Monday, August 12, 2019


"Forsake not the assembling
of ourselves together ..."
(Hebrews 10:25 NIV)
It happens in every church! You look around on a given Sunday and it finally hits you... a familiar face is missing! The first few Sundays you were not concerned.  However, the weeks have gotten longer and longer. 

You make polite inquiries as to their whereabouts
hoping you
haven't missed notification of a sickness or God forbid a death!  But everyone seems clueless.

Finally you get that dreaded response... Honey, they left the church weeks ago!  WHY? you ask. No one seems to know.  It's almost like one of those UFO disappearances you see in the movies.  Another beloved church member vanishes, gone without a trace!

I'm well aware Christians are not bound to any local church.  We belong to the Universal Body of Christ and free to fellowship wherever we like (I Corinthians 12:27).  But once we have placed our membership in a church and formed a love bond with other believers there is a bit of courtesy due when you opt to leave. 

I'm saying this because I've been there.  I left a church that I loved and served in for 17 years and it was very painful. I missed my fellow saints and I truly believe they missed me too.  I never want to feel that kind of pain again, so if you will allow me I'd like to share a bit of insight I've gained from the experience. 

First of all, people leave churches for a variety of reasons.  Here are a few common ones:

1)  Church hurt (wounds or offenses by individuals in the church or the church at large)
2)  Abuses of authority
3)  Doctrinal differences
4)  The church no longer meets their spiritual needs
5)   Practical reasons - job or home relocations 

  • PRAY!  Make sure that God is directing you to leave and not because your feelings are hurt or due to personal conflicts with other members. Make attempts to resolve conflicts the biblical way using the Matthew 18 method.  Many conflicts can be resolved with prayer, conversation and a willingness to love through our differences.  (I Thessalonians 5:17, Matthew 18:15-20) 
  • PREPARE!  If you are in a leadership position (teacher, ministry leader, deaconess or auxiliary head) make sure that those within your ministry are notified so they can move on without you.  Fulfill present commitments and transition responsibilities in a timely and appropriate way as to provide continuity of service to those who really need it. (Colossians 3:17, 23)
  • PROVIDE FEEDBACK! You may be leaving because of unmet spiritual needs, some sort of abuse, or differences that prohibit your spiritual growth. You have a responsibility to those you leave.  If you see something or have experienced something that is not of God, SAY something.  Preferably in person to someone in leadership or but at least by letter.  This way accountability is established and you can leave with a clear conscience. ( James 4:17)
  • PEACEFULLY EXIT!  Don't bad mouth the church, try to influence others to leave with you, or cause dissension because you are dissatisfied.  You are only causing harm to your own character! Slandering the local church, the pastor or its members only shows the bitterness in your own heart.  If this is how you're feeling, you've stayed too long and you need to ask the Lord's forgiveness!  (Hebrews 12:15)
Regardless of your reason, let SOMEBODY know.  Although church folks love to gossip, Authentic Christians, those who care about you, have served, and worshipped with you simply want to know you're okay and want an opportunity to wish you well. 

AS FOR THOSE OF US LEFT BEHIND!  Reach out to missing sisters with a text or telephone call.  Let them know they are valued and missed.  Don't press for information.  When the conversation turns negative, change it to something positive! Stay in touch if possible!

And always REMEMBER to pray for them.  They may not be in their usual seat on Sunday but they will  always  in your hearts and one day WE'LL ALL BE TOGETHER IN HEAVEN! 


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