Jennifer LeClaire, news editor at Charisma has some very good reflections and thoughts on how pastors should respond when people leave their church. Here is an excerpt:
Don’t go into attack mode. If you are walking in integrity, treating people with love, providing care to the congregation, and otherwise fulfilling your God-given responsibilities as a pastor, then you have no reason to go on the offense. If you are truly a servant to your members, you don’t have to fear that one influential person leaving will cause a mass exodus.
Pastors, when people leave your church the congregation is watching you. If you attack people who leave—whether it’s directly, through seeded rumors to your leadership, or indirectly through messages from the pulpit, it reflects poorly on your stewardship and your character. It reveals the anger and bitterness in your heart. And you will probably lose more sheep because no one wants an angry, bitter pastor who can’t accept that the Holy Spirit sometimes moves people on.
When someone leaves your church—especially someone who is a leader or in a visible position—it’s time to reflect on your ministry, not attack the person. If possible, speak with the person about why they are leaving. If the exiting member won’t talk to you, it’s likely there is either a problem in their heart or a problem in your church. But you can’t assume it’s the exiting member’s issue alone.
When people start leaving, it’s not time to go on the attack—it’s time to pray and ask God if there’s anything going on in your church that’s causing people to leave. You may be the most loving, caring pastor in the world but you may not see the church cliques or the actions of power-hungry leaders who mistreat the sheep. You may not see the spiritual abuse going on behind the scenes. Again, when people start leaving the church, don’t malign their character—check your own and check your church.
(read the whole post HERE)