It’s a perplexing question for those in Christian leadership:  Why do people leave our congregations and go seek out another?

JLFuller, at the “What’s This Mormon Thing?” blog, asked – and answered – why he thought Mormons leave the church.  In the posting, he suggested some leave becasue their original commitment was based on “incomplete or erroneous information” – they resonated with the message they heard, but we weren’t clear enough in presenting the message we wanted them to hear.

Fuller also suggested that in some cases, they leave for greener pastures, or for a different spiritual experience, becasue we evangelized them at a point of weakness without providing spiritual underpinnings to shore up the new faith.  The evangelizer offered immediate answers but not life answers.  “Just as the truth must stand on its own merits, we may not be able to adequately judge the merits with the information we have. … members with tender testimonies are challenged beyond their ability to understand the entirety.”

My friend, when you evangelize the lost and the hurting, be sure you have a system of follow-up in place.  One church I’m working with now is struggling to overcome the “spiritual immunization” of too many door-to-door evangelists giving them just enough gospel to come join their particular congregation.  They “tried church” and it didn’t work, and – like the drug-resistent “super bugs” – they are resistent to an authentic presentation of the message of salvation.

—— Why do people leave church?, part 2 ———-

And then others leave church because they are run off.

I had a conversation today with a friend who pastored bivocationally, and for a time was the assistant pastor at a mid-sized church.  He and I had been together at a congregation outside Boston, MA, an exemplary church that labored together to become an asset to the community without losing its way spiritually.  So after that great experience, he was faced with a situation where the senior pastor wanted to bring a young man on staff, and needed my friend to leave so the young protégé could take his place.  Rather than create an internship position, that pastor took away all duties from my friend, and left him out of the loop of key decisions.  He and his wife left for self-preseravation.

Again, it is the job of the leadershp to deal gently with members in disagreement.  But when a member is trained and willing to give of themselves in service to the congregation, it is a sin to run them off for petty reasons.  Your replacement may need those gifts and skills in that congregation.