Does God Want You to Leave Your Church?
- Monday, December 10, 2007
Consider whether your money is used well. Does your church use the money you and others in the congregation give wisely, according to biblical principles? Do leaders clearly communicate how they’re using funds? Are the church’s financial transactions marked by integrity, or excess or abuse?
Commit to God, not just practices. Know that if particular practices aren’t helping you encounter God at your church, it’s time to let go of those practices and find fresh ways to pursue Him. Recognize that staying committed to practices when they don’t enable you to connect with God is not just unproductive, but also spiritually dangerous. Keep your focus on God rather than certain methods of approaching him.
Keep three essential elements of church in mind. Realize that just because a certain place calls itself a church doesn’t mean it lives up to the name. Acknowledge that, while no church is perfect because they’re all made up of imperfect people, churches that lack the biblical fundamentals aren’t healthy places to be. Understand that a healthy church should offer worship that’s centered on Christ, community that’s marked by love, and mission that helps fulfill the Great Commission. Ask yourself whether or not your church honors God, encourages members to build meaningful relationships with each other, and reaches out to lost people in the community. Know that a church isn’t a building; it’s made up of people. So when any group of people is committed to Christ, to each other, and to the lost, Christ is there in their midst and they are church.
Dream of more. If you do decide to leave your church, don’t settle for less spiritual growth than you experienced before. Fight disillusionment and pursue the longings for spiritual growth that God has placed in your heart. Look for a new spiritual community that: helps all members discover and use their God-given gifts and talents, is led by teams, is multiethnic and multicultural (just as heaven will be), serves and empowers the poor, fights injustice, evangelizes the lost, teaches the Bible faithfully and applies its truths regularly (instead of watering it down for people’s comfort), makes the Great Commission central to its mission, actively meets a variety of needs in the surrounding community, practices Communion often and makes it central to the worship experience, empowers people to think critically on their own and to grow in maturity, gives people opportunities to practice what they learn, makes prayer a top priority, embraces the whole Gospel, works to expand God’s kingdom, encourages people to give generously, practices simplicity and integrity in financial matters, and features a network of home groups for people to connect in close friendships.
If you decide to stay, find new hope and joy in the process. Consider staying at your current church if you can fully support the ministry and its leaders despite your frustrations. Choose to stick with it for a set period, remaining full engaged during that time before thinking of leaving again if you still think that may be best. Honor your church’s leaders, wishing the best for them and praying for them regularly. Find reasons to love your congregation, and to actively invest in it. Commit to becoming a positive agent of change from the inside out, addressing your frustrations gradually and respectfully, and by becoming part of the solution to the problems. Don’t be afraid to speak up in prophetic ways, as long as you humbly acknowledge that you could be wrong, and that you balance love and truth when you speak. Rather than trying to change people yourself, intercede for them in prayer asking God to change them according to His will.
If you decide to leave, do it well. Emphasize that your departure is due to God’s leading in your life rather than just a reaction to the church’s flaws. Be positive, mentioning what you appreciate about the church as well as your frustrations. Be graceful, refraining from any unnecessary negativity when explaining your decision. Be honest, yet constructive with what you share. Share your vision for how you hope to grow spiritually in the future. Thank the people who have been a part of your spiritual journey at the church you’re leaving. Make plans to replace yourself in the areas in which you’ve served so there won’t be void in those ministries after you leave.
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