One of the most excruciating decisions you will make as a Christian is to leave your home church. Some of these are valid concerns, while others may be symptomatic of underlying issues. Whatever the reason, considering a change in your church family is not an easy task or one to be undertaken lightly. How can you know for sure that leaving is the right thing to do? If it is, how can you leave in an amicable, God-honoring way? Here are some thoughts that may help you think through your options.
Your absence has an impact. If you have been committed to your current church for some time then they are your spiritual family. You see, the church is not an organization like a social club or a corporation. Your actions will have a significant impact on you and the church. This is why the church is so often referred to as “a Body.” If a human being loses a limb they are the first to know about it! The same would apply to those who have been in a community for some years and now they have suddenly left. Everyone feels their absence and everyone is impacted by it.
Can you give valid reasons why you are leaving? Can you clearly state your reasons for leaving? Have you asked yourself, “Are these reasons enough to break fellowship with my church family, the people I have shared so much with?” Can you say with a clear conscience the real reasons and if needs be to admit to the fact that you may be leaving because of some unresolved conflict you may have as opposed to external factors?
Do you have a conflict? Are you leaving because of unresolved conflict with someone? Matthew 18:15 says that a Christian is to “go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” If conflicts are left unresolved, you run the danger of repeating the problem in any new church that you join. Consider that it may be it may very well be you as opposed to them.
Have you spoken to your pastors? Have you sought the advice of godly counsellors, people mature in their faith walk? Their gentle input will be invaluable in helping you think through your concerns and the pros and cons of leaving. Those from whom you seek counsel need not be part of the church you attend, but they should be godly, mature individuals.
Unbiblical teachings or activities If your reason for leaving has to do with what you see as an inadequate ministry or wrong doctrine, your best bet is to talk with the elders or leaders of your church and not to all the wrong people. You may have some valuable feedback they need to hear. Plus, it is not good to leave without giving them a chance to respond to your concerns.
It’s the leadership Perhaps is it something the leadership said or did not say, did or did not do, then it is always best to speak to them rather than speaking to all the wrong people. Many times, it is simply a misunderstanding on both sides. But if it is not addressed, then it will not be resolved. Ask yourself: “If you have trusted the leadership before about things why can you no longer speak to them about the thing that is causing you offence?”
It’s the music Is your concern a matter of “worship style?” For some, the music makes the difference. It is true that the singing can be an indicator of the joy in the life of the church, but this is a very subjective thing and so must be considered carefully. Music or the lack thereof should never be used as an excuse to leave your church. Praise and worship should just not happen on a Sunday but should be a lifestyle for every Christian.
Are you prone to hopping? Has “church hopping” become your style, in the sense that you have been part of a church before and find problems with everyone? This is not healthy. To be sure, every church is imperfect, for they are all made up of imperfect people. Leaders are flawed as well. The church is made up of sinners saved by grace. It will be that way until the Lord returns. Could it be the Lord wants to develop in you the character of grace and forgiveness towards others’ imperfectness or sin?
Have you prayed? Have you earnestly prayed about your decision? Honestly, God knows your heart and wants to help you make a wise decision. The impact of this decision is significant for you and the church you are leaving and the one you will join—so it is essential that you walk in step with the Spirit of God when considering leaving.
Have you found somewhere new to go? If you are going to leave your church, it is advisable that you have a new church to go to and have attended some of the services, met the pastor, met some of the members and generally got a feel for your new church. To say that “you are taking a break from church” is seldom a good thing since many who say this generally end up never attending church again. They simply stop going altogether.