By Chuck Lawless
I know there are legitimate reasons for leaving a church (e.g., the message is unbiblical, you’ve moved to another city, etc.), but too many people leave a church for the wrong reasons. Realizing that there are always exceptions to any of the reasons listed below, here are 11 “weak” reasons to leave:
- You’re angry at somebody. You’ll simply carry your anger elsewhere. Plus, unrepentant anger is ungodly.
- Because you don’t like the worship style. Preferences are seldom a good reason to leave a church. Churches change, and so do our preferences over time.
- Because your ministry passion is no longer supported. It may be that the program or ministry you’ve grown to love is no longer as relevant as it once was. At least be open to this possibility.
- Because you don’t like the pastor. At a minimum, graciously address the issues with the pastor. Leaving without a conversation is unkind, and it could prove hasty.
- Because they ask for money. Sure, some churches overemphasize dollars, but every church should be teaching financial stewardship. Be willing to hear them.
- Because you don’t like the message. The message might, in fact, be the gospel – and the gospel is often offensive. A church preaching a message that doesn’t make you uncomfortable is likely not preaching the Word.
- Because the congregation’s getting too big. Regardless of the size of the church, you’ll still develop genuine relationships with only a few people. Growth doesn’t automatically hinder fellowship.
- Because there’s sin in your life. You need to be under the Word of God if you’re living in sin. A strong church should be calling you to repentance.
- Because the church is changing. No church stays the same forever. What matters most is that God and His Word don’t change.
- Because no one’s asked you to serve. That doesn’t always mean they don’t want you to serve; it might be that they need to improve their assimilation and recruitment process. Don’t wait – ask somebody about opportunities.
- Because you just “know the Lord told me so.” He might direct you to leave, but listen to Him through His Word, His Spirit, and His people. Living according to feelings — especially if you’re really not walking with God — is risky.
What reasons would you add to this list?
Posted on November 20, 2019
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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Some of those “weak” or “bad” reasons for someone to leave church are not “weak” or “bad”. Nobody is interested in attending any church that has a selective few of cultural/superficial Christians habitually hurt you and the Pastors don’t want to do anything about it. The Bible says that we are not to be stumbling blocks to others, yet many people do it anyway and are not brought before the church for it. The Pastors? They don’t rebuke the church and call out the weeds – the tale bearers and false witness bubbles. But hey, these men behind the pulpit have no problem talking fervently about tithing. Epic FAIL.
Nobody wants to attend a church like this where you get allegorical knifed by someone you cared about who continues to hurt you and cause your faith to waver. And not only that, as for “not liking the pastor” as “not” being a good reason to leave, think again. My pastor is a showman. He’s obsessed about man made rituals and traditions. His preaching is bland and low grade. The man is pretty skin deep and he has lost three quarters of his medium sized church over the past two decades. Yet he will not listen to reason from church members that his style and approach is lukewarm at best. He just carries on doing things “his way” while using the Hebrews verse of “submitting to the pastor”. Does that Scriptural passage also comply for us to do so when the Pastor manipulates and re-defines words from their true definitions to suit “his” views? Many Pastors aren’t led by God – they are led by nothing more than themselves. God isn’t there. Sorry.
Your list of “bad reasons” for leaving a church is about as one dimensional and unrealistic as a cardboard cut out. Churches blame the person who leaves as the one who had the problem, when the church that was abandoned needs to realize that is is THEY who have the problem. This insidious reasoning of blaming the church exiter while being too lazy to give the church itself a major overhaul is as old as the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock. It is this type of denial that will no longer be tolerated by many of us. And when such churches continue to be sold, those of us who see this will simply say, “We told you so… You brought this on yourselves.. The blind leading the blind into the ditch..”
I quit because it represents the wealthy and their interests. To focus on the supernatural and the oppressors doctrine and endure the oppression looking toward a fabulous reward after we are dead and buried.
Can you explain to me why I should sit decade after decade listening to the same shallow messages? I have been a christian 55 years, I know who Jesus is, what he did for us, what our duties are. Do pastors think we are so stupid that we forget who Jesus is in 15 minutes so we have to be told again and again? It is a wide world out there, all information needs to be blended into the truths found in the bible, but no.
I’m growing weary of “seeker-friendly” churches myself. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep”. A pastor’s job is tending to the flock. And no, I am not saying that non-believers shouldn’t be welcomed and that there shouldn’t be a gospel message- but I’m getting tired of “Common Core Church”- pre-fab sermonettes with three to five “fill-in-the-blank” key points delivered in no more than 30 minutes which reference, but do not incorporate actual scripture so people that really don’t want to be there in the first place can tick the “went to church” box. We need to return to the Body Of Christ model where serious people are there to disciple other serious people, not to coddle them in the name of “do not judge” (which is a false doctrine anyway) and give them a false sense of eternal security. Just my two cents.
I totally agree with “No church stays the same forever. What matters most is that God and His Word don’t change” I don’t understand why some people get bored at church.
So… are your standards the same as God’s?
I would be careful labeling anger as a weak reason. Anger can be justified. I left 2 churches angry over being hurt by the pastor & members. If I had stayed it would have been worse. They treated me like I was a bad horrible person because my standards weren’t the same as theirs. So in this case yes anger was a good reason to leave. It wasn’t weak.
Because you don’t like the worship style.
Because the church is changing.
These are the main reasons several folks have left my church. Several folks read a book that said drums are a tool of the devil, so they left and went to another church that – – wait for it – – that also has drums.
Leaving over worship style may not be a “weak” reason to live, but rather it can be based on strong theological conviction.
Bear with me as I explain: one church in our town does 4 distinct styles: liturgical, traditional, contemporary, and modern.
Some are convinced of sacramental worship. Liturgical worship and the Eucharist are how one connects with God. Of course if they were attending a liturgical church and it moved to rock concert sans the sacraments they should leave over style. Whatever is not of faith is sin.
Others in their church hold the conviction that traditional style, with liturgy light so to speak (they use the Apostle’s Creed, the Gloria Patri, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Doxology) along with familiar to our American culture across the board hymns and gospel songs best allows the proclamation and teaching of the historic church, but are not highly sacramental.
Some hold strong convictions that contemporary worship will best allow for bringing new folks to the faith, and best allow believers to connect with God.
Another group is absolutely convinced the modern, or coffee house, style of dialogue/worship is more Biblical and more effective.
It is a large and growing church, and rather than tell any one of those deeply thoughtful, mindful, passionate groups to get over their “personal preferences” and just deal with how leadership wants church done they can offer a variety.
Smaller churches will not be able to do that. But if you are deeply convinced of the sacramental worship style and your church goes contemporary/decisional, to leave over worship style is not a weak reason, but rather a living out of a strong worship ethic and loyalty to Christ. No matter which of those styles you believe to be the “right” way, if your church embraces a style of worship you believe to be absolutely wrong or to be not what should be done, and you have articulated to leadership clearly why you believe what you believe to leave without rancor is probably wise.