Leaving a Church?

I finally got around to reading Mark Dever's excellent little book, What is a Healthy Church? I'll have a post up on the whole book soon, but I wanted to put up a couple of things he had to say. First, "If you're thinking about leaving a church."

Before You Decide to Leave

1. Pray.

2. Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel.

3. Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it's because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?

4. Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships.

5. Be sure to consider all the "evidences of grace" you've seen in the church's life - places where God's work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God's grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matt. 7:3-5).

6. Be humble. Recognize you don't have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).

If You Go

1. Don't divide the body.

2. Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don't want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred t as "venting" or "saying how you feel").

3. Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.

4. If there has been hurt, then forgive - even as you have been forgiven.

Great words of advice from a pastor I really respect. Over the years I have seen families move on to other churches for good reasons and bad reasons. Back in 1992 I blew it myself. As a young Christian I left the church through which I was converted for another church that was more doctrinally oriented. The specific reasons for moving on were sound, but the manner in which I left was not considerate. I just up and left without notice. After a few weeks the pastoral staff called and inquired how I was. I told them I decided to move on to another church. We eventually sat down over lunch where they were gracious to me, but explained that as a member of the church I should have been been more considerate of my church family. The advice I was given then was very similar to what mark has written above.