5 Tips on Leaving a Church the Right Way

leaving churchIt is unlikely that a Christian will attend one church for their entire life. That being said, there is a right way and a wrong way to leave a church. And unfortunately, most people don’t know the right way to leave a church. (Usually it happens when they are offended, and that is always the wrong way to leave a church!). Church is family, and you don’t just walk out on family because you’re upset with them! This article from www.churchleaders.com is an excellent read if and when you ever consider leaving the church you’re attending.

5 Tips on Leaving a Church the Right Way:

By Acts 29 Network

I met yesterday with a friend who is leaving our church. We had a good conversation about his reasons for leaving (they are legitimate) and then some discussion about how he can “leave well.” I told him that, based on my experience with people leaving our church or coming to our church after leaving another one, most people don’t leave well.

Here are a few ideas on how to leave a church well:

1. Have a good reason for leaving. Before you go, evaluate whether your reasons are good, legitimate and God-honoring. Here’s a thought-provoking post exploring good, possible, and bad reasons for leaving a church… I don’t think this list is comprehensive, but it’s good to make you think. If your reasons are good, go. If not, stay.

2. Communicate your decision to leave with the appropriate leaders. If you’re an active part of the church, leaders will need to know you’re leaving. If you are serving, communicate it to your Ministry Team leader. If you are in a Home Group, communicate it to the leader. If you are connected with an elder or pastor, communicate it with them. Personal communication is preferable to written communication, but make sure you communicate.

3. Tell these leaders the truth about why you’re leaving. If you have legitimate reasons to leave then you have nothing to hide or worry about. If the reasons for leaving will sting church leadership, deliver it in the spirit of Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Scripture commands us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), which means you don’t couch the real, sometimes difficult reasons behind a bunch of spiritualized nonsense. God may use your reasons for leaving to help the church or its leaders. I’ve had at least one “exit interview” that was immensely helpful to me as a leader — some of the truth of it stung, but it helped me grow. Whatever you do, don’t just leave without telling your leaders.

4. Appropriately transition or conclude your ministry commitments. If you’ve been an active part of ministry, your role will need to be transitioned. Hopefully you’ve been training and developing somebody to take your place anyway, but if you haven’t, give your leaders an appropriate time to find others to serve in your capacity. This period shouldn’t drag on, but you also should not just drop the ball on the people you’ve been committed to.

5. Leave graciously. In Ray Pritchard’s post on this topic, he writes:

“[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.”

If you’ve read this post and realize that you didn’t leave a church well in the past, it might be wise to circle back to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. If you have gossiped or stirred up division, you should make it right, apologizing not only to the leaders of that church but also to the people to whom you gossiped.

In the end, remember that Jesus loves the church you’re leaving and the one you’re going to — His blood was shed for both. Both churches are part of his bride. Do his bride the honor of leaving well.

Here’s a link to another great blog post on this topic:

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About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. Guidance Counsellor. High School Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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4 Responses to 5 Tips on Leaving a Church the Right Way

  1. Tony McGurk says:

    I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses 5 weeks ago. Leaving that religion is no easy task. If you just stop attending the elders will eventually contact you to find out why because unless you are disfellowshipped (excommunicated) for wrongdoing or you send in a letter of disassociation (resignation) you are still officially classed as a JW. I had too many conscience issues between what I believe the Bible was telling me & what Watchtower Doctrines teach.. I sent in a disassociation letter 2 weeks ago & haven’t heard from them since. Ran into one of the elders at the supermarket on Monday who I’ve known for about 6 years & when I said Hello he totally ignored me, my 1st official shunning. I have had quite a few long time JW friends unfriend me on Facebook too. It’s just so freeing after 20 years a JW to leave all that behind & get to know Jesus & his Father without all the extra baggage of the Watchtower religion.

    • Chris Jordan says:

      Tony – I’m so glad to hear you had the courage to leave the JW’s religion! It’s so sad to see how many people’s lives are being hurt and destroyed by the legalistic, false teachings of this cult. Praying that you would grow in your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as you seek to know Him in Spirit and Truth, through the Holy Bible and the Christian church!

      • Tony McGurk says:

        Thanks Chris. My wife is still 100% in it & she won’t hear a word against them. I’ve tried to discuss it with her & she just gets all defensive & eventually angry with me. I’ve decided to just let her be to avoid conflict & just keep praying that Jesus will use the Holy Spirit to open her eyes. She said that they announced on Wednesday niht at the Kingdom Hall that I was no longer a JW, the signal for all JW’s in the congregation to shun me I know it will be awkward if I run into any of them while I’m out & about with my wife as they will talk to her but treat me as if I’m invisible but I am past caring what any of them think. I now have my freedom in Christ & don’t need the fake friendship of those whose love is totally conditional.

        P.S. I still have the JW Library on my computer & I searched “Unconditional Love”. There were 2 results about parents having unconditional lover for their children (although if you are a JW parent & your child leaves you must shun them) & 1 article about dogs having unconditional love for their owners. God & Christ’s unconditional love doesn’t rate a mention as God will only truly love us if we earn it by rigidly following the dictates of the WT organisation, then MAYBE you’ll survive Armageddon…

      • Chris Jordan says:

        Hey Tony, I’m so sorry to hear that your wife is still bound by the false teachings and man-made traditions of the JW ‘church’. I will pray for the Holy Spirit to open her eyes to see the truth, and that she will find freedom as you did. Blessings to you today my brother in Christ!

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