I’ve been a member of the same church most of my life. I attended there as a child and only took a brief hiatus when I moved to Minnesota for a couple of years. My family and I started back up at the same church again when we returned to Arizona. I have many reasons for staying at that church so long. A couple of the main ones are that I agree with their teaching and I love their unconditional love. But what do you do when things aren’t gong well in your church? How do you know when to leave and when to ride out the storm? While there are no hard and fast rules, these thoughts may help guide you. Consider moving on if:
- The leadership doesn’t encourage you to grow in your faith on your own. Symptoms of this may be that they don’t want you to read and study your Bible at home, but would rather you take their word on everything. Or perhaps they have power struggles and want to run the church their way, regardless of what the church body feels. Remember, good leaders model humility.
- You’ve tried to build relationships, but have been unsuccessful. If a congregation is closed to new people, it isn’t following Christ’s example or commands.
- Your children are unhappy in their classes. Now this can be a touchy one, because it takes time to feel comfortable in a new situation. But after a reasonable amount of time, if your kids are still miserable, you need to find a church where they’re more comfortable. You certainly don’t want to turn them off to church.
- There are issues of abuse, you should obviously leave if the abuser is still in the church. Unfortunately, this happens way too often these days.
Stick it out if:
- There are issues with your pastor and he’s willing to work on them. Most issues can be worked out. And even if the church decides to seek a new pastor, they need your support through this transition. If you’re still unhappy after the new pastor has had a chance to settle in, then you may want to consider a change. But in time, most issues blow over and you’ll find you’re perfectly happy if you stay put.
- You don’t like the small group you’re in. Generally there are more than one to choose from and you can switch to one you like better.
- You believe most of what is taught, but disagree on some smaller issues. You may never find a church that believes exactly as you do. We all have different interpretations on the scriptures. But if you have more common ground than uncommon, it’s a good fit, assuming you feel comfortable in other areas as well.
- Your children are happy, making good friendships, and learning Bible truth. You only have a small window of time to influence your children for Christ. Personally, I would sacrifice my own happiness at a church if my kids are plugged in and growing in their faith. Most adults can find alternative ways to keep their faith alive and vital, such as personal study, small groups, home Bible studies, or even groups at other churches. However, it’s important you set the example of attending church together as well.
I like to think of my relationship with my church like I do my marriage. I am faithful to it, serve in it, and will remain in it even in hard times. It will take a serious infraction before I will sever that relationship.
What issues would cause you to change churches? When have you stayed through hard times? What was the result?