“We just feel God is leading us to go to another church”
Every pastor has heard those words. Sometimes they don’t come directly, but rather through another staff person or mutual friend. Every pastor has had to pray for the departing former members as they go in search of a new church. Every pastor has had to hold back what they really want to say…
If you want to leave, it’s really fine. If you go, involve yourself in your new church! Go to a small group. Serve. Give. Just don’t put it on God. He most certainly DID NOT call you to go and slip in and out of another church building twice a month while contributing absolutely nothing to the community you claim you are ‘led to'”.
Every pastor has had to not. say. that.
We can’t say that. Pastors gotta be about that non-judgemental love. By the way, the Bible totally calls us to judge. That’s another blog for another day.
Anyway, we don’t say anything because it’s not really about them. Even if it is about them it’s not about them. It’s about us (the pastors) too. We have a problem…
It hurts when people leave our church. Perhaps they are leaving because the preaching isn’t ‘deep enough’ (ugh) or the music isn’t ‘doing it for them’. Maybe it’s because they haven’t connected to others in the church. It might just be that they are moving too farther away or they work 3rd shift and it just doesn’t make sense. The person might be starting a church of their very own. Could their be a better reason than that to leave a church?
It still hurts.
It’s not about numbers or anything silly like that. Pastors hate to see people leave because we love people. Pastors hate to see people leave because we love our church. If you are a church planter and started your church then someone leaving is akin to a person telling you they don’t want their kid being friends with your kid. It takes everything within you to hold it together.
For those who aren’t pastors it doesn’t feel this way. What exactly is the big deal? Nothing at all has to change just because we aren’t going to the same church. In many cases it has nothing to do with the pastor at all. It’s just that the church isn’t working out.
The big deal is that the church is tied to the pastor. I know. It shouldn’t be. The church is the bride of Christ and all that. Yes. True. There is still a connection there between the church and the man. No one will ever care about the church like the guy God has called to shepherd it. No one stays awake at night wondering if the church is going to accomplish it’s goals…or keep it’s doors open, like the pastor. No one feels the sting of a low attendance like the pastor. We all may notice when the crowd is light. He feels it…and then he has to preach through it.
To the pastor his identity is (in part) wrapped up in the church. It’s a lie from Satan, but it’s absolutely fed by every other pastor in the city constantly asking what he is running and how things are going. Some guys ask because they want to boast about being in a good place. Other guys ask because they want to make themselves feel better about their struggles. Some are more subtle than others…but they all ask.
The pastor struggles to have his identity separate from the church. To feel like the success and failure of his church has no reflection on him at all…that’s a difficult place to arrive. I haven’t met many men in ministry who have gotten there. It’s not right. We don’t want it to be so.
Perhaps a part of it is insecurity, but I really don’t think that’s it for most pastors. I really believe that when you love something as much as pastors love the churches they start and lead, it ceases to be something you do. It’s something you are. We don’t pastor. We are pastors. We wake up in the morning with vision to see God’s movement come through our churches. We go to sleep anxious about what’s coming next. It’s not a part of our lives. It is our life.
“God is leading me to another church” sounds a lot like “I don’t want to be a part of your life”
Just being honest.