Written by Thom S. Rainer |
Sunday, November 12, 2023
These blessed exits can be a form of self-selected church discipline. Of course, departing members do not see themselves as subjects of church discipline. Still, their exits were good for the church, its mission, and its unity. Many of the pastors with whom we’ve spoken have learned not to chase these exiting members.
Perhaps one of the most under-reported issues about the post-pandemic church is how some churches are doing better after the departure of some church members. We know that about 20 percent of active church attendees stopped attending during the pandemic and have not returned. What we rarely hear is that some of those departures actually helped churches.
I need to be careful with this topic. I am not suggesting that urging members to leave should be a church strategy. Nor am I suggesting that problems always reside with the church members. Pastors and other church staff can be problems as well.
Still, this issue is worth exploring. Here are five observations I have at this point,
1. Greater unity takes place when a negative church member leaves. My prayer is that any negativity in the church would be removed. It is hard to have a unified church when there is pervasive negativity present. One pastor shared with me about three church members who did not return after the pandemic quarantine.