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Reasons to leave?

November 15, 2014

None of reasons mentioned are the reason I haven’t attended regularly and to be honest I’m not real sure except for the fact that Lord said “No” about one specific one. Now more than ever since cutting my ties with that one, do I really want to know what was going on there that Jesus Christ, Himself objected! Trust me, this subject is loaded.

Based on Jeff’s blog…My guess is it’s not a isolated situation. Was it too many Haters of God, or haters of the law? Or both?

http://www.biblestudytools.com
Founders Ministries Blog

by Jeff Robinson

It is the conversation with church members every pastor dreads but inevitably comes to every man who has shepherded a local flock: “Pastor, we need to meet with you and discuss our future at the church. We have been praying about transferring our membership to another church.” Naturally, you ask the inevitable question, “Why?” The answers are as varied as the variety found in wayfaring members, ranging from “The church up the street has more to offer my youth/children” to “We just don’t find things exciting here anymore,” or most troubling, “We love you and your preaching, pastor, but we don’t really like this church.”

There are certainly legitimate reasons to leave a church and sadly, it sometimes become necessary or even a duty to find a more biblically faithful body. Sometimes churches become theologically or morally bankrupt, leaving a sound believer no choice. But it seems in our self-intoxicated, consumer-driven evangelical culture, what is often referred to as “church hopping” seems to have reached a virtual epidemic. There are a number of reasons for this reality with biblical illiteracy, a loss of a robust ecclesiology, a distaste for authority, the disappearance of church discipline and the decay of meaningful church membership ranking high among them.

When should you leave a church? I think it is helpful to first think through a number of reasons why not to leave a church. Here are a few illegitimate reasons for leaving a church, reasons I have heard over the years:

Because our children want to go to another church. The most spiritually immature (presumably) members of the family should not single-handedly make the most important decision facing a family. This is perhaps the most common reason I have heard for people leaving a church, and I find it deeply troubling.

Because there aren’t many people here my age. The body of Christ is supposed to reflect the culture which is made up of a diversity of ages and backgrounds. The church is not a social club, but the gathering of sinners saved by grace. The world should be at odds to explain the church. It should wonder, “What is it that brings together such a diverse collection of people in such a tight bond of love?”

Because I don’t like the music. The contemporary/traditional question is usually wrongheaded, in my opinion. Of greater importance is the question: What is the content of the songs being sung? Is the church singing good theology? Tune and text must fit one another, but I find that this debate usually falls out along generational lines.

Because the pastor’s sermons are too long. Preaching is the central act of Christian worship and should receive the lion’s share of the time.

Because there are many sinners in the church. As Luther put it, followers of Christ are simul iustis et peccator, simultaneously a saint and a sinner. The local church is a hospital for the sick. Obviously, there is a serious sickness where open, wanton, unconfessed sin is tolerated, but that is not what I have in view here.

Because the pastor doesn’t do things the way we did back in 19__ (add your favorite year). Tradition can be helpful, but traditionalism is where churches go to die a thousand deaths.
Because they don’t have a good youth/children’s program here. Parents are the spiritual caretakers for the children. The church should merely reinforce the biblical truths taught in the home. No church program will adequately shepherd our children; that is the calling of parents, particularly fathers.
Because the worship/preaching is boring. The aim of worship is God’s glory, not our amusement.
Because they have/don’t have Sunday school. I realize many adherents of family integration will disagree with me here, but I want to argue respectfully that the Gospel and theological truth—not secondary convictions—are the proper unifying point for a local church.
Those are invalid reasons for leaving a church and there are dozens more besides. But there does come a time when seeking a new church home is a legitimate consideration. So, when should one leave a church? John MacArthur is helpful on this point. He advises (and provides biblical rationale) that you should consider leaving a church if:

Heresy on some fundamental truth is being taught from the pulpit (Gal. 1:7–9).
The leaders of the church tolerate seriously errant doctrine from any who are given teaching authority in the fellowship (Rom. 16:17).
The church is characterized by a wanton disregard for Scripture, such as a refusal to discipline members who are sinning blatantly (1 Cor. 5:1–7).
Unholy living is tolerated in the church (1 Cor. 5:9–11).
The church is seriously out of step with the biblical pattern for the church (2 Thess. 3:6, 14).
The church is marked by gross hypocrisy, giving lip service to biblical Christianity but refusing to acknowledge its true power (2 Tim. 3:5).
When members or friends have discussed leaving a church with me through the years, I have typically advised them to stick around and be a gracious, reforming presence and avoid exacerbating the problems in their local body. Both joining a church and leaving a church are serious business, business for which those involved will give an account before God. Even if it does become clear that leaving is best for us or our family, our attitude must be chastened and humble on the way out. In part II, I hope to look at what our attitude should be when we decide to change churches.

Part 2!

http://www.biblestudytools.com
Founders Ministries Blog

by Jeff Robinson

A few weeks back, I asked the question, “When Do You Leave a Church?” here on the Founders Blog and promised to continue dealing with this issue in a second post. With this post, I want to examine the issue of how to leave a church. When it becomes necessary to find another congregation we must keep a close watch over our hearts and our motives and we must be careful what we say and how we act “out the door.”

Both as a pastor and a church member, I have seen many people leave the church, and once they have done so, they have continued to heap untold damage upon their former congregation through slander, gossip and complaining about leadership and other members. Curtis Thomas, in his excellent volume Life in the Body of Christ (Founders Press, 2006), delivers a good dose of wise pastoral counsel on the manner in which one might leave a church without leaving the bridges in flames behind them. Thomas advises that:

1. We must check our motives very carefully.

2. Our reasons must be well grounded and clearly articulated.

3. We must be in regular, earnest prayer about the matter.

4. We must guard our tongues very carefully.

5. We must be extremely careful that we do not unnecessarily create unrest in other members.

6. Our discussions with the leadership must be characterized by love.

7. Our attempts to correct matters must be with great respect, care, and patience.

8. If our concern is over personal preferences, rather than biblical matters, we must consider others’ interests more important than ours.

9. Great care should be taken that we submit to the leadership of the church, unless we determine with proper counsel that there is a serious biblical issue at stake.

10. If the leadership will listen, we need to give them plenty of time to consider the matter.

11. If the leadership will not listen to us, or will not take proper action to correct the matter and we are thoroughly convinced that there is a serious biblical issue, we should ask for a meeting of the church in which to express our concerns.

12. We should ask ourselves what we have personally done to correct any wrong or deficiency in the church with which we are concerned.

13. We should evaluate if our leaving would do harm to an otherwise good church.

14. We should never leave, nor encourage others to leave, unless we are thoroughly convinced that one or both of the following conditions exist: 1) that the church has become an apostate church (where serious unbiblical teaching or practices are allowed), or 2) that we are convinced that, over the long haul, we cannot find a place to serve in the church or that our families will not be spiritually fed in that body.

Church membership is a solemn matter, one of God’s great gifts to His people. We will give an account for how we dealt with Christ’s body, and we will give an account for every single word we have spoken in this life (Matt. 12:36). Therefore, if we must find another congregation for ourselves and our families, let us do so in a manner that honors the Lord of church.

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