When is it appropriate to leave a particular church?

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EKSB SDG

Puritan Board Freshman
I’d like to get some input and counsel on when it’s appropriate to leave a particular church and join another church. Just for quick background, the issue is not over the preaching, administration of sacraments, or exercising proper church discipline – although there are some concerns on that third point.

The key issue that has me asking this question is that our church resembles, and has for a quite some time, the churches at Sardis and Laodicea (Revelation 3). And more to the point, our elders seem to be among the most noticeable members that are ones asleep and lukewarm.

Also, for a little background, I’m asking this in light of what G. I. Williamson in The Westminster Confession of Faith. Specifically the section dealing with what the WCF has to say “of the Church.”
 

Scynne

Puritan Board Freshman
I'd say after you've talked to the eldership about the matter. If given a lukewarm, mushy-wushy, fluffy-wuffy response, truck on outta there.
I'm a self-professed non-expert, though. You might want to get answer from a more mature member here. I can get a little hot-headed with these sorts of things...
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Just for quick background, the issue is not over the preaching, administration of sacraments, or exercising proper church discipline – although there are some concerns on that third point.

I'm not sure I understand the problem, then, or why there may be a justification for leaving.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
I’d like to get some input and counsel on when it’s appropriate to leave a particular church and join another church. Just for quick background, the issue is not over the preaching, administration of sacraments, or exercising proper church discipline – although there are some concerns on that third point.

The key issue that has me asking this question is that our church resembles, and has for a quite some time, the churches at Sardis and Laodicea (Revelation 3). And more to the point, our elders seem to be among the most noticeable members that are ones asleep and lukewarm.

Also, for a little background, I’m asking this in light of what G. I. Williamson in The Westminster Confession of Faith. Specifically the section dealing with what the WCF has to say “of the Church.”

If you're in a sound denomination, with a sound confessional basis, with no problems on preaching or the administration of the sacraments, and with a couple quibbles about the exercise of discipline, why in the world are you itching to leave? Your say that your church resembles the churches at Sardis and Laodicea. How so? On what basis are you the one making this judgment? Have you taken up the issue with your elders? Have you gone to them one-on-one with your concerns?

The PB is not the place for sharing dirty laundry, first of all, nor are we necessarily the best place to "feel out" your reasons for leaving. Talk with the men involved, first. It is inappropriate to try to find justification by people here saying "yeah, yeah, go! Leave that lukewarm church!" I'm sure you can find one or two who will say that - but you had better be very certain that your choice to leave is Biblically sound and that you have carried out all of your responsibilities a la Matthew 18 and your church's constitutional documents (aka the Book of Church Order and the Standards).
 

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
This is taken from John MacArthurs article, "When Should People Leave Their Church" and I think it to be good advice:

Leaving a church is not something that should be done lightly. Too many people abandon churches for petty reasons. Disagreements over simple matters of preference are never a good reason to withdraw from a sound, Bible-believing church. Christians are commanded to respect, honor, and obey those whom God has placed in positions of leadership in the church (Heb.13:7, 17). However, there are times when it becomes necessary to leave a church for the sake of one's own conscience, or out of a duty to obey God rather than men. Such circumstances would include:

If heresy on some fundamental truth is being taught from the pulpit (Gal. 1:7-9).

If the leaders of the church tolerate seriously errant doctrine from any who are given teaching authority in the fellowship (Rom. 16:17).

If the church is characterized by a wanton disregard for Scripture, such as a refusal to discipline members who are sinning blatantly (1 Cor. 5:1-7).

If unholy living is tolerated in the church (1 Cor. 5:9-11).

If the church is seriously out of step with the biblical pattern for the church (2 Thess. 3:6, 14).

If the church is marked by gross hypocrisy, giving lip service to biblical Christianity but refusing to acknowledge its true power (2 Tim. 3:5).

This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. There is certainly nothing wrong with moving one's membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service. But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously.
 

EKSB SDG

Puritan Board Freshman
I’d send one of those little “thank you” things but as a newbie on this board with only a few posts, that feature is not yet available to me. So instead, I’ll just says “thanks” this way.

I agree that PB should not be a place for sharing dirty laundry, nor is it a place to banter about the specifics of this situation. I am sorry if my post came across that way. I have talked to the people involved, a number of times; including three hours on this subject with my pastor yesterday.

My reason for my post is to seek some Godly wisdom from like-minded believers, and I guess in particular looking for some thoughtful discussion that might expand on what G. I. Williamson has written in his book on the Westminster Confession of Faith.
 

EKSB SDG

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks to all who responded to this question, and especially to toddpedlar for the back and forth private messages. In addition to talking with my pastor, I've also talked with two other pastors and a few others (all who live out of the area). I've gotten some good counsel on how to proceed and it basically boils down to following Matthew 18. SDG
 
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