Church

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave Your Church?

When is it time to find a new church?

It’s no secret that most people don’t stay at a church for very long. The reasons are many, some good, some bad. The reality is people leave churches. The question is how are you supposed to know when is it time to leave? 

Maybe you are thinking Well, if that’s true, then you should be telling people to stay in their church!

I have written on the worst reasons to leave your church before. But there are also good reasons to leave your church. I get it, church attendance has become increasingly sporadic. But the answer to that issue is not telling people to stay in bad situations. 


Articles I’ve written about the church: 

4 of the Worst Reasons to Leave Your Church

Can You Be a Christian and Not Go To Church?

6 Reasons Why Millennials Aren’t Attracted to the Church

Church. What’s The Point?


I’ve talked to many people that have been considering leaving their current church. In the majority of cases it’s a decision that weighs heavily on them. It’s not always easy to discern and figure out when it’s time to find the door. 

While there are plenty of reasons to stay in your church, there are also things that should cause you to leave. And that’s what I want to look at in this article. Here are reasons to consider leaving your church.

You Haven’t Found Community (but you’ve tried)

One of the biggest reasons that church is important for Christians is that we have people to do life together with. If you aren’t finding that in your church, it might be time to look for a different church. But hear me on this, you have to TRY first. I have heard the complaint from a lot of people that goes like, “I’m not connecting at my church.” Then I ask, “Well what have you tried?” And often times it’s nothing… Or “I went to something once.” Before you can say you can’t find community you have to try first.

The Church Isn’t Doing Anything for People Outside The Church

Churches should have a balance between growing the spiritual depth of those in the church and loving those outside the church. If you church has become all internal and has no focus on what’s happening outside the walls, it’s time to go. Any church that only focuses on those inevitably become sick and dies. The church was never meant to be exclusive, but rather inclusive. That responsibility lies not only on the church, but on you as well. Find a place that puts an emphasis on loving people outside the church. 

There is Abuse of Power in the Church Leadership

It’s a sad reality we live in that this even has to be said. But it’s commonplace to find a church consumed with the pursuit of power. I have heard many heartbreaking stories of spiritual, emotional, and sometimes even physical abuse that have taken place inside churches. If the leadership in your church is demanding, twisting the Gospel to give them power, or is using the Bible to put others down, get out. If there’s even a hint of that in your church, RUN.

You Don’t Agree With the Vision

One of the beautiful things in the church in the western world is that there are a thousand different kind of churches, each with a different look, feel, and vision for why they exist. Most of these differences aren’t right or wrong; they are just preference. If you don’t agree with the direction your church is going, that’s fine; go find one you can get behind. That’s the beauty of having so many unique churches; each one will make an impact in a different way. 

You Don’t Trust the Church With Your Money

Do you trust your church to use the money you give to make an impact on people’s lives inside the church, in the community, and around the world? If you cannot trust the church with your money, you shouldn’t give them your time.

I know of a lot of churches that keep closed books and will not share where the money that comes in goes. They might show broad categories, but no specifics. Giving to a church is like making an investment. If you shifted your 401k to a new broker and they wouldn’t show you where your money was, you would pull it fast! If you regularly give and attend a church you should know exactly how your money is being used and you should see “returns” on your investment.

Church Politics Have Overtaken the Pursuit of Jesus

Wherever two or more people gather the one thing you can guarantee is there will be issues. Every church has, and will continue to have, issues. You cannot expect a group of broken, messed up, people to come together and all of a sudden be perfect. Not going to happen. If you want to be a part of a church, or any group of people, you will have to have some grace.

However there are some churches where the church politics have overtaken everything else. If your church is all about the church politics, drama, or he said/she said it might be time to look for a new church.

There’s No Place For You to Use Your Skills/Gifts

Every single person is different and has a unique set of skills. This means that you were created in a way that you can serve and use your skills to benefit those around you. There is a place in which you can use those gifts inside the church. If your church doesn’t have a place or aren’t willing to let you use your skills, you need to find a place where you can use your God-given gifts to benefit those around you. 


Maybe you are living one of these things out and now you are wondering, How do I actually leave my church? That is a whole other article and is highly situationally based. However let me say this. It should always start with prayer and conversations with trusted friends. Don’t make this decision on a whim or in search of green pastures.

I want to hear thoughts… What reasons do you think someone should leave? Have you left a church? What drove you to that decision? 

14 comments on “How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave Your Church?

  1. Great insight around an important question. I think you have covered, very well, the most relevant ones.

    I have left churches before. I have moved around a lot over the years and that has caused most of it. I have left others, mainly as a result in change in church leadership and it no longer being a good fit. No right or wrong issues.

    Be blessed and thanks again for tackling this. God is with you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think a lot of people feel stuck in their church. Which we shouldn’t abandon our church over just anything. But as you have experienced sometimes churches change (not good or bad, just is) and it’s no longer a good fit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good, balanced, and accurate assessment of a sticky issue. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. successorinspirational

    A lot of people left our church some time ago because of change of leadership. But these days, i hear people say they don’t want to be in church anymore because all they talk about is raising money.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leadership is a huge cause. Sadly I have heard many churches were all they talk about is money and why you should give and why they need it. That’s backwards. Churches should focus on challenging and encouraging people and giving will follow.

      Liked by 2 people

      • successorinspirational

        You are very correct sir. churches should focus on challenging and encouraging and giving will follow. Churches that are always talking about money give people that are not in the church reasons to rubbish the name of God.

        Like

  4. Great post Jeffery and you have raised some really good points.

    The wife and I recently left a bible study group and church location for another location of the same church. We found that after a year of attempting to build strong community and putting ourselves out there, that no one really wanted to go deeper.

    Unfortunately there are people within the body of Christ who have no interest (or their lives are just way to busy) in discipleship or intentionally being part of a growth promoting community. They will be present once or twice a week and that’s it. If you are a person who wants more than being a seat warmer and wants to build relationships, then sticking around a congregation or people that wants the opposite is not a good idea. Of course you need to do all that you can to encourage others and help them see the importance, but if all that fails then leave I say.

    Thanks again for your post

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see that often, people are too busy. I think another contributing factor is intentional relationships are becoming increasingly rare. And I suspect a lot of people don’t really know how to engage in them anymore. I think a lot of people might want those relationships, but don’t know how (or are scared) to be in one.

      Like

  5. I guess a further question is, how do you know when you have stayed too long? We have asked that question many times in the last 5 years. You wait and wait and try and try but to no avail; no one is listening. But we hang in there, hoping things will change. It’s hard to stay when one is unhappy and not become toxic to the others who blissfully go their way, not knowing or caring there is so much more to following Jesus than skinny jeans and the latest sound system and bunko night. Not spreading dissension while trying to foment change is a very delicate balancing act. I guess one clue that one has stayed to long is when you avoid the pastor at all costs when attending a church function….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are right, when to leave is a great question. You don’t want to leave over some small mistake or change. But you don’t want to stay at a church that continually is not doing what you feel is right.

      Like

  6. Karen Stropki

    I am a big believer in staying. I belong to a small community church, where My actions are noticed, Perhaps, that is my greatest gift just to show up.

    We all have gifts that God has given us, but at times you have to do what is needed. How can God grow us up in maturity to use our gifts and passion, when we Don’t take part in the small and unseen places of need . Go sit in the nursery and hold a baby, make the coffee, stack the chairs. Be available. Don’t say no so often and let God worry about your teases.

    Please don’t take your discouragement to another church. Don’t bring your feelings of disappointment. Honor your commitment to
    The church you once loved and stand even
    When you feel nothing.

    People leave, because they are afraid of the dying. Churches fail, because we fail to put our expectation in God. We should be on our knees praying. How can God breathe new life into any church if no one stays. They have left before The glorry of God was revealed. They missed it. Oh they sure did miss it.

    (. I agree with all the points that Curtis has written. These point to a very unhealthy church. I also believe that God can be specifically leading someone to another church.
    However, I think that families should take time on the front end to find a church that feels like home. Meet the pastor, talk to the elders, attend a small group and pray for wisdom before joining a church. Church hopping hurts everyone)

    Like

  7. My job is to come into churches that have ended up with the types of problems you describe and bring healing – these types of churches are more prevalent than many would think and they are very damaging to those who attend. All though it would be nice to see people stay, often those who stay in an unhealthy church become so jaded that they become the new problem. There are church hoppers that are looking for the church that best serves them without them serving the church but I believe that they are not the majority any more. The toughest thing to see is a church that needs healing but there is not much left to heal. I find it very difficult when I talk to those who have previously left a church that I am working with and I am forced to admit I would have left for the same reasons.

    What makes it even more difficult is when the oversight given by the denomination consists mainly of former pastors. Their take on the troubles in a church tends to lean toward the pastor’s take on the church (they have all had difficult people and situations so they assume that the pastor’s take is correct) leading to them to often blame the people who are discontent and leaving and rarely looking at the pastor or leadership as the problem. I get it – pastors can empathize with other pastors more easily than with the regular attendees but dysfunction rarely comes from the congregation as a whole they’re just not that organized! It often comes from individuals and cultures that are not addressed or pastors and leaders who do not fully understand servant leadership.

    Just my ramblings on your great post – thanks for addressing this from a balanced approach.

    Like

  8. I would rather leave than be fake. For me , authenticity is important. If I can’t stand with the direction it is going, then I must leave and leave quietly.

    Like

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