Scott Hodge


Leaving Church Part 3 (To those showing up at the new church)

Jan 11, 2011

This is the third and final post on the topic of leaving a church.  Part 1 was for my pastor colleaguesPart two was for those who are considering leaving a church.

This post is what I’d say to those showing up at our church from another church:

Do your best to leave your expectations at home. i.e. Don’t expect our church to be like your last church.  Trust me, it won’t be!  We’re different.  Not better…but most definitely different.  Approach your visit to a new church with an open heart and mind.  If God is calling you to be a part of a new church, then chances are….He’s wanting to do something NEW in you.

Don’t have a “shopping” mentality. Don’t “shop” for a church like you would a new car or home.  The problem with that approach is that it looks first at what’s best for ME A church is not a health club.  In fact, ultimately the “church” is not the building or the pastor – it’s the PEOPLE.  It’s YOU.  So ultimately, church should be seen as something we “are” much more than as a place we go to simply consume and have our needs met.  So rather than first asking “What’s in it for ME?“  Instead, ask a different set of questions.  Questions like:

What are some ways I could imagine God using me to serve and contribute in and through this church?

Does my heart resonate with the DNA and culture of this church?

“Does this place value children?”  “Are there potential opportunities for my family to get to know other families who are at our same stage of life?”  “Are there other singles people here?” (Depending on your stage of life.)

(Side note: just because there may not be a large number of others like you doesn’t automatically mean it’s not the right place for you. God might be bringing you to a church to help start building and bringing more people who are in your same stage of life….or to learn from people different from you.)

Is this the type of place I can invite my friends, neighbors, and loved ones without hesitation?

Is this place and are these people empowered to be real and authentic?


Stop looking for the perfect church. Churches are led and filled by men and women.  Humans.  This means that churches will always be a bit messy.  People tend to think that the grass is always greener on the other side.  Trust me, it’s not.  There will be challenges and opportunities for offense everywhere you go!  But listen… that’s one of the greatest values of community – learning to work through the tough challenges of human relationships.

Look beyond methods. If all you do is buy into methods, then what happens when those methods change?  Go beyond the methods!  Look at things like the church’s mission, DNA, culture, core beliefs, values, etc… Look beyond the preaching and “style” of music.  Are those things important?  Yes.  But “style” and “methods” change!  Or I should say…SHOULD change.  Remember….the only thing that’s sacred is God’s mission. A healthy church will constantly be changing and tweaking the externals.  Look beyond those.

Bottom line folks:  I believe that starting well is heavily dependent upon ending well. And yes, sometimes it’s difficult to leave well.  And I know there are even some pastors who really make it tough to leave well.  But just remember… are only responsible for yourself. So at least do your part.  And do it with a ton of integrity and Spirit leading.  If you do that, I believe God can and will honor that.

5 Responses to “Leaving Church Part 3 (To those showing up at the new church)”

  1. Scott…

    You are so right on. A year ago when we decided to leave the church we were at for 13 years… It was not about trying to replace what we had, but more about finding a place that aligned with our hearts.

    Although your awesome messages and fantastic music team was a draw… I felt compelled to visit many other places to explore what other churches had to offer.

    Ultimately it was the way that the church body embraced the community, and how we as a family have evolved to do the same that said… “We found where we should be” as opposed to “Where we want to be”.

    You have to be open to what God has done to grow and change you, and realize it’s not about YOU… It’s about what God want’s to do through you that really matters!


  2. Thom Gagne' says:

    “if you think uhave found the perfect church, don’t go there, you’ll ruin it.” Billy Graham

  3. Thom Gagne' says:

    A pastor should never receive folks from another church, unless he has verified their status with their previous church. This not only protects his church from their baggage, but helps those fleeing sheep to grow through whatever issues may have cause them to depart the previous body they were part of.

  4. Scott,
    I’ve really enjoyed these last 3 posts. I’ve subscribed to your blog after reading the 1st one.

    I’m interested in this idea of a church’s DNA. I think I know what you mean by that, but could you write a post about that concept to unpack it a little?

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Stephanie Ho says:

    Scott, we loved these posts. After almost a year of being the leavers and the newcomers, it helped us to see that this really was the right move for us, and helped to validate that we did our best to do things in the right way. Thanks for writing these.
    Steph & Tony

Leave a Reply

  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Vimeo
  • Flickr



Top Posts