The following is part of Antioch’s membership course, being part of the church covenant section. We recognize that sometimes there are disagreements within a church, and believe this is a good summary of the biblical principles guiding how to respond to those situations. The content is adapted from What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever.
Before You Decide to Leave a Church:
- Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel.
- Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?
- Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships.
- Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life—places where God’s work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more (Matt. 7:3–5).
- Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).
If You Go:
- Have enough manners at least to inform a pastor/elder, rather than just ‘sneaking off’ in the dark; we love you more than that! (Even the secular world gives notice before leaving a job.)
- Don’t cause unnecessary division or strife in the body; leave quietly.
- Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don’t want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred to as “venting” or “saying how you feel”).
- Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.
- If there has been hurt, then forgive—even as you have been forgiven.