I read a stat that every 5 years, 46% of the average church body will turn over. If that is true, than let me address this issue we all encounter. As a pastor, we live within the realm and the reality that people will not be part of the local body that we shepherd forever. God does call people to other local bodies for His purposes. I do belive that. Other than that, the reason people exit the body can be complex. It could be anywhere from the music style, to the pastor’s style, to the church’s vision, to even a conflict that may not have worked out biblically. I have had people leave for many reasons. Grant it, some are healthy exits as God is moving them to a new ministry. Some exits are not healthy, and maybe even silly. I know of people that have left a body for some of the most minor reasons. The enemy can use a situation, magnify it, and it becomes something that isn’t even true. I also know that there is a segment of people that just are wired for “change” every few years. The just want something different in life. Some leave the church because they are walking away from Jesus. This post is not dealing with that issue.
For us pastors, it can be painful when people leave. I know personally I have experienced that through the years and will more as long as I am in the ministry. It is inevitable. The hard part for us pastors, is taking it personally. Most people leave with grace, kindness, and compassion, some kick you in the gut on the way out, some just disappear, . When people leave our body, they may get a new pastor, but we lose a friend. They move on to the new church, new leadership, and new circle. We pastors are left with a relationship that is gone, as a friend exits our life. I guess that is just the raw honesty of it.
So my pastor friends, guard your heart, as you will experience the above many times. Being in spiritual leadership is a privilege like no other. It is very hard at times, but stay the course! Stay pure before the Lord in heart, soul, and mind. Don’t let your spirit become bitter or wounded when people move to another body. Don’t react in the flesh, even if it because of conflict. Know that God has called you to that community and that body. Whether people stay, embrace the vision Christ has imparted to you, or they leave your church and your life, stay faithful to your calling! Honor God in the way you deal with those that move on. Bless them and above all. Press on.
May the dark clouds of discouragement that plague those in ministry be gone this day. May the Spirit of life fill you, keep you, and empower you as never before. Move forward in glorifying Jesus, preaching and teaching the Good News, and seeing people’s lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.