When I left the first church I was heavily involved in, I was bitter and frustrated. Gossip was an ugly beast that raged at that church and it finally made its way around to my husband (then fiance) and I.
Although, it was best that we moved on, it was done with the wrong heart motivation.
Often when faced with the decision to leave a church, we go about it in the wrong way. We focus on our feelings of justification and how we have been wronged.
I’m hear to tell you, your feelings don’t matter.
Ouch! If you are really a Christian, then Jesus is what matters. Jesus never put His feelings on a pedestal and acted as though they mattered more than the people around Him.
If that is a difficult pill for you to swallow, then there is hope.
Why is there hope? You swallowed the pill, right? You didn’t close your browser! 😉
How to Leave a Church Biblically
- Examine the motivation of your heart:
Why are you seeking to leave this church? Are they teaching the Word of God but not doing it? Have you been wronged by someone there? Is the church splitting? Has God highlighted another church to you? Do you feel you’ve outgrown this church?
Whatever your motivation is, you need to ask God to give you an obvious answer as to whether you are suppose to stay or move on. If you are not getting a clear answer, it is likely you are looking to leave for the wrong reasons. You could try the following to find God’s leading:
- Ask a fellow believer to pray with you for an answer.
- Take a week or two break from the church to clear your heart and head.
- Talk to the pastor, God may want you to stay and be part of the change that needs to happen at that church.
2. If it is the right choice, draft a letter.
Leaving a church Biblically is difficult, the enemy has made sure of that. He’ll keep whispering that you should give everyone your 2 cents before you peace out like a rockstar. Don’t give into that temptation! You are going to take the high road and be methodically and respectful.
- You want your great grandma to be able to read this letter without her jaw dropping
- Write it as though it is a resume, stick to the facts
- List 2-3 reasons why you are choosing to leave
- Tell them about one specific area of your life in which they have made a positive difference
- Pray about the letter before giving it to leadership
3. Practice what you are going to tell people face to face.
This is where the enemy will tempt you to gossip, bash leadership, and go down with guns blazing. Clearly, you must not do this!
You can very simply tell people,
“God is leading me in a different direction. If you want to want to know more, let’s meet for coffee sometime.”
It will be true that God is leading you in a different direction because you took the time to ask Him about whether or not it was right to leave. If the person genuinely cares about you and sincerely wants to know what is in store for you next, he or she will meet with you. No need to feed the gossip beast (it is ALWAYS hungry).
Once you’ve gone through these steps, in a few years you’ll be able to look back and say, “Leaving that church was the right thing and I did it without burning bridges.”
If someone unfriends you after you’ve gone through this process, then that person has something they need to deal with in his or her own heart. It is highly likely that it has nothing to do with you.
When dealing with any hairy situations, like leaving a church, I always suggest you do some self-evalutation, check your heart, and be intentional. Regret is not something a Christian should have.
Peace and love,