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Leaving a church should feel like leaving a marriage.It should hurt because we have lived our lives with a group of people, and now we are leaving. Doctrinal considerations or the specific needs of our children are, for instance, two valid reasons for leaving a church.She wanted me to know that their family’s sojourn with Santa Barbara Community Church had been a pleasant one, that they had grown in their faith, and that they would miss the people.
Eugene Peterson, for example, writes in one of his books that it’s a good idea to choose the church that is the smallest and closest to your home. American evangelicals shuffle all too often from church to church, following the movements and fancies of the moment, but that’s not what I’m addressing here.
The New Testament knows nothing of individual believers taking a little from here and sampling a little from over there.
The biblical doctrine of the church describes a body of believers deeply committed to Christ and to one another.
When a church is moving in a direction that an individual or a family feels is contrary to God’s Word, that is another prudent reason for making a change. The usual method is to slither out the back door with the hope that no one notices. But these conversations—while cordial and sincere—are hurtful because they happen accidentally.
Over the years I’ve had numerous conversations with people who have left Santa Barbara Community Church, conversations that are sometimes embarrassing and sometimes hurtful. That’s a great church, and I’m sure it will be better with you in it. A serendipitous encounter at the grocery store should not be the moment to announce that three months ago you left your church.If you are a pastor, then you understand the feelings when someone or a family leaves your church.