I began thinking about this just a few months ago when I got a one line email from members of our church reading, “We will not be attending anymore.” That’s it. No explanations. No conversations. No warning. And I had just seen them in worship a few Sundays before.
Earlier in ministry I would have gone into panic mode, thinking, “What did I say? What didn’t I say? What did someone else say? What if all the families start leaving?” But with a few years experience under my belt and a calmer spirit, I simply picked up the phone, called them, and left a message, saying that I’d like to talk to them. Their response? They resent the email, thinking that I hadn’t gotten it. I guess there wouldn’t be a conversation.
Hmm. Just like that. As I mentioned above it happens from time to time. Sometimes there is a little more information, like, “Well, we wanted to try something different.” Or “We really feel led to look for another church.” Once I got a “I’m not ready to talk about it yet.” But usually all you get is silence.
So to get some perspective, I thought about some of the members we’ve gotten from other churches. One family came because they wanted a later worship time. Another needed a cooler room. Another had friends at the church. And I know that none of them had a conversation with their pastor. They just started shopping at a different store…I mean, worshiping at a different church.
I also had some good friends tell me that sometimes, God wants or needs that family at a different church. They were being prepared at your church to be a much-needed blessing elsewhere. I kind of like that.
If I weren’t a pastor and attended a church, what would I do in their shoes? I might want to explain my decision. I might avoid a conversation. I might hide behind a generic email. I might want the freedom to walk away, to try something new, or make a change.
In any event, I’ve learned not to take it too personally. The church is fluid around the edges, with people coming and going all the time for all sorts of reasons. If I miss them, then they will be a blessing to someone else, and that is a good thing.
What’s the best way to quit your church?