When people leave your church, things get awkward. Seeing them in public can be like seeing an ex from college. You don’t know how friendly or distant you should be.
Here are Five Rules Of Reaching Out To Someone Who’s Left Your Church:
Rule 1: You Reach Out To Them. Jesus told parables about a shepherd seeking out a lost sheep and a woman who tears her house apart looking for a lost coin. If someone is missing, find them. Go to the person and find out what’s wrong. Make the effort. It will pay off.
Rule 2: You Take The First Step. The scripture says (Matthew 5:23) that if you remember your brother has something against you, it’s your responsibility to reach out to that person. That’s not fair. Sometimes, we are the ones who are externally inconvenienced by someone else’s internal problems. Take responsibility for the relationship you have with that person and for any wrong you may have done. Reach out to them.
Rule 3: Leave The Blame. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean you have to take the blame. Ultimately, we all make our own decisions. That person is responsible for his or her own behavior. They may have legitimate reasons for feeling hurt, embarrassed, or bored, but they can get past those feelings by, and with, the grace of God. They left the church for one reason; they wanted to do it. Anything else is an excuse.
Rule 4: Welcome Them Back Or Let Them Go. If the person comes back, great. Open the door and greet them with open arms. Give them their seat back pr their favorite pew and don’t let the past keep them from a fruitful future. Let them keep walking if they leave. If they were meant to fellowship with you, then they WILL come back. If they weren’t, let them go. Don’t waste your energy chasing down those who want to go.
Rule 5: Not everyone leaves forever. Letting people go does not mean you stop praying for them or waiting for them to come back. With sadness, the prodigal son’s dad let him go out the door but waited at the window in hope he’d return.
If you want to know why people leave your church, check out “The Four Reasons People Leave Your Church.”