You go now. No trouble.
This afternoon a former student of mine, Pastor Benji Magness, posted some thoughts from Mark Dever's book What Is a Healthy Church?
These helpful suggestions deal with the issue of how to leave a church and are at the end of the post.
It's important to leave in the right manner, but it's also important to leave for the right reasons, right?
Or to put it another way, it's important to not leave for the wrong reasons, right?
What are valid reasons to leave a church?
One blogger has offered some suggestions (e.g., Preaching and Doctrine).
From my experience as a pastor and in speaking with other pastors, few things are as demotivating or discouraging as when someone leaves the church. For most, it's nearly impossible not to take it personally.
So, pastors, what are some reasons people have had for leaving your church? Which do you find valid? When would you counsel folks that it's right for them to leave?
It seems to me there are 3 questions we could ask and hope to answer:
- What are valid reasons to leave a church?
- What are invalid reasons to leave a church?
- What are reasons that necessitate departure?
I have become convinced over the years of something I would not have affirmed in the past. Is it ever a sin for a person to leave a church? I would say, "Yes," there are certainly times when a person should not leave.
If there are valid reasons, then there must be invalid reasons. If those reasons are invalid, then leaving is sinful. Right?
From Mark Dever's What Is a Healthy Church?
Quick Tips: If You’re Thinking about Leaving a Church ... Before You Decide to Leave
- 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.
- 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?
- Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships.
- 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).
- Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).
- Don’t divide the body.
- 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”).
- Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.
- If there has been hurt, then forgive—even as you have been forgiven.