A couple of months ago I asked Tim if he would like to write a few guest blogs. Never one to shy away from controversy he has started to explore the issue of “what happens when you stop going to the same church”. It is probably best if I hand straight over to him and invite you all to join in the discussion.
Every once in a while, one of my church-going friends will move away from their current church and (probably) begin attending another somewhere else. And every time, every single time, I hear the same complaints from some of those left behind.
Apparently, anybody not completely satisfied with the way things are at their church is caught up in the morass of a consumer church mentality; anybody attending a church for any length of time has become part of that congregation for better or for worse, ‘til death do them part; anybody who moves away other than for reasons of distance or ‘being sent out’ is ‘scum’ and ‘we’re better off without them’.
All I know is that many of my friends have found themselves unable to carry on attending their current church. I refuse to believe that they’re all flighty flim-flams who turn tail and run at the first sign of difficulty. So, why does the remaining congregation take a huff in such a fashion? Where does this attitude of ‘once you start you can’t stop’ come from? It seems dangerously close to the ‘disfellowshipping’ or some of the practices as reported about Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill establishment.
Does the church have any responsibility to those in its care? Is it wrong for those who feel let down and failed to look elsewhere? Is a congregation automatically better off without those willing to even consider leaving? Are we meant to blindly follow our church leaders because we believe they’ve been put there by God?
In brief: yes, no, not remotely, and no. More detailed answers will be following in the near future…
So what do you think about the issue of moving church? What are your experiences of people leaving? Why not share them here and see if the discussion bears fruit?