I recently left my church after attending there for 14 years. I needed a break and it was hard to be there and not help out when help was really needed, so it seemed best to leave. I had even tried to back down from some responsibilities and that didn’t work (partly my fault for being such a servant and partly from the pastor – but that is another topic. There are no hard feelings at all).
When I made the decision to leave, it was very tempting to just write an email and then go on my way. That didn’t seem right though. I’ve been going to church all my life and it had always seemed weird when you wouldn’t see someone for a while and then after time you realize they had left. There’s no closure and it makes you wonder why.
What I did instead was have lunch with the pastor and
explain things (I’ve come to learn that pastors call this “the last
supper.”) What happened then was that we decided that I would first
talk to the worship team since I was the worship team leader and then
on the next Sunday, we’d say something at the end of the service and I
wouldn’t be up on stage.
That plan worked well (as far as I
know). I know that the pastor appreciated it and even used this as an
example to people on how to leave a church. So that’s good.
if you’re in the situation where you’ve prayed an found that God wants
to move you on to something else (and it has been confirmed – I don’t
believe in “church hopping” which you see too much), then I encourage
you to do it the right way. People need closure and so do you. You also
don’t want to leave questions in people’s minds either – the church has
enough working against it without you throwing in a wrench. I don’t
have any great scripture references that I got this from or anything,
but just do a “gut check” and do what you feel is right since that’s
usually the Holy Spirit talking and guiding you.
So right now I’m kind of in a holding pattern, waiting to see what’s
next. I don’t want to jump into another church too quickly as I feel
like I want to give God the chance to do something else with me if he
wants. Why lock myself in somewhere when God’s has other plans? I think
it’s worth it to pause. Speaking of which, check out this article on
HouseChurch.org: 15 Theses. Wolfgang Simson and then this one posted to AllGodsPeople.com over the weekend, Covenanter Publishes "The American Church in Crisis". This report paints church attendance being down as a bad thing… maybe it’s not though. Maybe home churches are starting.
One last thought I heard from a friend recently… it kind of makes
you wonder what’s being said at large churches if they have so many
people. Are they saying what people want to hear in order to fill the
offering basket or are they speaking the truth / the Gospel? The Gospel
is offensive… telling people that they’re sinners and that they’re
going to hell. I don’t see huge crowds gathering aroung the street
corner preacher who says that to people (which is something I could
write volume on – did Jesus do that? No the people came to him because
he loved them).
Churches need to first love, then disciple.
The best ministries I hear of are those where you’ve got guys at a
church with a cigarette in one hand while they help park cars. Take
people in for who they are, form a relationship in love and then
they’ll want to know more because that kind of love stands out, is true
and is attractive.