Home About Us Apostolic Free Library Questions & Answers Guestbook Order Online Search The Network

Leaving a church that God calls you to

Submitted: 12/31/2004
Post a comment or
ask a follow-up question
Question: Some people do not want to come under the authority of the Pastor. The Bible says in I Cor 12:18 'But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.' And in Heb 13:17 it says 'Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.' If the Pastor has the oversight and the mind of God for the Church, how and when does someone have the ability to leave the Church without the blessings of the Pastor?

Answer: There are many reasons why a person may feel the need to leave the local assembly they are participating in. Some might include job transfers, new jobs, situations involving relatives, and so on. On the other hand, sometimes people feel the need to leave for other, less pragmatic, reasons. Which of those reason are legitimate and which are not is subject to individual perspective. In the end, every person is responsible for their own salvation and must take whatever steps are necessary to preserve it.

Belonging to a local church is fundamentally a relationship. Beyond that, it is a mutally edifying relationship (or is supposed to be). Sometimes people begin to feel that their church relationship is no longer edifying. In some cases they feel it is abusive and destructive to them. Obviously in such cases, it is not likely that the 'powers that be' will agree. This places the person in a very difficult situation, especially when we consider that what some people may consider abusive others may not.

Sometimes people leave their assembly because they feel they must for their own spiritual survival. In some cases they do this contrary to the desires of their spiritual leaders. Maintaining the balance where on the one hand people should be submissive toward their leaders, and on the other hand must do what they feel is necessary for the well-being of their soul is difficult. I believe that in the end it is counter-productive to hold onto people too tightly when they have it in their mind to leave.

In our own experience, we have never tried to assert some sort of pastoral authority over those who no longer wish to submit to that authority. This does not mean these people cannot be saved. In fact, in some cases they may indeed do better spiritually somewhere else. Not every assembly is the right assembly for everyone. We allow people a lot of latitude in determining what is best for their spiritual lives.