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.

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

200 Comments

E_nation

1

E_nation commented…

My take on each point:

1. "I'm not being fed"- It'll be a silly reason if this expectation is a naively high one. But if the pastor exhibits a characteristic lack of knowledge of scripture, I would recommend another church to a friend- especially one in need of spiritual growth through nurturing. The notion that we can grow spiritually from a virtual pastor over the internet undermines the role of stewardship and nurturing, which can only be received from a local church.

2. "It's getting too big"- This point was doing so well, UNTIL you characterize people who don't fit in with with big churches as those who "definitely won't like heaven". We need less of such wild and extreme characterizations.

3. "I don't agree with everything that is being preached"- I don't agree with my father all the time, but we're great pals. There's always something to disagree with, especially if you're not a 'yes man'. So I totally agree with this point.

4. "My needs aren't being met"- Yes, the church is about Jesus, but it's also about relationship with PEOPLE. And people have needs, and Jesus expects us to meet one another's needs in love. Loads of scriptures but see Heb 10:24-25, 1 Thess 5:14, John 15:1-17. I'd be prideful if I leave because they don't serve my solo expectations/goals, BUT- and that's a massive 'but', if I genuinely feel isolated while an elite group flourishes, I would leave a church. And that's a good reason.

5. "Unresolved Conflict"- This one is tricky. Conflict alone is not enough reason. But the adjective 'Unresolved' changes the rules. But then again, I agree that the fact a conflict is still unresolved doesn't mean I cannot stay. So, I'll call this one a matter of the type and scale of 'unresolved conflict'.

Thanks for your article.

Whitney Gore

1

Whitney Gore commented…

I understand that there will be conflict in the church but not to the extreme that I had. I left my church when I was in high school because I was bullied in school really bad, but the bullies also went to me church. I was tormented in a place of sanctuary and it was overlooked by the pastors and youth pastors. I believe that overgeneralizing conflict and saying to get through it is a bit rude. It shows that you would overlook something like bullying as well which is incredibly disappointing.

Gian T. Santillan

1

Gian T. Santillan commented…

I don't usually comment on articles like this. Most of the people who comment here are more mature adults and I'm only 18 yo. Most young people are bombarded with isolated bible verses when they try to speak their minds.

These were all my reasons why I wanted to leave the congregation. There's only one reason why I choose to stay -- fellowship. They reached out to me. They made me feel wanted, needed and essential.

There are people who do not put themselves out there. If the person feels alienated, it just means that there's a lack of closeness and relationship between church-goers.

Most large churches have outreaches. The ironic part is, even their members feel like strangers.

Instead of trying to prove your fellow disciple wrong, just reach out. Let Christ use us as instruments to give what the His children are longing for.

Jonathan

1

Jonathan commented…

I would like to share something about the idea of church hopping. Actually there's no such thing as church hopping. On a biblical perspective every single denomination represents the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) where each groups have different belief systems, church administration, culture and of course gift of faith. Bottom line is, it's not a bad thing if you transfer from one christian group to another because you're still part of God's family - the universal / catholic church where some group calls it the invisible church (Mark 13:27, Rev. 7:1). It's just a matter of preferences or should i say it all depends where the Holy Spirit leads you.

There must be reason why you were leaving and being part of something new. I can only think few reasons for that, a.) You probably no longer agree to the teachings and want to be part of a denomination with same doctrinal stand. b.) Or maybe you moved to another location and the church you were attending at is too far from your new place. c.) others... But of course don't leave the church (denomination) if you're just upset with someone else, better resolve all conflicts as this is the will of God that we forgive one another and live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ... :D

Steve Roberts

1

Steve Roberts commented…

There is a good refutation of all these points on one of the latest God Journey podcasts. Listen for a much greater perspective that this loyalty to the 'instituionalism' bent ;-)

http://thegodjourney.com/2014/04/04/beyond-the-congregation/

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