When to call it quits

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine last night about the nature of churches. The fundamental question that came up was, when are we justified to leave a church?

At the local church I am currently attending, what started out as a humble, 70-ish or so people gathering at a movie theatre (read: only a dozen or so cornell students) within the last two years has attracted to nearly 200 regular attendees, and about 50 or so Cornellians. That being said, there has also been a noticeable shift in the nature of sermons within the congregation. Comparing a sermon series from last fall (Sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, picking apart verse by verse to see the meaning of living out the Kingdom on earth) and this fall (Series on How to Overcome your fears, with fears from loneliness to spending too much money, to fear of God).

It’s not difficult to see that the direction of the church has moved towards more of a Christian advice-y, seeker friendly, relevant church that has moved away from more of its exegetical, Christ-focused preaching. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more churches like these all across the United States — in an effort to attract those within a community, to focus more on the benefits of Christian life and less on the atonement and sacrifice and glory of the cross — not as extremist as the prosperity gospel, but somewhere sketchily between.

But where do you draw that line? How do you maintain the wholeness and integrity of the Gospel while keeping its relevance to culture?

And,… for those attending said churches, when would it be okay to leave?

Personally, more often than not, I’d feel like I’d be coping out on a congregation by picking up my bible and notebook every time something like this happened. At my home church in Chicago, a number of members left when our English pastor left — only to return this past summer when we received a new one. But, what loyalty does that show to the church? Or are we not leaving because of comfort issues?

Sigh… who knows. Back to complex integration.

1 Response to “When to call it quits”

  1. 1 faithwalker December 3, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    I wouldn’t try to comment on your church, because I don’t anything about it. However concerning the subject of this post I would say that some pastors change their approach as more people come into the congregation because the people comming are lost, new in their walk, fallen away and comming back, etc. The pastors want to give them material they can grab onto and not intense study of scripture that might make them leave before they become connected in the church. This scripture comes to mind:

    Hebrew 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

    That is why life groups, home study groups, and Bible study groups are important to the church. It is a place where the more mature Christians can meet and do in depth studies to grow in the word and get more into the meat!

    Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

    On the other hand I won’t deny there are many apostate churches that are preaching a happy feel good without having to be good gospel! You have to be discerning and if what is being taught is not founded in the word of God and backed by scripture then I would be looking for another church. I also realize there are many people who change churches like they change thier shirts. I don’t agree with that unless you have been lead by the Lord to leave or find false teaching then you should support your church. Things aren’t always going to be perfect, because we aren’t perfect. As far as when or whether you should leave your church, it is not uncommon for God to move people around to different churches to use you there to serve his purpose. Pray and ask for the guidance of his Holy Spirit and then follow that guidance whether it be stay or leave. JMHO! :-)

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