HELP! I’m a pastor and someone just left my church. [Part II]

This is part II of a 2 part series. To read part I click here.

How would you want to be treated by a pastor if you were the who left the church? Whatever that is, do that. Don’t freak out every time someone leaves. Sometimes when someone leaves it’s addition by subtraction. There are some people who are so stuck in the way things used to be that it is healthy for them to step away.

When should you be concerned when someone leaves your church?

  1. The unchurched no longer show up and when they do, they don’t find Christ. If your church doesn’t reach the lost, then you have greater problems than church exits. If the Gospel is being spread and people are coming to Jesus then accept that some will not go with you on the entire journey. Bless and release. But if the church isn’t reaching new people then you should be concerned.
  2. Your church leadership is know for their gossip. Honor is a two-way street. No pastor or staff member is perfect, but they should work hard to set the example for the rest of the church. If a staff member treats or discusses the departure of a member publicly, it is cause for concern.
  3. The story never changes. People leave for various reasons, but if their reasons begin to sound the same, it’s time to search your own soul. In the first year of a church plant, I heard many people say, “I love this church, but we cannot attend Sunday nights.” What started to alarm me was I was also heard, “My unchurched friends don’t want to come to a Sunday night church.” That was enough for me to pray and ask God for direction and eventually, change how we function as a church.

Whenever someone leaves it will be personal and most likely, some feelings will be hurt. Relationships are incredibly difficult. Change is difficult. Remember when someone leaves, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. When someone leaves It simply means their season under your ministry and in your church has ended. Respond with grace and you may see some of the people that leave come back.

What Do You See?

What questions do you have about this? What is one take-away that you’d like to apply?

Showing 2 comments
  • Stewart

    A post that would interest me is what to do with the person who “leaves” but doesn’t leave. They stop coming to worship, but continue to show up at other things. They make it clear it’s because they don’t like your preaching (or vision, or personality or theology or whatever). They have many friendships in the church though. So they shop up at church events so long as you aren’t teaching. It is clearly damaging to unity and momentum. What’s the pastoral responsibility both to the individual? To the lay leadership? To the congregation?

    • Rob Shepherd

      Stewart, that is a great question. That is one that takes wisdom, discernment, and a lot of prayer. Here are some quick thoughts to get you started. 1. You need support. Whether it’s with your staff or leadership team do not wrestle through this alone. 2. Mt. 18 – talk to the person first, let them know how it’s impacting the church. Show you care. If that stops it then you have won them over. If not, then bring your support for backup. You may have to help them transition to a new church. You may have to have hard conversations.

      At the end of the day as the shepherd you are there to protect your sheep. If there is a wolf in sheeps clothing that is causing hurt, division etc. they need to be addressed. There is too much at stake to let them destroy what God is doing.

      Let me know if you read this and we can set up a time to talk more if needed.

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