It's guaranteed: You will someday leave this church!
Here are several methods:
Death. We'll miss you and support those who survive you. We know we'll be sadder than you are!
Moving Away. Many reasons for this. We'll miss you and look forward to your return visits.
Planting New. You're part of a planting team that is sent out to plant a new church. Congratulations!
Leaving Poorly. How many times have you seen this?
drifting away over time,
angry letters sent out to the whole church directory,
gossip, muttering, and rumor-mongering,
post on Facebook "No longer attending _____"
meet with the pastor to spring the news and never tell the church.
Leaving Well. Now there's a different story altogether!
We've seen people leave a church well before, but it's pretty uncommon. Will you commit to leaving well?
There are two keys to the process. The first is to allow your church to be part of the process, and the other is to openly communicate through the process. We will NOT try to talk you out of something that God is calling you to do, trust us this much. We know that the Holy Spirit moves people in and out of relationships--it's happened to all of us--and we want to see you connected where you'll thrive best. So rather than drying up on the inside and keeping it a secret until you come and say "I'm not receiving life here--I need to move on NOW," why not come to a leader (either your Home Church leaders or one of the Elders) and say "I'm not receiving life here--I'm feeling like a move might be what's wanted--can you help me figure out the best plan of action?"
When you spring it on a leader and say "I'm just letting you know, I'm done and outta here" then a natural response from them of "Oh, well, if it's not life-giving to you as-is, you might try this or that" is interpreted as trying to convince you to go back on your decision. It's not intended that way--put yourself in the leader's shoes and you can see that. The leader was wanting to see if something could be changed to help you, not because he wanted to make you change your mind about leaving.
But if you ask the leader to participate in the process, then you stand a good chance of the leader agreeing with you that a move may be the right idea. Then the leader is on your team and can help you disengage from the body in a way that doesn't rip our hearts as we carefully unknit from you.
The open communication piece is just that you're not trying to hurt anyone. That's why people leave suddenly or drift out . . . they're trying to cause the least amount of pain to their fellows. But it's not healthy for those who are still knit to the heart-fabric of the church, right? Communicate with your Home Church and others that you have relationship with in advance of your departure date. Allow them to send you off and release you to go . . . for their benefit. It doesn't have to be months in advance, but if you can set a date of anywhere from a week to a month out, you'll let them have a chance to grieve the perceived loss of relationship and hug you again, pray for you, etc.
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