Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It is new with no mistakes in it., full of GRACE!
Monday, October 29, 2012
How to Leave a Church Correctly
How to Leave your church correctly. So how do we leave a church? I offer the following suggestions: First, leave deliberately. Don’t slither or slide. Don’t wander hither and yonder. When it’s time to go, go—and then go become an integral part of another good, Bible-believing, Christ-saturated church. The New Testament knows nothing of individual believers taking a little from here and sampling a little from over there. The biblical doctrine of the church describes a body of believers deeply committed to Christ and to one another.
Second, go graciously. Has your theology changed to the extent that you need to join a different church? Have the needs of your family or your work schedule compelled you to make a move? Fine. Move, but move graciously. Resist the temptation to concentrate on the warts and blemishes of the church you are leaving. (You’ll find, soon enough, that your new church has a few of these too!) It is important that you leave your church graciously and join your new church graciously. Eugene Peterson writes:
Every time I move to a new community, I find a church close by and join it—committing myself to worship and work with that company of God's people. I've never been anything other than disappointed. Everyone turns out to be biblical, through and through: murmurers, complainers, the faithless, the inconstant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring moralizers, glamorous secularizers. Every once in a while a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminate these companies, and then I see what my sin-dulled eyes had missed: Word of God-shaped, Holy Spirit-created lives of sacrificial humility, incredible courage, heroic virtue, holy praise, joyful suffering, constant prayer, persevering obedience.
Third, go thankfully. I write as a man who has been a pastor of the same church for almost three decades. During these years many people have left our church (some of them because of me). To be honest, some of the people who have left I don’t miss much. And others I miss sorely. But I always appreciate the one who takes the trouble to say good-bye.
Embarrassing or awkward as it may be, have an exit interview with one of the leaders, elders, or pastors of the church you are leaving. Explain the reasons for your departure, express your gratitude for their hard work, and commit yourself to praying for the church with which you will no longer be associated. These exit interviews are rare, but they are sweet. Pastors care about people. So when someone comes to me, shares where God seems to be leading her, and gives thanks for her season of involvement at SBCC, I beam with joy. Pastors are not running a business and trying to get more customers. Pastors are shepherds of a flock. On our good days we are not jealous of our sheep; we have their best interests at heart. Still, it is rarely easy to hear someone say, I gotta go. . . In fact, it always hurts. But the pain is softened when we learn that he or she is going to settle in a godly congregation of Christ-exalting believers. After all, we’re on the same team working for the same purposes.
Church membership and church involvement are serious undertakings. When we meet Christ, we are saved into the church. The Bible speaks of our being members of one another (Romans 12:4-5). We are joined together in Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). We eat from one loaf and drink from one cup (Ephesians 4:4-5). We are to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We might even find ourselves selling our property in order to meet another’s needs (Acts 4:32ff.). We are to be a forgiving community (Colossians 3:13) that is deeply in love with one another (John 13:34). The church is a precious gift to God’s people. Christ died to bring the church into being (Ephesians 5:25)! The church is the mantelpiece of God, the display of God’s splendor before the angels (Ephesians 3:10)! So let us take care that we cherish the organism that Christ suffered to create—and may God bless his church!
This next point is on the par with the Law and the Prophets: Please don’t take anyone else with you. Meaning, nevah evah cause division. That includes after you leave as well as during your departure. This also includes corrupting your friends who attend the church with your complaints against the church and/or its leaders.
It also includes trying to recruit them away from the church by giving them “subversive literature” that you know will cause them confusion. Barna and I actually warned about this in the very beginning of Pagan Christianity, saying,
(At this moment, all the rebellious hearts are applauding and are plotting to wield the above paragraphs to wreak havoc in their churches. If that is you, dear rebellious heart, you have missed our point by a considerable distance. We do not stand with you. Our advice: Either leave your church quietly, refusing to cause division, or be at peace with it. There is a vast gulf between rebellion and taking a stand for what is true.) Pagan Christianity, p. 5.
I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t leave a church unless the Lord clearly directs you to leave and your family has come to a consensus on the matter. I’ll simply add that I will never understand why some people leave beautiful churches while others stay in abusive or dead churches.
If there is not a real reason to leave, your just following others then......
Whatever Happened to Perseverance?
“The signs of a true sent one were performed among you with all perseverance.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:12
We live in a day where perseverance (a mark of those who are truly sent to the Lord’s work) is a lost art. So much so that I fear for the future of God’s work. Why? Because the ability to persevere under pressure is a mark of those who are called to the work.
People today throw in the towel at the drop of a hat. They’ll stay in a job for a few years, then if the pressure gets too much, or it’s not conducive to their happiness, they’ll quit. The same with a relationship. The same with a business venture. The same with a church.
Many times I wanted to get out of dodge. Often, I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t meeting my needs. But I knew the Lord wanted me to stay. Not just for myself, but for the church (that is, the people). And not just for the church, but for something I didn’t know back then . . . for other churches and people in the future that didn’t exist at the time.
I’m glad I didn’t quit, because those years proved to be the preparation for my future ministry. If I hadn’t preserved through them, I don’t believe I would have been able to co-work with others.
Nor do I believe I would have been able to weather the storms that awaited me. Not to mention learning innumerable unique lessons that I would have missed . . . some glorious, some difficult.
Perhaps you’re in a situation where the pressure, the disappointment, and the failed expectations is pressuring you to quit. But God wants you to stay with it. Not just for yourself, but for others. And also for your future and the future of the kingdom of God.
In such cases, He wants you to learn perseverance. He wants to take you deeper into what it means to forebear and to see things through His eyes rather than your own.
He wants you to understand that the name of the game isn’t your temporal happiness, but His will.
The Lord will allow you to do whatever you desire. But sometimes – I’d dare say oftentimes – His highest will is for you to persevere. You’d be amazed at the spiritual values that are generated when perseverance is chosen over quitting.
You’d also be amazed at the things that the Lord can turn around simply by keeping your resolve and standing with something to which you’ve committed yourself. Frank Viola
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We are the founders of Tour of Life.(retreats for the ministry) I do a lot of Ministry Life Coaching. (Over 25 years of ministry including 14 years of pastoring, 8 years of Evangelist/Missionary) I am a certified Life Coach at Network Coaching through Assembly Of God. I am also Certified through American Association Christian Counselor in "Caring for People God's Way," for 15 years. My other passions are interior design inside and out, entertaining, making original art pieces for Nollia Art, bargain fashion, cooking, art, drawing, music and writing. Love it! That's the artist in me. I hope you enjoy all my random writings about ministry and my life in the country. Beware! I do mean it. I will not gloss coat it. If you can't handle the real side of ministry then skip it. I will post the great, good, bad and the ugly side of ministry along with some truths to help you along the way.