by Rich Murphy
THATíS IT. IíVE HAD IT!
There may come a time for all of us, when we feel that itís time to leave the church weíre in. Thatís okay, as long as itís Godís will. But often, itís only a personís frustration coming out.
Frustration, or anger, in any form, and in any degree, are never good reasons to leave a church. Ephesians 4:26 says: ďBe ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.Ē Well, if weíre not to let the sun go down on our wrath, what are we to do with it?
Jesus taught us that we are to forgive each other for any and all offenses. Even if the offense is committed over, and over, and over again (Matthew 18:22). Otherwise, how can we expect God to forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15)? You know something? Pastors, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and even the lady who wears the funny hats and always has to tell you her opinion on everything are all included in our requirement to forgive.
Every pastor will do something to upset you sometime, including the one you have now. If he doesnít, you can pretty much be guaranteed that heís upsetting God, instead of you. When a pastor preaches the word of God the way itís supposed to be preached, it will cause change in peopleís lives, and that usually makes someone upset.
So, what do you do when your pastor upsets you? Thatís easy...forgive him. Plain and simple. No ifís, andís or butís, just do it.
Afterwards, if you have truly forgiven, and feel that there is some way he is in error, pray for him. Pastors, and other ministers need more prayer than the average Christian. Why? Because they are under more attack than the average Christian, thatís why. If we donít take time to pray for our Christian leaders, then we are at fault if they fall.
Okay, so youíve forgiven the pastor, and now youíre praying for him. Thatís the end of it, right? What? You think you still need to confront him on it? Then do it. Pastors arenít perfect. In fact, being a pastor doesnít necessarily mean a man of God is spiritually mature. All it means is that God has gifted the Body of Christ with that man, in that office. So, talk to him. Thatís right, to him. Not to someone else about him, only to him. Talking to anyone else about the perceived problem is gossip. Donít do it! Just talk to the pastor...in love...in a spirit of unity...as a brother in the Lord.
IíM NOT GETTING WHAT I NEED HERE
This is probably one of the most common excuses people give for leaving a church. It might take on different forms, but one way or another, people are looking for something they arenít getting. Either the pastor isnít preaching a ďdeepĒ enough message, or their isnít an exciting youth group for the teens, or the Sunday school isnít equipped with the latest in puppets and drama, or the menís group doesnít go to the ball game together. So what?
Whoever said that the church had to supply all this stuff anyway? According
to Acts 2:42, there are supposed to be four things going on in the church,
it says: ďAnd they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.Ē Nowhere in there does
it say childrenís church, menís fellowship, youth group, or camping trips.
All it says is:
Now, that doesnít mean that those other things are all bad. In fact, there is a place in the Body of Christ for each and every one of them. But, they arenít the churchís responsibility. If you want them, then ask God how you should go about doing them. Obviously youíre the one with the vision for it, so youíre the one to do it.
The pastor is not responsible for these things. In fact, he is specifically not responsible for them. His job description is contained in Ephesians 4:11-13. It says that the five fold ministry is given (by God) ďFor the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry...Ē His job is to train you to do those areas of ministry. Then, God can work through you to accomplish those other things that the pastor doesnít have the time, or the anointing to accomplish.
Yeah, but, the pastor isnít feeding me.
Iíve heard that one before too. In fact, Iíve probably even said it myself sometime. But, where in the Bible does it call the church a feeding trough?
Letís just take a moment here, and apply a little logic to the situation. In the natural, who are the only people that you have to feed? Babies, right? You canít even add children to this statement, because even young children can get themselves something to eat, even if itís only a bowl of breakfast cereal. So, when you complain about the pastor not feeding you, youíre admitting to being a spiritual baby. One who is incapable of feeding themselves, even when itís all laid out for them in the Bible.
God doesnít necessarily put you in a church for what you can get there. Often, He will put you there for what you can give of yourself there. This is more apparent the more mature you become in the Lord. The author of Hebrews said that there should come a time in your spiritual life, where you are feeding others, not asking to be fed (Hebrews 5:12).
WHEN SHOULD I LEAVE THE CHURCH?
If we canít leave a church because of being upset, and we canít leave because weíre not getting something we need, when can we leave the church?
Thereís only one time that it is appropriate to leave a church, and go to another one. Thatís when God tells you to. Even leaving because of a job isnít an acceptable reason, unless God tells you that thatís the job for you. Otherwise, you might be going after a job that prevents you from having the fellowship you need to stay spiritually healthy.
When we are seeking Godís guidance for our lives, He is more than willing to provide it. That way, we are only making the moves that God wants us to.
HOW SHOULD I LEAVE THE CHURCH?
Okay, so you think God wants you to leave the church youíre in, now what do you do. There are four basic steps to take before leaving any church. By following these steps, you will avoid bringing reproach to yourself, your church, and to Jesusí name.
1. Pray, pray, pray. Make sure that you have Godís will and direction. Remember, Godís direction is the only reason to leave a church. So, be sure that God has told you, and not that youíre trying to put Godís name on your own desires. If youíre married, pray until youíre in agreement. Donít worry about taking too long. Many more people get in trouble for going ahead of Godís timing than waiting too long. If God really wants you to move, heíll make it happen.
2. Search the word. You should have a scriptural basis for anything that you do, especially if it concerns anything spiritual. God never contradicts His Word. So, find out what Godís word says about your leaving. You should be able to point to specific scriptures for your actions, not ones like ďwhat you are to do, do it quicklyĒ (John 13:27). Remember to use the scripture in context.
3. Know where youíre going. God doesnít take people out of things, he sends them into new things. If you donít know where Godís sending you, it isnít time. Wait until you have a destination. Even Abraham left Haran with a destination of ďa land that I will shew theeĒ (Genesis 12:1).
4. Talk with your pastor. Pastors are gifted by God with a heart for His people. When you leave a church without talking to the pastor, you are not only hurting him, but losing out on the blessing that he can impart to you. If it is truly Godís best for your to leave, let your pastor confirm it. Allow him the opportunity to pray about it, and receive whatever he says. This allows him to release you in prayer, before the congregation, instead of having to make excuses for you afterwards.
There it is; four simple steps. If you follow these, God is much more able to bless the move you are trying to make. Otherwise, all you are doing is creating strife and division, both of which are abominations to the Lord.
Copyright © 1998, 2002 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life.
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