    What are some suggestions you have for people in those types of situations, especially those in ministry, and how do you counsel those who have been deeply wounded in those types of churches?

    • http://www.turnaroundpastor.com/ Bud Brown

      There are seven things Jesus looks for in a church. They are spelled out in the Letters to the Seven Churches of Revelation.

      Admittedly, the language in this portion of scripture can be tough to decipher. Some of the cultural and historical background is obscure, which adds to the challenge. So you may want to consult a couple of good commentaries that will help you ferret out what Jesus is telling the churches.

      And then, when you have that information in hand, you’ll be in a position to know how to offer guidance and counsel to people who have questions about their churches and whether they should leave. E.g., “One of the things Jesus looks for in churches is whether they are passionate about Him, their first love. That’s what he’s telling the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. So, is your church passionate about loving Jesus?”

      Hopefully you’ll get my drift… Or perhaps I’m drifting out beyond the left field foul line and don’t realize it. :-)

  • Scott Uselman

    Good points. I struggle with your point that it is a fair departure for someone to leave their church when another church offers a better ministry to your children than your church; I paraphrased that. Distance is not really a factor today in my opinion. If it is a reason to leave, then why wasn’t that factored before someone drove that distance? Plus, wouldn’t it be better to ask the pastor about how to do a better job with middle schoolers before you leave? Maybe even step up take part in that ministry? So what is the message to your children about commitment at that point? It sounds like it is okay to leave from any committed relationship with a group or individual when there is something better available. The spiritual well-being of your child may not include them always seeking after the best.
    Another point was that change in the church could be a valid reason for leaving. I disagree with that too. In fact, the Body should always be changing especially while the Spirit is adding new members who have many different, and the same, gifts designed to help the Body grow. Change is uncomfortable and that is why Paul taught about unity. The bottom-line is when yours will, or my will, becomes greater than the church’s will (if solid doctrinally, and also the will of God is so), then that is a problem with the individual.
    As far as the rest of the reasons for lay people to leave I think those are valid points. Your article is very though provoking.

    • Michael Waldron

      I would only say that Distance can be a factor when a church relocates to a location just too far away…

    • Bruce

      I understood his point that a family is traveling a long distance already to get to their current congregation. For instance, when the family was without kids, they were able to make the long drive without issue, but as kids enter the picture things change. In that instance, distance is a factor when it affects your family from attending and taking advantage of the many opportunities at a church. We have many who drive past other churches in order to come to ours, but they only come to Sunday AM because they live so far away. They do not get involved, connected in small groups, youth ministry, children’s ministry, etc. because it’s too “hard” for them to drive that far. Yeah, it’s an excuse, but at times it’s a valid one.

  • hmm

    Isn’t God that decides where the members of the Body are to be. It should be it’s ashame so many articles I see can’t back themselves up with scripture refuse Gods order only acknowledge several of Christs gifts to the Body and treat those led of the Spirit as children instead of the Sons they are even to the point of persecution slander manipulation and control.

  • HaveALittleFaith

    We are children of God. Not pastors, not churches, not denominations. The church is one body and the head of that body is Christ. So get over yourself. If someone leaves for another church they are still your brother and sister in Christ and should be treated as such. Are you going to take these hurts and resentments to heaven with you? Lay them at the feet of Jesus and learn to forgive and love the person again. And don’t be possessive. They are NOT yours, you do not own them. Unless they personally speak against you, why torment yourself with unnecessary rejection. There could be 1001 reasons they left and possibly none of them to do with you! Keep YOUR heart right. Keep rejoicing. And move on. Don’t let someone leaving stop you from moving on in your calling because you’re feeling a little sorry for yourself. You move on in yours and let them move on in theirs. And above all keep loving them continually. Remember it is probably just as hard for them leaving as it is for you staying.

    • Rudy Schellekens

      “We are children of God. Not pastors, not churches, not denominations.
      The church is one body and the head of that body is Christ. So get over
      yourself. If someone leaves for another church they are still your
      brother and sister in Christ and should be treated as such.”

      With this kind of a statement, I am always reminded of one of my first experiences with the Billy Graham campaigns. “Visit the church of your choice…” So, what about the Jehovah’s witnesses Kingdom hall down the street?” What, those are not the right church? Well, how about the Mormon meeting place across town, they really are friendly people… O, not them, either?”

      Just a thought…

  • christoph

    Perhaps it would be good have a list what keeps me at my current church. By the way we’re at our church for almost 20 years. In our case #1 factor are friends in our church.

  • Sue Johnson

    I left because my grown children changed churches and my husband started attending church and preferred the new church. It broke my heart to leave my church, I love it and the people, they were like family, I grew up there spiritually, I was immersed in service, and I was continually growing closer to God. I attended both churches for quite awhile because I couldn’t break away, even to the point that I was splitting my tithe, finally I had to make a decision, I knew I had to be at church with my husband and my old church’s pastors wife taught a lesson on commitment that advised to be fully committed to one church, so I just felt like I was being led. I still love to visit old church and teach VBS each summer and I hope that is ok, no one has told me otherwise and both churches are aware.

  • Roger Miskimmen

    I’m impressed. Another author wrote a blog on the exact same topic recently. But he tried to write a justification for his poor leadership. He was the reason why people were leaving, and he to say that it was a good thing because the “critics” were leaving. You have written a more balanced article that actually helps people with their concerns. And emphasis on meeting needs instead of looking for someone to blame. Thank you.

  • Old n’ Rich

    Who in the world feels better, brighter, and more hopeful than the Christian who leaves his or her old church to go to a new church? That’s why leaving is so popular – it’s because it just feels so good.

  • Chelsea

    I left the congregation where I worshipped, fellowshipped, and served when after nine years of devotion to that body of believers and my pastor/husband, he accused me of being unfaithful and then left the home we shared together. The following Sunday, after much prayer, the Lord lead me to another church on the other side of town, where I have served faithfully ever since. I do not bad mouth him or that group of people. I believe that’s a fair departure. Also, I agree with HaveALittleFaith. People who leave a congregation to fellowship at another location have not left the church.

    • RinaMaduro

      Yes, that’s fair. Husband/pastor! And have you ever talked with him again about what he accused you of?

  • http://www.turnaroundpastor.com/ Bud Brown

    This is actually a pretty good article. One of the better I’ve read on this website, in fact. The lede raised several questions in my mind that were answered over the several pages spanned.

    The only point I would disagree with is the author’s contention that someone’s departure is an emotionally wrenching decision. For some pastors, particularly those who have unwittingly entangled their unmet ego needs with the condition of the congregation, it can be an extremely trying ordeal.

    But pastors who are settled and comfortable with the fact that “it’s not my church” (and who find their needs for a sense of worth, affirmation, security and forgiveness in Christ) DON’T respond that way. In fact, they rejoice WITH the person who is “leaving well” because they are responding to something God is doing that person’s life. They also rejoice OVER the person who “leaves poorly” because they recognize that (in spite of that person’s own suffering) God is in some way cleansing the congregation.

    • None

      Are you a pastor?

      • http://www.turnaroundpastor.com/ Bud Brown

        Yes, a little over 30 years. I also train, coach and mentor younger pastors.

        • RinaMaduro

          I think that it is an emotionally wrenching decision even if the pastor is happy for the people that is/are “leaving well” (another ministry, job, moving abroad).

  • debra roland

    I will say it. The current music is not only too loud, it is plain awful! Is there a particular need to blow out the people’s ear drums?

    • Jason

      That’s a fairly narrow minded statement. Just saying.

  • Israel Cordoves

    Where in this article is the bible mentioned?

  • Charlie

    I was serving in the Army and offered a lucrative position and
    education to stay. I felt called to leave the Army for ministry in different
    church in another city. However, before making that major decision, I went to
    my current pastor, other spiritual leaders, and asked for godly counsel
    about my decision and they affirmed God’s will for me. People today
    often go to a certain church simply because it makes them feel good, not
    because God has told them to be there.

    In the Bible, believers often departed or separated often for a good reason, sometimes not. The main issue should be God’s will, being led by the Spirit, going to God in prayer and asking for clear direction, not simply going to another church because it has a better program, music, work, closer, etc and all the other reasons that can often be only personal and possibly selfish.

    The problem I often see is that most people leave for the wrong reasons, do not pray about it, or ask their leaders for prayerful guidance because their decision and based only on personal feelings. I have often seen ministry (especially to children) suffer because adults decided they needed to move on to something else, better, easier, less commitment, etc. The reasoning that “we are all part of the church” does not help that problem when kids are left wondering why the adults have quit all of sudden. And certainly leaving a church for the wrong reason causes great damage to our witness to the world (John 17).

  • Beth

    I had attended a church that I loved and very involved in, when God called me to leave, I put up all kinds of responses to God’s request, The church was teaching doctrinally, there is a huge outpouring for missions, the people there no matter how big we got, still felt like a home town church, I didn’t want to leave, I loved all that I had the privilege to work with and for. I couldn’t see any reason to leave, God patiently waited for my eagerness to refute His request to die down and He simply asked me, “Who do you love more?” When the Almighty asks you that you know that you should bend the knee and say God I love you more. Following God’s lead has led me to a wonderful little church with great opportunities to serve and I am so very glad that I listened and followed…


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He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32