We’ve finally made it into the top 5 in our countdown of top posts for 2013. This one came in at number 5 and for good reason. When it comes to church world I frequently hear conversations about churches trying to reach and keep everybody. Truth is, no church can do that, and in fact what you’ll learn in this post, is that sometimes it’s good that they leave.
Over the past 17 years of full time local church ministry I’ve seen people come and go from churches for all kinds of reasons. For the most part I’ve observed that those reasons have more to do with personal preference, style, and relationships than God actually “calling” them to be at one church or another.
And when this begins to happen I’ve seen Church Staff agonize over people departing from their churches. Frustration and fear can begin to creep in. How are we going to replace their financial support? Who is going to fill their recently vacated volunteer role? If they’re leaving and they’ve been here so long, then is there something wrong? Do they know something that I don’t? Should I be leaving too?
Even worse I’ve seen Church Staff begin to make decisions rooted in the fear of people leaving as opposed to the advancement of the mission. And when that begins to happen it’s a clear indicator that the church is drifting towards becoming insider focused.
What if I told you that people leaving your church can actually be a good thing? Maybe even the best thing? Below are 5 reasons that it’s actually good when people leave your Church:
1. They fell in love with who you were, not with who you are becoming
They’re stuck in the past. They were there when the church was small enough that you could know everybody by name and the Pastor was more available. Or maybe their favorite Staff Member excelled in their role when the church was smaller but it passed by their capacity and they’ve been moved to a different role, or they’re off the bus all together. Now things have changed and they’ve become critical that things aren’t the same anymore. You know people are stuck in the past when they keep talking about the “good ‘ole days” instead of what God is doing now.
2. It creates new opportunities
When people leave your church it creates an opportunity for new people to jump in, serve, and fill the gap. The exciting thing about new people is they always have fresh eyes, a different experience base, a new perspective, and new ideas. When people leave your church it’s an incredible opportunity for an infusion of new talent and ideas that will help propel things forward.
3. It keeps the Unity of the Church
When someone is dissatisfied, disgruntled, and defaming the Church and the Leadership of the Church, you’ve got a problem. The goal would obviously be to win their heart, but sometimes someone leaving the church is best for the unity of the church. The Scriptures are clear that the unity of the believers is paramount and nothing to fool around with. Simply put if someone can’t submit to the leadership of the church, then they need to go. To dig into this more here’s a post I wrote some time ago about “When is it Right to Leave a Church?”
4. To Start a New Church or a New Campus
When you’re sending some of your best volunteers to go support a new church plant or campus, that’s a great reason for someone to leave a church. Hiving off people to start a new church or campus not only is catalytic in the support of that new work, but also if done well it infuses an entrepreneurial Gospel driven spirit in the culture of the sending church and creates room for new people who have yet to say yes to following Jesus!
5. It Forces Staff to Develop New Talent
Churches are notorious for having the same people volunteer in the same role week after week, month after month, year after year. In fact a lot of churches get stuck in their volunteer culture for this very reason. Many Staff even have their “go to” volunteers that they know, love, and trust. And while it’s not bad to know, love, and trust a volunteer, if it leads you to over using or abusing a volunteer that’s another thing altogether. When people leave your church who were volunteering, it forces Staff to allow “outsiders” to break in.
The truth is people are always going to leave your church. Some will receive a job transfer, others will relocate for family reasons, while still others will simply get mad at you because you didn’t behave the way they expected you to and they’ll take their toys and go to another church down the street. The good news is you get to choose who goes and who stays by the leadership decisions you make every day.