Let’s face it. Too many people are moving around from church to church too often, and usually for the wrong reasons.
What are some of those wrong reasons? Here’s ten I can think of:
1. There’s a person in that church I don’t like. We just don’t get along.
2. The pastor is not my idea of a good shepherd. Sermons way too long. Never visits me.
3. The music is just not my style. Why can’t we sing the old songs?
4. They really didn’t need to buy that new carpet. So many needs in the world and we’re investing in “stuff”.
5. The youth are taking over. Us old guys have to sit and watch.
6. My Sunday School teacher goes off into some false things now and then.
7. They invite speakers that aren’t fully in line with our vision.
8. Always talking about money!
9. My best friends left for another church.
10. Too many people that don’t look like me, dress like me, eat like me.
Oh, there are more, but you know what I’m talking about. Tea-tasters, who want the church to be perfect in every way, to meet their every need and desire. These folks need to take a good look at Revelation 2 and 3, and see the kinds of things going on in the first century churches. And not once were people told to get out of those churches. Only to hang on. Be faithful. Repent if necessary.
Moving out of a church body is painful to the church and destructive to the one who moves. Take it from one who knows. Sadly, I have been among those who jump from place to place. I write these words to warn my brothers that it is not a good practice.
Yes, I believe there are valid reasons for leaving.
Now, the items above, and more like them, are in many cases – but not all – things that should be discussed by an elder board. Is there a trouble-maker in the church. Let’s deal with it. Are the youth or the women not in their proper places? Let’s talk about it. Is money too big of an issue. Time to meet with someone. But not time to leave.
What about the valid reasons? When is it appropriate and even necessary to run, and run fast, from a congregation?
1. When the church is not really a church. That is, if this is a congregation of people who cannot trace their ancestry back to Jesus and the apostles, get out. Obviously, the cults and Rome are examples here.
2. When the church has become so identified with the world and the present culture that it qualifies for separation under the Corinthian mandate, “Come out from among them and be separate.” We are not to have any fellowship with the world. There are worldly Christians in many churches, true. And there are different stages of worldliness, also true. But eventually a church can become so culturally relevant that it is spiritually irrelelvant, and causes more damage than good. I believe it is time to get out when a discerning Christian sees this.
The church is to be holy, a place of refuge from an evil world. When the church becomes the world, it technically is not the church any more. When the church is more entertaining than edifying, flee for your life.
3. When the Bible ceases to be the authority and doctrine is no longer taught. When experience and feel-good meetings replace clear teaching sessions, it is probably time to move on. Here again there are stages of progression. Wise believers will see it happening, talk to leaders about it, pray. But when this trend continues, the church becomes so wild in its emotional extravagance that it is hopelessly on its way to the evil place. You would not want to invite a visitor here. And any place you cannot invite a visitor is probably not a place you should frequent either.
This list also is not exhaustive. But I believe the point is made. Both points, in fact:
1. Too many people are moving around. Those who seem to find a problem everywhere they move, probably are the problem themselves…
2. Too many Christians have been sucked into fellowships that are apostate, and of this world, not of Christ. They need to take a good look, then take a deep breath, then take a one hundred yard dash out the door to a safer place.