Monday, February 11, 2013

When is it time to go?

In my tenure I have been in a lot of different churches. New and old, big and small and everywhere in between. Members of some, staff at some, consultant at a few and student at others. In attending a church, sometimes the question comes up of "is it time to leave"? This is never, ever easy. Friends, family, ministries and connections all tie us to our church, and staying in a single church is often healthy. There are times, however, that it's time to make an exit. Let me outline when I think it's time to leave.

1. When you are invited or asked to leave. This happens to staff, pastors, elders, and sometimes church members. Hopefully you will be given a reason and it's something to examine and take to heart. Don't draw out conflict by staying, be polite and say goodbye. It will take some grieving time, it will hurt, but it is the most honoring to God.

2. When you can't support the Pastor. I'm not talking about when you don't like his tie or think he is too short. When you can't agree with him on fundamental doctrine. When you feel like his vision is not biblical. When he is abusive, hateful, angry or manipulative. If you have ever thought "this guy should be fired" then you should probably move on. It's God's church, if He wants the pastor out, He'll move him. If it's the Pastor's church and not God's, then run for it.  There are times that Pastors and leaders are not saved. Jesus said that there will be some who prophecy (preach) and cast out demons (minister) in the name of Jesus who He doesn't know.  If you can't tell the difference between your pastor and a business man, if his leadership is from the world and not scripture, if there is little to nothing powered by the spirit, hit the road.

3. Church doctrine is wrong, unbiblical or heretical. Let's face it, every Evangelical Church in the US claims to be Biblically rooted. Unfortunately, sometimes that means the church's "interpretation" of Biblical Doctrine. I have heard Pastors say "scholars can't agree, so we don't know". A group of scholars sat on the Jesus Seminar and said all the miricles in the NT are myth. I don't have to agree with every scholar, and if a church dismisses Biblical truth, it's time to head out.

4. It damages your family. Guys, if your wife and or kids would rather eat glass than attend church. I'm not talking the occasional unhappy kid. If your wife feels like an outsider, if your kids are teased, if the church is distracting them from Christ and they are not connected as to a family or a body, get them out. Get your family connected to a Body, don't just drag them to a church. If being there is killing your marriage and your kids hate you, head down the road.

Now of course there are times to go plant churches, moving, support, and other small items that may cause you to change churches. By and large, these are my standard reasons for getting out of dodge.  If you do have to leave your church, do so with prayer and gentleness.

1 comment:

  1. Sound advice. Thank you for articulating it and sharing it.