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Should I leave my Church?

The short answer is ‘usually no’, but there are genuine reasons to leave a Church as well as bad ones. Let's take a look at some of the valid reasons as well as some of the bad ones. But look in your heart while you read this. If you are trying desperately to justify the wrong motives for leaving your Church then at least try and be honest with yourself.
When you are thinking about leaving a Church try to bear in mind what kind of impact that will have on yourself as well as the people who depend on you. Are you being ministered to at the moment in a way that you will miss when you go somewhere else? Is there someone enjoying your encouragement, teaching or friendship that will miss not having you around? Will the people be any better at another Church? Will you attend a new Church faithfully or will you start to drift away from the Lord?
Try to get unbiased and mature counselling before you leave a Church and definitely don’t leave without praying first and by praying I mean listening as much as I mean asking.

Good Reasons to leave your Church

  • God has called you to minister for him in another place or to a new leadership position in another Church.
  • Your work requires you to live somewhere else and you have prayed about it and feel genuine peace about it. (Note: it is good to get confirmation from leadership when making huge decisions like that).
  • Your Church is extremely indifferent to winning lost people for Christ and helping people to grow in Christ.
  • Your Church does not accept the authority of the Bible and does not recognise it as being God’s message to his people, i.e. they pick and choose what parts of the Bible that they will believe and are following social justice instead of Jesus Christ.
  • There is extreme division and bitterness in your Church and it is affecting you own relationship with God and there is no attempt being made on either side to make reconciliation.
  • Your Church is a cult/sect or genuinely becoming one. The signs of this are things like your leader is claiming that his teaching is more important than the Bible or that he is Jesus reincarnated or if your church leaders are extremely dominating and legalistically control the congregation (note I’m talking about extreme legalistic domination, not just genuine interest in your well being but things like forcing members to live in a commune, controlling every detail of what you eat and wear), teaching that they are the only true Christians or teaching that you are saved by faith plus works i.e. that you will not go to Heaven unless you do certain things to help earn your forgiveness like being baptised in water or selling books. See avoiding counterfeit Churches in the article ‘How do you find the right Church?’.

Bad reasons to leave your Church

  • Someone upset you or you had a misunderstanding or disagreement.
  • Something changed in your Church and you don’t like it. Change for the sake of change is not always good but when it is done to relate to people (especially young people) in a way that helps to communicate the Gospel to them in a way that they understand then at least try to understand and tolerate it even if reluctantly since it could have an impact on the eternal destiny of many people.
  • You think that you don't need to go to Church anymore. As Paul told the Corinthians, we are part of a body and we need each other. The body of Christ will suffer if you don't play your part. And like a coal that's taken out of the fire, you will eventually grow cold if you don't have other Christians to encourage you. Not to mention Hebrews 10:25 "And let us not neglect our meeting together". See Why go to Church?

Reconciliation helps you to grow

Always try to reconcile with other church members where you can. Try to understand and fit in with the leaders of your Church and pray that God will bless and guide them. Put yourself in their shoes, how would you feel if you were in a leadership position? You would have just about every member of your Church wanting the music either louder or softer (a real no-win situation), just about every member would want things done a little different, it would be impossible to please everyone and hard not to offend someone. Try to appreciate the pressure that they face and encourage them instead of criticizing them.

You might be thinking well I’ve heard that kind of reasoning before but I just need a fresh start where I can go forward without any baggage. That all sounds fine but God allows conflict and challenges for good reasons and some of those reasons include teaching us to love unconditionally, teaching us to forgive, teaching us to trust that God blesses Christians who are united even when decisions are made that we might not agree with. This all helps us to grow and mature. If God is trying to teach you those things then you might find that your fresh start will soon become a carbon copy of the situation that you ran away from. Wouldn’t it be easier in the long run to stay where you are and face those issues sooner rather than later?

Please don’t take this article as the ultimate authority (or any article on any website for that matter). Please pray and seek mature and unbiased guidance before you leave your Church.