How to Gracefully Leave a Church

Being a member of a local church means you have taken a vow or pledge of commitment to the church. The vow or pledge a serious commitment to the Lord and his local Body.  There may come a time when because of circumstances you either must leave or have a desire to leave the church. We expect that all members of this particular church will do so with love, truth and grace.

A.  What are some good reasons and circumstances for leaving this local congregation?

1.      When you need to relocate to another geographical area that would make

it a burden to travel and participate in the life of the church.

2.      When you have come to a different and informed conviction about certain

doctrines where in good conscience you cannot support the teachings of

the church.

3.    When it is apparent the Lord is directing you to actively serve in another

congregation of  like faith and practice. Leaving under this circumstance

should be done in consultation with the pastor, elders and other godly

individuals.

            4.   When the philosophy of ministry or the direction of the church violates

your biblically informed conscience.

5.       Of course there are other legitimate reasons. Transferring to another

church should not be so much a matter of  running away from a problem

or conflict so  much as being led to another congregation.

B.    What are some wrong reasons and circumstances for leaving the local

congregation?

         1.       To avoid coming under church discipline or following through with the

discipline process (which, if you will recall, is to restore you to Christ

and his church). Once the discipline process has begun and is a matter

of record, the pastor and elders are duty and conscience bound to

complete it.

            2.   When you have a conflict with someone in the church and you have

not taken the  steps to resolve the conflict and reconcile. Biblically, you

are free to leave after you have taken the correct steps to make things right.

            3.   When you don’t feel like being a part of the church, but do not have

any good biblical or moral grounds for leaving.

            4.   When your children are bored with church.

C.   What is a gracious way to exit the church?

1.       Don’t let problems or convictions linger or fester indefinitely. Speak

to the pastor and/or elder(s) to resolve the issues as soon as possible.

It would be sinful to exit the church without reconciling.  Furthermore,

you would just be bringing the problem(s) with you to the next church.

            2.    No matter what the circumstances are, be courageous and do the

righteous thing by talking in person with the pastor or elder(s).

                        a. Do not send a letter or email. If need be, write a letter and bring

it with you to dialog in person.

                        b. Let them know what you are thinking and where your heart is.

    c.  Be willing to listen and receive sound, biblical advice from them.

3.  Make arrangements with the elders to exit the church, and do so graciously.

a.   The elders will be able to give instructions on how to transfer.

b.  If you leave sinfully or with unresolved conflict, the elders will not be

able to give you a letter of transfer or a letter of standing.  Should

the other church inquire as to the circumstances the elders are

obliged to speak the truth (without gossip or slander).

(from Appendix Q in The Perfect Pastor? Xulon Press; 2007)

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Filed under The Church, The Perfect Pastor? (book excerpts)

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