When is it Good When People Leave Your Church?

Sometimes addition happens through subtraction. I can’t remember who was the first to say it, but this is a phrase that has stuck with me throughout the years. I think one of the reasons I remember it so well is because I love math and numbers. But the other more important reason is because it’s turned out to be true over and over again. The main point is sometimes it’s good when people leave your church.

I feel like the church I serve has been pretty lucky through the years. In the past twelve years, we’ve transitioned from contemporary to modern, we’ve totally revamped our constitution and bylaws, and we’ve had three different worship leaders.

Through it all, we’ve only had a handful of families leave. A couple of the families helped lead worship and didn’t survive the contemporary to modern transition. Another worship pastor parted ways to pursue a full time worship position. And I don’t think anyone left when we changed our bylaws, which has to be a miracle.

In each instance, our church got stronger. We always ended up replacing the people we lost with people who better fit our vision. Seeing people leave your church can be painful, but it also may be a blessing in disguise.

When is it good when people leave your church?

  1. When they don’t support the vision. The church I serve didn’t have a clear vision starting out. This meant people with strong personalities would project their own vision for the church. This created a mess that took several years to get out of. If you have people who are fighting against the vision you are fighting for, it’s best to ask them to find a new church that’s more in line with their vision.
  2. When they’re doing more harm than good. This could be people who gossip, people who are constantly stirring up drama, or people who just complain all the time about everything. These people are the equivalent of someone farting in a crowded elevator. As much as we’re called to love people, sometimes it’s better if you love them from a distance.
  3. When it creates an opportunity for someone else. Sometimes good people you love leave the church. These hurt the most, but it also creates the opportunity for someone else to step up and get involved. Don’t dwell too long on what you lost. Start looking for someone who can take his or her place.
  4. When God calls them somewhere new. This was the case for our former worship pastor. He had a desire to do full-time ministry, but we didn’t feel like he was the right fit long term. We ended up parting ways, and shortly thereafter he received a full-time position at a great church. Not everyone is going to stay at your church long term, especially when you’re in a small town, so be thankful for the time you have with them.

What are some other reasons it’s good when people leave the church? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences. Share them in the comments below. Also don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Love Does

An Interview with Bob Goff

It’s been almost two years since I started this blog. Some really cool things have happened along the way, but none as cool as talking to New York Times Bestselling author Bob Goff.

Bob wrote one of my favorite books of all time Love Does, and he purposely put his personal phone number in the back of the book. If you call that number, you don’t get an assistant, you don’t get a voice mail, you get Bob Goff.

When I think of the abundant live Jesus was talking about in John 10:10, I think about Bob Goff. I think he’s figured it out. I hope I get there one day.

In all honesty, this interview is not great and the audio is terrible. It was recorded early on in my blog journey and I didn’t think it was good enough to post. But now that I’m almost two years in, I think it’s too important not to post.

So, if you have a moment take a listen. I hope you enjoy.


Pastors Q & A

Question Number One

“What’s one thing you’re currently doing in ministry, that you wish you had started years ago?”

Q and A Image

“Saying no and trusting others. I said yes to every speaking opportunity. I said yes to fill every void and need (Sunday School teacher, Missions leader, etc) I said yes to every meeting. I said yes to every activity. Which was basically saying no to my wife. No to my daughter. No to my family. And most importantly, no to God. I was doing so much I had zero time to invest in the relationships that mattered most. One reason was because I didn’t trust. I thought in order for it to be done right, I had to do it.” – Cody Hogden, First Baptist Church Orangefield

My answer may be more philosophical than practical but what I wished that I had done early on in my ministry was to spend more time understanding the culture and how people learn. I simply thought a well prepared sermon would be effective. But if my speaking style is not conducive to a listener’s ability to learn; then I am not being the most effective I can be. I may reach some older people or some younger people who have been versed in the “old” style of teaching, but I won’t be able to reach the unchurched or unsaved adult. What you notice in the hunting world is really good hunters spend more time scouting and understanding their prey than they do hunting it. They have discovered that success is not determined by the amount of time they spend hunting but the amount of time they spend understanding the practices of the prey they are after. If they know their prey, harvesting it is simple. I spent too much time “hunting” and not enough time “scouting.” – Gary Miller, Locus Church

I am currently the only full time pastor in our church. So we started doing a Tuesday evening conference call for all the pastors to review the weekend and discuss future plans. I wish I had began this much sooner as it has helped build community and trust on our team. The guys have told me how valuable it makes them feel. Ben Fugate, Journey Christian Church

I wish I did better at adjusting time spent doing ministry work and family. I often validated my actions towards neglecting family by blaming it on God and His work. I have a better understanding that God wants both aspects of my life to be healthy. It’s not a one-or-the-other situation. – Jeremiah Marshall, Gospel Outreach Community Church

I would say daily reading, reading a Proverb a day, weekly learning from resources/podcasts/sermons (including T.E.D. talks or sources that sometimes aren’t necessarily Christian), creating a detailed weekly schedule that is centered around my God given purpose/roles, and reading leader blog posts would definitely be something that I wish I started years ago. So, in a nutshell: Growing myself in disciplines and wisdom. — Brandon Petty, Generation Church

I would say the most important thing I am doing now and not then was paying close attention to the pace of my life. Making sure like creation, there is a sustainable rhythm to my days and week. Some seasons the days are much longer like summer. However, I must consciously look for seasons where the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Just like winter. Whatever pace works for a person is the pace they should follow. But everyone must find a pace or they won’t last through all the seasons of ministry ahead. – Gregg Farrell, Crossland Community Church

#1 Deeper spiritual focus early morning prayer and fasting.   #2 Ask better questions. #3 Committed study day that is in concrete(early in the week). #4 Sermon series planning staying a quarter ahead. – Duane Garner, New Vision Ministries

Did a staycation this year, it was incredible. Wish I would have taken more time off. Even if you can’t afford to leave town, take a staycation where you turn off the phone, enjoy your family, and catch up on projects. – Allen Bonnell, Immanuel Baptist Church

I would say rest and reloading. scheduling time to distress so u and your family have finish lines to run to. That’s something I wish I learned earlier in life and ministry. – Dustin Thompson, Refuge Church