Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Difficult to LEAVE your church?!

When I say 'leave' your church, I mean a humble and biblically informed decision to leave a unhealthy church.
For many leaving 'their' church is an incredibly hard thing to carry out, especially if you've been there a long time. Sometimes it takes a long time to see the health of a church or to see whether they are really seeking to reform themselves to the scriptures. Yet if we find ourselves in a 'church' where we are fearfully unwilling to submit to the leadership, or are afraid to bring guests because we don't have a clue of what to expect, or if we find ourselves having to point out errors to our families week after week then it's time to leave. In otherwords, it's like the Christian woman who discovers the truth of not being unequally yoked with unbelievers BUT her overwhelming 'hurdle' is the 'time' she's already put into the relationship 'but we've been together for 7 yrs!' all the while recognizing that what they have isn't biblical love and commitment, not to mention she's convinced that she will have MUCH difficulty in biblically submitting to such a man; such insanity is paralleled in our relationship to a church which we don't truly love and submit to. When we come o such convictions and we choose to leave our church, we will still have to go through the emotional struggle of leaving those we care and love, knowing that chances are there will not be an opportunity (without divisive gossip/slander) to explain our reasons for leaving and so we might very well suffer being misunderstood, slandered, or forgotten by people within that church (trust me, I really know how hard THAT is).
For some the concept of a healthy/unhealthy church is so hard to grasp because they don't have a biblical view of the local church (too much ignorance in this area). Without a biblical view of the church, our feelings and opinions on the church will be clouded. We must be resolved to have a clear understanding of what GOD wants the church to look like! Some who have a bad experience with a local church, will unbiblically reject the very concept of the church, and this is a reaction of the flesh and a selfish action at that (the church needs us, and we need the church).
I've mentioned this here as well (with some good resources to consider reading)

A unhealthy church is OBVIOUSLY one which doesn't teach sound doctrine or supports those who don't teach sound doctrine (I especially mean the gospel: Justification and Regeneration).
A unhealthy church is OBVIOUSLY one which doesn't LIVE the gospel, I mean that they don't have godly leadership according to the standards given in I Timothy and in Titus for elders (MEN who can led the flock by example not just spit out sermons)
A unhealthy church is OBVIOUSLY one which IGNORES the sinful living of those who attend. Churches MUST follow the New Testament example of biblical church discipline in those who claim to be a part of that church, AND they must seek to discipline in the hope of restoring/saving someone (not mean bitter people just looking to kick people out).
A unhealthy church is OBVIOUSLY one which won't witness to the community around them. A visible heart for the lost is a no-brainer for a biblical church!

3 comments:

Berean Wife

Julius,

It is very hard to leave a church for theological or unhealthy reasons. We left our church of seven years, a year ago, and it was so hard. We had stayed and tried to stop the direction it was heading in but had no success. We might would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been for the children. Although the church was their extended family, it was also becoming an unhealthy family member.

The saddest part is that very few even asked us about why we left, despite the obvious holes we left in the church dynamics. There were others that knew about why we left, both those who agreed and those that didn’t. We never broadcast why, but did say we would be glad to discuss it personally.

It is still sad, even a year later, but it was wise and we have grown as a result. Finding a church that we feel led to join has been hard but we have not forsaken church by any means. We attend two regularly, as in four services a week. We attend so often that my husband regularly preaches and both my oldest children are ministering in their various ways.

Berean Wife

Julius Mickel

At the last church it was five yrs for us, and what sped up the process was certainly our children. Our experience was similiar, I only expressed our exiting to the elders in case they wanted to announce it but they didn't and I did not feel comfortable with going around telling people things, so naturally we were misunderstood by many.
Yes it's very sad to leave and to get no phone calls or to get a quick 'hi' when you see them somewhere, even from the people who seemed so interested in you before. :(
I as a man was blessed by the many examples of good husbands and fathers and so that was hard to leave.
The age-segregation was at it's worst, if you were to inquire about what goes on in the youth or childrens functions/classes then the elders would refer you to 'the person' over that (total disconnection, no need to worry about church discipline) and as it usual happens the teens who barely participate in class and find ways to miss service (by 'volunteering' to help 'kids' church) were the first to go on 'missions' trips (and though many had the money to pay their way, they made Sun morn appeals to the church).
Though I corresponded heavily with the elders primarily on the need to proclaim clearly the gospel and it's fruits, over the years there was no advancement. Instead we supported anyone who said they had a 'ministry' and also shared the 'gospel'.
I did however get the opportunity to preach and I gave my heart (the only sermon I have on the player at the bottom of my blog), in my mind it was the last shot of hope, though received well nothing changed, in fact from the replies of members it was obvious that what I said wasn't being said before (and I only preached a straightforward gospel) well instead of gathering a group of people to 'my' cause, I addressed the elders with my concerns, yet nothing happened. We probably wrestled over the decision for a good year or two.

Berean Wife

Julius,

We spent almost a month finding replacements and training them for our previous “jobs” in the church but we ended up having to leave without filling all of them. My husband taught an adult Sunday School Class and he also told them that we were leaving. The last few lessons he taught were in hopes of getting some points across. Short versions are on my website Lawless Gospel, Ten Tests of True Christianity , and Ten “Christians” God Will Not Allow Into Heaven but very little was said about them by the class. :( The interesting thing is he has taught those same lessons at other churches and they actually appreciate them, learn from them and respond.

We had youth but they did not participate with the youth, as a general rule not even Sunday School, they were active in serving and worshiping by doing the sound, audio recording and /or by playing. We allowed them to miss Sunday School because they said it was a waste of time and my daughter hated how rude the “Christian” kids were to the teacher.

One of our last straws was when the “Bama Twins” were invited to come share their testimony before the church, they were also giving away signed pictures or you could have your picture made with them. We tried to point out that their life was not worthy of emulating especially to our young girls, very immodest, but to no avail. My husband as a deacon even brought it up in the deacon’s meeting and was voted down. That was just the icing on the cake that had been baking along for years.

It does more harm than good to support a church that isn’t striving for holiness and teaching of the whole of Scripture.

Berean Wife

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