Seven Ways to Leave a Church Well

"Churchgoers are not members of a country club, but rather members of the body of Christ. We should therefore stamp this image upon our hearts. If you feel called to leave a local church, here are seven things to do to ensure you leave it in the right way." - Facts & Trends

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Jay's picture

Jay, are you referring to Ira Chaleff's book?  Your link didn't work for me.  

Yup, that's it.  There was a string of stuff after the link that I thought was for tracking purposes but removing that must have broken the link.  Thanks for the fix.

PVawter, it depends on the situation.  There is a Biblical warning about not casting valuable things (like information) to swine if they're just going to turn around and "rend you".  Without more details I can't / won't say.

I think it's fairly easy to tell who (from SI) has been through these kinds of situations and those who haven't.  Or tell them from who just will not accept "No" as an answer.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Michael_C's picture

I'll put in a plug for sharing in a gracious, honest way why you are leaving a church. I was a part of a church with very high turnover. People said they were leaving because they wanted a church closer to home, more opportunities for their kids, etc. A few months later I would find out that they had joined a church that was farther away from their house than ours or didn't have a developed kids program.

Long story short, over time many of those people opened up that there were deeper leadership problems they were trying to get away from so they came up with another reason to exit. They didn't want to hurt feelings or have an uncomfortable conversation. The net effect was that some of the weaknesses of the church were not identified by the top leaders and addressed, and they ultimately proved to be fatal. Most of the people who left were not hostile, which was a good thing. But I would argue they could have loved the church better by having a hard conversation.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Michael_C wrote:

I'll put in a plug for sharing in a gracious, honest way why you are leaving a church.

[...]

I would argue they could have loved the church better by having a hard conversation.

I agree with being honest about why one is leaving a church.  It can be difficult when the pastor[s] don't believe there's an issue or refuse to see or consider the problems you are seeing.  (I rather doubt there many, if any, pastors who believe they or their church is in violation of the statement of faith and/or church covenant.  From what I have seen and heard, it's always the member who is wrong.)  I'm not saying don't be honest, but for someone who does NOT want to cause any strife or division in the church, it can be much easier to just quietly leave rather than cause what is likely to be something that blows up, when the leadership will never agree that there is a good reason to leave.

But, I don't believe that letting the leadership know why one is leaving requires a conversation.  I personally left a church (after being there 11 years) that had changed to strong KJVO and LCO positions, as well as being more authoritarian.  When my family and I left, I wrote a 4-page letter, single-spaced typed, detailing all the reasons I had for leaving, and also making clear what the reasons were not (like personal offense, etc.).  At the end, I stated that I would be willing to have a conversation with the pastor and leadership if he desired, but that our minds were made up.  He never requested a meeting.  We ended up having a brief further email discussion that was very cordial, and it went about as well as I would have any right to expect.  I'm fairly certain that trying to start that conversation in person would have caused much more strife.  In short, in-person is NOT always the better or wiser option, even though I did feel I owed the pastor at least an explanation, even if not in a setting that would have given him more advantage or leverage.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

One thought I've got about having the conversation is that if one sees the direction the church is taking as sin--which I did in the three cases I mentioned earlier--then wouldn't Matthew 18 suggest a confrontation (oops) conversation is in order?  

On the flip side, if you've got good evidence that the conversation would go south in a hurry, I'm not going to question your decision to just send a letter, especially since I've personally seen exactly that.  I would be quite the hypocrite as I think about how I respond when, say, crime victims decide to keep their heads down.  (smile)

(also on the smile part; my mistake in writing "confrontation" instead of "conversation" when I originally wrote this might speak to some reasonable assumptions/fears on the part of people leaving churches)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Michael_C's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

But, I don't believe that letting the leadership know why one is leaving requires a conversation.  I personally left a church (after being there 11 years) that had changed to strong KJVO and LCO positions, as well as being more authoritarian.  When my family and I left, I wrote a 4-page letter, single-spaced typed, detailing all the reasons I had for leaving, and also making clear what the reasons were not (like personal offense, etc.). 

I don't disagree, dcbii. I remember my dad doing something similar when we left a church when I was a kid. The pastor had become domineering, even speaking ill of people who had left from the pulpit. My dad wrote a letter resigning our membership and stating our reasons. No need to get drawn further into the drama.

I will also say that it is much easier to directly share your reasons for leaving if the church has a plurality of elders. Hopefully, you can talk to a pastor who will thoughtfully hear your thoughts without it turning adversarial.

My larger point is that many people leave churches because of flaws that may or may not be sinful. If your elders keep hearing the same themes in "exit interviews" that could help your church shore up a weakness. Maybe the preaching is weak, but only people who are leaving will say it? Or maybe singles feel marginalized and unwelcomed? These are data points that could help a church grow and minister more effectively moving forward. In a situation I was a part of, I discovered after the fact that many members were concerned about the same issues I was, but since we didn't gossip we each thought we were the only ones who felt that way!

Or course many people will leave for trivial reasons or because they have a different theology or ministry philosophy. The challenge is to be receptive to feedback without trying to accommodate people who will never be happy.

Dave White's picture

dcbii wrote:
I personally left a church (after being there 11 years) that had changed to strong KJVO and LCO positions ...

What is LCO?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Dave White wrote:

What is LCO?

Sorry.  It stands for "local church only."  I.e., there is no universal church, only the local church.  Suffice it to say, this position goes much further than simply recognizing that one should belong to a local church, not just consider themselves a member of the universal church, something LCO adherents believe does not exist.  Other positions it takes is that all churches must come from a pure succession of local churches (essentially back to the founding of the church), or they are illegitimate, and that the church did not start at or after Pentecost.  Some also believe that none of the reformers were regenerate.  This position shares many similarities with Landmarkism or Baptist Bride, though in my experience those who hold to LCO may still claim to not actually be Landmark or Baptist Bride.

In any case, I didn't see eye to eye with this position.

Dave Barnhart

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Michael_C wrote:

I discovered after the fact that many members were concerned about the same issues I was, but since we didn't gossip we each thought we were the only ones who felt that way!

And this is part of the issue with confronting the pastor or elders -- since the Bible seems to require 2 or 3 witnesses (not 100% sure that confrontation == rebuke), but most or at least many Christians believe that discussing such problems among the membership would be equivalent to gossip, there is never the group or 2 or 3 to be able to take it to the pastor or elders.  And since no one wants to be guilty of gossip or causing strife they'd rather "put her away privily" instead.

Dave Barnhart

Jay's picture

...this is part of the issue with confronting the pastor or elders -- since the Bible seems to require 2 or 3 witnesses (not 100% sure that confrontation == rebuke), but most or at least many Christians believe that discussing such problems among the membership would be equivalent to gossip.

Add in the fact that some of the board members charged with investigating their pastor are, can, or will be directly related to him, and it can go sideways really fast. 

Objecting to the pastor is good, but there's got to be a willingness to hear the feedback too.  Even if you are willing to say it, do you want a pastor who isn't willing to accept "wounds from a friend" for their own good?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Larry, are you implying there is no biblical way to leave a church?

No, not at all.

I think there are biblical ways and biblical reasons to leave a church. 

  1. Doctrinal reasons -- Where a church teaches doctrine that you in good conscience cannot believe or listen to or have your family exposed to.
  2. Philosophical reasons - Where a church adopts a philosophy of ministry that you cannot in good conscience abide by and serve in.
  3. Ministry reasons - where you can help another church in a significant way without hurting your present church.
  4. Location reasons - where another church is closer to you and allows you to be more involved in ministry and fellowship (see the Pastor's Talk here: https://www.9marks.org/pastors-talk/episode-77-on-living-close-to-your-c...)

I think as a general rule, a church is a commitment to love and serve people. It is not about us.

The biblical way to leave a church is pretty simple as well: If leaving over differences, leave quietly and communicate to the leadership why you are leaving. If leaving to serve in another church, let the leadership know and let them decide how to handle it publicly. Above all, I would say be careful not to divide the body. It is the temple of God and bad things happen to those who hurt it (1 Cor 3). I do not think it wise or biblical to leave without giving a reason. As I tell people, I can't fix something I don't know about. I may not be able to fix it anyway, but at least give me a chance. 

Why would moving be an automatic pass in this scenario? Are you sure God told you to move? Membership is solid. You made commitments, etc. Why would God tell you to move from where you committed?

Moving is not an automatic pass. I think it is a good idea to make a church a central part of  amoving consideration. Is there a good church where I am moving or do I know someone planting one? If not, should I go? Even buying a house should give consideration to the church you plan to attend. Should you buy a house a long way from where you want to go to church? I would discourage that. I think it is good to live relatively close. It's hard to be involved when it is an hour round trip to church and back. I am a a big fan of living where you go to church. Here's another Pastor's Talk about the topic of living in proximity to church: https://www.9marks.org/pastors-talk/episode-77-on-living-close-to-your-c...

It might be that a move is unwise for any one of a number of reasons related to a church.

 

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that in a case where you've got aberrant theology, you pretty much always have 2-3 witnesses--a single family hearing the sermon qualifies, no?  In the cases I mentioned from my own life, I had a video shown to the whole church, a site linking a lot of financial documents, and a pastor putting out a ton of KJVO/TOB materials in the foyer.  Sometimes I think that we do ourselves a lot of harm by almost instinctively asking "do you have 2-3 witnesses" or "do you have first hand knowledge?", as if the stack of pamphlets isn't (rhetorically speaking) right out there in the foyer.  Are we really seeking truth, or are we grasping at any straw to evade accountability?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Bert, not everyone agrees on what aberrant theology is. If the theology is contrary to the agreed on doctrinal statement, then a case can be made. But if a person is the one in contradiction to the doctrinal statement, it is better for that person to leave quietly. Pamphlets, videos, and other forms of physical evidence are part of the 2-3 witnesses that can be used to establish a case.

But in a church, a person being different doesn't require the whole church to change their conscience. Which is why there is a place to leave, quietly in many cases, rather than disturb the unity of the body.

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, no doubt that not everyone agrees, but that's not the point I was making.  My main point is that a lot of the time, church leaders wrongly use "2-3 witnesses" or "do you have first hand evidence" as a means to avoid discussing the subjects at all.  It's really a control tactic, and all the more as the evidence for what's going on is as obvious as a rack of KJVO materials in the foyer or throwing away perfectly good NIV Bibles that have been there for years.  "Oh, can't listen to you, we need a couple more people to complain, ignore those Chick materials I just put out there."  

It raises a few other questions, starting with whether those evading a discussion have a good argument for their position at all, and whether those evading a discussion understand the principle that when one person brings a matter up, it generally means that the person cares enough about the organization to complain.  (staple of customer service, by the way)

So no, never decided to "disturb the unity" of the flock by having such a conversation.  I have, however, had conversations with a few pastors who had decided to quietly move the flock away from where the church constitution and culture stood.  

And a final note; accusing someone of "disturbing the unity of the body" also tends to be a way of avoiding uncomfortable topics,  a way pastors in effect say "I've got the authority here, you get to submit, don't ask too many questions."  And then those pastors wonder why so many members show up as empty seats every Sunday.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

My main point is that a lot of the time, church leaders wrongly use "2-3 witnesses" or "do you have first hand evidence" as a means to avoid discussing the subjects at all. 

I reject that use of "2-3 witnesses."

accusing someone of "disturbing the unity of the body" also tends to be a way of avoiding uncomfortable topics,  a way pastors in effect say "I've got the authority here, you get to submit, don't ask too many questions."  And then those pastors wonder why so many members show up as empty seats every Sunday.

It can be, but it likely does not tend to be nor does it have to be. Disturbing the unity of the body tends to be a way of insisting on your way over the unity of the body and being willing to divide the body over your personal views. However, there are way too many factors in any given situation to address here in any meaningful way.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Larry wrote:

It can be, but it likely does not tend to be nor does it have to be. Disturbing the unity of the body tends to be a way of insisting on your way over the unity of the body and being willing to divide the body over your personal views. However, there are way too many factors in any given situation to address here in any meaningful way.

Unless you would find it not "meaningful," I'd be interested in knowing how you'd handle a situation where you are in a church, and you hear something preached that doesn't really line up with scripture or it goes against the covenant/statement of faith.  You then go to leadership and it's explained away, ignored, or not taken seriously.  Do you go to someone else in the church to discuss it, or would that be divisive or disturbing the unity of the body?

It's exactly this question that leads many to leave a church quietly, because to bring it up with someone else (especially if they haven't noticed it) seems like it would be fostering divisiveness, or borderline gossip.  It's not being "insist[ent] on [one's own] way," but there is a concern that this is something not just a "personal view," and will need some sort of resolution.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

<snip>

accusing someone of "disturbing the unity of the body" also tends to be a way of avoiding uncomfortable topics,  a way pastors in effect say "I've got the authority here, you get to submit, don't ask too many questions."  And then those pastors wonder why so many members show up as empty seats every Sunday.

It can be, but it likely does not tend to be nor does it have to be. Disturbing the unity of the body tends to be a way of insisting on your way over the unity of the body and being willing to divide the body over your personal views. However, there are way too many factors in any given situation to address here in any meaningful way.

I think it's important here to state what's really being done when someone says another is "disturbing the unity of the body."  Specifically, if I make that accusation, I simultaneously am NOT addressing the specific way in which the person is (allegedly) disturbing unity.  Whether it's music, an item of theology, or Bibliology, or whatever, that particular issue is not being addressed.  So I'd argue that the argument "you're disturbing the unity of the body" is almost inherently a dodge of the real issues by its very nature.  If I'm addressing the way in which someone is splitting the church, I have no need to say this at all.

Worth noting as well is that the unity spoken of in Scripture is the unity of the Spirit.  You will only find the phrase "unity of the body" in the translators' notes and headers of chapters, which are of course not part of the text.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I think it's important here to state what's really being done when someone says another is "disturbing the unity of the body."  Specifically, if I make that accusation ...

Why use a generic "someone says" if you are going to talk about what you mean? Why not just confine your comments to what you mean without reading into what other people mean?

So I'd argue that the argument "you're disturbing the unity of the body" is almost inherently a dodge of the real issues by its very nature.  If I'm addressing the way in which someone is splitting the church, I have no need to say this at all.

If someone is dodging real issues, they shouldn't. But it seems to me that disturbing the unity of the body is a "real issue by its very nature." If you are "addressing the way in which someone is splitting the church," you are addressing what is disturbing the unity of the body, are you not?

Worth noting as well is that the unity spoken of in Scripture is the unity of the Spirit.  You will only find the phrase "unity of the body" in the translators' notes and headers of chapters, which are of course not part of the text.

Worth noting is that the unity of the Spirit in the church is the unity of the body. It's basic ecclesiology (which I am constantly reminded is a deep and pressing need in modern churches). 

Bert Perry's picture

Yes, if the church is being led by the Spirit, the unity of the Spirit does become the unity of the body.  However, it is a hasty assumption to conclude that that which keeps temporary peace in the body actually is the unity of the Spirit.  My rule of thumb is that if someone is leading with "evangelicalese" which has minimal support in the Word of God, what is being spoken of is the unity of men, not the unity of the Spirit.  There are probably some exceptions, but as a rule, it holds pretty well.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

However, it is a hasty assumption to conclude that that which keeps temporary peace in the body actually is the unity of the Spirit. 

Yes, by all means. Don't make that assumption. Temporary peace is no peace at all, though a cessation of hostility for a time in pursuit of a biblical resolution is a good thing.

My rule of thumb is that if someone is leading with "evangelicalese" which has minimal support in the Word of God, what is being spoken of is the unity of men, not the unity of the Spirit.

I am not sure what you mean by "evangelicalese," but if people are not leading churches on the basis of Scripture, it is bad. 

But my experience, both in real life and in reading and talking with others, is that people who speak of "unity of the body" are speaking in biblical ways and seeking the good of the church in spiritual unity.

As I read you here, Bert, it seems like you have a history of making bad decisions about the churches you have attended. You have apparently gotten yourself mixed up in some pretty bad situations. It seems to have colored your views such that you don't see as clearly as you might. My point in that is simply don't judge everyone else by your experience. It is no doubt true in some places, but not in other places.

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, keep in mind that you just accused me of making bad decisions about churches; you're blaming me for my experience, really.  Now reality is that when I joined one church in 1991, I had no way of knowing that in 1997-8, that church would go seeker sensitive, neglect pulpit ministry, and fail to discern between believers and unbelievers in positions of ministry.  I had no way of knowing in 2009 that the "pastor" was indeed closet KJVO and would agree to things and then change them back in mid-week.  I had no way of knowing in 2013 that the pastor was quietly endorsing a soft version of prosperity theology.

Bad choices on my part?  No, the information I had at the time was that these churches would all be sound.  It was only later that the wrong teaching and practice became evident.  

Regarding "evangelicalese", it's pious-sounding words that have little meaning outside of evangelical and fundamental churches, and which generally aren't actual Biblical words or phrases.  Like a phrase I've seen a lot when objectionable practices are discussed here, and a phrase I heard when trying to address objectionable practices and theology at churches that showed their true colors; "unity of the church". 

In other words, it isn't just a few bad instances poisoning the phrase.  It's the fact that it's not the Biblical phrase, and also that I've got a fair number of examples of it being misused.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Larry, keep in mind that you just accused me of making bad decisions about churches; you're blaming me for my experience, really.

You are on a kick about "blame" lately. Blaming you for your experience? Who else is there to blame? Aren't you the one who chose the churches you attended? You may have may the best choice you could make based on the info you had. That's fine. the point is that you made the choice and it turned out bad apparently and now you are using your limited experience to tar many churches. I can't comment on your churches because I don't know them. And that's the same reason you shouldn't make broad sweeping comments about other churches: You don't know them.

In the other thread you mistakenly equated blame with sin. Blame is actually equated with responsibility--you are responsible for something. It does not necessarily include sin, though it might. But in this case, it simply means that you made bad choices (something you agree with).

"Unity of the church" is not "evangelicaleze." It is a biblical idea. The idea appears all over the New Testament. It's hard to imagine how it could be questioned. When you read of things like "that they may be one," "one body," "made the two into one new man," "bear one another's burden," "assemble together," and on and on, the necessity (and presumption) of unity in the body is clear. Doing a concordance search on "unity of the body" and then claiming the idea isn't in the Bible is bad theological method. 

It reminds of why theological education in the church is important. When we have people questioning the "unity of the church" as a biblical idea, it is an indication that somewhere along the line, the Bible wasn't taught. Given your recounting of your history above, it is not surprising. It's still unfortunate thought. We have to have a revival of theology in churches. It is how we protect and preserve the future.

Bad practices and bad theology in the church should absolutely be addressed. But claiming "unity of the church" isn't a biblical idea is bad theology that will lead to bad practice. It should be addressed.

Kevin Miller's picture

Larry wrote:

"Unity of the church" is not "evangelicaleze." It is a biblical idea. The idea appears all over the New Testament. It's hard to imagine how it could be questioned. When you read of things like "that they may be one," "one body," "made the two into one new man," "bear one another's burden," "assemble together," and on and on, the necessity (and presumption) of unity in the body is clear. Doing a concordance search on "unity of the body" and then claiming the idea isn't in the Bible is bad theological method. 

A phrase can be "Christian jargon" and be a biblical idea at the same time. Christian jargon usually needs to be explained, and you did a good job of listing some of the characteristics of "unity of the body."  Is "an unquestioning attitude" one of the characteristics of "unity of the body?" It isn't? So if someone questions a practice of the church or of the pastor, and the accusation is made that the questioner is "disrupting the unity of the body," then the accusation would really be a dodge based on minimal biblcal support. Unity of the body is not the same as unquestioning loyalty.

I had a situation in my last church where the pastor was starting to exhibit temper outbursts. A few people even left the church because they felt disrespected. They tried telling a few of us other members that they left because of the pastor's temper, but I personally had not experienced an outburst, so I took the pastor's word that these people were leaving for other reasons and now they were just trying to sow discord among the rest of us. Any questions about the pastor's emotional state were simply swept under the rug because the questioners were just "sowing discord" in the "unity of the body." Even when my own wife experienced one of the outbursts, my first thought was that she was over-reacting. I was trying to think of a way to resolve the situation without becoming one of "those people" who disrupt the body, when the pastor abruptly resigned.

So I can certainly understand how the accusation of "disrupting the unity of the body" can be used as a way of dodging a real issue.

Jay's picture

A phrase can be "Christian jargon" and be a biblical idea at the same time. Christian jargon usually needs to be explained, and you did a good job of listing some of the characteristics of "unity of the body."  Is "an unquestioning attitude" one of the characteristics of "unity of the body?" It isn't? So if someone questions a practice of the church or of the pastor, and the accusation is made that the questioner is "disrupting the unity of the body," then the accusation would really be a dodge based on minimal biblical support. Unity of the body is not the same as unquestioning loyalty.

This is a great point.  

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, you've got things backwards.  I am pointing out that you are blaming people for things that are not their fault because that is precisely what you are doing.  You have a consistent habit of blaming people who are victims. You did it with Maddy Runkle, you're doing it with sexual assault victims, and you're doing it with me.  

See the pattern here?  In your view, Maddy Runkle was supposed to accept whatever punishments the school board decided to dish out--punishments meted out over a period of time--simply because they had the authority and she'd agreed to that.  Didn't mean anything that Paul was far more compassionate in 2 Corinthians to the man caught sleeping with his stepmother, and said the punishment inflicted--temporary exclusion from fellowship-- was enough. By the same logic, citizens have no rights to protest the actions of the government they elected. 

In the same way, rape victims who had a gun pointed at them (and whose rapists weren't even prosecuted for open and shut weapons charges) are supposed to go forward with charges because it is their responsibility--never mind that the rapist was still free and armed.  Similarly, I am supposed to believe that accusing me of "bad decisions" isn't blaming me, and that "guilt" and "blame" have nothing to do with accusing someone of sin.

Funny, that's not what my dictionary says, and it's not what my Bible says.  The words "guilt" and "blame" are routinely used when referring to sin--and not at other times. 

And no, "unity of the Body" is not a Biblical concept.  You will find precisely zero examples of this phrase in Scripture.  The Biblical concept is "unity of the Spirit", and that puts a huge bound on the practice of achieving "unity of the body".  Specifically, it doesn't mean that congregants, students, members, and the like simply accept whatever leaders say because they were selected for that position.  It means that their authority ends when they depart from the counsel of the Word of God.

Which is a concept that far too many so-called "fundamental" leaders seem to need to learn.  Perhaps if they do, they could slow the exodus of young people who thankfully don't have a 1950s version of the privileges of authority. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

 

 Is "an unquestioning attitude" one of the characteristics of "unity of the body?" It isn't? So if someone questions a practice of the church or of the pastor, and the accusation is made that the questioner is "disrupting the unity of the body," then the accusation would really be a dodge based on minimal biblcal support. Unity of the body is not the same as unquestioning loyalty.

I am glad you agree with me. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

 I am pointing out that you are blaming people for things that are not their fault because that is precisely what you are doing. 

No, you are simply wrong. I am doing no such thing. I won't respond to most of this because it is absolute nonsense.You really want to rehash Maddy Runkle and pretend that somehow Paul was more compassionate who said the church should have kicked the guy out and have no fellowship at all with him? Come on, Bert. Not even you believes that. That was a case of clear cut sin.

And me blaming sex assault victims? Show me one place I have ever blamed a sex assault victim for being assaulted.

I am supposed to believe that accusing me of "bad decisions" isn't blaming me, and that "guilt" and "blame" have nothing to do with accusing someone of sin.

No, I was clear. You simply didn't read carefully. I am blaming you for your decisions. There is no else to blame. You made them based on what you thought was right. But you made them. It was your choice. That doesn't make it sin necessarily. But you were not forced into that. You made the choice freely. It turned out to be a wrong choice. I have done the same and I am to blame for it. Many times that wasn't sin. But it was still my fault.

It should not be hard to understand that one can be blameworthy or guilty of something without it being sin. I coached a soccer tournament all day. If a player makes a defensive mistake that leads to a goal, he is blamed for the goal. But he didn't sin by doing that. It's a really simple idea. And blame can belong to two or more people. 

The whole idea that someone can make a choice and not be responsible for it is a atrange one. If you don't think you are responsible for choosing those churches, then who is?

And no, "unity of the Body" is not a Biblical concept. 

How can you say this? Because of bad methodology. You are of the type who looks for a word or a phrase and then if you don't find it claim the Bible doesn't say anything about it. By your standard, trinity is not a biblical concept because "You will find precisely zero examples of this [word[] in Scripture." (Those were your words quoted.) That's just bad theological method. That is not the way you study Scripture or develop biblical doctrine.However, I gave you multiple examples from Scripture of the concept being taught. If those verses are not about unity in the body, what are they about? And what is the alternative? Disunity in the body?

You talk about "unity of the Spirit" in Scripture. Surely you know that "one body" is the first thing to follow that. You know why there is "one body"? Because of "unity of the body." 

Specifically, it doesn't mean that congregants, students, members, and the like simply accept whatever leaders say because they were selected for that position.  It means that their authority ends when they depart from the counsel of the Word of God.

Here, you are right. I am glad you agree with me. (It is somewhat ironic coming from you who seems unable to allow anyone to disagree with you.)

 

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