When People Leave Your Church

walking-out-the-door

Yet another family had left the church. They were the latest casualty resulting from a scathing, mass email sent out to church members by a disgruntled former attendee.

This loss came at a low point for my wife. She was beyond tired with me being in ministry.

“I’m done,” she told me. “I can’t keep going through this.”

We’d been on this journey for two decades. I’d served as a staff member, youth worker, and lead pastor in various churches.

“It was one thing when we were the ones to move when our time at a church was over,” she said. “It was hard, but I learned to accept that in ministry some situations are seasonal and not every friendship lasts a lifetime. I’ve developed some survival skills to do this along the way.”

“Why is it any different on the other end?” I asked.

“I don’t know, but it just is,” she replied through tears. “It hurts. I’m tired of people leaving. I’m tired of ministry.”

I paused and prayed for insight. I’m not sure if what I said next was from God or just from experience, but it helped reframe the conversation.

“What if ministry is like foster care?” I asked. “Ever notice how people who take in kids experience all kinds of similar highs and lows, and yet they keep doing it? What if we’re like foster parents, and people who attend the church are like foster kids?”

My metaphor didn’t erase the pain we were feeling. But by the end of our conversation, we’d found a way to see the losses we’d experienced differently.

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SOURCE: LeadershipJournal.net & Christianity Today
Tony Myles

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