by: Rev. Brian M. Abshire, Ph.D. ©
We have all been there; having to https://besthookupwebsites.org/escort/gresham make the tough decision whether to stick it out in a church that is “less than satisfactory” (to put it mildly) to leave and try to find something “better.” What that “better” may be is sometimes hard to determine, and more subjective than we like to admit; but the dilemma is genuine; what justifies leaving a church?
OK, clearly, if the church is teaching “heresy” (i.e., really, REALLY bad doctrine), then no one would doubt the rightness of removing one’s self and one’s family from the “ministry” of that church. But in the circles I run in, there seems to be a widespread assumption, never questioned, that heresy is the ONLY reason for ever leaving a church. Being the sort that finds other people’s assumptions sometimes a little hard to swallow, this one immediately caught in my throat; were such people serious? Where in Scripture does one get the understanding that membership in the local church is equivalent to marriage; i.e., “till death do us part?”
Sure, we all recognize the problem of “Church Hoppers” who like butterflies in the spring, flit from fellowship to fellowship never settling down anywhere. We all also realize that many people probably have a deep rooted problem with ANY authority; or at least are so “thin-skinned” that whenever they are not treated JUST the way they DEMAND to be treated, they get all “huffy” and “outraged” and start visiting with the folks down the street. And yes, in six months or so, someone THERE will offend them and they will again leave in a “huff” and continue their search for the mythical “perfect” church. And of course, there are many instances where people leave a church because neither they, nor anyone else around them, understand or apply Biblical principles of conflict resolution. Problems arise, and are not dealt with properly-eventually even the most longsuffering and patient of Christians come to a point where they say, “enough is enough” and walk away.
But we are not talking about those kinds of people here; instead we are talking about you, Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe Christian. You are not perfect, you have sins you struggle with, you do not always fulfill your duties towards your spouse, and your kids are no one’s idea of “ideal;” but you love the Lord, want to serve Him, and want to worship with others who share your basic beliefs and values. You want to belong to a covenant community of men and women who can minister to you, and to whom you can minister in return. You want a place where your kids can meet other kids and form friendships without the fear they are going to come home one day with purple hair and pierced body parts because that’s the latest craze sweeping the “youth group.” You want a reasonable pastor who knows your name, and occasionally takes an interest in your life and problems, not to mention, preaches something worth getting up for on Sunday mornings.
And for whatever reason, you have not found that yet. You are attending a church which is just not “scratching where you itch” yet you feel guilty about leaving. You certainly do not want to be classified with those people we talked about earlier and yet, should you stay, or can you leave? What does God think about all this anyway?
When Is It Time To Leave A Church?
Well to answer that question, we have to do a little background work. And the first thing we have to do is admit up front, that there is absolutely NOTHING in the Bible that talks about belonging to one particular church over another! Wow, bet that one shocked you, didn’t it? But it is true; the whole concept of individual church membership is largely a problem created by the unique cultural situation that faced our ancestors.