There is no pastor who does not want to see the church that he is serving grow not just spiritually but numerically. And I am not an exception. That is why it grieves me deeply when I see people leave New Life to go to another church in Houston. I cannot help but to ask myself, “What have I done wrong? Have I hurt them? If so, was it intentional or unintentional?” And thinking about these questions discourages and drains me a lot. Moreover, every fiber of my being tells me to visit the person and persuade and convince him to remain at New Life. However, I have never stopped anyone from leaving the church when he approached me with his decision and I will continue to do so as long as I serve New Life as the head pastor.
Why do I take this approach? First of all, despite the fact that there are some negative side affects of leaving one’s church to attend another church in the same city, from God’s perspective, He is not losing anything in terms of number. God’s kingdom is not increasing through the transfer of church membership. But it is not decreasing either.
Second, I personally believe that people who leave New Life to go another God-honoring biblical church will get the same Jesus. Let’s suppose that there are two computer companies, A and B, and I am working for A. If I am absolutely convinced that computers that are produced by A is much better than those that are made by B and they are advantageous and beneficial for the customers, I will do whatever it takes to help people choose A over B. But churches, if they are in love with God, respect His Word and constantly obey what the Spirit has to say to them, are supposed to be all the same. This is another reason why I cannot stop people from leaving New Life. Trying to convince people to stay instead of leaving will somehow signify that New Life is better than other churches.
Lastly, people who are not happy with New Life or me as their pastor, unless they realign themselves and change their hearts drastically, will have an extremely difficult time growing spiritually. This is the last thing that I want to see in people that I minister: spiritual stagnation and mediocrity.
These are the reasons why I do not stop people when they decide to leave New Life to go to another church. But I do like to share the following with you in regards to leaving the church.
First, remember the membership covenant that you made in the past in front of God and in the sight of people. God desires the covenant to be kept in good faith.
Second, remember that if you choose to go to another church instead of working out whatever the issues you might have with your current church, church hopping will become that much easier for you in the future. There is no perfect church and every church has its issues and challenges. God wants His children to love and embrace His imperfect church and build it together to make it better and more beautiful until Christ returns. And this takes much character on our part.
Third, remember that great pastors make great congregations, but great congregations also make great pastors. It is when two parties are committed to each other without having a possibility of bailing out that the relationship gets strengthened and fortified. This is my promise to you: I will never leave New Life to pastor another church in Houston. I will put my stake deep down here at New Life. Would you consider doing the same thing and watch what God would and could do with that kind of commitment to His church?
Unfortunately, there will be times when all these will fail and people will still leave New Life to go to another church as Paul and Barnabas went separate ways. When you are certain beyond a shadow of doubt that it is God who is moving you to another church for His kingdom purpose, I would truly appreciate it if you could do it in the following ways:
1. Do not just fizzle out. Do your best to work out your issues by coming to the church leadership and asking them for godly counsel and prayer before you choose to leave.
2. Remember that God has used New Life to help you grow spiritually and show your sincere appreciation for the church.
3. As you leave, do not gossip about New Life. It is God’s church and He wants it to be protected and to prosper.
4. Continue to pray for God’s blessings to be upon New Life.
All that being said, I am excited to attest that God is doing some very special things through our church for His kingdom purposes and as you remain true to your commitment you made with New Life, I believe you will see some awesome works of the Lord. You will grow, be blessed and be used of God in ways you never imagined as we strive to give glory to His Name together. God always rewards faithfulness.
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