Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Thinking

Jared is leaving his church. Brian at A Small Faith is leaving his. Me, I'm thinking about it. Been thinking about it for some time now. What is this, an epidemic? Or maybe its just a blogging thing....

Leaving a church, even just thinking about leaving a church, is incredibly difficult. It's complicated. It's wrenching. My wife and I left a church once, and though there was much serious dysfunction in that church (don't even ask) and we were running for our very lives, still it was very, very difficult. Don't even talk about "church-shopping." That doesn't come into it.

Well, so I'm pondering. That's all. What makes the matter so dang hard is that, well, the issues are not easy to sort out and properly weigh. Am I making too much of this, too little of that? And is any other church in the area really any better? And how can I even know, if I don't go see? And what about all the friendships I have here, etc. Will I lose it all?

But I'm not really close to making this decision. I'm just thinking. And I've now run into 2 bloggers who have been thinking also, and so I thought I'd just say to Jared and to Brian, I get it. That's all.

I get it.


Jared said...


And making it (not much, but somewhat) easier is that so far nobody has vomited disapproval on me/us.

Making it harder is that many have suggested I start a church. I confess that appeals to me greatly. I confess that makes me feel convicted of pride and arrogance and ambition.

We are transitioning Element into an independent, non-profit ministry, however. So that's something.
But it's not a church home for my family, for my kids. It's not trans-generational, as I think a real church community should be.

Anonymous said...

i think you would not be leaving THE church you would be leaving A church group. no matter who you meet and gather with...you are still in the body of Christ and relying on God. maybe even relying on God a little more for awhile.

Anonymous said...

Thanks man. It does help to know that there are others who know what you are going through. And who understanding that you're just not doing it on a whim.

Blessings on you and your family.

Lois said...

WE just left our church about three months ago. We were weary of the me-focused, seeker sensitive, experiential, pop-psychology (with a bit of Bible for seasoning) signs and wonders, ministry (personal) that we were force fed. It became so tiring. We CRAVED the word of God. WE CRAVED the preaching of the gospel. We were starving and wasting away spiritually.

Our church (and the movement, for that matter) was/is definitely moving into contemplative prayer and emerging theology. We had to get out. We had no choice. It was difficult.

God was faithful and brought us (with minimal church shopping I might add) to Sovereign Grace church in Gilbert Az. It is more than we could have asked for.

Was it difficult to leave? Yes. Were we sad to leave our brothers and sisters? Yes. Did we have to go? Yes. And the Lord has made up for all that we had to leave behind.

He will lead you. We miss you guys.

dle said...


I hate to hear this.

The phenomenon of leaving a church is largely a Western contrivance. It simply doesn't happen in other parts of the Evangelical world. David Wayne at Jollyblogger once asked a Ukranian pastor about this and that pastor said he'd never heard of people leaving one church for another.

One thing I believe the Lord is calling us to in this age is to stay with our churches. Part of our character building as Christians is to work out our differences with other believers. One reason the Church in America is so contentious is that we split rather than work it out. That's not in keeping with the Scriptures.

Good reasons for leaving?

1. Moving to another location out of the area, obviously.

2. Genuine abuse, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual.

3. Rank heresy on a continuing basis. But even then, this should be addressed at both a local and denominational level before one leaves. If one approaches the local leadership and they refuse to budge, then one approaches the denominational leadership. If the denomination refuses to do anything, then one has a good reason to go.

Everything else is workable and should be workable.

Anonymous said...

I think it is very clear why people are leaving churches today... Check out this audio by Thom Black (Barna Group): http://www.h2hfiles.info/Revolutions.mp3 in which he lays it out clearly, and there is buzz about Pagan Christianity (book by Frank Viola & Barna) that addresses many of the things your commentors are saying... We are not getting it, a building is not doing it, the institution of church has never been a bible one, and sectarianism is eating the body of Christ's lunch. Want a good laugh... type in Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, or Emerging Church and see a great example of sectarianism or we could just log onto rUrevolutionary.com and figure it out...

Bob Spencer said...

Lois, thanks for your comments. I think we're right on the same page. Also, it's a real blessing to know you're still checking in from time to time.

Dan (dle) I take your thoughts very seriously. I will try to address them in a post very soon. Thanks for an alternative view.

Diane R said...

Thank you for this post. It really strikes a chord as many people in my church wish to leave as well as almost everyone else I know in other churches. Why? For idotic reasons like "THe pastor looked at me wrong?" No! For the reasons that many here have said. I finally woke up two Sundays ago and cried out to God,"If I don't sense the Holy Spirit and hear the Word in some sort of sense in my church, I am going to die." Many of us are crying out the same tune. I live in drought-ville church wise--S. California. But I am hearing this same thing from people all over the country. Sorry Dan, on this one I don't agree with you.