Leaving a Church

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My husband and I met at church when we were single and in college and have been going to church together as a family for all of our married life.  Prior to that, we were regular church attenders all of our childhood.  This church thing is nothing new to us.  When my husband was active duty, we were forced to move frequently and so this meant we’ve gone to a lot of churches over the years.

There are many reasons people might leave a church:

  • use “wrong” Bible translation
  • don’t agree with theology
  • too many programs
  • don’t like the praise and worship music
  • too many hymns or not enough hymns
  • don’t like youth groups
  • not family-oriented
  • not enough programs
  • don’t care for pastor’s style of preaching
  • don’t fit in with the people

Usually people can tell within a few weeks if a church is going to be a good fit for a family.  One of the first red flags we saw was wonderful families coming and being actively involved for around 4-6 months and then abruptly leaving, without saying a word.  I can’t remember how many times this happened during our 26 months, but it was enough to be an obvious pattern to me.  Why were they leaving?  Why didn’t they say good-bye?  A number of times I asked elders/pastor why a particular family had left.  The responses I was given always put the blame on the family.  People come and go all the time from churches if they don’t have a good “fit”.  It’s not a big deal.  But why the negativity about those families who left?  Why was it always their fault?  Why couldn’t it be – “they just didn’t feel like they fit in here or were looking for something else”?

The message that spoke to me was this:  BGBC is the church to attend.  From the pulpit I heard that there weren’t other Bible-believing churches like this around.  It’s very hard to find a good Bible-believing church.  The implication was that if you had to leave this amazing church, you would be going to an inferior church.  There really was no justification to leave this church, so the blame  had to be placed on those leaving.  It was their fault that they couldn’t accept this amazing church.  There was something wrong with them.  That is what was said and the people accepted that as the answer outwardly.  But I know some people were taking mental note because some members even documented these happenings over the years privately.

Interestingly (perhaps Providentially), I ran into a number of families who had left the church on different occasions and was given the opportunity to ask them exactly why they left (this subject will be discussed at a later date).  Their answers were completely different from the explanations given from the elders/pastor.  Why was there a need to fabricate a story?  As I said earlier, it’s no big deal to have a family that doesn’t “fit” in a church, just find a different church.  However in this church, it is judged that you must be lacking in your Christian walk if you have the audacity to leave.

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4 comments on “Leaving a Church

  1. Sounds like exactly what happened to our family at a Calvary Chapel. Exactly. My heart is still broken and my family and I do not attend church any longer. Surprisingly though, I feel so much freedom, real freedom in Christ, not the kind I'm trying to convince myself of. AND….Sundays are truly a day of rest, praise God!

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  2. My husband and I recently left our church. I had been there for 20 years and my husband, his entire life. We experienced a similar sentiment in regards to those who leave he church. The problem was them…not the church. They are 'church' hoppers. Thinking the grass is greener. They are complainers,etc… It has been hard to leave knowing that many will see us like this. Also, we got a few of the "you don't leave your family just because things get hard". To that we have said,,"You do if they are unhealthy and toxic".

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  3. I absolutely understand where you are coming from! My old church had the exact same pattern of newcomers leaving within 6 months to a year and also the same accusatory statements that the people who left were not in right standing with God. John Bevere's teachings from the book "The Bait of Satan" were often used as a tool to bash people who had left the church with the assurance from the leadership that the individuals were in offence and needed to come to repentance and get over their petty disputes. Often times, when I asked questions as to why a family had left, the pastor would use the opportunity to put me down as the worship leader saying the family had some major complaint about the music. When I would run into these families later, almost all of them exhorted me and complemented me on the gifts that God had given me for leading worship.

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  4. Pingback: Dare to Leave: One Family’s Tragic Account | Spiritual Sounding Board

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