5 Awesome Reasons to Leave Your Church

Recently, Relevant Magazine an article entitled 5 Really Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church. As someone who has experience leaving a church, I felt compelled to respond. 

There are five reasons in the article, but they all boil down to this one:

"My needs aren't being met"

Hooooo boy, American Evangelical churches hate when their members have needs. This is because they view themselves as locked in an eternal battle with the forces of Satan. The pastor is the general and his flock are soldiers. Soldiers obey. They don't complain, and they certainly don't have needs.

But the church also needs to put non-Christian asses in seats so that people hear The Gospel. So they have to provide whizz-bang worship services, engaging sermons, and comfortable seating. 

But here's the catch: these frills are not really intended for members. Once you become a soldier in God's army, you are expected to serve until it hurts . You are expected to surrender your comfortable seat if a potential recruit needs it. 
This is a bait and switch. 

Let's use my former church as an example.

One of the the pastors there bragged that when someone told him they didn't like one of the songs , he had replied, "Well, we weren't singing it to you."

A good soldier doesn't complain about their countries national anthem, you see.

Once they showed a video that compared a good church to a battleship and a bad church to a cruise ship. This means that in their mind, a bad church is keeps it's members safe, and if people get hurt, they apologize and make amends. A bad church recharges people instead of draining them.

On the other hand, a good church is one where people obey orders and people's comfort and safety aren't important. It's a place that you can't leave.

This is how the church was run. They pushed for people to become members as soon as possible. Small group leaders were strongly encouraged to have members sign covenants promising to attend the group so that, as one pastor put it, "if they don't live up to their end of the agreement you can hold it in their face and call them out" (paraphrase). 

People who practically lived at the church (because they were in so many ministries) were held up as shining examples that others should aspire to be.
Young couples expecting their first child were told not to just "check out" because they were parents now. And we were constantly reminded that it wasn't about us and our needs. 

But nothing could change the fact that members weren't actually soldiers and could therefore leave whenever they felt like it. So other tactics had to be employed. We would be frequently reminded that we were one of only a handful of "bible believing churches" in our corner of the state. The phenomenon of "church shopping" was roundly decried. The membership covenant with the church was likened to a marriage (and we all know how Evangelicals feel about divorce). 

So what? I hear some people say. Anecdotal evidence, that's all you've got!

Then why did Relevant feel the need to write the article?

Because what Relevant (and churches like MFC) want you to forget is that you have agency. You have choice.

You can leave if it's too big or too small or too far away. You can leave because the sermons are boring or because you don't like the style of worship. It's up to you. Just as you can choose to trade in your car, move to a different city, or start a new job.

They want you to forget that the best reason for leaving a church is the one that you pick.

They want you to forget that sometimes, it is about you and your needs, and that's OK. 

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