shel: was on http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/08/27/leave-a-church-you-love-by-jarrod-robinson/ this speaks VERY closely to my Mercy Church experience.
I have bolded some parts that really resonate.
Why Would You Ever Leave a Church You Love? (by Jarrod Robinson, Southern Hills Church of Christ, Abilene)
My family and I just left a church we loved with all our hearts.
It has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult decisions we’ve ever made.
Nearly eight years ago my wife, Lauren, and I joined a new church family in the Dallas area. In many ways, it was love at first sight. The church leaders and staff were excited for us to be joining them, the church membership welcomed us with open arms, the, the congregation was located in a rapidly growing suburb, and the future seemed limitless. There was an undeniable sense of possibility and optimism blossoming in this new relationship.
I guess you could say that the first year was like the first year of marriage. Learning how to live together, figuring out how to share life, pushing through moments of misunderstanding and even conflict on the wings of willing hearts and through the life-giving power of new beginnings.
As is true in all relationships, that initial “honeymoon” period didn’t last forever, and it soon became clear that it was time for us to step into the harder – but even more fulfilling – stage of starting to build something together, something we all hoped with God’s help would have lasting significance.
By now, I knew the congregation well enough, and the congregation knew me well enough, for us to start asking more of one another than we ever could have at the start. We offered these mutual challenges not out of frustration or embarrassment or disappointment, but out of a deep sense of desiring something better, and not just for us, but also for the larger community around us. And the truth is, we stumbled some along the way as we tried to find new and better answers, but we stumbled together – we struggled as a family struggles – and we grew closer every step of the way.
Eventually, we reached a place where we were very comfortable. I was happy to be there, and the church seemed just as happy to have me there. As I listened to many of my pastor friends complain about the churches they served in, I would silently thank God that my experience was so different. Because while there were definitely difficult situations and tough days in my congregation, I always felt sure it was worth it.
Lauren and I often talked about spending the rest of our ministry life right where we were. The two of us would often have conversations late at night about our two daughters growing up surrounded by the same church family from the time they were born until they left the house for college. I occasionally thought about what it would be like to give a retirement speech many years from now, after four decades of faithful service in one church.
It felt safe and secure. It felt predictable. It felt like home.
Every so often, a search team member from another congregation would call me and ask me if I’d be willing to visit with them about the possibility of serving in a new place with new people. My response was always the same: “Thank you so much for your interest, but I don’t feel called to leave where I’m serving right now.”
Over and over again, I politely said, “No.” It always seemed like the right thing to do. I wanted to stay loyal to my church family and I wanted to finish what we’d started together with God’s help. So my answer, time after time, was, “Thanks, but no.” Most of the time, I didn’t give it a second thought.
But several months ago, after one of those calls, these words from Scripture rang like a bell in my mind: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram went…”
These words haunted me for three days. And a question gradually started to form somewhere deep in my soul: “If God wanted to call me out of a place of comfortable safety and predictability to do an uncertain and risky new thing for the sake of others…how would God do that?” While speaking in an audible voice from heaven is obviously a possibility, how else would God speak to me?
It suddenly scared me to think of all the search team committee members from other churches that I’d automatically said, “No” to over the years. What if in refusing to really listen to them, what if in refusing to hear them out, I was unintentionally refusing to listen to God?
What if every time I told them, No,” I was also telling God, “No?”
What if, in an attempt to be loyal to one congregation, I was inadvertently ignoring a divine invitation to live out a broader loyalty to the kingdom of God? What would it mean to really listen without always trying to protect my current comfortable position? What if God wanted me to move beyond feeling at home somewhere to trusting that my true home is wherever God calls me to be?
In the end, Lauren and I didn’t make the decision to leave a church we loved because we were running away from some nagging dysfunction or an under-the-surface sense of disappointment. We weren’t bored. We didn’t choose to leave a church we loved because we’d convinced ourselves that a new church would be a better “career move.” We weren’t shopping around. We didn’t choose to leave a church we loved because we were able to fully answer all the questions we carry in our hearts. We simply decided to listen. We tried to hear God out.
And in end, I hope we chose to leave a church we loved because we were convinced that God had clearly been preparing us to help meet the challenges and opportunities a different church in the kingdom was facing.
I hope we chose to leave a church we loved because we felt God’s call to move past primarily receiving blessing to trying our best to also be a blessing.
I hope we chose to leave a church we loved, because the Lord said to Abram, “Go.” And Abram went. And so must we.
I know that sometimes – maybe even most of the time – God calls many of us to stay. I’m not saying that God is constantly calling all of us to “Go.”
All I’m saying is that we always need to be willing to listen. No matter what.
Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/08/27/leave-a-church-you-love-by-jarrod-robinson/#ixzz3BbeYCnhs