I read an article the other day about bad reasons to leave your church (sited below).
It was written by a pastor who- given the tone of the piece- was sick of the excuses people had given for leaving his church, and he makes some very good points about how people ‘cop out’ and don’t want to be responsible for their part in the church.
However, I take issue with a few of his points, because he writes them off as invalid, and goes so far as to ridicule them when they are important points.
I’d apologize for antagonizing, but where the tone of his article was antagonistic too, I’m trusting that Pastor Loy can take what he dishes.
So if you’ll give me some grace, I’d like to explain further upon a few of the points Pastor Loy made:
1. “I’m not being fed.”
Pastor Loy calls this one a blatant cop out. He knows that a pastors job is to steward the scriptures and care for the spiritual needs of the church, but admits it’s difficult to do this all the time between juggling the administrative responsibility as well as the spiritual calling, not to mention personal life.
His solution to not being fed through the church is to seek spiritual “meat” through other venues (podcasts, online devotionals, reading the bible for yourself, etc.) He further thinks that the main reason to go to church is to contribute, “not just consume.”
To start, I’d like to say that Loy is right; there are a lot of options to get the spiritual ‘upload’ you need. The duties of a church leader are intensive and- as any human- it is impossible to be in the spirit all the time.
But quite frankly, why the hell would I join your church if I wasn’t fed there?
If I get no spiritual input in your service, I have no reason to stay. If Yaweh does not speak through your message, it’s meaningless. And short of a call from Him to do so, I am not going to waste my contributions on your church if I do not get the input I need in order to live in Yaweh.
If I am not fed by my Father in your church, I will be depressed and become bitter, and I know you don’t wish that on me as your sister in Christ.
There ARE many options to get fed, but that does not lessen YOUR responsibility. Do you deserve grace, forgiveness and forbearance from me? Completely, brother. But degrading my need for fulfillment and casting blame is as big a cop out as me running away because you’re going through a rough time and can’t feel him enough to share.
2. “It’s getting too big.”
Pastor Loy does understand that as a church grows, the intimacy changes, but he seems to think losing intimacy completely is a necessary outcome. He says that “remaining small is a sad and unbiblical goal” and:
“If you have a problem with big churches, you really wouldn’t have liked the first church and you definitely won’t like heaven.To be frank, if you have a problem with the inevitable growth that happens when lives are changed by the gospel, you have some serious repenting to do.”
To be frank back at you, I’m curious where your view of the ‘first church’ comes from. I assume you’re referring to the apostolic movement after the Pentecost, what most Christians count as the “first church”?
Well bro, THAT church started in homes. It was lived out and congregated in a domestic and INTIMATE setting. Even as it grew and more people congregated there was still intimacy. it was part of the CHURCH culture.
When the apostles came into town to visit the different churches, they stayed WITH the people. And it wasn’t just because the hotels were crap; people WANTED that intimacy.
In the letters of the new testament, there is an intimacy in how the writers talk. Paul was writing to people he knew personally, people he had shepherded and talked to and built relationships with.
Even before the apostles, Jesus made personal relationships with the people who followed him. Do you really think that those twelve in the upper room were the only ones who got his time and attention? There were THOUSANDS of people following him, and I bet most of them felt an intimacy in his presence, despite the large mass of people.
You are correct: We are not called to be small and secluded. But the answer isn’t a blasé corporate feel where everyone needs a nametag in order to know who the hell you are, let alone why you’re there. It IS possible to grow the body of Christ and still remain connected. Intimacy does not mean small, It means personal. Just as growth does not mean separation, growth means improvement.
How can you expect improvement in your church without intimacy, without getting personal?
The last three “bad” reasons for leaving a church are pretty straightforward, and I don’t disagree over much. You are never going to agree completely with what someone says, so to expect such is a false pretense.
“My Needs aren’t being met” falls in the same category and not being fed, so I won’t beat the dead horse.
And as to the last, Pastor Loy is right: Conflict is anywhere you have people who are breathing. It happens.
The simple fact is that a church is just a community. It’s a group of people who are supposed to be working toward the common good, and EVERYONE is responsible for it.
The solution isn’t to just suck it up and deal with it, give up on your own needs. That road leads to broken hearts and miserable fellowship.
The solution is to care about the people of Yaweh, your brothers and sisters, more than everything else, and to hold their needs equal to your own. You have to remember that this whole blessed thing is a relationship, between you and the Father as well as you and your ‘neighbor.’
Give and take, folks. It takes grace on both sides.