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When You Leave A Church

Updated on August 9, 2010
Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives everyday by sharing her joy and love of life.

I stared out the passenger window, arms crossed rigidly, jaw clenched, willing the tears to keep their place inside my eyes. Rebellious, one slipped free, sliding silently down my face. I pursed my lips tighter, ordering the others to stay in place.

"Don't go causing a scene."

I didn't look over at my husband. I stared stubbornly out the side window, as the single tear urged his friends to join him on my cheeks. Silently one slid down, followed by more. I prayed silently for strength. For a shred of dignity. For peace and forgiveness to fill my crushed, empty heart.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I mustered enough courage and gaiety to lead the kids into our new church. At the door, we were greeted by an army of smiling strangers, welcoming us with a warm handshake, and a firm clap on the back. I breathed slowly and deeply, afraid to let any emotion escape. I plastered the largest smile on my face, teeth bared in a menacing grin.

Making our way down strange hallways, searching for the appropriate Sunday School class for each child, signing them in, introducing ourselves. The need for some formality and order allowed us to communicate without talking. After the youngest child was deposited in the nursery, we suddenly had no protective barrier of children between us.

"I'll go find us seats. Go wash your face, and try to look happy. And lose that stupid smile."

He headed toward the sanctuary, boisterously greeting a few people and loudly introducing himself to the pastor.

Strains of worship music drifted into the hallway, the familiar strains of "Angus Dei", causing my eyes to fill again with tears. I walked quickly into the bathroom, and hid in the last stall. As the music grew louder in the sancturary, I began to freely weep.

"Lord, why have you abandoned me? Why did you bring me here now, with no friends, no one to turn to and no support?" I sobbed uncontrollably, near hysterical. I never felt more alone in my life, than I did at that moment.

And quietly, between my sobs, I heard a small voice, "I am here."

At first I ignored the gentle admonishment. As my crying slowed in intensity and volume I could hear the soft sound inside my head, of a gently reassuring voice. "I am here. I will never leave you or forsake you."

As I scrubbed my face with hot water, I realized that there is one body, and we all worship God. Ultimately, the friendships, bible studies, worship, all of it is for the purpose of glorifying God.

I realized that it isn't about me.

1 Corinthians 12:13 "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." (NIV)

Ephesians 4:25 "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood, and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one body." (NIV)

There are many reasons to leave a church.

The church grows in a direction you dislike. The pastor is called to serve elsewhere. The worship leader leaves to make an album, and start a band.

Maybe your family changes and the old church family no longer fits, for whatever reason. Divorce, kids growing up, fleeing from accountability...

Regardless of why you leave, separating from a church body is painful. Following is a list of things you can expect to be different once you make a move.

1. You may not be invited to participate in bible studies and small groups. Although they have been your friends for years, once you leave their church, they pull away too. If you attend church somewhere else, it is a good opportunity to get plugged in to new groups and meet your "new family". If you aren't attending church, you may have to look harder for a place to grow.

2. Your friends will not call so often. This hurts, but is an extension of protection. They want to disassociate from you. If you left a church on bad terms, they do not want to get dragged into the drama. If you left on good terms, they may feel weird about still being friends. Although we are all one body, there is often an unspoken segregation among different types of churches.

3. You can no longer receive counsel from the pastor. Again, a painful but necessary separation. If you left on bad terms, you probably don't want his counsel anyway. Even if the parting was agreeable, he may want you to seek your spiritual sustenance elsewhere.

The point is that we should all seek support from God.

After getting kicked out of our first church (what I really mean to say is, after getting kicked out of a church the first time), I felt isolated, guilty and lonely. Although our reason for leaving was not my fault, I still carried the stigma of shame around. I finally realized that God did not judge me. He loves me regardless of what my husband or kids or friends think.

We are all one body. One body of people worshipping the infinite, powerful, loving Creator. Let us not forget the message of love and forgiveness.

Let us leave the confines of a building, of rules and regulations, and with one voice,



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    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      20 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thank you for your kind comment, Robert. There can be a lot of animosity between different churches, even the 'nondenominational' ones.


    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      20 months ago

      Thank you for sharing what was a painful experience in your life. I never realized leaving a church, as opposed to leaving a faith, was so painful an experience.

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is a great example of how Christ would want his body to behave. You are quite blessed to have belonged to such a family.


    • profile image

      katherine saunders 

      6 years ago

      we left our last church after meeting with our leadership and eldership for a few hours . We shared the reasons why and we were prayed a double portion of blessing upon our lives and released.No they did not want us to leave though we knew that it was very clear that God had a vision for our lives that sadly could not be fulfilled were we had attended for over 11 years.We encouraged our children to stay and love there senior pastors care for them and pray for them . We urged them that if anyone spoke differently to what we ahd shared with them they were to go to threr eldership or senior pastors and they would make sure the rumours would be stopped ..if it was anthing different to the truth. We left with our relationships in tactas much as we could . Though i aws surprised that it took five months for one call to say i have only found out you left .It sadened me to think that even though we had been there many years and involved in many areas including pastoral care .. that not one person wanted to catch up .We have asked and followed up , though it breaks my haert to find that people are told .. you should not spend time with others when they leave . We still love them dearly and continue to pray for them all .

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      C-Bless, thank you for reading. I look at every opportunity as a chance to grow. Some are just harder than others.


    • C-Bless profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      G'day Deborah ... so sorry to read about the pain you went through. Prayerfully, your new church has assisted you in all that matters. Thank you for sharing...

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Ken Crow, thank you for your kindness. I am learning slowly, that I do not deserve to be mistreated. It has been a long journey, but God is always there to carry me.


    • Ken Crow profile image

      Ken Crow 

      7 years ago from Iowa, USA

      Deborah: My heart goes out to you for having to leave your church home. I wrote a piece about "religion" the other day. Religion is "MAD MADE". The Church is not as you well know. I feel all often we get hung up on religion and forget the true purpose of the church. Very well written artice/experience. I wish you much happiness in your new church home.

      I hope you do not take this wrong way, but you made a comment earlier to someone above about abuse. Please do not ever allow this if it is going on.

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Sasher, thank you for writing. It is obvious that you took a great deal of care and prayer in doing what was necessary for the health of your church. It is a difficult thing, on both sides.


    • Shasher profile image


      8 years ago from Canada

      In 17 years we have had to tell one family to leave.

      It was after months and months of agonizing meetings, counseling and discussions. Their behaviour was divisive and it was causing rifts within the body. We pleaded with them to follow Scripture and change their ways, but they would not.

      The final straw came when they started emailing people dozens of times in the middle of the night, stirring up strife and planting doubts about not only the leadership but between congregants.

      I'm sure the man suffers from bi-polar but would not seek help. He was hurting and we felt compassion for him but he was hurting more people along the way. He was getting verbally abusive towards others and swindled people out of thousands of dollars.

      We followed Matthew 18 when it comes to dealing with issues like this, we did not do it lightly, it was after much, much prayer and tears and sleepless nights. The Bible says to mark those who cause division like this, we didn't want to but we needed to 'protect the flock' as they say. We honestly pray for him and his wife and hope he seeks help.

      Thank you for your story. I appreciated your side of entering a new church, it's a good view to remember from my side of things. That it took a lot of guts for people to walk into this strange place.

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thank you for your comment chettedizon. You are right, that God is good, and he takes us just the way we are.

      Good luck and good grace on your walk.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was kicked out of a church too. But I still remember what a Christian Leader before. "God will put you to a Church where you truly belong, because God will not put the arm to the place of a leg nor a finger in the place of the ear."

      I was afraid before that no one will accept us, but God is so good. And He is blessing those Churches who adopts stray sheeps... He will bless the Churches that accepts people who were kicked out of the church.

      God bless :)

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 

      8 years ago from United States

      In the last days there will be many churches that are lukewarm and God will spew them out. Perhaps you were lucky enough to escape one of God's futures expectorants. I wish you well in your new fellowship.

      ~~~~~~~~MFB III

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I agree with you Dorsi, and thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, often church leadership is just as flawed as we, the congregants, are. It isn't always easy to do the right thing.

      Fortunately, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit never leave us.

      Namaste sister.

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Deborah, your explanation casts more light on the situation but I am grieved by your former churches decision.

      This, in my understanding, is contrary to Jesus teachings, what would have happened if the disciples were cast out when they made mistakes?

      A church is supposed to help love you back to health...thanks God my husband and I were never cast out for his behavior (which BTW sounded similar to your H) My husband once walked out of a counseling session with our pastor, which in my book was VERY rude. Our pastor continued loving him however and now my husband is going through deep grief and repentance for what he has done. How did he get to that changing moment? Through continued love. Love conquers a multitude of sins!! I pray that you find a loving church family that models the love that Christ has for us by never giving up on us and always looking for his lost sheep.

    • ceciliabeltran profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      How interesting, Deborah. It gave me a very intense understanding of why churches in America is integral. It serves as a family unit. In a way, I felt like this is about leaving family more than leaving a church.

      While born and raised Catholic and never had to "change" churches in my life. No matter how many Kabbalah books I've read or temples I've meditated on. I can always go back to the "fold". They didn't care and in truth, neither do we. Our community is in the community. The people we meet in schools, the aunties and uncles. They are the net. So whatever church we went to, there was still home.

      To find your tribe outside your faith is challenging because you'd have to get down to who you really are outside the faith you wear.You have to have a commitment to see each other and take care of one another.

      I liked this hub, because I was in it. rating it up!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      I know about being ostracized. It's also "divide and conquer". Didn't sound like some of the folks have a grasp on that Golden Rule thingy. Thank you Deborah. This was a great write. I'm sure most people can relate. Thank you Ma'am!

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I appreciate you all reading, and commenting.

      The particulars of getting kicked out of church; my ex husband had addictive and abusive behaviors, which he hid from everyone on the outside. As we became enmeshed within the body of Christ, certain things began to come to light, regarding his behavior. For a while he denied any wrong doing. Then he cast blame on myself and on the leadership of the church, claiming if they did a better job, he wouldn't need to be such a jerk. Very long story short, they asked him to receive counseling from the pastor. He refused their intrusion into his life, and they requested we not return. As a wife, it was hard, not only to hide what was happening at home, but also to feel forced to live the family of believers I loved. I felt unsupported on all sides.

      There is a biblical precedent for expelling members, I believe it's in Corinthians. It refers to someone who continues to sin, and who brings that behavior into the body of Christ.

      Anyway, I believe that "religion" and churches are the worst things when desiring a relationship to God. The rules and regulations are meant to control the people. It is much easier to find a place to worship God alone.

      Namaste friends.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I'm not really a churchergoer, but I don't get a church throwing somebody out, especially someone with such a deep rooted faith as you seem to have.

      I bet it was a very difficult adjustment.

      Your point is well taken, however.. the body of believers is and should be one body, as inculcated in the teachings of Christ.

      Thanks for this post!

    • Dorsi profile image

      Dorsi Diaz 

      8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

      Deborah) The last couple years God has really been speaking to me as being part of "one body". I know how hard it is to part from a church family too. Our last church family we had been part of for 15 years. When we moved I felt God was calling us to a smaller closer church - and I have to say that some of my greatest spiritual growth has been in this very small congregation. We don't always understand why but God does and you are right, He is there, wherever we are!

    • kentucky gal profile image

      kentucky gal 

      8 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      This is a sad story all around. We don't know all the facts; but it would maybe seem that possibly the church reacted too drastically. I will say this though. When the enemy comes in; like a flood, God will raise up a standard against him. He will not leave you or forsake you. Continue to trust in the Lord. He will not only heal your emotions; he will restore your Joy to overflowing.

    • lynnibug profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      Like Immartin, I am having a tough time with this one. I have a hard time with the body of Christ separating itself into denominations because we are called to the "religion of Christ" not the ones about Him.

      I don't recall reading anything in my bible that indicates Christ told any seeker to leave and not come back. That kind of talk is reserved for the enemy. Any church that shuns members or kicks them out has forgotten what we are supposed to be about.

      No wonder so many young people have no interest in church.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      You never said why you were kicked out of the church. Maybe that is none of my business, but i could understand your writings better. I do want to say this, a building is only a building. The church is not a building, it,s God,s people.If i could find a building where god,s people meet and worship, i would be so happy. The church buildings iv,e attended preach that they are the only ones who are right . There are so many divisions, they all can,t be right, and how dare anyone to kick someone out of a church.

      God Bless

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Kicked out of a church? Any church that expels someone is not church I'd wish to belong to, and neither should you. How completely un--Christian. God is in all of us, and no person can say another's view of God is wrong. There is room for all of us, and it is man, puny little man who gets it wrong. Lynda


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