5 Really Bad Reasons To Leave Your Church

There are good reasons to change churches, but there are a lot more bad reasons.

Let’s be honest, while there are some good reasons for leaving a church, there are a lot more bad ones. As a pastor, I hear some of them every now and then as people walk out the door. As a church planter, I hear them constantly as people walk in the door.

If you’re thinking about looking for a new church home, please don’t use one of these five reasons to make the jump:

1. “I’m not being fed”

Do pastors have a responsibility to steward the scriptures and care for their church spiritually? You bet they do. And it can be all too easy to overlook this while trying to manage staff, build systems, meet needs, put out fires and develop leaders, all while overseeing the overall vision and direction of the church. But let’s be honest, if you own a smartphone, a personal computer or a library card, you have access to some of the best preaching and teaching in the world. You can even find teaching archives of some of the greatest preachers of all time. Christian, you have access to more “meat” than any other generation before you!

Your primary call in the church is to contribute, not just to consume.

To leave a church because you’re not getting "enough" is a cop out. Your primary call in the church is to contribute, not just to consume. As a Christian, you shouldn’t require spoon-feeding for the rest of your life. Eventually you need to learn how to feed yourself so that, in time, you can actually feed others. Remember, your call is not just to be a disciple but to make disciples.

2. “It’s getting too big”

I can appreciate the sense of loss that accompanies growth. When we first began, our church was little more than a small band of brothers and sisters meeting together in a living room. It feels very different now that we are a church of a few hundred people spread across multiple services. There are moments when I miss the intimacy and simplicity of those early days. But remaining small is a sad and unbiblical goal.

When churches are faithful to the Great Commission, lives will be changed and people will be added to their number. It may not happen rapidly, but growth is sometimes inevitable for faithful churches, given a long enough timeline. If you have a problem with big churches, you really wouldn’t have liked the first church, and you definitely won’t like heaven.

3. “I don’t agree with everything that is being preached”

You know what? Neither do I and I’m the pastor. As such I fully reserve the right to disagree with myself. And every now and then I do exactly that. Why? Because I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m asking questions. And my hope is that those I pastor are doing likewise.

If you insist that your pastor agree with you on every little thing under the sun, you are going to either hop from church to church for the rest of your life in perpetual disappointment or you will eventually give up and drop out altogether. Chances are you are not going to agree with everything that is preached anywhere. As long as your pastor isn’t preaching outright heresy, you can afford to disagree on secondary issues.The truth is when you choose to stay despite disagreeing on some things, you, your pastor and your church are better for it.

4. “My Needs Aren’t Being Met”

When someone lists this as a reason for leaving it is a dead giveaway that somewhere along the way they came to believe that the Church actually exists to serve their needs. They’ve bought into the lie that, when it comes to church, it’s really about “me.” Here’s the problem: the Church actually isn’t about you. It’s about Jesus. It’s his Church. He came for it. He died for it. He redeemed it. He continues to build it. And one day, he’ll come back for it. It’s his.

The Church doesn’t exist to meet your needs. You are a part of the Church that exists to meet the needs of the world.

This is the same Jesus who came to seek and to save the lost and then commissioned his Church to go and do the same. The Church doesn’t exist to meet your needs. You are a part of the Church that exists to meet the needs of the world. Put away the shopping cart and pick up a shovel.

5. Unresolved Conflict

Wherever you find the community of sinning saints you will find conflict. Lots of it. The Church is one big family full of characters and misfits. Sometimes sisters argue. Sometimes brothers fight. Sometimes you want to bury your weird uncle in the backyard. But despite it all, family is supposed to be the place where you stick together. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Paul addressed a lot of church conflict in his letters. No where do I hear him encouraging believers to bail on one another or move on down the road to a different church where it’ll be easier. Instead, much of his letters are his encouraging and coaching these ragamuffin communities in how to do this very hard and messy thing together.

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When we leave at first sign of real conflict, it shortchanges God’s best work in our midst. It sidesteps the process of repentance, forgiveness and grace. It negates the power of the Gospel to bring reconciliation where reconciliation might seem impossible. We and those around us miss out on all of it when we just leave.

I do know that not all conflict is resolvable. I know that reconciliation is impossible where there is no repentance. I get that. But remember, repentance starts with us. And so does the extending of grace. And when we resolve to stick around and keep on repenting and extending grace, I think God can do far more than we often give Him credit for. Some of God’s best work happens in the mess.

An earlier version of this article appeared on aaronloy.com

Top Comments

John O'rourke

1

John O'rourke commented…

I would like to make a comment on the following statement: "The Church doesn’t exist to meet your needs. You are a part of the Church that exists to meet the needs of the world"

First of all, this is an excellent article that has many excellent and valid points of argument. It actually reminds me a bit of John F. Kennedy's statement: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

The primary goal of the church is to go into the world and preach the gospel. This goal was given by the Lord Jesus Christ in the great commission. Another reason we should look at this great commision is the fact that Life is short like a vapour that appears and then is gone. We have no time to lose in this commission. However, we need to look at this statement very closely and see if it matches up with scripture.

When we look at God's word, we see that the goal is to meet the needs of others,and in saying that we can't do that without our OUR NEEDS being met first. This isn't selfish, but on the contrary is "spiritual common sense" (a phrase which i coined :-).

When the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to Peter, He said: "Feed my Sheep". He wasn't talking at that time about the whole human race, but His sheep. Who are His Sheep?...me and the rest of the body of Christ, ie. those who are elected to salvation.

When we look at Galatians chapter 6, we read " we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith"

All people are mentioned here, but there is an emphasis on the "household of faith". If you are going to a church and you are not being fed spiritually or indeed physically (...let's look at Acts chapter 6..".In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."...)

then you need to talk to the church leadership. In Acts, we see that there was seven men chosen. This pleased the Lord and all the people and their needs were met. As stated above, the Lord said to Peter to feed his sheep. He said it three times.

In conclusion folks, a church is a place where your whole person (Spirit, Soul and Body) is being fed so that you can be equipped to meet the needs of others.

Heather Brandenburg

1

Heather Brandenburg commented…

I must completely disagree with this, here’s why.

1. "You’re not being fed." Though I understand you are saying don’t give up when you aren’t getting what you need, what if you’re attending a church that tells you there is no hell? What if you attend a church where the preacher says they will perform gay marriage, yet you know that is explicitly wrong according to the bible. OR vice versa (and this is where we extend ourselves)....what if you believe, as some congregations do that gay people SHOULD be ordained or married, and your church doesn’t practice that etc… then you aren’t being fed and you need to leave. Personally, I believe what the bible says about homosexuality, YET I don’t believe in enforcing that on others--I just follow it myself...yet--if you aren’t being fed you NEED to leave.

2. "It’s getting too big." You make the point that you should stick with a church that’s growing because that means they are doing what God wants and they are “faithful.” I must disagree again...I know lots of mega churches that preach prosperity doctrine which is complete antithesis to what Christ said about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God. He also said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven AND--do not do as the pharisees do, putting on airs and gold robes and going about praying in public--because they have received their reward--the honor of fellow men staring at how faithful they are or how big their new Audi/Lexus/church is...not the honor of God.

3. “I don’t agree with everything that is being preached,” again, please reference point #1. You say, that you yourself don’t even agree with everything that is being preached--but what about the church that preaches false doctrine, or threatens people? I was part of a church where the pastor would torture people from the pulpit using the word of God against others for their own personal control and manipulation of others. Hey--I didn’t agree with that preacher’s misogyny, hatred etc… so I left. Good reason to leave--if you don’t agree with everything being preached OR the preacher.

4. “My needs aren’t being met.” You make the point that the church is about Christ--YES! It is--but Christ SERVED people during his entire mission on earth. IN fact he said real leadership on earth is to serve. The last shall be first and the first shall be last and YES--there are damaged people, who were raped by preachers and pastors, taken advantage of, or hurt! Or people who were hurt by their fathers and mothers--raped/beaten?!? Or people who have been through wars, or internal struggles or their own sin and they NEED LOVE! If you aren’t giving that--then they have every right to leave!

5. “Unresolved Conflict.” It says in the bible that who-so-ever has a problem with a brother should leave their gift at the altar and then be reconciled with their brother/sister. Go first to them in person, if they won’t listen, then bring another believer, if they then won’t listen, bring them before the elders. I lived for years in an abusive church, where the minister thought he was “God.” He would even refer to the church as if it were his church, saying, for example, “That isn’t going to happen in Bill’s church…” Not “God’s church,” mind you...but “his.” That was the first clue I needed to leave. I waited and got abused further. When I did confront him personally he told me he was the “good guy,” and I must be mistaken. According to the bible there are no “good guys,” that’s why we need Christ. The minister was a liar. Sometimes you have to leave because you, or others, are being abused and will continue to be abused due to “Unresolved Conflict.”

In conclusion--your “essay” tells people to stay in abusive systems, when you, sir, obviously have no clue how abusive your system can actually be...

253 Comments

Isaac Mandengu

1

Isaac Mandengu commented…

The article has a good attempt to address the way we ought to behave but let's be honest, part of what has killed folk spiritually are religious folk. People who do things as a routine and just because it looks and feels right. Why remain in a church that is not feeding you, part of going to a church is so that you can be taught, instructed, motivated, delivered and inspired, if that is not happening for any reason then why stay. The church does not own people, they belong to Christ so to make the church an owner of a person because they go there is but wrong.

The pastors have the vision and build the church as God has instructed them so then if that vision is altered, why stay?

To leave the church because it's getting too big is a poor excuse from people who cannot be responsible. It's an excuse of someone who is too lazy and does not understand the mission of our commission

If you do not agree with what is being taught, leave. How can two walk together unless they agree. There is power in agreement, you cannot build the same vision when you pull in different directions. Remember the tower of Babel, they were of one mind so if you are not if one mind what are you building. Go where you feel the vision aligns to what is in you.

It's God who supplys needs so to leave the church because your needs are not being met means you trust men not God.

Unresolved conflict, well if one leaves because of it that means they have not lived the word. You forgive and worship, it's not about the other person so if you cannot resolve it, leave it to God, forgive and return to your place of worship.

If you feel the church is no longer your place, it's okay to leave, there is no reason to stay where you are not building, and disagree with what is happening in the church

David Michael Spillman

1

David Michael Spillman commented…

I see from time to time especially in young Christians today myself included we start off well in church fight win a few battles through a hardship and eventually fade out over a period of time then life gets hard again and here we are, then missing so much church you feel ashamed to face your old church family, what makes it harder is all the sin you've collected while being away, God forgives yes but can't we grow stronger, how do we finally free ourselves to truly love God ? I know well just keep trying glory to God. Pray for those like us.ty

Dan

1

Dan commented…

Issues with this article, by point:
1) it's about discipleship. We all need it. If I'm not getting it at my church, I'm going to find it elsewhere.

2) If a church is so big that people are numbers rather than people, it may well be time to move. And the remark about Heaven is just low, really low, like he needs to stop writing articles and take a break from ministry low. In Heaven we will have an intimate relationship with Christ and the church in a way that this writer apparently doesn't get.

3) Some pastors can't handle even the little disagreements, and you'll find yourself isolated from the clique if you speak up; those churches need to go away.

4) I sympathize with this one, because there are a lot in my area that want programs but don't want to help start those programs. On the other hand, many people have busy lives, and while that might speak to their priorities, it's not a generalization we have a right to make. Also, many pastors feel the need to have a direct hand in every program, rather than let people help them, while they stand back and supervise.

5) Politics have no place in a church, either from the parishioners or the leadership. Too often a conflict between two of the parishioners trying to do something about point #4 end up having issues with point #3, especially in a church subject to point #2, that leads them to being shunned, and lacking what they originally wanted in point #1. Again, it's not about the church, or the leadership, or attendance numbers, it's about Christ.

Jason Kassis

1

Jason Kassis commented…

I would disagree, to an extent, specifically with number 3. If my pastor strays from the Word completely and on a regular basis--not just a one off sermon-- I would definately consider leaving. This would be especially true in today's culture where the gay marriage debate comes into play. My pastor, I believe, does believe in traditional marriage as outlined very clearly in the Bible so I don't see that happening to with our family. But it is black and white issues such as this that I think are very "relevant" to us as Christians and marriage is the fundamental building block of the family unit, ordained by God, from the beginning.

Vicki Hanes

19

Vicki Hanes commented…

"It will not help us to split into adversarial groups, one that champions the local congregation and one that condemns it. Hasn't there been enough division in this famly over things that don't truly matter? My hope for the church includes them both, because in the end it isn't about the meetings we attend or avoid, but whether we are coming alive in his kingdom and sharing that life with others in whatever format he places us. Wouldn't it serve the purposes of Jesus more if we could reach beyond the places and people we prefer to embrace the expression of his family however she makes herself known?" Wayne Jacobsen--Finding Church

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