Listen to nearly any pastor for any length of time and you will hear and feel the pain of leaving. Listen to lay leaders and long-time members and you will feel their angst over people “who have left the church.” Often the words, “Why are people leaving our church,” are expressed in tones of fear and grief. Mostly grief. Upon reflection, we’re not surprised by the grief, for so often those leaving are long-time friends, people whose lives have been intertwined with ours, often for years.
Pastor’s often grieve because they have poured themselves into the lives of those now leaving. They’ve been there for them in times of crisis, counseled them, celebrated with them, been friends with them – sometimes even led them to faith in Jesus. And now they are leaving. To the pastor, it feels personal. It feels like personal failure. The pastor blames himself or herself. The people of the church usually blame the pastor, adding to the pain of leaving. Read more!