For the last few weeks, we have been looking at leaving churches in a godly way. A lot of people have emailed me or Facebook’d me after reading the blog and it has really helped them – they were planning to leave a church and found out how to do it properly with dignity and grace. I am really glad these series has helped many people. Sometimes the Lord leads me to talk about things and I have never heard others talk about them, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t, it just means that I haven’t heard it. Sometimes I think – is this helping people, so it is great to hear that something is genuinely helping people.
So, because of that I have decided to continue this series for a few weeks and this week we will look at Jacob who left badly and Moses who left well.
Jacob left unexpectedly, and his absence wasn’t noticed for several days.
- If you leaving a church is a surprise move, then it is a calculated and wicked thing to do.
- If you are going to leave, leave alone. Don’t try and influence others to leave with you.
- Don’t try and win the hearts of the people around you before you leave, making yourself special friends all around and building special friendships with vital church people.
If you make your intentions known that you are going to leave, then you cannot try and influence others and can’t play politics before you leave. If you fail to do this, you will leave a confused church behind you who are forced to choose between their friendship with you and their commitment to their local church. If you cannot see what is wrong with this, then you have a problem!
Be grateful for the church you are leaving. Don’t spread rumours after you leave! Don’t muddy the waters – it will kill your own credibility if nothing else!
If you intend to start another church or ministry you should absolutely share that with the lead minister of the church you are in. If you are godly, you leave a considerable gap between where you are ministering and where your church is. I consider 20 miles a reasonable gap, but to be honest, 50 is probably more honourable. It is improper, unethical (and let’s say it: tacky) to open up a church virtually next door to the church you have just been in. It is also a bit strange to call the church virtually the same name as the church you have just come from.
Let’s not be Jacob. He left unexpectedly. He snuck away from Laban, and it took three days before Laban was told (Gen. 31.20-22). Many people sneak off and never discuss their leaving plans.
Moses left his father-in-law the right way. Moses had been serving Jethro for 40 years:
And Moses went and returned to Jethro, his father-in-law and said unto him: Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace (Ex. 4.18)
Now when you leave right, then you can come back and still drink from the wisdom of the pastor of the church you have left. Later on in his life, Moses is about to die of exhaustion and Jethro gives him the wisdom to save his life (Exodus 18) by showing him how to delegate. I guarantee anyone who has been running a church, and you left that church, has wisdom you can benefit from as you launch out. By leaving right, by moving forward properly, you can still enjoy that wisdom.
Are you going to be Jacob or Moses? That’s a deep question, and we need to learn from these lessons. We need to know how to behave in the kingdom.
Next week, we are going to turn this one upside-down and talk about when is it right to remove someone from a church. Get ready!