Pastor… I’m Leaving the Church.  Where should I Go?

Orginally published on Friday, April 13, 2007 at 7:32 AM
by Todd Rhoades

If the truth were told, would this be your first thought?


(And let’s try not have this discussion about it not being funny that anyone should go to hell.)


This post has been viewed 2272 times so far.

  There are 14 Comments:

  • Posted by RevJeff

    Or the other thought is… ANYWHERE - HALLELUJAH!

  • Posted by Leonard

    Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya

  • Posted by Linda


    Did you mean spit ya?  Like Jonah?

  • Posted by Buddy

    Great Cartoon! I can honestly say that exact thought has crossed my mind! Do you think that we take it so personally b/c sometimes we lose site of the objective of building God’s Kingdom and are decieved into thinking we are building our own?

  • Posted by

    Sorry… I’d give ‘em a list. I know of a handful of churches in my area that would be GREAT to attend. Unfortunately what is often happening is that people are running away from problems. That’s no good either. I would suggest they confront and work to solve those problems, but not everyone does.

    I am in very regular contact with a guy who has made a very painful (for me mostly) exit from our church TWICE in the past two years. I work VERY hard to maintain a good friendship with him, and so far, for my part, I’ve succeeded.

    Oh, but the cartoon is really funny, to be sure…

  • Posted by Gman

    Actually my first thought was “Goto Hell” but that my cynical side before I read the rest of your post. Other than that depends on who it was. If it was HM oerson (High Maintenaince) I’d be rejoicing and saying don’t let the door hit you on the way out! If a friend, I’d ask Why ..what in the world are you thinking? (Oh, you’re not and am mentally ill)

  • Posted by

    Interesting topic.  Peter, thanks for saying you’d give a list...thats nice, and was heartening to read.  I came close to asking my former pastor that very question but didn’t because I thought it might be a bit much to ask another human deal with what would most likely feel like personal rejection...even though it wasn’t.  I still have very warm feelings towards my former church and respect for the integrity and wisdom of my former pastor...I’m just not as conservative as I used to be. 

    And no, for you who might be wondering, I wasn’t high maintenance.  I volunteered (where needed, not just where I felt “gifted"), tithed and gave sacrificially above that, brought new people into my church, and worked diligently to learn more about God.

  • Posted by Stewart

    It all depends on how i’m approached. If someone approached me in the way that Julie is describing herself, I’d suggest we have coffee and I’d do all i could to assist the person in finding the ‘right’ church for him/her.

    If the person approaching me had been hurt in our church. Again, I’d offer coffee and do all I could to help him/her find another church that suited him/her. I’d also try to understand the hurt and help. But I would not encourage him/her to remain unless they wanted to. I think too many people try to “stick it out” and end up harming themselves further and other church members.

    If the person was simply running from “normal life” in a church, I’d encourage them to stay or at least leave wiser.

    If on the other hand the person is trying to be hurtful, I’d think Alleluia! And I’d say, “Good luck, we’ll miss you” with a “NOT” muttered under my breath.

  • Posted by

    If at all possible, ya’ gotta’ help ‘em find a home.  Surely you know churches in your area that might a better fit, churches they might feel more comfortable with?  If your church is a bit “progressive”, encourage them to them to visit a more conservative church you think they could connect with.  Or vice versa.  Develop relationships with other churches in the area, and not just churches of a like mind.

    And, like Peter suggests, they may be running away from problems, is there a church in your area that might be well suited to helping them with those problems? 

    When I was helping plant our previous church, I found that our Pastor had a recommendation for whatever he thought someone was looking for.  As long as it kept them in the Kingdom.

    If your first thought was in agreement with the cartoon, or “If you’re not coming to my church I don’t care where you go or what you do”, or “I’m not here to cater to your needs”, are you really doing your best to serve the Kingdom.

    What you do may determine whether they are leaving “your” church, or leaving “the’” church altogether.  I would personally escort them and introduce them to a new church if I thought it would help them.  Because it’s not “our” church, it’s God’s church and every church is part of it.

    Oh, and I thought the cartoon was funny.

  • Posted by Scott

    This was me about one year ago.  We knew for some time that our church wasn’t right for us.  But we were heavily involved in many aspects of the church, which made our decision even more difficult.

    Eventually we decided it was time to leave and go elsewhere.  Right before we left, we received a call from one of the ministers at the church, who invited us over to his house.  When we arrived, much of the church leadership was there.

    For almost three hours we sat with this group and discussed why WE needed to leave.  It was a very sincere and candid exchange, and I truly think that the leaders of our former church wanted to learn from this. 

    The alternative would have been to simply walk out the door and never come back (like many consumers).  What would have been learned from that?

  • Posted by

    I actually appreciate the honesty and courage of those who have come to me and let me know they were leaving the church.  It is always a challenge to deal with such issues and often there are some sincere reasons.  When they come to me, I will meet with them and we talk ... I want to know we could have done better [if possible] and want to know if possibly it is God calling them to minister elsewhere.  Sometimes I believe we pastors are too quick to fix blame on ourselves or the other person.  It is a hard temptation to resist.  Most times the folks that come to me that leave are often leaving because our small church does not have a ministry they need [usually youth ministry or a different form of music ministry].  So I will give them my recommendations of what churches to consider. 

    I had one family that worshiped with us for six months.  They called me to let me know they loved our church but were going to join a church of 400...as they were used to worship in a larger church.  I agreed and blessed them.  Two years later they left that church and came back.  They missed the fellowship and intimacy of our smaller church. 

    The real tragedy are those who quietly leave, won’t return the phone calls, and this leads to whispers and rumors in the flock.  Those folks to a great disservice to the kingdom.  At least when I talk with someone I can gain some insight to quell any rumors and also have additional information to take to the church counsel for real change.  Because if we are the problem, then we are obligated to fix the situation Lord willing.

  • Posted by Brian L

    I’ve had people leave the church, but according to some of them, it was because of me.  No way to not take that personally…

    When I offered to give them some ideas of other churches, the offer was met by one person with, “I think I know enough about the churches here to decide that for myself.”

    I find myself conflicted with wanting them to leave if they’re just going to cause trouble and bring division, and wanting to do all I can to bring reconciliation, especially when they perceive me as the problem.

    If they’re going to leave because of me, I want it to be because they don’t like that I emphasize the Bible over society and majority opinion.


  • Posted by

    I would say if it is what they want to do then help them find a better place.  if they have not solved their problems before leaving they will meet the challenge again somewhere else. if i am the problem because of a biblical stance then they certainly will meet the challenge again.  all things work together for the good of them that love God.

  • Posted by Mark Minervino

    I laughed out loud at the cartoon (perfect for a Monday morning).  But then I read Scott’s heartfelt response, to which I would answer—amen!  Scott, how I pray that more church members (and pastors, for that matter), when the Lord is moving us (rather than our flesh donig it), would honor the church as you’ve done.  I’m beginning to think that the consumer mentality you site poses the greatest unspoken threat to evangelical churches in the USA.  Many, many times I have pled with departing members to give a word, either private or public, to help the remaining members understand why the departure was necessary.  Instead, more often than not, people just disappear in search of better programs, more excitement, etc., leaving so much uncertainty, mistrust, and suspicion behind (all of which eventually boils down to being “the pastor’s fault” over time).  The spirit-led, considerate way you communicated your departure is the way it needs to be done, every time.  May the Lord anoint your journey forward.

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