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GUEST POST from Jason Helopoulos

"What right do you ever have to leave a church?" I can remember that question being asked by my ecclesiology professor in seminary. It is a good question and one that would benefit us all to wrestle with. As Kevin has recently pointed out on this blog, there is biblical warrant and there are practical reasons for entering into covenant through local church membership. Having entered into that covenant our breaking of it should never be done lightly. Clearly, there are reasons to leave a local church. But what are they? I have been thinking about this for the past ten years and this is my attempt at answering the question:

Good Reasons for Moving On--The Four P's

1. Providential moving--If my job, family, or life has moved me from Dallas to Austin then I should probably find a local church in Austin, let alone if I moved from Michigan to North Carolina. It is right and good to belong to a local church and covenant with brothers and sisters in my own "backyard."

2. Planting another church--It may be that I haven't left my home town, but the church I belong to has decided to send me out with others to plant another church in the area. Notice though, that I am being sent out by my church, not leaving with a group of people because I am disgruntled or think it is a good idea.

3. Purity has been lost-- It may take different forms, but primarily this occurs when the Word is no longer proclaimed. It could be that heresy is being taught, the Bible is never read or preached, or a much more prominent manifestation these days is that the Word is no longer seen as sufficient; it is used as a seasoning for the message of the week rather than the diet by which the congregation is fed and nourished upon. However, we must be careful here; patience should always be exercised and I must always test my own heart to see if I am "making a mountain out of a molehill."

4. Peace of the church is in jeopardy due to my presence-- This "reason" is hard to suggest for fear of it being abused, as it is by far the most subjective "reason." However, there are cases where an individual/family can personally become a hindrance to the ministry of the local church and it is best for that person/family to move-on. If this is the reason I am contemplating leaving the church, then I must first test myself and discern whether it is because of sin on my own part. If that is the case then I must be quick to repent rather than move-on. This "reason" should always be approached with trepidation,

Possible Reasons for Moving On – The Three S's

1. Spouse--An unbelieving or non-church attending spouse is not willing to attend this church, but will attend another with you.

2. Special Needs--Every family has special needs, so this one needs to be handled with care. A possible example may be that my family has a disabled child and another faithful church in the area has a wonderful ministry to disabled people which can help us.

3. Special Gifts--Another faithful church in the area may have asked for you to use your special gifts in their midst for the building up of the body (i.e. organist). Never decide this one on your own. If it is a possible reason, then it is too easy to think too highly of oneself and go running to the greener pastures. This is always something that should be taken to the leadership of your current church and wrestled through.

Reasons Often Used Which are Insufficient

1. Children's Ministry--The Children's ministry at another church is better. This cannot be a reason for changing churches. It is rather an opportunity for you to get involved in the children's ministry of your church.

2. Buzz--Many people will flow to whatever church in town has the current "buzz." The argument will be that the Spirit is at work there and we want to be part of it. But buzzes come and go. And so do the people that follow them.

3. Youth Group--The unhappiness of our teenage children in the current Youth Group, because of activities, other youth, etc. is not a reason for leaving the church we have covenanted with. I know this one will be controversial. Believe me, I have empathy as a parent and a former Youth Pastor. But our children are not the spiritual directors of our home. They should not be choosing the church we attend based upon their social status and network.

4. Church has changed--Churches always change. Unless the changes are unbiblical than we don't have a reason to move on. We don't move on when our wife or husband changes! We are we so quick to do so with the church we have covenanted with.

5. New Pastor--A new pastor is not a sufficient reason to change churches. It doesn't matter how stiff, impersonal, unfunny, etc. he is. The list is endless. It doesn't even matter if he is not the most interesting preacher. He is the man God called to this church for this time. And this is your church. Again, unless he is unbiblical why move on? You haven't covenanted with a man, but with this body.

6. I'm Not Being Ministered to--I tell every one of our new member classes, "If we all walked into church each week and had a list of people we were going to try and 'touch,' encourage, or minister to, do you know how dynamic this church would be? Just on Sunday mornings, let alone if we did it during the week. If we each were concerned about the other person and walked in each Sunday with that in the forefront of our mind instead of, "Why didn't he talk to me?," "Why doesn't anyone care about me?," "Why isn't anyone ministering to me?" Start ministering to others and you will find that you are being ministered to.

7. Music--Not a reason--whether it is slow, fast, traditional, contemporary, Psalms, hymns, or gospel choruses. Stop using it as an excuse!

8. There are others...we haven't even mentioned the service is too early, the coffee is terrible, the pastor doesn't know how to shuck corn (Yep...those are all true ones I have heard).

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144 thoughts on “Jason Helopoulos on Good Reasons for Moving On”

  1. Rolf Storz says:

    One good reason for leaving a church would be if the pastor departed from the fundamentals of the faith (divine inspiration of the Scriptures, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, salvation by faith through grace.) That would immediately cause my departure, after having confronted the pastor on the issue and consulted with the other spiritual leaders of the church.

  2. Mary Smith says:

    Another reason to leave a church is if the church preaches ministry but doesn’t support the ministries. It becomes difficult for the individual to support a ministry themselves. God has placed the church here for just a time as this. We are to be God’s hands and feet to reach outside the church. We are not to stay souly focused on the church body. Others parish when the church stays inside their 4 walls. It’s sad to be part of a church that is souly focused on what they can do for their pastor, instead of what they can do for the lost in their community.

  3. Mary Smith says:

    One thing we tend to forget in all this is that “we” are the church. We’re the only bible someone may ever read. Use me dear God!!

  4. wissli says:

    Jason: You did not even touch on so many things in this article. One of which is abusive leadership. When people go behind your back, accuse you to the pastor,leadership puts you on trial without giving you a chance to defend yourself and then sentences you. In addition to this you are slandered in front of a group of people. Even though you try to meet with leadership to resolve issues, there is never an apology of admittance of wrong doing on the part of the leadership. Leadership takes money raised for a certain cause and even though that money is designated for that cause and promised before the congregation to be donated to that cause,the promise is never followed through with and the money goes elsewhere. What then?? Maybe you are assuming that all pastors who preach the Word and have their morals in order are otherwise above board and full of integrity. Not so.

  5. cheryl Leigh says:

    I didn’t see ‘church split’ as a reason, but it is valid. Also missing are ‘unhealthy control’ over members or leaders. When a church becomes too institutionalized, the reasons for leaving can be the same as for a career change. Many churches are run on the same construct as a business (see “Unchurched Harry and Mary’, by Lee Strobel in how he asserts they view a church), or a nation-wide model construct (Willow Creek) that may not fit every community of believers. To over-spiritualize the issue is not to do it justice. We do not belong to cults, but to the church of ‘our choice’, and as adults, we are capable of making such choices. The point is to be in church, and to offer service to the body of Christ in whatever capacity we can.

  6. Patricia says:

    I would be interested in see Biblical citations in this article to back up the principles for leaving and not leaving a church. I never noticed the Bible was so specific about regulations of attending a certain church.
    I don’t think leaving a church should ever be taken lightly or done hastily, and there are bad reasons for leaving a church, like sin, etc. There are also instructions in the Bible about being in fellowship and some basic do’s and don’ts of how churches should be run. But I never saw anything so specific as this article mentions.
    This article seems to really box things in, and over simplify things, and in reality things are not always that simple. It also seems to put a little bit of a trip on people who have decided to leave a church for a “bad” reason, and some of those reasons on the “bad” reasons list are not really “bad” reasons all the time. There is not very much allowance for a leading of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t mean someone who is wishy washy using that as an excuse, but a true, sincere leading where a person has thoroughly sought God’s will and prayed over.

  7. Noralee Jane Jones says:

    Some of these responses have obvious biblical support even though the contributors don’t cite chapter and verse. For us, it was a 5 year journey of many, many Scriptures and teaching by the Spirit that, along with clear direction, clarified the reasons, the way and the time we were to depart. Being on staff, it was as serious to us as perhaps a divorce might have to be for a Christian married to a repeated adulterer/ess – not taken lightly. How many times to forgive when no confession, admission, or desire for forgiveness was ever offered? When no repentance was ever evidenced? When an entire leadership team was so codependent to alcoholism of a senior pastor that none, including those on the board, had courage to expose it or require a stepping down, counseling, or a recovery program, for fear of losing their own positions? In the name of grace, this is the dysfunction that continues there to this day…as many good and fine followers of Jesus have reluctantly moved on. So yes, lots of biblical support backed up our particular decision, as well as the “living”, daily guidance of the Holy Spirit, but to put it all here would require a book.

    I think, for most sincere Jesus followers, leaving a church they loved has always been not flippant, but done in a thoughtful, biblical, prayerful manner. We will all stand before God for our decisions and hearing and following HIM will be the factor that He will be preciding. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will lead us, and guide us into all truth, and that we will need no man to teach us because He Himself will be our teacher. And so long as what He Himself is teaching us does not conflict with the written Word, we are safe and can be secure without fear. Perfect Love, who is Jesus, casts out fear. Religion comes with fear, and it casts out perfect love. We need not fear when the Spirit and the Word agree, for we have the mind of Christ….it comes with the New Creation that is ours by salvation’s gift.

  8. Danielle says:

    Very helpful thank u for this!

  9. Moving on says:

    So… What about a case where the youth group, having always been under questionable leadership, disintegrates, and yet no one in the leadership allows its renewal? What about a case where a family tries for years to help in areas where there is need, and is rebuked for even offering to help? What about when a church is clogged by a few influential, biased, self-important family members who have a stranglehold on the whole thing? Sometimes all the “bad” reasons do add up, and try as you might, there is no getting around them. We are leaving our church of ten years because it is absolutely the right thing to do for the future of our children. And they ARE important enough. Your list of bad reasons has no idea of what it was like in our former church. No matter what is contained in that list, the fact of the matter is simple really: if you are spending the time you set aside to worship the Lord stuck in a pool of hurt because of the church around you, it is no good. Move on.

  10. Nora Lee Jones says:

    To “Moving On”….we regret, most of all, NOT leaving when this very thing was happening to and in the youth group at our church of 13 years, which would have been at the two year mark where we had wound up leading it for most of that time because it floundered so quickly after we started attendance. Then, since we were only “fill ins” and had not been to seminary (but we are college educated), it was handed off to someone who had, who was unqualified in personality and spiritual growth – who took it back to that place of floundering. Our kids attended another nearby youth group for better Bible teaching for a couple years, but remained influenced by the not-so-good one. We LOVED what we were receiving as adults and had been so hungry for more of God, strong relationships for prayer groups, etc., that we put our needs ahead of our kids. I won’t tell you what that cost us, but it is still costing us for three of our five children….it left them weakened. Hindsight is, well. We did leave eventually, after serving 7 years on the leadership team, each of us leading a major area of ministry in the church and seeing good progress in each, for the reasons mentioned in my earlier comments….but I can say with confidence, for our children’s sake, we should have left much much earlier. They ARE that important.

  11. Suzie says:

    This article is disturbing. The author is assuming the ‘don’t leave’ reasons are shallow and self-serving. “Don’t leave because of the music….” When worship turns from God-focused to entertainment-focused, with every imitation of the world possible, RUN (if you choose). It’s presumptuous, even a bit arrogant, for him to think people are leaving a church they have LOVED and served for years just to get away from a song or two they don’t like. Really? You think that about people? That is really just ONE example of how out-of-touch your article represents you are in people who truly want to keep their worship pure, honoring, and holy before our Lord. So many acquaintances and friends have left a church we attended. NONE of them ‘just didn’t like the music’. These were very difficult decisions in what started as spiritual disturbances in being there, followed by prayer, followed by visiting a church where they connected again where they felt they were holy before the Lord.
    Thank the Lord that they did not go through years of thinking like this article, but rather took it to the Lord and let the Holy Spirit lead. Most I know have grown so much spiritually in their new churches.
    As far as covenant, covenants are not one-sided. Leadership cannot abuse their authority by doing and changing whatever they want without being sensitive to those who already there- and expect undying following. It’s a mutual covenant.

    TO AGNES (POST JULY 27, 2010) I am not as old as you (from the perspective you give), but I SAW and have held your generation in my heart as I watched our church transform and kick people like you out of the way. I just couldn’t watch anymore. What happened to people like you is awful. For anyone to question why families would leave and not be supportive of what is happening in some churches is beyond me.

    Take it before the Lord like we did.

  12. Johannes says:

    “Music—Not a reason”

    Ah, so music is not important to a church’s service? God doesn’t deserve to be served musically as well?

  13. JLG says:

    You’re missing the mark on the youth group. As parents, one of your primary jobs is to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That means ensuring they have solid Biblical teaching,role models at church, and other youth whose parents are committed to the same. If the youth group is non existent or worse, is a youth group run by the kids who care more about the world than the church, your children will either assimilate with them and become like them or leave the church as soon as they get the chance.
    On the other hand a church that invests in its youth by seeing there is a good youth pastor or worker in its employ and that the youth are being taught the Bible will attract other families who want this for their children and therefore build a stronger choice. Our youth are the Christians of tomorrow. The youth group is a top priority.

  14. Gramma Tink says:

    Watching an entire team and literally hundreds of sheep and lambs be spiritually abused for 13 years before we did anything is our biggest regret. The good news is the team finally mustered courage to confront the abuse and the alcoholism behind it. For doing so, they were all labeled as disgruntled and unforgiving….but there had been no repentance nor even admission to the overwheming number of witnesses and evidence of both abuses. The entire team stepped down after a year of agonizing meetings and attempts to find truth and peace in love. The yes men stayed, and regional leadership backed down after also receiving all the needed testimony for dismissal. Politics won, and the leadership team folk were not good at politics, only at courage, love and prayer. They are my heroes in the faith, gone on to serve faithfully in other congregations, forgiving anyway but knowing when to walk away. You gotta “know when to fold ‘em”….

  15. Not a bad article.

    “7. Music—Not a reason—whether it is slow, fast, traditional, contemporary, Psalms, hymns, or gospel choruses. Stop using it as an excuse!”

    When music takes up sometimes half of the service, it IS a reason regardless of your contention. When the lyrics contain occult references or are non-biblical or are endlessly repetitive, this is not an “excuse.”

    Do you have any scripture to back up this contention? Or is it just one of “your ideas?”

    But by and large, not a bad article.

  16. Mark A Perkins says:

    I am leaving my church because I no longer believe what I used to believe. Through much study of the bible and church history I have changed fundamentally, that is my doctrine. I get to preach and don’t want to cause division. I love my pastor, a kind integress individual. It is very hard for me to do this.

  17. Russ says:

    Wow! I’m sadly amazed at the critical spirit of so many responders to this article. Seems like most are hurt, offended people who haven’t scriptural handled the offense and are therefore airing them public ally to gain support to condone their decision. If your heart is right before God then you would not be mud slinging. This article is not meant to be a complete “how-to” manual on church leaving, just some simple guidelines that can be helpful to some. No one can blame any church or minister for their personal spiritual condition. We should be able to serve God fully even from prison if need be. Can’t blame the youth leaders for our kids apostasy either. That’s our responsibility as parents, not the churches responsibility. Stop blaming and playing the victim and move on in love. Good article. Thank you.

  18. A. Amos Love says:


    You say…
    “I’m sadly amazed at the critical spirit of so many responders to this article.”

    Was wondering…
    Why are you being “critical” of those you say have a “critical spirit?” ;-)

    Could it be you that has the “critical spirit?”
    Do you say one thing and do another?
    Mat 23:3 …do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    You also say…
    “Seems like most are hurt, offended people who haven’t scriptural handled the offense…”

    Was wondering…
    How do you know “most” are hurt, offended? Have you asked them?

    How do you know these many responders did NOT try to handle the offense Scripturally?
    Did you ask them?

    You also write…
    “If your heart is right before God then you would not be mud slinging.”

    Was wondering…
    Are you mud-slinging those you perceive as mudslingers? ;-)

    Could it be your heart that is NOT right with God?

  19. Gramma Tink says:

    Most who have written here appear to be very thoughtful, responsible followers of Jesus who have taken a great deal of time and prayer to make the decision whether or not to leave a church, and I have not read a single “invalid” reason. Jesus walked away from Pharisees wanting to stone Him or hurl Him over a cliff after confronting them. He confronted them because their ways hurt precious people, so of course people who are abused by inferior leadership get hurt….that’s a no brainer. Jesus reminded the Pharisees and Saducees that they held the seat of Moses – i.e., were appointed by God to lead the people of God – then called them names like snakes, hypocrites and liars – in public, in front of their followers! Since we see the Father in action whenever we see Jesus in action, we can know that this behavior was love, because God is love. Love confronts the religious spirit, the spirit of tradition and hypocrisy, and warns others against imitating their beliefs and behavior, just as Jesus did. If the Church would act with this same authority and love, which we have been given through Christ in us, we would have stronger leadership and healthier congregations in some of those churches. Humility and kindness are key to presenting truth that might be difficult to receive. But how and whether it is received, must fall into the hands of God. We will all stand before Him in accountability someday and God is able to make us stand. I trust God in my fellow believers, because no one has a bigger or smaller Holy Spirit than another; my experience is that most want to support leadership with their love and their lives in service, for as long as God would have them do so. I have suspected or known less than a handful of people who have left a church for a shallow reason, (though we have all probably known some who have left so that they could pursue or remain in some sin like spiritual pride, addiction or adultery).

  20. Tyrone says:

    Your answer for insufficient on “children’s ministry” is typical pastor speak. If sufficient children’s ministry is missing or lacking it does not mean we need to do work in it. If we are already working in our gifts in other parts of the church, and are already part of the “core” ( you know, the ten percent doing 90% of the work already) your preaching to the choir and that is the wrong answer. It’s not my job to create a children’s ministry because our church doesn’t have a sufficient one for mine. Especially if they have been neglect, or trying for years (5 or more) without any traction. No, one does not need to be burdened under false pretense that if the church doesn’t minister to your family it’s your job it make it happen, if that were true I would create my own church and not look for one, but then, by that time I wouldn’t need a children’s ministry they would be grown.

  21. Noah Martin says:

    I have a question. Is -opportunity- a legitimate reason? I’m currently in a church where I play bass, but the church is focused mainly on the elderly (which isn’t wrong), the church I want to go to is looking for a bass player and they are also very proactive in ministry, plus bible college I go to is affiliated with them. I don’t want to leave because of the style of music but because this church has nothing going on (I’m not talking about it being popular, I’m saying it’s not proactive).

  22. iain says:

    We tend to think of church hopping (moving from congregation to congregation in search of either the perfect church or the elements and programs that most appeal to us) as a modern phenomenon, but the sad fact is that it has always been a problem in the Christian community and is more a consequence of spiritual immaturity than any particular age. For instance, one sees hints of this in the preferences amongst the Corinthians for the preaching of one Apostle over the other (1 Cor. 1 & 3).

    In the quotation below, Edward Veal, a 17th century Puritan minister talks about Church hopping in his own time along with its detrimental effects and gives some excellent advice:

    “Reading the Scriptures and good books is not sufficient for those that have a capacity to hear. The preaching of the Word is the great ordinance appointed by God, for the instruction, edification, and conversion of those that are to be saved… As in other cases, so it is for the most part here: you are commonly more affected with what you hear men speak, than with what men write. Ministers may write or print their sermons, but not their emotions … You are most likely to be warmed by the Word when you hear it coming out of a hot heart…

    But, above all, be sure to be regular in your hearing. Take heed how you hear; and take heed what you hear; and from both these will follow, that you must take heed whom you hear too. Hear those that are most knowing, and best able to instruct you; those that are most sound, and least likely to mislead you. Do not choose to put your souls under the care of blind guides … Settle yourselves under the guidance of some faithful pastor, upon whose ministry you may ordinarily attend. This running to and fro, which is usual among us, is quite different from what Daniel speaks of, and, I am sure, it is not the way to increase knowledge (Dan. 12:4) … They that run from one minister to another, may soon run from one opinion to another, and from one error to another.

    I dare safely say, you will get more sound knowledge of the things of God by constant attendance upon the ministry of one of less abilities, than by rambling up and down to hear many, though of greater gifts … It is no wonder if men that run to and fro, be ‘tossed to and fro.’ They that are so light of hearing may easily be ‘carried about with every wind of doctrine’ (Eph. 4:14); the Word of Christ seldom dwells in such vagabond hearers.”

    – Edward Veal, Puritan Sermons, Vol. 2, p. 16

  23. Carol says:

    I want to leave my parish (not the church) for another and am unsure how to do it. Reading this article didn’t help. A parish should feel right, like home. My moving from one parish to another has a bit to do with the priest and the fact that he seems to be “walking through” mass, but it’s more about the parish itself. I’m not really sure how to explain it, but the parish I plan on moving to, if I ever figure out how, is more diverse and the message that is always put out there is so much more nonjudgemental. It just feels right. To basically imply that you shouldn’t leave even if you don’t feel like you truly belong to the parish is so wrong in my opinion. One should go where one is welcome; where one believes in the community actions that the parish puts forth; where one feels at home. I’m doing it, but I really haven’t figured out how. I think I have a few more weeks to figure this out though. There was a fire in our church so everyone was forced to either go to the “sister” church, which is really snobbish – which a church should NOT be – or to another church in the city. I went to another where I had gone on a number of occasions for a friend’s family’s mass, and have found that I really enjoy it. Even though the priest has a tendency to be verbose, he is a good speaker and his homilies always have a good point. I have never felt that he was muddling through because that was his job. I guess I’ll just write a letter stating that I enjoy the diversity or something; but should I ever see the priest and he asks, I won’t lie. This article needs more guidance; to stay at a parish because you don’t fall into one of these categories is not right. When you walk in the doors of your church, it should feel like home. Isn’t that what God is? Home?

  24. Forest (D&D Preacher) Ray says:

    It takes a lot to get me to leave a called out congregation. I am 50 and been a member at three churches in my life. The reason I left was I felt the Holy Spirit call me elsewhere. That and no other reason. They are all fine churches who love God and their neighbors. But God had other plans for my life and ministry.

  25. hayley says:

    I left my church today after talking to an elder about what they were going to do about reinstating the pastor who was on a leave of absence due to being a porn addict. He’s going to be slowly given ‘pulpit time’ meaning they’re going to sneak him back in without coming out and saying he’s back. The pastor has been a porn addict for 10 years, and was caught which is why he was put on a leave of absence.

    There are some sins that are barometers of a person’s spiritual health, and porn use is one of them. I don’t believe a man can be consumed with porn the way my now former pastor was and still be saved. The fruits of righteousness aren’t porn addiction, and I’m not willing to put myself under a man I sincerely doubt is saved in spite of him having a masters degree in theology with a minor in Greek and Hebrew.

  26. Johannes says:

    Jesus saved murderers, so why wouldn’t He save porn addicts? Or addicts of any kind, for that matter.

    Why is porn addiction a barometer of a person’s spiritual health?

    With ‘pulpit time’, do you mean your former pastor will also be having therapy?

  27. hayley says:

    Porn addiction is a barometer of a person’s spiritual health because the God doesn’t leave His chosen wallowing in depravity like this for 10 years, and call them to be a pastor. Sheep fall into the mud whereas pigs wallow in it. Read the Puritans if you think I’m being an extremist. This was the way Christians thought until the last 200 years when being a ‘carnal Christian’ became the thing where you had one foot in the world and the other in the church. A carnal Christian is an unsaved person.

  28. hayley says:

    Pulpit time means he’s going to be allowed to speak at church. It’s a sneaky way to bring him back without telling people he’s being reinstated.

  29. Girl says:

    I am about to leave our church now. The main reason is, I feel like our senior pastor puts ministry above the welfare of his members. I’ve been serving the Lord ever since He found me. Although I have a secular job that is so demanding, most of my time is spent in church activities and ministries. And honestly, I was joyful doing that. Until I led a group of girls and found out that all of them felt very exhausted. It then slowly sank in to me that we just push people to do ministry but never even really cared for them. I hated the culture that was implanted in our church and I felt like staying would just dump me into a bed of bitterness. To add to that, they never wanted any feedback from us and was just told to follow without questions. Maybe the only thing I missed is to tell them right away. I had the issue hidden in my heart for quite a long time. I am very frustrated right now. And our pastor is about to talk to me. But I really don’t know what to say. He might listen but won’t accept my reasons. I am so tired of being accused as someone who is faithless everytime I make evaluations of our activities and process. When my intention is not really to put the church and the leadership in the spotlight. I just wanna help. I am really tired of doing different things and leave them unevaluated. I want your advice.

  30. Johannes says:

    Girl, although I’m not a pastor myself, I do feel there’s a risk of a person getting lost in ministries, and thus, straying from the path a church is truly all about. This is a big risk for me, personally. God gives rest to His children (this is what the Sunday is all about in the first place), and if you experience exhaustion, something may very well be amiss.

    Also, I think it’s very wrong to accuse someone of lacking faith when that someone is only asking questions. Asking questions is a good thing – and you’ll even find the Bible itself to be filled with questions. Questions that may even sound blasphemous, by the way. Which, in my humble opinion, only goes to show that God gives room to a lot more than we humans feel to be appropriate. And if that’s true, then why should someone judge someone else as being faithless?

    But please don’t just read this as advice, only as an opinion of a fellow christian. God knows best what’s good for you, and if you ask Him your questions, no matter how bold they may seem, He will give you wisdom.

    Take care, and God bless you on your journey!

  31. Beloved son says:

    I did not have any of the reasons that have been stated by Jason for leaving a congregation. I was reprimanded for being honest and asking questions that received no responses. I agree with Pipers title of his book ” Brothers, we are not professionals”. When that separation occurs between brothers, a distinction between a title and no titles, we move backwards a few hundred years, and are no longer a priesthood of believers. Think and trust Jesus alone, He is our reward.

  32. Dean P Cernek says:

    I have come late to the conversation and having read the blog and scrolled all the responses I have two observations: (1) Fellowship. As a pastor of 30 years the last 10 have been the most difficult. I literally rely on the Lord for joy or it would have been squeezed out of me. It seems that believers have gotten pickier and pickier about church life. I have learned to move closer instead of apart, to love simple fellowship rooted in the cross of Christ. Is it too much to ask that folks come to church simply for Jesus? Perhaps. (2) Women are working, raising families and trying to find meaning at church. It is hardly possible. This is not meant to be a criticism. To me it is simply an observation. There is little time left for the church. Women bond more easily and perhaps deeply than men. They have been at the heart of ‘church’ for generations. When a man returns from work and you ask him ‘How was your day?’ He says, ‘Fine’. Conversation over. If you ask your wife or daughter that, you’d better pull up a chair and pour the coffee! They connect where they work in ways men don’t. Now apply that to church. Women have little energy left over when they get home. Church has become an extra thing pulling them away from family. My point is this – our expectations and criticism of the church have risen as our priorities have changed. Perhaps we should reevaluate what is most important.

  33. Opal Heart says:

    I have found both the article and people’s comments interesting. Moving on from a church is one of the most difficult things for a committed Christian to do. It’s not unlike a grown child leaving home, with some of the sadness that this brings. My family has just been forced out because, sadly, our church has had to close due to vastly reduced numbers. There have been some sad issues which have pushed people away over the last few years…issues which perhaps could have and should have been dealt with better. We have been attending, loving and supporting for about 11 years now. Our children have spent their growing years here. We have served in love and faith for that time. However, it appears that God may have other plans. Our church is no longer viable when the pastor leaves and the congregation falls to less than 10. We trust that God will replant and grow his kingdom in the poor community where so few people know Jesus and need his grace so much. Now we, as a family, come to the difficult task of finding another place. Your prayers would be appreciated…..thank you!

  34. Albert Head says:

    What about hypocrisy? I have struggled in my church with this for years. The pastors talk a good talk about caring for people, but the only time I have ever been engaged with them is when they wanted something from me or when I said previously that I was thinking of leaving. Other than that I have been ignored. Thye come across as very cliquey. It aslo seems that they want me to volunteer for all kinds of things and I did for a long time, but work and stress got the better of me and I started to learn to say “no”, and as soon as I did it was as if I had done something awful and they stopped engaging with me. It ridiculous. They hardly ackowldge my existence when I walk in the room. By the way, I am an elder and really wanted to make this work. Maybe I read it all wrong! In any case, I feel trapped and out in the cold. It’s a tough situation.

  35. Taryn says:

    What about when you feel lonely at your current church. I have been part of the church for 16 years… I struggle now to build friendships and “connect” with the community.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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