When Are You Justified In Quitting A Church?

Posted: January 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last week over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight raised the question, “When is a Christian justified in leaving a church?” 

People leave churches all the time for petty reasons like the preacher torqued me off, the worship leader doesn’t play the songs I like or the old lady on the front row looks at me weird.  Whatever.

But when is a Christian fully justified in leaving a church?

Since starting Revolution, the leadership team has had to face this question head on because the majority of attendees are “de-churched,” which are people who grew up in church but left with no intention to come back or on the verge of leaving and vowing never to go back.   We have no problem with those folks coming into our church but we also have a significant minority who just like Revolution better than the church they are currently attending.  What do you say then?

Normally I ask why they like Revolution better and if they say, “the teaching is just deeper” or the “worship feels more spirit filled” then it’s tough to ask them to reconsider their decision but what if it’s just because they think it’s cooler or, because we have the reputation of being “the cool church” (which is just stupid…there is no such thing as a cool church!), they get a strange sense of rebellion by attending? Then I try not to hesitate to have what can be a rather awkward and difficult conversation about their own spiritual state and the need to stick with people that they find hard to love.

But what if you find yourself in a church where the teaching is shallow, the music is wholly triumphalistic or what has been called “Jesus is my girlfriend” songs, there are programs but no real, tough discipleship going on and there is a culture of inauthenticity and, yet,  there is no other apparent option available to you? 

If you decide to stay and try to change things and get nothing but push back then what do you do?  If you stay, do you tithe to such a church? Are you helping to prop up something that shouldn’t be propped up?

What if there are options? Are assisting churches that actually hurt the Kingdom a good thing? I know that there should be a difference between the church and the marketplace but would you continue to go to a bad restaurant if you had a better option? Would you continue to vote for someone who puts on a good show but doesn’t work to really accomplish anything of significance if you had a better option?

If a person truly understands Kingdom and discipleship then perhaps it is a good thing to leave a congregation that is neither hot nor cold. 

What do you think?

  1. lawdawg23 says:

    This is a really good question, Matt. But it’s a tough one, in my opinion. I appreciate the fact that you would even broach the subject. The problem centers upon that word “church,” I think. It’s such a clay word anymore. What you mean when you say the word church may not be what the guy next door means when he says the word church. So the question is, what really is a church? What constitutes a church? I think that is the necessary place to start in a conversation like this. Until it gets settled what we’re talking about when we use that word, we could say a lot of things in relation to your post and we may not really get anywhere.

    What would you say, biblically speaking, is the definition (for lack of a better word) of a church? In other words, what makes a church a church?

  2. leigh smith says:

    Pastor Matt, When I come down to check on my Dad in Portsmouth. I attend some of your services. You are one awesome Pastor. God has truly annointed you to be a sign and a wonder to the young people. I attend World Harvest in Columbus. People there think you are and upcoming minister. God Bless you. Leigh

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