Should I Change Churches?

Sturko church building
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I recently read How to Choose a Church by Bruce Reyes-Chow and wanted to take time to share with you some of the things that I share with people considering either leaving Resurrection for another church or beginning to attend Resurrection from another church.

It really matter to me whether you attend Resurrection or not. What I care about is that you are part of a faith community where you are both comfortable and challenged. I don’t want you to dread coming to worship every Sunday, nor should participation in the community be a chore for you. However, I hoep that you would be involved in a church where you are challenged to continue to grow and develop in your faith. Each one of us is on a journey of growing in our faith and the church in which you participate plays a big role in that journey. If that place is at Resurrection, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too. I care most about you growing in your faith and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

How do you feel about this response? What conversations have you had with people leaving a church to attend another? What could be done better? What is good about this approach?

5 thoughts on “Should I Change Churches?

  1. A lot of it depends on why they are leaving or coming. If there is anger somewhere, there might not be anything that you can. If they are dissatisfied with the children’s program, the youth program, etc – if they just aren’t fitting in – I believe that grace can be extended in such a way that you can help them not feel guilty.

    I think it is helpful that they consider the reason behind their change – that they prayerfully think it through (many times the change is more emotional than anything) This consideration of their decision, while it may not change the decision, will at least help them view the new place with less distorted eyes

  2. Andrew,

    This is a difficult issue where for me the pastoral collides with the ecclesiological. Your answer is a very pastoral one, and I have given it many times myself. Yet I feel a tension because I think there are ways in which a church membership is closer to a marriage covenant or a deep friendship than it is a gym membership.

    The marriage or friendship analogy means sticking it out even when things aren’t at all “comfortable” or even when you don’t feel “challenged.” Instead of leaving, work to make it a better relationship or environment. In this analogy leaving is only appropriate when we feel there is abuse or serious harm possible to us if we stay.

    The reality is almost everyone who is considering a church change is asking questions more appropriate of a gym membership. “Are my needs being met?” “Are there people I like here?” “Do I have fun?” etc. While those aren’t always bad questions, esp for the nominally religious, I am not sure they speak to a deeply mature faith. But saying this usually means a confrontation which is difficult to do when someone already has one foot out the door.

    Like I said, a difficult issue.

  3. How can I answer this and keep it short? I think I wrote at least 2 blog/journal entries on this while considering changing my membership to CoR! I agree with Amy above that church membership is more than gym membership. I did stick it out with my former church even when things were not comfortable. However, if the relationship is not nourishing, in the end it will die, as my relationship with that institutional church (though not with the people of that church) eventually did. Now that death was both our faults (to use divorce language) but dead was dead. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my lack of attendance in a Christian community, I did not look to returning to that church (even though there had been a pastoral change in the interim) as one of my realistic options. Further proof of how seriously I take church membership is the fact that I attended CoR for 16 months before moving my membership from my former church. (You all stuck with me now, hehe.) One bit of counsel I would offer those considering changing churches–don’t make your decisions in high emotional states, either good or bad. When I started at CoR, it was a spiritual high for me to just be back in Christian community. It was good for me to wait a little before actually moving my “paper” to CoR. I would not make a decision to leave a fellowship while angry, miffed or whatever either. Just a few cents worth from an (over)educated layperson.

  4. I wanted to respond to Amy’s response that Church membership is similar to a marriage. I would like to share a passage from the Imitation of Christ that I believe supports Amy’s statement. It reads,

    “Your love for your friend should be grounded in Me, and for My sake you should love whoever seems to be good and is very dear to you in this life. Without Me friendship has no strength and cannot endure. Love which I do not bind is neither true nor pure.”

    I think this statement points out that with anything we do, friendship, marriage, church membership, bible study, etc., it all has to be grounded in Christ in order for it to be fruitful. If I’m only going to church to be entertained I’m really missing the boat. It’s simply not about us, it’s about worshiping and thanking God for what he has done for us through his Son. It’s about being connected with God so that we can walk on the paths of righteousness He places before us. If that aspect is not there, then it makes sense why many people run from one church to another constantly searching for something that will never satisfy them. In my opinion they looking at themselves and not to Christ. This is a very human condition (to be self-centered), which I struggle with in my walk. I’m constantly reminding myself that “It’s not about me!” :)

    I think you are on the right path with your counsel. I encourage you to also help the person to discern why they want to leave and maybe help them to seek God’s guidance so that they can find a place of worship where their membership will endure and grow in Christ.

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