DISCLAIMER: I have NOT written this post with any individual or incident in mind; it is a general observation only!
I've been attending church since 9 months before I was born. I've seen church attenders come and go. I've seen church splits. I've witnessed people leaving with grace and I've witnessed people leaving with their panties in a wad.
Here's how to leave a church the WRONG way:
- Make a scene - be sure to damage your witness, the church's witness, and the pastor's witness with everyone within earshot. OR -
- Don't tell the pastor your leaving. Just quietly quit coming.
- Talk about the pastor - pretend to be his friend, then stab him in the back with everyone you meet for the next couple of years.
- Take as many people as you can with you - whether they were involved or not, make sure they never set foot in church again, ANYWHERE.
- Financially cripple the church - make sure they know you were a giver and you're taking it all away.
- Keep friends with the newer members of the church - and try to drive a wedge between them and the pastor.
- Call the pastor all kinds of names - "sticks and stones" is only a nursery rhyme anyway.
- Hold a grudge - eventually, the taste of bile in your mouth won't taste as bitter; at least that's the story going around.
- Make snarky remarks to and about the pastor's family - that's the best way to get back at the preacher.
- Blame everyone else, especially the pastor - he's an easy target anyway and, after all, dodging personal responsibility IS the American Way!
- Be the victim - your behavior had absolutely NOTHING to do with the problem.
- Take your problem with you to the next church - after all, running away solves everything, doesn't it?
- Call the pastor and tell him off - he doesn't have anything better to do than to listen to your rant, and he probably had it coming.
- Completely ignore the pastor and his family - especially if you see them in a restaurant or Walmart.
- Exaggerate and embellish your story to others - be sure to leave out the parts about how you said or did this or that; that might make YOU look bad.
- Don't pray about leaving - just do it on impulse.
- Stop going to church completely - never again enter a church building; that'll show 'em!
I, personally, have left 13 churches in the past nearly 50 years. Only one of them was over a disagreement (theological in nature), and that's when I changed denominations to become Southern Baptist. (during college) The rest were because I moved away. Even when I didn't like the pastor or when I had disagreements with other members, I never once considered leaving.
I have not experienced each of the above scenarios, but I have been on the receiving end of several.
From a pastor's point of view, it isn't fun. Not fun at all.
Pastors take a hard rap for everything that goes wrong in the church. Quite frankly, it's like trying to herd cats. With a few bobcats thrown in for excitement.
Believe it or not, but pastors are NOT perfect. I know a few of them THINK they are, but they aren't. Most of us are WELL acquainted with the fact that we are indeed fallible. We make bad decisions. We make decisions on what we believe to be God's will for the church as a whole. We make people mad by not giving into their silly whims or even sillier arguments. We make people mad by not kowtowing to their every beck and call. And God FORBID that you don't go visit someone in the hospital or miss greeting them at church!
Undoubtedly, this post will upset some people. Some people will immediately think I've written it about them. Well, I haven't..
Part of the problem with people getting mad and leaving a church has to do with the fact that they've lost their focus. They start believing church is for them and about them, instead of having anything to do with serving God and serving others.
Can you add any more wrong ways to leave a church?