This month Dave and I moved churches. Last Sunday we were fare welled at our former congregation, Crossroads, and said a few words. We were grateful for this opportunity to tell many people we know and love that we will no longer be attending this congregation. Instead, we will be regularly attending a morning service just five minutes from our home, and also hope to become involved in a small group there.
I have known for a while that we would almost certainly be leaving, but our decision came as a surprise to many who spoke to us after the service. In many ways this is a good thing. It means we had not been going around complaining to everyone! It is also probably a result of our efforts to remain involved and serving until the end of our time there. In fact, Dave preached in late July! We told the elders beforehand that we would be leaving, but they still wanted him to preach.
As we have gone through this process of moving, I have thought a lot about what it means to be loving in leaving a church. I regret the few times when I have shared the details behind our decision. Why? This could give others fuel for discontentment or gossip, and it adds nothing to either their lives or ours. I'm happy for us to state that we feel we'll be more passionate about the vision at our new church, but saying any more may be unhelpful.
Instead, it may be better to simply say what I did at Crossroads on Sunday: "I am thankful for the love and care many people in this church have shown to me over many years. I am also grateful for the teaching I have received. My theology has improved a great deal, and I'm sure this will bring lifelong benefits". This also is true, and it is a truth I'd rather share.
What about you? What are your experiences in moving churches? How do you think we can be loving in the process of leaving?