As I shared before, I feel as if I’m going through a mid-life crises. Not the buy a new fancy car but the a need meaning in my life. Part of this had me questioning if we were attending the right church. Our church was a small church made-up of mostly post-retirement people. The activities and choices for family activities were minimal and children’s programs were being cut. The church was going on 3 years with no pastor. My last point of frustration was when they cut contemporary service and went down to 1 service at 9 am.
So this left us looking for another church. Since then we found another church. It got me thinking about how you know its time to move on. So I’ve compiled a list of when you know its time to break-up with your church.
- Attending feels likes an obligation. Attending church should not feel like an obligation. If you do not desire to go to church, you should take some time to consider what is causing these feelings. Are you not being spiritually? Are you not connected to the church? Do you have unmet needs? Or, maybe you need to work on your connection to God? Its best to recognize why you are feeling this way so that you can address it. For example, if its your connection with God, consider what would strengthen that connection? Do you need more quiet or Bible time? No matter the reason, maybe talking with your pastor is what you need. For us, this was a sign we needed to break-up with our church.
- The little things are abnormally frustrating. A good sign that you are ready to move on, is the little things are more frustrating then they should. For example, little changes in music should not be overly frustrating. The change in sermon times may be inconvenient, but should they really be extremely upsetting? For us, I had seen so many things that frustrated me that when they surveyed (keep in mind, they didn’t even change the time yet), I was angry. We were barely making it to the 10 AM service and now I would have to try to make it to a 9 AM service. The somewhat Ironic thing is, we’ve been frequently going to a 9:30 service now. So a 9 AM service would’ve been doable. If those little things are more frustrating, you may be time to break-up.
- You’re not feeling spiritually fed. I feel like this is a no-brainer. Who would want to attend a service where you’re not being spiritually fed? As I say this, I think its very easy to not even realize this is happening! You go to church out of obligation can be the result of this. Its easy to sit there for months and not realize this is happening. But here’s a hint that you’re not being spiritually fed, our you daydreaming or making a grocery list or checking of your weekly/daily to do list during the sermon? If so, this may apply to you or you just may have attention issues. Regardless, it would be good to stop and think about what is causing you to do this? I’m not saying church should be solely entertaining. But it should be engaging. You should be walking away from the majority of sermons with the sense of gaining. If you are mentally dosing off once the pastor starts preaching, you may need to break-up.
- Your needs are not being met. This was HUGE for us. I watched over the last several years programs for children and families slowly be cut. I watched as the emphasis seemed to be placed on pleasing those long-term members over change and forward movement. I heard more times than I could count, that’s not how we do it here or we’ve always done it this way. Don’t get me wrong, a church isn’t solely to meet my needs. I also need to involved and help with the running of the church. But you see, I went from being willing to volunteer and help the church to feeling out of place and not wanting to volunteer. All of this was because, the needs of my family could not be met within this church. If you are feeling like you are not getting what you need, you may need to find a church that is better aligned with you.
- Your values don’t align with the church’s. Ok. So you may have this far and thought, this one is a bit silly. Of course my church’s Christian values align with my values. I would certainly hope and expect that to be the case. However, consider other values. For example, financial values. Is the church handling its finances in ways you would? Is the church’s mission and how they handle that mission in agreement (generally, it may never be 100% the same) with what you value as important? If the values you hold to be important is not in agreement with the way the church’s actions, you may need to break-up.
I’m not saying even if the above applies you should quickly run away from your church into another. But, I do suggest that if one more more of those things apply, it would be good to re-evaluate your reasons for staying. I also encourage people to attempt in a productive manner to change the church if they are off-course. Specifically thinking in regards to finances or not being spiritually fed or find ways to increase programs that meet your family (and most likely others) needs.
However, there may come a time you find yourself breaking-up with your church. It took several years, probably close to 3, before I could acknowledge that we needed to break-up. It was the church my husband and I grew-up as adults. We bought our house, had children, and children were baptized in that church. It wasn’t an easy choice. I still care for the church and many of its members.
I want to leave you with one thought. It is better to leave a church than stay and cause trouble/problems within the church. People who are unhappy have a tendency to let that seep into those around them. And that could, kill a church completely.