If it hasn’t happened yet, it probably will. You will find yourself asking this question . . .
“Should I leave my church?”
It’s a big decision. After all, the church is the very heartbeat of the Christian life, pumping blood to so many areas that help us live out the Christian faith. But how do you know if you’re at the right church? What are the indicators that it’s time to warm a pew somewhere else? (Not that I’m in favor of just warming a pew. More on that in my next post!) We’ll talk about six good reasons to leave your church tomorrow, but first, let’s use the process of elimination to decide when you shouldn’t leave your church. Based on a sermon preached by my pastor, here are five really bad reasons to leave your church.
“I’m not being fed.”
Hebrews 5:12–14 says,
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since his is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
Go back and read that verse again. You’ll know when it moves from your head to your heart because you’ll feel like you’ve been punched in the gut.
“You’re acting like a baby!”
That’s what the author of this passage is really saying. He doesn’t sugarcoat it, saying . . . most of you should be teaching the Bible by now, you’ve been Christians so long, but instead you haven’t been weaned from “spiritual milk” to “solid food.” You want someone to spoon feed you spiritual truths instead of taking responsibility for your own spiritual growth.
Here are a few indicators you fall into this category:
- You only crack your Bible when your pastor or youth pastor tells you to.
- You run to your church leaders with every question instead of trying to wrestle with deep spiritual truths on your own.
- You think it’s your pastor or youth pastor’s responsibility to make sure you are growing spiritually.
“This church is getting too big.”
I live in the buckle of the Bible belt. My town doesn’t have a Walmart, but we do have more than twenty churches. I go to one of the biggest churches in the area. Our average Sunday attendance is in the ballpark of 2,500 people (in a town of only 11,000). Yep, it’s a big church.
And yet . . . 70% of the people in my county don’t go to church anywhere. If all of those people decided to go to church on Sunday, there would not be enough churches to hold them.
Your county is likely the same. In fact:
- There are more than 100 million unchurched people in the United States.
- That includes 27 million teenagers and children.
- That’s more people than live in 224 countries in the world.
Instead of fixating on the number of people who don’t know you at your church, I’d love to encourage you to start asking, “Who doesn’t know Jesus in my community?” And bring them to your church! Who can you invite to your church this week?
“We don’t agree on everything.”
There are some bedrock truths that your church should be teaching. Here’s a crash course.
- The Bible is our authority (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
- God created everything including man (Gen. 1:1).
- Man was separated from God because of sin (Isa. 59:2).
- Jesus is God’s son (1 John 5:20).
- He died for our sin (John 3:16).
- He rose from the grave (Matt. 28:1–10).
- Through accepting Him, we are reconnected with God and have the promise of salvation (Rom. 10:9).
But what about dating vs. courtship? Hemlines? Bible translations? Worship style? Sermon length?
You would be hard pressed to find two Christians who agree on every single point. So, when your pastor or your youth pastor or your Sunday school teacher says something you don’t agree with, should you take your ball and go home?
John 13:35 says it this way, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you agree on everything.”
Cue record scratch sound effect. That’s not how that verse goes.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We may not always agree, but we should always disagree lovingly, that includes bearing with one another. More on that in a minute!
“My needs aren’t being met.”
In Matthew 20:26–28 Jesus said,
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus calls us to live like slaves. Is the primary concern of a slave her own needs? No. Her purpose is to meet the needs of another.
Do you go to church to be served? That might look like:
- Expecting others to approach you and getting miffed when they don’t.
- Expecting the lessons and sermons to be geared toward what you are interested in.
- Expecting the services to reflect your preferences in worship, sermon length, room temperature, etc.
Jesus urges us to flip this kind of thinking upside down. Instead of asking, “Why aren’t my needs being met?” He asks us to start asking, “Whose needs can I meet?”
“Somebody made me mad.”
The Bible gives us lots of guidance on how to wisely deal with conflict. Here’s a snapshot.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3).
How do we deal with conflict? Let’s break it down.
- We walk in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians. In other words, we don’t handle conflict like non-Christians do.
- We are humble, thinking of others first.
- We are gentle. No screaming, cussing, or backbiting allowed.
- We are patient.
- We bear with one another in love. That means we put up with more than we think we should have to.
- We are eager to live at peace, not looking to stir the pot or create conflict.
What about you?
What about you? Have you left a church for these reasons? Or do you find yourself thinking the statements above? Can you add any bad reasons to leave a church to my list? Are there any good reasons to leave your church? (Spoiler alert: the answer is “yes.” More on that tomorrow.)
I’d love to hear about your church. Leave me a comment below.
Note: My pastor’s sermon outline came from this article from Relevant Magazine. Check it out for further reading.