How Do You Explain Why Members Left the Church to Members Who Stay?
Pastors usually suffer when a member decides to leave the church. Sometimes the pain is deep. This is personal.
Pastors should not only deal with their pain, but also explain these experiences to parishioners who ask about them. Pastors cannot simply ignore questions and leave.
I was recently in a church where a member of the church told me that he and his family would leave the church. It's none of my business, so I just accepted his comment. But he insisted on telling me why he was leaving.
Every comment he made related to his needs, his preferences, how he wanted to do church. The style of worship did not match his needs. He was not fed. He wanted the church to be more organic, no matter what it meant. He had three people he wanted to please: me, me, and myself. He never commented on his commitment to serve, give, serve, and receive food.
Until the end of the conversation, he proudly told me that he would leave with his family in peace and quiet. After they leave, there will be no problem.
I talked to the pastor a few weeks later. Several church members came to him to ask why Bill (not his real name) and his family had left. You can't blame the asking members for this. The family was active in the church and they just disappeared. Bill left the pastor in a mess.
So, how do the pastors and other church members answer these difficult questions? I have seen that the best answers consist of four key components, so here is the advice I offer the pastors.
- Be as transparent as possible. The asking member can feel if you are withholding any information. Perhaps for good reason, you cannot say everything. But give as much information as you can. If there are obvious gaps in your explanation, the requesting member can fill those gaps with his or her imagination. This is not good.
- Confess your feelings. Although the requesting member should not turn into your therapist, there is something useful about pastors sharing their suffering. It would be pointless if the pastors were immune to the pain that such retreats cause. This will raise even more questions.
- Explain that such departures are common in most churches. Some church members who ask should know that saints circulate in almost every church. We live in a consumer society, and many people just move from church to church. Although this explanation does not minimize the pain, it allows the person asking to know that your church has no particular problems.
- Give hope. If possible, end the conversation with hope. Have the asking member know how God works in your church. As you acknowledge the pain and frustration of leaving, you also recognize the positive future God has for the church.
Some of the resignations of the members of the board are for good reason. There may be significant doctrinal questions. A member may have moved to a new neighborhood and wants to be able to invite his or her neighbors to the nearest church. It is possible that a family member is in a deplorable situation when his or her family split up because of a divorce, and it is extremely difficult for both families to be in the same church when they get divorced.
But frankly, many of the church exits are the result of selfish motives. A church member asks a tacit question: "What have you done for me lately?
Such situations are sad and painful for pastors. But pastors should expect the rest of the church to have questions. Most of these requests come from concern and love for the church. Answer with transparency, facts and hope. The painful situation will soon pass.
Was this article helpful? 10 Posted by: 👨 Maria J. Tucker