I was reading this article on the reasons people leave, titled 5 Rather Startling Reasons People Leave Your Church, and while it is by no means the worst offender, it reminded me of an interesting characteristic of church growth/health books and articles.
The problem is this: We, as leaders in the church, tend to assume that the leadership (of which we’re a part) is right, and the departing members are wrong.
I think that’s frequently not the case. I’ve discussed before my reasons for changing denominations. I grew up Seventh-day Adventist and am now a member of a United Methodist congregation. When I last changed church membership, I assumed it would not be to another United Methodist congregation. The accuracy of my assumption did not quite make it into “true” on the meter.
I actually agree with much of what this article says. Don’t get discouraged because someone leaves. People don’t always leave because you’re doing something wrong.
The inverse of the problem is this: We, as leaders in the church, tend in our darker moments to assume that the leadership (of which we’re a part) must be wrong because members are departing.
Neither of the two assumptions is correct.
So let me look at it from the point of view of the member. What is a good reason to leave your church?
Here, I think, there is a clear, but difficult answer. Ask yourself this: Am I leaving this church to answer a call of God to be somewhere else, or am I leaving it because of my own complaints?
I consider this a good question even if you’re complaining about inappropriate or just plain wrong teachings or policies in the church you’re leaving. The question is always: Where does God want me to be?
That question doesn’t have to be answered by a voice from heaven. It’s an application of wisdom. Where are you best able to serve God? Is God perhaps calling you to be a voice for reformation where you are? Is God looking for you to be a witness elsewhere? Are you needing to learn from someone?
I wouldn’t get too worried about it as long as you’re searching for the best way to serve. If you are looking for a way to get your own way, you’re going to be dissatisfied wherever you go.
Always be on the lookout for where God wants you. Follow that. It may be hard, but it will also be satisfying.
(Featured image credit: Openclipart.org.)