People leave their church all the time. Some have good reasons to find a new church, others not so much. As a pastor I can say the majority of the time most people are not leaving for the right reasons. And there’s some really bad reasons that many leave their church. These are the 4 worst reasons that I hear.
If you are wondering when to leave a church, check out: 7 Signs It’s Time To Leave Your Church
The point of this article isn’t to beat anyone down. Rather, help us identify some of the shortcomings we each have. I know I’ve used, or at least thought, several of these reasons when I’ve left churches.
1. I’m Not Being Fed Anymore
If a church abandons it’s call to teach God’s word and grow and develop the congregation, this can be a legit concern. However, more often than not I see this used as an excuse to leave based on a dislike of the new direction, type of preaching, or some other stylistic preference.
It is not the church’s job to feed you. It is your job.
It’s popular in our culture to abdicate our responsibility and assign blame to someone else for our own failure. If you are not being fed in your spiritual life the only person to blame is you. It is your job and your responsibility to feed yourself, not anyone else’s. If you are not being feed at your church I suggest you find a way to feed yourself. Buy a book, download a podcast, journal, pray, dust off your bible, just find some way you can feed yourself.
If you aren’t getting spiritually fed at your church, don’t leave; find a way to feed yourself. If the church has abandoned its call to grow and disciple it’s congregation then leave.
2. I Don’t Have Any Friends Here
Whenever I hear “I don’t know anyone here” or “I don’t have any friends” I always ask, “Do you go to a small group?” “Have you tried to hang out with anybody?” Most of the time the answer is no. If you aren’t plugged in anywhere outside the Sunday service you will never build relationships. Relationships are built when you invest your time. In other words, the grass isn’t greener over there; the grass is green where you water it.
Friendships rarely just happen. They are forged by time spent together. If you go to church once or twice a month for an hour on Sunday you aren’t going to develop any friendships. You need to spend more time with people.
Find a place to serve, check out a small group, find a common interest with someone and just hang out. Learn people’s names, listen to their story, and when you find someone you connect with hang out with them outside church. You aren’t going to get connected without first putting in effort.
Instead of waiting for someone to invite you, invite. Don’t leave your church until you at least put effort into building a few friendships.
3. They Don’t Have “________” Ministry
As a pastor, I get approached regularly about starting a ministry for “__________.” Nine times out of ten they are great ideas. We won’t talk about the one out of ten bad ideas… When I ask if they would want to lead, start, or help in the ministry the answer is essentially no you do it, I just want to attend. This consumeristic mindset is crippling the church.
Maybe the reason you have such a great idea for your church is because God wants you to do it!
Every church cannot have every kind of ministry. Each church is unique and will look different and have different ministries, and that’s okay! Just because your church doesn’t have this great ministry doesn’t mean it should be started. It might not align with their specific mission and vision.
If you have a ministry you think would be beneficial to your church go meet with your pastor. See if it will fit the direction your church is heading. If it does, don’t assume your pastor will do all the work; offer to help start it or even lead it. The pastor of your church isn’t the only one gifted to lead a ministry. You are too! Use your gifts to grow and benefit the church.
4. The Pastor Doesn’t Know My Name
If you go to a smaller church or hang out with the pastor regularly you might have a case. However, I have seen people get mad that a pastor cannot remember their name when they talked to him once, and they are part of a 1000+ congregation. I am terrible at remembering names, and I feel TERRIBLE when I forget someone’s name. But there are 100’s, sometimes 1000’s of names pastors have to keep track of. Give them a little grace.
While in a larger church not everyone can have a personal relationship with the lead pastor, there is a benefit. The larger the church the more pastors will be on staff. You might not be able to be best buds with the lead guy, but find another pastor on staff that you can connect with.
The purpose of this article is not to convince you to never leave a church again. Most of us will not be at the same church for our whole lives. And that’s okay! The purpose is to challenge why we leave. A lot of people bail at the slightest inconvenience, and in doing so they are robbing the church of their gifts and skills and they are robbing themselves of what the church has to offer them.
Sometimes the greatest things in life are on the other side of difficulty. Maybe, just maybe, if you stick it out you will find it was well worth it.
Before you leave your church prayerfully consider your reasoning. Have you considered talking to someone on staff or in leadership at the church? Is the issue a reason to leave or can it be solved with a few conversations? Doing life with others is hard, and there will be conflict. But if we push through that conflict there is beauty on the other side.
Your turn… What are some valid reasons to leave a church? What are some of the worst reasons to leave a church?
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