When People Go

Let’s face it, it is one of the bummers of being in ministry – or for that matter, of being a part of a church. While death and taxes may be among life’s inevitables,  sadly, if you are part of a church, so is periodically watching people go out the doors.

With the Wal-Martization of the American church the contemporary mindset seems to be: “What’s the big deal?”  Which makes sense. I’d be a bit perturbed if I got attitude from the manager and/or employees of Wal-Mart simply because  they learned I had recently been frequenting Target.  So what if someone decides to “shop” at First Church of What’s Happenin’ Now instead of the congregation in which they had taken vows to “support the work and the worship to the best of their ability”?

I get it. I just don’t agree.  The church is not supposed to be like a Wal-Mart.  It is supposed to be a Covenant Family. But not all church members see it that way; not all churches either, for that matter.  So there is not much those left behind can do about it.  Despite the revolving doors local congregations just need to press on.

But what if an opportunity presented itself to say something to one of God’s wayward wanderers? What would you say? What should you say?

In a recent article for 9 Marks blog by Jonathan Leeman muses:

Let’s face it: there are better and worse reasons to leave a church. Are you moving to another city? That’s a good reason. Are you harboring bitterness toward someone who has offended you? That’s a bad reason. Does the church neglect to preach biblical sermons weekly? A good reason. Do you not like the church’s style? Probably a bad reason.

The question is, how should you respond to a fellow member who is leaving for what sounds like a bad reason?

I really appreciated Leeman’s, thoughtful, Biblcial, practical, suggestions.  To read the rest of Leeman’s post, click: What to Say to Church Members Leave for Bad Reasons.

4 thoughts on “When People Go

  1. My book, Changing Churches: A View from the Pew, tackles this difficult subject. It will be published in 2012. In the meanwhile I have an email newsletter which previews and augments the information in the book. If you’re interested email me. The book details the excruciating pain most Christians experience when switching churches and gives valid biblical reasons for doing so. It’s painful for everyone – the leaver and those left. Tips for leavers and leaders is included in the book.

  2. Dottie,

    Thanks for commenting.

    I am curious to learn if you more concur with Jonathan Leeman or find him too narrow. I agree: there are some Biblical reasons for changing churches. My point in the post is not that there are no legitimate reasons, only that our contemporary church culture has adopted a consumer mindset, and has eschewed a Covenant mindset. Reasons most people leave churches in America today are NOT for Biblical reasons, but self-serving reasons.

    Thanks again for posting. I look forward to any elaborations you may share with us.

    Grace & Peace.

    • A Lifeway study showed that 76% of Christians who switched churches were mature believers. This surprised me as I had looked down on church hoppers – until I became one. Leaving is a painful journey for those who have committed themselves to Christ and to their local church. We do need a Covenant mindset in the church and we need to teach it to those who are new believers.

      Blessings, Dottie

  3. Dottie,

    Thanks for this additional comment. However, I am not sure you actually answered my question – not that you have any obligation to do so. I respect LifeWay Research, so I will not quibble with the finding that most are “mature”. But meture Christians still wrestle with sin. And since among the spirits of the age are self-centeredness and comsumerism, I am not confident many even supposedly “mature” Christians would know that these mindsets are wrong. Even many so called mature folks leave for un-Biblical reasons. Wouldn’t you agree?

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