Tuesday, May 10, 2016

When your Church leaves YOU

Many of us over our lifetime have changed churches.  Sometimes for geographic reasons, sometimes for others. I have, maybe you. Never out of anger, but out of wisdom.

A dear friend of mine once told me that if you are going to leave a church always leave in order, let leadership know why and don't let the rumor mill take over.  I did that yesterday.He also said always look for MORE LIGHT.  If you are stuck in a darker place and more light is offered, that is a reason to consider.  I don't do that quickly or easily. I do that with fear and trepidation.

Yes there are relationships.. and that has a good and bad effect. It causes people to put you in relational handcuffs.  Not a good thing.  Sometimes to get to more light, you need to step up into a better place and allow old ties to dissolve, not destroy.  In every church we ever left, (it's only been a few) we always have maintained good relationships with those we were formerly connected with.  Some for decades.  No attempt to recruit, just staying in touch with old friends.

There are times when a church leaves YOU.  When changes take place that demonstrate how you no longer fit.  Even if at one time the church you belonged to was solid and you were in sync with it, over time it drifts into a new phase and expects you to come along.

I can think of several examples:
The Anglican Church was conservative and did not ordain gays.. but then someone decided they should and many members found their Church had left them.

Same with the Presbyterians.

The ELCA Evangelical Lutheran Church of America began softening their views on such things.  Began with Gay pastors, softened on abortion and such things. I was at one time a member of the ELCA and left over the abortion stance.

It's not always theological. Sometimes it is error, corruption, bad leadership or outright crime.

Sometimes it is a wrong headed focus on things that are not your heart.  Many churches tried hard to become pure cell churches a decade or two ago and it caused great hurt and dissolved congregations.

Some churches became part of the shepherding movement and it destroyed them.

Some churches got on certain national revival bandwagons and when those wagons ran off the road they went with. I remember well the big Satellite dishes in church yards tuned into a Robert Tilton revival from Texas long ago.  Those buildings soon emptied out.

Then there are the churches that become manipulators. There was a church in Minnesota I know about where the Pastor became the top line of every MLM scheme that came along.  No longer were teachings about the heart of God but how we would all get rich soon.  No one did, the church folded.

Recently a Pastor I know was arrested for child molestation.  He had two churches he pastored.  They are both now defunct.  No one left the church, the church left them.

I know of several churches were an il-advised building program was the beginning of the end of that congregation.  Too much too soon.  Great faith idea, with little thought about what if.

Sometimes a church sets you aside.  You no longer are part of the team. You don't fit.  You are simply a long time attendee visitor.  This happens when membership is the focus, not discipleship.  When you no longer have a ministry you have to move on to stay healthy.  The church essentially divorced you.

The BIG C church never does, but the small c often will.

When you find yourself in this situation, don't jump quickly. It might be an aberration, perhaps repentance will set in.  But if a church leaves you adrift and sets sail in a direction you can no longer embrace, you are left..

It's like bankruptcy and insolvency. You can be insolvent, broke, not visible means, but not yet bankrupt except in principle.  Until you declare yourself bankrupt, you are stuck.  Someday however when your church has left you, you are motherless, you are alone.  Declare and start to get well.

You'll be cursed and if it's the Really Wrong kind of church you'll be called all kinds of names and shunned.  It that's the case, is wasn't soon enough.  If like my experience is, that you are still loved and accepted, even if you leave.. the move was right.

Always go for more light and look out for the crazy people.. even the ones on the elder board or in the pulpit. 

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