In a controlling church, it is impossible to leave on good terms. Because the pastor’s sense of worth is usually based on the control he is able to exert over the congregation, when someone leaves, this insecure leader considers it an affront to his leadership. Therefore he often takes it personally. As a result, when people do leave, they are labeled rebellious, or the rest of the congregation is given the explanation that they left because they had become offended.
In an unhealthy church, there is never a good reason why anyone should leave. Regardless of the situation, the people who leave are always the “problem.”
Mr. Fehlauer hit the nail on the head on this issue. We also noticed that the person/families who left were rarely discussed again – it was as if they disappeared – out of sight and out of mind. They were not on friendly terms anymore, either. Because the thought is, “how can you associate with someone who disagrees that our beloved pastor or our church is not the best pastor/church? If they are in disagreement with what we believe, they must be our enemy and are treated as such”.
In contrast, I’m reminded of the church we left after having attended there 6 years. We met with the elders and shared our concerns, agreeing to disagree and found another church. Whenever we happen to run into the former pastor and/or church members even now after all these years, we are greeted with hugs, questions about the family, just as if we were family who went away. Sure, they miss that we do not attend the same church as them, but they understand that sometimes there is a better fit elsewhere. There is no animosity – no feelings that we are the enemy. A healthy pastor cares about souls and wants people to be growing in the Lord, whether they are attending his church or somewhere else. How wonderful that the Body of Christ is big enough that people can worship where they are being fed and growing in Christ. Is that not the goal?
Administrative note: I was informed that readers had to register in order to comment on this blog. I have edited the settings to allow people to comment anonymously. This is a sensitive issue that has affected many lives for many years and there have been lasting repercussions to those who have been bold enough to leave the church. I want to make sure this blog is a safe place to post comments. Using a pseudo name or posting anonymously is fine with me.