Can I Leave My Church?

Shyju Mathew

"Experience the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit."

April 13, 2011

Being in the ministry, I’ve had to stand by people who were going through some tough times in their churches (which sometimes can get you into trouble and even bring hate). Some have had to move on while a few others were able to reconcile and stay. Yet in all these years of ministry, I can humbly before God say that I’ve never had to ask anyone to leave a church or join another.

I find myself in a very sticky spot when someone asks me if they can leave their church. It is because I do not believe in a perfect church out there. And if you ever happen to find one, I hope you don’t join otherwise you who are not perfect, by joining, will make that church into an imperfect one.

Each one seems to have a different reason and conviction of why they must leave a church. Some state irreconcilable differences as the reason and those situations, I believe is to be left between them and God.

Here are some questions and reasons I’ve heard.

I Don’t Like Somebody or I Have a Misunderstanding, Can I Leave?

Like I said there is NO PERFECT CHURCH only a PERFECT MASTER, JESUS CHRIST. I promise you that sooner or later, you will find someone you do not like or have a misunderstanding with; and you will want to leave that church too. Just as one divorce aggravates your unwillingness to adjust and most likely ends up in another divorce, so will it be the case when you take leaving a church so lightly. It will make it harder for you to adjust with another church as well.

Remember Jesus said that offense must come. Maybe it is something or someone you need to forgive and love. Always try your best to reconcile. Put yourself in their shoes before you begin to condemn. Try appreciation before you criticize.

And for those with serious misunderstandings, have you taken the time to speak to your pastor personally? Majority of misunderstandings are a result of the lack of communication. Have you been biased? Give people enough opportunity to change and learn.

My Pastor Does Not Accept Biblical Authority

Another serious situation because of which many people leave churches is doctrinal issues. Does your church fully obey the Word of God or do they pick and choose what parts of the Bible they believe in? Does your Church claim their teachings more important than the Bible? If not then you might be on dangerous ground and you will need to move on. Here are some situations you can consider from the Bible.  Romans 16:17, Galatians 1:7-9, 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14.

Now there are some other non-issues that people do make a great issue of. From wearing white to wearing ornaments to clean shaved or sporting a beard; these cannot be set forth as doctrine. I believe it is best to leave them to their own convictions. Where it gets all wrong is when you force it upon everybody else around you. In situations like these if you can get along and continue to keep your eyes on Jesus, then that’s great.

What Do I Do If God Has Called Me to Plant Another Ministry

Sadly some pastors tend to disagree on this point, whether for their good or bad only time will tell. A spiritual father with deep spiritual maturity will be able to release a spiritual son into ministry without being insecure about it.

However, I encourage you to ask the Lord, who spoke to you, to speak to your pastor too. There is surely a spiritual significance in receiving your spiritual Father’s blessing before you go out. And at points where there is a ‘no-go’, ask the Lord to lead your steps. Be sure that you do not misunderstand your ambition to be your calling or passion. Work on producing your own spiritual children, stealing sheep is not ethical. If the Lord told you to start then the Lord will help it grow.

Other Genuine Reasons

And of course there are other obvious reasons like you moving away to another place due to a change in address, marriage, etc.


Don’t rush to make a decision. Leave with great care, not causing any damage on the way out. Be humble and know that what we sow, we will reap.


Please do not take this post as ultimate guidelines. I have known that each situation is different from any other. Find someone elderly or matured who can give you an unbiased view point. And pray and trust God to guide your footsteps.

When do you think it’s time to leave a church? Or when is it right to join one? What can you add?