Perhaps you are struggling with whether you should stay in your church or leave. Do you know how to decide?
There are good reasons to leave your church and there are bad reasons. Here are some good reasons to exercise the feet God gave you and walk away.
1. Different Doctrinal Beliefs
This first and most important reason to leave a church is when the name on the church sign does not include you.
If it says Baptist, and you are not a Baptist, then you should leave. It’s not your party. By staying you are creating dishonesty, drama, or division.
The ecumenicist says the worst reason to leave your church “family” is over doctrinal differences, but in reality it is the most important.
The function of a church is to grow together in the knowledge of the truth. If you cannot agree on what that is, then your future there is vain at best, or detrimental to your faith and integrity at worst.
Unless you’re considering a conversion to the Assembly of God, then you should not climb the steps of Mt. Pisgah every Sunday.
2. Abuse or Misuse of the Bible
If you can’t find a Bible in the church, it’s time to scram.
If Bible study is not encouraged, taught, or practiced, then move on.
If the pastor disparages, corrects, retranslates, or mocks God’s preserved words, then they are not the kind of friends you need.
Is the Bible used for slogans, but applied out of context to sanctify pastoral opinions? Beware and look for the exits. The Bible must be believed, given highest authority, respected, and rightly divided.
3. Sin Is Not Mourned
Leaving upon first sight of sin in a church is a bad reason to leave. Churches should be able to minister to sinners. All have sinned, even people in church pews. Grace deals with sin.
However, when the church continues, encourages, or endorses sin then it’s time to hit the door. It should be obvious that grace does not give license to walk contrary to God (sin). When the church leadership does not recognize this, they are serving a different god than you.
4. The Gospel is Hid
If your church teaches the gospel as:
… asking Jesus into your life;
… a personal relationship with the Lord;
… making Jesus Lord of your life;
… sacrificing your all to Christ;
… repentance and confession;
… following Jesus;
… John 3:16;
… then they are hiding the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. The Bible describes this ministry, but it is not from the right god (2 Cor 4:4; 2 Cor 11:13-15).
5. Sound Doctrine is Not a Priority
Does your pastor fail to answer simple questions such as:
Have you heard of the dispensation of the grace of God? (Eph 3:2)
Do you know what are the mysteries of God? (1 Cor 4:1-2)
Can you explain God’s will? (1 Tim 2:3-4; 1 Thess 5:18)
When did the church begin and why is it important?
If the priority of your church is to preach Christ and “if necessary use words”, then it’s time to take your leave. Not only is the pastor ignorant of the most important tasks of a faithful steward, but cannot preach Christ correctly which is “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom 16:25).
6. More Money than ministry
When your church talks more about money than ministry (evangelism & edification), then you have found yourself in a business not a church.
When a group operates on the “customer is always right” business principle, then truth will be the first thing to leave, and you should lead the way.
In fact, the first mention of required tithing should be your cue to stand up and declare the liberty you have in Christ to walk out the door. You have found a church that teaches the law and Christ has removed you from underneath it.
(Tithing is Israel’s law and places you under a curse; grace giving is the Pauline principle.)
7. You Are Not Looking for A Church
While these may be good reasons perhaps you question whether these reasons are good enough.
After all, even though you disagree doctrinally, the people are nice and friendly. Though the Bible is rarely used, at least there is a sense of community and a warm environment that feels right. Besides, if the church took a position on certain sins or wrong teachings then many would not feel welcome. And everyone knows the church needs money to keep the lights on, so who cares if they call it tithing or not… right?
If this is true of you then you have just identified a good reason to leave a church: you are not looking for one. You want a friendly community that loves people more than God’s righteousness and truth. This is not a church.
A properly functioning church is where God’s rightly divided word of truth is preached, practiced, publicized, and prioritized as the pillar. Since you are not in the market for a church, if you find yourself in one… perhaps you should leave before you corrupt a good thing.
8. The Best Reason
If you are looking for such a church, you desire a good thing. It may be you are the first to desire such a church in your area. Churches are built by people with such desire (1 Tim 3:1).
The best reason to leave your church is to start one. The first step towards the right church is to leave the wrong one you’re in.