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

230 Comments

Misti Carmichael

1

Misti Carmichael commented…

I'm sorry but I think that feeling that the congregation is getting too big can be a reason to find a new home. I have issues with crowds and people and do not handle crowded spaces well. It is hard for me to hear anyone's words over my own anxiety and stress. I do understand the feeling that a church is getting too big.

Daniel Lachlan Arms

4

Daniel Lachlan Arms commented…

Is there a difference between disagreeing with what's being preached and struggling to find preaching that is related to the bible?

I ask this question sincerely, my current church is amazing in how it brings the word of God through in every preach and 4/5 of our meetings we are in a series working through a book of the bible (currently hebrews) but I have seen churches where the bible is not referenced and what is being preached doesn't seem to line up with God's word.

Udoh Progress

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Udoh Progress commented…

Well, this is a good article to read, there are things to learn from it. I say this with all sincerity, somehow i dont like the church even though i attend and dont have any plan of stopping (most particularly, i want a relationship with God) hoping you have a connection between them when you say Church. For me, i believe the church is a community and its a potential treat to evil in the land for all direction( spiritual, moral and leadership). You attend church where leadership is taught but they dont endorse people to go into politics. As a unit/group of large congregation, i would have thought that when things are not going right in the community, the church would challenge them. Look at Africa, where you have the biggest churches and largest auditorium for christian gathering, and the church leaders dont come together to question the incompetence of the government and leadership as a unit. I was thinking Abraham went to safe lot and his family, but when the churches doesnt look at church from a perspective of literally delivering the nation from darkness as a singular voice, it breaks ones heart. In nigeria, some girls have been kidnapped for more than 85 days now and all this big churches have not come together to question the system, government and evil, yet offering, tithing and operation goes as usual.... it honestly make you wanna rethink Church. Jesus wasnt mild with wrong doing like church is today. remember Jesus and the temple traders? So, when a church goes on without seeing out the bride view to God, i honestly think its a good reason to leave church but a better reason to stay in church would be hope for a better tomorrow on issues like this.

John O'rourke

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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.

Linda Pate

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Linda Pate commented…

Remember God is Love. As long as you have Love in your heart you have God in your heart. A church is just another building unless it's body is filled with "love". You can be a Christian with or without a church. Have faith, read the Bible and God will give you answers through the Holy Spirit.

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