Leaving the Firm
To have a really healthy church, you need to develop a climate that allows people to leave your church gracefully.
The church I came from years ago was sort of like the movie The Firm. Once you were in, you could never leave–at least not without controversy.
If you left the church, many people thought you were:
1) Betraying the pastor
2) Abandoning your friends
3) Disobeying God
After someone left, they were treated like they were leaving Christianity. That’s a tragedy.
People change. What they have to offer a church changes. What they need from a church changes. When things change, hopefully you will have created an environment that allows people the opportunity to move on without controversy and pain.
At LifeChurch.tv, we have a one year membership covenant. Every December, I ask our whole church to prayerfully consider if this is where God wants them next year. If not, I encourage them to visit other churches. This empowers the people to leave on good terms.
These people often write “thank you” notes to me as they leave. When I see them in public, we don’t have hard feelings. They aren’t “trash-talking” our church. And they still love God… they’re simply worshiping Him at another church.