Offense: Is it a valid reason to leave a church?

Straight Talk

The Question

I have been a member of this church for over 15 years or longer. Devoted in paying tithes and giving offering and any other assistance I can be. My mother was in ICU and no one from church called or visited. I decided I don’t want to be a part of that fellowship anymore. I believe as confessing Christians we should do the right things. Am I wrong for leaving this church?

– OB from Warner Robins, Georgia

The Answer
Part 1: Doing the right things
Part 2: Effects of trauma

Doing the right things (Part 1)

I’m sorry to say this so bluntly but yes, I do feel it is wrong for you to leave your church for the reason you state. But please hang with me because I will handle more specifically what happened to you and to your dear mother in a minute. I’m not minimizing that.

BUT. There are some big buts. You state that as confessing Christians we should do the right things. I need to point out some “right things” for you to do no matter what anybody else does.

  • “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”(Ephesians 4:32) Ask yourself if you have ever failed to perform an act of mercy and how you would want that taken by the one who might have benefited.
  • Love… “does not take into account a wrong suffered…” (1 Corinthians 13:5) Ask yourself if you are keeping a tally sheet of what is owed to you based on giving your tithes, etc.
  • “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” (Luke 6:33) On what basis have you been involved with good works in your church? Freely, or with strings attached?
  • “…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15) Christ is the head of his church, he is the source for all our needs. Watch out when you look to men, subject to human frailty and inadequacy to meet needs, even worthy ones.

Think of it this way: you have an opportunity right now to increase your maturity level. If you accept the challenge you take on the character of Christ. He died to his self and extended an invitation to us to follow him. “Whoever wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

What is the other alternative? You can leave your church of fifteen years (if you’ve been there that long they certainly must have done a few things right) and go elsewhere. Just remember that you will carry baggage with you; baggage that only gets heavier and more difficult to unload over time. The new church will eventually do something to offend you too. I can pretty much promise you that.

Effects of trauma (Part 2)

Now let’s talk about what happened to your mother. It must have been extremely traumatic for you both because if your mother was in ICU than her life was probably in danger. Considering your stress level is it any wonder it pushed you to emotional overload? Did you ever consider that the offense you feel against your church is simply a release valve to handle the trauma you felt?

If your church is like most there is probably a ministry in place to those who are ill or in the hospital. Somehow your mother’s case fell through the cracks and the church did not respond in your time of need. I’m sorry that happened to you. I bet it’s not the first time though—nor will it be the last. Mistakes are always going to happen.

But on your side, this mistake took on greater importance than on their side. After all it was YOUR mother! She was very ill; she was in intensive care. You needed spiritual support. Now I ask you: you didn’t get it from your church but did you get it from the Lord? Think back to the events. Did God use the medical staff to support you? Was there a chaplain at the hospital who helped you? Did the Lord give you a scripture to cling to? People may fail you but God never fails you.

If you and your mother are on the other side of this then let go of the offense which I’m sure was not intentional. Forgive those who failed you just as you’ll want forgiveness for the next time you fail someone.

I offer you one more challenge if you desire spiritual maturity. Why don’t you offer to join your church’s visitation team and become part of the solution? Knowing how critical it is to minister to those who are sick and in the hospital, determine that no one else will suffer what you did. Call it going on the offensive against offense!