9 Better Reasons to Leave a Church

Earlier this week, I posted 11 “weak” reasons to leave a church. I know, though, that there are legitimate reasons for leaving one. Here are some of those:

  1. You move. We need to be serving in a church that’s close enough to our home that we can get involved in the congregation’s work. When we move, we need to transfer our membership.
  2. The Bible is not genuinely the guide for the church’s work. Some churches give only surface level attention to the Word. It’s only the “launch point” for sermons, and it doesn’t influence the church’s structure, decisions, or lifestyles.
  3. The gospel is not preached. There is only one gospel, and that is the good news of redemption through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Attending a church that does not believe or teach that truth makes little sense.  
  4. You choose to assist a weaker church. Sometimes the strongest churches unintentionally pool significant human resources while other churches flounder. There is a place for members to intentionally choose to invest in weaker churches. 
  5. You join a church planting team. Actually, when done well, church planting allows you to go from your church under their umbrella. You leave your home church, but you do it with their support.
  6. You fulfill your call to international missions. Again, this reason’s a great one to leave, not only because you go to the nations, but also because you can remain a part of that church family from a distance.
  7. The church is tolerating open sin. A church that chooses to ignore flagrant sin, particularly among leaders, is out of step with the New Testament picture of a church.  
  8. You differ with the essential core doctrines of the church. We can disagree on peripheral issues and still fellowship together, but the essential doctrines of a congregation should be non-negotiable. Differing here should be an encouragement to attend elsewhere.
  9. Your unbelieving spouse won’t attend your church, but will attend another gospel-centered church. Note my adjective about the new church: “gospel-centered.” Making this move so a non-believing loved one is under the Word necessitates choosing only a strong biblical church.

One final caveat: With these suggestions in mind, we still should never leave a church without much prayer and self-examination. We have no permission to take lightly our inclusion in the local expression of the Body of Christ.  

What would you add to this list? 


  • Ron Keener says:

    What I would add to your list is “My church does not preach or share or apparently believe in the Great Commission.”
    Just finished “Execute Your Vision: The Practical Art of Ministry Leadership” by Bill Easum and Scott Musselman (Abingdon Press, 2016): “The reasons for inaction are legion, but one stands out above all the rest. Most pastors don’t have a burning desire to fulfill God’s mission for the church that consumes every waking moment. They enjoy ministry because it makes them feel good, but seeing the Great Commission accomplished is not their highest priority.” (p60)

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks, Ron. I was including that thought under #2, but I like your option of making this point much more explicit.

  • Gena McCown says:

    When the church relies on a select few to lead/participate/volunteer in ministries instead of helping all members identify their spiritual gifts and engage those gifts into serving the church and community.

  • This is a good article Chuck. Thank you

  • Jason says:

    When they repeatedly make poor decisions, don't listen to wise counsel, don't facilities transparency and communication among leadership, and when Elder's don't show a commitment to people's souls/well-being over a commitment to a building project.

  • Heather says:

    These are definitely valid reasons to leave a church, because sometimes life or the church moves in directions that necessitates this change. Thanks for sharing!

  • SHEILAH says:

    The Holy Spirit isnt given free reign.If a word is given with interpretation its not allowed.Gifts arent utilized.No prayer, no altar call.Pastors on video instead of making connections.Flashing lights concert feel.

  • What some churches call “strong leadership” translates into “mind-control CULT”. This is often accompanied with a “secret society” (think “Skull & Bones”) that controls the church and covers up EVERY evil work.
    I know. I spent 25 years in what started as a “soul-winning but legalistic ‘church'” and devolved into a CULT that covered up for pedophiles and sex addicts in the pastor’s “friends and family” program.

  • Lisa Banks says:

    I want to leave my church because I want to worship with my siblings who attend a gospel centered church. My husband is unbelieving and refuses to attend my church. I feel alone and it never bothered me until 4 months ago. I’ve visited their church and it felt good to have family in the congregation. I attend a church full of families.

  • Brad says:

    I left a church because the pastor handled a difference with the leaders of a prayer group improperly. He effectively disbanded the entire prayer group (team) instead of working out his differences with the leadership of the group. I happened to be a member of this prayer team or group.

    Pastor got really defensive about it when I left the church.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.