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When Deacons & Elders Feel They Must Leave the Church

How many Christians today have used bad church governance as an excuse for rejecting the entire, God ordained, institution of Sunday morning church attendance (Heb. 10:24-25)? 

Jumping From Church to Church

In the past, when one was frustrated, they would choose to move their family from one church to another. There is a joke that has been around for a long time about a Presbyterian, marooned for 10 years on a deserted island. When rescued, his benefactors asked him why he had three huts on the beach. The answer was, that one was his house, the second was his church, and the third was his old church. 

The Underbelly of the Church

Sadly when we get behind the scenes of church politics, we can discover man’s sinful nature in action. Interestingly, the personality of a pastor can lend itself to pride over humility, just as law enforcement and fire and rescue professions often attract those who wish to take charge in emergencies.  This is particularly true of fast-growing churches and those where the leadership is not being held accountable. Recognizing that reality, helps brace oneself when entering the inner sanctum of church leadership as a deacon or elder. 

Even in small churches, regular attendees often have little idea of what is going on behind the scenes, and, for the most part, that is a good thing. Most congregants don’t care about the administration of the church. Unlike every other part of society, the church is a place to focus on God first, not laterally on earthly issues. Again, staying away from the humanity of church politics is a positive thing, unless one is called to engage.

What do Do

If the pastor or church administration is at a point where discipline is needed (and everyone draws that line in a different place) then, we fall on Matthew 18:15-17 for direction. 

 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

In other words, first challenge the church staff on an issue you see as harming the fellowship to such a degree that it warrants rebuke. If that does not resolve the issue, bring a second or third person with you to offer advice, a second time. If that bears no fruit, challenge the pastoral leaders before the church. Once the issue reaches a point of “tell it to the church” and results in little change, it’s time to either accept that the governing leadership is not perfect and that the infraction is something to work on, or, that the sin is impacting one’s worship to such a degree that it is time to break fellowship and leave.

If things are so bad that you decide to leave a church, remember that your behavior in departure needs to be above reproach. Do not drag others into a whirlpool of self-righteous indignation, looking to justify your departure by pointing at others. Leave quietly and respectfully and allow others to make their own decisions.

Finally, it is important to recognize that the church, any church, is just a collection of sinners fellowshipping and worshiping the Lord. It is still much more desirable to find another church than to give up on God’s design. COVID caused an unfortunate trend, of TV-based church attendance, or, worse yet, on social media platforms. Today, many choose home worship, which is more convenient and less judgmental than finding and integrating into another congregation. However, convenience and the lack of face-to-face worship cannot be Biblically justified. As one reader, who is struggling in this area said of himself, it is both “unwise and unbiblical”. 

A Practical Solution

Rather than sitting at home watching TV with your family on Sunday mornings while feeling guilty that you are not receiving true spiritual meat (Heb. 5:11-14), find a good church plug in as a congregant, and stay away from positions of leadership. As a member, our responsibility before God is primarily to support the church (with our time and funds) and leave the administration to those called to take on that role. Finally, pray for your leadership to be tuned to God and His desire for your congregation, rather than the secular goals that breed pride and divisiveness. 

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AuthorJeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org

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