What are some reasons for leaving a church?


Considering leaving a church shouldn’t be taken lightly, and one should never leave a church over petty issues. I’ve read of someone leaving a church because the church voted to have red carpet instead of green. This is petty.

However, for the sake of one's conscience (Rom. 13:5) and/or to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), leaving a church is reasonable. These biblical reasons would include:

If heresy and/or false doctrine and/or a false Gospel is being taught from the pulpit (Gal. 1:7-9) or by anyone with teaching authority in the church (Rom. 16:17. Also see Matthew 7:15; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 3:10; 2 Peter 2:3).

If the church is characterized by a willing disregard for Scripture (2 Tim. 3:5).

If the church denies that Jesus is God in the flesh (1 John 4:2).

If the church fails to discipline members who are deliberately sinning (1 Cor. 5:1-3, 1-7, 9-11; cf. Matt. 18:15-17).

If the church is walking contrary to the biblical pattern for the church (2 Thess. 3:6, 14).

If the church walks in hypocrisy (Matt. 15:8; 2 Tim. 3:5).

In addition, there are some reasons that aren’t related to sin in the church. For instance, another church may offer an opportunity for better teaching and growth. This too is a credible reason to leave.

Again, leaving a church shouldn’t be taken lightly. And if after much prayer one decides to leave, then they should do so by properly informing the leadership of the church that they are leaving (Heb. 13:17) and be careful not to sow discord upon their departure (Prov. 6:16, 19).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).