There are too many people that leave their church on a whim. When believers do this frequently it is known as church hopping or church consumerism. This is when people shop for a church and believe that church A is better than church B. Some leave for better programs or splashier worship music and presentations.
This is not always the case.
There is a point when you need to leave your church for legitimate reasons like when there is a lack of spiritual growth or because there is a lack of leadership. If we are not getting fed, we need to examine why we are remaining at the same institution for years.
Search your heart and prayerfully consider leaving your home church for the following reasons.
Are your pastors sinning?
Over the years there have been many church scandals involving leadership. Whether it was from infidelity, abuse or the misappropriation of money and power--people need to leave those congregations. Paul talked about immortality in the church as recorded in 1 Corinthians 5:1: "It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife." Paul also instructed the church for being prideful in this area, calling them proud and not chastising the sin. "Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?" If leadership can't be accountable, how can you?
Does the church embrace false doctrines?
No matter who it is, always back sermons and advice that you get with Scripture. If you find that the church is distorting the Word of God, you better not walk, but run towards another church. We are not talking about the occasional mistake as we are all trying to interpret Scripture truthfully. The Bible really is forthright regarding sin in and out of the church. Revelations put it this way: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Ouch! This is a conviction for all of us who are working to keep God at the center of Biblical text and in our churches. If you are uneasy about what is going at church, it could be your spirit nudging you to move on.
You are not spiritually growing.
We know that there is a season for everything. The church is part of this. Yet, as we grow as believers sometimes we need to move on to another church to be fed spiritually. This doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the church, it means our inner man needs more. Some churches are for new believers and some are more geared towards shepherding more mature believers. Paul talked about this in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly." This is good news that you want more of God and more from a church. There comes a time when feel-good sermons are not satisfying and are not enough.
You can't remain for social reasons.
There is no doubt that leaving your church is hard to do as you formed important relationships over the years. But you are willing to move on and form new friendships so you can meet more people and serve others. As long as we don't forsake our brother and sisters in Christ, the decision is healthy. Hebrews 10:25 said to "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." There is no shame in investing in others or wanting to grow your relationships with another church congregation.
There is division.
Pastor Roger Barrier's column on Crosswalk discussed explained that changing churches rarely happens quickly. But God sometimes calls you somewhere else and He makes you dissatisfied with your current church. For example, if gossip, anger and bickering are not being addressed in the church, it is time to move on. You might have to pack up your tent and put your stakes somewhere else because it will pollute your own mind and soul.
You don't respect your pastor.
Pastors are human and they will make mistakes. We tend to put them on a pedestal of perfection. However, if you feel you can no longer respect or be under church leadership, you need to pray on your next move. A good pastor according to 1 Timothy 3:2 is an "the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach." Always seek good counsel from people you trust.
The church is self-serving.
God's people are not supposed to be reservoirs. If the church is not involved taking care of the poor or serving the community, you need to leave. If they reject people due to social class or looks, leave. Being part of a church that doesn't get involved by expanding Christ's mission on earth, is a hollow church.
The Bible said in Proverbs 11:14 that "without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances." Changing churches is never an easy thing to decide. Make sure it is for you by searching your heart and opening your ears to what God wants for you. Always have a plan of where you would like to attend. Create a list of potential new church homes and pray over the list. Then take the steps in talking with their leaders and attend services. If you are not sure about moving, there is no rush. Putting pressure on yourself to find a new church and a new church family is a journey sometimes that we have to take.