How does a growing believer decide on moving/changing churches when they clearly recognise the church they’re currently part of has no vision and is mostly driven by legalism? Does one stick on with praying and hoping for a revival? Or should they move to a church that identifies the need to mentor and disciple its sheep? Is that a healthy practice — although (seemingly) selfish — to desire?
One of the primary goals of any church should be to disciple the sheep. This is the crux of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to “Go therefore and make disciples… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
The journey of sanctification which begins at the time of the new birth is one of growing in Christlikeness and maturity
The journey of sanctification which begins at the time of the new birth is one of growing in Christlikeness and maturity. A primary means of accomplishing this is by being a part of a local church where the believer is taught the Word, enriched through fellowship, is ministered to by gifted brothers and sisters in Christ, and develops and uses his or her own spiritual gifts.
Sadly, as evident from the question, local churches often fall short in this mission. A big reason for this failure is poor leadership without a clear Biblical vision for the local church. Many believers in such churches often feel an urge to move to another church.
While I do think there may be circumstances where moving to another church is the best course, such a decision should not be taken lightly. I personally am not in favour of moving from church to church. However, I also recognise that there are situations where it may be the Lord’s will for a person to leave one church and join another.
I would suggest that before deciding to move churches a believer should do the following:
If despite doing all of the above, and giving it sufficient time in prayer, you don’t see any change and feel that the Lord would have you move to another church, then it would perhaps be okay to do so. However, I would encourage you to first speak with the elders, and explain to them with grace and humility why you desire to move. It is always best to leave with the blessings of the elders and a commendation from them.
I would also recommend that a good practice would be for the leadership of a church, when faced with someone seeking to join from another church in the same city, to speak with the person seeking to move and understand the reasons before accepting into fellowship. The potential receiving church should encourage the person to see if he has gone through the steps above and to contact or meet with the leaders of the original church to understand their perspectives and any concerns they may have with the move. I am aware of situations where a church that followed this practice was able to counsel a person to change his mind and remain with the original church and try to work out the issues.
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