In 2007, my fiancé and I almost left the church I had been a part of for two years. I was happy there, but we had just gotten engaged, and we figured we might be better off if we just started over at a new church.
In retrospect, we weren’t very thoughtful about the whole thing at all – actually, we were pretty much just feeling our way through the decision, which is what I think a lot of people do when they leave churches, and naturally so. Emotions are oftentimes the clearest things in our minds when we’re making these decisions.
If I could go back to 2007, I would have advised us to explore our motives, our desires, and the impact our decision was going to have on other people; and I would have suggested starting with the inquiry below. Who knows? We might have figured out sooner that it was a dumb idea to consider leaving. But anyway, just because I didn’t think through it doesn’t mean you can’t; so if you’re contemplating leaving your church, here are some questions to consider:
1. Are there a significant number of people at your church who actively love and care about you? If the answer to that is yes, please understand how rare that is. Millions of Christians sign up for memberships at churches and feel utterly disconnected from the other members – for years. If there’s an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality at your church, don’t assume you’re easily going to find that somewhere else.
2. Are you staying in an otherwise unhealthy situation because you feel guilty about leaving your pastor in a lurch? Although there’s nothing wrong with thinking about how your decision will impact your pastor; you don’t want to be primarily motivated by the fact that you’ve taken personal responsibility for his feelings.
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