Depending on your location in the US, many of us can choose from a variety of churches. Our attendance could be at any number of location congregations. This means that many of us will have to think through leaving or staying at our current congregations during challenging times.
I want you to know I understand there are times when God truly will call us to relocate to a new congregation. This isn’t a black and white issue. Leaving is sometimes justified, but so is staying. Sadly, I think we’re more prone to abandoning ship than getting in the trenches.
The decision between staying and leaving can be a weighty one. Here are four questions to answer before you leave your current church family.
- Have I prayed for the issue I’m concerned about?Sounds simple, but I would bet the answer is often “no.” By discussing our qualms with God, our minds are calmed, and we become convicted about pessimistic opinions of our church. Ask God what you might do to help the situation. I’ve noticed many times the most intense critics serve the least.
- Have you been serving?Whenever I’ve had to weigh through this same decision myself, this has been the most convicting question. My inactivity led to disgruntlement. Serving has a way of helping us buy into the direction and mission of the local church as we lock arms with fellow Christians to advance the gospel.
- Have you been an advocate of your pastoral team?They have to deal with everyone’s expectations. Eventually, that takes a toll on them. Pastors need to be encouraged, probably more than laypeople. They’re pouring their lives out in service. If we encourage them, we may see God change our thoughts to a more positive outlook.
- What are your expectations?And, I’ll add, are they realistic? Every church is full of imperfections. It will be that way until God unites us in eternity. To be honest, our expectations don’t really matter. We’re to embrace what is expected of us– to be contributing, Christ honoring members of a local congregation that promotes healthy local churches. We are called to contribute, not to consume.
Answering these four questions may help you do some honest soul searching. Try and find reasons why you are considering leaving, bring them before the Lord, and let Him lead you to stay or find a church that you can readily contribute to.