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  • When to stay, when to leave. . .

    Hi family,

    Ok, some of you will know from my past postings (eg. culture change - where to begin) that my husband and I have been struggling in church for a while. We are now nearing the point of going, but now that we're seriously discussing it, we're both getting upset about what we're leaving behind. My husband is particularly conflicted, being a longer-standing member.

    Our chief conflict is over loyalty to the church and our perceived "need" to stay and be a powerhouse for change. Having said that, we are both disillusioned, and I for one am struggling to keep a heart without bitterness. If we leave, the music will almost certainly fall apart - there is no-one to take either of our places. There will also be a number of valued people depending on our support who may also leave the church - and possibly the faith.

    At the same time, how long do we stay in a place where the worship is dry and, mostly, devoid of a sense of His presence? We also have the ongoing issue of a complete lack of social support, and bible studies that are more like bible college than fellowship groups. We feel that no-one is pastoring us. We, however, feel that we are pastoring a number of people and are really concerned about their well-being should we leave.

    It's an age-old dilemma: when to put others before ourselves, and when to say enough is enough?

    I don't expect any definitive answers, but some feedback, wisdom and prayer would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

  • #2
    I've left 3 churches for reasons other than moving (or my parents moving).

    The first time, it was because of issues with the leadership (basically there was an integrity problem somewhere in the leadership -- I still don't know where the problem was, but it wasn't being addressed). I had been at church #1 over 20 years, so it was a very difficult decision. And then I went to church #2.

    I was at church #2 for less than 6 months. It was a place to be healed, but I learned that I would not fit in the culture there. So I moved on to church #3.

    I really liked church #3, but it wasn't "convenient" The physical location was just too far outside my the circle where my life was. The doctrine was sound, the people were warm, and I could live with the style of worship (it wasn't my cup of tea, but it was what met the needs of the people there). The only reason I left was that the leaders at church #1 (remember them!) all left. At that point, I had to ask whether I had really left over concerns with the leadership or if I was just mad. So I visited church #1 and found that the leadership issue had been resolved. So I went back to church #1, but I left church #3 with the blessings of the elders. They knew why I had come, and why I was going back.

    With that said, I think it was valid to leave over doctrine and leadership issues. Other issues are things that can be changed (albeit slowly sometimes).

    If you have made a real effort to address the issues you brought up in your original postings, then you've got some hard thinking to do. If you really haven't addressed them, then I would hope you would now. If you don't address them here, you will take them with you to a new church.

    And, of course, I assume that you have really prayed for this church. Not for them to change to be like what you want, but for them to be what God wants (might not be the same thing!).

    Some people would love to have Bible study groups where there is real meat (like a Bible college class would be) as opposed to just a fellowship group. You can have both -- I am in a group where there is real involvement in one another's lives, but also we get down into what the scriptures say and how they should be applied. If you're not involved in the lives of your fellow church members, then I would encourage you to get involved.

    On the other hand, there are some churches that have a reputation for being cold. I know of one, and yet, I know people who went back to that church.

    (And if your issue really is that this church is too Anglican for your tastes and/or you're too Pentecostal for them, you and your husband will just have to work through that -- [I went back to read some of your previous postings to be sure about that])

    Whatever you do, DO NOT LEAVE mad!

    That's enough rambling for now......

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm a firm believer in the power of fasting and prayer to seek God in these situations. That would be my first recommendation.

      A few years back, my wife and I were in the same place. We felt burnt out and over-burdened. We also felt that our current church was lacking in family ministry, specifically that there was not enough to do for our kids. We fasted and prayed about it. In that time, God spoke clearly to me - stay. Make it better. We wound up taking over the children's ministry.

      All that said, you'll have a peace about your decision if you involve God in it. The last thing I would worry about is what you leave behind. If you're not meant to be there, then you're not meant to be there. Sometimes the healthiest thing for a church is to have an involved leader leave. It makes room for other people's gifts, it can be a wake-up call, and it can be a catalyst for needed change.

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree with Mike, fast and pray. Keep fasting until you hear clearly from God. Don't stop pressing in.

        Several things come to mind regarding your post, so I hope I can summarize my thoughts without rambling too much:
        * Seek the Lord for the truth of the matter. What is HIS perspective on the issues? What is he saying about the people around you?
        * Ask the Lord to re-establish your identity in his kingdom. I know this may sound cliche, but you MUST know your identity. When God reminds you of who you are, you'll be surprised on how much the Holy Spirit compels you forward into HIS plan, co-laboring with him. Ask Him about your identity as a daughter, as a priest, as an ambassador, etc. You'll be amazed at what God shares with you. :-)
        * Revisit your core values. Name 3-4 key areas of Holy Spirit conviction, and compare them to your current location and any subsequent location. If the core values don't line up, nothing else will.
        * Before you leave, forgive and release! That way, you're not carrying past hurts and judgments with you to your next destination. Your journey will feel lighter since you won't be carrying such a heavy load.
        * When you leave, take things slow. If possible, use a sabbatical to heal, recharge, and hear more from God. Rest is an extremely necessary component to ministry life.
        * When you reach your next destination, establish a cycle of rest so you won't get burned out.

        I hope this helps. Please keep us posted. Praying many blessings over you!
        Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
        BLOG: http://www.worshipvanguard.blogspot.com

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree with what the others have said.

          Especially "do not leave mad" and "forgive and release".

          It's an age-old dilemma: when to put others before ourselves, and when to say enough is enough?
          You are primarily responsible for the spiritual growth and strength of yourself and your family. We are called to help others along, but not at the cost of ourselves and our family. If that's being seriously affected, it's time to say 'enough'.

          We feel that no-one is pastoring us. We, however, feel that we are pastoring a number of people and are really concerned about their well-being should we leave.
          Anyone who ministers/pastors to others must have a pastor/mentor. It doesn't have to be a 'pastor', it could be an elder, a seasoned Christian, but you can't pour into others if you are empty don't have anyone pouring into you. My pastor is a great leader and mentor, mainly because he has a pastor and his pastor has a pastor.

          It's ok to be concerned- it shows you care. But they are responsible for themselves, not you. If people fall away, it's on their shoulders. They have to take ownership of their growth. People have to get out of the high chair and start feeding themselves. I feel it's important to acknowledge the fact you don't want to abandon people, but you need to be the head, not the tail, kind of like parenting. As a parent, we train our kids to sustain themselves, and if someone leaves the faith because you move on, they didn't have their own faith in the first place.

          and bible studies that are more like bible college than fellowship groups
          Maybe that's an issue of expectation. I am kind of the opposite- I want to go to a a Bible study to study the Bible, not to spend 20 minutes reading a couple verses and an hour talking about my kids and my lawn. Not that fellowship can't happen, but there are different levels of fellowship. Many people feel a 'college' style study makes them feel like they are actually studying and learning (and growing). If that's an issue, maybe you could start some other fellowship activities that are more interactive.

          If we leave, the music will almost certainly fall apart - there is no-one to take either of our places
          One risk we can run into is the "it will fall apart without me" mentality. Not to come across as overly blunt, but if the church had music before you were there, it will have music after you leave. Meaning, don't get too worried about that. It might be a void for awhile, but someone will step up, someone else will come in, it will move on.

          What I am saying, you have to do what God's leading you to do. Like others have said, it's going to be through fasting and prayer that you will find your answer. But don't get caught up in artificial entrapment from things that will survive without you. That will cloud your judgment.

          Praying for your decision to be wise and God-sanctioned.

          Mike
          If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

          Comment


          • #6
            Dear Steffie,

            I agree with Mikeymo1741.
            Please allow me to share with you what God has taught me over the last few months. It may be of help to you.

            We Christians are all about comfort. We like a good sermon, a good time of worship, and we like the fellowship that comes with belonging to a vibrant, growing, loving church. It's easy to get used to the comfort that situation gives us. But that comfort we feel is our enemy. Because as soon as we become un-comfortable in our church, we begin to search for reasons why:

            -I'm not being fed.
            -God might be telling me its time to move on.
            -There's no growth here. I should leave.
            -I have a problem with the leadership.
            -I'm just not "feelin' it" here anymore.
            -Our church doesn't have a good ______ ministry.
            -etc, etc......

            ...and we start looking for ways to restore our comfort level. Even as we continue to show up and serve faithfully, we are looking for ways to restore comfort.

            We must remember that God grows us by bringing trials our way.
            1 Peter 1:6-7
            6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.[/I]

            Sometimes the discomfort we feel could be because God is trying to bring us through something. He is trying to bring about change in our lives and in our churches, in how we worship, in how we reach out to the lost. He is trying to grow us and though we hate to admit it, we fight against the discomfort that the lessons bring. Just like gold is purified by fire, we need to feel the heat in order to achieve the growth that comes through endurance.

            Oftentimes, when we begin to find fault with our church, it is really that God is trying to change something in us. It still amazes me that after all God has done for us, He is still concerned with having a deeper, closer relationship with us. I am confident that God is leading you. It is up to you to make sure that you are following His leading, and not just seeking out comfort. I remind our congregation all the time....God is not hiding from you. We were created to be in God's presence, both in this life AND for eternity. Just pray and listen for His leading.

            "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." -John 10:27

            Gods blessings to you!! -Jane

            Comment


            • #7
              You have received some good feedback here. The only thing I would add is to make sure you know why you are there, and why you are really leaving. Were you called to this place and time to be God's servant and minister to these people? If so, listening to him is pretty important. Make sure that you are not giving up too soon, and that the reasons reflect God's calling. Time is pretty important here. Don't rush into anything.

              Blessings and best wishes...
              Dave

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Steffie View Post
                I don't expect any definitive answers, but some feedback, wisdom and prayer would be greatly appreciated.
                Feedback I can give. Prayer I can give. Wisdom? Looking at James 1, it sounds applicable:
                Originally posted by James 1 NIV
                2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
                (emphasis mine)

                Ready for my feedback?

                God is God.

                If you're earnestly listening and trying to follow His will, He may provide you with specific guidance ( e.g. Acts 16:9-12 ), give you confirmation ( Judges 6:36-40 ), guide hearts (even ours!) without our specific knowledge ( Proverbs 21:1 ), or even allow us to make our best judgement ( Acts 15, particularly vs. 19 ).

                Through any/all of these various methods, we have to seek God's will, validate what we believe against what God has revealed to us about Himself in the Scripture, and then move forward.

                What if we're wrong? Then God is God, and He'll take care of guiding us back onto the path (or making sure we don't leave the path to begin with).
                Originally posted by Proverbs 16 NIV
                9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
                As far as the ministry holes that may be left, that's God's problem if He's asked you to move on. If he can use Baalam's donkey, He certainly can find your replacement, should he choose to replace you. We should have the attitude of Samuel:

                Originally posted by I Samuel 3
                10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
                (In this particular case, God gave Samuel a message he really didn't want to hear, but he did it anyway: telling his mentor (Eli) that he and his family would be judged. But that's a different topic.)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I just know about one thing that when Church come sin our matter then we should avoid from any conflict and disputes.We should follow the give and take policy and respect the sacred and holly matters.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi guys,

                    Thanks everyone who replied and especially anyone who'se been praying. Lots of helpful ideas - not taking on other people's stuff, seeking God, letting the church have a wake-up call etc. I especially like the 1 Peter and James references - things God has already been speaking to me about.

                    We were at an awesome worship conference on the weekend and God spoke 2 things to me, thought I'd share them in case others find themselves in similar situations (not that my scenario is necessarily applicable to anyone else's). First He asked me to believe Him for the impossible - something He's been whispering for quite a while - then He asked me to die to myself. Both good things to do. Take me out of the equation and I'll find God in the midst of it all.

                    We are still at our church - can't seem to tear ourselves away. I'll take that as God's leading for now, but wouldn't be surprised if He also makes a way for us to leave in the near future. Will keep you posted.

                    Count it all joy. . .
                    Steffie.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mike on Bass View Post
                      One risk we can run into is the "it will fall apart without me" mentality. Not to come across as overly blunt, but if the church had music before you were there, it will have music after you leave. Meaning, don't get too worried about that. It might be a void for awhile, but someone will step up, someone else will come in, it will move on.
                      Mike
                      This is something I have been struggling with...

                      Comment

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