Today is the final installment in the series for special needs families about how to know if it’s time to leave your church.
Choosing to move on isn’t easy. Especially if you’ve been members somewhere a long time, or have been active participants in the life of a church. We were both, so leaving was more like divorcing than anything else.
It wasn’t what we necessarily wanted, nor was it what we ever thought we would end up doing.
But it happened nonetheless.
I’ve discussed four reasons why changing churches might be necessary, and if you’d like to read those, please scroll to the bottom of this post and click on the links. Today’s reason, however, is the most crucial.
How to Know if It’s Time to Leave Your Church
Reason #5: You reach a crossroads over a true gospel issue.
Let me put this as plainly as I can.
If you are in a church that throws the gospel out the window in any way and for any reason, it’s time to leave.
Our church was a good church with many loving people. We had (and still have) dear friends and family there. We were involved, active, and serving in numerous capacities. The teaching was biblical and sound.
But. . .
When my child was “kicked out” of the Sunday evening Bible program, my husband and I went to the leadership to work out a solution. Instead, we came head to head with the “company line.”
- We were told that the minister who’d made the decision to exclude our child had the full support of the ministers over her.
- We were told that it was necessary to sacrifice the needs of the one for the needs of the many (NOT scriptural by the way, that’s a quote from Star Trek).
- We were told that the church was meeting the needs of special needs people and that there was no need for improvement.
And that’s when it turned from a personal issue to a gospel issue for me.
Because Jesus welcomes all.
- Jesus loves all.
- Jesus leaves the 99 on the hill to go to look for the one who’s lost.
- Jesus is the ONLY one who sacrifices Himself for the needs, for the very lives, of the many.
- Jesus came so that we could have life — NOT so my son would have to be laid down on some fictitious altar as a “sacrifice,” so that no one would have to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced.
My child was not viewed as a human being, as a soul capable of believing in and loving Jesus and being equipped with spiritual gifts to be shared. He was seen as a problem, an issue. And it was decided that his needs would have to be sacrificed in order to make everyone else happy.
Friends, that’s NOT the gospel.
Gospel means “good news.” And if it’s not good news to all, then it’s not good news at all.
Just after this happened, I started hearing things come out in sermons, in Sunday School, in the “Christianese” people were so fond of speaking. I heard words that reinforced the whole idea of being accepted by God (and by the church) when you act right, do right, speak right, and get your act together.
I heard words like “cursed” referring to Christian people who stumble or don’t tithe.
It started sounding like prosperity gospel to me, the concept that if you’re good, God rewards you. But if you’re bad, God punishes you.
And the way to be good is to volunteer to teach Sunday School and tithe and show up to church whenever you can. Oh, and did I mention you need to tithe? Also don’t drink alcohol. And know your place and accept it with dignity and grace. And don’t be angry. And don’t be anxious. Because if you are those things, well, you probably aren’t praying or reading your Bible enough. So try harder already.
Pile after pile after pile of guilt, heaped Sunday after Sunday on all but the most righteous. I couldn’t take it anymore.
It wasn’t the gospel.
The gospel is a gift, the gift of grace and sacrifice given by the one and only Righteous one, for a world of the unrighteous.
- The gospel goes to outlaws and the demon-possessed, and it heals.
- The gospel goes to shunned prostitutes and tax collectors, and it loves.
- The gospel goes to the sick and disabled, and touches.
- The gospel doesn’t send the children away, even if they are a bother, but instead calls them all to come.
- The gospel doesn’t drain and sap a person of strength and dignity, but instead equips and ignites and empowers.
- The gospel never shames and condemns, but always brings light and life and truth.
It was a gospel issue.
If you find yourself in a church where the gospel is ignored in regard to your family, leave. Leave now.
There are churches out there where the gospel is not only preached, but where it is acted out as well. There are churches who will love your child, your family, and gladly welcome you in.
Don’t waste anymore of your time in a church that is willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The gospel of Jesus Christ is too important to be dismissed or discarded in regards to ANY person. And if that person happens to be you or your child, then it’s time to move on.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
This is the Good News, the gospel message that Jesus came to earth, died, and was resurrected for.
He came NOT to bring condemnation, but to bring freedom and life for all who trust Him. Dear one, do NOT settle for shame. God is not in it.
God loves you. God loves your child. He wants you in a fellowship where you are included, wanted, and welcomed with open arms.
Ask Him to guide your steps and lead you where He wants you to go. He will do it. It may take time, but His path is always best.
Please know that I am here and I am praying for any and all of you who are going through these hard times. I thank you for reading this offering of my words.
Read the rest of the series here: