I just read a really cool blog post by Donald Miller about asking people to leave the church. It brings up an interesting discussion about what lines you can (and can’t) cross when helping people “find their fit” in a church body. The first example he uses is of a friend who is a pastor that asked many of his congregants to move on:
…he just stood up and asked how many people had been coming to church for a year or more but hadn’t found a way to plug into the community. He then invited them to plug in, (which at this church means to serve or find a home group or work in a ministry) and then asked them if they hadn’t found a place that fit them, it might be time to try another church.
For the last 3 years, I’ve gone to a church that mostly follows a “seeker” model. This means that our church’s primary objective is to reach anyone and everyone for Christ. Though we do focus a lot of attention to small groups and missions, priority #1 is getting people saved. I can’t imagine our pastors ever directly asking anyone to move on to a different church. The only time that I’ve heard about this happening in my church was in the case of a specific man who had been repeatedly reprimanded for inappropriate behavior and was seen as a potential threat to the safety of the congregation.
Other than asking people to leave for the safety of church members, when is it ok to encourage people to find a new church home?
I’m rather torn on the subject. I agree that winning converts for Christ should be our first priority as Christians. We don’t need to be too brash with people. However, I can’t help but think that attendees who aren’t actively participating in the church body aren’t actually part of the body at all. If you have been going to a church for a full year and you aren’t plugged in beyond Sunday worship, you are selling yourself (and your church) short. This would be like continuously going to orientation or training on the first day of your new job for an entire year. You eventually have to get to work.