There was a guy at my church years ago who struggled with every sin imaginable. And, to be clear, most of them were not past tense: he was currently doing them. He insisted he was saved because when he was a kid he said “the prayer” at camp, so he was “Once saved, always saved.” He was absolutely certain that because of God’s grace nothing he did mattered. “I’m not saved by works.” “True,” I said, “but a believer has been created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” He insisted he didn’t have to. “Ephesians 2:8-9 says works don’t save.” “I know, but there’s a verse 10.” “Nope,” he insisted, “verse 10 is too far.” “What? It’s the next verse?” He left my church after the 22nd time we had this conversation.
There was a guy at my church who was a “leader” in our youth group. Several weeks in a row he made one of the kids cry with his harsh words, and one night he made not only a kid cry, but also an adult fellow leader. I said to him, “I’d appreciate it if you’d stop making people cry.” He left the church because I was too dictatorial.
There was a guy at my church who decided to chuck his entire doctrinal background. He eventually adopted Catholic theology. He told me that my church needed to change its doctrine if we wanted him to stay. He left.
There was a guy at my church who got mad because I said that Christians will struggle with sin as long as they have a flesh body. Nope, not him. He hadn’t sinned for years. And if this is the kind of immature thing my church taught, he’d go elsewhere. He did.
There was a guy at my church who tried to take it over subversively by inviting people over for lunch after church to rail on me. He would sit in the front row of church and grunt every time I said something he didn’t like, which was quite frequent. I went to his house one evening and told him that I was aware that he did not like the church, which was fine, but he was not helping the church by doing what he was doing. I told him his attitude needed to change because it was not welcome in the church. “I will not return,” he said, much to our relief.
These are some of my top stories about people who leave the church. I could go on. There are more.
There was a guy who told me he couldn’t go to a large church because the only way you get a lot of people is if you water down the Word. He followed that up by telling me he couldn’t come to my church because it was too small, obviously I wasn’t preaching truth. I pointed out the silliness of these two statements made one minute apart from each other. He didn’t come back.
Yup, sorry, I told another one. I won’t go on any more.
I used to take these leavings personally, then I just started to be sad, yet slightly amused by them. I feel for people because there are clearly “other issues” going on.
I do what I can to help. I’m bolder with the truth these days. I used to try to conciliate and keep them in church. I’ve given up on that. Now I just hit them with truth. Might as well get it over with, they’re gonna leave anyway.
I try not to be a jerk and I fight cynicism daily. “Love believes all things.” Lord knows I try. But there are dogs and swine out there who shouldn’t have pearls thrown to them too.
I hurt for people. I love em. I still pray for these guys. I’d welcome them back. And, if nothing else, they have given me good stories to tell.