How to Leave a Church Well

An excerpt from the Epilogue to the church membership book I wrote called, Each Part Working Properly.

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We’ve just spent three weeks talking about what it means to join a church generally and specifically to join our church. We’ve talked about what we believe about all sorts of theological doctrines, from the Gospel, to the EFCA statement of faith, and we even touched on premillennialism, Reformed theology and complementarianism. We’ve talked about where our denomination has been, how our church was planted, and how, in the future, we’d also like to plant churches. We’ve talked about the importance of being practically connected to God’s body, the local church, and we have talked about the story God has given you to share. As I said at the start, this was our attempt to love you well. You need to know what you are getting into when you join a church. It’s not a small decision.

But we’re not done yet; there is one more thing to cover.

We live in transient times. People can so quickly change cell phone numbers, email addresses, and even houses, jobs, and careers. In today’s culture, there are simply not many things that have permanence, even from a human perspective, and this includes loyalty to a local church.

All of this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does create the need for a conversation about how to leave a church well. In this short epilogue, our purpose is not to delve into all the potential reasons for leaving a church—the good, the bad, and the ugly. But given the fact that, unless you and I die while at Community, at some point in our lives we will all move on to another church for one reason or another.

What we ask is this: when the time does arrive, that you make the necessary effort to leave Community well. What “well” looks like will vary from situation to situation. Perhaps it involves a simple phone call to the church office to let us know. Or perhaps it involves a longer conversation with members of the pastoral staff.

Because we really do care about you, we don’t simply want you to fade away, or worse yet, to leave with feelings of resentment and hurt, or unresolved conflict. Leaving a church poorly is not good for anybody—the person, the particular church from which you leave, and even the next church that you join. In fact, if you didn’t leave well from your previous church, it’s not too late. God wants you to do so, because when we talk about the church, we’re talking about Jesus’s bride.

And as God loves you, we love you. So, if you should decide to become connected to our fellowship, great. But please love us enough in return to leave well, if and when the time comes.

[Photo by William Warby / CC BY