How to Leave Your Church – Part 1
This is a NEW series here at Raising Sticky Hands to Heaven about how to leave your church! This is part one of a four part series about how to leave your church! Stay tuned for more posts in the near future! 🙂 ~Priscilla
Recently, I felt the Lord calling my family to leave the church that I had been attending since 2004. I felt connected in MY church. How could I even leave MY church? I was a member of the worship team. I had friends there. I had fond memories of the church, and I didn’t want to leave! But, I had changed so much since I joined my church. I was also married now, and the church did not fit in line with my husband’s belief system.
There will come a time when you may have to leave your church for one reason or another. Sometimes leaving your church is an easy decision to make. Other times, we are so comfortable where we are that we couldn’t image being anywhere else.
Looking back, I think I felt too comfortable at my old church. Strange thing is, God usually uses me best when I’m uncomfortable, but fully submitted to Him!
I think that I felt too comfortable at my old church. -From How to Leave Your Church, Part One.
Needless to say, when God told me to leave my old church… it was hard to submit. I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone. I spent a month in pure denial until my husband refused to attend the church again. At that time, I knew that my husband and I needed something different. I knew that God had a higher calling, and we were needed to use our gifts at another church.
There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It’s hard to fathom that God would plant us in a church, and then root us up to serve somewhere else. Besides that, leaving a church is very difficult. When I finally left my church for good, I grieved the loss. I’m talking stayed-in-bed-all-day-&-pulled-the-blanket-over-my-head kind of grieving a loss. It was horrible. In fact, it was almost like losing a family member.
That fog of “depression” didn’t lift until God sent comfort during our first church service in our new church! I knew then that everything was going to be OK, and that God had sent us to the right place! Whew! Hallelujah!
I think that the first step in the process of leaving a church is to determine the reasons why you are leaving the church… Then, you have to make sure that your reasons for leaving are in line with the Word of God, and God’s will for your life. In this post I’ve listed 16 GOOD reasons to leave your church. While this list does not cover all reasons to leave a church, it does cover some major reasons that you may want to leave a church.
GOOD Reasons to Leave Your Church:
- If God is calling you to another church. This seems simple, but sometimes we do not listen to Him when He has other plans for us.
- If you are moving, or have moved. This is a no brainier, but sometimes people will travel long distances to church even after they have moved to another town. However, the churches in Acts were local churches with community ties. It is perfectly acceptable to find a church in your new community where you live.
- If your church violates scripture in any way. We need more churches that preach the Word!
- If your church is in debt, but starts a new building campaign. I think that a lot is said by how much debt an organization carries, and I believe that God is calling a new generation of believers who set an example where debt is concerned. The Bible talks about living within our means, and this applies to the church as well. I’ve never known a church that carried large amounts of debt to be successful in the long run. It’s best to wait for God’s provision. I knew a pastor that had a vision for a new church, and prayed over it. He asked the church to pray over it. A member of his congregation bought the land adjoining the church, and this sparked generosity throughout the church. The building was paid off within six months! He could have put his church in debt, but He sought the Lord first. He chose to be patient, and the LORD provided. God calls us to be responsible, and a church cannot teach fiscal responsibility among members if the church is in debt.
- Changes in leadership if it effects how the Gospel is presented. A lot of churches are moving toward presenting the Gospel in a way that waters down the Word, but is seeker friendly. I am not being critical of this movement. I see that it may draw people to Jesus. However, if you have been a follower of Christ for many years you may desire a deeper connection. I think that most of these churches use the term “Jesus not Religion”. You may be one that needs the structure that is in a “religious” church. After all, not having “religion” can be just as “religious” as churches that are considered “religious”.
- If a church is focused on “numbers” versus “relationships”. Many people will fall through the cracks if ministries are not in place that help individuals to fellowship with other believers.
- If your spouse will not attend the church with you, but is open to attending another church.
- If your children would greatly benefit from attending another church.
- If someone in your family is dealing with addiction, and the church you are attending is not sensitive to issues related to addiction. (For example, does the preacher talk about drinking alcohol in a favorable way, but your spouse is an alcoholic?)
- If your church does not support your family during the loss a family member or during a sickness. I think that churches have a responsibility to minister to their members during a family’s time of need. If your church does not reach out to you in your family’s time of need, there is something fundamentally wrong with the structure of the church as ministries should always be in place for this purpose.
- When the church has a pride issue. Do you hear the church singing its praises instead of praise unto the Lord? Does the church market themselves, or cause controversy in the community?
- If you have grown in your faith and now have denominational differences. For example, I was raised in Pentecostal churches, and I really missed that style of worship. You could miss the structure or freedom found in other denominations. As we grow older, we often change denominations because we seek the Lord in other ways, and sometimes we go back to our roots.
- If the church or board of directors has dismissed multiple staff members over the course of a few years. This is usually an indicator of turmoil in the leadership. And, where there’s division, satan is at work. God doesn’t divide.
- When you have Biblically tried to resolve a conflict with another sister or brother in Christ, and that individual refuses to humble themselves in order to make peace. This is a huge issue, and can cause much division within the church. In some cases when this happens, it is best to leave. Always seek prayer when making this decision, but if this issue is not resolved that it effects the worship of every person involved.
- If the church has ever participated, or turned a blind eye to spiritual abuse within the church.
- If your church is not missions focused. It clearly states in the Bible that we should spread the Gospel to the nations. Missions should be a priority in all churches. Especially locally. But, there should be an international missions presence at your church as well.
I have to admit, some of these reasons were applicable in my family’s case when we left our old church, but some of these reasons are observations that I made from the lives of other Christians. Don’t get me wrong, there are BAD reasons to leave the church, but don’t let the enemy tell you that you shouldn’t leave as well! I think satan plays mind games with us when we try to seek God’s will.
In the next part of this series, I will discuss some BAD reasons to leave your church, and how to pray for God’s will when making the transition. Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid some of the mistakes that my family made in the transition.
Until then… be sure to comment below! I would love to know if you have had to leave your church. How did you leave your church? How was the transition? What were your greatest challenges?
Thanks SO much for reading this article about how to leave your church! We here at RSHTH hope that it has helped you in your transition.