If You Must Leave a Church

I detest church hopping. Yet I accept the fact that there are times when Christians transfer church membership. But there is a proper time and way to leave a church.

What are the legitimate reasons for leaving a church?

When is the right time to leave a church? How should one leave a church to join another?

Red lights: Wrong reasons for leaving a church.

Here are seven wrongs reasons for leaving a church. 

1. Sin.

Someone has sinned. Maybe it was a leader. Is this a good reason to leave? No.

It is not promote holiness to leave because of sin. There was gross sin in the church of Corinth. But Paul commanded the church to deal with the sinning member, not leave the church (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). When Paul bids the saints to “come out from among them,” he was talking about the world, not the church (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

We should respond to sinning brothers with restoration, not amputation (Galatians 6:1-5).

2. Disagreements over secondary doctrinal issues.

Biblical convictions matter. But don’t be willing to die on every hill.

Contend earnestly for the faith (Jude). But don’t break fellowship over every disagreement about scripture.

Paul advised Timothy, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness…” (2 Timothy 2:14-16)

3. Disunity.

God hates those who sow discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19). But evidence of salvation is love for your brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 3:14). And this love is demonstrated by preserving the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).

Don’t jump ship because you can’t get along with others. You will only have the same problem at the next church. “Do nothing from selfish ambition of conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself” (Philippians 2:3).

4. Personal offenses.

There will be times when Christians sin against one another. What then? Leaving is not the answer.

Moving every time you are (or feel) wronged will only lead multiple church transitions. Or you will remain at the fringes of the church, which is just as bad. Jesus gives the answer: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15).

These simple instructions could jumpstart revival in many churches. But what if he doesn’t listen? Turn up the pressure (18:16-20).

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H.B. Charles, Jr.
H.B. Charles, Jr. is a pastor, speaker, and writer. He lives with his wife and children in Jacksonville (FL), where he serves as the Senior-Pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.