Here is our final week’s blogging on leaving churches. It’s a sort of check list to help you know you are leaving well. I have seen people leave great churches well and go on to greatness, I have seen people leave really dysfunctional churches for the right reasons but leave the wrong way and they never plugged back into Christian community and they never prospered. How you leave is about a billion times more important than what you leave or why you leave.
- Have you actually tried to talk things through with the church leadership? Not just talk but actually listen. It’s amazing how many people have left churches but never once discuss a problem or issue they have. Even if you still decide to leave it might help people realize the problem or issue. If you just send a text “See ya I am leaving”, or leave via Facebook, or don’t even tell people you are leaving, you are undoubtedly leaving offended. That is the wrong reason to leave. By making sure you personally talk to people about your leaving, it is proving to yourself that your heart is not offended and that you are able to discuss this like an adult.
- Have you prayed about it? I’m not talking about the smash-their-teeth-in-their-mouth kind of prayer here, but have you spent genuine time with the Father in the Word asking for direction and wisdom. If God is leading you to leave a church, God will give you a road map. Sitting down and not going to church for the next few months, even years is not God’s road map for your life!
- Have you said your goodbyes graciously and properly? If you ask, and you have genuine reasons for leaving, many church leaders are happy to bless you in a service and speak life over the next part of your journey. Do not use your goodbyes to criticize and attack the church, don’t try and rip the body of Christ apart and take people out with you – let people make their own choices.
- Have you ensured that the disruption caused by your leaving is minimal? That you have let people know who are in the same departments as you for example so they can cover your positions on the rota.
- Have you collated your good memories about your time there? That is important. It can be difficult, especially when you have left because of an issue with the church, to remember that you have learned good things at some point and made some happy memories. This will help keep your heart pure when and as you leave.
- When you have left, and left well, stay left. Don’t come back every so often, invite people from the church round for dinner and tell them all your grievances. It’s amazing how many people have left a church but are still carrying it around, sitting on the sidelines waiting for it, even hoping and praying for it to fail. Then they meet other people who still go there – of course, they are still “friends”, but their agenda is not friendly, it is to badmouth the church. Don’t be the unwelcome guest, shake the dust off your feet, shake the hate out of your heart and move on with grace and peace. Otherwise you will never move forward and your life will be stuck. Don’t be Absalom, not building anything but hanging around criticizing the building because you feel you should be sitting on top of it. If you feel that strongly, go and build something.