A couple years ago, I made an off the cuff comment during a sermon at Riverview that there are lots of good reasons to leave a church but most people do not have one. After making this comment, I had several very awkward conversations with people in the lobby who were in the middle of leaving their previous churches to go to Riv. Some of the conversations went well, some did not.

There are lots of good reasons to leave a church but most people do not have one. Click To Tweet

Here’s my thesis in a nutshell: in a consumer-driven culture like ours, it is way too easy to treat our church membership the same way we treat our phone: it’s good for me for now. Once a shiny new church comes along or we find little quirks in the church OS that drive us crazy, we quickly make the leap to a new one without much consideration.

For what it’s worth, I would like to lay out what I think are some legitimate and illegitimate reasons to “make the leap” to another church.

Good Reasons to Leave a Church

Jesus is missing.

Recently, I attended a church service where Jesus’ only appearance was an accidental reference by the pastor when misquoting a text. This is by far the best reason to leave a church – Jesus is never or rarely mentioned. Instead of teaching about the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, the sermons constantly focus on what you must do (moralism) or the myth that you are already good enough (universalism). If you always feel that you are being called to an ideal you can’t achieve and Jesus isn’t declared as the solution, you might be hearing moralism. Further, if you are never ever uncomfortable and squirmy during a sermon because your sins or presumptions are being challenged, it’s possible that you are listening to universalism.

The Bible isn’t Taught.

If your pastor doesn’t teach from the Bible (and explain what the text means instead of apologizing for it), then run…don’t walk…to another church.

No Mission.

Throughout the Bible, God constantly gets on his people for failing to be a light in the world.  The church exists to give God glory and proclaim the redemptive message of Jesus to the world.  If the church is only focused on itself, it has lost its mission.


There are times where the needs of your family require a move to a new church. Recently, a great family moved from Riv to another church in the area because the unbelieving husband didn’t feel comfortable at our church. He really liked another church in town, so his wife graciously agreed to make the change. I am praying that this will lead to his salvation. Another family made the move to a different church because their children were really struggling and felt more connected at another church. While I truly believe it was the right move for this particular family, this is one to be careful with because you can inadvertently teach your children church is “all about them.” This can breed in them a self-centeredness that causes many to jump from church to church their whole lives.


This is another one to be careful with, but if you find yourself constantly disagreeing with the doctrine of the church you are attending, you may need to make a change. With this one, you should really study what the Bible has to say about the issue and then bring your concerns to one of the pastors to discuss it with him. If the issues are in debatable areas, then you need to decide if you can agree to disagree or if your concerns are too big and it’s time to move on.

Bad Reasons to Leave a Church

“I’m Not Being Fed.”

This is the biggest one I hear and I am always a bit skeptical. If the church is not teaching the Word and not talking about Jesus then I agree, you are not being fed. However, most of the time this just means someone doesn’t like the teaching pastor or the style of the church or they want the church to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. In my experience, it is supposedly “mature Christians” who say this sort of thing. This is sad because mature Christians should be pouring themselves into others instead of worrying about themselves.

“Things aren’t the Same.”

Growing organisms change. Only stagnant and dead organisms stop changing. Change, while often painful, can be a great thing for a church. And besides, if the church keeps growing it will change again. Who knows, the things you like may come back like skinny ties and neon colors.

“Shiny Object Syndrome”

Ooh…look…shiny. Enough said.

How to Leave a Church

If the time has come to leave your church, here are two great blog posts to help you do so in a godly way:

It is way too easy to treat our church the way we treat our phone: it's good for me for now. Click To Tweet


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