Thinking of Leaving Church?

The discussion concerning when to leave a church is an interesting one. Typically when asked by people on how to determine criteria for picking a church (which also means leaving another one)  I generally give two basic criteria. The first is that the church needs to be a church that correctly handles God’s Word, meaning they preach and teach the Gospel as presented in Scripture. They need to be practitioners of the Gospel and then propagators of the Gospel. Get the emphasis – Gospel, Gospel, Gospel!!! The second is the criteria of compulsion – has God given you compulsion that this is a church you MUST do ministry through?

Do you need an example of what these two criteria look like? Consider John 6:67-69. After Jesus gives the hard teaching of John 6 many of his followers left him. They didn’t like what he had to say.

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Peter’s response is a tell all. He turns our criteria around.  When he says “Lord, to whom shall we go?” He isn’t saying he wouldn’t like to go. It wasn’t all fun and games. It wasn’t what he thought he had signed up to do.  No doubt the other disciples felt the same. They were confused about how the Savior’s role would be played out. They were unsure of when and how the kingdom would be consummated. But he was under compulsion. His words reveal what everyone who is thinking of leaving a church needs to hear.  “Yes I would like to go. This isn’t fun, but God hasn’t released me.” would be a good way to put this in loose English for the church scenario.  Second he gives a brief, but potent description of the essence of the Gospel. It is a confession that creates the foundation for the compulsion. If you church confesses THE words of eternal life, that Jesus is God and Savior and you are asking me when you know its in God’s will for you to leave then I would say you probably already have your answer. Compulsion rarely needs clarification. Stay until compulsion sends you on your way. Don’t leave because the compulsion has become murky by peripheral issues.

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One Comment to “Thinking of Leaving Church?”

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