When It's Good for People to Leave the Church

Hang on to your hats, because I’m about to say something you may not hear most pastors say:

Sometimes I get excited when people leave our church.

Let me explain.

As we were leaving church on Sunday, our new Children’s Pastor, Troy McDaniel told me how he and his family felt at home at HNW. But then he followed it up with a comment that made me smile. “Steve, I’ve never been to a church that tells people, ‘If the Lord is leading you to help this church planter, then we want you to go help them.'”

He’s right. Historically, most churches haven’t been free with their members. But this is about the Kingdom of God. Our church values Kingdom collaboration. Practically speaking—and from an emotional perspective—it’s not easy when core members follow the Spirit’s leading. However, it certainly is a time when the Lord grows our church, both in faith and in maturity.

At lunch on Sunday, Andrew said, “So do you WANT people to leave our church?” Ha! Talk about a trick question! I want it both ways. I want Houston NW Church to grow so that we can increase our Kingdom influence. I want us to have more ministry arms in the city and more ways to reach our neighbors. At the same time, however, I want our people to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit leads people to help a church plant or to step out into a new ministry in the city, such a move may leave a leadership vacancy for a brief time, but I am confident that the Lord will raise up more leaders within our Body so that we can continue to send our more into our city and around the world.

Houston NW needs to be a place where we are bringing in, training up, and sending out people to share the good news of Jesus with the entire world.

I look forward to watching the Lord grow us more and more. And I am excited to see us move to a place where we celebrate these “gospel goodbyes,” as J.D. Greer calls them, so that we can see the Lord use people in great new ways.

So, I look forward to seeing who will help Rafael and Jessica launch The Anchor Church. It won’t be easy to say goodbye.

But if the Kingdom is advancing, it will be good.

And I am excited to see us move to a place where we celebrate these “gospel goodbyes”... so that we can see the Lord use people in great new ways.”