Let’s face it, there are some good and necessary reasons to leave a church. If the church is preaching heresy (Gal. 1:7-9) or condoning worldliness (1 Cor. 5:9-11) — it might be time to part fellowship. However, before packing your bags and moving on, you might want to consider some of the really bad reasons people choose to leave their church. Don’t follow their example.
1. Job Opportunity: More Money
One of the most consistent reasons people give for leaving their church is based on a job transfer. When asked about their decision, the people often cite a job promotion that will offer their family more money as the main driving force. What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. I want the church to know that I was offered a better position in another city a couple of hours away that pays more money. Therefore, I believe it to be God’s will.” How would this make you feel as a member of the church? Is that a sufficient reason for your pastor to leave? Would you be disappointed in him as a spiritual leader? Would you find yourself making statements such as, “I thought being a pastor was a calling and not a job?”
2. Relationship Conflicts
Another popular reason people leave their church is based on unresolved relationship conflicts. It’s one thing for children to experience such conflicts, but when parents and grandparents get caught up in a drama cloud of conflict, it’s rather discouraging. In such cases, we must remember that when we leave a church based on relationship conflicts — we’re teaching our children to do the same thing when they become an adult.
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. I have an unresolved relationship problem with someone in the church, and I believe it would be best for me to go elsewhere to pastor.” Is that a sufficient reason for a pastor to leave the church?
3. Doctrinal Differences (non-essentials)
There are reasons to leave a church based on doctrine, but not all doctrinal reasons are worthy of packing your bags. Sometimes members hear a non-heretical doctrine taught that they have never considered from the Scriptures, and their initial reaction is to become angry and to leave the church. However, we must first evaluate the doctrine and ask ourselves – is it worthy of parting fellowship? Is this heresy? Is this doctrine a perversion of the church or the faith? Albert Mohler has a good assessment that he has titled, “A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity.” This is worth your attention if you’re considering leaving your church based on doctrinal differences.
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. I have come to realize that some people in this church disagree with me on a specific doctrine, and I believe it would be best for me to go elsewhere to pastor.” Would you consider this an appropriate reason for leaving the church?
4. Pursuing a Specific Type of Music
One of the most controversial and unhealthy reasons that people leave their church (or choose their church) is based on music style. Many people are looking for the ultra traditional sound while others are looking for the ultra relevant style. Could music be a reason to leave your church? Sure, especially if it’s an unhealthy music style filled with carnal lyrics and unbiblical doctrines. But, let’s face it, that’s not the typical reason for people choosing to leave based on the music of the church.
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. I have a certain style of music that I enjoy and it’s apparent that this church will never move in that direction. Therefore, I believe it would be best for me to go elsewhere to pastor.” Is that an appropriate cause for a pastor to leave the church?
5. More to Offer my Children
Sometimes people leave their church based on perceived needs for their children. It could be that other churches in the area seem to be more exciting or that their children need a larger peer group to associate with. That’s a really bad reason to leave a church. In fact, it will teach your children to repeat this decision in the future when they feel that another church has something more to offer (remember, we live in a church marketing culture).
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. I have young children and feel that another church a few miles across town would be better suited to care for their needs.” Would you lose all respect for your pastor for making a decision to leave based on his children’s perceived needs?
6. Closer Church to my Family
The desire to be closer to parents, grandparents, or grandchildren is an understandable concern. However, is it best to pack your bags and move just to be closer in proximity to your children or your extended family? Probably not. In fact, such decisions are often made without any knowledge of a healthy church in the new location. It’s not wise to leave a church just to be closer to your family if this means moving across the state or merely transferring church membership while living in the same place. We should have a higher view of church membership.
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. My family is all located a few hours away, and I believe it would be best for me to go elsewhere to pastor in order to be closer to them.” Is that a sufficient reason for a pastor to leave the church?
7. Desire More People in my Demographic
It’s true that our closest relationships should be within our local church. What happens if you feel that you don’t have as many homeschool families in your church, and as a dedicated homeschool family you feel lonely? Should you leave? What happens if you’re a newly married couple and you don’t have as many newly married couples in your church, should you leave? What happens if you’re skin color is the minority in the church? Should you leave?
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. My wife and I have a heart for adoption and since this church doesn’t have a heart for adoption, we believe it would be best for us to find another church that’s closer to where we are on this issue.” Is that a sufficient reason for a pastor to leave the church?
8. Not my Preferred Church Size (too small or too big)
One of the more popular reasons for people leaving their church is based on the desire to find a more preferred church size. In their mind, a certain church size is best. They don’t want one too small, so they make their church smaller by leaving to find another one that’s bigger. Others don’t want to be involved as a member in a large church, so they search for one that’s a bit smaller. In doing so, they make their new church bigger in the process of joining and perhaps upset others who were quite happy with how small their church was last week.
What if your pastor stood in the pulpit next week and said, “I’m resigning from my position as pastor today. I have been offered a position as a pastor of a church that’s much larger than this one. Therefore, I believe it to be the Lord’s will for my life and the life of this church.” Is that a sufficient reason for a pastor to leave the church?
As you can see, there are some really poor reasons for leaving a church. But, do members hold their pastors to a different level of expectation when it comes to church membership? It’s quite evident that if pastors decided to leave their churches for the same reasons the membership often does, it would be catastrophic. Shouldn’t this cause us to pause and reconsider our reasons for leaving our local church? It would be bad enough if your pastor made an announcement about his resignation based on a really poor reason for leaving your church, but even worse would be for him to merely disappear without any announcement at all.