"If all we did was just trade sheep from church to church like fantasy football, eventually the church would become obsolete"

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JD Miller's picture

I have actually been thinking about this subject in relation to church planting.  In a church planting situation I would like to see a transfer of of some solid established church members to the new plant so that they can help with discipleship (I'm not talking about disgruntled troublemakers who just float around from church to church.  I'm talking about laymen who see attending the church plant as a ministry opportunity).

Now if I were trying to rally a cultlike following in a church plant, then I would not want any established believers there.  However if our goal is to disciple new believers and to bring them to a better understanding of God and His word rather than just making them blind followers of us, then it would be good to have some other established believers in the church to help to disciple them and to help correct any unbiblical ideas that may creep in that the pastors is not even aware of.

BTW, I see this as another important reason for pastors and evangelists to be very careful in not discouraging secular jobs.  Often youth are pressured into the idea that if they really want to serve the Lord, then they need to surrender to the pastorate or to missions.   Let us not forget that working as an accountant or mechanic and also helping with a new church plant is part of the Great Commission as well.  (PS. Being involved in an established work can be as well).

G. N. Barkman's picture

Sometime people move from an unhealthy church to a healthy one.  Is that bad?  Sometimes from an apostate denominational church to one that is doctrinally sound.  Sometimes from an emotionally driven church to one that majors on teaching the Word.

As Christians grow and change, they often seek a better church.  With so many weak churches in America (both fundamental and evangelical), who can object to transfers of this type?

Obviously, if this is the only way a church grows (by attracting members from other churches), the overall cause of Christ will suffer.  But solid, healthy churches will surely attract maturing Christians who are seeking spiritual help for themselves or their families.

G. N. Barkman

Steve Newman's picture

1) We do (trade sheep);

2) We could (become obsolete)

The mentality of changing churches is often shaky today. I will freely admit that there are times when it is better for someone to change churches. However, many churches and believers do pander to believers to try and get them to change churches. The modern advertising model of trying to "create needs" and to make believers discontented with their fellowships runs rampant. The folks who change churches often do so because it is:

  • Too contemporary or not contemporary enough;
  • Too big or not big enough;
  • Too demanding or not demanding enough;
  • Too legalistic or too licentious;

We kid ourselves and say that the "other church" is not as good and we are "better". Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. The church is also supposed to be like a family. I don't know about you, but I don't necessarily want to be around everyone in my family all the time. But it doesn't mean I should quit the family. 

The "consumer mentality" rules the church. Ralph Nader (if he was a believer) would be proud!

Jim's picture

Any anecdotes (no names please) of when a member transferred out and you thought:


  • It's a good move for them (for some reason) AND
  • It's better for our church

Perhaps because:

  • For whatever reason they were not "plugged in" service-wise (perhaps underutilized in your own church
  • You know that they have talents that will be better utilized in the new church
  • The doctrinal match was not "comfortable": Perhaps they had a view on music, a particular doctrinal point, a translation preference different than your own

For a football analogy I think of the great Marcus Allen who was relegated to a humiliating backup role because of a dispute with Al Davis (more on here). (Quote: "[He] tried to devalue me". ) Finally freed from that organization he went onto further service as a team leader at Kansas City. 

My point is that Marcus' leaving Oakland unlocked and unleashed his potential. 

(I know that the football analogy is not a perfect match for the church!)




Chip Van Emmerik's picture


Sadly, I can think of LOTS of times when people left and I thought it was good for the church.


I could conceive of people moving for job/school/family/health reasons that would be "good" for the folks involved, as long as they were done in a wise manner, but I can't think of any that actually came from our small congregation. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?