When it’s a good time to leave…

In our culture, committment and community is a lost art.  Any moron can see that… in marriages, families, business, and now – churches.  Especially our church.  Since last April, there have been roughly 200 people that have decided that it’s time for a divorce from our congregation.  Now, I haven’t talked to everyone… in fact, I’ve only heard second-hand information and read letters written by the divorcees as to their reasoning behind their decision.  And, without exception, every person has left because they disagree with some decision that the church has made.  This may seem like a perfectly justifiable reason in our day, but it’s not biblical.  
In Paul’s day, churches were openly engaged in incredible acts of sexual immorality, greed, self-indulgence, and the like.  And Paul talks about how much he loves those churches, and prays for them, and how he couldn’t wait to see them.  In our day, if everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) isn’t just the way we like it… we’re out.  This isn’t Burger King!  But, I can’t say I blame these divorcees.  I mean, this is how we do business.  If our spouse doesn’t give us "that lovin’ feelin’" anymore, we simply find someone who will.  If our gym does anything to upset us, we find another gym.  If a restaurant screws up our order, we yell at the waitress, and go somewhere else.  If our cell phone company is terrible, we mouth off to the Customer Service Rep, and we switch companies.  If our health insurance provider is a pain in our … backsides…, we give them a piece of our mind, and we find the perfect company.  If the school that our kids attend decides that "Mandy Has 2 Mommies" is mandatory reading, then we put them in Christian School.  If someone makes you mad on Facebook, you just delete them from your friends list.  Is the church on the same level as the gym, Applebee’s, AT&T, and Facebook?  
Outside of America, the church is a sacred community.  America has turned everything into a commodity.  The church is simply a club that you join and you stay a member as long as you like the product.  Because, it’s all about YOU.  If production changes, you yell at the pastor, and go somewhere else.  The only problem with that is you’ll be hardpressed to find 1 verse from God’s Word to back up your decision.  The Bible talks about submitting yourself to the leadership of your church (Heb. 13:17).  The Bible talks about the fact that the church is the body – if you cut yourself out of the body, you cause serious damage to the body.  The Bible talks about being a servant, and resisting pride, and loving others more than yourself, and denying the flesh, and to do everything without complaining and grumbling… 
John Calvin and Martin Luther talked about the distinguishing marks of a church.  Their conclusion?  Wherever the gospel is rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly administered, that’s a healthy church.  So, if you belong to a church that is rightly handling the word of God – they’re staying away from the popular prosperity gospel, a works-based gospel, and all heresies – and if your church correctly administers the Sacraments – baptism and communion – you’ve got a body to belong to for the rest of your life.  There will be no decisions that the leadership makes, there will be no sermon that the pastor preaches, there will be no music style, no children’s program, no paint color, landscaping design, and coffee flavor that will be reason enough to surgically remove yourself from that body – as long as the Word is rightly taught, and the Sacraments rightly administered.  And, not only will you remain in that body, but you will serve joyfully in that body, doing EVERYTHING without complaining or grumbling.  Any questions?  

3 thoughts on “When it’s a good time to leave…

  1. Yet, the church today is not what it was 2000 years ago… As far as I know the Biblical "church" is made up of all believers everywhere… correct? So how can one really "leave" the church unless they go to play for a different team? (as Driscoll would call other religions)Is there a Biblical reason to leave a church? Where does the Bible say we need to attend 1 church at one location forever?

  2. You’re right – there is the "church universal" and the "local church". Once we are a child of God, we are in the "church universal". You join a church body to worship God together, and to further God’s Kingdom together. Since the church is referred to as "the body", it would seem rather painful to remove yourself from the body, wouldn’t it? The biblical reason to leave a church would be if they’re preaching heresy (Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Casey Treat, etc.) or not leading their body in baptism and communion.

  3. Another thought (from a friend of mine), how does a person obey that Hebrews 13:7, 17 passage, without being in a local body of believers? And what does it mean to submit to that body? Isn’t submission exactly the act of staying and obeying when you want to leave?

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