Leaving Churches (Pt. 2, For Those Thinking of Leaving)

This is the second of three blog posts by Scott Hodge, lead pastor of The Orchard in Aurora, Illinois, on the subject of people leaving the church. Tomorrow he will post the third installment, directed at people arriving at a new church. I'll repost that one sometime tomorrow, but visit Scott's blog, anyway. Here it is:
To those thinking of leaving the OLD church.

Offense is never the right reason to leave a church. Leaving a church with offense in your heart is dangerous to your soul. Work it out. That’s the tough side of community that we don’t talk nearly enough about. Often times, it’s through the working out of hurt, pain, or offense that we become more closely connected in our communities. It grows and matures us.

Don’t just disappear. People do this all the time. POOF! They’re gone! (And often times they get offended when the church they left doesn’t desperately chase after them when they’re gone.) Look, if God is behind your decision, then trust that He will give you the courage and strength to have the (yes, somewhat uncomfortable) conversations needed to do it well. Finish your commitments. Connect with your leader through the process. Ask them to pray with you about what you’re feeling. Give God an opportunity to make it seem right with them too.

Don’t look for reasons to leave. If you are….trust me, you’ll find plenty of them! If God is calling you to leave, you don’t have to wait until you find a tangible reason to do so. Sitting around waiting for a “reason” can turn you into a nasty, judgmental, and negative person. It’ll hurt your soul and probably others too. In fact, if you’re walking around looking for reasons to leave, then I’d suggest looking at the inwardly condition of your heart and soul.

Don’t be negative. I hate hearing people talk negatively about the church or pastor they just left. Chances are, those same people will be standing in front of my pastor friend down the street saying the same thing about me in a matter of months. If you feel like you need to talk negatively about the pastor or church you’re leaving, chances are……you are the one who needs to change first.

Show Gratitude. Take time to say ‘thank you’ to the pastor and leadership of the church you’re leaving. If you stayed too long and are offended, that’s your fault – not theirs. When someone takes the time to send me an email or letter saying ‘thank you’ for pouring into their lives as they transition to a different church, that’s huge! I have a ton of respect for people who do that.

HOW you do things is just as important (if not even more important) as WHAT you do.

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