Wednesday, February 15, 2012


There are a couple of reasons I'm doing this post. One is because of the number of e-mails I've receive from people moving to another church congregation and needing some direction about how to decide one way or the other. The second reason is as I read blogs I'm finding MOST of the people I read about who are changing churches are doing so because of problems.

I'm assuming we all know that one must seek the Lord on it and be open to solving whatever one's part of ANY interpersonal problems might be before we move, because of the truth of this old saying, "Wherever YOU go, there YOU are." 

That said, I want to post a personal perspective that I ACTUALLY wrote to a friend seeking insight and, with his permission, will share with my blog readers. I realize, better than anyone, that what I say here is no big deal and I give no absolutes since there aren't any. These are just some personal ideas. What follows is my e-mail to my friend with some slight expansion and adaptation for removal of personal references and added thoughts.


I don't have much insight into moving church membership at all. I'm even questioning the biblical basis for how membership is viewed in most SBC churches at present as well, so you can see why my disclaimer.

That said however, I will say that about five years ago Mary and I were feeling a need to do exactly what you've asked about while at Grace Fellowship in Norman. No particular reason other than we just needed a different direction for us personally, church wise and ministry wise. 

Grace Fellowship is a wonderful and gracious group of people with whom we still share worship experiences and meals together once in a while.We talked, thought, prayed, and heard how Henderson Hills in Edmond Oklahoma, a 30 minute drive from us, was facing an issue that was close to our heart. 

We went to a Sunday service and left knowing we wanted to join them, and did the next week. We may have that sense again and do it again in the future sometime. Who knows! 

You can see I have a real belief that the body of Christ is larger than any one denomination or even a local congregation and I probably think of moving to a new congregation as nothing really THAT significant. I guess that's because I see building relationships is what Kingdom stuff is all about anyway. 

So...if you guys as a family are for it, and you aren't creating any problems where you are that you're running from...go for it... if you would like to... is my view. 

I know you are NOT looking for anything that is perfect or without problems, knowing you the way I know you. We all know when we move we are just really moving to experience new members of the body of Christ with a different set of issues and growth needs. 

Sometimes we're a help to them and sometimes it's more for us, but we enjoy it along the way whichever it might be. Any healthy relationship has a reciprocity about it I believe. It is never ONLY one way.

 [You can have a relationship with a surgeon where he/she is the only one giving, but that isn't what I call a healthy relationship in the sense of the word as I'm using it here. Thank goodness they know how to give what's needed... relationship or not...right?] 

So my simple suggestions would be...

1..Leave in love with the people left behind so you can return and enjoy fellowship once in a while.

2..Go in grace and acceptance of any new people and love them where they are, warts and all.

3..Always view the church as an ORGANISM instead of as an organization so that you never cut off or isolate yourself from ANY other group, but will always be able to maintain relationships with God's people wherever you find them.

Let me know how things go.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

I don't see ever leaving a church because of problems. The sole exception would be the church as a body doing something I absolutely could not be a part of.

My personal opinion is that God wouldn't tell us to leave a church, but would rather tell us to go to a different church. The last time we changed, we left a church in Homewood, about a 25 minute drive, to join a local church. Peg and I were both struck, the same morning, while at church, by the thought that we should be worshiping locally.

That also happened to be the incident which had us leave the PCA and join an SBC church.

Word Verification: "dednesse". Home that's not an omen.

Paul Burleson said...


Next time I write a post, I'll call you and you can tell me in one sentence how to say what I want to say. You did it here..."My personal opinion is that God wouldn't tell us to leave a church, but would rather tell us to go to a different church."


Bob Cleveland said...

Paul, thanks, but that's a natural result of being a lazy typist.


Aussie John said...


Wise words! You too, Bob.

There is only ONE church, with ONE Head. Its branches and expressions are as multifarious, as its membership.

It's ONE users manual has ONE code of practice:
" shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

You said...."There is only ONE church, with ONE Head. Its branches and expressions are as multifarious, as its membership. " I need to say "ditto" to you on what was said to Bob. You guys have got it. Thanks.

Rex Ray said...

A very interesting topic.

I don’t know where my dad heard this statement or if it’s original with him:

‘Old friends are like old shoes—they’re easy on your feet.’

The opposite of an old shoe is one that tries to change the shape of your foot.

The pain of a new shoe is caused by NOT being ‘conservative’ as stated in the second definition of Webster (1949): “Disposed to maintain existing institutions or views; opposed to change.”

A professor at SWBTS (fired under Paige Patterson) was once our interim pastor in Grand Prairie who said he always told students on their becoming a new pastor to never change one thing about the church for at least one year.

I’ve heard the number one reason why people change churches is over music problems. I mean, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Then there are others that won’t leave because like that cigarette commercial—a guy with a black eye saying they’d rather fight than switch.

I’m afraid those with black eyes have a hard time growing with the Lord.

PS. These security codes are killing me!!!