What principles does the Bible offer regarding when it is time to leave a church? First, it is clear that God wants believers to stay involved in growing with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
When is it okay to leave a church and look for a new one?
The church is designed to be the pillar of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). If a church no longer believes in the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) or has rejected Jesus as God's divine, resurrected Son (John 1:1), then the church is no longer functioning as a true biblical church. It would be proper in this case to seek another church.
While no person is perfect, the church is to be led by qualified, godly leaders. Biblical qualifications for local church leaders are found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9. If your church is not led by biblically qualified leaders, it would be time to either stay with the goal of helping change this situation or to seek a church with biblically qualified leaders.
There are some cases where your local church has done nothing wrong to require you to leave, but God is leading you to another place of service. In these cases, it is important to carefully evaluate your reasons for change. Is this truly God's calling, or is there a relational conflict or personal reason driving this decision?
In some cases, God does call a person or family to leave a church in order to help with another church, mission, or ministry. In these cases, the church leaders will hopefully embrace this calling, sending out these members for ministry as Paul and Barnabas were in Acts 13:1-3. However, in many cases God can use you to change lives in your existing church through prayer and new ways of involvement. Both examples can be seen in Scripture, highlighting the fact that there are many ways in which God can use our gifts to help build up the body of Christ.
In the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul had to instruct his readers to work together in harmony as much division was taking place within this church. He wrote, "I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10). This is to be our goal as well. Regardless of whether we stay or leave for another church home, our goal must be to be united in Christ and look out for the needs of others as well as our own. As Philippians 2:4 teaches, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
What was God's purpose in establishing the church?
What should we look for in a church?
What does the Bible say about church-shopping/church-hopping?
Is there one true church? Which one is it?
What is the reason for all the different Christian interpretations?
Truth about Church