Why Did You Leave?
Are you part of a congregation that used to be thriving? Are you part of a congregation that used to be much larger in number that it is now? You are not alone. Pandemic to the day is the problem of congregations of God’s people shrinking. There are some reasons for this shrinkage. The responsibility of which rests squarely upon the shoulders of the congregations themselves. However, there are some reasons for shrinkage over which the congregations have no control and responsibility. This article will deal with people leaving a sound congregation for another sound congregation.
Of the plethora of excuses to leave a congregation, four stand out to this writer. All of which are selfish and show a lack of spiritual maturity. The four excuses people commonly give for leaving a congregation for another are as follows: 1) This congregation has no youth. 2) This congregation isn’t active enough. 3) This congregation has no elders. 4) This congregation isn’t friendly enough. Let us examine rebuttal to each excuse.
This congregation has no youth.
I have never understood this excuse. Think about this, if one were to leave because a particular demographic is not present or represented in a congregation then, eventually, we would all be segregated into congregations based on age, sex, race, and class. I would like anyone who has left a congregation over not having enough of one demographic represented to read the following passages and do some self reflecting: Acts 10:29; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; James 2:1,9; 1 Peter 1:17. After reading these verses do we actually think we can pattern where we worship based on age, gender, or race? Friend, if your age, gender, or race is not represented in the congregation where you attend then evangelize more. I understand the excuse is concerning youth. However, it also applies to all classifications of people. This excuse is born out of a desire to cater to one demographic respecting those persons over others.
If you want the congregation where you worship to have a youth group then don’t take your children from them. How can they have a youth group if everyone with youth leaves and goes somewhere else? If all who left congregations for this reason would come back to the congregations they left then the congregations would have large youth groups.
This congregation isn’t active enough.
This excuse is rather foolish. If the congregation where you attend isn’t active enough for you, activate yourself. Be busy doing to Lord’s work (Gal. 6:9). Follow the instructions of Paul, “wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phi. 4:12). This verse doesn’t mean, “figure out what being saved means to you.” It means, “work until you either go to heaven or paradise.” If everyone who left congregations because the congregations were not active enough would go back and be active then the problem would be solved. There would be a multitude of activity in each congregation.
This congregation has no elders.
Again, a very easy excuse to rebut. If you are in a congregation with no elders, and you are a man, make being an elder your top priority. If you are a woman, make being an elder’s wife a top
priority. If you are not able to do either, make sure you are rearing children who are being taught that being elders or elder’s wives is of paramount importance. The Greek word which translates the word, “desire,” in the phrase, “if a man desire the office of bishop,” is a word that carries with it the idea that the natural progression of one who is converted to Christianity is to be trained, groomed and guided toward being a bishop/elder in God’s kingdom (1 Tim. 3:1) Too long have we let men sit on the excuse of, “well I have no desire.” The text does not support that particular short coming. If everyone who left congregations because those congregations had no elders would just come back and make grooming elders and elder’s wives paramount then the problem would be solved.
This congregation isn’t friendly enough.
Of all the excuses to leave one congregation and go to another this would be the most childish. Friends, if you perceive a group of people as unfriendly, be friendly to them. A proverb comes to mind, “a man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a
brother” (Pro. 18:24). It has been said that the time it takes to form meaningful relationships with someone or a group of someones is somewhere between 7 days and 7 years. That being said, it takes work and it is a slow process. However, it is worth it and it is something we must do. If everyone who left an “unfriendly” congregation for another would just come back and be friendly then they would find themselves members of a very friendly congregation.
Can we see how that every response to the excuses offered by people who have left is to come back and be the solution to the problem that made one leave in the first place? Friends, I implore you, if you have left a congregation for these reasons or such like, go back to the congregations you left and put forth the work sowing to the spirit and help that congregation you left.