In 35 years as a Christian, I’ve left four churches. Actually, I left three, and one left me when it changed the vision it had when I joined.
I”ve always believed you should go to church where the Lord wants you to go to church. If I’m right about that, it creates a presumption you should not leave until the Lord tells you to do so.
The following are reasons you could reasonably conclude the Lord wants you to leave your church:
1. You move. This one is easy. I left one church because I graduated from college and moved to a city two hours away. It’s difficult to be part of a church community when you live two hours from it.
2. Your pastor becomes a heretic. If your pastor is preaching heresy, you can try confronting him, but if he doesn’t change, get out of Dodge. What you listen to affects you. Why do you think advertising works? Don’t think you can stick around and not be affected.
3. Your pastor is not interested in reaching non-Christians. If your pastor is only interested in attracting other Christians to your church, you might want to think about looking for a new church. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost.” The Church is the body of Christ. If your pastor is not primarily concerned with reaching non-Christians, your church won’t be either. Find one that is.
4. Your pastor runs off with the church secretary, the church’s money (or both). Yes, we are all sinners, but some sins are worse than others. See John 19:11. Do you think lust is just as bad as adultery? If you are not sure, ask your spouse. Some sins are so bad they disqualify one from leadership in the Church.
5. The Lord tells you to leave. However, you should be very suspicious if you feel the Lord is telling you to leave and one the three things I mentioned yesterday are also present. People hear what they want to hear and use God as a convenient excuse to do what they want.
Hopefully you won’t need to leave your church and can continue to invite non-Christians to, and grow spiritually in, the same community of believers. But if you have the urge to leave, being skeptical about that urge is a healthy place to start. GS