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7 considerations if you are a church member planning on leaving your church

Church in Spain | Getty Images/Jesus Gonzalez

You’ve been with your church for a while now. Something is now urging you to leave the church. We will not get into evaluating your reasons. Let’s just say you have made the decision, or you are close to making that decision.

Let’s assume you are not moving to another location. You are leaving your church because you think you should make this exit.

While I do not want to judge you or argue with you, would you consider reading the rest of this article? Would you look at the following seven considerations before you make the decision final?

1. Make certain you have prayed about the decision. It is not a move to be taken lightly. Ask God to check your heart to see if the prompting is His or your own. 

2. Ask yourself if you are making the decision because of personal preferences. Perhaps the sermon seemed too long. Maybe the music is not the perfect blend that you like. Still yet, maybe you have decided “you are not being fed” spiritually. That is a common reason given by exiting members. Please know, though, the next church you attend will not meet all of your preferences and desires either. Church membership in its truest biblical form is self-sacrificing and forgiving (see 1 Corinthians 12 and 13).

3. If you are using the exit as an escape to quit churchgoing altogether, please don’t do it. We have seen church members, elders, and deacons leave churches saying one thing but dropping out of church life completely. Please remember that God gave us the local church as His plan A for His mission, and He did not give us a plan B.

4. Understand that your decision will hurt many people. In fact, such decisions are one of pastors’ greatest hurts. Many take it personally. Others in the church are discouraged and confused when members, particularly active members, leave the church.

5. Please do not leave the church if you haven’t reconciled with those with whom you have conflict. Jesus was clear and unwavering on this matter: “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:24, NLT).

6. Don’t leave with complaints and criticisms. Such behavior is not good for the Kingdom, and it certainly reflects poorly on you. And by all means, keep your negativity off social media.

7. If you still decide to leave, give your pastor a good and honest reason why you are doing so. Don’t leave in a huff of silence. Don’t give a reason that is not the true reason. Your pastor has been your shepherd. Your pastor likely has made sacrifices for you of which you are not aware. It would be cruel and unbiblical to walk out with no explanation or a bad explanation.

Obviously, I believe that dropping out of your church should be rare and biblically reasoned. I am not questioning your motive or judging your heart. I am simply asking you to consider the seven points I just made.

Thank you for taking the time to read these words. May God bless you. And may you truly be in His will.

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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