To Leave A Church

leave a churchHere is an admission: I have belonged to, at separate times, over six years, three different churches within the same city. Now this would make many of us cringe, especially those who have at one time Googled reasons to leave a church and absorbed into your memory the answers of John Piper or Mark Dever. There is indeed a caution to leaving any church and the caution that these men give are worthy. However, another caution should be given to those who take this answer dogmatically and parrot it to any who hint at straying from his or her membership.

Calvary Chapel

The Lord saved me in a Pentecostal, Assemblies of God Church. I do not count this among the three as I moved from that area to another state. I found myself, a new Christian, at a local Calvary Chapel. Was this a mistake? No. Is something inherently wrong with this “denomination?” No. But new Christians grow, not in a sense that you are being fed more meat than other Christians, but in theological convictions. Not primary issues, but secondary matters. So over the next couple of years as I continued to study the word of God, I found myself a cessationist in a tongue speaking congregation, a Calvinist among 2-pointers?, amillennial among avid dispensationalists, trying to keep my child in service among those who were against it, singing highly effeminate worship songs, and being told by an elder that everyone was elect. Now for my Piper/Dever brethren, you are still going to hold that one should only leave a congregation in dire circumstance, but I have to attest that for me these were dire circumstances. I found myself becoming critical, frustrated, and frankly tired of having to re-teach my family or explain to my child why I disagree with what she had learned. I hear the Piper/Dever advocates turning the tide by telling me I need to search my own sinful nature, talk more with the elders, etc., all of which should be entertained, but I will venture that a man in my stead, responsible for the spiritual well being of my wife and children, falling on the opposite side of all secondary issues, is able to serve Jesus with more vigor in another setting, so I moved on to the world of PCA.

PCA

The PCA was a breath of fresh air: The sovereignty of God abounded, a non-dispensational eschatology, a historic confession of faith, hymns, children in service, etc. Praise the Lord. But Christians, seeking the word of God, continue to grow. This church was fairly new, had a large college crowd and it follows that as the elders beg for help in the church (as every church seems to do), the college kids, being single and needing “college credit” were the first to volunteer, praise God! By the way, the youth group had a new paint scheme on the van!!! However, over time the hymns turned to breathy worship and pads and raging guitar solos, “children’s church” began to flourish, and three services, regardless of “small groups,” made it hard to connect. I soon found out that this church was designed all along as a ‘seeker’ church. Again, the Piper/Dever pupils see no reason one should even contemplate leaving such a predicament. But, here we are a married couple with three children, in a seeker church full of single college kids, longing for older couples to look up to, hymns to sing, again tired of effeminate worship, theological apologies given by elders, and a tier of three services to wade through for fellowship. On a whim, we visited the CREC church.

CREC

The CREC was again a breath of fresh air. From the Candle Factory to a crisp mountain breeze. The Pipers and Devers are really stirring now. But Christians, seeking the word of God, continue to grow. At this point, I had concluded there was no theological basis for ‘children’s church,’ youth group, and had a strong Biblical conviction for psalms and hymns to be sung, children sitting with their family in service, and an eschatology of hope and victory. To be honest, I met more people in one Sunday after service then I did in two years at the PCA. We sung psalms, hymns, children were sitting with their parents, children take communion upon being baptized (which to me has always seemed consistent biblically for a Presbyterian), the liturgy was not a song/sermon package but an interactive time of worship to our Triune God. It is a thriving community with many weekly excursions that nearly everyone attends. There are many children and many godly families to strive after. In essence, all of our secondary convictions find their rest in this one local body of Christ. Therefore, upon discussion with our elders and being sent with their blessing, this is where we will switch our membership and call our home church. 

Conclusion

Finally, here is where all the ‘cut-downs’ begin and they will go something like this: “What happens when your views change again?  you will end up a Catholic! Don’t you know worship is not about you, but is to God!!? Why are you dividing the body of Christ over petty matters?? what about the Federal Vision? and on and on…… These questions will be answered here and frankly I do not find them important or relevant, but let me end with this:

We begin our new life with milk and grow to meat. In this growth all will reach crossroads in which their secondary theological convictions will part ways with another. We then reach a point, as we are working things out, that these convictions form a large rock pile and must flourish in another setting. We can discuss the Piper/Dever answers all day but it ultimately comes down to this: Be in the place where you can most whole-heartedly serve King Jesus and serve him.

Feel free to leave a comment, they are appreciated……