Yesterday, we tackled five bad reasons to leave your church. But is there ever a good reason to leave a church? The short answer is yes, and I’ll give you six reasons why in a minute, but before we get there, let me give you two disclaimers.
Disclaimer #1: I’m writing about leaving a church, not leaving the Church. The building where you go on Sunday mornings is your church, with a little “c.” But that church is a part of the Church, big “C.” The Church is made up of all of those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. It exists in small town America and the biggest cities in China. It looks like buildings with steeples and small gatherings of people in living rooms.
While you have some freedom do determine where you will attend church, checking out of the Church isn’t an option. Paul made it clear that you are an irreplaceable part of the Church (1 Corinthians 12). Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to give up meeting together.
Disclaimer #2: Some of the six good reasons to leave below are taken straight from the Bible. A couple are simply my opinion. Since I want you to know the difference, I’ll let you know when I’m giving “Erin’s take.”
Let’s dig in.
Reason #1: Your Church Is Not Teaching the Bible
Second Timothy 3:16 says,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.”
This verse makes two important points.
- All Scripture is God-breathed. It all comes from God.
- All Scripture is useful.
If your church doesn’t teach the Bible or lumps the Bible in with other important books, a red flag should shoot up. How the Bible is taught may vary, but make sure that the Bible is being taught in your church.
Reason #2: The Gospel Is Distorted
In Galatians 1:9, Paul uses some strong words to tackle this one:
“As we have said before, so I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
Distorting the gospel was a problem even in the earliest churches. Preachers would add to the message that Jesus’ sacrifice was our only means of salvation. Maybe we need Jesus and good deeds to be saved. Maybe we need Jesus and to follow all the rules to be saved. But Paul blows the whistle and says, “No way! Don’t stand for any other gospel than the one Jesus preached!”
If you’re not exactly sure what the gospel is or if your church is preaching it, check out this post.
Reason #3: Repentance Is a Dirty Word
We all love feel-good sermons, the kind that send us off to Sunday lunch with warm fuzzies in our tummies. These might be sermons on God’s love or friendship or the resurrection. There’s nothing wrong with these sermons, but be wary if every message you hear at church doesn’t include a regular call to repentance.
Jesus sure didn’t shy away from repentance in any of his sermons. Matthew 4:17 tells us, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
James 5:16 commands us to confess our sins.
If the leadership of your church never teaches on sin, hell, and our need to repent, plan an exit strategy.
Reason #4: The Mission Is Missing
Jesus commissioned the very first church leaders this way, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20).
Your church should be actively seeking to make disciples. That means reaching out to those who do not yet know Jesus. Your church should also be actively seeking to train disciples. That means teaching the Bible to Christians.
Reason #5: You’re Too Young to Serve (Erin’s take).
I hope you don’t mind if I mess with history a bit. I’d like take JFK’s famous quote about America and tweek it a bit to help us think about our attitude toward church.
“My fellow Christians, ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.”
Church is not a place where we should warm a pew, but rather a place where we should be actively seeking to serve, a) other Christians and b) our community. Our culture gives you a free pass here. “You’re young! Serving is something you can do some day.”
But I believe with all of my heart that if young women would get serious about serving within their own churches, that it would make a huge difference. Paul backs me up on this. He was addressing his young friend, Timothy, when he wrote these words.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
You can raise the bar when it comes to service within your church. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for every job that available, but if there is no place for you as a young woman to serve in your church, look for somewhere you can serve.
Reason #6: Your Parents Don’t Go There (Erin’s take).
I’ve noticed a trend that troubles me. Parents attend one church and their kiddos go somewhere else. I think this pattern has been born out of the “I need to go where I’m fed” mentality that I addressed yesterday, and I don’t think it’s healthy.
Did you know the primary responsibility for your discipleship is assigned to your parents, not your pastor or youth pastor? It’s true! The Bible urges parents to take the reins when it comes to training their kiddos toward righteousness. This is hard when you’re not hearing the same sermons and connected to the same group of Christians.
If I was writing this post to your parents, I would advise them to go to church where you can be involved in a Bible teaching youth group. But since I’m writing to you, I want to urge you to consider the same advice. Have you thought about your parents when making church decisions? How about your siblings? How would it impact your life if your family was growing together spiritually instead of independently? Let me encourage you to find a church where your family can worship and learn together.
I Heart My Church!
I hope you read that list and found that you’re right where you belong. I did! But if some red flags have been raised in your heart, here is some further reading I’d like to you dig through before taking next steps. They all have similar titles but offer solid advice on when and how to leave a church.
- “When Should People Leave Their Church?” by John MacArthur
- “When Should I Leave My Church?” By Tim Challies
- “When Should I Leave My Church” by John Piper
Is your church a shining example of God’s vision for His Bride? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below telling me about your church.