Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

I am in a quandary that has me in a bit of a desert.... My family and I attend church, and lately, we feel that we may not belong. Really has been a struggle, and a spiritual connectedness is absent. I go through the motions, and feel that things are going on around me without my being involved…

There has recently arose a situation in which there have been some actions by two members that are less than Christ-like, and there is no way to address it, because it is the pastor's family that has committed the acts….

I love so many of the church members, but I almost feel that God is moving me and my family somewhere else. Does it work like this? I am not a church hopper, and have often been confused by people that go from one church to another, I guess maybe I've passed judgment. And now here I am.

What do I do? … I feel that I am attached to this church, but knowing the ugly underbelly, makes me feel that some things may not be as they seem.

I guess overall my question to you would be this; If God is moving my family and I to another church, how would we know?

Thanks in advance!
Melinda C.

Dear Melinda,

I am not at all surprised that you and your family are considering moving on to another church. If I were a member of your church I would think strongly, as you are, about getting out of there as soon as possible.

"Pulling up the tent stakes" is what I call your current situation. This a time in your spiritual life when God is making you dissatisfied with where you are in order to prepare you to go somewhere else. Tent stakes usually loosen slowly. Changing churches seldom occurs quickly, but when it is time to leave, it is time to leave.

Leaving a church is difficult for a number of reasons, not the least of which is leaving behind all the friends and relationships you have developed. Plus, you probably have many good remembrances and spiritual experience that make it difficult.

You say that you have an aversion to "church hoppers." Let's make one thing clear. God intends for us to settle down with a group of Christian friends who become our source of strength, help, support, compassion, comfort, service and who journey through the Bible with you as you develop strong spiritual muscles. We call this our Fellowship or "Koinonia" group. Church hoppers, by definition, seldom settle down and invest their lives with a Christian group of brothers and sisters.

You are not church hopping when you are seeking to find a new church home. It is obvious to me that when you find the "right" church, you will settle down and involve yourself in fellowship there. It may take a while to find the right church. Until you find one you are not hopping. You are searching. The difference between the two is significant.

How do you know when it is time to leave? Let me give you some things to consider:

1. You No Longer Respect The Pastor And His Leadership.

Paul described what a good pastor looks like and how he behaves: "Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach," (1 Timothy 3:2).