the migration pattern of church people
Leaving one church for another can be a good thing–it’s not always a bad thing. Yes, sometimes a person or a pastor leaves one church because of unresolved conflict, dissatisfaction, a “better” program or preacher elsewhere, and/or scandal. There’s been numerous articles about the bad reasons that people leave a church, and bad churches that people should leave. In a time where church-goers freely switch from church to church because of “not being fed,” “cliques,” “poor preaching,” or other reasons, at least they’re still going. And it may well be a good thing for someone to leave one church for another.
1st, how to leave a church on good terms. Brian Russell raised this question last month, “Is there a proper protocol to follow if switching churches?” Here’s several articles that point towards a church-leaving etiquette:
- How to Leave Your Church and Do It Well (Reed Jolley)
- How To Properly Leave a Church (Michael Wilson)
- How to leave your church (Tim Stevens)
Something a church can do to learn from those who are leaving is to conduct an
exit interview. This is a great opportunity to listen to honest feedback, not be defensive, allow closure for church and the person(s) leaving, and a word of mutual blessing.
2ndly, God calls some into a new season. And there are times in one’s faith journey when one finishes one chapter at one church, and will go to another church for a new season. This is the case for a number of prominent pastors recently announcing their transitions: Jim Belcher, Francis Chan, N.T. Wright, and Others Leave the Pastorate to Write and Speak: Why church planters often quit their congregations. In this video of an Exclusive interview with Jim Belcher and Mike Erre, 2 pastors in the Orange County (California) area talk about how they’re leaving their churches for a new season of life and ministry:
There are times to stay, and there are times to go. Maybe the same amount of due diligence can be given to why one stays at a church as much as why one leaves a church. For the record, I do think the times of changing churches ought to be infrequent.