People leave churches all the time. It’s not something anyone wants to dwell on but it’s the simple truth. The question isn’t whether or not people are going to leave your church. The question is when and why they leave.
Some pastors, when they discover someone is considering leaving, try to appease the leavers. This is a huge mistake. Once a disgruntled person or family gets to the point of seriously talking about leaving the battle is pretty much lost.
Even if you do convince them to stay, they’ll do so thinking that they’re doing you a favor and you’ll end up dancing around future issues to continue to keep them happy.
Also, I guarantee you that other
demands “requests” will be forthcoming and you’ll find yourself doing all sorts of things to keep these people happy. Then, when they’ve asked for one thing too many, and you decide you’ve danced enough, they’ll still leave.
When someone decides to leave, and they’re serious about it, just let them leave. Offer to help them find another church if that seems appropriate but just let them go.
Shouldn’t we try to stop people from leaving? Sure. The way you do that is by teaching on commitment to the Body of Christ and grace towards others. You’ve got to prepare your people BEFORE they get disgruntled so they know how to handle it. If you don’t and they reach the point of wanting to leave you’re probably already lost them.
The bigger issue is why people leave a church. Some leave over petty things. Others leave due to unrealistic expectations or wanting to tailor the church to their specific needs.
Define Your Core Convictions
As a pastor, you should work hard to determine what parts of the vision of the church are undeniable to you and when you find those you must be comfortable with the idea of letting families leave because of them.
Of course, none of us wants to see a family go but if they do leave let them leave because of something important. Let them leave because the church really isn’t a good fit for them due to the fact that they would want to change the vision and direction of the church to stay.
You must decide right now why people should leave your church and be comfortable with the idea of letting them go if necessary.