There are some valid reasons to leave a church. But there are many more terrible ones.
There are some valid reasons to leave a church. But there are many more terrible ones. Playing Jesus hopscotch isn’t exactly the best way to get connected, and develop the kind of relationships and community the Bible talks about in Acts 2, where the people of the early church devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, selling all their possessions, giving to the needy, having all things in common together and breaking bread in each other’s homes. Without some level of loyalty to not only the universal Church, but the local church, we will never forge those bonds with our fellow Christians, and never have the opportunity to admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with one another. We also deprive others the opportunity to encourage us when we are faint of heart. Basically, the church is part of God’s plan, and essential to your spiritual growth. Here are a few really bad excuses to leave the church:
1. It is too big
When people say that their church is “too big,” what they usually mean is that it’s hard to get connected, or more frankly, they haven’t really made the effort to get connected. The issue of building community is present in every size church, from the tiny church plant that meets in a movie theatre, to the mega church with four campuses. And if you were unable to find your super special group of church friends in a church with 2,000 members, what makes you think you’ll be able to find it in a church of 50? More importantly, seeking out super special friends isn’t really the point. It’s loving one another simply because you are a part of the same family. More often than not, we learn most from those that are difficult to love, or those that really challenge us to get out of our comfort zone. But building those relationships take time, so if you’re church hoping, chances are you aren’t sticking around long enough to get real with anyone.
2. It’s too worldly
I will admit to using this excuse before. I think what I meant was that the church seemed like it was more into building up a marketable image for attracting newcomers than it was about growing the members it already had. Now, don’t get me wrong here – if the teaching of your church does not align with scripture, or the leaders have placed a love of material things above the love of God, then you have a problem. There is definitely reason to be concerned when the church tries to replace being scripturally accurate with being politically correct.
But there is nothing wrong with wanting to put your best foot forward as a church. Our heavenly Father is all about excellence – just look at the night sky, the sunrise, the mountains… the list goes on and on. So you have a set of drums on stage, and your pastor wears jeans. Take a deep breath and look at the motivation behind these changes – is it compromising the Gospel? Or is it attempting to relate to the people that so desperately need to hear about Jesus?
3. I am offended
Welcome to Being A Christian 101. Or, really, just being a human. We all step on each other’s toes every single day. So what if you don’t vote the same as the pastor, or Susie said something snarky in your small group last week? This is called life. If you haven’t been offended by someone in your church, then you probably haven’t had any real conversations with them! Conflict isn’t a bad thing – in fact, it gives us an opportunity to show grace, to be humble, and to practice the steps of restoration either in our own lives, or the life of someone else.
4. It doesn’t fit where I’m at in life
I have been guilty of using this one as an excuse to leave a small group. Everyone in that group had kids, and my husband and I were newlyweds. I remember thinking that we really didn’t have anything in common with these people, and I just wanted to find some friends my age to hang out with. While there is some validity to having a few close friends that are going through the same things you are going through, in order to spur each other on and encourage, it is equally as important to have people in your life who have already gone through it; multiple times. You should also be building relationships with those that you can pour into and encourage because you have already gone through what they are currently going through. Have a mentor, and be a mentor. We see this type of relationship between Paul and Timothy in the Bible. Looking back, I can see that I missed out on a huge opportunity to learn from those parents in that small group. There were a few who were new parents, and a few who had multiple kids. It would have been a great way for me to glean wisdom from parents living through it, and even get in some baby sitting. But I opted for the comfort of friends instead.
5. I just need a change
Usually when people “need a change” it is because they are unsatisfied with some or all of the aspects of their life. So why is your church the thing you want to change? Or, have you thought about why you are having these feelings? Maybe God is trying to teach you how to be content and not chase after the next big thing. It is also possible that God is prompting you to make a change, like stepping up in the church, or moving overseas and dedicating your life to preaching the Gospel in a foreign land. Or maybe not. Bottom line, deciding to leave a church should hurt, even if you have a good reason. So deciding to leave “because you just need a change,” isn’t going to cut it. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not trying hard enough.
6. I can do church on my own
Nope. Not buying it. Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we should not give up on meeting together and encouraging one another. Acts 2:42 talks about the early church as a group of believers that gathered to break break and hear the apostles’ teaching. We are told in multiple places throughout the New Testament that we are to encourage and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Galatians 6:2, 1 Peter 3:8). So, you really can’t do church alone. That was never the design. For a more in depth discussion, check out this article on why we should go to church.
7. But… but… that church across town is so much cooler!
The grass is always greener somewhere else, isn’t it? Here’s the secret to being happy in church: It’s not about you. The second you start looking at your church from the angle of, “what does this do for me,” you will start to be unsatisfied, and unhappy with where you’re at. What does the church across town offer that your current church doesn’t? Youth group? Weekly coffee meet ups with the gals? Different music? Well, start it up at your church! It is important to remember that church isn’t really about you. Or me. It’s about God, and serving others with what He’s blessed us with.SKM: below-content placeholder