On first Sundays, we used to read the church covenant together. Sometimes, it was in the form of a responsive reading. Sometimes we read the whole thing in unison. I used to love walking in and seeing the covenant hanging in the sanctuary.
In my mind, one’s relationship to a local church is very similar to a marriage, and the covenant is very much like the vows in a wedding ceremony. In reciting the covenant, the members of a congregation agree to watch over one another, pray for one another, to be slow to anger, and be ever ready for reconciliation. What happens when we can no longer keep that vow?
In my last post on this forum, I want to stress the importance of leaving a thing well. We all know it can be heartbreaking, to leave a friendship, a business partnership, or romantic relationship. It can be equally as hard to walk away from your church. But just like any other relationship, church relationships can be fractured beyond repair.
I cannot tell you how to know when to leave. Just like in all other relationships, you have to decide that on your own. But if the church is no longer serving you, or if you feel like you can no longer serve in the church, those are two pretty big clues that it’s time to walk away.
There are ways, though, that you can walk away and not wreak havoc on your way out the door. These tips will apply at work, at home, and at church.
- Pray. Prayer is always in order. If you’re considering leaving, pray for both peace and clarity as you navigate the change.
- Quietly and privately meet with the concerned parties. There is no need to make a scene on a Sunday morning. There is no need to make an announcement over the loudspeaker at work. Don’t wait until the family reunion to announce your plans for a divorce.
- Prepare your replacement. Make sure every one who needs to know your essential business functions is equipped to step in in your absence. It is unkind to leave people unprepared.
- Last but not least, Leave in love, not out of anger, sadness, and/or disappointment. But leave, knowing you did the best you could while you were there. Leave in love with the lessons you’ve learned and in hope for the future, but leave, and don’t look back. What lies ahead is greater than anything you are leaving behind.
I am so grateful for my time with the writeaddiction. I have fellowshipped with wonderful people whose paths I might have never crossed. People who I don’t even know have read my work, and I pray that they were blessed by my words.
Now it’s time to say farewell. I do not know what comes next, but I fully believe it’s going to be great. So I leave you now, in love and in the capable hands of our God, who brought us together, and who will now guide us on our separate journeys.
Gabrielle ”Mama” Radford