When Should I Leave My Church?

How do you know if you should stay or go?  What theological and practical guidelines should be considered before moving to another church?

(Josh Buice – Delivered By Grace)  Far too many people leave their church prematurely and without biblical warrant.  The evangelical church today is infected with a disease called—church consumerism.  People often choose a church based on what the particular congregation can do for them.  In other cases, people are too quick to abandon their church on the basis of unbiblical or superficial rationale. This is not a new problem and it likely will remain a problem until genuine reform happens on a local church level in the area of biblical ecclesiology.

As a pastor, I don’t like church hopping, skipping, or jumping (or whatever adjective best fits the situation).  The average church today fosters such behavior by not guarding the front door of the church.  We should be alarmed by people desiring to join our church from another church down the road based on superficial reasons.  Albert Mohler, in his article titled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” writes the following:

When members leave [the church] for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed. Tragically, a superficial understanding of church membership undermines our witness to the gospel of Christ. [1]

How do you know if you should stay or go?  What theological and practical guidelines should be considered before moving to another church?  Below you will find a list of considerations, but remember, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list.  Search the Scriptures and make wise, biblically informed decisions regarding church membership.

  • Are your pastors heretics (Gal. 1:7-9)?
  • Has your church embraced a false gospel (rejecting the Trinity, denying the deity of Christ, prosperity gospel, or some other false teaching)?
  • Are your pastors living in unrepentant sin (1 Tim. 5:19)?
  • Is your pastor a woman or does your pastor fail to meet the other qualifications of an elder (1 Tim. 3:1-7)?
  • Is your church living in carnal sinful patterns without discipline (1 Cor. 3:1; 5:1-2; 2 Thess. 3:6-14; 2Tim. 3:5)?
  • Do your pastors have a low view of Scripture or do they disregard the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2)?
  • Does your church have what’s known as the right preaching of the Word (2 Tim. 4:1-5Titus 1:9)?
  • Does your church follow an unbiblical method of observing the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper)?

Not all churches are on the same level of health.  Some are more healthy than others, and the same thing is true for individual believers.  However, it’s never permissible to move out and go get yourself a new family just because you’re having some problems with your spouse and children at the moment.  The same thing is true regarding church membership.  When (not if) problems arise in your local church, you stay put and deal with it as a mature follower of Christ. View article →