When To Leave “Revised”
I revised this blog a little bit so the original purpose can be stated CLEARLY! It is my intention to help people find where they need to be planted and stay there. It is NOT scriptural to hop around OR encourage people to hop around for reasons that are not biblical. If you are in an abusive church situation, please see my comment at the end of the blog.
Over the years, after seeing it for myself, and talking to people about why they left their church, the biggest reason above all was because they got offended. Now, I have to tell you that God will NEVER tell you to leave a church when you are offended. Offense is deadly and poisonous and the sad thing is that when people leave a church offended, their family pays a HUGE price for that. If you are offended, read The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere. It will clearly help to show you your heart. We ask every new family that joins our church to read that book because it is not IF you get offended, it’s WHEN. You can also ask your friends, who are mature Christians, and they can help you out too and let you know if they have seen offense in your heart. It’s quite hard to hide.
If you start to withdrawal from people, get easily agitated, quit serving, quit tithing, have harsh words to speak, pick things apart, critique, complain, and feel entitled, you my friend, are offended. Don’t say it’s God telling you to move on. Nothing about any of that is godly at all. If you don’t stop and consider what you are doing, you are jeopardizing your family’s future.
The only reason to EVER leave a church is because God clearly spoke that to you, not because your feelings got hurt. You don’t pick churches like you pick out a new pair of shoes. God plants you, so he moves you on. God and God alone.
So here are a few packages that offense often comes wrapped in. Let me tell you what they are.
1. Unmet Expectations-You have an expectation that goes unmet and you get angry that it was not fulfilled. Usually that expectation remains unspoken, at that. Maybe you thought you were going to be the worship leader but you tried out and didn’t make the worship team. You are now offended. There are other areas you can serve God in your church, if your heart is just to be a servant.
2. You feel overlooked-As the church continues to grow, you don’t get the face time with the leadership anymore like you did when the church was small. You liked the attention and feel a sense of loss wishing things were “like they used to be.” It just doesn’t feel like it “used to”. Be glad because healthy things grow.
3. Someone hurt you-Someone hurt you intentionally or unintentionally and you are done. No one is going to hurt you again and when they do you will just leave like you have done in the past. Problem is, you will be running a long time because with relationships, come pain. It’s not optional. You have to learn to work through situations.
4. You feel exposed-When you have been at a church long enough, people know your junk. I mean they know your family situation, your marriage situation, and the list goes on. Sometimes we don’t want that accountability and it feels easier to go somewhere where they think you are perfect and you can start over. Problem is, real relationships are unveiled. If you need to come across as having it all together, you are never going to get to the root issues and have authentic relationships.
5. It’s not the way you would do it-Some people (who have never been leaders in churches I might add) feel they can do it better. They get offended because they think the music is too loud, the lighting is not the way they think it should be, the set up is not they way they would do it and they always seem to critique and complain because they are not in charge. Instead of asking a question to the right person and getting an answer, they seem to throw little jabs in small group settings to bring to the surface who else might be offended, too. You know, so they can form their own group and talk about how they would do it IF they were in charge.
6. Vision disconnect-As a church grows and matures, the vision will often times appear to be different BUT there is a difference between method and message. The message should always stay the same, however, the methods will always be changing. Many people do not like change and resist it, claiming the vision has changed. The vision should always be about reaching people but the way in which that happens should always be changing. It really is a method vs. message battle. Change will always happen. If you resist change you will find yourself continually frustrated.
I am sure there are other reasons I could have included but please know this: It is God who plants us in a House and only God who moves us. Could you imagine what would happen in your marriage if you moved around each time you got offended with your spouse? The divorce rate would be over 50%. Oh wait, it is!!! Humm, so looks like this is not just a pattern in our churches but maybe a pattern in our lives. We need to learn to plant, and stay planted so we can flourish.
One last side note. Just like committed marriages, there is nothing scriptural about continually trying out new church flavors that come down the pike, either. A husband, who has been married for 30 years, that chases down a young girl because he now wants to try out a new model, is not a committed husband. I see people do that in marriages often and I see them do that in church culture, too. Why? Because they are not content with what God has given them and where he has planted them. When you are not settled in your heart, you will always be looking for the next, the latest, the greatest to fill you. When God has given you a beautiful marriage, stay faithful to it. When God has given you a beautiful church, stay faithful to it. When peace reigns in your heart, you remain content with what and where God has planted you.
And for the record, if you are looking for the perfect church, you will never find it. Why? Because you show up every Sunday!
Let’s be emotionally mature Christians and learn to grow where we are planted-bottom line!
**Disclaimer: If you are being abused in your church, please read my blog posts on Abusive Churches by going to the category selection to the right of this post and read that section.