by Mikal Keefer
Are You Done With Church?
It finally struck you: Maybe not forever, but for now…you’re done with church.
Still, you want to step away from church, not every friend in your faith community.
How do you navigate those waters?
• Know why you’re leaving
If you’re bowing out because of an unresolved relational issue, do your best to respectfully address it before you exit.
If the issue is theological, a distrust of how power is leveraged, or your needs have changed, clearly state to yourself what’s prompting your departure.
You’ll need to know why you’re leaving so you can then…
• Talk with a church leader
If people at your church have prayed for you, fed you, and encouraged you, you owe someone the courtesy of a conversation before you disappear.
Be gracious, thankful, and generous as you go. Explain why you’re leaving so the church leadership has your feedback.
And if spiritual dysfunction or abuse prompted your leaving, say so. That feedback is needed, too.
• Know where you’re going
If you’re not simply switching churches, if you’re really done with church for the present, people may wonder how you’ll survive spiritually. They may equate your decision with sin.
Don’t be offended.
People in any organization get uncomfortable when you choose to no longer be part of the club. That’s as true of the Elk Lodge as it is of Third Baptist.
Reassure those who care that you remain a Christ-follower—and you and he will sort it out.
• If at all possible, speak well of the church
If invited to dish out dirt about your former congregation, speak well of those you respect and when if can’t speak well—speak carefully.
Your story is your story, but you’re still part of the same body of Christ (Romans 12:4-5), and we’re to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), not add to them.
Besides, would you want others airing your dirty laundry? (Matthew 7:12).
• Ask God what’s next
There’s always something else he has in mind. What is it for you?
If you are done with church or want to learn more about this growing phenomenon of dechurched pick up a copy of Church Refugees by sociologist Josh Packard. You will hear stories and data from real people.
Mikal Keefer served as senior editor for the book Church Refugees.