“If you’re thinking about leaving a church.”
This was stolen from a fellow bloggers site and originally taken from What is a Healthy Church? I had been wanting to write something on this topic for a while but he did a better job than I did. My comments are on the very end.
“If you’re thinking about leaving a church.”
Before You Decide to Leave
2. Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel.
3. Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?
4. Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships.
5. Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life – places where God’s work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matt. 7:3-5).
6. Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).
If You Go
1. Don’t divide the body.
2. Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don’t want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred to as “venting” or “saying how you feel”).
3. Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.
4. If there has been hurt, then forgive – even as you have been forgiven.
Joe Thorn says “Great words of advice from a pastor I really respect. Over the years I have seen families move on to other churches for good reasons and bad reasons. Back in 1992 I blew it myself. As a young Christian I left the church through which I was converted for another church that was more doctrinally oriented. The specific reasons for moving on were sound, but the manner in which I left was not considerate. I just up and left without notice. After a few weeks the pastoral staff called and inquired how I was. I told them I decided to move on to another church. We eventually sat down over lunch where they were gracious to me, but explained that as a member of the church I should have been been more considerate of my church family. The advice I was given then was very similar to what mark has written above.”
As a former pastor, the worst thing is for us as leadership to wake up one week and say “hey, where has Joe been?” only to find out that he has been gone for several weeks. Talk about a pastor not tending the sheep! But really, when we join a church (wether officially or not) we are joining a family! We have family responsibilities! We can’t just treat a church as we would a store and let our feet do the voting. We do have a basic obligation to let people know we are leaving.
At my previous church I wrote the following letter when we left (and after praying and discussing with the leadership)
Dear Leaders of North Salem Baptist Church,
Meredith and I have had many good years of experience here at this church. I, Randy, have dedicated my life to Christ at this church about 18 years ago as a high school student, and Meredith has grown in the faith here as well. It was shortly after that time when I met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart. I not only proposed to her here, but we were later married in this church. Right around the same time I received a call for full-time ministry that was not only my desire, but echoed and confirmed within the leadership of the church. Meredith and I have raised our children a mere few hundred feet from the doors of this church. Both of our children have given their lives to Jesus within our time frame here as well. Through ministry both Mer and I have been privileged to see many people come to Christ and grow in the faith . . .and move on. We have had good friends that, if it weren’t for Christ, we never would have the privilege of even knowing each other. Countless conversations were had within these walls of a spiritual nature. This was also not only the place of my fall from my responsibilities as a pastor, but the rebirth of a better understanding of the grace that is lavished upon us, as well as a new re-birth of our family. It was our goal to model after Paul’s words in 1 Thess. 2:8 “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” Our prayer has been that this would have been true.
We want to thank not only the leadership of this church for helping to restore me and my wife to each other, but also to the body of Christ. What happened two years ago was the toughest thing we have ever had to face in our lives, but God is so incredibly good, he sought to use it to bring about something new within our family. Something that we didn’t see before. Something very good.
Needless to say, we have very fond memories of NSBC and Christ’s use of this church to help shape us in our spiritual journeys.
We are writing to say that for sometime now, both Meredith and I have felt a desire to seek membership with another church family. We have spent time in a season of prayer and have sought wise counsel with mature believers that have been in our life, and they are in agreement with us moving on. We do not do this lightly. Nor do we do it for any negative reason against anyone in the church. We are leaving with a peaceful assurance.
We both want to go on official record saying that we are in full agreement with the direction the church is going towards and have full confidence in Pastor Joe Lombardi’s leadership towards that end. In fact, some of the things that we have seen and foresee taking place have been things we have been praying would happen in this church.
Our hope is that you would wish us well in this transition for us.
Our last day at NSBC will be June 5th. I will have completed any and all current responsibilities for ministry.
We recognize that when families move from one fellowship, it can be a bit awkward in handling. We trust that you will do what is right and appropriate. It is not our intention to encourage anyone else to leave, this is our personal choice and decision. We give permission to reprint any or all of this letter to the rest of the family. Please do let us know, how you will inform (or not inform) the church.
Thank you again, for helping to provide an opportunity to experience God working through us and around us at a place such as this. We will be in prayer for the ministry and direction here.
With sincere regards,
Randy and Meredith Mooney
So if you leave, leave well, don’t stain Jesus Bride.