When Should I Leave a Church

so we want to think through you know

often as a pastor we'll get a question

you know when is it right to leave a

church and Sam you've written a little

book why bother with church and you've

been a pastor and asked Fein you're

presently a pastor you're actually about

to send out about a 30 year church to

plant how how do you answer that

question when when a church member or

maybe someone at another church where

you're speaking at an event says I think

I should leave my church when should I

leave a church yeah I think that the way

you phrase the question actually reminds

us there up there are positive and

negative reasons to leave a church if

you if you're leaving as part of a

mission initiative and as a plant that's

a that's a wonderful reason to leave a

church provided it's with the right

motives and with the blessing of the

church sometimes life events mean that

we need to be having to relocate but I

guess most often were asked that

question because someone is feeling

unhappy with the church and the question

there is what are the legitimate

biblical reasons for leaving a church

community and there would be several I I

would guess an obvious one is if if the

gospel is not being taught and not just

that you've turned up one Sunday and it

didn't quite sound right but you there's

there's no indication that they are

wanting to teach the Scriptures

faithfully to promote Christ faithfully

that would be an obvious reason to leave

but there are other areas where it

starts to get maybe a bit more nuanced

there's you can have churches with

gospel doctrine but which which can lack

gospel culture that may be a reason to

as well and again if you feel it's

something that is persistence that

you've raised it that nothing is going

to change mmm

sadly that may be reason to now I know

you personally travel to countries that

are close to missionary work and so

there's a big spectrum isn't there from

the luxury of the west's where we have a

consumeristic approach to churches to to

places in the Middle East that they

don't have a choice it's not like you

can go to church so how do you help

people think through that in the

different contexts yeah and I think well

yeah with with that like just thinking

about maybe also the question

when you shouldn't leave a church and I

would say you know you shouldn't leave a

church if you just feel like you're not

getting something out of it that you

thought you were supposed to let the

consumeristic and it might be that God

has called you to wherever that hole is

to actually be a part of the solution

instead of just bolting or I would also

say not to leave the church without

talking to the elders and and expressing

whatever the you know the disagreement

might be over never because a lot of

times I found people were about to leave

the church because they were not happy

with the decision and then when they

came and talked to the elders they

realized oh we didn't know all this

other stuff around the decision and so

now they stayed and so I think that's an

important thing but when to leave the

church I would agree with Sam like you

know if the you know you if the church

stops being a true Church which what is

a true church and that is the right

preaching of the word of God of the

gospel and the right administration of

the other sacraments and so I think when

are they preaching the gospel you know

in Acts chapter 20 when Paul says I did

not shrink back from preaching the whole

counsel of God's Word and then he says

okay so why would someone shrink back he

says the false teachers they are after

drawing away the disciples so if if the

teaching is watered down so as just to

get more people to come and not really

teaching the whole counsel of God's Word

and I think that would be key for me and

then when I bring up the sacraments I

would say you know the baptism guards as

you know the front door the church

making sure that people who are coming

and becoming members are truly have

saving knowledge of Christ and our true

followers of Christ and then the Lord's

Supper makes sure that we administer

church discipline in the sense of if

someone is not living a repentant

lifestyle and and putting their

evidencing faith in Christ then you bar

them from the table again in Matthew 18

as a means of ultimately you treat him

as an outsider with it so that they

would turn back to God and so I would

say with gospel culture on that point

that they are they are making sure

the gospel isn't just you're forgiven of

your sins but that then you're forgiven

so that you would pursue righteousness

and so to uphold holiness I think is a

key thing yeah I would also think that a

lot matters is to the church leadership

if there's a humility at each ability a

willingness to learn you know sometimes

someone comes from a different context

they might go to a rural setting you

know in in they can be patient they can

have conversations they can encourage

the pastor's they can pray so let's kind

of turn this question around a little

bit and you know I'm curious to hear

from you guys how would you as a pastor

encourage someone coming into your

church to think about church membership

the necessity for a commitment to a

particular local church where you live

I think is it great I think people

arriving and people leaving are both

teaching opportunities for church

leaders so someone is coming from a

different social background different

demographic background different

denominational background I always want

to say listen you're gonna notice things

that we don't notice anymore so please

tell us if there's something you find

bizarre or weird or uncomfortable please

let us know there may be a good reason

for it but it may just be that there

isn't and we've not noticed it so that

that can really help you to see your own

church with fresh eyes so I love it when

we get people from other denominational

backgrounds coming to our church for

that reason yeah that's been do you or

have processes of membership in your

church where you're helping people

understand what they're committing to

and you find that actually makes better

church members in help I'm gonna kid

with you all yeah absolutely I think

what our process is basically there's a

starting point where we just really lay

out the gospel which is the foundation

of our church and and how the gospel not

just is for non-christians but for

Christians how it informs the way we

live life and do life together and then

after that we have a membership class

where we walk through our statement of

faith and I think when you want to

become a member of a church you ought to

look at the statement of faith and say

hey can I sign on to that and then we

have a time for them to meet with the

elders and and that's the time for them

to ask any questions or if there is any

thing that they're saying hey I'm not

sure I'm on board with this so that I I

do agree you do that on the front end so

that you know there's no ambiguity you

know and they know exactly what they've

signed on to yeah yeah I think the

membership process is like premarital

counseling in the sense of you want to

bring everything up front you want to

help people understand what expectations

you have of each other the church what

expectations we as pastors have of them

what expectations they should have of us

you know what we believe those things I

think are helpful to make better church

members to understand the commitments

coming in and we find that it makes for

better church members but then one of

the things we actually say upfront is

when you leave this church we want you

as quickly as possible to join a healthy

gospel church and we want to we want to

be in conversation and communication all

the time because the Christian is not

meant to to live alone so thank you for

for this conversation it's been very