How To Leave A Church

ME: Hm, John isn’t here today.

BRAIN: Oh no, he left the church.

ME: It’s just one Sunday.

BRAIN: He hates you.

ME: It’s fine.

BRAIN: He’s gonna start a church split. *sees John walk in*

ME: Hey John! Good to see you.

BRAIN: Stupid jerk, trying to split my church.
@FailingPastor

 

 

The only thing worse than having someone leave your church with noise and fury is having them leave in complete silence.

A number of people have left the church without saying a word to me. It is then my responsibility to call or visit them and find out what’s up. Even then, they often won’t say if they have left the church or why. They make me probe and dig. Or, as I like to put it, they make me be the bad guy.

I hate being the guy who has to chase down disgruntled people to find out why they are disgruntled. But I always do.

I’ve heard people say, “I didn’t go to church for a month and not one person contacted me.”

Sometimes my response is, “Well, that’s probably because you’re a jerk and no one wants to be destroyed by you again.” But perhaps the church is at fault. I have endeavored to contact people and find out where they’ve gone.

There was one couple I did not contact after they left, but that was a unique and complicated situation. And yeah, I probably dropped the ball there, but that was 17 years ago now and they are both dead, so I can’t do much about it now.

Anyway, the main problem with the church leavers who go silently is that now anytime a person is gone from church two weeks in a row I assume they are mad and have left.

My brain then analyzes and analyzes again what I said in the last couple weeks that would have ticked them off. My brain will come up with all sorts of reasons why they would be leaving the church. I pretty much develop a rock solid case for leaving my church every time.

Hey, I can’t blame ‘em, now that you put it like that.

There was one couple who missed church for two weeks and I got nervous. I called, I emailed, I Facebook messaged.

Nothing.

Then they missed church again. Oh dear.

So I called again and left a message on voice mail. “Hey, I’ve missed you guys. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. I understand why you left the church. I hope you know I still love you and hope you’ll be back.”

I got a call within a couple hours, “Pastor, we haven’t left the church! We don’t have any problems with you or the church. We love you all and would never think of leaving.” She then went on to explain the circumstances as to their absence and not returning my calls, and it made sense. Sort of.

I felt really stupid. I had all but concluded they had left. I updated my resume and began looking for another job. I even told them that they left and what their problem probably was. My mind got way carried away.

But hey, that’s what happens when people wander out of your church completely ticked off and never say a word. It gives pastors a complex.

If you’re going to leave a church, just tell the pastor why. Do it nicely, succinctly, and in a friendly way. He’s a person too.

Pastors, just because someone is gone from church for a few weeks doesn’t mean they hate you. I mean, it COULD mean that, but it doesn’t NECESSARILY mean that. OK, who am I kidding, more than likely they do hate you, but every once in a while they don’t. Proceed with caution, but do buck up and find the energy to contact them and find out.

 

 

For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears
—2 Corinthians 7:5

6 thoughts on “How To Leave A Church

  1. I left a church quietly about a year ago. I would have told the pastor if there had been some way to talk to him. But with thousands in the congregation, that would be impossible. I would have tried email, but the pastors don’t respond to, and likely don’t read emails. Funny thing is, I’m still serving there once a month on a food pantry ministry.

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    1. Yeah, I’m not convinced large churches are a good idea precisely because of this. My situation is a very small church where when someone leaves everyone knows it. It’s small enough that I know everyone and everyone knows me. So, yeah, I would quietly leave a large church too!

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      1. I didn’t think about it at first, but he was always making jokes about eating Xanax and I realized how it affected him. It’s not checking in for me. It’s about having a little compassion for the guy.

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