An Honorable Way to Leave
NOTE: The origin of this idea started with a friend.
Recently a church experienced a number of people and families leaving. Many of those people had their feelings hurt because no one from the church called to find out why they left. From the church’s perspective, they left without telling anyone, so why call them? A lot of people were left with a bitter taste.
Problem: Many people that leave church drift away, and don’t feel love tugging them back. Other people have a beef with leadership, and almost slink away in shame. Still others fall into sin and disgrace, and simply find it easier to start over somewhere else.
Is it right to spend 5, 10, 20 or more good years together, then separate like the pagans do? It feels terribly dysfunctional.
Would it not bless Christ’s kingdom if our churches would devise an honorable way for people to leave? If someone is called to leave-even if it is because of a dispute-can’t we bless them? Can’t we send them? Can’t we celebrate our good days together? Think of Paul and John Mark splitting-at least they parted on good enough terms that later they could get back together again.
Two Points for Your Church’s Exit Strategy
Here’s a two-point plan…
- Assign a “pastor of separation” who has the guts to love those who are leaving without taking it personally. We have pastors of assimilation; why not assign a pastor to separation?
- Publish the exit strategy in writing and through a sermon. Tell people that instead of just one day disappearing from the radar, “Come, tell us you’re leaving, where you’re being called to, and let us bless you and send you!” Of course, you may also have to challenge some of those who leave.
Let’s grace rather than guilt those who leave us. Letting people get away from us without knowing why they left or where they’ve gone is not only terribly dysfunctional, but completely lacking in neighbor-love. In a word from a bygone era, it is sin.
To God be the glory for the great things He has done and continues to do!