Should we leave our church if we are questioning leadership decisions?
Question from a reader:
We are beginning to have some questions about how we see the finances being managed at the church we’ve been attending for about four years. How do we know if our concerns warrant leaving the church or not? We know we are to be in a community of believers and don't want to give up on our church. Do you have any Biblical advice on this?
Answer from Karen Coleman, EPM staff:
This is a difficult challenge you are facing! It’s good to know at the outset that God is sovereign, faithful and wise; He knows your hearts; He know your needs; He wants you in community with a particular Body of Christ where you live; and He knows now where that is! We know all of that for certain, and that is a great foundation to build on.
It seems you have at least two choices: Stay where you are, or start looking for another church. It will require seeking all God’s wisdom to discern His will for you and your family in this. I would recommend a time of fasting and prayer for you as a couple to seriously commit this to the Lord. If your children are old enough to understand your dilemma, you could involve them in the process as well.
- Stay where you are. If God leads you to stay, you will need wisdom to discern how he wants you to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesian 4:15) at your church. You want your church to gain an eternal perspective that we are “living for the line and not for the dot” (this concept is spelled out carefully in Randy’s book, The Treasure Principle and actually that book would be great to read and share as well) and how to be good stewards and give sacrificially. Could you sit down with your pastor and lovingly lay out your concerns in a spirit of humility? Could you gather with your community group, or even another couple or two in the church, to share a meal and listen to a David Platt sermon and discuss it together, and begin a sort of grass roots movement to encourage more church involvement in missions? If you are to stay, God could use you to bring Biblical transformation, again done in love and humility. It might be slow and discouraging at times, but He would be right there with you every step of the way.
- Start looking. This could be something you will be led by the Spirit to do soon. Or if He leads you to stay now, but eventually there is no response to your speaking the truth in love, perhaps this will come later.
Here are a few links to outside sources that may be of help to you in this season:
- Randy highly respects John Piper’s Desiring God website and here is a short clip on this subject: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/when-should-i-leave-my-church
- And another article: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-you-frustrated-with-your-local-church
- This article specifically addresses families with disabled children, but the principles still apply: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-kinds-of-churches-worth-leaving
- This article, from another website Randy respects, is coming at the issue from the opposite perspective, but again there are principles that may apply: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-to-say-to-church-members-leaving-for-poor-reasons
There is a potential third option, again that would require much prayer. If you leave your current church and can’t find a new church, but you discover some like-minded people in the process, perhaps God would ask you to start a new fellowship with them. See http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/simple-church-planting
I am praying for you to have God’s mind on this as you seek Him and move forward. This may require an Epaphras kind of prayer: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Colossians 4:12
Karen Coleman is a ministry assistant at Eternal Perspective Ministries. She spent 23 years in Cameroon, West Africa involved in Bible translation and missionary care. Before going to Africa and before EPM began, she served as Randy’s assistant when he was a pastor.