Why I’m Not Leaving The Church

I read a few posts recently on various blogs from people who were fed up with the organized Church. Overwhelmed, frustrated, and appearing somewhat jaded, they listed their grievances as reasons they were leaving The Church.

They weren’t necessarily giving up their beliefs, and they made no mention of “losing religion”, but instead stated the reasons why they could no longer participate as members of organized Christianity.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those posts. I’ve been thinking about how sad they made me, and how those who are leaving The Church, and the reasons for which they are leaving, only exacerbate the issues that exist within organized Christianity today. So I decided to explore a few of the reasons why I’m staying.

Their reason for leaving: The Church isn’t open to people of all backgrounds and lifestyles.

My reason for staying: It’s true that there are many organized churches under many denominations who don’t welcome people of all races, backgrounds, lifestyles and socioeconomic histories. But I do. I believe the lost are the lost, no matter where you come from. I believe that all people of all skin colors, nationalities, religions, creeds, and backgrounds are welcome at the foot of the cross. I believe our churches need to open their doors to everyone, no matter what. I believe I attend a church that does. So I’m staying. I’m staying so that I can invite people to worship with me. I’m staying so that I can be a part of welcoming them into the body of Christ. I’m staying because if I leave, who, WHO will be the one to let these people know that they are welcome? Who will be the one to smile, shake a hand, encourage, support and minister to someone, anyone, who needs to know Jesus Christ? I’m staying so that I can be one of those who is open-minded about who worships next to me. I’m staying so that I can be a true witness of Christ’s love–the love that is open to all, no matter what. If I don’t, who will?

Their reason for leaving: I don’t like being judged.

My reason for staying: God’s word is true, it’s powerful, and yes, sometimes it steps on our toes. We need God because we aren’t perfect. If we could tweak His word to say whatever we wanted, letting us off the hook for our sins, there would be no need for a perfect, sinless Savior. There’s a real lack of personal responsibility in our society which lends to the belief that we can justify sin by ignoring that it’s sin altogether. But sin is sin, whether we pretend it is or not. The Church isn’t judging when preachers are preaching from the truth of the Word. Instead we are being herded back into the fold, following the Great Shepherd who already paid for our sins with the spotless blood of the Lamb. Leaving The Church to create your own church based on your own interpretation of the Bible might suit temporarily to ease your conscience, but understand that in the end, the truth cannot be ignored. So I’m staying because I’m not perfect and I need a perfect Savior. I’m staying because I know that from time to time, I need to be reminded of my human nature to sin, and I need to be reminded that my sin has been paid for by the One who died for me.

Their reason for leaving: All the people are hypocrites.

My reason for staying: A church is a family. Like our blood families, sometimes we don’t always get along. Sometimes there are those who seem to ruin it for everyone. And sometimes there are those who lie, cheat, steal, etc. But we’re family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and while we can’t control what someone else says or does, we can combat their negative image of the Church with our own positivity. We can be the beacon–we are the city on the hill. I’m staying because I want to be the positive light. I’m staying because I want those who believe all Church members are hypocrites to look at me and say, “No, not all.”

Their reason for leaving: I’m not being “fed.”

My reason for staying: I’m doing the feeding. Christ commanded us to go and make disciples of all. That commandment implies action. It implies commitment. It implies work. Nowhere does it imply that we are off the hook for doing the leg-work of discipleship. Nowhere does it imply that we are to relax and wait for someone else to “feed” us spiritually. There’s an attitude of service among Christian’s today, but it’s the wrong attitude. We’re waiting to be served instead of realizing that it’s we who should be doing the serving. I know people who have left The Church because there aren’t enough services for them and their families. I know people who church-hop, joining one church and then another because they can’t find a place where they feel like The Church is doing enough for them. That’s such a backward thought process. We’ll never be truly One as a Church unless we are serving, following Christ’s commandment to make disciples. To piggy-back off a president from awhile back, “ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.” So I’m staying because I am able to serve, and spiritual nourishment comes through that attitude of working to make disciples of every believer, including myself. I’m staying because through service, I am being served in the body of Christ.

In an effort to keep this from being the longest post ever, I’ll end there for now. 🙂

Share with me: What are your reasons for staying? What are your reasons for leaving?


Filed under The Christian Walk

18 responses to “Why I’m Not Leaving The Church

  1. LOVE!!! i think we share the exact same brain. The EXACT same brain. And I think our personal convictions are incredibly similar.

    I’m staying in the church because while it’s not perfect, it does a lot of great things. I am blessed to attend an amazing, amazing Bible-believing, disciple-creating church – that ministers to the lost and the broken. I attend a church that has help me grow closer and closer to Christ. Gotta love that, right?

  2. Great post. I think it’s important to remember that the church is composed of people…and people will fail, as hard as we try not to. The church with its imperfections do NOT reflect God. You can’t equate the two. And I think a lot of people do. I’m staying because the fellowship is amazing, and I have so much to learn from others. There’s nothing more incredible than worshipping with a body of believers. Nothing. I’d feel incredibly lonely if I left.

  3. Interesting post, Lindsay. I agree with your thoughts and I respect the way you express your thoughts.
    That said, I am prayerfully considering leaving the church we are attending. Not leaving “the church” but leaving “this church.”
    I won’t go into all the whys … and I’m not rushing the decision.

    • Beth- Been there. I definitely understand facing the decision to leave “a” church. It’s a very difficult decision that can be really hard emotionally.

      I wrote this post in reply to those leaving “The Church.” It seems to be a trend, especially among people under the age of 35–to remove themselves from organized Christianity. I find the trend saddening.

    • Beth, I just recently went through this too. We had been stuck in a rut at our old church, staying for our family that all attended there though we didn’t feel like we were learning or growing. We were merely attending. Sometimes God calls us places for a season and then he intends to plant us elsewhere. We recently found that new place of planting and there are no doubts in our minds that it is where God wants us. Pray about it. For us, the move made such a difference.

  4. Wonderful post and very true! It saddens me to think some people are leaving for all the wring reasons, I hope they see this post and are encouraged to stay and “run the race”. It’s not always easy but it is worth it!

  5. jeanniecampbell

    i stay because in the Bible said to not give up on meeting together. a church is a family, and like most families, they can be dysfunctional. we learn so much about how to minister to others by being with people who aren’t 100% like-minded with us. if we have to see eye-to-eye on everything in order to meet together, we’d never meet together. being in a church family is like being in a perpetual dress rehearsal for the real world issues we’ll face. we can’t give up!

  6. Heather Sunseri

    Really, REALLY like this, Jennifer. I don’t understand the topic of leaving “the church” or why is is trending so largely. I understand the need for finding a different church, but I’m with you. We are charged with going forth and making discipes – to work together as a family and grow.

  7. Jennifer, I love your convictions. I stay because we grow and learn in community. I can’t imagine trying to follow Christ alone. I need accountability and encouragement. Preach it, sister. 🙂

  8. First of all, thanks so much for stopping by my blog, Jennifer, because now I’ve found yours. 🙂 I loved, loved this post. You know, I think a lot of the excuses people give for leaving “the church” are smokescreens for “it’s not perfect.” if we’re looking for perfection, we’re not going to find it. Period. But if we’re looking for Christ, He’s sooo here and sooo present in sooo many churches.

    That said, I hear both you and Beth when you differentiate between leaving “the church” and “a church.” I made a hard decision a couple years ago – left a church I’d been attending ever since moving to Des Moines. I lost friends in the process, which is really sad…especially because I wasn’t leaving because of some huuuuge deal. But I knew it’s what God was telling me to do. And I’m excited about where He’s got me now!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Melissa!
      You are so right– people are looking for perfection. They’re looking for easy. They don’t want responsibility, or even more, culpability. But that’s all part of being in the body of Christ.

      I happen to be in a great church family now, but my husband and I struggled for the first couple years of our marriage to find a place where we could serve. Thankfully, God led us to a church we love with people we adore.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Melissa!
      You are so right– people are looking for perfection. They’re looking for easy. They don’t want responsibility, or even more, culpability. But that’s all part of being in the body of Christ.

      I happen to be in a great church family now, but my husband and I struggled for the first couple years of our marriage to find a place where we could serve. Thankfully, God led us to a church we love with people we adore.

  9. I love this and agree completely. My husband and I were just talking recently about how we like how our church (Episcopal) is on the issue of acceptance.

  10. Great post, Jenny! So often Christians are deemed hypocrites because of a few holier than thou congregants who turn people away. The truth of the matter is, we all fall short. The only measuring stick is Christ. And when he died on that cross, he took all of my failures and imperfections so that I am now, and forevermore, spotless, unblemished like Christ in the Father’s eyes. If people could have a revelation of this grace, they wouldn’t need to pull out the measuring stick and compare or feel judged and unworthy. We are all loved. All forgiven. No matter what. The church is not a place where we compare our works of righteousness to one another. It is a place to build eachother up, invest in covenant relationships that will glorify God and His kingdom. I will forever champion a church that believes in the gospel of grace.

  11. Your last point (about making disciples) was the theme of Thad’s sermon on Easter night; all about knowing what your purpose is and pursuing your calling and how we as Christians are called to make disciples. He said once you really focus on your purpose, it frees you up from a lot of distractions that mess up our priorities. Good post.

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